A huge Turkish flag just outside the Istanbul bus station.
Having been in Turkey for more than four months now, I feel there is a lot that people from across the globe should know about this country. I’ll share my experience and hopefully you can gain some valuable information from it if you plan to spend your next vacation in Turkey.

I came here in September 2012.It was my first trip abroad. I was really anxious to see what Turkey holds in store for me for the next 6 months of my life. Before my travel, I was given a PDF booklet which briefly described the city I was going to live in; Eskisehir (pronounced as Eski-sh-eheer). I was so enthralled by the thought of my first trip abroad that I hardly paid any attention to the booklet which had a list of basic Turkish words (mistake No. 1).

I left on 30th August.  I had booked an early morning flight to Istanbul so that I could reach Eskisehir by evening, and be fresh to begin my adventures the next day. I checked the weather forecast, and it predicted a pleasant day. I decided to wear comfortable travelling clothes, as it was going to be a 7 hour flight and a 6 hour bus ride from Istanbul to Eskisehir. As soon as the flight landed and all the passengers made their way to the exit doors, I breathed my first fresh air on foreign soil. That feeling is extremely overwhelming. I stood in queue for my immigration check and then proceeded to collect my luggage. The screen displayed that my luggage was arriving on conveyor belt number 9. I stood in front of the designated belt number with a bag that I was carrying as cabin luggage. I waited for almost half an hour and no luggage seemed to be arriving. I waited for some more time. An hour passed by, waiting in front of the conveyor belt. However, I still wasn't bothered. So much so, that I headed over to the duty free shops to see if I could buy something before leaving the airport. I went back to the conveyor belt and there was still no sign of any luggage. I asked some fellow Indian passengers who were travelling with me; even they were clueless. I proceeded to the help desk and was surprised to learn that the guy at the help desk of an international airport didn’t speak English. With a confused dog face, I started checking all the belts only to realize that my luggage had been doing the rounds on belt number 6; I was even more confused. I had two big suitcases and one small bag so I needed a trolley to move all my stuff. The official currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira. You have to insert a 1 Lira coin in the slot machine attached to the trolley to use it. At that time, instead of being confused, I was clueless. I had absolutely no idea about it. Luckily, someone was kind enough to ‘lend’ me theirs.

Clock Tower in Izmir
I was instructed to take a metro from the airport to the bus station. I headed over to the metro station with much struggle as trolleys were not allowed on the flight of stairs and there were no elevators to switch between floors. I reached the station, and was instructed to get a token of 10 liras. I headed over to the machine that dispensed tokens. All the instructions were in Turkish and no metro authority was there to help me out. I saw the others feeding money to the machine and it would pop out a token. I did the same. It refused to give me a token for 10 liras and the best it did was 2 liras. I took two tokens before I got irritated and decided to chuck the entire process and proceed to the machine which would let me enter the metro station. I put one token and it refused to let me enter. Surely, there was something wrong with it. The other people did the same and it let them pass. The machine was trolling me! I put the 2nd token in and it did the same. I was baffled, to say the least! I had to call some metro authority to help me out. Of course, even she didn’t know English. Seeing my luggage, she let me pass through a side passage. I managed to move 3 heavy bags and myself down a flight of stairs to enter the underground metro station. All went smoothly till I reached the bus station as I followed the instructions to a tee!

I went to one of the bus services company (the name that I was informed about). Getting a ticket for Eskisehir wasn’t easy as well. Guess why? Correct! Even the guy at the reception didn’t know English. I used my dumb charades skills to explain what I wanted. I had to inform the guy who was waiting for me in Eskisehir to receive me about my whereabouts. I had to put my dumb charades skills to the test once again as I had to ask the bus assistant if I could use his phone (since the telecom company in India had not been able to activate international roaming) to make a phone call. All went smoothly thereafter.

Sunset in Izmir
I was getting used to vehicles being left hand drives. It was something completely different from what I was used to. A month passed and everything was great. I had made a few friends from different parts of the world and we would hang out almost every day. In these initial months, I realized a few things about Turkey. I’ll be listing them out for you.
  • Nobody speaks English. Go to grocery stores, malls, pubs or clubs; NOBODY will talk to you in English. You have to do your best with hand gestures.
  • Turkish people (mostly young, college going students) LOVE to live dirty. It absolutely pisses me off. Rarely will you come across a home that is neat and clean.
  • If you plan to stay here for more than a week, be prepared to pay for your mobile phone. You’ll be unable to use your mobile phones after a week. The Turkish government has a policy against foreign mobile phones. You have to pay a ‘tax’ of 100 liras to the government and 20 liras to your operator. The government tracks the IMEI numbers of all mobile phones. If yours is not listed in their database, it will get blocked. There no way to surpass that.
  • Being a Muslim country, you will not find pork at meat shops or any local restaurants.
  • August to November is the ideal time to travel to this country. Please don’t plan your vacation in Ramadan (9th month of the Islamic calendar – Usually mid July to mid August) or Bayram (usually in the month of November). You won’t find many people on the streets and it gives you a feeling of a dead abandoned city (at least that was the case when I went to Izmir for my Bayram holidays). 
  • Normal straight men hold each other’s hands and walk down the street. It’s normal for them.
  • Istanbul is crowded. It is home to 13.5 million people. However, a trip to Turkey is not complete if you don’t visit Istanbul. It is the only city in the world which spans across two continents. The Bosphorous Bridge joining the two continents looks absolutely spectacular, night or day.

Tip No. 1 – Exchange some money at the airport. You’ll need it for your trolley on the airport and further modes of transportation.
Tip No. 2 – Keep a physical map of Turkey handy with you at all times. Don’t trust the maps application on your phone. You never know when the government will block your phone.
Tip No. 3 – Learn some basic Turkish words before coming here. Knowing the local language is always beneficial; especially in Turkey.
Tip No. 4 – Buses are better than the cheapest train category (Pullman). Trains are painfully slow. Buses can save you almost 3 to 4 hours on long distances.
Tip No. 5 – If you are here for a short stay; make sure your mobile operator has activated your international roaming, unless you want to be away from all the technology on your vacation.

Hot water springs in Pamukkale.
  1. ISTANBUL – For being Turkey’s most vibrant city.
  2. IZMIR - Turkey’s 3rd most populous city. The city has a nice feel to it.
  3. SIRINCE – A small hill-station near Izmir, it’s the Mecca of local wines. It has cheap, and a good variety of locally brewed wine. Doomsday believers thronged to this city believing that it was the only city that was a safe refuge from the apocalypse.
  4. ANTALYA – For its breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea. It is Turkey’s biggest seaport as well. It has seen exponential growth in population over the recent years.
  5. CAPPADOCIA – For its beautiful cave resorts. 
  6. PAMUKKALE – For its travertine hot water springs.
  7. BODRUM – For its forts and castles. It is also a popular tourist destination.
  8. BURSA  – For skiing in winters. The city is home to some of the best Iskender (a popular Turkish food item), my favorite Turkish food.

Other places of interest include cities next to the Dead Sea.

Coming here, you may face some racism being a foreigner. Ignoring people indulging in such practices is the best policy. Turkish people are ready to fight at the drop of a hat! Something you really don’t want on your vacation.

FUN FACT – Batman is actually a name of a city in the southeastern region of Turkey.

Have fun watching this video while I try to write another article for you guys!

If you want any information, or have any doubts, feel free to contact me. Send me an email or comment below and I’ll make sure I can help you to the best of my knowledge. Please subscribe and share if you liked the post.

Video published in this post is the sole property of the owner. I do not claim any ownership of the content in the video. It is used only for illustrative purposes.


  1. I have been wishiing to Visit turkey for some time now....ur tips are quite useful!!


    1. Thank you! You must visit this country. Its quite special for a short stay :)

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