Türk Lirası (Turkish lira; ₺)
Budget: Less than €50
- Budget double: €20
- Balık ekmek (fish kebap): ₺10
- Beer: ₺12
- Double room €35–60
- Fish and meze meal: ₺60
- Boat day trip: €30
Top end: More than €80
- Double room: from €80
- Four-day gület cruise: €200–300
- Car hire per day: from €20
Haggling is common in bazaars, as well as for out-of-season accommodation and long taxi journeys. In other instances, you’re expected to pay the stated price.
Feature: The Art of Bargaining
Traditionally, when customers enter a Turkish shop to make a significant purchase, they're offered a comfortable seat and a drink (çay, coffee or a soft drink). There is some general chitchat, then discussion of the shop's goods in general, then of the customer's tastes, preferences and requirements. Finally, a number of items are displayed for the customer's inspection.
The customer asks the price; the shop owner gives it; the customer looks doubtful and makes a counter-offer 25% to 50% lower. This procedure goes back and forth several times before a price acceptable to both parties is arrived at. It's considered bad form to haggle over a price, come to an agreement, and then change your mind.
If you can't agree on a price, it's perfectly acceptable to say goodbye and walk out of the shop. In fact, walking out is one of the best ways to test the authenticity of the last offer. If shopkeepers know you can find the item elsewhere for less, they'll probably call after you and drop their price. Even if they don't stop you, there's nothing to prevent you from returning later and buying the item for what they quoted.
To bargain effectively you must be prepared to take your time, and you must know something about the items in question, including their market price. The best way to learn is to look at similar goods in several shops, asking prices but not making counter-offers. Always stay good-humoured and polite when you are bargaining – if you do this the shopkeeper will too. When bargaining, you can often get a discount by offering to buy several items at once, by paying in a strong major currency, or by paying in cash.
If you don't have sufficient time to shop around, follow the age-old rule: find something you like at a price you're willing to pay, buy it, enjoy it, and don't worry about whether or not you received the world's lowest price.
In general, you shouldn't bargain in food shops or over transport costs. Outside tourist areas, hotels may expect to 'negotiate' the room price with you. In tourist areas pension owners are usually fairly clear about their prices, although if you're travelling in winter or staying a long time, it's worth asking about indirim (discounts).
ATMs are widely available. Credit and debit cards are accepted by most businesses in cities and tourist areas.
Turkey's currency is the Türk Lirası (Turkish lira; ₺). The lira comes in notes of five, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200, and coins of one, five, 10, 25 and 50 kuruş and one lira. Lack of change is a constant problem; try to keep a supply of coins and small notes for minor payments. Post offices have Western Union counters.
ATMs dispense Turkish lira, and occasionally euros and US dollars, to Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro card holders. Look for these logos on machines, which are found in most towns. Machines generally offer instructions in foreign languages including English.
It's possible to get around Turkey using only ATMs if you draw out money in the towns to tide you through the villages that don't have them. Also keep some cash in reserve for the inevitable day when the machine throws a wobbly. If your card is swallowed by a stand-alone ATM booth, it may be tricky to get it back. The booths are often run by franchisees rather than by the banks themselves.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted by hotels, shops and restaurants, although often not by pensions and local restaurants outside the main tourist areas. You can also get cash advances on these cards. Amex is less commonly accepted outside top-end establishments. Inform your credit-card provider of your travel plans; otherwise transactions may be stopped, as credit-card fraud does happen in Turkey.
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
Euros and US dollars are the most readily accepted foreign currencies. Shops, hotels and restaurants in many tourist areas accept these, and taxi drivers will take them for big journeys.
The Turkish lira is weak against Western currencies, and you will probably get a better exchange rate in Turkey than elsewhere. The lira is virtually worthless outside Turkey, so make sure you spend it all before leaving.
US dollars and euros are the easiest currencies to change, although many exchange offices and banks will change other major currencies such as UK pounds and Japanese yen.
You'll get better rates at exchange offices, which often don't charge commission, than at banks. Exchange offices operate in tourist and market areas, with better rates often found in the latter, and some post offices (PTTs), shops and hotels. They generally keep longer hours than banks.
Banks are more likely to change minor currencies, although they tend to make heavy weather of it. Turkey has no black market.
Turkey is fairly European in its approach to tipping and you won't be pestered for baksheesh. Tipping is customary in restaurants, hotels and taxis; optional elsewhere.
Restaurants A few coins in budget eateries; 10% of the bill in midrange and top-end establishments.
Hotel porter €2 per bag (mid-range hotel), €5 per bag (top-end hotel).
Taxis Round up metered fares to the nearest lira.
Banks, shops and hotels usually see it as a burden to change travellers cheques, and will either try to persuade you to go elsewhere or charge you a premium for the service. If you do have to change them, try one of the major banks.