Turkey is one of the most popular destinations in the world, but how much do you actually know about the local customs and etiquette and the behaviour expected from you? Follow our failsafe tips and advice to keep on the right side of the law this vacation!
Skip the OK sign – The world over, the international ‘OK’ sign means, well, OK – but over in Turkey you might want to rethink your hand gestures as it means that somebody is homosexual. It’s something of a minefield as a downward nod means yes and an upward nod means no. If in doubt, learn a few words of Turkish to get you by.
Skip the PDAs and bikinis – It’s easy to forget that Turkey is a Muslim country but as a gentle reminder, you’ll need to cover up when visiting mosques and other religious buildings. Also away from the beach, it’s advisable to cover up and dress a little more modestly as a mark of respect. And as for PDAs (public displays of affection) it’s best to keep those for the privacy of your hotel room – full on smooching can be frowned upon in some areas.
Got your ID? Make sure you carry some form of photo identification with you at all times when in Turkey. It’s actually illegal not to have ID with you. Take a photocopy of your passport to carry with you to avoid any unnecessary issue.
Don’t forget your visa – Check to see whether you need a visa to enter Turkey: British passports holders do and the current cost is 10 GBP in cash. It’s just been made a little easier though as a visa can be acquired in advance via the FCO website. The only exception to this is cruise ship passengers who are on a one day trip within Turkey.
Don’t forget to check the latest travel advice – As I write, the border area with Syria is out of bounds according to the FCO website. Travellers are advised to stay at least 10km clear of the border, as well as the towns of Akḉakale and Ceylanpinar.
Don’t skip your vaccinations – If you’re planning on a simple ‘fly and flop’ holiday to the main resorts of Turkey you can skip this point BUT if you plan on shifting yourself off the sunbed, you’ll need to look into which vaccinations might be needed. Turkey is a vast country and pockets may require Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies, Tetanus, Typhoid and malaria shots. For example, if you plan on hiking the border plains near to Syria around Adana, you’ll definitely need anti-malarial medication.
Don’t bother with the EHIC – Turkey’s in Europe right? Nevertheless, the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) which covers all European citizens to free local hospital treatment is NOT valid in Turkey. Make sure you take out adequate travel insurance instead to cover any mishaps or accidents.