Here are some practical tips to enjoy your visit to Turkey that are not included in the normal reviews.

EXTREME STREET SALESMANSHIP.  If you are visiting the touristy areas of Turkey and look like a tourist (they can tell!) then you will likely be hounded by people on the street trying to sell you perfume, scarves, Calvin Klein socks, or trying to direct you to their carpet or leather shop or their restaurant.  If you are uncomfortable with the used car salesman attitude, do not let it ruin your vacation.  You may find this rude and obnoxious, but its just part of the entrepreneurial culture.  Its perfectly OK to ignore them, many people do, but maybe you ARE hungry and what is the harm in having a discussion with a local who will be more than willing to answer questions even if he does have an ulterior motive?  It is part of the business plan of every Turkish restaurant in those areas to have a podium on the street with a menu, manned by someone whose job it is to make eye contact with you and get you to stop.

This can be a great way to learn about Turkish food for they will be happy to name and describe anything on the menu and answer questions about anything, food or otherwise.  Just remember, you have no obligation to buy anything.   You are just one of hundreds of people he will stop.  If you do not buy anything, he will just start looking for the next target and you will be quickly forgotten.

NEW LIRA VS. OLD LIRA.  Some time ago, Turkey replaced all its "old" Lira with "new" Lira.  Know the difference; the old lira are now worthless.  It is not entirely uncommon for unscupulous restaurants and sales persons to make change to tourists in "old" Lira.

MONEY. Cash machines which dispense Turkish Lira are everywhere. Most will advance you on your credit card. Your bank will charge you a “fat” exchange rate – around a 2% premium - and something like $5 per transaction. You can use Lira everywhere; Euros at some tourist traps; and American Dollars almost nowhere. Forget Canadian Dollars and other currencies – they are “right up there” with Monopoly money. Note however that not all banks will charge a comission. Highest comission is charged by Akbank, about 8 %. Ziraat Bankasi charges no comission - on your debet card. 

CHECK YOUR RESTAURANT BILL.  Turkey's "entrepreneurial culture", as applied to tourists, has something of a "whatever they can get away with" flavor.  Carefully check your bill for prices above menu list, and items you did not purchase that result in a padded bill.

HOTEL BEDS.  Whether you choose budget pensions or fancier hotels, you will find that Turkish hotels do not use box springs and the mattresses are very firm, especially if you are used to pillow-top mattresses popular in the U.S.  You will also find that they provide an integrated sheet/blanket rather than separates, sort of like a sheet-sized pillow case around a quilt.  You can ask for a second sheet/blanket and then sleep on top of the first to provide more comfort.  Or, if you are traveling during warmer periods, bring your own travel sheet and sleep on top of the sheet/blanket if the bed is too firm.

OTHER SLEEPING TIPS.  If you are a light sleeper, bring ear plugs.  In addition to the typical city noises, nearly everywhere in Turkey you will be hearing the calls to prayer from speakers on the nearest minarets five times a day, the earliest of which will likely be before you want to wake and the last after you have already tucked in.  The timing of the calls is based in part on sunrise and sunset, so if your are traveling in May-June around summer solstice, the first call to prayer will be between 4am and 5am.  

PUBLIC BATHROOMS.  Public bathrooms are common in the tourist areas of Turkey.  In some areas they may charge, however the cost is nominal, generally 0.5 or 1 Turkish Lira (TL).  They are almost always signed as W.C. for water closet.  Many Turkey guidebooks describe Turkish public bathrooms as holes you squat over, but if you are in Istanbul or other popular tourist areas or large cities, you will find the bathrooms are largely similar to those in the west.  You will not find bidets but there will likely be a nozzle at the near the back of the bowl operated by a nob on the left side of the tank that delivers a stream of water for obvious purposes.  Use of this feature in a public bathroom may not be advisable unless you know the bathroom is clean, but you will also find them in hotel bathrooms.  In most places (including many excellent hotels) you will see a small, bag lined trash can beside the toilet.  Besides the typical use for feminine products, etc., this is intended for used toilet paper.  While this sounds disgusting to many westerners, it is the norm in Turkey as their sewer lines are often old, small and easily clogged.  If you use the spray in the toilet for the purpose intended you will find that toilet paper becomes mainly a means of drying--not cleaning.

SHOPPING. Bargain for everything except for priced-items in the large, modern shopping stores. Become acquainted with the term “Genuine Fakes” – many name-brand goods are manufactured in Turkey, and some – the guess was 20% - make their way onto the Turkish market. You can get Tommy Hilfiger and other brand golf shirts for 10 Euros and Pashmina scarves for 5 Euros. 

COMMERCIAL DAY AND MULTI-DAY TOURS INCLUDING UNANNOUNCED FACTORY TOURS WITH SALES PITCHES.  Tours of Ephesus, Pamukkale, the Cappadocia region and many of the other major attractions often include side trips to leather, carpet, or ceramic factories that are not always listed on the brochure or described by the travel associate.  You may find yourself herded into a room for a low-tech leather fashion show or shown a solitary carpet weaver passed off as a weaving tour and it will likely end in a windowless show room accompanied by a strong sales pitch.  You are under no obligation to buy anything which will likely be clearly stated by the tour guide.  The best will include a 20-30 minute tour and the opportunity to see fine art being made by hand or speaking directly to the artist, which can be both enjoyable and informative.  If you are uncomfortable with these sales pitches, ask before you book the tour to make sure they do not include the side trips or spend a little more on a private tour.  If you are caught unawares, you can tell your tour leader that you will stay in the bus.  It is these visits to "sponsoring businesses" that keep the price of these tours very low and often below actual cost.  While you will likely pay somewhat more for the same thing if you take the time to find it on your own, you can be assured that what you are buying is the genuine article.  

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOUR TOUR GUIDE, THE TOUR COMPANY AND THESE FACTORY TOURS.  As stated above, almost all of the tours in Turkey are tightly integrated with the local vendors. At each one, you will be offered "special prices". But then your tour guide will step in, and negotiate a lower price for you... usually about 15-20% lower than the quoted price. Does this mean that your tour guide is your ally in these negotiations?  Yes and No. A veteran tour guide is typically making 40% of his income from his tour-guide salary, 25% from tips, and 35% from commissions paid to him by the tour company he is working with. The tour company gets more than the guide.  Only professional guides you have privately hired receive their commission directly from the business.

WHAT IS A GOOD PRICE IN TURKEY? Commerce in Turkey is a negotiated affair.  If you pay more than 50% of that "special, just for you dear friend, this being the end of the season, reduced price" price you've been quoted, then you've been taken to the cleaners. You can buy anything in Turkey for about 40% of the price quoted to you.  Bargain, and bargain hard.  To do so is not insulting.  The Turkish do it, so why not you?  The previous is reasonable advice for the likes of the Grand Bazaar, Ephesus area, Cappadocia area, Antalya, etc.  The situtation is quite different in places where Turks are the "normal" customers.  In tourist areas preferred by the Turks you will usually find clearly marked prices that just seem "very reasonable"--you can almost forget discounts for simple, inexpensive items and expect only modest discounts on expensive items.

TIPS ABOUT MERCHANDISE SENT TO YOU AFTER YOUR TRIP. Insist upon well documented contracts for anything you buy "to be sent later." Make absolutely sure the contract specifies the vendors full business name, address, post, email and telephone numbers, and every detail of the agreed materials and characteristics. If you do not, you will not be able to contest the absence of things promised during the sale but not delivered as specified. Insist upon insurance.

PUBLIC BUSES.  Public buses are a good and economical way to travel between cities in Turkey, but they are not as comfortable as intercity trains in Europe or  Greyhound or Trailways buses in the U.S., so it is best to be prepared before you get on board.  The buses are generally 20-30 passengers and serve both as regional transportation and city buses which means people get on and off, paying for driver for the distance they travel.  You can purchased a guaranteed seat, but when you board you may find it full.  Just get the driver to ensure you get a seat; he will likely direct one of the short distance travelers to give up their seat and stand.   Windows do not open and the driver is in control of heating and A/C although there often is a ceiling vent that passengers can open.  As a result, the air temp can be variable and often very hot inside regardless of outside temperature.  Wear layers so you can adjust for temperature changes.  There are no bathrooms but if you are travelling more than an hour or so, there will be stops. Note:This is not the case for travel between major tourist centres!  These public buses (or dolmuş) are found on local routes with short distances.  Most locals use these buses for inner city travel not to go between cities.  Most of these drivers speak very little English so asking them for a seat can be a difficult venture.  This is a cheap mode of transportation and should be experienced - but no need to go great distances!  Splurge for the coach! (see below!)

BUS TRAVEL:  Using the bus (or coach) to travel between cities is VERY economical and safe.  Some of the best companies are Metro, Varan, Ulusoy, and KamilKoç.  The cost varies with distance but is often around 50tl one way.  There are snack and beverages served during your trip for free. The coaches are modern and comfortable and in most cases better quality than Greyhound buses!  There is usually a TV in the headrest in front of you.  Some companies have USB ports so you can listen to your own music or watch videos.  There is usually a 30 minute bathroom break at a large touristy rest stop.  The washrooms at the rest stops cost 1TL and are generally clean.  You will be hard pressed to find a normal toilet and if you find one, there may be a bit of a wait! 

DRINKING WATER: In many guides about Turkey tourists are still warned not to drink any tap water. Hostesses may tell you the same story, but this information is outdated. In tourist areas the tap water is perfectly safe to drink. While safe to drink, tap water in Turkey (especially in Istanbul) tastes very bad and the Turks themselves use bottled water for both drinking and cooking.  If you prefer bottled water, bear in mind that PET bottles should be kept out of the sun. The 0.5 litre bottles can be a health hazard when for instance left in a car. They readily release toxic fumes, may even explode if exposed to the sun too long. Better bring a BPA-free refillable water bottle instead.

STREET SHOE-SHINE SCAM. Beware the roadside shoe shine guy walking the other way who  "accidentally" drops his brush. This is a common and oft repeated trick. If you bring it to his attention, he will offer to shine your shoes "for free." During the shoeshine, he'll give you a long song about his wife's cesarean section (or equivalent.) At the end of this 'freebie', he'll insist you pay him about 8 Lira (about $4) for the shoeshine you just received...