Turkey is one country that is a famous hotspot for people when they talk about affordable places in Europe. And why not?
It has sightseeing, ample history, great food and quite a lot of activities. Not only that but also beaches that are pristine and very much like Greece.
Interestingly, the covid period had almost the whole of Europe shut down with extreme lock-downs in all countries. However, Turkey showed a very different trend, which was a complete welcome for tourists. The country followed strict SOPs in terms of wearing masks and social distancing. Therefore they could entertain a large number of tourists from many countries. However, as many other European countires are opening up for their summer season now we thought to increase your knowledge of possible scams in Turkey.
Hospitality going awry
Turkish people are warm and quite welcoming as it has become their trait for having more tourists in the country. However, the conmen and scammers use this to their advantage. Be cautious in gauging hospitality and warm behavior as sincerity or a way to make quick money.
While eating the famous street food or dining in any roadside restaurant make sure to check the menu with prices. First and foremost this eradicates the chances of having a bill that is not correct. In case the servers, insist on having a menu with no prices leave as that is going to be messy later. Also, many restaurants will upfront load your table with starters like hummus, kebabs, and other culinary delights. Make sure to ask them whether it is an extra item or included for all. In the case of the former, it means you have to pay for it in the end.
Therefore your key measures should be
- Checking reviews before eating out, or asking friends who have visited earlier about good and economical places.
- Always insist on menus with prices.
- Make sure to check the food items on the bill are more or the same.
Cash changes are tricky
This scam can happen anywhere because you don’t know how people use your tourist status to their advantage. Right from taxis to restaurants or small spice shops many people complain of not getting their money back as the shopkeepers smile and say “ no change madam!”
The regular taxi drivers have also been seen to swap the notes, with such pace that though you have handed them a fifty lira and they’d swiftly show you gave them a ten or a twenty note. And you think that you must have been a little lost in handing the note!
Therefore you must keep this in mind
- Carry enough change and be vigilant.
- Use cards for payment.
Cabs are another tricky aspect in Turkey. One look at a tourist can give many ideas to cab drivers. Sometimes, our friends have been taken on long routes for a destination which ultimately makes the fare go up. Moreover, a very common practice by cab drivers there is to say that the meter is not repaired and then quote four times the price of a trip. This is a regular scam in many countries to avoid it simply use international cab-hailing services to keep your wallet safe.
Simple ways to keep safe from a cab scam are
- Use Uber or some big cab-hailing service.
- Hire a cab from the hotel’s service bar for no chances of cheating.
- Try to find a hotel that gives you a better walking opportunity to explore the city – Turkey is a great country to be explored on foot.
Alcohol is expensive in Turkey, due to a heavy tax on it. So if you strike a conversation with someone anywhere and s/he offers you to show around the oh-so-hip bar and a great kebab house, avoid and say no.
Because this eventually leads you to be at the bar and soon a group of women and men join you and make you feel good with their chat. But at the right time, while you start enjoying each one will leave the spot while you end up with an inflated bill of drinks that you never got to have!
Shoe shiners and flower sellers
The shoe shiners scam is quite famous and it goes like this, you are walking, and ahead of you, someone drops their shoe brush. Then you move hurriedly and say hey, you dropped your brush! And that is where the conman begins his role. His glee and happiness will hold no bounds and as a gesture, he will insist that you get your shoes shined by him. He will make small talk, say good things, and once the shoe-shining is done he will want money and not a few coins something big!
The same is the case of flower or perfume sellers, no matter what happens DO NOT hold any of their offered products. The moment it’s in your hand, all they want is the money they won’t take it back and you being a tourist do not want to make a scene hence you just get rid of them by paying.
You can escape such situations by
- Keeping to yourself, you can smile and be pleasant with people but no need of going out of the way.
- Try to stay with a group or with people with whom you can just blend in and not be the lonely tourist.
The fact of the matter is that scammers are everywhere in the world. A small minority should not be used to label any country or its people as dishonest. Turkish people are supremely helpful and warm, their hospitality is famous. So just stay focused on your travel goal while keeping a check on pickpockets and a few shady things we have highlighted. The rest will be ok. Enjoy your Turkish kebabs and the spice bazaar!