- General Info
- Health Risks
- Insect Threats
- Water Quality
- Security Concerns
- Weather Notes
- Electrical Standards
- Visa Info
- Time Zone
Bounded by three different seas and bridging Europe and Asia, Turkey offers excellent food, welcoming people, and a fascinating blend of history, cultures, wonderful beaches, archeological treasures and natural wonders. Multi-continental Istanbul has glorious mosques, palaces, and Roman temples surrounded by the Bosphorus, and the colorful Grande Bazaar offers everything from spices to gold. Ephesus is an ancient history buff's delight, and one of the best-preserved classical cities, and The Valley of the Fairy Chimneys is a natural wonder, where erosion-created volcanic rock pinnacles rise from the countryside. The Aegean's resort town of Bodrum offers a great base for boat tours, water sports by day, and raucous discos by night, and along Turkey's southern coast there are hundreds of Greek and Roman ruinsLanguage: Turkish (official), Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, Greek.
Major International Airports Include:
|Ankara||Esenboga Int'l||ESB||25 miles N|
|Istanbul||Ataturk Int'l||IST||15 miles W|
|Izmir||Adnan Menderes Airport||ZRH||10 miles S|
The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in the Turkey depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. You should observe the precautions listed in this document in most areas of this region. However, in highly developed areas of Israel, you should observe health precautions similar to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.
Travelers' diarrhea, the number one illness in travelers, can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.
Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including some cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites.
Travelers to malaria-risk areas, including infants, children, and former residents of the Middle East, should take an antimalarial drug. Travelers to some areas of Turkey. Chloroquine is the recommended antimalarial drug for Turkey.
Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and plague are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.
The CDC recommends the following vaccines as appropriate for age (See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect):
- Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
- Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
- As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults.
- Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who have not completed the series.
All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.
- Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Don't eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
- Don't share needles with anyone.
- Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
- Never eat undercooked ground beef and poultry, raw eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products. Raw shellfish is particularly dangerous to persons who have liver disease or compromised immune systems.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Those traveling to Turkey are at risk from malaria transmitted by mosquito bites, plague from flea bites, and leishmaniasis from sandfly bites, as well as other insect-borne diseases. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing.
The water supply in Turkey is contaminated with viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. Travelers should treat water before drinking to avoid potentially serious health problems.
Terrorist bombings -- some with significant numbers of casualties -- over the past four years have struck religious, political, and business targets in a variety of locations in Turkey. The potential remains throughout Turkey for violence and terrorist actions against U.S. citizens and interests, both by transnational and indigenous terrorist organizations.
In November 2003 al-Qaida affiliated terrorists were responsible for four large suicide bombings in Istanbul that targeted western interests. The British Consulate, HSBC Bank, and two synagogues were targeted by massive suicide truck bombs that killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds. These incidents represent a significant change from prior attacks in Turkey and show an increasing willingness on the part of the terrorists to attack Western targets. Consistent with al-Qaida 's world-wide operations, and as indicated in State Department world wide Public Announcements, it is possible that a terror cell fostered by al-Qaida could strike again in Turkey without warning.
Indigenous terrorist groups also continue to target Turkish as well as U.S. and Western interests. In June 2004 the indigenous terrorist group PKK/KADEK/Kongra Gel announced an end to their "unilateral ceasefire." Since the announcement, there have been several attacks in the southeast region of Turkey, where the group has traditionally concentrated its activities. In addition to these attacks, on August 10, 2004, bombs exploded in two small hotels near the center of Istanbul, leading to two fatalities (one of whom was a foreign tourist) and injuring several others. A Kurdish group ostensibly aligned with pro-Kurdish and PKK separatists claimed responsibility for the Istanbul attack and for other incidents that had occurred in the popular coastal tourist destinations of Bodrum, Antalya, and Mersin. While claiming responsibility for the incidents, the group also warned tourists to stay away.
The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) has assassinated Americans in the past and continues to be active in Turkey. Groups such as the DHKP/C, PKK/KADEK/Kongra Gel, IDBA-C, and others continue to target Turkish officials and various civilian facilities and may use terrorist activity to make political statements.
Americans should exercise caution and good judgment, keep a low profile, and remain vigilant with regard to their personal security. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists will seek softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans and Westerners are known to live, congregate, shop, or visit, especially hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or outdoor recreation events or resorts and beaches. U.S. citizens should remain in a heightened state of personal security awareness when attendance at such locations is unavoidable.
International and domestic political issues sometimes trigger demonstrations in most major cities in Turkey. We wish to remind American citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.
Up to date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
Southeast Turkey: The PKK/KADEK/Kongra-Gel terrorist group retains a presence in certain parts of southeastern Turkey. Although the official "State of Emergency" designation has been removed for all provinces of the southeast and no provinces are currently officially designated as sensitive areas, PKK/KADEK/Kongra-Gel activity continues in much of the region. Americans traveling in southeastern Turkey should exercise caution due to PKK/KADEK/Kongra-Gel violence.
Roadside explosions caused by remote controlled land mines or other improvised explosive devices in Batman, Sirnak, Hakkari, Siirt Mardin, Diyarbakir and Tunceli provinces have occurred since late March 2004. There have also been a number of PKK/KADEK/Kongra-Gel raids on Jandarma posts and ambushes of Turkish security force vehicle patrols in rural areas in many southeastern Turkey provinces since April 2004. Please be advised of these travel risk factors.
Visitors to southeastern Turkey are advised to travel only during daylight hours and on major highways. The Turkish Jandarma and police forces monitor checkpoints on roads throughout the southeastern region. Travelers should be cooperative if stopped at any checkpoint. Drivers and all passengers in the vehicle should be prepared to provide their identification cards or passports, driver license and vehicle registration if stopped at a checkpoint. At these check points, roll down the driver's side window (passenger side, also, in vehicles with tinted windows) when stopped by security force officials. Security forces can then safely inspect the vehicle and its occupants. Remain calm, do not make sudden movements and obey all instructions. Security officials may restrict access to some roads at times, and security force escort vehicles may be required to "convoy" visitors through troublesome areas. In some cases, this must be arranged in advance.
Travelers are cautioned not to accept letters, parcels, or other items from strangers for delivery either in or outside of Turkey. PKK/KADEK/Kongra-Gel has attempted to use foreigners to deliver messages and packages in or outside of Turkey. If discovered, individuals could be arrested for aiding and abetting the PKK/KADEK/Kongra-Gel - a serious charge.
Department of State personnel are subject to travel restrictions in Sirnak, Diyarbakir, Van, Siirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, Tunceli, Hakkari, Bitlis, and Elazig provinces. U.S. military and DOD civilians should consult their local area commander regarding any restrictions in effect for southeastern Turkey.
Mount Ararat, in Agri province, is a special military zone and access permission must be obtained from the Turkish government through Turkish Embassies or Consulates before coming to Turkey. A map of the affected region is available on the Embassy website at http://Ankara.usembassy.gov.
CRIME: Street crime is relatively low in Turkey, although it is increasing in large urban centers such as Istanbul and Izmir. Women appear to have been targeted for muggings or robberies. Visitors should not be complacent regarding personal safety or the protection of valuables. The same precautions employed in the U.S. should be followed in Turkey. As in other large metropolitan areas throughout the world, common street crimes include pick pocketing, purse snatching, and mugging. English-or French-speaking foreigners have befriended the tourists and then drugged them, using tea, juice, alcohol, or food. Two common drugs used are Nembutal and benzodiazepine; when used incorrectly they can cause death. In similar cases, tourists are invited to visit clubs or bars, and then presented with inflated bills (often exceeding $1000), and coerced to pay them by credit card. Residential crime appears to be on the increase in major cities, with criminals targeting ground floor apartments for theft.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
Source: U.S. Department of State
The coastal regions of Turkey enjoy a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and cool winters, with some precipitation year round. The central and eastern interior has a more severe, continental climate with less precipitation, warm summers, and cold winters. Moving to the semi-arid western interior, the summers are warm to hot, and the winters are cool.
Turkey's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Please note: Not all electrical sockets in this country provide grounding. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.
To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.
For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.
A passport and visa are required. Currently, holders of all types of passports can purchase a 90-day sticker visa at the port of entry for $20 cash if they are traveling to Turkey as tourists. For further information, travelers in the U.S. may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey at 2525 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone: (202) 612-6700, or the Turkish consulates general in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, or New York. Information may also be found at Internet address http://www.turkey.org/. Overseas, travelers may contact a Turkish embassy or consulate.
Holders of official and diplomatic passports on official business must obtain a visa from a Turkish embassy or consulate before arrival in Turkey.
All travelers planning to stay more than three months for any purpose are required to obtain a visa from a Turkish embassy or consulate. Such travelers must also apply for a residence/work permit or Turkish ID card within the first month of their arrival in Turkey. This includes anyone who plans to spend more than three months doing research, studying, or working in Turkey.
All travelers are advised to obtain entry stamps on the passport page containing their visa at the first port of entry before transferring to domestic flights. Failure to obtain entry stamps at the port of entry has occasionally resulted in serious difficulties for travelers when they attempt to depart the country. In addition, all travelers are being photographed upon entry at the airport in Istanbul.
Crossing the border with Iraq can be time-consuming, as the Turkish Government tightly controls entry and exit. All travelers wishing to cross into Iraq from Turkey must still have a valid travel document, such as a passport, to enter Iraq from Turkey. Travelers wishing to enter Turkey from Iraq must have both a valid travel document and current Turkish visa.
Visit the Embassy of Turkey's web site at http://www.turkishembassy.org/start.html for the most current visa information.
Source: U.S. Department of State
The time zone for Turkey is 2 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Turkey would be 7:00 pm
The unit of currency in Turkey is the Turkish lira (TRL).
Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter
Traveled to Turkey?
If you have visited this country recently and have ideas, thoughts, or suggestions to share with other travelers, we'd love to hear from you! Share your travel experiences and we'll post them on our website.
Other Travelers' Experiences in Turkey
"Don't take Traveler's Checks with you to Turkey. Most stores don't accept them. Banks are the only ways to cash them and you may end up waiting for an hour while they verify the checks. Instead, take US dollars or Euros with you and you'll be able to exchange them easily."
"The water supplied in hotels in Izmir and Antalya is perfectly safe to drink, from the tap. Water at out-of-the way places, inclyding first-class hotels at Pammukale, is not drinkable; bottled water is available."
"You need to update this monetary information. There is a New Turkish Lire that is equal to 1 million times the old TL. People travelling in 2005 will be confronted with both sets of currency, plus Euros and Dollars, a bewildering array that always seems to come out in favor of the Turks in all transactions."
"Come prepared to enjoy and be welcomed by the friendly and most helpful Turks. Despite religious differences, Muslim Turks we met were gentle, peace loving folk and eager to point out the qualities all religions share. We were aware of the security measures around the city of Istanbul....mirror checks under vehicles entering the hotel's driveways, armed military searching briefcases at the Grand Bazaar, etc, but never felt threatened or insecure.
Upon arrival at Attaturk airport, confusion reigned. We were not told that first, one must obtain a visa from the counters so marked and then proceed through the long lines marked for passport control, then one is passed through to customs. Customs was a breeze for us....a simple question or two and a porter was at our side to assist with the luggage to the curb.
Our stay at the Istanbul Hilton was not only delightful, but very helpful when I suffered a debilitating bursitis attack. The concierge arranged for a house physician who was prompt, professional, and courteous. The fee was $100 US. Following a thorough exam and an injection, 5 prescriptions were filled and delivered to my room at a cost of $24.00 US.
As a couple, we felt completely safe to visit the Blue Mosque, St Sofia, and the
Cisterns on our own, after which we walked for several long blocks to the Grand Bazaar.
Everyone we met along the way was friendly and helpful.
The Turkish economy has suffered greatly in recent years, in part due to their loyalty to the US. We had no problems with money exchanges, as the Euro or US dollar was readily and happily accepted. Bargaining in the Grand Bazaar was entertaining and on the whole, very successful. The vendors bothered some in our group, but we found them full of good humor and we enjoyed cheerful and friendly banter with them.
I note that the week after our visit (in August, 2006) our local newspaper printed a warning from terrorists to tourists about visiting Turkey. Check with the US Travel advisory regarding that."
"If you bring your Quad phone and are planning on using a Turkish Sim card, register your phone with Customs on entering. The Sim card will deactivate for use on your phone in a couple of days (though it will work on a turkish phone). This is done to minimize the ability to use stolen phones."
- Linda Cote, Belchertown, MA,
"We just returned from Turkey in July and loved the country. It is a bridge between east and west, so many civilizations passed through and lelt their signature on the culture. All you really need is an ATM card, since there are machines everywhere, then you won't have to handle much cash. You can withdraw Turkish lira, euros, or US dollars. this was so convenient for us."
- Laurie Tognetti, Penngrove, CA,