Dos and Don’ts

Atatürk: An image or statue of the founder of the Turkish Republic is in shops, workplaces, government buildings, and public squares. Defamation of his likeness, name, or character is illegal.

Visiting Mosques: Remove shoes before entering. Women should cover their head with a scarf.

Questions: Turks are inquisitive. If you don’t care to answer questions, vague responses are acceptable. Or ask a new question in reply.

Bargaining: Get a feel for the real value of the goods before starting. No negotiation in malls, taxis, or restaurants. Don’t haggle unless you intend to buy.

Hospitality: Turkish protocol dictates the host pay for the meal. Sharing a bill is a foreign concept. You may offer to pay, which may be seen as polite, but your Turkish host might not allow it. If they refuse you twice, allow them to pay. If you want to pay, be prepared to pick up the entire tab.

Photos: When taking photos of people, gesture or ask permission. You may be asked to send them a copy.

Restrooms: Most restrooms have both European pedestal and Asian squat toilets. Carry your own tissue and dispose in the stall’s trash can rather than flushing—Istanbul’s plumbing is ancient. Some facilities require a coin payment at the entrance.

Sending Email: The @ sign on Turkish keyboards is produced by simultaneously pressing Alt Gr and Q.

Phrase Book

Merhaba: Hello. Pronounced MEHR-hah-bah

Lütfen: Please. Pronounced LEWT-fen

Teşekkürler: Thank you. Pronounced teh-sheh-KEWR-ler

Bakarmısınız?: Excuse me (to get someone’s attention). Pronounced bah-KAHR-muh-sun-uz

Nerede?: Where is...? Pronounced NEH-reh-deh

Bana yardım edermisiniz?: Can you please help me? Pronounced BAH-na yar-DUM eh-DER-mih-sin-iz

Anlamıyorum: I don’t understand. Pronounced ahn-LAH-mee-yor-oom

İngilizce biliyormusunuz?: Do you speak English? Pronounced eeng-gee-LEEZ-jeh bee-lee-YOR-moo-soo-nooz

Doktor/banka/taksi lazım: I need a doctor/bank/taxi. Pronounced DOHK-tor/BAHN-kah/TAHK-see LAH-zum

Bu adrese gitmek istiyorum: I want to go to this address. Pronounced boo ah-DRES-eh git-MEK IS-tee-YOR-um

Burada iniyorum: I’m getting out here (for bus/taxi/transport). Pronounced BOO-rah-dah IN-ee-YOR-um

Ne kadar?: How much (does this cost)? Pronounced NEH kah-DAHR

Çok pahalı: (That is) too expensive. Pronounced CHOK pah-hah-luh


About Istanbul and Turkey

  • <p>Photo: Grand Bazaar</p>


    Get travel tips, see photos, take a quiz and more with National Geographic's Ultimate Guide to Istanbul.

  • <p>Photo: Whirling dervishes</p>


    Explore Turkey through facts and photos, related features, a country map, and more.

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