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General Info about Turkey

Currency
The unit of currency is the Turkish Lira (TL) and it comes in notes of 250,000, 500,000, 1,000,000 and 5,000,000TL. The coins in use are 500, 1,000, 2,500, 5,000, 10,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 250,000TL.

Language
The official language is Turkish but English and German are widely spoken in all major tourist areas and in the bigger towns and cities.

Climate
Because of its size and its varied topography, Turkey has several climatic zones. The Aegean, Marmara and Mediterranean coasts enjoy a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. July and August are the hottest months with average temperatures of about 29 degrees Celsius. Humidity is also quite high. If you’re travelling to the Black Sea region of the country you will experience a moderate climate where summers are warm and winters are mild. Rainfall is also heavier here than in any other party of Turkey. Apart from the differences between these two regions, there is also quite a contrast between the coastal parts of the country and the inland areas so it’s probably best to check the region to which you are travelling before you go just to be sure.

Time Zone
Turkey is two hours ahead of GMT but it also operates on Daylight Saving Time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October

Opening Hours
The smaller shops and bazaars are usually open from 9.30am to 1.00pm and from 2.00pm to 7.00pm from Monday to Saturday. The majority of the larger stores do not close in the afternoon. Furthermore, grocery stores open as early as 6.00am and many remain open until 8.00pm from Monday to Saturday. Banks, post offices and tourist offices are generally open between 8.30am and 12.30pm and again from 1.30pm until 5.30pm. It is also worth noting that during the hottest months in some cities the working day is between 7.00am and 2.00pm and during Ramazan shorter hours are also worked.

Electricity
The electricity current used in Turkey is 220 volts, 50 AC.

Tax
An average 15% value added tax or KDV is nearly always included in the price of most goods and service and most shops will display a sign saying ‘Fiatlarimizda KDV Dahildir’. If you get a bill where the tax is added in separately check it out as this is most unusual. The good news, however, is that tourists can claim this tax back on any large purchases made in shops which state that they offer tax free shopping for tourists. In order to avail of this incentive you must ask for a refund receipt or KDV iade ozel fatura which you can use to reclaim any tax paid on your departure from the country.

Visa Requirements
Canadian and New Zealand nationals can stay in Turkey or up to ninety days without a visa and South Africans may stay for 30 days. Citizens of all other countries do need a visa and these can be obtained from the Turkish Consulate in your area. It is usually more convenient, however, if you get them when you arrive in Turkey.

Tourist Office
Even the smaller towns in Turkey have an official tourist office which is run by the Ministry of Tourism. These offices are generally open from 8.30am until 12.00 or 12.30pm and again from 1.30pm until 5.30pm from Monday to Friday although they do have extended opening hours in summer. In the larger cities, however, there are also offices which are operated by the city itself or by a local tourism association. Finally, if you are really desperate for information but can’t find any, try to locate the local town hall or belediye sarayi where someone should be able to find someone to help.

Currency Exchange
Banks are open weekdays from 8:30 AM until noon or 12:30 PM, depending on the bank, and from 1:30 PM until 5.00 PM.

You do need to be aware that in Turkey, travellers cheques are very rarely accepted but the good news is that ATMs are to be found in abundance. Almost all accept international bank cards and credit cards. As in most countries, you can usually see exactly what cards a machine accepts displayed above the ATM. The next good news is that almost all machines have a language key to ensure that transactions are extremely straight forward.

Telephones
The international calling code for Turkey is 090 so if you are calling from abroad you need to dial 00, followed by 90, the local area code and the local number.

The new phones in the bigger towns andcities accept phone cards known as telekart which you can purchase at the post office. The older ones require tokens or jeton. The newer phones, you will be delighted to learn, have directions in English and if you do have any problems, the number for assistance within Turkey is 118 and for international directory assistance you will need to dial 115.

Post Office
Post offices in Turkey are pretty hard to miss primarily due to the fact that they are painted bright yellow and have PTT (Post, Telegraph, and Telephone) signs on the front.

The principal post office in the bigger cities is generally open from 8.00am to 9.00pm from Monday to Saturday and from 9.00am to 7.00pm on Sundays. The other post offices in cities and those in smaller towns throughout the country open from 8.30am to 5.00pm from Monday to Friday.

Tipping
While it is by no means written in stone, waiters should be tipped between five and ten percent of the total. In the more expensive restaurants, fifteen to twenty percent is expected. Taxi drivers do not have to be tipped but it is usual to round the fare off the nearest 100TL.

Public Holidays
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In Turkey they take place on January 1st, March 4th to 8th, April 23rd, May 19th, August 30th, October 29th and December 20th, 21st and 25th. It is a good idea to check the particular area too as certain towns and cities also shut down during special events.

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