TOURIST INFORMATION

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Time
Turkey is 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT + 3)

Health & Safety

Emergency telephone numbers; Police 155 Medical 112 Fire 110

Climate and Clothing

In late October, the weather in Istanbul is generally cool and slightly overcast. Daily temperatures average 18 C (64 F). Temperatures tend to drop in the evening, so a jacket is recommended.

Cuisine and Restaurants

Turkish cuisine is among the most varied and extensive in the world, and fine restaurants offering the classics of Turkish cuisine as well as modern interpretations of classic favorites dot the Istanbul culinary landscape. Istanbul, with a restaurant almost literally at every turn, is a real culinary treat, and a snacker’s paradise. Whether you try the variations of Kebabs, or the fresh fish from the Bosphorus or the numerous kinds of fresh vegetables, you are guaranteed the delicious dining experience. One can also find delicious but less expensive tastes for budget conscious attendees. In every part of the city there are small cafés and restaurants and kiosks serving excellent food in the lower price category. If you’re looking for a taste of the world, international cuisine is available at enticing locations across Istanbul, historic and modern, many with breathtaking views of the Bosphorus. As always being said, cosmopolitan Istanbul is not only a meeting place of cultures for centuries but also a meeting place of cuisines.

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Medical Services
Having travel insurance is highly advisable. For minor problems, it’s customary to ask at a chemist/pharmacy (Eczane) for advice. Ensure you know the generic name of your medicine; the commercial name may not be the same in Turkey. The word for hospital is ‘Hastane’. Usually doctors in Turkey speak English.

Money
The unit of currency is the Türk Lirası (Turkish Lira; TL). Coins come in amounts of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 kuruş and 1 lira, and notes in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Türk Lirası. Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey http://www.tcmb.gov.tr/yeni/eng/ Banknotes in Circulation and Their Security Features http://www.tcmb.gov.tr

ATMs
Automated teller machines (ATMs, cashpoints) are common in Istanbul. All of the banks and some smaller banks have ATMs. Virtually all of them offer instructions in English, French and German and will pay out Turkish liras when you insert your bank debit (cash) card. ATMs will also pay cash advances on Visa and Mastercard. The limit on cash withdrawals is generally TL 600 to TL 1000 per day, though this varies from bank to bank.

Changing money
There is 24-hour exchange bureaux (döviz bürosu) in the arrivals halls at International Airports that offer rates comparable to those offered by bureaux in the city. US dollars and euros are easily changed at exchange bureaux. They are also often accepted as payment without being changed. Rates are similar whichever bureau you go to, with the possible exception of those in the tourist precinct of Sultanahmet. Bureaux are open long hours (at a minimum, between 9am and 7pm). You will usually need to show your passport when changing cash. As Turkish liras are fully convertible, there is no black market.

Credit cards
Most hotels, car-rental agencies, shops, pharmacies, entertainment venues and restaurants will accept Visa and Mastercard; Amex isn’t as widely accepted as the others and Diner’s isn’t accepted often. Budget hostels and hotels, and basic eateries usually accept cash only.

Traveller’s cheques
If you have traveller’s cheques, you will have to change them at a bank or post office. Exchange bureaux do not handle them. You’ll need to show your passport.

T
axes & Refunds
Turkey has a value-added tax (VAT) known as the katma değer vergisi (KDV). Don’t forget to ask the shopkeeper for the Global Refund Check for your purchase over 100 TL + VAT in one store. Some shops display a blue, grey and white ‘Tax Free Shopping’ sign in their window, conveniently signalling that they are participants in the refund scheme. When you leaving Turkey, latest in three months following your shopping simply show your purchases, ‘tax free’ invoices and passports to customs officials, where staff will stamp the receipts to confirm that you are leaving the country, have your Global Refund invoice/check stamped. You have several choice to collect your refund. You can have immediate cash at your nearby Cash Refund Office, or mail your customs validated check to Global Refund-Turkey within 90 days for direct crediting of a chosen credit card or a bank cheque to be sent to your address. Atatürk Airport Cash Refund Office or İşbank open every day – 24 hours. Sabiha Gökçen Airport İşbank open every day – 24 hours. Karaköy Harbor İşbank open every day – 24 hours.