How To Spot and Avoid Common Istanbul Tourist Scams?

Pickpocketing is only one of the few Istanbul tourist scams you can experience.

by Erlend Geerts

in Visa, Money & Safety

Istanbul, just like every world city, has to cope with its typical tourist scams. Although most Turks are unbelievably honest and would go the extra mile to help you rather than rip you off, in a city with well over 12 million inhabitants, you’ll always find a few people with different intentions. This shouldn’t scare you, on the contrary. Compared to other world cities, Istanbul has fewer tourist traps, and thanks to this post you will be able to spot and avoid these scams easily.

The Setting

Before I dive into the details of each different Istanbul tourist scam, keep the following in mind:

  • most of these rip-offs occur in Istanbul’s very touristic, crowded and/or busy places, e.g. Sultanhamet Square, Istiklal Caddesi, Cumhurriyet Caddesi, Taksim Square and its surrounding streets. Therefore, you are less likely to come across scams in residential areas such as Cihangir, home to the Witt Istanbul Hotel.
  • their preferred targets are tourists travelling alone (Let’s Have a Drink) or in very small groups
  • if you suspect a scam coming up and don’t accept their invitation right from the start, they will never get rude or insult you, and just move on

Let’s Have a Drink

Goal — Get you to enter one of their bars with overpriced drinks and underdressed women. The result is always the same: you end up with a huge bill, often into hundreds of Euros.

Target — Single white men

Set-up — A well-dressed man, fluent in English, approaches you and tries to start a conversation. If you’re a smoker he’ll ask you for a lighter (and if you pay close attention, you may even notice him throwing away a burning sigarette seconds earlier). If you’re not, then he may just walk up to you. And even if you’re sitting alone at a terrace table, he may sit down at the table next to you and start a conversation this way.
Regardless of his approach, the conversation will always lead in the same direction: whether you would like to join him for some after work drinks in a great place (of a friend of his) that he knows.

How to Avoid — Never take advice from complete strangers about establishments worth trying out. You’ll find a nice selection of the best cafés, bars and nightclubs on this site. Just tell him you’re waiting/meeting with two or three other friends and are not interested. Right from the start decline his invitation and move on. Don’t promise ‘tomorrow’, because he may keep on trying his chance for days to come.

Non-mobile and probably legitimate shoe shine spot in Istanbul.Shoe Shine

Goal — Talk you into getting a shoe shine (for free) and overcharge you afterwards.

Target — Singles, couples, small families or groups

Set-up — They have mainly two tricks up their sleeve to get them to polish your shoes. Either they walk past you and drop their brush on one of your shoes, or they walk in front of you and drop their brush hoping you would pick it up and hand it to him. The result for both cases is the same: to apologize or as a token of gratitude, they start shining your shoes. While you think it’s for free, he’ll demand you to pay much more than the price of a regular shoe shine. If you start arguing, more of his ‘colleagues’ will show up to back him up.

How to Avoid — Don’t pick up the brush and just keep on walking. In case the brush fell on your shoe, tell him that it’s ok and move on. Having said this, there are plenty of legitimate shoe shines in Istanbul doing a great job. They normally don’t move around and ask between 5 and 10 TL. Agree on the price beforehand — for both shoes! (another trick)

Carpet or Leather Shop

Goal — Get you to buy goods in shops he works for, and where you with near certainty won’t get the best bargain.

Target — Anybody wandering around in Sultanahmet and the Grand Bazaar

Set-up — A very friendly guy, fluent in several languages, will ask if you are lost and need some help in locating some of the sightseeing spots and/or Grand Bazaar shops. And as he ‘guides’ you, he’ll pass some of his shops and remember he had to drop something off. He will of course invite you in to meet his family member(s).
Before you know it, you’ll be drinking tea, listening to how only they still make quality leather or carpets, and why you should buy something there. If you manage to keep your wallets closed, he promises to take you to the place you were actually looking for … and the whole procedure starts again.

How to Avoid — When people offer to guide you around, be aware. Instead, if you’re really lost, you take the initiative by asking someone.

Don't give pick pocketers a chance and carry your back-pack in the front.Pickpocketing

Goal — Steal your wallet or other valuables.

Target — Careless tourists.

Set-up — None! Any crowded steert or place will do.

How to Avoid — Just like any Turk, keep your wallet in the front pockets of your pants, wear your handbags within eyesight and carry back-packs on the front of your body. Make sure all the zippers are properly closed. Also, never leave bags or other valuables such as mobile phones, iPods, etc. unattended on (terrace) tables or easy to grab for bypassers.

Taxi Scams

Goal — Overcharge you for the ride.

Target — Anybody

Set-up — Traffic jams, short cuts, etc.

How to Avoid — Check out Tips To Prevent Popular Istanbul Taxi Scams.

Photo Sources [1] [2] [3]

What's Next

Hubert May 27, 2013 at 3:03 am

Great advice. They seem to pick out single male travellers. I feel like an idiot because i fell for the friendly scam. I got away any way….my advice…don’t talk to them, or at least, keep your wits about you and go nowhere you don’t know…don’t go to their shops …it’s a con !!! Turkish hospitality? Yes, it exists , but be careful!
Ta.

Ejaz June 23, 2013 at 4:33 am

Hi ! My name is Ali and I am working with Turkish govt for the last couple of months which provided me an opportunity to stay in istanbul for quite some time now. Yesterday 22 June 2013 turned out to be an unlucky day as I was pick pocketed. While I was travelling From eminonu to kabatas through T-1, I found my wallet missing in a flash of a second from my front pocket of my trouser. After few seconds once the train was stopping at pendik station I noticed an elderly man standing beside me with his huge stack of luggage picking my wallet from ground and looking around for owner, which happened to be me once I desperately reached my pockets in a state of shock and utter state of denial. But luckily my cards were intact and only the cash worth 550 Turkish lira was siphoned. Now once I recollect my memory and recalled what happened was that a young couple while pretending to be cousing up were actually stalking and planning their moves in a crowded tramway at around 1800 hrs or so which is rush time as most of the people are heading back to their homes. The most shocking and disgust came that after disembarking at kabtash I immediately told the on duty cop of the incident, but his non helpful attitude and coldness sent shiver in my spine and I had to accept this ugly reality that nothing would make the difference. I went to the police station near tophane and my disgust came true that the police officials were least interested to catch the thief even when I told them that I was standing very near to the entry door with excellent security camera view of the surrounding. But sooner I could make out that I was another part of their crime statistics. Never the less, please be extra carefull while travelling in tramvey around Eminonu and Sultan Ahmet area, first and foremost secure your belongings close to your upper body and in front so as to have clear view and the thief may not approach it easily, secondly don’t carry to much cash and please secure your cards and money at different pockets or locations. Be extra careful while some body is getting very close or about to touch you once train is stoping or brakes are applied because at that time you may be thinking that because of braking some one has brushed your body who is standing beside you but actually this is the right time to make the criminal move.

Tourist June 27, 2013 at 12:59 am

I was walking along a street beside the sultanhamet when a man called man said hi and tried striking up a conversation. Immediately I suspected something but decided to hear what he had to say. The reason i became suspicious was that he said he was suprised i was american because i looked russian. That not quite true and i had never been told that in my life. The only logical explanation I came up with was that he was trying to establish his innocence, to hid the fact he was targeting white americans. He invited me in to his carpet shop and went on about all his fine products. I told him id come by later. I asked for directions to a hotel I wanted to take a look at. He said he’d take me. On the way there he asked me a lot of questions. Most involving girls and sex and clubs. Eventually he asked if I wanted to get a drink. I had been playing along the whole time and I knew then was the time to back out. I told him i was late for a dinner and he gave me a card and I took off. Be careful people. Istanbul can be a dangerous city if you aren’t cautious and observant.

Erlend Geerts June 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Hi Tourist,

Thanks for sharing. This exactly what I warned for in the “Let’s Have a Drink” setup above.

Again, there is nothing dangerous about Istanbul, on the contrary. But like in every big city, there will always be some con artists.

Cheers,
Erlend

Lyn Scott October 15, 2013 at 9:49 pm

I found your tips and advice on getting around Istanbul very helpful. Taxis don’t move in the traffic and the public transport works well. Istanbul is a city with wonderful sights and food.
We booked a post-conference tour to Cappadocia and it was rip-off. We paid €550 per person to Istanbulwalks, and if we’d booked the identical trip on the internet it would have cost us half that amount.
The hot air ballon trip in Cappadocia was magic!

Nathan October 22, 2013 at 11:20 pm

I had a shoe shine on the Asian side the guy shined my shoes after we had agreed upon a price. When I stared to leave he said the price was per shoe. I paid 20 TL for a shine. Just one more of their tricks.

mark October 25, 2013 at 9:03 am

I’ve traveled extensively and have to say Istanbul is the worst city for scams I’ve ever experienced. From the minute you arrive, you have to be on guard. The scams you highlight here are extraordinarily helpful and I wish I’d read this before I came. A few anecdotes:

–Come to my carpet place, my family has been in business for years, etc, etc.–yup, got that one at the Blue Mosque;
–the shoe shine bit with the brush–yup, got that outside the military museum–the guy started to shine my Goretex hiking boots–told him to take a hike himself;
–The Taxi scam–ah yes the taxi scam–nice old guy, picked us up at the Hippodrome late at night–talked in broken English all the way home–bill was TL33 (about 15 too high). Handed him a 20 and a 5 and was fumbling for the remainder. He hands me back two 5’s and points to 33 on the meter. I challenged him. He got TL33.
–Next day I’m walking across the entry lane to the cruise ship dock and I see an elderly British couple getting out of a taxi. Husband in front seat, wife with cane struggling to get out of the back seat. Husband fumbling with money. Money changing hands rapidly between husband and driver. This goes on for like 3 minutes. I should have intervened but waited and asked the old man if he was scammed. Driver hit him for TL 60 from the Blue Mosque. Cost him TL 20 to go over there.
–then there’s the Turkish Shave–a little old man with a grandfatherly white mustache just off Taksim. TL 20 for a shave–I thought that was a little high, but what the heck. I sit down in the chair, he immediately slaps the wax up my nose and in my ears. Jokes around with my fiancé and me, we take some goofy pictures. He gives me a pretty good shave, rips off my nose and ears. I get up and hand him TL22. He points to his ears and nose and says “ten Lira”. Now, I didn’t ask for the nose and ear job. It appears a typical scam in this city is to provide you something you don’t want and then charge you for it.

Now, all the above was encountered in a 5 day period. This doesn’t count the incessant hawking and obnoxious harassment we’ve encountered. It’s so bad here that when a Turk tries to be legitimately hospitable, as the Director of the Military Museum and his staff were, my first instinct is “what’s this one going to be”. Yesterday morning I was walking my fiancé to the bus (she’s a teacher and lives here) and just walking down this quiet backstreet, 20 feet from the front door, a police van was sitting in the middle of the street lurking. We were challenged and asked for our passports. I’ve traveled in abhorrently totalitarian societies and never had such a thing happen! We obviously weren’t carrying passports and fired back that we lived here and our passports were at home.

I think Turkey has a lot of work to do if it wants to convey a tourist-friendly environment. Your site is a great start.

Erlend Geerts October 25, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Hi Mark,

Thanks for sharing your experiences and the compliments.

But as with the world news, only the bad news makes the headlines and comes under the attention. Sure, you have to be careful, but keep in mind that for every scam, there are thousands of genuine, authentic hospitable actions by Turkish locals, welcoming you, and trying to make your stay in their country filled with good memories.

Kind regards,
Erlend

1sttimer May 17, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Just got the shoe shine scam, outside Suleymans mosque. Me and my fiance. It turns you down getting hit by this, after your amazement with the city and the culture. Cost us 70 LT. Worst is the feeling of ingenuity that comes, and look that Im brazilian and we have our share of scams.

Now I think the better is enjoy the rest of the town with a different perspective and attitute.

Great post

Erlend Geerts May 18, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Hi,

I’m sorry to hear this. May I ask: did you read Witt Mag before it happened or not?

Kind regards,
Erlend

Rock June 15, 2014 at 11:38 am

the only safe way to avoid shoe shine scams is don’t wear shoe and get some sandals where no one has choice to catch you up with their tricks.

Erlend Geerts June 16, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Hi Rock,

That, or being prepared after reading my posts.

Erlend

Queeni November 8, 2013 at 3:01 am

thanx a lot for that information… it’s so awesome to know it all. am next week in Istanbul for business trip and planning my days very well

Accomon November 25, 2013 at 10:20 am

Hallo
thank for sharing this information. this is unique and good information for traveler.

Erlend Geerts November 29, 2013 at 12:41 am

Thanks a lot.

Markus December 27, 2013 at 1:57 am

unfortunately I was a victim of the let’s have a drink scam. It was done so perfectly, that I didn’t have any suspicion, although I read something about it a few hours ago. After a nice conversation and dinner in a normal restaurant, he took me to Civani Club, where I ended up with a extremely high bill. Because another tourist got threatened and even physically attacked, I didn’t discuss and pay. When I went to the police, they already asked “Civani?” before I mentioned the name of the club. So, it seems to happen very often in that club. But they don’t seem to do anything. I even found articles saying that the police is involved in that scam. Istanbul may be a nice place, but be careful:
– don’t even reply to people that want to start a conversation with you
– don’t go to Civani Club / Restaurant

Erlend Geerts January 2, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Hi Markus,

Sorry to hear that. The police does crack down on these places, so it’s good you filed a complaint. Of course this takes time, since they need to collect evidence, they can’t just take your word for it.

Last year they raided and closed several of such places.

Thanks for sharing,
Erlend

Chris January 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Ha ha
I am laughing now as after reading this I found that I was an idiot and fell for the shoe shining scam

Never smart enough with these people

And got overcharged By taxi driver

Well peeps be aware istanbul is not as safe as we thought

Erlend Geerts January 16, 2014 at 10:10 am

Hi Chris,

I’m sure you mean Istanbul is very safe, just need to be aware of the taxi drivers!

Erlend

Peter January 17, 2014 at 3:32 pm

In July 2012 my partner and I were walking a sun lit pavement in a quiet district with few people around when the above shoe shine trick happened.
Despite saying NO NO NO I gave in!
If only I had seen this sooner….

Irina January 27, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Hi,
I and a girlfriend of mine are planning a 5 day trip to Istanbul in April.
I have the following question : how safe is it for 2 foreign girls to be in Istanbul? No clubs, no night life, we’d just want to discover the history, the culture and the beauty of the city. We decided for a hotel in Sultanahmed area, to be close to the places to visit.
I understand very well that if you have an appropriate behavior everywhere in the world, nothing bad should happen.
Maybe there are some areas to avoid…I don’t know…
I’ve been in Turkey 3 times before but it will be “my first” Istanbul :)

Erlend Geerts January 31, 2014 at 11:11 am

Hi Irina,

Istanbul is perfectly safe, also for two girls traveling by themselves. But of course, do you common sense.

Have fun,
Erlend

Sylvia February 26, 2014 at 10:06 am

I’m arriving Istanbul the first time on a midnite flight and will need to get to the hotel at Sultanahmet after that. After reading the above posts, I wonder if it would be safer to pay the hotel to arrange for a pick up (higher cost) or can I rely on airport taxi to bring me to the hotel safely and without overcharging me but based on the meter charges? I supposed there is nothing I could do if the driver pretended not to locate the hotel in the middle of the night.

Getting a bit worried.
Sylvia.

Erlend Geerts February 27, 2014 at 10:26 am

Hi Sylvia,

Don’t think all Istanbul taxi drivers will scam you. It’s only a minority using these shady practices. If you want to be sure, ask the hotel how much it should cost and ask them to send the directions from the airport to the hotel to you in a Turkish, so you can show it to the taxi driver.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Sylvia March 4, 2014 at 5:52 am

Thank you Erlend. I will check with the hotel per your advice.

Fingers crossed :)
Sylvia.

Amy February 26, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Thank you so much for your advice. I read your site just before I went to Istanbul for the weekend. I successfully avoided the scam attempts (the dropped brush, taxi hustlers in the terminal, private Bosphorus cruise offers, etc) and felt so much more confident about what to do and where to go. I had a great time, thank you again so much! Such a useful site!

Sam March 2, 2014 at 8:09 am

While visiting Istanbul , my husband and I were walking along the Bosphorus towards the ferry port when a man approached us saying he was Italian (looked Turkish) but was asking for directions. We said we didn’t know . All of a sudden a man runs towards us quickly flashes his ID badge and says he’s a police officer. He asks us if this man was harassing us, and said don’t take money from him he’s a scam artist and stay safe. He took the Italian man’s wallet and said the money is fake , he then asked for id my husband took out his wallet and showed him his driving licence. Luckily my husband didn’t have any cash on him. The policeman then asked for dollars and euros. We said and he saw we had no money. So he left us alone.
We reflected on our stupidity later , we should have looked at his badge properly, and been more defensive . TIP- leave your cash/wallet in your inside jacket pocket

Jonathan March 26, 2014 at 2:30 am

Hello,
I’ll be in Instanbul alone for my own for 7 days mostly for street photography and now I got myself thinking how safe it will be for me a young man to walk around with my camera exposed. I want pictures of Sultanahmet and Ortakoy at night too.

Erlend Geerts March 26, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Hi Jonathan,

I wouldn’t expect any problems during the day, but for night shoots try to go with a group.

Erlend

ahmet April 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Hey stay away from drunks and gypsies.
i have been in Amsterdam Paris Munich Köln etc but Istanbul is safer than those cities.
But anyway, you should find a friend, at least for the nights.

Albert April 12, 2014 at 9:57 pm

After spending some time travelling in Turkey, I can attest to the constant, “Do you speak English (French, Greman…”), with the intention of getting you to do something or go somewhere that is completely in the interest of himself, and will result in your buying something or being ripped off. I’m amazed by the reports of “friendly” Turks inviting you to tea only to immediately start to display his grandmother’s lace or leatherwork. Why do people see this as hospitable? For comparison visit Greece where people are really helpful and friendly. I’ve been there a number of times.

Erlend Geerts April 14, 2014 at 7:31 am

Hi Albert,

That great Turkish hospitality still exists, but you must get off the beaten tourist track.

Erlend

Mohammad April 16, 2014 at 3:34 am

great reading all the scams… i wanted to add something most turkish men out on the streets and not working in proper jobs are bullshitters. british + american and some european countries tourist are very easy to scam… thats why they do it. so its best you be very aware and clever when ur travel and always be on guard…. i had to use there own tactics on them. i was in a club and i bought a table from a tourist stand. did feel it wasnt legit but still paid around 280 Euros. inside the club they said all you paid for was the club entry and not bottle service. i couldnt take the bullshit anymore….so i started to bullshit back stating i owned a few clubs in london…this is not how it works. made a huge comotion acting like a spoilt rich man…to the point where the owner of the club came to me apologised to and then after that the drinks were flowing non stop without paying a penny or lira. this wasnt at any small club but a big club…. so act smart if it means causing a comotion then do it.

Erlend Geerts April 16, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Hi Mohammed,

Thanks for sharing.

As always, when you know you’re right, sure stand on your right, but stay polite. This usually (with the help of others) gets the job done.

Erlend

Maimoun April 23, 2014 at 9:32 am

I completely agree with the facts stated on this article. It happened to me twice with two different guys who took me to the same place. I don’t drink I don’t have interest to hang out with the girls I don’t know but I ended up with a huge bill just for sitting with the guys who brought me to the area. On my first visit, the guy approached me at the Sultan Ahmet square and he invited me for a hooka and tea. At first I refused to go but finally I agreed and drove together to the place. The place we were supposed to go was closed and he said let’s go to the best place that he knows. We went to the nightclub next to the Marmara Sea, it is dark with many girls from different parts of the world, we sat down and they brought us some chips, fruits, nuts and some kind of snacks, I thought this was a starter but by itself it costs up to $100. The guy ordered some kind of drink and I asked for mineral water. Minutes later two girls, Russian and Ukranian girls came to our table and sat down with us. I was not interested as I said but the guy said don’t let me down, let her drink and I will pay bill. They sat down with us and drunk many glasses of different types of alcohol. The bill came up 4000 TL( Turkish Lira) which was $2200. To my surprise he told them to split up the bill between us. I did not have more than 200 TL with me and my wallet was not with me. They asked me if I can use my credit card or give them my passport until I come up with the money. I told them, at least I can pay my portion of the bill which is for the mineral water that costs only 1 TL outside. They said I have to pay $1200 regardless of what I had. I refused to pay and tried to convince them that was his bill and I don’t have anything to do with it. They searched my pockets and my socks. They even threatened me physically. They took whatever I had and left them to deal with the guy who brought me. The second time I had to leave minutes after I arrived the place but it ended up cost me 225 TL for the Deserts and for one glass of Sprite. I am in a process of writing to the local officials with the help of one of one of the tourism firms in Istanbul. They also refuse to give you receipt that details the prices. Stay away from this place and others.

Miss Smarty May 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm

I have lived in Istanbul for two years and obviously am quite jaded. “Although most Turks are unbelievably honest and would go the extra mile to help you rather than rip you off”…… To be blunt, I have never met a Turk who didn’t rip me off………….

Erlend Geerts May 31, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Hi,

In typical tourist areas you may indeed feel like that. But half of the problem also lies with the visitors. Unlike the west, prices are rarely mentioned and people forget to ask before buying/ordering.
As you mentioned, you’ve been living here for two years. I do hope you have noticed the difference by now between tourist traps and genuine Turks living outside these areas. Moreover, when I talk about honesty, I’m talking about stealing. I can’t tell how many times I (looking as a non Turk) have been warned by locals to keep my wallet in my front pocket, keep an eye on my backpack, or not leave my smartphone on a terrace table. That’s honest advice.
But sure, as in every world city, you will find people with bad intentions. Often immigrants themselves.
Kind regards,
Erlend

Kelvin June 5, 2014 at 12:46 am

Me and my girlfriend today met this very nice young Turkish guy. We approached him first asking for directions just outside ayasofia. What initially was a initial casual chat about which tourist areas is worth visiting proceeded to weird situations. Then after hearing our schedule, (we told him that we planned to go to pamukkale then to cappadocia and are 2 students), he immediately said he went to cappadocia last month for a very cheap price and that the package was offered to him by his friend who runs an agency called shiny agency just around the corner from ayasofia. He said his family runs a carpet shop and that he has only been learning English for 2 months. What really got to me was that he took us to basilica cistern and waited for us to exit and then proceeded to take us to his friends agency. At the agency there was this older guy with a white moustache and a very young Turkish teenager. We were offered tea and we told the agency our full schedule in which the older guy then using a blank piece of a4 paper copied it down. Then he made a couple of phone calls whilst writing down some information. Consequently after he double checked everything with us he went to his computer and used his companies “system” to check the total price for the package. The price came up to 318 euros and the package is as follows:
Cappadocia rainbow air balloon for 110 euros
Bus tickets from pamukkale to fethiye
Bus tickets from fethiye to goreme
Bus tickets from goreme to safranbolu
Also included island tour in fethiye and pamukkale
Drivers to pick us up and take us to our hotel in each place
Of course me and my gf declined in the politest way possible and managed to leave without paying for anything. This deal sounds too good to be true so I was wondering are there any scams of this sort in istanbul. Although all the available information blatantly screams scam to me. Also not to mention the agency claimed that I would require drivers as places such as pammukklae airport has not available transport out to the hotel areas apart from taxis. Any follow up information or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Erlend Geerts June 5, 2014 at 7:31 am

Hi Kelvin,

You did well to leave of course. Only make deals with established travel agencies, who you can call and rely on in case something goes wrong. As for the carpet shops, the good ones don’t need someone to drag in visitors, they get recommended and are never short of customers.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Dr. Shagufa Anwar June 17, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Dear Erlend, I am planning to travel to Turkey at July last week. My husband and 10 month old daughter will be with me. Other than spending times in Istanbul, we are planning for a 2 day Gallipoli- Troy trip in private car, do you think the tour operators may be scam and will it be safe as they may rob and rip us off! After reading about all these frauds, really feeling scared. Please guide me, put some light, help.
Shagufa

Erlend Geerts June 18, 2014 at 10:33 am

Hi Shagufa,

I don’t understand your question I’m afraid. If you rent from well known car rental companies, you should not have any problems. If you don’t want to drive yourself (which I suggest), then book a tour from reputable tour operators. Unfortunetly, I can’t be of assistance for that since I never took a similar tour. But I know the Efendi Travel runs an honest business. Maybe check out their tours.

Kind regards,
Erlend

amna June 23, 2014 at 2:49 am

The Han restaurant near the blue mosque is a total scam. Overpriced and shifty waiters. I paid £55 for a mediocre mixed grill and 20£ for water and a diet Pepsi and some bread. They lure you into a false sense of security plus slap on 10%. The waiter was flirting embarrassingly with me while I was with my father and it was all quite sleazy and embarrassing. Don’t go there. Istanbul is amazing but these guys are thieves

Jean Akouri June 28, 2014 at 6:04 pm

You can add the “this 20 is no good” to a cab driver aiming to get a 50 from you so he can switch it to a 5. I was on to him instantly when I saw the 5 but he had dropped me off in the tunnel under Taksim Square and I felt it would be safer to play stupid and let him keep the 50. I actually knowingly gave him another 35 (the fare was 32, which I also know was a rip off as it is). I wished him a “Ramadan Karim” as he had been going on about how it’s the first day and he has to fast until 9.30, and got out of the car. I doubt he got the irony.

I was actually scared as the only reason I took a cab from Sultanahmet to begin with was because my elderly mother is traveling with me and she has had hip replacement and ankle surgeries from an old car accident. I simply wanted to get her and me out of there.

Oh, and another note. I had declined getting into a cab right off Aya Sophia because the driver verbally quoted me a higher fee than the hotel said I should expect. That parked cab driver then called the driver in the car I got into. That bit was obvious. The driver I was riding with at that time tried to start the meter at around 8 TL when I mentioned that it should be around 3 from what I had read. He fixed that, but got me later. It’s literally mafia-like.

Note two other scams you describe were also attempted on me, but my instincts got me out of them. I was led to your site after Googling the first incident. I agree many Turks in the city are great, but Istanbul really is the capital of scammers on so many levels. And I am a frequent traveler to various places. Never encountered anything like this.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: