Tips To Prevent Popular Istanbul Taxi Scams

Picture of a typical yellow taxi in Istanbul, Turkey.

by Erlend Geerts

in Transportation, Visa, Money & Safety

Taking a taxi (taksi) in Istanbul is a cheap, easy and comfortable way of transportation. But with 20.000 taxis driving around town, only a fool would believe all drivers are honest. Luckily most of them are indeed fair, but there are a rising amount of cases where tourists get hustled while taking a taxi ride in Istanbul.

Here are the most popular Istanbul taxi scams, and how you can prevent them from happening to you.

Making the Taxi Ride Longer

  • Scam —  This a very common trick pulled on tourist by taxi drivers all over the world, and Istanbul is no exception to the rule. As a tourist you don’t know the shortest way to your destination, so the taxi driver can easily make an extra tour around the block and spice up the bill. In case the tourist does know the way, he’ll come up with the excuse that there is a massive traffic jam on the usual route.
  • Solution —  If you are indeed unfamiliar with the roads and/or don’t speak Turkish, there is unfortunately very little you can do to tell him what route to take. That’s why we came up with giving you an overview of Istanbul taxi fares to the most common tourist destinations. This will give you a nice indication on when to start arguing with the taxi driver and cut the bill he presents you.

The Turkish Lira Note Switch

  • Scam — For arguments sake, let’s assume the fare is 15 TL and you hand him a 50 TL note. Out of sight he switches the note with a 5 TL note he has ready, shows it to you and waits for you to hand him the ‘remaining’ 10 TL note. Where you expected to get change, you’re confused (since you’re not familiar with the money) and end up paying 60 TL for a 15 TL drive.
  • Solution — Always make sure you have plenty of small bank notes and even coins on you for taxi rides so you can hand the taxi driver the exact amount due. In case you do have to hand a bigger note and expect change, double check the value of the note before you hand it to the driver. Also, tipping a taxi driver is not a Turkish custom unless he helped you with (un)loading your luggage.

I Have No Change

  • Scam — Again, let’s assume the fair is 16 TL and you hand him a 20 TL bill. The driver seemingly looks a bit around in his cab. After a minute he comes up with only 1 TL in change, claiming he ran out of coins. This way he tries to ‘earn’ another 3 TL.
  • Solution — You have two options. If it’s only a few Turkish Liras, you can just let it go. Or, what I mostly do, just sit in the car and tell him to go change the note in a shop. You’d be surprised how quickly they all of a sudden come up with the exact change.

A Fixed Price Instead of Using The Meter

  • Scam — The driver suggests to agree on a price for the ride to your destination instead of using the taxi meter. He’ll argue you’re better off this way, because there is a lot of traffic, he’ll take a short cut and you’ll pay less. Why would he want to be so kind to you? He isn’t!
  • Solution — Always insist to use the meter! If he doesn’t want to use the meter, or even worse doesn’t have one, refuse the ride, get out and flag down another taxi. The same goes in case he claims half way the ride the meter breaks down. Just make him stop next to a police car, and get out. He won’t argue with you, trust me.

Taxi, Taxi? Follow Me!

  • Scam — There are about 19.000 official and licensed taxi drivers in Istanbul. Unfortunately, there are at least a similar amount of illegal, unlicensed or private taxi drivers. Some may offer better rates, the majority doesn’t!
  • Solution — Only take official taxis. Istanbul taxis are yellow, have a taksi sign on the roof, have a meter built in (newer ones have them integrated in the mirror) and show their affiliation with a taxi stand, airport, hotel, etc. painted on their doors. You can have the hotel call one for you, look for them at taxi stands or just flag them down on the street.

Night Versus Daytime

  • Scam — The taxi driver puts the taxi meter on night time (gece) during the day, or during the night. Either way, it’s not correct because the night time/daytime difference has been abolished!
  • Solution — Make sure the meter is always set to daytime (gündüz). These words should appear on the meter display at regular intervals. For the new, mirror integrated meters, the daytime code to look for is ‘1’.

Unsafe Driving

This is not a scam, but some Istanbul taxi drivers think the city is one giant race track. Sure, they are very experienced drivers and want to serve as much customers in a day as possible. If you ever start feeling unsafe, just tell the driver yavaş (yavash), which means as much as ‘slow down’. Just repeat the word until the driver reaches a speed you feel comfortable with. If he doesn’t comply, just get out at the first opportunity you have.

(Photo Source)

What's Next

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Shahina March 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Hi Erlend,

I love reading your articles about Istanbul.
This year I am going back for the fourth time and I must say that I have experienced all these tricks before. But there is one more, I was sitting in the back with my friend and while we were talking the taxi driver used his finger to increase the price on the meter. It was strange because when I first looked it was 18TL 20 seconds later it was 42TL we ended up with a price of 60TL for a ride that was normally 15TL. I noticed this trick after we stepped out of the car. But the solution for this trick is that one person has to sit next to the driver, he would not do this because it is obvious that he will notice that you are looking at the price. I have experienced a lot more in Istanbul but the city is amazing and I am looking forward to going back!

Greets!

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Erlend Geerts March 11, 2013 at 7:18 am

Hi Shahina,

Thanks for your extra tip. The easiest way to prevent this, instead of sitting in the front, is to do what locals do. After getting in, just when the taxi starts moving very ostentative have a look at the meter. Not only can you make sure the starting fee is correct, the taxi driver will notice this and know you are aware of the tricks. Repeat this step 5 minutes later, and you should be fine.

And in a case like yours, when you are hundred percent sure he overcharged (and not just one or two Liras) just say you’ll stop the first police car to have their opinion before you pay. He will reduce the fare quickly to the normal one.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Sam June 23, 2013 at 4:20 am

I hope Turkish Taxi drivers and other good and nice Turks read your comments and advise those few naughty drives to behave nicely and clear their name such that more international tourism go to the beautiful Istanbul.

Cheers
Sam

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Darr July 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Hi Erlend,

I am lost on the “A Fixed Price Instead of Using The Meter” scam. What is the problem with agreeing to a fixed price?

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Erlend Geerts July 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Hi Darr,

Unless you know exactly how much the ride should cost before you make the deal, a fixed price is a bad idea.

Erlend

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Jonathan July 9, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Hi Guys,

Nice to meet you here. I went to Istanbul for a conference last week. Before I go, I read the tips. But for only once I took taxi, I encountered the most serious scam, of couse not mentioned above at all, and still I don’t think that scam makes any sense. The taxi driver not only charged for more money, but also were taking me to a place far away from my destination. I would like to share my story with you all.

In my last day in Istanbul, I wanted to go to Spice Market/Egyption Market to buy something. It is quite near to conference venue (Hilton Istanbul, near Taksim). I planned to go by walk as it was a short distance, but I only had 1 hour to go that day, so I decided to take a taxi to go there faster. I was advised from my friends that I must fix the price before getting on the taxi and without using meter, because if I used meter, taxi driver would surely go around making the trip longer and there was nothing I can do.

So I took a taxi just arrived at Hilton Istanbul (it was a normal yellow car, but I didn’t notice the company of the taxi), I fixed the price with him before getting on the car. It was 25 lira. I knew clearly that he asked for higher price, but I was in a hurry and I thought that he would take me to destination faster, so 25 lira was acceptable. I was quite relaxed at first. Ten minutes later I found something wrong because it shouldn’t be that long. So I used my iPhone Google Map GPS function, and then I identified that he was going around and driving towards south (Grand Barzaar direction, but I’m not sure whether he was going toward there). I explained to him that I was going to Spice Market/Egyption Market, not Grand Bazaar, showing my Google Map, he said he knew where the Spice Market/Egyption Market was, but when I asked why he is driving to opposite direction (showing with Google Map), he started to pretend to be confused, just saying we would arrive soon, just there, in 3-5 minutes. Then I said you were taking me to a place far away from Spice Market/Egyption Market, he said he knew where Spice Market/Egyption Market. Then I said I need to take a flight in 1 hour, he said Spice Market was not a place I could finish shopping in 1 hour. Right before he was going to cross the bridge, Galata Kpr., I said I must get off the car, and he said OK it’s fine. I didn’t have time to confront with him, so I paid 25 lira. Then I finally get off and walked back a long distance. I didn’t dare to take another taxi.

So the whole thing confused me is because he asked for more money, and still didn’t take me to destination. Till now I don’t understand where he was driving towards. My friends gave several guesses, kidnapping me, going to a shop his family opened, or going to a very far place and charging much more money to take me back. I think only the next people who take his taxi can find out.

From my own experience, for many scams, there is no solution at all. Many of the solutions proposed are not useful because the taxi drivers know how to cheat. If you use the meter, he could drive longer. If you fix the price without meter, he can take you far away. If he is not going towards your destination, there is nothing you can do, because he is driving, not you. If you want to call the police, unless you know the number of the car, otherwise how could police find you. Therefore the best choice is to avoid taking taxi, rather taking public transport and walking. Some taxi drivers, they are thinking about how to cheat everyday, and not that easy to deal with, you must know.

Yang

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Erlend Geerts July 10, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Hi Yang,

After reading your comment, I feel obliged to say the following:

– if you took the taxi from the Hilton, you shouldn’t have experienced such a problem. They are selective about the taxis they use.
– in my article, I specifically mention not to set a fixed price but use the meter
– currently, due to big construction in Taksim, taxis are obliged to make (small) detours
– the described taxi route, over the Galata bridge, is the correct road to the Spice Bazaar (and only 5 minutes later the Grand Bazaar)
– it’s always wise to write down (or take a picture) of the cab before you get in, so you can report it, or God forbid call the police

On Witt Magazine, you can find the approximate cab fares for different destinations, so then you know something is wrong when the meter shows much more. If you would have used the meter, you would have had an idea if he was taking the correct route or not. Since it was off, you couldn’t. Time is never a good measure given Istanbul’s traffic.

I’ve been living here for almost 10 years now, and neither me nor my (extensive) circle of (forgein) friends have ever experienced what you described.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Gerard October 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm

I have been in Istanbul for three days and used taxis each day. Despite all the best preventative action I can muster, I have been ripped off. Some drivers start off with the story that the meter is broken and they want 60-70 Lira for a ride that the Hotel staff say should cost no more than 15 Lira. It goes without saying that i do not get in the cab. But even when I think it’s looking like an honest driver, using the meter, I get a scam with the driver suddenly ‘getting lost’ misunderstanding written instructions.

One driver wanted to stop and get cigarettes shortly after starting off on his journey. I protests, saying no. He then told me that the trips to my hotel ‘was a long way’ will cost 70 Lira. I told him that this was not correct – knowing it to be a 20Lira trip. He yelled and made threatening gestures. I said take me to the police. He stopped the car and yelled at me to get out.Another driver was obviously manipulating the meter. It ticked over so fast that I could not keep up. I paid 300% more than what I should. Driving fast he refused to stop the car. In short, the taxi drivers I have seen over the past three days are predators. I suspect that some are probably violent at times. They go hunting for tourists. When walking along the street several pulled up along side of me, hoping i would be drawn in know how to manipulate, lie and cheat and there is no protection. Use public transport or walk.

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Fatiha July 4, 2014 at 10:55 am

I took a taxi from Cevahir mall to Nişantaşı ,not only he charge me 55 tlr by changing the fare on the meter in a skilled and fast gesture but he switched my 50 TLR by 5 TLR and made me give him another 50,I discovered it when it was too late,so I end up by paying 105 TLR while my friend who took another taxi paid 8 TLR.Turkish people should have a VERY strict rule against these thieves who could spoil the reputation of one of the most beautiful city in the world!! It’s really a waste ! I love Istanbul but taxi drivers spoiled my vacation .

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Joe February 28, 2015 at 7:46 am

I took a taxi ride for a couple of blocks distance, and the taxi meter was like jumping from 3,2 -> 10 -> 20 -> 30 -> 40, etc. i was so stressed and the guy turns a bit violent and i told him i got no money. It was frightening enough as i was afraid he would rob and hurt me, as my big luggage bags all in this boot. At the end he drove me back to the original point and pushed me off his car and i ended up paying nothing. I hailed another cab off the street and it didn’t wanna use the meter, so i ended up paying 10 even he asked for 20, and dropped me off far away from my hotel asking me to walk in rain and cold with all my luggage just from the airport first time in Istanbul. Taxis good job in promoting tourism for Turkey!

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Uttam November 21, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Flat hourly rate of taxi

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rahul November 25, 2013 at 3:04 am

This is social service. Hats off Erlend!
God bless you :)

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Morey November 28, 2013 at 12:37 am

Here is another Taxi scam to be aware of. It happened to me three years ago while visiting Istanbul. Even though I have traveled there many times and consider myself scam-savvy, I still got zinged! I took a Taxi from my hotel at Taksim to the airport. I was running a bit late so I was in hurry. I knew the route he was taking was correct and also knew the fare should be around 50TL on the meter. The meter ended up showing 100TL when we reached the airport. I angrily told the taxi driver he had either messed with the meter or had entered multiple passengers. He denied it and said it was a normal fair. Not wanting to miss my flight I handed the guy five-20TL bills at once — what a mistake that was! As I was getting out of the taxi and yelling at the driver to popup the trunk to get my languages, he said to me you that I had only given him 3-20TL bills (60TL) and he wanted 40TL more!!! He had hidden two-20TL bills under his thigh or somewhere! At this point I was livid and wanted to choke the guy! The driver was still in the car and wouldn’t get out. I looked around and saw a policeman a distance away. It occurred to me to run to the cop and get his attention. But I didn’t since I didn’t want to risk this guy taking off with my languages in the trunk! It just wasn’t worth the risk so instead I handed him additional 40TL while cursing him out. In the end, I ended up paying 140TL for a 50TL fare! I was double scammed!
Lesson learned: do not trust any tax driver in Turkey and always hand out bills one at a time while counting it out-loud!

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Erlend Geerts November 29, 2013 at 12:37 am

Hi Morey,

Sorry to hear about this.

Thanks for sharing it, and a nice addition to the note switch scam.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Morey December 6, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Thank you, Erlend for your kind remarks and your helpful article.

Cheers,
Morey

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Gamal Hassan November 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

we are going to Istanbul next month ,I’m scared

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Erlend Geerts November 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Gamal,

There is nothing to be scared about. You know what to watch out for, so you’re well prepared.

Also, don’t forget Istanbul has several million visitors a year, and only a few stories surface. In general, Istanbul is much safer than other world cities similar in size.

Enjoy your stay,
Erlend

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jane December 16, 2013 at 6:32 am

Hi Erlend – we read and re-read all your tips for our recent trip to Istanbul in early November and found them all really useful. Especially the taxi tips – believe it or not we encountered one taxi driver who tried all three scams on us in the space of 3 minutes, he said his meter was not working but he would charge an amount that was 5 times the correct fare. Then he agreed to the fare we said we wanted to pay but wanted that for each of us. Then he tried the money changing trick but we were too quick and we ripped our money out of his hand and left the taxi. Thank you for your excellent advice on this site.

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Nug December 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Dear All,

I would like to share my latest experience with taxi driver in Istanbul, I wish I had read this article before I went there. It just happened recently and it was my first day in Istanbul, I took a taxi from area around Blue Mosque to get back to my hotel in Fatih area to pick some stuff and went directly from there to Galata tower. Now when I think about it, he actually tricked me in 3 different ways:

1. I told him the hotel location and the map, yet he drove to the highway along the beach in opposite direction to the hotel location, I tried to hand him the map but he just drove and when I was going to stop (he did not speak good english) he started saying the hotel name (which I already said repeatedly) and apologize for going the wrong way – nevertheless, he was already going to the wrong way so we had to take few kilometers before we could turn.

2. When we reached the hotel and going to galata towers I was surprised to see the meter was going very fast – at this point, I already realized something was wrong – and by the time we reached galata tower, I had to pay for 85 TL for 20 minutes trip.

3. I gave the driver 2 x 50 TL notes but somehow he came back that he showed me 50 and 5 TL (at this point I thought he told the truth because both bills looked similar). Unfortunately for me that I did not have any more TL left so I had to pay with Euros. The guy was even trying to take the money in my wallet, at this point I was furious. I ended up paying him 20 euros + 100 TL (which I thought only 50 TL) and left the taxi straight away. At that point I decided not to take taxi in Istanbul and took the Metro since then.

I understand that not every taxi driver is bad and probably I just had a bad luck to meet the worst one in my first day. I feel sorry for good taxi drivers who are honest doing their job as this kind of incidents will effect badly on them too as tourists will not prefer to use taxi anymore. Istanbul is very beautiful city with so many good places to see, cultural heritage and delicious food. Apart from the taxi ripped-off incident, I had a very very good time there.

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Erlend Geerts January 2, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Hi Nug,

Sorry to hear that.

At least I’m happy that beside this expensive ride, you had a marvelous time in Istanbul.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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khatri December 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Hi,

The note switch is very common by taxi drivers. Be careful. Don’t hand over your note till you get back the change in second hand.

Avoid stopping taxis in a lonely place. Ask him to drop you at a regular crowded place. Hire a taxi from your hotel’s desk, as the taxi number gets registered on the company’s call record and they can’t cheat you as can be traced back. Stopping a taxi on the road be careful —- here few taxi drivers are just waiting to cheat tourist. They have all means— they can high jack meter reading in no time. Make sure that he turned the meter before starting. Above all be firm and fight back if you feel that you are being cheated. Taxi driver will give up and try some another tourist is place of arguing with you.
These are some of the common tips I have learned through own experience in Istanbul. Go and enjoy the trams— It is good ,convenient and cheaper option. But you need Taxi …when we don’t know where and how to go… All the best on Istanbul streets.

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Onur January 2, 2014 at 1:03 pm

As a native Turkish I can’t even prevent this from happening every single time I take taxi in Istanbul. My suggestion would be trying the public buses, tram or metro.

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Dennis February 25, 2014 at 5:09 pm

I have been done too. Bit more simple, the meter was working fine – showing just under 6TL for the short trip. I handed him 8 as a tip. He ranted and demanded 15TL – with our luggage in boot of the car; what are you going to do… Worst and unregulated Taxi system in 5 months European travel unfortunately.

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drago September 24, 2014 at 3:36 am

Hi Erlend,
We will be arriving to Ataturk Airport after midnight and have a flight from Sabiha in about four hours later. What would be the best way for transfer from one airport to the other?
Thanks.

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Erlend Geerts September 24, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Hi Drago,

I’m afraid that your best bet at that time of the night is to arrange for a private shuttle. I’ve used Atatürk Airport Transfer in the past myself and was pleased with their services.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Mahmood November 7, 2014 at 1:38 am

I wish I read this today before I took Taxi today.
The ride was $25 Lira and I gave him $50, when walked front to get the remaining back he said that I only gave him $5. As you Erlend said that I was confused and didn’t know what to do so I ended up giving him another $20.

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Krish Ramakrishnan December 14, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Extremely useful information. Really obliged and grateful. – Krish

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Erlend Geerts December 15, 2014 at 7:38 am

Hi Krish,

Thanks a lot for the compliments.

Erlend

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David December 16, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Hello,
Arriving Ataturk Airport at 3am on Jan 3.After reading about the taxi experiences have booked a private shuttle with Safe Airport Transfer Company to our hotel in the city.The cost is 46 euros for 2 way transfer.Do you know if they are OK.
Thanks and regards
David

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Erlend Geerts December 16, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Hi David,

I really can’t tell. The ones I used so far are SecureDrive and Atatürk Airport Transfer. The price you mentioned is definitely OK though.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Rüya January 27, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Hey there!

Thank you for your tips. Even though I am Turkish (Istanbul), I didnt grew up there and I didnt know much about Istanbul.
So I was with a friend visiting my beloved city and we decided to take a taksi. We also asked him if he maybe knows a good restaurant. Big mistake.
He drove us far away in south direction and brought us to an almost empty restaurant.
They gave us 3 meze and our orders (the meat pieces in the şiş kebabs were smaller than cherries).
They charged us for some meze and this ridiculous şiş kebabs more than 100 ytl. I was shocked. But the waiter and the owner were huge men, no they were “deve”, giants, and as a woman I didnt want to fight with them. But I still confronted them for scamming us, me, also Turkish and a poor student as well, how could they do something like that? Well… it kinda worked, we ended up paying 60 ytl for a meal which would have cost 30 maximum in good restaurants.
Well yeah. The next taksi driver was way better. I told him about the scam and how naive I was – I just wanted to get know my origin hometown. He then made like a sightseeing tour: he pointed to every important thing during the trip “and president clinton and bush were in this hotel… What? You havent been to the Dolmabahçe yet?! (reprimands me like a father) How is this possible? Look! There it is!”

Ok I am drifting away. But there are bad and there are good drivers as well. The last taxi driver made me feel a lot better and especially safer. Thank you again for your tips. I am flying tomorrow, this time with my husband. So excited!

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Alina February 21, 2015 at 11:23 pm

Hi Erland!
Just came across your blog by accident, thanks for all the wonderful info! My husband and I along with our daughter plan to visit Pakistan this May from Canada. On our way back to Toronto, we plan to stop in Istanbul for three to four days. Since we would be travelling heavy on our way back home, 2 bags per person , I was wondering if we could deposit all the suitcases or if there’s a baggage leaving facility at the Ataturk airport until our flight to Toronto? Wouldn’t want to carry around so many bags which would be a hassle in taxis plus pay extra tips etc . Is there any way to avoid the hassle? Also any idea how much storage charges at the airport are to be paid? intend to travel in May 2015.

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Erlend Geerts February 22, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Hi Alina,

I’ve heard around at the airport, and nobody has ever heard about such an option. So, I suggest to use a private shuttle, and keep the bags at the hotel. The extra fee for the private shuttle will compensate for the storage cost, if there were any.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Hesham March 1, 2015 at 1:02 am

Hi,
great job erlend i salute you for these informative tips.

im planning to visit istanbul in next week with my wife and 2 year daughter. Please suggest me which airport will be convenient and mode of transport to hotel and which area is good to stay in economy budget .

God Bless You

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Erlend Geerts March 3, 2015 at 7:22 am

Hi Hesham,

The Atatürk International Airport is the closest one to the city center. Mode of transportation to the city center depends on your arrival time and hotel location, but since you’re traveling with a two-year-old, I would go for either Havataş or a private shuttle.

As you know, we don’t give hotel recommendations here.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Lukovics Jőzsef March 8, 2015 at 8:48 pm

How cheat taxidrivers in Istambul?

The first thing to give false information. I asked a man at the Taksim square, who standed beside many taxis, where is the bus statin 36T. He said: There is no bus today! I have to take a taxi.Unfortunately when I leaved the metro, I have not find any sign with numbers. At the bus stop under the square, there is no any sign, which bus stop there. So I take the taxi 34-TCJ-12 with a polite young man.
He said, the fair to the hotel near Miniatürk will be about 50 Tl(turkish lira). It seemed to me acceptable.The normal prize for this route is about 25 Tl. It took about 10-15 minutes.The driver was so quick as a Formula-1 driver. He missed the targeted hotel, but stopped after it. The taxameter show 57,50 Tl. He said : 55 will be enough. And that was the beginning of magic.
I gave him two banknotes, 5 and 50 Tl. At the next moment he show me, that he got two banknotes 5 and 5. I was seated right behind in the car. My baggage was beside him. I believed my eyes.Ok. I give him a 100 Tl banknote, waiting for back 50 Tl. But he show me again three banknotes: 5,5 and 20. He saw that I have more banknotes. I had 20 and 20, because originally I had 195 Tl.
He wanted more money, I wanted my money back, after all he won. Nothing more happened.He earned 155 Tl for this trip with his magical trick.
I lost many money and my good illusion about turkish people.
Unfortunatelly I have not read this homepage before.

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Andrew April 10, 2015 at 7:03 pm

Taking taxis in Istanbul is the worst! Especially if you don’t speak Turkish. I wanted to go to Ortakoy from the bazaar area. Because there was heavy traffic, the driver decided to drop me off an hour away from my destination. I had no idea since 1. I am unfamiliar with the area and 2. I don’t speak Turkish. He charged me 20 TL too. It was tough to flag down another taxi to take me to Ortakoy too. All in all it took 2 hours to get there.

Another instance was leaving Ortakoy, I caught a taxi and unfortunately he couldn’t find my hotel even though I gave him the address and showed him a map of where it was. He tried to dump me off at two random locations during the middle of the night. 2 hours later he found my hotel and still charged me the same amount since we had a fixed price. If we were going to do the meter route I would have paid a ton. Taxis are the worst in Turkey, in fact other than the history, food and cheap things you can buy, I wouldn’t go back to Turkey even if you paid me. I speak Arabic too, which kinda helped me, but still it wasn’t a great experience to deal with rude and angry people. Seriously why are they always so mad? Smile!

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Tigger May 12, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Just to offer a counter to all these stories about unscrupulous taxi drivers …. I arrived by train from Greece on a dark, wet evening. At the station were taxi drivers, waiting for fares.
Now I know Istanbul very well, but the young Greek woman I’d met on the train had never been there before. She was expecting her sister to collect her, but her sister was nowhere to be seen. She was terrified of being alone as she’s obviously been fed stories about the ‘terrible Turks’ so I offered to wait with her until her sister arrived.
A taxi driver approached us, and I explained why we weren’t looking for a ride. Immediately he took out his cell phone, offered it to my companion with a smile and said “Here. You can call her.” She was overwhelmed!
So, you see, the taxi drivers in Istanbul are not ALL taxi mafia. Though it’s good to be aware of those few that are, and that leave a bad taste in one’s mouth and spoil an otherwise wonderful visit.

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Erlend Geerts May 12, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Hi Tigger,

Thanks for sharing. Although I need to warn visitors, luckily most drivers are indeed still very helpful and honest.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Mervin May 13, 2015 at 11:01 pm

I’ve been in Istanbul for a night while my flight was delayed, I was set up in a hotel by Turkish Airlines.

We thought we will visit the Blue Mosque before we head back to the airport.
Firstly, it costed us 20 Turkish Lira to get to the Blue Mosque and then on our return trip to the hotel it costed us 45 (I had a phone which had network, so I was able to check that he’s not driving us around to get more fare, but somehow he managed to make it 45). That’s not it, there’s more…

We had the “The Turkish Lira Note Switch” scam used on us. I handed him a 50 and then he showed me a 5 and said 45 not 5 Lira… I didn’t realize what happened at that moment and gave him the extra 40. I ended up paying 90 for a trip that would usually cost 20-25.

What a shame!?!? I was in France, Italy and Switzerland for 2 weeks before I was heading to the US. I used a lot of cabs in those countries and never had any scam played on us like this one.

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Stephanie Smith June 11, 2015 at 6:00 pm

This is info everyone should know before hiring a transport company. Some places will absolutely try to scam you while others are honest, but it’s always good to have a healthy level of suspicion. This is great article to overcome a lot of scams drivers will try to pull on tourists when they don’t expect it. Thanks for sharing.

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Crystal V June 17, 2015 at 4:50 am

Thank you so much! This article saved me $100! A guy tried to scam me at Ataturk airport by giving me a fixed price from the airport to Taksim square. He quoted me 3 times the price of what it should’ve been. I printed this article before I left the states so I was able to show him that his price was outrageous! After showing him this he wasn’t able to argue and I was able to find a driver who drove me to Taksim square for under $20.

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Erlend Geerts June 17, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Hi Crystal,

Glad to hear it helped.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Ehsan June 24, 2015 at 5:18 am

Hello all,

Just got scammed today. So we sat in Taxi to take us from Galata tower to Eyup mosque. We agreed on meter but the driver didn’t open the meter instead he started pushing some button to increase money which I realised later. Was with family with crying kids so was distracted alot. At the end of the ride he pulled another scam by switching money. I gave him 100 and he switched it to twenty. Family of 5 with kids and all too many distractions. I took a picture of the cab number and went to the police station where I reported the complaint. In the end I ended up paying 130 liras for a 20 lira ride. I sat in taxis 4 times here and was cheated almost everytime. The taxi drivers were talking about Ramazan and swearing on quran etc when they got caught. Beautiful city full of cheats!!!! Not sure whether the police will do anything. Taxi number 34 TKJ 11

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Suha July 2, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Hi there,
I am planning to meet some friends in Istanbul this summer. According to the previous commitments,taxis scam is unavoidable. Can I use the public transportation instead? I am not sure what facilities you have in Istanbul, tram? Bus?
If so, is there any mobile application providing routes/ time informations?

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Erlend Geerts July 2, 2015 at 5:56 pm

Hi Suha,

Have a look here.

Erlend

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Dr Asad July 10, 2015 at 8:46 am

hi erlend,
you are doing a great job..i have few questions
1. i am planning to visit istanbul and bursa with my wife and 1 year old kid in september.is it good to use public transport like trams and metros with such a small kid?
2. which area is better to live with family in normal budget?
3. is 8-10 days tour is enough to explore istanbul and bursa?
thanking in antiipation brro. :)

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Erlend Geerts July 11, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Hi Dr. Asad,

1. no problem, and safer than a taxi. Be prepared to hold the baby while using it during rush hour and in case staircases or elevators are out of order.
2. no big price differences, but since you probably won’t be joining the nightlife, I suggest Sultanahmet for ease of use.
3. I focus on Istanbul here, you need 4-5 days I’d say to take it easy.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Ssah July 11, 2015 at 3:13 am

Hi

Reading this article now i can relate it with an incident that happened with me today. The Taxi meter showed 95tl which i was to pay. I gave him 100 note and suddenly he flipped it and gave back to me saying its 5tl..small note… Again i gave him another 100 note and he did the same thing again saying its a 20tl note. Finally i gave him 100 and then he returned 5 to me. I just did not realize it at that time. After reading this i realized that it (scam) has happened with me. The taxi driver scammed me by takin 200tl extra. Such a learning for me to take care about such things not only in my rest of stay in Istanbul but anywhere i go.

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Flora July 17, 2015 at 6:41 pm

Hi
I am a foreign student and I think I was very lucky coming to Istanbul for holidays though I study in another city in Turkey. I was looking for a taksi pole from the metro exit (in Mediciyeköy to Osmanbey) and asked a random man talking to his friend selling simit. Not only did he help me pull my luggage, but he said we could walk a little distance and the taksi fare would be less. He also advised me (spoke a little English) not to trust everyone I saw, helped me buy Istabul card (to use for public transport) and told me to use the taksi meter and not discuss prices (because I wanted to use taksi since I didn’t know the exact adress of where I was going to…)
After walking more than what he intended, we finally found a taksi, he even helped me discuss the fare and told the driver I was a student so he should charge normally and then he left me there after I had thanked him sooooo much. (The place was apparently close, so it was around 7tl)
When I got off the taksi and went to take my luggage which the driver had gotten out of the boot and paid him, I was about to leave when he asked me if I hadn’t forgotten anything in his taksi and I said no, but he still looked and guess what? I had left my phone in there!

Yup I just realised how lucky I was that day!

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Erlend Geerts July 17, 2015 at 9:06 pm

Hi FLora,

As I always say, most Turks are very honest. It’s just the few rotten apples that ruin it for everybody.

Enjoy your stay,
Erlend

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Ahmad yamini sharif July 18, 2015 at 3:04 pm

I want to tell you the story that happened at 13th July 2015
me and my wife rode on taxi at 10 pm just in front of javahir mall our destination was grand javahir hotel that was about two kilometer distance
Another man sat in front seat and the taxi driver said this is my brother.he took us to square very close to javahir hotel he asked for fifty TL I gave him 100 TL but he changed it and he claimed our currency was only 20 TL I gave him another 100 TL but suddenly they ran away unfortunately I could not record the taxi number
The price for this trip is less than ten TL
I surprised why the managers

of Istanbul are not able to solve this problem they can disqualified this kind of taxi drivers why they don’t do anything I don’t know

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JJ July 20, 2015 at 5:01 pm

I would like to share my travel experience at Istanbul Grand Bazaar taxi station. Incident happened on 18/7/2015 around 2.20pm.

We went to a taxi station in front of the bazaar and agreed with a driver at EUR 35 fare for ride to airport. He is about 40 years old man, big eyes with beard, short hair, around 173cm and medium size.

First, he claimed he has very poor English and have difficulty to communicate with us. Then he took out EUR 15 handed it to my husband and asked for EUR 50. He said that money changer only accepted big amount notes, need to change before 2.30pm because of Ramadan (Islamic Festival). We told him we only have EUR 35, and refused to give him bigger note. After few conversations, my husband took out one EUR 50 note, and the driver grabbed from him just like a flash. He teared the right side of the note (we couldn’t see, it’s too fast) and told us money changers won’t accept this note and asked for another EUR 50. We were thinking what happen to this man?! What he wants?!

My husband took back the broken EUR 50 note and refused to let him take the money from his hand or wallet. This time the driver stopped the car at road side and told us our agreed the taxi fare was EUR 35 per person instead. Coincidentally, another driver came offers us for a ride. And my husband returned him the EUR 15 he gave at first, we changed another taxi. After we moved our luggages to the taxi and check again the notes in hand. We noticed our EUR 50 became a old EUR 10 note. Out of sight he switched the note with a EUR 10 note he had ready! Then we released that’s the reason he has been asking more EUR 50 notes from us. That’s what he wanted! He wanted to know how much money we have in pocket or handbag. The best part is how he can switch the EUR 50 to EUR 10 and when?! This was horrible! Please beware of this conman taxi driver in Istanbul.

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Downhill Dude July 24, 2015 at 11:32 pm

After reading all these horror stories, I think I’ll just prearrange private cars between major destinations. If I’m going to end up paying extreme amounts of money anyway, I might as well ride in style. It’s about 60 Euro for an E-Class Mercedes from IST to St. Regis Hotel.

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Erlend Geerts July 26, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Hi Dude,

I strongly recommend you not to do that if you have never driven in Istanbul before!

Istanbul scams occur, and you should be on the watch out for them, but don’t forget that for every story that surfaces, thousands had perfect and honest rides.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Sarah July 28, 2015 at 8:46 am

Went to Istanbul for two days and went through most of this also.
Finally, took a taxi from sultanhemet (european) to SAW airport (asian) the meter was showing 130 tl bit driver insistwd he wanted 150 as vlaimed he needs to pay autoban and bridge fees, I refused but feel a bot guilty that he might be right?

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Erlend Geerts July 29, 2015 at 5:20 pm

Hi Sarah,

Yes, it is custom to add the road and bridge toll which he paid to the fee. However, this can never be 20 liras, 10 tops.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Ichrak August 11, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Hello,

I will arrive to Ataturk International Airport at 18h30 , and I would like to directly go to Yeditepe University. I’m a young women and I’ll be alone.
Do you think it’s safe for me to take a taxi ? How would the ride approximately cost ? What do you advise me to “safely” take a taxi ?
Are there Havatas from Ataturk to Kadikoy ?
I’m very worried after reading all those stories about taxis in Istanbul on Internet !
Thanks for your help !

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Erlend Geerts August 11, 2015 at 7:20 pm

Hi Ichrak,

Yeditepe is quite a distance from the airport. I doubt you’ll find a taxi to drive you all the way, certainly at that hour. I suggest to look into private shuttles (see previous comments for links). You should also ask Yeditepe University if they don’t have free shuttles from certain points, because I know they pick up students from all over Istanbul.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Ichrak August 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Hello,

Thanks for your answer !
They do have free shuttles indeed, from Ataturk and Sabiha Gokcen airports, but unfortunately none of the times suggested for the shuttles fits my arrival time. I contacted them about that and I’m waiting for their answer.
What about public transportation ? Do you think it would be a good idea for me to use them ? I read that I have to get “IstanbulKart” to use public transportation .. But I’m afraid I don’t understand this system perfectly that’s why I didn’t want to think about public transportation especially the first day .. Can you help me please, what should I do ?
Regards,

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Erlend Geerts August 12, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Hi Ichrak,

To reduce costs, I would go for public transportation. Get an Istanbul Kart at the airport, or get a 3 ride ‘bilet’. Take the M1a metro at the airport to Yenikapi. There you transfer to the Marmaray train to go under the Bosphorus until Ayrılık Çeşmesi. There you transfer to the M4 metro. The stop to get off and take a relatively short taxi ride you best ask the university. This way, your transportation cost should be something like 40 liras, 12 Euros, and pretty quick and comfortable too.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Ichrak August 13, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Hello,

Thanks a lot for your answer it helps me a lot !
I will think about those alternatives and make a choice.
I asked the university and here’s what they said :

” From Atatürk International Airport to Yeditepe University you can use this direction:
Take the bus of Havataş to Kadıköy which takes off from the road in front of Arrivals (costs approximately 13 TL). From Kadıköy, use the subway line Kadıköy – Kartal. Take the subway to the Kartal and get off at the last stop named “Bostancı”. Get out from the exit leading to bus stops. You can take a taxi directly to the Yeditepe University Main campus from there or from Bostancı participants can take bus to Yeditepe University. The bus stop participants will get on is named `Bostancı Sanayi` and participants will get off at ` Yeditepe Universitesi`. The code of the bus is 19. ”

What do you think ?
Also, if I had to choose between taxi and private shuttles, what would you advise me please ? And are private shuttles very expensive in Istanbul ?

Thanks again, your web site is just perfect !
Regards,

Tasj August 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

Er lend,

I honestly think you still believe in the best of people, or in this matter taxi drivers. I have travelled literally all over the world and never experienced what I did today in Istanbul. Taking a taxi from topaki to taksim … I asked several times to put the meter on, this did not happen. Upon arrival under the bridge at taksim, fare was 49 lira. Should have been 30. Gave the driver a 100, which he quickly dropped under his seat, showing me a fiver … Am I stupid? I don’t think so .. I claimed my other fifthy back, which he did. Made my way through the metro station, with him following me with a baton!!! Screaming and swearing and totally aggressive. He only backed off when I started shouting for polis polis! It has honestly ruined my Istanbul experience. Will never ever be back in this place where criminals threathen and rip off honest people with good intentions. Istanbul is a mix of everything and nothing. And defo nothing to come back for.

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Erlend Geerts August 13, 2015 at 6:57 pm

Hi Ichrak,

What they wrote is a nice alternative. Easier with luggage, but less quick since you’ll hit traffic. Also, as far as know you need to take the shuttle twice: once from the airport to Taksim, and from there one from Taksim to Kadiköy. So, let’s say 25 TL for the shuttles. The metro ride stays the same.

You pick what suits you best. The shuttles gave a nicer view :-)

Cheers,
Erlend

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