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Istanbul Basic Travel Information
Population: 15 million
Area: Stretched over an area of more than 100 kilometers from Asian to European side, may take several hours to travel from one corner of Istanbul to another.
When To Travel to Istanbul
Best time to visit Istanbul is from April until the end of October except the hot months of July and August, though depending on the season both of these months could be enjoyable especially with beaches, seaside cafes, terraces at night, dancing through and enjoying open air concerts.
The weather patterns are changing and August is getting cooler towards the end but one cannot be sure. Old guns of Istanbul assume that after August 15th the weather turns, the heat of summer leaves Istanbul. Once in a while you can come across summer rain which lasts less than an hour with little rainfall.
Beginning of July can be good for those who would like to attend music concerts and are not mindful of hot weather to enjoy balmy Istanbul nights by the sea. Daytime is certainly hot, though!
No special precautions necessary. The most common problem if it ever occurs would be a diahrea, so eat at known places or simply look at the cleanliness of the shop and the profile of people who are eating there. If they are mid or upper class locals than there should be no problem. In case you need to to see a doctor there are many modern hospitals in Istanbul just inquire one at your consulate or hotel reception.
Just keep clear of stray dogs, though chances you will be bitten are extremely slim. In case of a dog bite contact a hospital immediately to seek medical assistance and rabies vaccination. If you have prescription medicines, keep a copy of your prescription while traveling in case you lose the medicine.
If you are traveling off the beaten track in the mountains or trekking in rural areas, tick bite is the dangerous as they may carry lethal diseases.
Mosquito and fly repellants are sold in most pharmacies which are marked with big red E signs, initial letter of Eczane, meaning pharmacy. in Turkish. Ambulance call number is 112.
Also Medical tourism is getting popular in Turkey as many Eureopans fly to Turkey to not only enjoy a vacation but also getting treatment and/or cure with Lasik eye surgery, plastic surgery, dental treatments and others.
Watch out for pickpockets and muggers in Beyoglu Taksim district. There are many uniformed and undercover policemen in these areas to ensure safety but still such crimes happen, though in a lesser extent the last few years. You should have any bag strapped around and not hanging from one shoulder as the thief will pull the bag and run away. Stay vigilant in these populous neighboorhoods. At night avoid any side street when in Taksim Beyoglu area especially.
Visas may be necessary depending on your nationality. Please inquire before coming to Turkey, by checking Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website visa info or your own State Department pages. For Americans and many European country citizens visas may be bought at the airport if necessary.
Please see Istanbul trip costs
You may get cash from ATMs from your bank account in your home country or change money in exchange shops (doviz bufe) you will find in Taksim, Kadikoy, Karakoy etc.
It is better to call a taxi than to hail a taxi. Airport transfers services or HAVAS shuttle buses from the airport are generally cheaper than taxis.