Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul-tourist-rip_offsIstanbul is the largest city in Turkey, and alongside the Bosphorus river, it is right on the border of Europe and Asia, making it a melting pot of cultures. That makes it a treasure chest of attractions, a city that appeals to the imagination. Istanbul is a city with thousands of years of history; a true open-air museum, with more than five hundred mosques, churches, palaces and museums. No wonder the city is a movie maker’s favorite.

Istanbul-tourist-scamsDuring the day you can enjoy the Grand Bazar (Kapali Çarsi) with its nearly 4,000 stores, which make it the perfect place for shopping and browsing, or visit ancient wonders like the Topkapi Palace. And at night you can feast on the delicious Turkish cuisine or party in one of the many trendy clubs. The fairytale like city is a melting pot of cultures and a treasure trove of attractions, a city that appeals to the imagination.

Istanbul tourist scams

However, as in every tourist hotspot, tourists need to be aware of people trying to take advantage of the “all is well” holiday atmosphere which causes the traveler to be off guard when it comes to being tricked or scammed. The differences in culture and habits can be a bit confusing, even to the experienced traveler, and that gives those with dishonest intentions an advantage, especially with travelers who have just arrived after a long and exhausting flight.

  • Especially male solo travelers need to be cautious when a stranger invites them to have a drink in a bar. Often the drinks will be extremely overpriced and the stranger is in on the scam.
  • Never change money on the streets, even if the rate seems very attractive. Hustlers will give you “old Lira”, which are worth a fraction of the new Lira and you won’t know it until you want to spend it.
  • Like in many other cities, street vendors are selling cheap perfume and clothing from luxury brands, but be warned that most of it -if not all of it- is counterfeit and of lower quality.
  • Not really a scam, but still: never pay full price. Always haggle, as it is part of the Turkish culture and you will be sure to pay too much if you agree on the asking price.

Most of these scams are pretty harmless and won’t cost you more than a handful of Lira, but they could still make you feel like an idiot as soon as you realize you’ve been tricked.

tourist-scams-IstanbulBe on guard for these known scams and variations to them. If you happen to run into a new kind of scam, or if you have a story about how the swindlers work, make sure you tell us about it. That’s the best way to warn other travelers and to prevent them from falling into the same traps.

And most importantly: just enjoy your vacation. Don’t be discouraged by these stories, they don’t happen to everyone, and they don’t mean Istanbul is unsafe. On the contrary, most of the people are incredibly friendly, sincere and honest, especially away from the tourist hotspots, and because it is such a popular tourist destination, it is just as safe as any other European capital.

  • Bar scam

    Istanbul-bar-scam

    This scam has been around for ages, a lot has been written about it all over the internet, but as unsuspecting tourists still fall for this play, the scammers will continue to rip them off. It is absolutely not limited to Turkey (also read the Budapest bar scam), but Istanbul, together with Bangkok and Pattaya […]

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  • Money change scam

    Istanbul-money-change-scam

    Money change rip-offs are something tourists need to beware of almost in any popular tourist destination (also read the Bali money change scam, the Budapest money change scam and the Jamaica money change scam), but in Turkey, the government has helped the scammers by providing them with an excellent opportunity to easily rip off unsuspecting […]

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  • Counterfeit brands fraud

    Istanbul-counterfeit-brands-scam

    Counterfeit luxury brand merchandise are omnipresent in many popular tourist destinations, and in most countries these perfumes, handbags and other products are easily recognizable as fake, because they are sold by obtrusive street vendors. The same goes for Istanbul, especially around the tourist hotspots and in Istiklal Avenue, where street vendors are trying to sell […]

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  • Don’t forget to haggle

    Istanbul-scam-haggling

    Haggling is part of the Turkish culture, and it’s easy to forget to bargain on the prices of street vendors when they are so persistent and the prices seem already cheap. Because of the confusing currency exchange rate and the generally low prices in Turkey, unsuspecting tourists end up being overcharged on a regular basis […]

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