Sorry folks. Since I’ve been to Istanbul three times this year alone, I think it’s better for me to just gives some brief tips on what to do and a bit of don’t while you were in Istanbul. First of all, I want to ensure you especially lady solo traveler that Istanbul is a safe city to travel alone. Only be strong on the matter of the “heart” side because Turkish men generally are good looking, sweet and charming. So leave your heart at home. He He He. Just joking.
Unfortunetly these must do’s of mine are based on my own preferation so it’s not really paints what Istanbul can offer you.
So these are my choices.
- Shopping? nothing beats Spice Bazaar. Especially for souvenir. And you can bargain till to the last drop price that both of you and the seller agreed. But keep in mind that after the haggle, you must buy the goods. Someone mention that buying things in Bursa, Cappadocia or etc2 are cheaper but believe me their prices are slightly 15-30 % higher than Spice Market! (For a certain local product like pure leather jacket yes. I certainly recommend The Bagio Leather Factory in Kusadasi. Ladies and gentlemen, Kusadasi is the manufacutring centre of leather jacket in Turkey so go figure! If you really want to buy a good quality leather jacket of course.
- Sampling Turkish foods. Ok… after the most calories burning marathon at Spice Bazaar, dont forget to lunch/dine at Hamdi Restaurant just next to Spice Bazaar. They serve delicious food and the best choices of Baklava. And I shall mention The Sultan Cafe in Sultanahmet. The foods just super delicious.
The Bold and Beautiful
- Paying for two or three to save budget. Enjoy life music and Derwish Dance while having dinner. If you stay in Sultanahmet @Blue Mosque area, you can go to Arastu Bazaar just behind the Blue Mosque. I will update the Restaurant name later but surely you will find it when you already there. They served many varieties of foods, shisha and live band. And Dervish Dance as an interval. But don’t buy anything at Arastu Bazaar unless you don’t mind paying an extra buck! I bought pepper grinder at Arastu for TRY 15 only to find out that it only cost you TRY 7 at Spice Bazaar.
- Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque : a must visit sites. Buy tickets early in the morning to skip long queue or buy online. Blue Mosque entrance free.
- If you plan to make fully use of the tram as your main transport around Istanbul, buy the Istanbul Card @Eminou Station. Easier and save you a lots of trouble. Otherwise just make use of your legs like me.
- You love fish? Go to restaurant around Galatea Bridge.
- Hey fashionista! No heels in Istanbul old city ok? especially stilettos. If you must, try wedges or platform.
- Craving for Asean taste food after weeks long of kebab? Try Red River Restaurant at Sirkeci area.
- Erboy Hotel of Sirkeci Group is one of the best not so expansive hotel in Istanbul. Do book early because always fully-booked.
- Boshporus Cruise is a must too.
- Love to have Armine scarf – There’s Armine Boutique near Spice Bazaar.
- Want to try the Hamam @Turkish Bath? bring extra panty or your bikini’s
- Most small hotel did not provide electric kettle. If you want bring your own.
- Carpet sellers are very persuasive. If you don’t intend to buy carpet, don’t get friendly with them. Not even eye contact. Very difficult to refuse them. Nicely.
- How to act like local. Well, you can’t! unless you look like them or speak fluent Turkish language.
- Haggle is a way of life here so sharpen your skills. Dont haggle if you dont really want to buy.
- It helps if you speak Turkish. English is not widely spoken.
- Try the Cay, Baklava and Turkish Delight.