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Turkey - Money & Costs

Money & Costs in Turkey

Simit seller at his stall, Taksim Square, Istanbul Currency: Turkish Lira
  • Budget: US$2-6
  • Mid-range: US$6-15
  • High: US$15+

  • Lodging
  • Budget: US$6-20
  • Mid-range: US$20-80
  • High: US$80+

  • Turkey is a low-slung dollar burner. You can travel on as little as US$20 per day using buses and trains, staying in pensions, and eating one restaurant meal daily. For US$25 to US$40 you can travel on plusher buses, take well-cushioned train seats, kick back in 1 and 2-star hotels and eat most meals in restaurants. For US$40 to US$80 per day you can move up to 3 and 4-star hotels, take the occasional airline flight, and dine in restaurants all the time.

    With the value of the Turkish lira often in limbo, it's best to change money regularly. Keep an eye on all the zeros on your bills - it's easy to mistake a 5,000,000 lira note for a 500,000 lira note. Banks and exchange offices are generally only open weekdays - you may find it hard to convert your traveller's checks on weekends. ATMs are common in Turkish cities, towns and resorts, many of them connected to worldwide cashpoint networks such as Cirrus or Plus and to credit cards (Visa seems to be most widely accepted). Keep some exchange receipts as you may need them to change liras back at the end of your stay.

    In cheaper restaurants it's not necessary to leave more than a few coins in the change plate. In more expensive restaurants, tipping is customary. Even if a 10-15% service charge is added to your bill, you're expected to give around 5% to the waiter directly and perhaps the same amount to the maitre d'. Porters expect a dollar or so; in taxis you might like to round up the bill; in other situations, for example, helpful guardians at archaeological sites, delicacy is required. Although a tip may be initially refused through politeness, you should offer the money a second and a third time. After three refusals, you can safely assume they really don't want the money. Bargaining is pretty common in Turkey - you're mad not to bargain for souvenirs. For hotel rooms, bargain if you visit between November and April or if you plan to stay more than a few days.

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