Travelling in Turkey as a solo Indian-Australian woman

Tips, comments and warnings for women traveling in Turkey.

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pinkeagle
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:18 pm

Travelling in Turkey as a solo Indian-Australian woman

Post by pinkeagle » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:26 am

Hi all
I am looking to travel to Turkey as a solo traveler in October. I am 27 and Indian in origion but Australian by nationality. I have heard many conflicting reports about safety for solo women travelers in Turkey – what are your thoughts? As I have lived in India for 11 years I have experience dealing with persistent men and will be aware and respectful of the local customs and mores.

I would prefer to travel alone instead of in a tour group, but my friends seem to think this is a very silly and dangerous idea. What are your thoughts?

I am looking at travelling to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ayvalik, Pammakule and Ephesus. Any idea on the best way to structure this itinerary (I will have about 15 days) if I don’t travel with a tour?
Many thanks
PE


AT03
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:34 pm

Re: Travelling in Turkey as a solo Indian-Australian woman

Post by AT03 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:50 pm

Hi Pinkeagle,

I have spent a lot of time traveling alone, and a lot of time traveling alone in Turkey. I am from the US. In fact, I am in Turkey, alone, right now as I write this. I hope I can help you with your questions about safety and itinerary.

I'll address safety first. I have been to all the places you mentioned except Ayvalik, which I've never heard of, to be honest. If you do not encourage men by smiling at them, and you dress conservatively, you will get hassled a lot less. I hate to say it, but you will get hassled a lot, especially in Istanbul, if you seem even kind of friendly. I put on my angry face, and still I get approached. A lot. However, if you see something in a shop you want to look at or you think a restaurant looks good, you should not be afraid to eat, shop, have a drink, do what you want. Turkey is a very safe country. I have never felt threatened. The men will be persistent. They will want your money, sex, or both. To be completely honest with you, they can be relentless. But they are not dangerous. That said, do not allow them to touch you as they really take this in the wrong way. Shaking hands is fine, but pull your hand away because some will try to hold it longer than they should. If you let them, they see this as encouragement. If they are walking with you to show you something, do not take their arm or hold their hand, just tell them you don't want to be touched, than you very much. This is not a big problem, but I had two incidents in Istanbul just days ago where men tried to touch me. One took my hand so I wouldn't fall on the ice, the other wanted me to try on a jacket and he tried to button it for me across my chest. No, no, no, and no. I left the shop when he tried that. No explanation. I took off the jacket, I got my bag and jacket, and without a word, I left. Don't engage them.

Now that I've scared you, I have to say again, Turkey is a very safe place. It is okay to go into a shop and have tea. It is free. If you want to look, look and have tea. You will be safe and you can always say no unless you want to buy. Restaurant guys will leave you alone when you eat. You will get great service and I've never had a problem alone in a restaurant. If they get too friendly and I don't want to talk to them, I just act stand offish and tell them to leave me alone. And they do.

Do not ever get in a car with a man who is not a licensed taxi driver. Taxis and shuttles are fine. But. See my entry just below yours entitled 'Women be aware of the free shuttle to Ephesus.' I wrote that for a reason.

I love traveling in Turkey alone because I feel safe, but I do get tired of being hassled. Just stick up for yourself and be assertive if you need to be. But Turkey is a great place to discover while traveling alone.

As for itinerary, I do not know anything about Ayvalik, but here's an idea for the other places you want to visit if you have 15 days.

Istanbul - 3 or 4 days - no tours necessary, especially if you have a good map.
Fly to Izmir using Atlas Jet or Onur - use their free shuttle to take you to Selcuk
Selcuk for 2-3 nights - I recommend Kiwi Pension or Homeros Pension - they won't pressure you to take this tour, meet this shopowner, blah, blah. I stayed in Homeros last summer. Beautiful pension. Visit Ephesus via the mini bus, and the rest of Selcuk you can walk - St John's Basilica, Temple of Artemis, everything in Selcuk you can walk. You can actually also walk to Ephesus and back to Selcuk if you feel like it. I enjoy that walk. I can also recommend great local restaurants, not tourist places, if you're interested. While there, take a bus to Pamukkale (3 hours, no tour necessary, take the early bus) spend the day there, then take the last bus back. The bus station can tell you the times.
Take Atlas or Onur shuttle back to Izmir, fly to Cappadocia - either Nevshehir or Kayseri.
Cappadocia 3-4 days - this is a good place to book a 3 day tour. Cappadocia has so much to see and experience and I did take a 3 day tour here because everything is spread out and I didn't want the hassle of driving. But the tour ended up being fantastic. I met some gals that took the hot air balloon ride and they said it was worth it. I haven't done it. Cappadocia is amazing. Fly into the airport that is closest to your hotel. I didn't and had a long taxi ride once I arrived. You can book a tour online before you go, or there are many tour companies in Istanbul and even Selcuk that will be happy to book it for you after you've arrived. I wish I could recommend a good company, but I don't remember the name of the one I used.
This doesn't include the other town you want to visit, but check the map and see where it fits in. You also have time to take buses if you'd rather fly, but the cost is often not much more to fly if you use Atlas, Onur, Pegasus, or Sun Express. Atlas and Onur are my two favorites because they have free shuttles to and from the airport 2 hours before your flight time.

I hope this helps. Feel free to ask any other questions.


pinkeagle wrote:Hi all
I am looking to travel to Turkey as a solo traveler in October. I am 27 and Indian in origion but Australian by nationality. I have heard many conflicting reports about safety for solo women travelers in Turkey – what are your thoughts? As I have lived in India for 11 years I have experience dealing with persistent men and will be aware and respectful of the local customs and mores.

I would prefer to travel alone instead of in a tour group, but my friends seem to think this is a very silly and dangerous idea. What are your thoughts?

I am looking at travelling to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ayvalik, Pammakule and Ephesus. Any idea on the best way to structure this itinerary (I will have about 15 days) if I don’t travel with a tour?
Many thanks
PE

pinkeagle
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:18 pm

Re: Travelling in Turkey as a solo Indian-Australian woman

Post by pinkeagle » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:14 am

Thank you very much AT! That alleviates much of my concerns. Harrassment I can deal with well (I lived in Delhi for 11 years) and it was safety I was more concerned about.

Thank you for the itinerary suggestions. I have decided to drop Ayvalik (too far away) and instead visit Kas and Konya. I will start planning my trip soon, just waiting for my guidebook to get here.

Any suggestions are welcome. I will be in turkey for 15 days and love travel, history, culture, food and wine so open to all suggestions!

PE

AT03
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:34 pm

Re: Travelling in Turkey as a solo Indian-Australian woman

Post by AT03 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:32 pm

I found Ayvalik on the map today and asked my friends about it. We were on our way to Bergama. Ayvalik is not far from there. One of my friends went there for a short holiday and said it is so not worth it. She said it was so disappointing. If it's beaches you want, there are okay beaches near Selcuk. There is a great beach west of Izmir, near Cesme called Alacati and it is pretty nice. Cesme is also nice but not really beachy.

I have a friend who has a B&B in Sigacik. It's a lovely port town, very small beach, and very quaint. It's just meant for relaxation. Not much to do there. Beautiful marina there. If you're looking for down time, this might be a good place. You can take a minibus (dolmus) from Selcuk.

If you have any other questions after you get your guidebook, just let me know! Happy to help.

AT03
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:34 pm

Re: Travelling in Turkey as a solo Indian-Australian woman

Post by AT03 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:09 am

I just realized you said you decided on Kas and Konya. Much better choice than Ayvalik. I briefly visited Konya with a student group and we visited the Mevlana museum. Fantastic. I wish we'd had more time there. Konya is very conservative, so consider that when planning your wardrobe. But we did not have to cover to visit the Mevlana Museum even though it used to be a mosque. I don't know much else about Konya, but you can see the Mevlana dancers (the whirling dervish, but I'm not sure that's an appropriate name :?: ) there and in Cappadocia as well, but they originated in Konya I believe, so how awesome to see them there.

I have never visited Kas, just driven through, but I have a friend who went there for a week for a summer holiday and absolutely loved it. It's not so touristy yet, still a smallish town/village with lots of character. Sorry, I have no idea where my friend stayed.

A bus from Cappadocia to Konya probably is your best choice, and then a bus to Kas. From Kas, a bus to Selcuk would be fairly easy I think, maybe a night bus is your best choice there. But overall, I think that would be much easier and cheaper than flying because to fly you'd have to get a bus to Antalya or Dalyman to the airport. I think a bus straight to Selcuk would be much easier and much cheaper.

Buses in Turkey are fantastic. They are clean, air conditioned, comfortable, most of them look new, and they serve free tea, Nescafe and snacks! It's awesome! They make bathroom stops as none of the buses have toilets, which I think is great!

suppiluliuma
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Re: Travelling in Turkey as a solo Indian-Australian woman

Post by suppiluliuma » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:16 am

Hi Pinkeagle.
You have a natural advantage. As being an Indian originally, you are not blonde, or light brown haired, blue eyed etc. i.e. not a typical western lady.
You won't catch hunters' attention, as long as not wearing those colorful Indian traditional dresses. ;)
Don't worry anyway, just follow the common instructions, as if you are in any country else in the world.
I'm posting this msg on behalf of decent Turkish men :)
Enjoy your trip.
Come whoever you are...
just come as you are


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