Manage Your Expenses In Turkey

If backpacking is your modus operandi and Turkey is what you’ve plotted on the map, you’ve landed on the right page. Turkey is a darling country, and easy to explore on a shoestring budget. If you’re backpacking across Turkey, go prepared with some handy knowledge about the Turkish currency, neat ways to spend it, and tips on saving what you can. For an end-to-end experience in the country, take a look at our quick break down!

Know Your Lira

Currency

Also abbreviated as TL or TRY, the Lira comes in six denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5, and kurus or coins.

Exchange Rate

The Turkish Lira is at a whopping 12.55 INR at the time of this writing and is only expected to appreciate, so this might be a good time to plan your trip. Having said that, the exchange rate does fluctuate so you’d be well advised to use XE Currency Converter, which shows the Exchange Rate in real time. If you’re carrying USD, the RBI allows a total of 3000 USD, around 2,13,000 to be carried as cash.

Best Places To Exchange

It’s good to avoid changing currency at Indian airports considering the exorbitant commissions they’re likely to slap on you, as against the better value that your money will fetch if exchanged in Turkey itself. Banks and currency exchange shops are a safe way to buy those Liras that will in turn buy you happiness.

They give you a better rate and usually require you to show identification, passport being the standard. Some jewelry shops and travel agents also dispense  fast and convenient service in providing cash.

Visa Fee

Visa expenses will have to be met in the home country, prior to flying. Indian tourists are highly valued in Turkey and if you have an Indian Passport and a valid visa, it’s an easy breezy e-application process for you. If your Visa is not valid, go ahead and opt for a Sticker Visa to earn passage into Turkey. The standing one-time fee towards a Turkish E-Visa is 3940 INR.

 

Card Vs Cash

 

Cash

To have currency on you is a boon for the budget concerned backpacker. That said, Turkey is a card-friendly country and you certainly have an option to go cashless.

Card

Regular Credit/Debit cards are far more convenient than the obsolete Travelers’ Cheques that are hardly ever accepted anywhere in Turkey. If you’re not carrying currency, for withdrawals use bankmatiks – that’s Turkish for ATMs – but these transactions might be chargeable by your Indian bank. 

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: Do inform your bank about your travel plan – or they might block your account suspecting fraudulence.

 

Forex

Forex is best suited when packed with the currency of the destination nation. Since your Forex card in India will not accept Liras, you could instead carry USD or Euros on your card and get conversions done upon landing.

 

Travel Insurance

Although not compulsory, insuring your trip to Turkey might be a wise move. Your regular health card or medical insurance won’t be valid here, and a sudden illness can leave you strapped for cash as many hospitals will need you to pay cash upfront. Insurance is almost always pre-paid and non-refundable.

Most leading travel agents will give you an option to insure your trip. These typically cost 4 – 10 % of your total travel expenses. Banks and insurance brands let you buy insurance online and coverage is based on the package you select. Don’t forget to add ‘baggage losses’ on top of accident benefits.

Save on TaxesEverything you buy in Turkey will have an 18% tax on the MRP. However, if you’re a non-resident and have only been in the country for less than 6 months, you’re eligible for a tax refund on purchases above 108 Liras as long as you purchase them from registered shops. Save those boarding passes and air ticket hard copies ‘cause you’ll need them to claim refunds at the counter. Want a receipt? Ask for a fis or a fatura, Turkish for invoice.

 

Overall Trip Expenses

Airfare

Airfare is certainly on the more expensive side but if book from Mumbai, you’ll find tickets for as low as 25 thousand INR for a round-trip. If not, try Delhi or Bengaluru, in that order. If you’re planning for a trip during the peak season, make sure your air tickets are done at least 3 months prior to flying. June through August is considered tourist high season in Turkey and expenditure can come down significantly if you push for offseason bookings.

Hotels

Right from starred, luxury hotels to more budgeted hotel chains, the city center will offer you properties with great service, usually breakfast and English-speaking staff. Dig a little deeper for hole-in-the-wall properties that lend a personal touch to your stay and also prove to be budget friendly. Alternatively, guest houses let you get up close with the locals’ way of life. The bed and breakfast sector in Turkey is also thriving and can prove to be a great saving tact for independent travelers. Currently, all-inclusive hotels are trending in the country owing to an oncoming recession and these could well be a solo backpacker’s best bet. They offer accommodation, all-day dining, entertainment, a beach or a pool and the likes.

Transport

 

The easiest way to navigate Turkey  on a budget is to hop on and off busses. The bus system is very well run, and the upkeep of vehicles and large bus stations is on point! They often serve snacks on board and have Turkish movies playing on LCDs inside. Take overnight buses to save on nighttime accommodation. BiTaksi is Turkey’s version of our Ola cabs and can be a comfortable alternative, if a little pricey. Turkey is also quite friendly to hitchhikers although most drivers will expect a payment. In major cities, buses, trams, the metro, ferry, funicular, and cable cars also offer passes along with regular tickets.

Food and Drinks

 

Food can be delicious, elaborate, generously portioned, and give you real value for your money. Beer starts at 7 Lira. Don’t forget to try the Raki, their local brew but beware, it’s not for the faint hearted.

Activities

 

Hiring a tour guide will set you back 200 Liras, so go for an audio guide instead. At major and expansive monuments, before you opt for an audio-guide, don’t forget to look at the rating. Alternatively, locals  organize free walking tours free that are a great way to experience the country from a Turkish perspective.

Tipping

Turkey has a tipping etiquette so make sure to have a tipping budget accomodated.

So there you have it. You now know how to crack a shoestring trip to Turkey. We hope this helps you grab cool bargains and save some of that hard-earned cash while still having a great time!

 

 

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