A visit to Turkey would be incomplete without visiting a few "kapali carsi" or the grand bazaar found in all towns. There is a profusion of objects and a multitude of people thronging the bazaar, making the bazaars appear cramped and crowded. With people hawking their wares loudly, these bazaars are very noisy places.
Turkey is a shoppers paradise with most of the goods offering value for money.Wandering through the bazaars is like walking through an interesting maze.
Shopping in Turkey is as much part of a Turkey holiday as visiting the experiencing the local culture or tasty Turkish cuisine. You can see what the local Turkey shopping scene is like in the destinations below, as well as some suggestions on places to grab a bargain or souvenir!
Turkey Shopping Guide
Beautiful carpets, dazzling jewellery, eye-catching souvenirs - all these and more can be found in Istanbul's kapali carsi. This bazaar is reputed to be a real trap for tourists, and hardly anyone leaves it empty handed.
Safranbolu's market is quite similar to Istanbul's kapali carsi, displaying authentic Turkish crafts in the charming vine-covered alleys. You will get numerous invitations from friendly salesmen to have cups of tea with them. The gold available in Turkey has a purity of 18 and 22-24 carat. Exquisite pieces crafted out of soft silver are also available. The other goods that might interest visitors are leather purses, scarves, leather jackets, hats, apparel and small pieces of furniture.
Bursa's kapali carsi is another place that tourists find interesting. This is a good place to buy a Turkish carpet and "kilim" with fabulous oriental designs. Turkish carpets are all hand made and thus each carpet is unique. Pushy salesmen are noticeably absent here.
If your shopping list includes dainty Ottoman silk scarves, textiles, glassware and handicrafts, head straight for the "hans" of Bursa. The prices here are affordable and the items on sale very interesting.
Divrigi's town centre is frequented mostly by locals, and seldom by tourists.
Fresh agricultural produce is sold in plenty at Amasra's weekend market. Friendly vendors will ply you with samples in order to tempt you to buy something. Villagers are up at dawn setting up their stalls and bringing a flurry of activity to an otherwise sleepy neighbourhood.
You will be offered some refreshments when you enter a Turkish shop. Do accept gracefully; it does not oblige you to buy their wares. This is a common and courteous practice followed in Turkey. From a business point of view the shop looks busy and this might bring in more customers and hence more business.
Tourists are expected to barter and Turkish salesmen will use all kinds of methods to entice you to their shops. In case you are just looking and do not want to buy, it would be better not to make eye contact with the traders and to walk on as if disinterested. If you do want to buy, try to be the first customer of the day. A common superstition that prevails in Turkey is that if the first customer of the day leaves without buying, then trade for the rest of day is sure to be ruined. So they might just give in to your terms if you are an early bird.
Government offices operate Monday to Friday, 8:30 hrs to 17:30hrs, with a midday break from 12:30 hrs to13:30 hrs. Offices remain closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Banks operate five days a week too, from 8:30 hrs to 17:00hrs, with a midday break from 12:00 hrs to13:30 hrs.
Shops operate Monday to Saturday, 9:30 hrs to19:00 hrs, with a one-hour break from 13:00 hrs to 14:00 hrs. Shops remain closed on Sunday.
The Istanbul Covered Market functions from Monday to Saturday, from 8:00 hrs to 19:00 hrs. It is closed on Sundays.
Several establishments and government offices in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions remain closed in the afternoon during the summer months.
Black PTT letters against a yellow background make Turkish post offices easy to spot. The major post offices function from 8:00 hrs to 24:00 hrs, Monday to Saturday and from 9:00 hrs to 19:00 hrs on Sunday. Small post offices follow the same working hours as government offices.
Tourists can use PTT branches for international postal orders, traveller's cheques and money exchange. Tokens or "jeton", available in three sizes, and telephone cards can be used at the PTT phone booths to make phone calls. Mobile PTT services are also provided in tourist areas.
It is customary to hand out tips ranging from 5% to 15% at places like restaurants, hotels, barbers, hairdressers, and Turkish baths. Drivers of dolmus and taxis do not expect tips.
Duty on exit
When you leave Turkey with gifts and souvenirs a few formalities are expected. If you are carrying a carpet, a proof of purchase is to be furnished. For an old item, a certificate issued from a directorate of a museum should accompany the item. Export of antiques from Turkey is not allowed.
Any amount of foreign currency can be brought into Turkey. However, there is a limit of 55,000 placed on the amount of Turkish currency that can be brought in or taken out of Turkey.
Hold on to the exchange slips issued when foreign currency is converted into Turkish lira. When you reconvert lira to foreign currency, you may be required to produce the slips. The exchange slips will also help to prove that your purchases were made with foreign currency exchanged in a legal manner.