Istanbul is sometimes unsafe and the crime rate has risen a lot over the past few years. The biggest problem is corruption, although it is at an acceptable level, and the least cases of racism in the city – it is impossible to get into trouble for your skin color or nationality.
Guides at the Blue Mosque
When you pass the gates of the Blue Mosque, beware of smiling and friendly guys offering to take you on a tour of the mosque. After superficial stories about etiquette, history and Muslim rituals, you may be asked to pay for their “services”, in the region of $40.
Cheating in bars and clubs
Beware of scams in clubs and bars. You may be billed by referring to an overpriced copy of the real menu, or to a menu upside down. Also, no need to mess with friendly Turks calling you for a drink. They can even pretend to be tourists to win your trust. Nothing good such trips usually end.
Another popular type of fraud, most often occurring in small hostels. You will be told the prices in lira, and at the end they will say that the prices were in euros. This can happen in many other places as well.
Walking through the tourist spots, you may “accidentally” bump into the shoulders of a shoe shiner. He will drop his brush, and you, being a conscientious person, pick it up. Then, in gratitude, they will offer you to clean your shoes, and then they will demand money for the service. Just apologize and move on.
The main method of taxi drivers to deceive tourists is not to choose the most suboptimal route, but to drive in circles. If you don’t know the city, then you can’t figure it out. Also, if the meter shows 20 lira, and you give him 50, the next moment the taxi driver can change your bill for 5 lira, and will claim that you still owe him. Therefore, pronounce each of your actions: “I give you 50 lira, and you owe me 30 lira, is that right?”. In this case, he will no longer get away.
Read the menu carefully before you buy/order something. If the prices seem too high to you, then leave immediately. Many places have menus for tourists, where prices are 300% higher than usual.
Often, local men may harass foreign women in order to get money or other material values. If you are being followed, it is best to immediately head to a crowded place or the nearest store. Even if you shout (İmdat! – Help!) or threaten the police (Polisi ariyorum – I’ll call the police now), most of the pursuers will immediately fall behind.