Turkey Do’s and Dont’s

If you are planning to go to Turkey, there is a set of rules that you have to follow. Actually, the laws there are different if you will come from the Philippines or any other countries in Asia, Europe, or America. Since we are talking about a country in the Middle East, expect that you will need to adjust the big time. As an expat who is new to Turkey, there’s no need for you to memorize all the laws. You can already survive if you know the basic rules. Also, behaviors and gestures are important to remember. There might be things that are acceptable in your homeland but not in Turkey.

Also Read: Philippine Embassy in Ankara, Turkey

To help you out, we’ve listed the basic dos and don’ts in this blog. You may use this as your guide when you go to Turkey. We only included here the rules, behaviors, and actions that you will frequently see everyday with the locals. When you are interacting with the locals, make sure that you know the acceptable actions so you won’t look disrespectful to them. Also, with the basic knowledge about the dos and don’ts, you will have a great start to adjust to your new environment.

dos and donts turkey

Table of Contents

How to Behave in Turkey

To behave in Turkey, you don’t have to know all the rules and laws. Again, knowing the basic ones will help you live a stable life in the country. To behave in Turkey, you must know the basic dos and don’ts. These are the actions that you can do and should avoid. So, here are the dos and don’ts in Turkey.

Do’s in Turkey

The dos are actually the things you can practice. You will see the locals do these things everyday and as an expat, it’s fine if you will blend in the society by doing the same things. These are the dos:

  • When visiting a mosque, remove your shoes before you enter. This is a practice done by the locals since most of them are Muslims. This is a way to respect their place of worship as well.
  • Observe the country’s dress code. It’s not only when visiting a mosque that you should wear decent clothing. Although there is no definite dress code in Turkey, you should follow what the locals wear—decent clothing when visiting mosques and casual wearing when going outside to eat or travel.
  • If you are female, make sure to cover your head and your shoulders especially when you are visiting a place of worship.
  • Respect everyone you bump into. This is a basic manner in Turkey. If you are an expat and this is your first time traveling to Turkey, always respect them.
  • Be courteous when outside. Turkish society emphasizes good manners. You will observe this once you are eating in a restaurant, in a bar, or in a café.
  • Learn some polite words that you can use to greet a local. In Turkey, tesekkür ederim means thank you while lütfen means please.
  • Be aware of the gestures—a downward nod means yes while an upward nod while making a click sound with the tongue is a no in Turkey.
  • Remember that alcohol abstinence is encouraged in Turkey.
  • Pay for the whole meal if you insist on inviting someone. If you split the bill with your guests, it’s considered rude in Turkey.
  • When you are invited for a meal, return the favor. Since the person who invited you will likely pay the bill, initiate the next meal so you can return the favor.
  • Know that actions like burping, blowing your nose, and picking your teeth while you are in a restaurant is considered rude in Turkey.

Don’ts in Turkey

Now that you have a better idea of the dos, let’s enumerate the don’ts in Turkey.

  • Don’t visit a mosque on Fridays. This day is for Muslims. You might not want to interfere when they worship the whole day.
  • Don’t talk loudly when you are in a mosque. This is considered rude and impolite especially because you are inside a holy place.
  • When someone is praying, don’t walk in front of him or her. Look for other ways you can enter or exit a mosque if that’s the case.
  • Don’t display affection publicly. This is not acceptable in Turkey. If you have a partner with you, better show him or her your affection in a private place.
  • Don’t wear clothing that will reveal the sensitive parts of your body.
  • Turkish male sellers don’t usually talk with female travelers. If you have a male traveler with you, Turkish males will most likely talk to the male rather than the female. That’s part of the country’s basic manners.
  • Don’t say anything insulting to any local. Whether it’s about them or about their country, it’s obviously disrespectful to say anything derogatory to them.
  • Don’t burp, pick your teeth, or blow your nose when you are at a restaurant. This is considered rude in Turkey.
  • Don’t split the bills if you invited someone for a meal. This is also considered rude in Turkey. Turkish usually return the favor by inviting you again for a meal.

Tips when going to Turkey

When going to Turkey, you have to equip yourself with enough information about the country. Of course, you don’t have to memorize all the laws in a short period of time. But, you can make a difference by knowing what gestures are acceptable in the country. With this list of dos and don’ts, you can easily know what to do and what to avoid. This will help you manage your actions while you are staying in a foreign country.

While you are in Turkey, you have to make sure as well to know the laws, especially in traffic, employment, and tourism. You have to continue learning and studying. You also need to prepare yourself for some adjustments. Expect that there will be big changes, whether in your actions or in your environment in general. What’s important is that you know the basic rules.

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