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Is Turkey Safe for Women Traveling Alone?

Is Turkey Safe for Women Traveling Alone

When I proudly announced that I was going to Turkey 2 months ago, I was met with a surprising amount of skepticism, worry and doubt, mostly from my family. Calmly reassuring everyone that Turkey is a very safe country and that I was going no matter what they said, I continued to plan and coordinate my dream trip.

Why couldn’t they just be happy for me?

A week later, the US embassy was bombed in Ankara. And a few days after that, the murdered body of Sarai Sierra, an woman from NYC traveling alone in Turkey was discovered in Istanbul.

How was I going to explain that to mom and dad?

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

Sarai Sierra (Photo: Derek Fahsbender via AP)

“You should cancel your trip.” “You are crazy to go to Turkey right now.” “I can’t believe you are going to Turkey alone, and as a woman too” were many of the oppositions I began to hear.

Selectively deaf to disagreements, especially of the travel variety, I continued planning my trip. I was going to discover the flavors of Istanbul; I was going to take to the skies in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia; I was going to explore ancient ruins in Ephesus. Nothing short of a revolution would keep me from going to Turkey.  If I had learned anything from 6+ years of solo travel, it was that these sorts of mass hysterias were usually blown way out of proportion, especially about countries in the Middle East. If you take away anything from this post, remember to take your friend’s and family’s warnings and advice with a grain of salt.

Movies and news in the USA love to rave about the dangers of traveling to “Muslim” countries, stirring up fear and xenophobia which couldn’t be more WRONG. They paint the Middle East as a volatile time bomb waiting to explode and filled with dangerous Arabs who hate Americans and who want to kidnap little blond girls like me and eat them for breakfast.

Really?

I saw Taken 2 for the first time on the plane back from Istanbul (poor choice Lufhansa) and my mouth dropped open in astonishment. No wonder people had the totally wrong idea about Turkey when this garbage was in mainstream media.

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

To characterize the entire Middle East based on incidents in Iraq, Afghanistan or places that have had terrorist attacks in the past is akin to saying that the US is filled with gangsters with big guns OR with crazy young men who enjoying shooting children.

I was going to Istanbul not Baghdad. Of course there are dangerous places in the Middle East, but there are far more safe places to visit.

Culturally the US and countries like Turkey are very different, but why should we be scared of something different? Isn’t that why we love travel? To go explore unknown places, meet new people and experience different cultures? To lump them all together as dangerous “Arabs” is both simpleminded and appallingly racist.

It is true that women in the US enjoy a considerable amount of freedom compared with other countries around the world, but does that mean because I am a young American woman who enjoys traveling, I always need to travel with people by my side? Or worse, can I only feel safe traveling when I have a man beside me? Should I be frightened to travel alone? Or is it ok to travel alone as long as I am not going to “Muslim” countries?

Is Turkey Safe for Women Traveling Alone

Believe it or not, but I have heard all of the above multiple times, more often than not from people who are very close to me. Nothing bothers me more when people make sweeping generalizations about a place they’ve never been to and probably can’t even name the capital of.

I firmly trust in the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Turkey may be in the Middle East (actually, its location baffles me: Middle East? Asia? Europe? Eurasia?) but from what I’d heard from fellow travelers and travel bloggers, Turkey’s nothing like its neighbors. Everyone had nothing but nice things to say about it. I survived two weeks in Egypt right after the revolution; I seriously doubted that Turkey would even remotely test my patience like Cairo or Luxor did.

Why is Turkey “dangerous?” Because they’re Muslim? Because they share a border with Syria and Iran? Because one American woman was murdered there. How many people are murdered in America every god damn day? Every time I turn on the news, some one else has died here. Someone pulled a gun in a school. Someone shot up a movie theater. Someone has gone missing. Someone was raped. According to NOW, on average 3 women a day are murdered in the United States by a partner AT HOME. As much as we love to preach safety and superiority over the rest of the world, the United States is a pretty scary place.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. America, you have absolutely NO RIGHT to be calling other countries dangerous. Nothing galls me more than hearing other Americans condemn another country based on stereotypes propagated by the media and movies.

Is Turkey Safe for Women Traveling Alone

This fact was brutally reaffirmed yesterday when the Boston marathon was bombed. Downtown Boston. Bombed. In the United States. In a very nice area. People died on sidewalks I’ve walked on. How can you NOT question if you are living in a safe place?

And today? The anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting, you know, where my mom, brother, one of my best friends and half my high school went to college.

In my short 24 years on this planet, I have had to call close friends and family three different times during major tragedies. When I was 12 years old and my dad was working in DC during 9/11. When I was 18 years old in the spring of my first year of college, some nutcase killed 32 people at Virginia Tech. And again yesterday when the Boston marathon was bombed – I went to school in MA, and most of my friends are still up there.

24 years old, and I’ve already had to make that phone call asking “are you ok?” praying to god that certain people in my life were still alive 3 separate times. How fucked up is that?

But go on, tell me Turkey is dangerous. Tell me traveling as a woman is dangerous.

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

If you don’t believe me, the statistics don’t lie.

For example, 5,324 people were murdered in New York City alone over the past decade. How many Americans were murdered in all of Turkey over the past 10 years? Three.

Think about it.

While the death of Sarai Sierra is tragic, unfortunate, and breaks my heart to read about, the fact that she was traveling alone in Turkey had nothing to do with it. Like many homicides, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Statistically speaking, she was far more likely to be killed at home in NYC than in Istanbul. But to use her death as an platform to both criticize the safety of Turkey for Americans and to question women who chose to travel alone is shallow and wrong.

In a post on NBC News announcing Sarai Sierra’s murder, there are thousands of comments that make me want to scream and bang my head against the wall. Actually I only got through page one before I wanted to weep for humanity.

In fact, I learned 3 important lessons from that article: 60% of NBC news readers can’t spell and are grammatically retarded (yes, I said the “r” word, move on), way more people than you would think are racist trolls, and NBC should disable comment threads on controversial articles.

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

Here are some of the more spectacular comments and my reaction via GIF’s.

“There is no place safe for a single American to be traveling east of Italy. I would imagine the Turkish police will get to the heart of the issue very soon and they are not afraid to execute anyone they decide is responsible for this murder.”

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

“If you are looking for justice in a Muslim country then forget it if a man killed her and he is married then his wife will go to prison for his deeds. his punishment will be her shame. it works for them!”

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

“Sadly, any American, male or female, traveling anywhere on the planet, especially the Middle-East, is not safe.. This woman, while I admire the fact that she wanted to get her photography career going, should NEVER have gone to Turkey, be it with a friend or alone, but especially not alone! Men over there have absolutely no respect for women in their own country much less foreign woman. To them, Sierra being alone was an invitation to harm her, whether they meant to murder her or not, who can say right now.Without a cadre of close friends surrounding a women, she is better off staying away from such dangerous places as the Middle-East or, if she must go there, she should NEVER go out by herself.”

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

“Makes no sense to me why a woman, even a pair would go to a middle eastern country knowing or should know the conditions women & young children are treated.”

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

“Then go ahead and travel to Iran and say “Hey dude, I’m your friend.” They’ll scream “infidel” at you and chop your head to pieces.”

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

“Why in the hell would anyone go to Turkey on vacation?”

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

Sigh. And that was just page 1. Of 16.

This all goes back to my main question – is Turkey safe for solo female travelers?

Yes, yes it is.

Not only is my answer yes, I also believe that Turkey is a great destination for solo female travelers and a perfect introduction to the Middle East. Why?

Pressing issue aside, Istanbul is considered to be one of the safest big cities in the world. It has a much lower crime rate than the rest of Europe, especially big cities like London, Paris and Berlin. Over the past few months I have scoured the internet for articles about crime in Turkey, and one fact that always stuck out for me was the fact that almost every police officer in Turkey holds a university degree, while many more have masters or PhDs. Educated law enforcement, what a novel idea.

It’s not your typical “Muslim” country. That isn’t to say that other Muslim countries are dangerous, something I do not believe is true in the slightest, but for example the harassment I dealt with in Egypt was a thousand times worse than anything I experienced in Turkey. Traveling alone, I was never followed, never pinched or poked, never hassled or oggled. Only once did a get hit on big time – walking home at night, I heard someone yell out to me “Miss you dropped something,” and I turned around to see a young guy on his knees holding his chest and said, “my heart.” And let’s be honest, I was totally fine with that!

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

Turkey is a very east-meets-west country, with many girls dressing the same way as Europeans, working and living just like you or me. Did you know that up until recently, women were banned from entering university wearing a headscarf in Turkey? But it is also undeniably a Muslim country, and there is a new wave of conservatism in the government. Turkey is in the midst of a transformation and it’s really fascinating to watch; almost everyone I talked to was willing to talk with me about religion, and they were more than happy to share their strong opinions with me. Men and women socialize, hang out, study, work even drink, but they won’t touch bacon. Fascinating!

Apart from that, I think what impressed me most about Turkey was the unfailing kindness and generosity of everyone I met. With 30 countries under my belt, Turkey definitely has some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. To hear someone who’s most likely never been there categorize as a deadly place for Americans, especially women makes me want to scream!

So I think what we need to ask ourselves is NOT whether or not Turkey is a safe destination for women wanting to travel alone, but rather what can we do to improve violence against women around the world? How can you protect yourself when traveling alone, home or abroad?

I think the second part of the issue is that the United States desperately needs to reevaluate its perception of the rest of the world, starting with the Middle East and Islamic countries. I, for one, will be doing my part to show people that the world is much safer than you realize; no more making excuses.

Is Turkey Safe for Women Traveling Alone

My 5 tips for solo female travelers in Turkey

1. Don’t be a dumbass

This one does seem fairly obvious, but unfortunately it bears repeating. Be smart. Over the years, and after many trips and mess-ups around the world, you learn. So if this is your first solo trip as a woman outside the US (like it was for Sarai), maybe you should pick a less challenging destination. Like Spain. Not only will you not be harassed, you will most likely also be ignored. Over time you will learn caution, and learn to read situations better while traveling that can keep you from getting into danger. This takes time and experience

If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, get the hell out of there as fast as you can. Run. Scream. Don’t be polite. I’ve read many articles about Sarai Sierra’s death, and she was caught on tape in plenty of places I wouldn’t have ventured to alone. Walking along random railroad tracks at dusk? Not a good idea in most of the world. Carrying your iPad out in the middle of a local mall? Also not a good idea.

If you are concerned about being alone, then don’t be alone. Stay in a hostel and make friends, join a day tour or research group activities. There are plenty of ways to be with people when you are traveling alone.

Also, buy travel insurance. You’ve more chance of hurting yourself than suffering at the hands of someone else! I use World Nomads Travel Insurance, who offer all kinds of different policies specifically geared towards travelers. Each one is customizable AND affordable.

is turkey safe for women travelling alone

2. Don’t stay somewhere sketchy

Again fairly obvious but often forgotten. Research where you will stay. Read the reviews, ask other people who have been there for suggestions. Don’t sacrifice saving a few dollars to stay in a shithole in a bad area. When you check in, think about what the area will be like after dark and if you have to walk back alone. Unless you’re in Pamplona for San Fermin, there will always be somewhere to stay and you can always change locations. Talking with locals in Istanbul, I found out Sarai Sierra was staying in an Air BNB apartment in quite possibly the worst area of town. Not smart. Especially when you are alone and in a unfamiliar place for the first time.

When I booked my hotels in Turkey, I did a lot of research and carefully chose ones that were perfect for women traveling alone: Hotel Empress Zoe in Istanbul (run by two American sisters) and the Kelebek Cave Hotel in Cappadocia. In Izmir I stayed at a place called the Olimpiyat Hotel which I recommend avoid at all costs.

3. Bring a door stop

Ever since I started backpacking in 2007, I’ve always carried a small rubber doorstop to jam under my hotel and private hostel room doors. Some places have really flimsy doors and you never know who might also have a key. With a door stop, it makes it so much harder to ninja-kick a door in, and let’s say, rob, stab or rape a girl. I also avoid staying on ground floors where someone could come through a window easily and I don’t leave easily accessed windows open. Common sense really.

Is Turkey Safe for Women Traveling Alone

4. Blend in

Given how I look, I am almost never mistaken for a local, unless I am in the mother country: Poland. But when I am traveling, I always walk around with an air of confidence, and never with a map in hand. Yes, I sometimes get lost, but then I pop in a doorway or in a shop and pull out a map that I have folded, or ask for directions. But I never walk down the street or stop with an open map. Act like you belong, even when you’re lost until you can find a comfortable place to ask for directions.

And as much as I disagree with it, if you are in a conservative country, cover up ladies. No cleavage. No skimpy legs. No flirty dresses. Istanbul is very modern, so you see local women dress very western and since there are so many tourists, even in summer, I don’t think you’d have much of an issue wearing shorts or a t-shirt. The Turkish coastline is very famous for cruise stops and beach holidays, so likewise, I doubt you’d have many problems dressing like you would back home in summer.

Is Turkey Safe for Women Traveling Alone

5. Avoid eye contact

This is not just for Turkey, but for many places, even in the US, eye contact can mean an invitation or flirting. This was something I never did until this trip, always staring people down and smiling at everyone. I can’t help it, I’m a smiler. But I tried it in the markets in Istanbul and it worked phenomenally. Just stare straight ahead. Works like a charm.

The same goes for conversations with shopkeepers or men in general. Be aware of your tone so you don’t sound flirty. This also really helps. This all goes back to number one and learning to read situations through experience. I am hesitant to say never talk or my eye contact with locals because that means missing out on truly authentic and fun travel experiences. A huge part of my trips come from meeting people from where I am going. But over the years I have learned to read people very well, and the instant I feel uncomfortable or threatened, I’m out of there.

For more thoughts, ramblings and tips on solo female travel, check out my Solo Female Traveler’s Manifesto Guide and/or my 10 Solo Female Travel Tips From Almost a Decade of Travel.

Do you travel alone? Are you a solo female traveler? What precautions do you take? Have you ever been to Turkey?

Is Turkey Safe for Women Traveling Alone

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256 Responses to Is Turkey Safe for Women Traveling Alone?

  1. Elena June 9, 2014 at 7:46 am #

    I understand that it is important to encourage young female travellers like ourselves to travel alone and to share tips on how to keep safe, however, I felt that the way you discussed Sarai Sierra, in relation to these tips on safety was quite victim blaming. You mentioned that she had been seen out walking alone on rail tracks and with her ipad out in public indicating that she was acting in a way that was jeopardising her safety and thus responsibilising her. Violence against women in all forms is a crime and the onus of that crime always, ALWAYS, has to be placed solely upon the perpetrator.(Had she not been walking in the mall that day with her ipad out would she not have been murdered??…was she to blame for her own murder because she was naïve and careless with her safety? You get the picture.) Yes it is an excellent idea to share advice amongst fellow female travellers but never in comparison to the perceived failures, mistakes or wrongdoings of other females. Particularly those who have had violence perpetrated against them; there is a danger of this comparison detracting from the source of the violence.

    • Liz June 10, 2014 at 8:48 am #

      I’m sorry but I think you need to reread this and many of my other solo female travel posts again. I am not victim blaming her, and I am a believer that anyone should walk anywhere and do anything without worrying. But we need to be realistic and remember that we live in a violent world and there things that men and women can do when traveling to minimize harassment and harm, which was the point of this post.

  2. Nikki June 21, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    Great article! I was just in Turkey 2 months ago and traveled solo. I found Turkey to be extremely welcoming and never once felt unsafe. In fact, I found most men to be very respectful… If anything they were curious as to my thoughts as an American woman. My family was a bit hesitant about me going (but I’m too stubborn to change my mind) but I felt a million times safer there than I did in Paris. I would definitely echo the sentiment of don’t be a dumbass! I always take the time to see what is acceptable for clothing etc so as to not bring undue attention to myself and simply avoid dodgy situations. I would echo the map thing and also caution being on your phone etc (even if you’re looking up Info)…. It’s a matter of just being aware of your surroundings. Also love your tip about the doorstop…. Never thought of that. I’m 34 and just starting to travel….. I so wish I had started this when I was much younger (translation: no mortgage)…. This world is so big and beautiful…. Too much to try to see!

  3. Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon June 22, 2014 at 4:25 am #

    I loved reading this, you write with such a no nonsense, common sense attitude. It’s great.

  4. Mary June 22, 2014 at 6:44 am #

    Thanks for a great article. I visited istanbul last year and loved it so much I want to see more of Turkey and plan to go next May. I wondered how you travelled to other parts of Turkey. I was thinking of hiring a car. What are your thoughts?

  5. Sara July 12, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    Thank you so so much! This is exactly what I need to head of the “You’re going WHERE??” exclamations from my family when I tell them my end of summer plans!

  6. songul - July 14, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Im planning to travel Turkey with my 3 kids (youngest 5) without hubby in 2015. Im an Australian Turk and have visited family in Turkey with hubby a few times but this time round we want to introduce our culture to our kids whole their still young enough to take time off school.

    Even tthough we have family, language and basic knowledge of the country, even im getting the “its dangerous in Turkey” “your a foreigner youll get ripped off” “youll be an easy target” etc

    Hubby and i agree its safe enough to travel and i have no plans to go to the kurdish side of Turkey.

    Love your article and stats – gave me even more confidence thanks

  7. Jo August 9, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    This was a really helpful post, thank you so much! I’m hoping to head to Istanbul and possibly Cappadocia in a few weeks time. I’ve travelled alone a lot in Europe, but I have to admit the media scared me a little. Which is silly, of course. Your statistics about the dangers of the US are definitely eye opening!

    I actually just read an article that said Istanbul is about to knock Paris off the spot for second most visited city in Europe. So hopefully any solo female travellers reading that will be reassured, along with your excellent tips.

  8. caitlin August 15, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    This was nice to read, I am Travelling to Russia later this year, and am getting lots of why would you go there? I have done my research and feel like it is no more dangerous then many other countries I am going to.

    • salim February 13, 2015 at 9:08 am #

      the risk of getting murdered or raped in turkey is far more less than getting murdered in U.S or italy vs.
      but , for you to realize the fact that the eastern side of turkey isa little bit more conservative than the western side of turkey.
      To tell the truth , turkey has their own issues like the pressure over media by the goverment , the kurds issue , vs vs..
      neverthless , the famous turkish hospitality makes you forget what you hear or what you read at your country.

      • Ariana December 28, 2015 at 8:22 am #

        I’m visitng my family in Naples, Italy and have an eighteen hour layover in Turkey, I’m a young girl and am unsure if I’d feel safe staying outside the airport and then traveling to another layover in Italy because I simply do not speak the language…any suggestions

    • Anastasia August 25, 2015 at 5:11 am #

      Hey, I’m Russian myself (now live in US)- you should be totally fine in Russia, as long as you behave like you would in any major city (as in- don’t walk alone at night on barely lit streets, don’t get into a car with unfamiliar men, etc. Common sense, really).
      If you are taking subway (esp. in Moscow)- be careful, in rush hour it is packed and there might be thieves.
      Most people might seem gloomy cause they don’t smile much – don’t worry, if you need help, just ask, russians are very hospitable esp. to foreigners.

    • Ann November 11, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

      Be careful in the metro.

      I am a retired woman and was mugged in the St. Petersburg metro a decade ago.

      I had been lost and checking my guidebook, it was getting dark, I was restrained by at least two men (not sure) as I was going through some metal doors. Obviously I had a big “tourist, please attack” sign on my forehead….:-)

      I have traveled quite a bit, Asia was fine, so was Northern Europe, but I found Spain, Italy and Russia places where I had to be very careful.

  9. lisa August 15, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Hi, I loved reading your rundown of your adventure in Turkey. One thing I didn’t catch you hint on is whether or not you carry any type of self protection like tazers on your travels? I’m sure you won’t need it in Turkey though. Was just wondering.

  10. Young girl going to turkey also August 24, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Please email me I’m planning to go to turkey alone meeting my bf who’s from there in Ankara I need your support help advice etc.

    • addf September 9, 2014 at 2:29 am #

      Dont go, you cant trust him, im from turkey and i know a lot of this things, he can be married or guilty, rapist, liar, please sis you should hing one more time

      • RUN!!!! December 17, 2014 at 9:16 am #

        Don’t ever try that ! I’m talking as a turk. Like ”addf” say.He would be anything

        And For travellers;
        If you want to come to Turkey you have to stay away from some cities like Bodrum,Alanya…etc I can write whole list if you want. Turkey is not suitable for beach vacation.But its really amazing for culture and history vacations.

        • Jessica December 31, 2014 at 7:36 am #

          Oh please, I go to Turkey every summer and have stayed in both Bodrum and Alanya and nothing bad ever happens. So many girls go there. The beach vacations there are awesome. Some guys may try talking to you but literally say no and walk away. Just like everywhere else don’t go to sketchy places with not a lot of people around in a foreign country at night. Places like Bodrum are packed.

        • Hakan January 19, 2015 at 12:56 am #

          As a Turk I’m talking, you are a big liar, I’m shocked you guys can write such things.. Since there are lots and lots of tourists in Bodrum, Alanya, Cesme, Didim etc, how can you say “stay away from beach vac.”?
          I think everyone can understand what is your aim.. hah..
          And “Young girl going to turkey also”, if you love him, don’t stop yourself.

        • Shebnem September 3, 2015 at 4:13 am #

          I am from Azerbaijan, and I think we are modern and tolerant muslims, but Turkey much better. İts like a paradox, but they’re more religious and at the same time more modern than us. I was in Antalya, Kemer, Marmarıs, the beach vacation was amazıng. And I was in İstanbul. If you dont flirt, and dont act like most of the russian girls do))) boys and men dont disturb you. I felt very comfort there, even when I was alone.

  11. Young girl going to turkey also August 24, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Please email me…

  12. Li Shang August 28, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    Women in danger

    Turkey is one of the world’s worst countries to be a woman. Between 2002 and 2009, the murder rate of women skyrocketed by 1,400 percent. An estimated 28,000 women were assaulted in 2013, according to official figures. Of those, more than 214 were murdered, monitors say, normally by husbands or lovers.

    Around 40 percent of Turkish women have suffered physical abuse at some stage in their lives, topping rates in Europe and the US. The 2013 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Turkey 120th out of 136 countries

    • Mr. 42 October 17, 2014 at 2:58 am #

      From where did u heard that shit..??

    • Jack January 31, 2015 at 11:44 am #

      Nope, i dont think so, me and my girlfriend really loved that place.

    • ADNAN TUNÇ July 23, 2016 at 7:17 pm #

      Stop that shit.. Turkey is the only country on that region to have gender equality. Turkey’s civil law is same with Switzerland. And also it’s the FIRST country in Europe to apply women voting and to be voted right in 1930’s… (For ex: Switzerland achieved this in 1970’s) Do you know how many women are killed in the US every year? Have you ever criticized that?

      • Joss July 29, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

        No, Scandinavian countries gave full voting rights to women before Turkey.

  13. Chiara September 2, 2014 at 3:57 am #

    I totally agree with U, i’ve been twice in Istanbul and once it was me and my mom , two blondie petit women!!! Nothing bad happend. Everyone has been polight and so approachable! Nice country and great people

    • As November 20, 2014 at 8:24 am #

      Try living there. I live in Istanbul and a lot more happens here then people realize. Most just can’t tell. Have a conversation with a young turkish women and you will get the reality. Also as two white women you are less likely to have something happen to you than a Kurdish, gypsy, African, Asian or Latino women.

      • Jessica December 31, 2014 at 7:37 am #

        I visit every summer and have some family who lives there, and I don’t hear about that happening.

      • Monica January 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

        I don’t doubt the reality is ugly. What happens to women on a daily basis in their private homes and in the name of religion, I can only dream of. But for a western lady who is behaving like one, plus planning ahead a bit, to be travelling alone should’t be dangerous. And that’s what this blog post is about.

        Although all people are supposed to be equal it sure looks like the next best thing after being born as a white male, is being born as a white female. Lucky for us.

    • Jeana November 19, 2015 at 11:45 am #

      What about now

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  15. Mga September 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    I am so glad I came across this article. After years of wanting to travel and see the world I finally got tired of waiting on friends who are all talk but no walk when it comes to traveling. So in a few months i will be traveling to Ireland alone. I am still very nervous but I feel more at ease after reading this. I am honestly more excited now and can’t wait until the day comes. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

    • beulah December 20, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

      where are you planning to visit in Ireland?Dont be nervous we are a very friendly nation

  16. Leah September 17, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    “There is no place safe for a single American to be traveling east of Italy”

    SERIOUSLY? I mean, Middle East aside – what about Croatia, Austria, Greece, Czech Republic??

    I would have no problems if a single female friend told me she was travelling to Turkey (provided she had some international travel experience already). My husband and I spent two and a half weeks in Turkey in April/May this year and never did I feel unsafe. I have felt more vulnerable in Paris. We have family friends (my parents’ age) who have been getting into international travel since their kids have all grown up and on their last trip they self-travelled for most of it but took a guided tour of Turkey because they thought it was too dangerous to go alone. I’m talking two perfectly able-bodied 50-something (generally) common-sense people. The moment he said that further cemented my resolve to travel Turkey alone (alone as in, without a tour group – still had my husband with me!)

    I don’t doubt having my husband probably warded off some potential problems – unwanted attention from men etc – but we didn’t encounter any violence or inappropriate comments during our time there. I’ve received more inappropriate comments and wolf-whistling at home in Australia than I did in Turkey. I would say some caution should be exercised but it’s certainly not worth avoiding. There are some parts of the country to avoid – we even had locals tell us the border areas with Syria are dangerous and not to go too far east, but we didn’t go any further east than Cappadocia anyway.

    • Ephesus tour company March 26, 2016 at 2:52 am #

      Hi guys,

      I blieve Turkey is the most safe country at the moment.. Bombs or teror can be in anywhere onthis earth.. To not travel bombs will be supporting terrorists!! And ofcourse ladies will be safe in Turkey

  17. Adam October 12, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    It is safe going to Turkey as long as you are aware of cultural differences. In Turkey many western women come drinking and having sex in beach resort cities. Turkish woman are more moral, norm is to stay virgin until marriage, not go out clubbing by themselves, even if many are wearing western clothing. Very good women.

    I’ve been to Turkey many times. Great country. In beach resort cities, turkish young women traveling solo are very uncommon, but are usually there with family ore husband. More family oriented culture. I live in west but my culture is more close to Turkey, so would not accept my daughters traveling alone to another country (also western countries).

  18. MBeans October 27, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    Wow, I’m so glad I ran across your blog. Wonderful, inspiring article. Thank you.

  19. Matilda November 12, 2014 at 8:09 am #

    Hi Liz, Just read your article and I totally agree with you. In fact I get so defensive when people comment that Turkey is Islamic and therefore must be dangerous.
    I have been living in Turkey for the last six years and in that time have travelled to every corner and seen quite a lot of this amazing country, and in five years, I can not report anything remotely dangerous happening to me. In fact I can report overwhelming hospitality that sometimes can be a little stifling. At the moment there is war all around, and so it is sensible to stay away from the borders, but yes Turkey is safe still to travel, and yes Turkey is safe for solo female travellers. Well as safe as anywhere.
    When I return home to Australia I get all the same comments that you did. Friends and family say I must come home now….its too dangerous…..Aust. Gov put travel to Turkey in the ‘High alert’ but you never hear that about USA or Uk….the media has a lot to answer for.

  20. Google November 13, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    Great web site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find quality writing like yours nowadays.
    I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

  21. samet November 16, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    I’m from turkey, and seeing that someone wright real fact about turkey its makes me happy. Thank you for that. People shouldnt beleive everything they hear or read. Spcially movies and news. Thank you again.

  22. Brittni December 18, 2014 at 3:28 am #

    I do the solo female traveler bit too, and what always blows my mind is how people at home respond to the idea of a woman traveling alone vs. the people where you are actually going. The first time I traveled internationally by myself, my own friends actually said things like “how does your father feel about this?” I have no idea how you’re supposed to respond to a question like that.

    Other American tourists I ran into were shocked that I was by myself. The locals were not. We have such a warped view of the rest of the world from here, I think. I have a better chance daily of dying in my home city than I do in travel. Thanks for putting it so well in this post.

    (Also, you sound awesome & like someone I would want to be friends with to swap travel stories and such.)

    • jeannette February 1, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      i travel alone every year to Paris, Rome, Spain.England lots of places and i am a black woman,never had a problem. even late at nite. stop being afraid and get out and travel.i always do tours during the day and stay in a nice hotel with stuff going on at nite so i wont be stuck in my room at nite. i love seeing beautiful places. just be aware of your surroundrings, dont get involved to the point of bring someback to your hotel. tr to get in before late dark. always put stuff in front of hotel door at nite. always research the hotel, read the reviews, just watch your self , like you have to do in AMERICA. I am planning to go to Istanbul this April, wish me well.

  23. Yuksel January 3, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    I’m a travel agent in Turkey , We had been organised tours to solo female travelers since 10 years from all over the world and nothing bad hapend !! Everyone was şad while they were leaving turkey and they suprised How modern is Turkey ! So, TURKEY is % 100 SAFE !

    Best Regards
    adavegas travel
    Yuksel Tasdemir

  24. Evrim T. January 18, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

    Hi. I am originally Turkish and also a permanent resident living in the U.S.A., which means that I am well aware of the realities of life in both Western and Middle Eastern countries. Liz, I think, you are a brilliant and amazing blogger. Thank you for all your positive comments about my homeland and its really hospitable people. Yes, it is true that Turkey is a Muslim country located in the Middle East, but it definitely is not a dangerous place for women to live in or travel to alone. It is very modern and welcoming to foreigners. People, especially those that have never even travelled to Turkey and observed its beauty, should keep their ignorant and narrow-minded opinions to themselves. All those numbers stated above by Li Shang about women getting murdered and abused are not even relevant pieces of information as they are domestic violent cases, which have nothing to do with tourists. My only advice to tourists as a local is that they should stay at a decent hotel in a good neighborhood as it is the case everywhere else in the world (New York, Prague, Paris, etc.) All the other advice Liz has given about not being flirtatious around men, and being wise about the locations you visit after dark, or the clothes you wear etc. are totally valid and would definitely work. I can assure you that men would never bother, touch or harass you in the street or on public transportation. It is really ignorant of people to make ridiculous generalizations over one bad incident and tarnish the reputation of the whole country. THANKS again for this realistic and eye-opening article, which shows how courageous, knowledgeable and open-minded you are, Liz. We all (Turks) appreciate your efforts.

  25. Monica January 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

    Great text! Glad to learn you’re not easily scared. I first started travelling around 15 years ago and have been to almost all strange and common corners of the world, and the only thing I fear as much as ever is that Mr. Malaria.

    I agree that Cairo tests your patience like nothing else, for me it became unbearable after a couple of days, and after two weeks of that shit we had to flee to Dahab for a break. Egypt = Never again. (I was travelling with my overfriendly, easily persuaded boyfriend – so I had to keep him on a leash or otherwise he’d be off to some “art gallery” or “perfume shop”, it was a nightmare. But not because I am female.) By the way, THE other place where you will never be left alone, is Cuba – where, sadly, I fled to an all inclusive hotel in the tourist hub of Varadero!

    My single trip around the Australian desert lands raised a few eyebrows, but I haven’t ever let other peoples opinions stop me from doing something I wanted. Mostly I traveled in/on my own vehicle, which has given me control over many situations and made me feel safe and comfortable. As an example, I never stopped to pick up dubious hitchhikers or talk to families who were by the side of the road in the desert, and when I found some stranded people in the middle of nowhere, I proceeded cautiously and did not get out of my car until I could see who were there. It turned out to be a mother from Sydney with her two daughters who’d been sitting in the desert for 14 hours with two flat tires and a broken radio.

    The only time I was ever followed by a man for a longer period of time, was actually in Geneva, when it looked like I was on my own – and it still bothers me. That was one of those Algerian leeches, can’t say I am fond of that especially misfortunate species. When it comes to Iran, which you mention in your text: They represent one of the best people I ever came across, except some religious shit that prevented some from serving me in a restaurant in southern Tehran. But again, I was the trespasser – and it had nothing to do with sexual harassment.

    About the staring, I am not a fan of walking around having to divert my gaze at all costs. Some places it really is necessary, but mostly men get it when they’re bothering you, and mostly, they’ll stop persuing you quickly. I never stop when someone try to stop me and never ask directions from someone who is offering help, always be the one to make the decisions/pick your own helpers. I mostly insist on carrying my own luggage, and I will forcefully take it back from anyone who has grabbed it without hesitation. I will get out of a taxi without paying if the driver is not cooperating, and I dress in old clothes and pack only the most necessary of luggage – and carry things as hidden and invisible as possible.

    One of my worst experiences ever is being stared down and talked about by older generations of affluent germans when I was staying on my own in a five star resort in the Canary Islands. Unfortunately, I happen to be fluent in german, you would not have believed what came out of their mouths.

    I have also filled up a motorcycle tank in a pub in western England in the middle of the night, slept at a murder site in my tent with my motorcycle outside the tent, and slept on a beach when the tide came in and almost caused my MC to topple over me. Never been to Turkey though, which is a shame, and it’s about time I did something about it.

    To Adventure! 😉

  26. amalie February 5, 2015 at 2:36 am #

    Really great post! While highlighting the mistaken security concerns of the US, you also did a fantastic job of emphasizing individual responsibility and awareness when traveling. I really appreciated this article! Yay Turkey and yay women traveling solo 🙂

    • Liz February 9, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

      woot woot!

      • Ivy February 28, 2015 at 6:18 am #

        Thank you so much for your wo derful blog 🙂 i am travelling alone in Turkey this March and my first time to travel alone 🙂 and very much worried.. but because of your blog all worries melt away 🙂 tnx!!!

  27. Ivonette February 9, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    I’m glad I came across your blog. I am currently in the process of doing my research to go to Germany and on my way there I have a long layover in Istanbul,Turkey. Might you have suggestions on what to do for an 8-12 hour layover. What should I see or do first kind of thing?

  28. Hanh February 18, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    Hi Liz,
    I read your article before going to Turkey solo, and while I agree that it was safe, I found Istanbul males to be substantially annoying. Being a short Asian girl, I always, always wear conservative clothing to minimize attention (as I’m not sure I’d be able to fight back, bwahaha), which includes long sleeves shirts and long dresses/pants. I had a lovely time in Cappadocia but was harrassed every 10 steps in Istanbul. I could take the harrassment from merchants, but when males were following for blocks, it started to get uncomfortable (especially because I was the only one walking on the street in this neighborhood in Istanbul as it was not a touristy area). So touristy areas, get harrassed by merchants and cat calls; non-touristy areas, get stalked by males while being the only female on the street. It made my time in Istanbul extremely unpleasant and I do not plan to go back solo. The city itself is lovely and the history is incredible, but I found traveling in pairs (regardless of female/female or female/male pair) to be much better.

    I would also like to point out that other females traveling solo in my hostel had the same experience, especially the – let me follow you for 2 blocks in the dark – type. One girl had several offers for a “quick 10 minute” sex.

    I have traveled Europe solo for several occasions; places with somewhat of a reputation like Spain and Italy were completely harmless, Central Europe even more safe and nobody really approached me. As such, I have to say I was unprepared for Istanbul (just Istanbul, not Turkey).

    And, I was in Istanbul for 5 days, experiencing different areas and got very similar experience from annoying males. I was so depressed my last day that I didn’t go out at all, only stepped out to get food.

    I guess the only advice I can give fellow solo female travelers to Turkey is, Turkey is very safe, but be prepared to be annoying in Istanbul. Others may be able to tolerate it well and ignore them, I couldn’t.

    • Hanh February 18, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

      *to be annoyed* gah

    • ALEX D. January 16, 2016 at 11:58 am #

      OMG, Istanbul is great.. Where have you been in Istanbul? It’s the biggest city in the world so you should know where to visit. Of course it has messy places like Paris,NYC and London have also.. Have you been to Bebek,Ortakoy,Arnavutkoy etc? Sultanahmet is the classical touristic area and touristic areas always have annoying people..

  29. Türk Kizi February 25, 2015 at 7:17 am #

    OH, THANK YOU. I hate it when people, especially dumb Western blondes (no offense, it’s not you!) think a bomb is hoing to explode in their face the moment they step on Turkish soil. If I survived 14 years in Avcilar, you’ll go back home in one piece after sightseeing around Sultanahmet for a week.

  30. Hannah March 14, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    Just found your page a few days ago and have been enjoying reading. This article is fantastic and I’m now your newest loyal follower! Your writing is exception, personable and informative!
    P.s Please tell me you’ve made it to Queenstown’s Fergburger?

  31. ali moosavi March 25, 2015 at 6:16 am #

    Im so proud of this article … hope everyone knows these things about muslims .

  32. Kathy Rose March 26, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    this article is really a good one and i came to know more about turkey which in my bucket list.

  33. Jess April 3, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

    I’m leaving for Istanbul on the 5th of May, I am also a solo female traveller and have gotten a similar response from people I tell! I have no plan but I am so keen to start exploring such an incredible country!

  34. Faik April 19, 2015 at 1:34 am #

    i have been there , all were fine , but just felt lonely, wish if a girl was with me as im single, if any nice girl planning to make a holiday there then im in 😉 its lovely there but i dont like to be lonely again, my ph no. and whatsap 009647826499677

  35. Marie-France (a.k.a. BigTravelNut) May 11, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

    Great post Liz! I agree with everything you said, including Egypt’s hassles vs Turkey’s, and the American attitude to most foreign countries. I’ve been travelling mostly solo since 1992. I love it! 🙂 I went to Turkey for the first time last fall, and I intend to go back. Check out my post here to see if your experience was similar to mine: http://bigtravelnut.com/solo-woman-in-turkey/ I feel like if we met in a cafe we could probably talk for hours about this topic. Cheers!

  36. Usa/Turk July 31, 2015 at 6:29 am #

    young girl go to Turkey

    I went to Izmir meet my boyfriend in 2005 we talk online for 8 months to get know more each other not the last mins to meet him and need to know him more about himself and his family’s…one of my friend went to north of Turkey She has bad experience she just met him only 3 months and she went there he do nothing for her and she never been there or around just stay his house and she trying to figure out to escape but one pam she is deaf that is hard so she meet the guy really nice and help her to escape from his place and finally went back to U.S. embassy the back to USA but she went to into the wrong place u dunno what is out there I am advise u u need to know him more before u met him some are good people and bad people just like American or other country.. Never trust the polis in airport if u need help go to the desk will help u if u get lost not the polis ..I went to Izmir 3 time never happen to me when I met my boyfriend for 3 years then later I want to married him in Turkey and his family’s treat me really good and love me and I love the country. And it’s beautiful country there is more than 400,000 American people go there on vacation…just be careful where ever u go not to go alone at night or with ur friend or familys….u will be fine as long u know him more than 8 months..Good luck and u will love that country and try Turkish pizza called pice it’s very good trust me.. Now I married my wonderful husband he is from Turkey and he move in USA excuse me he doesn’t used my paper we have a wonderful 10 year s marriage.. U have to trust him more…don’t be feel stupid. Ok be safe

  37. Cari August 5, 2015 at 5:15 am #

    I’m flying to Istanbul end of September and hope to go straight to Matalya for Nemrut by train, then on to Cappadocia by train for a few days and back to Istanbul. As a female and troubles brewing is it risky to go to a) Matalya and b) by train? Thanks Cari

  38. Susanna August 12, 2015 at 4:04 am #

    This article was inspiring and enlightening. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve always been intrigued by Istanbul and desperately want to visit but when I tell my friends that they look at me like I’m insane. I think the stereotypes and misconceptions about Muslim countries are just sad. The truth is that most Muslim countries have a culture of hospitality and friendliness.

    I’ll be going on my first solo trip this September to Iceland, one of the safest countries in the world. I think you are right that a whole lot of safety in travel comes down to common sense and precaution. But I’ll certainly keep your tips in mind. I like the tip about brining a doorstop, I wouldn’t have thought to do that. I’ll definitely be referring to this article again when I tackle more challenging trips in the future.

    • ALEX D. January 16, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

      Turkey is a secular country. State has no religion.And it’s the first country in Europe to give women voting and to be voted right, even before Switzerland etc. Turkey’s civil law is also more secular than rest of any EU countries..

      • Chloe May 19, 2016 at 7:33 pm #

        @AlexD Turkey is not as secular as it used to be and who cares if it gave voting rights to women before Switzerland? Fact remains Turkey has one of the worst human rights records and honor killings are on the rise. Btw… I had an Arabian family friend travel to Istanbul alone about 12 yrs ago on business and she told us of a horrifying experience of almost being abducted while driving over some bridge. She said she would never travel there alone again. And of course in the more touristy areas I am sure it’s much safer to move around. But the fact remains women traveling solo need to use caution.

  39. Alexandria D. August 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    Here’s a huge “THANK YOU!” for everything on this post.

  40. Andrea August 16, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    I’m planning on travelling solo to turkey in sept/Oct for dental work and a holiday so I’m glad to read this thank you!!

  41. Other Liz August 20, 2015 at 6:40 am #

    When I get to visit Muslim countries I’m just going to shove this post in everyone’s faces if they tell me it’s dangerous to go alone!
    Great piece, I wasn’t actually confident about ever going to Turkey after some of my friends said they disliked it and I got quite harassed in Italy (… not quite the same place but that’s all the experience I have) but after reading this I think I’d love to go!

  42. ebru August 26, 2015 at 11:06 pm #

    hi liz, I would thank you for your post as a Turkish girl.
    people should know, turkey is not a full middle east country. yes we had a big history in islam. but after first world war we totally changed as a modern europan country.
    I am working in İstanbul, I always go different places all over the country alone, drive alone, stay alone.
    I dont need a man for protection for travel alone. I lived in Russia nearly 1 year. Even in moscow as a woman, you need to be carrefull middle of the night at metro. I traveled France last winter, I barelly escape a drunk homeless man.
    So if you are travel, you need to be careful all the time.

    we all sad about sarai Sierra murder. It is a shame for all Turkish people but when we learnt about where Sarai staied in İstanbul, we thought that how can she find this home?
    even a normal turkish guy avoid stay there for one night.

    So, every one who travel, a different culture shoul learn something about the city, country. and spend some extra money for safety.

    If you come again istanbul, contact with me 🙂
    And every single person should see the city who connect two different continent, europe and asia

    love from İstanbul.

    • grace February 22, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

      I met a man from instabul, or so he says he has contract there but has started to ask me for money, are you aware of scamming there?

    • Chloe May 19, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

      @Ebru. Sorry to disappoint you but Turkey is not a European country. And the majority of Turkish land apart from maybe Istanbul (especially Eastern Turkey) is very much considered as the Middle East!

  43. Emily September 1, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    I am a small, 22 year old young woman from the US and last month I traveled to Istanbul for one week by myself. I heard all of the same oppositions as you did (this time more in relation to Turkey’s proximity to Syria) but it absolutely infuriated me. I had an amazing time, met some of the nicest locals of anywhere I’ve been, and even made new friends. I was also given a hard time from US Customs both before I left and upon my return. I posted a rant on Facebook that touched on all of the same topics you have here, particularly focusing on how the most unsafe place I’ve ever been was in the US. I’m glad so many of us can attest that the media blows things way out of proportion and leads to misplaced fear and judgement. I hope we can continue to spread knowledge and allow more women to fearless travel wherever their hearts desire!

  44. Melissa September 2, 2015 at 6:25 am #

    I am a 38 year old tattooed female sitting in Istanbul as I write this. I traveled here alone, and I am having the time of my life. The only problem I am getting are the dirty looks because I have tattoos. Otherwise I am in love with this country and everything about it.

  45. Sandrine September 12, 2015 at 1:39 am #

    It’s a courageous to you to talk this way about Turkey. If we only travel in “safe” countries, what do we learn about the rest of the world ? Shall we only listen TV anxious reports about these kind of countries ? We have to break the clichés. Just as you do.

  46. Deniz September 16, 2015 at 2:13 am #

    What a clear determination. Thanks for informing to timid people (as a foreign)

  47. Marino September 21, 2015 at 9:02 am #

    The following paragraph of yours really doesn’t inspire your objectivity of opinion over Muslim countries:
    “That isn’t to say that other Muslim countries are dangerous, something I do not believe is true in the slightest, but for example the harassment I dealt with in Egypt was a thousand times worse than anything I experienced in Turkey.”

    So, you were harassed a thousand times more in Egypt yet you refuse to condemn a single Muslim country for being unsafe “in the slightest”. Hmmm… I guess you think its easier on your conscience to avoid condemning than have other travelers face risks unwarned. Its not just NBC readers who are ignorant, it seems. And racist: if you gleefully mention higher crime rates in some western hemisphere cities yet refuse to do so for some of the notorious Eastern hemisphere ones, just because they are non white…

  48. ALEX D. September 25, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    Turkey is a open-minded,democratic,secular country and Istanbul is the safest mega-city in the world. Turkey is the first country in Europe to give women voting and to be voted right in 1930’s. (Yes, even before Switzerland!) Living of life is similar to Europe, and women and men are completely equal in Turkey. (Turkish people are closer to European people, not to Eastern countries’ people) Go to any of the restaurants, clubs in Bosphorus, pubs, cafes etc. it’s a lifestyle city, have fun!

    • Chloe May 19, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

      No Turkish ppl are not closer to Europeans actually. Have you even traveled outside of Istanbul? Well I have and the ppl did not remind me of Europeans or even Wesrerners for that matter. Not a bad thing just stating the facts.

      • Chloe May 19, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

        Westerners*

  49. Marc November 3, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    I am planning on flying to Istanbul and Cappadocia in March/April with my 11- and 12-year old sons. I am so excited to see what has changed since I was there 20-years ago. We have red hair and are fair skinned. I have no concerns but my friends and family want me to cancel our trip because of current international issues. Does the advice in this article change at all given the conflicts in Syria and with Russia?

  50. parva November 5, 2015 at 12:16 am #

    uh god! believe me Iran is NOT a dangerous country.I mean why even foreigners think it is?! we love foreigners who are interested in our country and we help them when they need it and there is noting scary about Iran! media always trying to show us as bad as they can and it’s not fair.

  51. nesli December 10, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    As a Turk women
    i just want to say THANK YOU. Yes, being women is sometimes hard in turkey but i travel too, being women is hard in every country. Turkey has nothing different from Europe.

  52. Angel January 8, 2016 at 3:47 pm #

    I have been met with so much shock and resistance on myself traveling solo to Istanbul. I plan to go this spring… I appreciate the hotel recommendations. Just like in the US, you have to be careful to stay at a safe hotel, not just the area outside the hotel, but the clientele as well. Safety and cleanliness… are the most important on my list for ANY hotel…. abroad or here in the US.
    This is will be my first time traveling to Istanbul and then on to Europe. I have traveled to parts of Africa where it was recommended not to give eye contact and no smiling or approaching men with any questions. If I needed help, I would always look for a female to ask for assistance or a family too. Like here in the states… its important to be aware of your surroundings at all times…. day or night.
    I’m currently looking into hotels in Istanbul near the Blue Mosque, I wont be there long…. and i want to see the sites that I have come for.
    Thank you so much for the information!!

  53. Kate February 18, 2016 at 7:41 am #

    Liz,

    Thank you SO MUCH!!! I’m a 30 year old single women and I’ve been dying to travel to Turkey for years now, but have always been hesitant. I traveled to and lived in Australia on my own, so I don’t have a fear of traveling solo, but, like you, I have a score of people telling me that it’s too dangerous and why can’t I go somewhere “safer.” Especially now. I applaud you for your spirit of adventure and thank you for only making me more resolved in my decision to travel to Turkey this summer! I can’t wait!!!

    • Ezgi April 16, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

      I’m a 20-year-old Turkish girl. I was born in İstanbul, raised in western and european parts of Turkey. Then in highschool, i have lived in İstanbul for 5 years. 4 years in the school dormitory, the last year alone in a flat situated in the very heart of Kadıköy. Maybe the places i have lived in and people around me were very decent, but i have never experienced anything really horrible. Catcalling, certainly. I’m not suggesting it is supposed to happen, it most certainly is not, but i don’t see it’s being life threatening at all. And i have not always been “careful”. In my last year in Kadıköy, i used to go walking on the seaside quite a lot because i was supposed to study really hard and needed a break..mostly at 3 or 4 am. Now, this is all very good but the area i lived in is considered one of the best places to live in İstanbul, with intellectual and respectful residents. I don’t claim to know all about İstanbul, it’s almost impossible and having lived on the anatolian part, i don’t know the other side as much. But i do know not everywhere in İstanbul is like where i have just described, which is just the way all big cities work i suppose. I would definitely be more cautious when walking in really crowded areas and that holds true for everywhere in the world. Oh and i see some of you are concerned because of your skin colour etc. I and most people i know have pale skin, you wouldn’t stick out because of that.

      Unfortunately, now i need to add that if you are to visit Turkey, say, this year, be really careful. Not because you are a woman, have red hair, have 3 kids or this country is dangerous etc. Because Turkey is changing, and not for good. I now live in the capital, Ankara, and i can’t quite say i’m fully recovered from what happened here. Bombs don’t explode in Turkey just like that. But they did. In Istanbul and other cities as well. Actually, in Bruxelles too. (I think the whole world has gone crazy.) Oh and there are refugees. Please don’t think i’m being racist, i feel dearly sorry for what happened in their country and to their families. But most of them don’t even have an id, which is really horrible because it gives the wrongdoers a sense of security, i guess. I’m obviously speaking of men. One has been caught with his pants unzipped, harassing a woman on a normal, public bus. No comments.

  54. Kate Crystal May 10, 2016 at 1:22 am #

    Liz,
    Thank you for your post! It was refreshing! I’ve been to Istanbul solo for 3 days back in March, I’m originally Russian, though i traveled from Cyprus, and yes, I am blonde and blue eyed with fair skin, I did stand out…a lot. But I haven’t experienced anything life threatening or unpleasant, in fact people were quite welcoming and helpful, though if you go a little out of town not many speak English, but we got by on sign language. I was careful though, I did avoid staring strangers down and smiling at everyone. The only 2 times I have been “harassed” was at a souvenir at Karakoy by a young shop owner, who was very flirtatious to which I was just just being polite and haven’t encouraged him further with smiles or the like. I purchased what I wanted and he gave me a bracelet as a present and took a photo of us on my camera kissing me on the chick. That was that. Another time was by an older man who was working PR at a restaurant in Taksim, I was going to eat there, but his “PR” went over the top holding my hand and telling me he has a car and can drive me back to the hotel when he finishes and etc., needless to say I didn’t feel comfortable so I thanked him politely and left. On the other hand I did make a couple of friends (young men) who showed me Istanbul and told me about the history of the place and its heritage and culture. Neither of them tried anything, they were just being friendly and I can’t say I’m unattractive, quite the opposite. So my bottom line is that I loved the city, the food is amazing and it has lot to see and do! I had a great time, the people were friendly and wiling to assist, yes, men stare, but you will be fine as long as you don’t encourage them, I just kept myself busy staring at my phone or book or just looking straight ahead. I wouldn’t say it is dangerous for a female solo traveler.
    Now as to my question: I am planning another trip in mid June this time to Antalya and from there to rent a car and drive to Dalaman. I have a friend in Dalaman, someone I met online and we have been talking since the beginning of the year. He seems like a great guy and we are into a lot of the same things and I would love to meet him. Now obviously everyone stares down at me saying I’m insane to go solo to Turkey (again) and even crazier to drive the 3-4 hours on my own to Dalaman (the drive from Antalya I will start around noon, and the drive back I will start about 7pm). I am not backing out of this trip, but any tips and opinions are welcome. Thank you!

  55. Alie Kriofske May 17, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

    Thanks. I’m traveling to Istanbul this summer alone & am getting a lot of the comments you talk about. I’ll definitely share this with the worriers in my life.
    I’m going to speak at a disability conference there though, so I just have to say : nice writing but no more r-word please. It hurts people. Thanks!

  56. Annalise May 22, 2016 at 8:00 pm #

    Did you know their language? or did they know english pretty well?

  57. Athena July 9, 2016 at 5:51 am #

    I completely agree with most of what you said here. I feel a lot more unsafe in the US a lot of the time, especially with the increase in gun violence we’ve seen over the last 5 years.

  58. Tina July 15, 2016 at 1:15 am #

    Liz, this is just what i needed! I am planning to go to Turkey in December for a winter holiday and people ask me Why Turkey of all the places and i ask why not Turkey? I live in South Africa and i will not even waste my energy writing about the crime that happens here! I think the world is just not a safe place and if something is going to happen, it will happen. The saddest thing is to stay in your comfort zone & not travel. And yes most people who ask why Turkey, only read about Turkey but have never been to Turkey. And all these things about men, it also happens here, you just ignore and walk away. And basic safety things like going out at night alone are not country specific, its anywhere. Weather Turkey is part of Europe or not, or because its boarders with Syria, I am sooooo doing Istiklal Avenue, blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia and drinking coffee and having my future read from the coffee dregs (yay)

  59. Onur akbaba December 27, 2016 at 11:03 am #

    As a Turkish man from Balıkesir which is a small city in Turkey, i have always get nervous when i travel to İstanbul. . Yes, not every part of the city is the same but how can a tourist know whole streests and roads ? Problem starts here. I think Istanbul is not a best tourist friendly city, if i dont feel safe as a Turkish guy in istanbul,how can a tourist can.This is why i see all tourist with no eye contact. They all feel someone gonna trick them. I am sorry for that but i wont say ty for your blog as a Turkish guy. Other cities in Turkey are far more safer then İstanbul. Maybe i comment like this because i am not an Istanbul fan.Some other commenters say berlin paris or nyc is worse. I dont say Istanbul is totally worst then other capitals. I just simply say i dont like Istanbul as a Turkish citizen. Taxi drivers are rude, and %97 will to go longer way to take more money and your time.

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