"Taxi Driver has Someone Meet Us for a "Free" Tour" Taxis Tip by jeemmorrison
Taxis, Istanbul: 37 reviews and 5 photos
Until we got out of the tourist areas, we thought Istanbul was one big scam. Our first taxi was from the Kempinski Ciragan Palace hotel to the Topkapi Palace. The driver kept asking us if this was our first time in Istanbul. I learned later this should always be answered "No". If you answer "Yes", they feel you are the perfect "mark". When we exited the taxi at the area closest to the Topkapi Palace (there is a walking area so they have to drop you off before you get there), there was a guy who spoke good English offering to give us a tour. He said it would be "free" if we would come to some of "his" stores. In Turkey, everyone seems to be on commission if they can bring in the tourists. Our taxi driver said he was "okay". (Our taxi driver had been on the cell phone on our way in, so I'm sure he set all this up and was also in the commission stream.) We went on the tour. We were taken to the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque. He had a tour guide card, got out tickets without waiting. spoke English well, and moved fast. All in all, it was a good tour. We saw a lot in a short time. We then had to go to "his" stores, a rug shop, a jewelry store, and a porcelain shop, We didn't buy anything. We then went to a currency exchange to get money for dinner and shopping. I made the mistake of asking if he wanted to be paid since we didn't buy anything and he said 400 TL. I got him to 350 TL but should have argued that he said it was free. So for about $200 we got a 3 hour tour with someone who knew how to get around the lines and spoke good English. Not really bad but "not as advertised". If you stay around Istanbul, I imagine you will improve your negotiation skills, be wary of "friends" and scams, and learn how to ignore people. As a tourist, you are definitely a target.
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