Given the Turkish penchant for chatting, mobile phones are essential accessories here. Assuming that you have a roaming facility, your home mobile will connect with one of the local network providers – however, US mobiles won’t work here. Charges, though, are high (up to £1.30/min to the UK), and you pay for incoming calls as well. Purchasing a local SIM card and pay-as-you-go package may be worth considering if you intend to make a lot of calls. Turkcell SIM cards (which can take up to 24hr to activate) cost TL35, including TL5 calling credit, or TL45 will get you the card and TL20 credit. Typically, calls cost 80 kuruş per min to Europe and North America, an SMS message to the UK the same. To purchase a SIM card, you’ll need to sign an agreement form and present your passport for photocopying at a major Turkcell, Avea or Vodafone outlet where they’ll fit the new card. All three companies have stands at arrivals in Istanbul’s Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen airports; Turkcell has the widest coverage. Note that the rules on bringing in mobiles from overseas and using them with a Turkish SIM card change regularly. This is because mobiles are much cheaper when bought outside the country, so the government keeps introducing ever more stringent conditions in the hope of preventing people bringing them in and selling them on. At the time of writing, a mobile registered at a legitimate outlet can be used with a Turkish SIM for one month, after which it will be blocked. If you buy from one of the many smaller mobile phone stores and don’t sign an agreement you run the risk of your phone not being registered for use in Turkey, and it will be blocked within a matter of days.

Essentials

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