Travel Caution, How Safe Is Turkey?
Politics in Turkey is not for the faint of heart, but aside from that...
Is it safe in Turkey?
With many news headlines suggesting otherwise, we wish to report MOST parts of Turkey are actually safe for tourists. Our SW corner, Bodrum, Turkey is particularly peaceful, even paradise-like, and ready to show our tourists a fabulous time. We are often describd as if a Greek Isle with lower costs and more laid-back destinations. Only very specific areas of Turkey -primarily along the Syrian border are listed as true travel warnings by most consulates (and we agree it is better to visit those areas at a later day--they are fabulous, but....) Certainly, become familiar with what your embassy lists as no-go areas and you will easily find a sunny, welcoming spot to spend your holiday, safely.
Having said that, here are a few inside scoops to know about so as to be better informed when coming here and to help you understand some of the news presented abroad.
1) General, political unrest is particularly noticeable in the larger, more Western, more politically active cities of Istanbul and Ankara, where it is often the "modernists" clashing with those of the more "traditionaiist" idealogy the current regime wishes to strongly encourage. Marches and gatherings are organized from time to time and when they happen, the government rushes to squash them. The picture above was from 2012 when the primary central Gezi park was threatened to be bulldozed down in lieu of a new shopping mall. Riots at the park ensued and international media splashed this across TVs around the globe. Even just yesterday, Oct.2, 2015, another small protest was reported in Istanbul, in hopes of saving yet another park ready to fall to a mall construction. it seems it is an ongoing struggle.
Out in the smaller, Western/SouthWestern and Northern villages there's not much turmoil visible! If you understand there is a political event happening, for your maximum safety, stay away, certainly do not take part or hang out to watch. They are are nearly orchestrated and planned for media attention and do not truly present harm to tourists.
Understand, however, in Turkey, during pre-election periods, it is a common occurance for political candidates to sashay around the streets of large and small towns alike in open cars or vans, with blaring music and speeches spewing from them. This is not not a threat, but rather an annoyance. Don't mistake this activity as meaning eminent danger lurks.
2) The hot spot tourism towns along the Western coast are highly dependent on tourism money for their livelihood--big corporations and small village shops alike. During summer months, all efforts turn towards catering to tourists, not causing them worry.
Even high members of the current government (and many of their family members) have stakes in many of the resorts and businesses in popular spots. Because of this, much is done here by the government to minimize and hide ANY trouble which could be brewing under the surface.
3) Locals here in Bodrum, Turkey (and other similar tourist-driven spots near here) are keen to only discuss politics quietly and with trusted acquaintances. You will rarely, if ever, be asked to join such a conversation. Over the top, Turkish hospitality is what these folks want you to go home remembering!
4) The most current, political/social concern our coastal town witnesses these days is the indignation surrounding many Syrian refuges caught between trying to escape certain death back home and getting to a new, safer place to live. It is a terribly sad site to see those suffering this plight, walking along roads or huddled on a patch of grass trying to just survive until they can make their next move.
The government here does not have a viable solution at the moment. Are they physically threatening to us and our daily life here? Simply said, "no". They are not terrorists, they are fall out refugees with broken spirits, deeply impoverished and barely strong enough to keep going.
5) As is ALWAYS smart, before traveling ANYWHERE, check your local embassy's website for up to date travel warnings.