Where East meets West – Turkey is considered to be both Asia and Europe, with 95% of its landmass being located in Asia. Rich in culture and history, a land once inhabited by some of history’s greatest empires, including most recently the Ottoman Empire and long before that, the Roman and Byzantine Empires. Of Turkey’s 1,200+ medical facilities, more than 40 of which are JCI-accredited and this includes an even mix of publicly and privately owned hospitals and clinics.
700,000 annual medical tourists are drawn to Turkey each year, traveling from all across the globe, particularly from within Europe and the Middle East, many of which travel for Facial Trauma Surgery procedures. Dental, Cosmetic, Bariatric, and Reproductive procedures are most common, including Veneers, Hair Transplants, Gastric Bypass Surgeries, and IVF. Popular medical tourism destinations outside of the capital, Ankara, of course, include Istanbul and other regions like Antalya and Izmir.
Popular Parts of Turkey
With its population of around 80 million, Turkey has a landmass of nearly 800,000 square km. It's capital city is Ankara, located in-land, however, Istanbul is the most populous and most recognized city in Turkey with some 15 million inhabitants. Straddling both Europe and Asia, the city attracts 13 million tourists each year, making it the fifth most popular tourist destination in the world.
Other popular areas include Antalya in the south and Izmir is the west. The east of the country is generally less popular among tourists due to the on-going Kurdish-Turkish conflict, and more recently due to its close proximity to both Syria and Iraq.
Holiday resorts in the south, such as Marmaris and Bodrum are ever popular with sunseekers looking for reasonably priced all-inclusive 5-star luxury hotels to vacation in.
The discovery of the world’s oldest known megalithic site at Gobekli Tepe in the South-Eastern Anatolia Region has cast much doubt over mankind’s ancient history and consequently attracts a sizable number of ‘History Tourists’. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is believed to be over 11,000 years old, built during a time humans were understood to be simple hunter-gatherers.
Weather and Climate in Turkey
Being located on the Mediterranean Sea, the south coast of Turkey benefits from the cooling sea breeze, however, this doesn’t take away from the extreme heat experienced during the summer months of June, through August, where temperatures can reach up into the ‘40s (104°F). During Spring and Autumn, the weather is much cooler and winters are mild.
Given the sheer size of the country, Turkey does not have consistent weather throughout; the central area is mostly semi-arid steppe, whilst the Black Sea region in the north is far milder than the southern Mediterranean Sea region.
Mosquitos and sandflies can be an issue, particularly in coastal regions during the summer, so be sure to protect against them. Malaria is extremely uncommon but seeks the advice of a medical professional before traveling.
Getting around in Turkey
Istanbul’s famous Ataturk International Airport sits 24 km outside the city and is home to the ever-popular Turkish Airlines. Most other major airlines service Ataturk, which is often used as a stopover destination for travelers between Europe and Asia. All the other major cities are serviced by their own international airports, with several low-cost domestic airlines joining them together, including AtlasGlobal, IZair, Onur Air, Pegasus Airlines and SunExpress.
For those preferring to travel by land, Turkey has a few express train routes linking the major cities, most notably, Istanbul to Ankara. City buses are reliable and good value, whilst taxis are cheap, but be sure to negotiate the price before beginning any journey.
Tourist Visas in Turkey
Visa restrictions are minimal, with 90 days per visit for many nationalities being easily obtainable. However, e-visas are required in advance for a fee prior to arrival for those holding US, UK, Australian, Chinese and Spanish passports, to name a few. The likes of French, German, Russian and Singaporean passport holders can enter visa-free.
For Indian and Pakistani nationals, conditional e-visas are available on arrival at Ataturk International Airport only and expire after just 30 days. For more information on visa requirements, refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
The Turkish Lira (TRY) is the local currency where $1 USD is worth about 5 TRY.
ATMs are in abundance across Turkey and accept all bank cards (Visa, Mastercard). Credit card and Amex payment are accepted in most restaurants and outlets, with the more local food vendors or food market stalls, only accepting cash. Tipping is expected as service is not included at restaurants, this is usually between 5-10%. Taxi rides tend not to be tipped, just rounded up.
Turkish is the local language with the eastern Kurds speaking Kurdish too. English is spoken by many locals working in tourist locations, including the major cities.
Islam (99.8%) is by far the main religion in Turkey, with a tiny Christian population (0.2%). Turkey is, however, a secular country where there is no ‘official’ state religion. Various elements of traditional culture remain, with much being modernized or ‘Westernized’.
There are many public holidays, most notably Labor Day and Commemoration of Ataturk in May, Ramazan Feast in June, Kurban Bayrami in August and Republic Day at the end of October. Precise dates may vary year to year so be sure to check in advance as crowding is common during busy areas on these days.