Beyond asking for directions and skipping sensitive topics like religion, politics, regional conflicts, is it considered rude to talk to strangers on Turkish public transport (trains, buses) ?

Is this more or less applicable across the country or is there a significant difference between the cities and the countryside ?

  • 1
    It may not be rude, but if you are a young woman on your own do not address men. It gets taken the wrong way. I suppose if you are a man on your own it is probably not clever to approach women - I can't be a judge of that.
    – RedSonja
    Jun 30, 2015 at 10:11
  • 1
    @RedSonja that advice about being careful when interacting with natives of the opposite gender is a good one in the middle-east and other islamic-predominant nations. Shows respect for their customs. There was one traveler in Dubai that got arrested for tapping the shoulder of a female police officer (express.co.uk/news/world/572274/…). Jun 30, 2015 at 12:55
  • @RedSonja I'm aware any physical contact (shaking hands etc) is disrespectful (I'm a man), but does that extend to casual conversation too ?
    – blackbird
    Jun 30, 2015 at 13:59
  • 3
    The press in Turkey and similar countries conveys a strange notion of life in the "West". A Western woman on her own will be eyed carefully in case she starts behaving like someone from "Sex in the City", no, "Emmanuelle". For some men - not all, of course - if she asks a hotel keeper to show her a hotel room this will be interpreted as an invitation. This has happened to me, ugh. A smile will do, they think their wildest dreams are coming true. I found wearing a wedding ring helped a lot.
    – RedSonja
    Jul 1, 2015 at 15:01
  • Against that, Turkish people are really kind and helpful. While travelling as a pair (unmarried, but with rings) we were welcomed everywhere, given food and drinks, making sure we got on the right bus, etc.
    – RedSonja
    Jul 1, 2015 at 15:04

4 Answers 4


I'm a non-muslim lived and worked for 9 months in Istanbul. So, here's my experience. Turkish people are really really friendly and very kind. They are known as Turkish hospitality which they as a host will take good care of you as a guest. While I was living in Istanbul, I talked and asked many questions to strangers. I never had any problems, even though I couldn't speak Turkish. They will try their best to help you.

I was travelling around Turkey as well. I can say the difference is that in the countryside people are way more friendlier than people in the cities. I was once lost in Antalya and one old man who couldn't speak English at all tried everything he could to help me find my way back to the hotel. I was once lost in the woods with my friends during our hiking trip and the villagers offered us food and drinks.

I would say you should be fine asking directions or talking to strangers in Turkey as long as you're polite and be honest.


Turkey is a beautiful country and Turkish citizens are very educated and well mannered pretty much everywhere.

If you are taking public or private transport in Turkey, it's very common for people to help you, them typically being very kind to strangers.

If you are non-Muslim, take some care of the sensitivities surrounding that, Avoid topics that might come across as being harmful to the Muslim religion.

Turkish citizens typically are very kind to strangers, particularly when they are older, as well as when they are pregnant, in both cases, in public transport, typically giving their seats away.

In addition, take care when drinking beer in front of strangers.

  • 1
    I once asked for directions to Orthodox Patriarchy in an Istanbul bus. At least tried to, since the person I talked to spoke Italian, and I knew only French. How's that for religious sensitive topic :)
    – IMil
    Jun 30, 2015 at 8:39

Well, I am a Turkish woman who grew up in Istanbul. I have visited several places in Europe, Asia, Skandinavia, and North America. Let me share my experiences about the stereotypes of people living abroad.

Firstly, most of the people who do not know anything about Turkish people think we do not interact with cross gender, we are dangerous because we are muslims (terrorism thing), we are extremely religious and all of us wear these scarf thing to hide our hair.

I was really surprised that here people still say that we are 'wild', interpret others' words as 'sexual invitation/harassment' and we do not interact with cross-gender. Probably people who types down these kind of 'experiences' visited Turkey in ancient times. And it is not etiquette as written on the main question but stereotypes.

You, as a tourist can talk to Turkish people with no hesitation and they will gladly help you find directions or any other issues. As most parts of the world, younger generations talk better English so communicating them will be better for you.

When I was abroad, a lot of problems I faced like people try to take advantage of you etc but I did not think 'the whole country' is jerk just because of 2 or 3 people. So maybe some of us here should reconsider before sharing their experiences and avoid generalization.

Let me finish my sharing with one of the best proverbs and hope all of these type of people who think Turkish people are 'wild' will get the point and enlight themselves a little bit :) "Stereotypes are devices for saving a biased person the trouble of learning."


I travelled with Buses between most of the big cities in the north-west and south, no experience with the "wild" east.

A lot of people are curious and will ask you where you are from what you are doing in Turkey, where you are going and if you love Turkey. Even if you have not asked for it, they will give you travel advices. They will test their foreign language knowledge, even if it barely exists. If they have travelled to the Western World they will share their experience. They like to share their food with you or invite you for a tea at the breaks.

So yes, conversations with strangers on the bus are pretty normal.

I agree with the comment from RedSonja about this softporn-fantasies, my biggest wtf: i once got offered a blowjob by an oldish guy in an overnight bus.

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