Istanbul taxis are an experience. Sometimes you can avoid them. Sometimes you can’t. Sometimes they’re honest. Sometimes they’re not. Here are a few insider tips to successfully use the yellow taxis of Istanbul—all inspired by the experiences of other tourists.
* Most taxi drivers do not speak English. Write down your destination, carry your hotel card, and always use the meter—don’t negotiate prices upfront.
* The night and day fixed start fee is 3.20TL, with 2.00TL added for every kilometer. Delays in traffic and toll roads will incur additional charges.
* Avoid the taxis that try to get your attention or the parked taxis along the tram line in the vicinity of the Hagia Sophia and Hippodrome in Sultanahmet. These guys are renowned for ripping off tourists. Ask your restaurant or hotel to book a taxi for you.
* If you want to go to Topkapi Palace, do know there is a neighborhood also called Topkapi—it’s nowhere near the palace and an extra 20TL. Ask you hotel to order your taxi to Topkapi Palace or get the tram to Gülhane or Sultanahmet and walk the short distance to the palace.
* The government has started phasing out orange-colored 5TL notes because they look like the 50TL note. Until the old 5TL notes are phased out completely, avoid handing over a 50TL note for fares. With a quick switch the driver can say you paid 5TL. Confused, you pay more!
* "Slow down!" in Turkish is “Yavash, yavash!” The words come in handy.