What to shop for in Turkey
Turkey is a virtual Aladdin’s Cave. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is cavernous and full of unusual and everyday objects. Known locally as Kapali Çarsi – the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul’s Old City is a massive conglomeration of over 4000 shops divided into areas specialising in gold, carpets, leather, souvenirs and clothing. Turkish handicrafts include a rich variety of textiles and embroideries, articles of copper, onyx and tile, mother-of-pearl, inlaid articles, leather and suede products. Jewellery, carpets and kilims represent top buys at the bazaar.
The Egyptian Spice Bazaar at Eminonu near Istanbul is an easy continuance from the Grand Bazaar or good start point before heading there. Here, you can buy a dizzying array of spices at a fraction of the cost you’d expect to pay back home. Pine kernels, peppercorns, real Iranian saffron and other precious commodities are hawkered here at knockdown prices! Real Turkish delight is available by the tonne as well. Why not try the milk-based Turkish delight studded with pistachios!
Markets and bazaars abound in other towns, too. During your stay in Turkey, you may visit a leather manufacturer and emporium. Although the quality of some of the jackets and clothing at these places is outstanding, the initially quoted prices can also be rather outstanding. If you do fancy a particular item, it does pay to haggle, even if you are in the confines of what looks to be a smart emporium/showroom.
Is bargaining acceptable in Turkey?
In Turkey bargaining is just as much a social practice as it is a business one and almost everything in a marketplace can be haggled down. The best way to get a good price in one of Turkey’s many bazaars is by maintaining a smile throughout the entire transaction, remaining polite and not letting on how much you want the item. If the vendor believes you are not really bothered about whether you buy the item or not, he or she will bring the price down to tempt you. If you find that you are haggling over a matter of pennies, best practice is just to accept the marginally more expensive price and leave with your item in tow, keeping everyone happy.