Practical Information in IstanbulEdit This
Around the Sultan Ahmet area, the most common thing you here is 'excuse me can I ask you one question'? These are hustlers who are on commission to a carpet or ceramic shop owner. They engage you conversation and pretend to be interested in what you are saying. The hustler pretends to be so interested in the conversation that he suggests you both continue over a tea or coffee. This tea or coffee is invariably provided in the shop they are working for and from the moment you walk in the door, the sales banter begins. And it's very hard selling, almost threatening.
Don't go into any bars that don't have a price list readily available. There are many bars who will happily serve you all night without making it obvious that they charge $50 per beer. These bars, which are not confined to the red light district, normally have groups of women who turn out to be Eastern European prosititues. To the proprietors, ignorance of the tariff is no excuse. If you can't afford to pay they are very, very agressive. They will bodily search you for credit cards. Quite what they'd do if you refused to sign the credit card slip is hard to imagine - they would probably debit your card anyway. It would probably be best to sign the slip then contact the credit card company reporting it as stolen and stating your last purchase was at a time well before the extortion.
Istanbul is not the place to wander aimlessly. Before going, make a plan of what you want to see. Stay away from Laleli and Aksaray (unless you need to use the Metro Station). If you can, book your accomodation in the Asian side.
Don't expect any help from the Police, not even the Tourist Police. They resent anything that disrupts their daily routine of smoking and tea drinking.
Keep excess money, credit cards and passport in the hotel safe. There is no need to carry much more than $40 in cash.