Istanbul with Kids: The Great Istanbul Taxi Scam

We flew from Trabzon back to Istanbul. Our choice had been either an 18 hour bus journey or a 1.5 hour flight. Internal flights in Turkey come cheap and so it was an easy decision.

Arriving at Sabiha Gokcen Airport outside Istanbul, we took the Havas airport bus into the city centre. This took at least an hour and we were dropped off in Taksim. We had decided to stay at our friend Ercan’s  (from Smiley Kofte in Merzifon, Amasya) cousin’s boutique hotel in Sultanahmet and we could have taken a taxi directly to our hotel, but I felt that we knew Istanbul well enough to  do it with public transport, and so loaded with our stuff we took the light railway to Sultanahmet – it was crowded and we struggled to get on and off but we made it. But we couldn’t figure out where the hotel actually was, so in the end we took a cab. Now, it had been a long day, we had already had a earky morning flight, then traveled in a crowded train, it was super hot and the kids were tired and  jumpy and so was I my guard was down. After driving for about 10 minutes he dropped us off at our hotel and it was time to pay. I took out a 50 Lira note to pay him, and he took it, but then he happened to notice I had a $20 bill in my wallet and said he would take that instead – so he gave me back my money (folded) and took the $20. But then he changed his mind and said I should pay him in Liras and he gave  me back my $20 dollar bill (folded) – so I paid him with some smaller notes. IT WAS ONLY LATER ON THAT I DISCOVERED THAT THE  50 LIRA NOTE HE HAD RETURNED TO ME WAS A FOLDED UP 5 LIRA NOTE, AND THAT MY $20 BILL WAS A FOLDED $1 BILL. He has stolen about $50 from me in total. I felt so stupid but there was now nothing I could do about it.

My warning – watch out – know your money – don’t accept folded money – the color of the 5 Lira and 50 Lira is the same!! Obviously the same goes for greenbacks! And make a note of the cab license plate when you get in – just in case!!

I was so upset this had happened but I had learned a valuable lesson. I won’t let it happen ever again!

PS: These days I am planning great family trips to Turkey. Click here for more info.