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One of the most dramatic and exciting shopping experiences in Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar. This Ottoman-era covered market is one of the largest souks in the world, home to thousands of vendors. Within the dozens of alleys you will find gorgeous Turkish carpets, traditional handicrafts, historical restaurants, glazed tiles, brassware, copperware, pottery, leather apparel, souvenirs, hookah pipes and t-shirts. There is a great mix of tourist shops and local vendors, giving the whole place an air of authenticity. The maze of streets and alleys can be very confusing, so unless you are traveling with someone who is familiar with the area, you should definitely acquire a map. A less confusing but equally historic place to visit is the Spice Bazaar, where you can find myriad spices, caviar and tea. More than just a shopping experience, these bazaars are a colorful, exciting way to take part in the flavor and vibrant atmosphere of Istanbul. The Spice Bazaar can be reached by a 10 minute walk if you know the back streets. But for a first time visitor, take the tram. Walk from the Grand Bazaar to the Cemberlatis tram station. Take the tram (Destintation - Kabatas) (1.40 YTL) four stops away to Eminonu. Walk thro the underground tunnel to your left and past the mosque. Don't be afraid to wander a few streets away from either the Grand Bazaar or the Spice Bazaar to explore shopping potentials. Just remember a few landmarks to get you back to the tramway.While the shopping is exciting, it's "caveat emptor" where prices are concerned. There are few genuine bargains to be found in a country and a culture as practiced in trading as Turkey. While haggling over the price in many shops, (excepting brand shops in Nisantasi) is expected. If you are shopping solo, better discounts can be expected. Keeping in mind that Value Added Tax is 18%, have fun!
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