This is a neat spot to visit and I recommend it. Interesting, lively, and lots to take pictures of. However go expecting crowds, and experienced sales people who will try to get you into their shop.
* Don't go when you're in a hurry, it will just be frustrating.
* Try to find a map and take it with you - it really helps. Our guide book (I forget the name) had a map.
* If you don't want to by a carpet then just stay out of the carpet stores - the sellers are great master salespeople and if you're not buying and you go in you will end up wasting a lot of your time. The same is true of the leather shops.
* Shop alone - this is a crazy spot to try to keep track of other people, and you'll slow each other down. On one trip I took my spouse and it worked well because we just stuck together, but I would not go with anymore people than that.
* There are some restaurants there, if you go to the blog Istanbul Eats they make recommendations about which spots to try. We had good luck with this blog.
* We did not find the vendors rude, I think because we were not in a hurry. We did not go into any of the carpet shops, but when someone stopped us we did take a minute to talk and to politely decline, sometimes with polite humour. This probably added about 15 minutes to a 2 hour visit, but it also added a lot of pleasant exchanges.
* The main streets are the busiest, try some of the side streets for a bit of a break.
* Barter - it's expected.
* Yes, there are other spots to shop and pick up souvenirs and gifts - however you can check a lot of gifts off your list in one place here.
* If we wanted to return to a store later then we took a photo of the store, then the street names at the closest intersection. Most stores will also give you a business card and other vendors are helpful at giving directions.
* Although we had no problems with pickpockets a lot of local people warned us to be careful here.
* If the Grand Bazaar is just too big for you, there's always the Spice Bazaar, which is a lot smaller.
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