Istanbul has an extensive public transportation system consisting of a metro, trams, buses and metrobuses (buses which run along a special lane in the middle of the road).
On the buses, payment must be made with a prepaid card called an akbil. However, if you try to give the driver money, he will probably just ask another passenger to take your money and pay with his akbil. At metro stations and tram stops, there are machines where you can pay cash to get a token.
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Sleeping in parks nowdays in Istanbul since the Syrian war is a very common thing, but since a lot of homeless syrian do it you with your fancy backpack can look like a very interisting object to them. Sleeping on the streets of Istanbul can be dangerous acccording to locals, but luckily many people will be willing you to offer a place to sleep. User:Karol Yohan was (attempting to) sleeping in a park in Uskudar when some guys offered him to stay at their place for free. If you really want to have your own camp site, you should check the Princess Islands. The inconvinient is that you will have to pay 3.5 lira to get there (or maybe not?). There is a good beach which is deserted in Burgazada, just exit the ferry and walk to the right side. When you pass an cemetery look at the right side of the road for some stairs leading to a desert beach. The beach has very low activity and you can camp there. User:Karol Yohan stayed there for a week in October 2012. Beach is a bit poluted but has a great view.
If you buy water at a supermarket, you should be able to get a 1.5L bottle for about 0.45 Lira. Ask for supermarkets like BIM, SOK, DIA SA, MOPAS and MMMIGROS, those are the cheapest. If you walk along Istiklal toward Taksim Square, between the Demiroren shopping mall and a mosque there is a street with cheap restaurants where you can buy a Chicken Doner for 1.50TL (In a small bread, in a normal pide or durum it is 2 TL) or any Soup for 1.50TL, with free bread.
There is a community kitchen called "Karacaahmet Sultan Dergahi" on Nuhkuyusu street in Selimiye (Üsküdar, Asian Side), some 200 meters down from Karaca Ahmet Camii (the big mosque). You can just walk in around lunch time and ask for food. They hardly speak English though so maybe you can ask someone to translate a brief note.
Istanbul is an ideal city for busking. You can get a lot of attention and make enough money to look after yourself quite easily.
Most street performers vie for space on Istiklal Caddesi, starting from about halfway down until the end. You should find a spot a little way from the other performers, in front of a closed store or empty building. It is a pedestrian street with a lot of foot traffic, and people are used to performers. The police will never bother you, only (occasionally) civilian clothed police may tell you to stop. If this happens, co-operate with them, and then either wait for a while or move to another spot, or both.You can also play at Galata Tower, and some performers have been known to play on the boats that cross the Bosphorous. If you are staying on the Asian/Anatolian side, you can play in the neighbourhood around Kadikoy, especially on the pedestrian street called Bahariye, uphill from the statue of the bull. Also, in Bostancı, you can play on Bağdat Caddesi. In Şirinevler, you can play in the square next to the Metrobus station.
What To Expect
Most experienced performers can average about 20 Turkish Lira an hour or more. On Istiklal Caddesi, there is a lot of noise. If you want to stand out, having some kind of drum or loud instrument, or a way to attract attention, is vital. During the evening is the best time to perform, however this is when there is the most competition. If you get moved on by the police, don’t let that discourage you. It happens rarely.