The Best Haircut I’ve Had on my Travels

I spent November in Istanbul, in awe of the evocative, beautiful architecture and delicious food.  I also got a much-needed haircut. When I finally left England for some consulting work in Amman, I could have booked a flight through one of the countries in the Gulf, or via Istanbul. It was slightly more expensive to fly through Turkey, but my friends Cheri and Nick were going to be in town and I really wanted to see them. Also, I needed another haircut. So I returned to what has quickly become one of my favourite cities for 4 nights before continuing on to Jordan.

my hairdresser in Istanbul is right near Sulemaniye mosque
Sulemaniye Mosque, Istanbul, shot through a pinhole

My reason: a hairdresser in Istanbul

While not the usual Myanmar photoessays or posts about Morocco, I wanted to write this short piece to provide a ringing endorsement for my tiny salon in Sultanahmet. Yes, it is slightly ridiculous that I hopped over to a whole new country for a haircut and a few drinks with friends. But having had my locks sheared to bits by a Thai hairdresser and shredded by an Ecuatorian hairdresser, I was fairly excited to find this lovely lady, Sevgi, to cut my hair.

hairdresser in istanbul in Sultanahmet
Post-haircut smiles

The salon has a man’s shaving and haircut room in the front, and a separate door to lead into the women’s part of the building at the back. It’s a five second walk from Agora Hostel where I tend to stay (personally recommended by a friend and a wonderful base to explore the city) and two extra minutes of walking will put you directly between the Blue Mosque and Ayasofia. Not a bad place to pop in and get a trim.

[Note: I was going to include the bonus fact that the salon has a ridiculously cute duck in front of it, adopted by the block’s restaurants and roaming the sidewalks for all to enjoy. However, two days before I returned to Istanbul it was hit by a car and is, in the words of its owner, ‘is kaput.’ Sad face. I include a photo for my memories and yours. Maybe by the time you go for your haircut there you will find they have a new duck? Who knows.]
The Sultanahmet Duck (RIP)
The Sultanahmet Duck (RIP)

For those of you interested in a cut or shave of your own:

Salon Kadir, in Sultanahmet –

Cankurtaran Meydanı #10 (Opposite Cankurtaran train station, near Topkapı Palace)

In the time since this post was put up, I’ve received some great photos of readers who went to check out the salon and get a haircut. So happy that people are loving their cuts just as I did!

Next up: a Thrillable Hours interview with a former peacekeeper turned yogi and a crash course for Marrakesh, Morocco.


48 thoughts on “The Best Haircut I’ve Had on my Travels”

  1. Ahhh, I can definitely relate after getting my hair absolutely ruined in Paris–took months to grow out. I discovered someone absolutely amazing in Melbourne, and truth be told, I’m tempted to move back just for the sleek cuts and excellent fringe trims. And that duck! So cute, so sad.

    1. It was about $15, which – while more expensive than the ones I got in Asia – is still much cheaper than at home and didn’t shred my hair to bits. Yes, some of the words in Turkish are very recognizable (most not so much) ;)

    1. It seemed more than a bit narcissistic but it was also the reason I went to the ‘bul and hopefully she’ll get some business out of it too! Searching for the address was quite a challenge but I’m glad I found it. Also, RIP cute duck :(

    1. Well, with the food and the architecture I’d say it’s well worth your time! Really didn’t know what I’d think about Istanbul but it’s quickly become one of my favourites.

  2. I was badgered into a trim in Shanghai while walking near the Bund. All the hairdressers sported elaborate “Flock of Seagulls” hair. I failed to get the price up front, my mistake. At the end I was quoted an outrageous amount, leading to a comical shouting match.

    Much better: my Turkish barber in Copenhagen.

      1. Oh it was fine, not up to the prevailing synthesizer band standard but fine. The argument was ridiculous, like Al Swearengen trying to communicate with Mr. Wu on “Deadwood.”

    1. It’s true! My guy friends in Turkey tell me they also burn the hair from your ears and nose – did that happen to you? Apparently the full shave includes an aggressive hair-removal too.

  3. I’ve become a pro at discarding potential salons. If the hairdresser has a mullet, run the other way. If you can’t tell immediately if the hairdresser is a boy or a girl, run the other way. If you explain what you want, the hairdresser makes a perplexed expression and then says, “I know what to do,” with scissors in hand, get out of the chair.

  4. It was nothing special as a haircut (I don’t have enough hair to get excited about,) but memorable nonetheless. In Santiago, Chile I wandered into a random salon and encountered an extremely jovial Colombian woman. As she finished and admired her work, she told me that now I was ready to “conquer” Chilean women. When I told her that I was married, she said, “You are so handsome your wife will understand.” Big tip.

  5. Jodi! Just wanted to drop a line and say how lovely it was getting to meet/chat with you at Agora that night. Love the site, especially the sections on practical travel tips. Hope to run into you again in future travels. Let us know if you ever decide to visit the Southeast U.S.!

  6. I had one of the best haircuts ever in Istanbul, too! It was a salon in Beşiktaş near my friend’s apartment. After cutting my own hair for the previous year living in Uzbekistan, I really needed it.

  7. Oh my gosh! I also got a haircut when I travelled in Istanbul last year! I couldn’t stand my flying strands of hair. Although there was a language barrier, the hairdresser was very patient and even offered us some Turkish tea. :)

  8. Jennifer Choban

    I don’t think it’s ridiculous to go to another country to get your haircut. I’ve been living out of my home country for six years now, and am totally scared to get a haircut overseas. It’s hard enough to get it done right when I can explain what I need in English! What are my chances in Spanish or Chinese. Thanks for the tip though- perhaps an excuse to go to Istanbul…

  9. Here’s a haircut story for you. In Phuket Thailand, I walked across the road to a salon for a haircut. The women said they didn’t do male hair, but took me outside, onto a motor-bike and rode me a km up the road. 25 minutes, plus a head and neck massage later, I handed over the princely sum of $2.60 for a great cut! Jon

  10. I can understand though I’ve never had a bad haircut in another country. While traveling solo in Africa, I took my hair into my own hands and cut my locks with, what else? Swiss army knife scissors.
    I figured most African woman have never cut a white gal’s hair and I rather give it a go and be upset with myself with my new hairstyle than someone else.

    In the end, it inspired me to cut my hair more often and occassionally cut my own hair!

  11. Estelle Oliveri

    I know it is a little bit late to add an entry however its great to hear a recommendation of a hair salon whilst travelling. Recommendations like this are truly valuable to women travelling around the world, and no doubt Sevgi has received more random visits for haircuts since you wrote this post.

    Thank you for sharing.


  12. There’s nothing strange about going to another country to have your hair cut! I went to Paris and it’s one of the best cuts I’ve ever had…..

  13. I have been in Istanbul for the past ten days with hubby and baby. Really needed a change for my hair.and that too from a place close to my hotel in Sultanahmet. Jodi, I took your word and I must say I don’t regret it. Great cut by Sevgi. And that too in such a warm and friendly environment. Great experience!

  14. Was $15 only for a haircut or also for the wash and style? Thank you for this great article, enjoyed reading your blog!

  15. Hello,
    I would like to know if the women’s side is absolutely separate from the men’s side. Because my mom wears a scarf and she wants to get her hair dyed.

  16. Thank you so very much for this Blog. Just had my long waited haircut done by the lovely Sevgi and I couldn’t be happier! She is a genius <3
    I have curly hair that is very hard to have it cut gracefully. Everyone kept on telling me keep the long hair with such curls people are spending money to have their curled. But I knew long hair is just not for me!
    Here I am finally finding the place after a VERY long walk as my google maps stopped working and I lost the rout.
    When I arrived, there was the gorgeous Sevgi with her sweet bump on her 8th month of pregnancy.
    At start she, same as many other hair dressers, didn't agree on the short hair, but was sweet enough to discuss options. When we finally agreed on a style she started her magic. And OMG, one of the best haircuts I EVER had in my life, She did exactly what I needed with her fast motion and focused look. The surprise was more on her side than mine; she said "Yessss Short hair is for you… Do not do long one" to hear this from a great hairdresser shows not only that she understands hair and faces, but she doesn’t have an attitude to stick to her words just out of ego.
    She kept on smiling and doing her final touches and both of us couldn’t be happier
    At the end we talked about how powerful internet is and that I didn’t really here about her from TripAdvisor but from you Jodi ;)
    She also showed me that you too are still friends on WhatsApp and that was just beyond sweet.

    Thank you again for contributing in helping other travelers, find a way to make our trip even more worthy and memorable.

    1. Hello Khuzama! Thank you for the absolutely lovely comment. I’m so happy you have enjoyed your hair cut and that she has a growing family – this makes me smile! All the best to you :)

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