Exotic Turkey Trip Summary24 June, 2010
Another long trip – this time just to one country – Turkey for 14 days! Turkey is so big that different parts of the country has such diverse culture, architecture, food and so many different things to see, eat and do! Our trip took us to:
- Capital City, Istanbul – also the bridge between Europe and Asia – a very touristy city with the best places to shop and eat and many things to see e.g. mosque (there are a lot of them e.g. Blue Mosque, Red Mosque, New Mosque..)
- Mediterranean Coast City of Fethiye where you can take a relaxing slow cruise out into the many uninhabited islands
- Ancient City of Ephesus and Hierapolis where you can marvel at thousand-year ruins and Greek/Roman-style amphitheatre
- Amazingly White Salt Structure of Pamukkale where you can immerse in the rich minerals
- Cave City – Cappodocia; Take in the Amazing View of this Place with a Hot-air Balloon Ride
- Southeastern Cities of Gaziantep, Harran and Amazing Sunrise Views atop Mt. Nemrut
Turkey Trip Route Itinerary
Transportation around Turkey are all by overnight buses (for inter-city transfers) and day tours are typically on mini-van/bus. I will share more about our experiences with overnight buses – not an experience we want to attempt again after 3 of such buses; while the amenities are interesting (Wi-Fi onboard bus, reclining seats), the journey is just way too long.
For a quick peek of the various activities we took on during our trip to Turkey, check out this excel spreadsheet of our itinerary. You can also use this for your trip planning to Turkey or share it with your friends.
Just to share with you our obligatory traditional costume shot in every country, this time in Turkey – although not even sure this is even Turkish more like Persian. :-p I think I am supposed to be a Sultan here but the headgear sure feels very heavy – maybe that’s why it looked lopsided here.
eunice29 June, 2010 at 3:10 pm
wow 14 days in Turkey!! u must have seen alot there!
hmmm the last pic reminds me of when u guys r getting married.. or already married? 😀
Zhiqiang & Tingyi29 June, 2010 at 9:37 pm
@Eunice yup we seen quite a fair bit – will be sharing here 🙂
on your other point, not yet married ~ soon? who knows. 🙂
kelvin30 June, 2010 at 9:13 pm
Maybe u can wear this at ur wedding dinner? ^^
Zhiqiang & Tingyi30 June, 2010 at 10:50 pm
wah – too dramatic liao 🙂
houseboatskashmir1 July, 2010 at 6:47 pm
Looking nice couple…
Paul8 July, 2010 at 8:14 pm
wow great post!
niknik13 August, 2010 at 11:07 pm
In Turkey beautiful weddings and very rich culture
Same Day Passport5 October, 2010 at 2:56 pm
What an entertaining post! Your trip sounds amazing! I’ve always wanted to check out Turkey, I’ve got some friends from there that say it is amazing. Your experience certainly confirms that.
Jane4 November, 2010 at 8:32 am
I’m so glad to have chanced on your website for more information regarding Turkey. I’m spending about 19 – 20 (Sep 17 – Oct 5) days in Turkey and I really hope to max it out fully :D. I was looking for a Singapore’s “perspective” because I will be travelling solo. I also plan to take the same route as you guys, except for some minor changes. I’m heading to Istanbul, Canakkale, Selcuk, Pamukkale, Fethiye, Antalya, Goreme and then I hope to take up the 3D2N Yama Tour package that you guys took up to see Mt Nemrut. Abit excessive and over-ambitious kinda. Then I hope to continue on to Kars and then a miserable full day bus (still considering if I should fly) back to Istanbul. Here’s some questions:
1) How did you guys change Turkish lira? I tried going to many places to find but can’t find, or the money changer trying to give me a disadvantage. Did you guys just draw from the ATM? — sorry if its such a sensitive question, but I plan to spend about 2000 lira, so I’m not sure if I should draw at Turkey, or change to Euro then change to lira in Istanbul. Or did you guys have any good money changers for lira to recommend?
2) Yama Tours: How is the services? Are they good? Was it a private tour or did you have other people along as well?
3) How are the overnight buses in Turkey?
4) Was the place generally safe? I intend to stay in hostels and *try* to be in groups of people wherever I go.
Zhiqiang & Tingyi4 November, 2010 at 8:34 am
Pls see our replies:
1) We change Euro (excellent rates now) and then change to lira in different parts of Turkey. We just looked around in Turkey when we ran out of lira. No particular money changer we preferred but for Euros, we prefer to change at the money changer on ground floor of Funan IT Mall (beside the lift) – quite good rates and friendly.
2) Yama Tour company is an excellent and honest company – book your balloon flights with them and tell them PassportChop.com referred you. We booked ours with them because they offered good rates (go for only Goreme/Urgup/Kapodoyka Balloons). The Nemrut Tour was a small-group tour (about 10 pax) in a van. The Nemrut Tour is a very xiong tour – a lot of travelling in an uncomfortable van on bumpy roads
How the tours in Goreme specifically the Nemrut tour is that there are only 2 actual companies who run those tours regularly. So despite the many companies you see offering them, they are merely referring you to those 2 and earning some commission. This applies for Yama Tour too – the boss running Nemrut Tour (who is also the guide) used to work for Yama Tour before he went out on his own.
3) Only the Goreme to Istanbul/ Istanbul to Selcuk routes are bearable (because they are common tourist routes) – however if you are a light sleeper, overnight bus will tire you out for the next day. If you have the time and budget, go for planes. Please do not take a full-day bus from Kars – take a plane (this one dont try to save money – it helps your sanity and you wont be tired out when you reach home).
4) The place is quite safe – for more remote parts of Turkey, ppl will be curious about you more as they dont see a lot of Chinese in the area. For touristy areas, look out for hamsup Turkish guys who will try to hit on you.
Hope this helps. Do share with us your experiences when you return – if you like to share your photos and experiences/reviews thru a guest post, you are also welcomed. 🙂
Jane4 November, 2010 at 8:33 am
Hi Zhiqiang and Tingyi!
Thanks so much for your advice and all earlier. I have been reading up and ‘collating’ my questions so I can ask you in one shot…
1) With regards to the Mt Nemrut tour, I have emailed my interest to them. Do I need trekking boots for this trip? Its really heavy and I’m a very petite size girl so trekking boots are very troublesome to bring around. What kind of shoes did you guys walk around with? Did you guys also travel to Sanliurfa or did the tour end in Gaziantep? Cuz I noticed you guys took a bus from Gaziantep back to Istanbul (must have been dead tiring). Will normal sports shoes do? And BTW they quoted me EUR140 as well.
(I was hoping such shoes: http://www.cottonon.com/au/rubi-shoes/flats/JadePlimsol?sId=2151 will last me through Turkey. Will the trekking part kill???? LOL)
2) About Kars – I actually found a bus company that is able to take me to Dogubeyazit from Sanliurfa (Yama Tours said that they can drop me there and I don’t need to continue with the journey back to Goreme) and then hopefully I can find a bus to Kars from there. The Kars leg will be the last leg of this trip. Almost the most tiring which is why I plan to fly back to Istanbul as well. My colleague said that buses are very comfortable and can recline almost fully, and that they serve snacks, water etc. Is this service standard or do some companies fail to live up to such expectations? She’s a heavy sleeper and those hardcore budget traveller kind but I’m a light sleeper la… Can you guys stay awake the next day when u take overnight buses? eg those departure at 11am and reach about 7am or 8am kind.
Think that’s all the Qs I have at the moment… sorry to trouble you guys once again~~!
Zhiqiang & Tingyi4 November, 2010 at 8:35 am
No need trekking boots – just normal sports shoe; the road has lots of loose rocks and no railings by the side so ensure you have shoes with good grip at the sole. I dont know abt the cotton on shoe you showed me – wear something comfortable with good grip.
We took the bus back to Goreme to catch the overnight bus instead. As part of the tour, we went to Sanliurfa on Day 2. It is very very very very cold in the morning – wear layer of warm clothing and bring along the hotel blanket as well.
About the overnight bus, if you are light sleeper, avoid them especially those ulu routes. Not all bus recline fully and serve snacks. A bus we took from Fethiye to Goreme, the bus attendant even smoked at the back of the bus.
Hannah Hamilton8 November, 2010 at 8:04 pm
I like following different culture and traditions. I liked the images that are displayed. the article seems awesome and is really attractive, I would definitely try my foot there , as I am greatly impressed by the above furnished information. I hope the bus journey doesn’t encounter me with health issues.
Tom Holmes11 November, 2010 at 2:13 pm
Seems a long holiday. I enjoyed reading your experience. It always feels good to have a glance over something new. I have not known much about the culture in Turkey or the cuisine . I would definitely want to visit the place and the food in turkey.
Tingyi11 November, 2010 at 9:10 pm
Hi Tom, glad that you enjoy reading our blog. =) Turkey is indeed a unique country with rich cultures. The people are friendly and the places we visited has very nice scenery. Do visit our blog again for more Turkey and other posts. =)
Ayda18 December, 2010 at 4:29 pm
Hi ZQ & TY,
I’ll be covering Turkey this early of Jan.
How much will the food be in Turkey? Pls advise. 🙂
Zhiqiang & Tingyi19 December, 2010 at 7:40 pm
Hi Ayda – the price of the food varies depending on where you are going; e.g. for Istanbul tourist district, expect to spend abt S$10-20 for a decent meal or abt $5-6 for kebabs (which is just as filling). If you are going to the more remote areas e.g. Urfa, prices for a good meal can be as cheap as $4-5.
Ayda22 December, 2010 at 11:13 pm
Sure. Thanks a lot. That helps to gauge how much to bring.
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Michael31 December, 2010 at 9:08 am
Turkey looks great. I’ve had a few people post articles on my website about turkey and though I have not been there I am most interested in seeing Cappodocia. Thanks for sharing other points to look into when I plan this trip.
Turnter5 August, 2011 at 1:56 pm
Travelling Turkey is not as tough as many people consider it to be, the transportation system is fine and more so the car rental services are easily accesible.
Clarence Tan23 September, 2012 at 5:38 pm
Hi Zhiqiang and Tingyi
We are planning to travel to Turkey end of this year and are deciding if we should travel on our own or follow the Singapore tour group. We need some advice from you. Is it safe to travel Turkey on our own? What should you look out for when you travel in Turkey?
Zhiqiang & Tingyi23 September, 2012 at 6:21 pm
It is safe to travel in Turkey on your own – in fact, compared to bigger European cities e.g. Rome, Barcelona, I feel safer travelling in Turkey. The Turks are generally very friendly.
Of course, some general pointers to note when travelling in any country: always be alert of the situation around you (look out for suspicious characters), don’t walk around in deserted places at night alone, don’t expose your valuables.
The main problem i guess when travelling in Turkey alone is language especially when you travel to places where there isn’t a lot of tourists. To play safe, you can stick to the standard itinerary for travelling in Turkey i.e. Istanbul -> Ephesus -> Pamukkale -> Cappadocia; these few places would be enough for you to check out the beauty of Turkey and there are well-travelled destinations for most of the tourists and you can do it yourself for travel between these few places.
While these places might be on most of the tour agencies’ itinerary, you can save more time and enjoy these sights more when you plan on your own trip. Reason being the tour itineraries are touch and go (e.g. 1 afternoon at Pamukkale) and involve long bus journeys.
I would recommend you take internal flights – Turkish Airways offer these together with a number of internal turkish airlines – you save time and they are quite affordable if you plan ahead.
Clara chua16 January, 2013 at 11:48 pm
Hi keen to book a turkey tour on 1/5 for 10 or 12 day which tour agency u all will recommend please advised
Zhiqiang & Tingyi17 January, 2013 at 8:16 am
sorry couldn’t recommend any because we planned this trip ourselves and arranged all our accommodation and transport by ourselves too. I find most of the tours too rushed.
izhar29 January, 2013 at 12:15 pm
Hi. Im curios to know. Did u pre-booked ur hotel? Im planning to travel turkey this april using ur itenary but wont be covering all as I plan to go for abt 12 days.
Zhiqiang & Tingyi29 January, 2013 at 12:35 pm
yep i pre-booked the hotels – some direct at their website and some thru third-party sites e.g. booking.com
Peter16 February, 2013 at 5:59 pm
Thanks for sharing your interesting stories. By the way, Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey. It is Ankara. Did you miss Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and other Ottoman and pre-Ottoman historical sites? Byzantium was the original name of the city. It was renamed Constantinople by Alexander the Great. It wasn’t until the 1500s when the city name was changed to Istanbul.
DL22 July, 2013 at 10:33 am
Glad to note that you are still responding to queries even though your trip was in Jun 2010. A few questions to consult you as we are planning a trip there for our family (about 18 people) in Dec.
1) The prices stated in your itinerary – are they in S$ or Euro ? (needed for my reference and comparison)
2) You commented that the bus ride is very long. As such, we intend to take the domestic flight. Any idea whether their domestic flight will be affected with frequent delay during winter ? Are their domestic flights reliable in terms of timing ? Intend to take the Turkish domestic flight.
3) You stayed in Devish Case Hotel. Is it a nice place because I noticed that their rate is much cheaper compared to some other cave houses which charges 200 euro per night. Also I was receommended to stay in either Urgup or Avanos while in Cappadocia. Devish cave house is in Gerome. Is this place as good or would you recommend accommodation in Urgup. What is the difference between these places mentioned ?
4) You think it is safe to travel on our own if we take the normal route, ie Istanbul – Kayseri/Cappadocia – Izmir/Pamukkale – Istanbul ? Of course, we intend to fly to these places (Kayseri & Izmir) and take local tours like you did. Is the green and red tour from Devish Cave House good ?
5) Would I have problem looking for our meals (ie lunch and dinner) in these places mentioned above.
Thanks for much !
Zhiqiang & Tingyi22 July, 2013 at 11:10 am
1) The currency mentioned in the itinerary is in Euros – do note that these are 2010 prices – while Sing-Euro exchange rate is better now, prices for tours, hotels might have increased over past 3 years.
2) I am unable to comment on domestic flight reliability as we didnt take them. You might want to check online for reviews and whether Turkey is affected by the blizzards and snowstorms that affects flights in other parts of Europe. Since you have a group of 18 persons, you might want to work with local tour operators to see if they can provide you with private bus transfers between destinations (but still it can be quite a long overnight drive but at least you can decide on the stops).
3) Dervish Cave House is a nice place and great value for money. Goreme is the main city in Cappadocia – here you will find most souvenir shops, restaurants and tour operators and the main inter-city bus terminal. In terms of convenience, I will choose to stay at Goreme again. Urgup and Avanos are smaller towns that you can visit as part of the Red and Green tour.
4) Turkey is quite safe and the normal route, ie Istanbul – Kayseri/Cappadocia – Izmir/Pamukkale – Istanbul is a very common one taken by most tourists to Turkey so tourist infrastructure are better developed (but this also means that they are quite commercialised). With your big group, you can try to work with local tour operators to customise tours or arrange for private tours.
5) It depends on your dietary preference – Chinese food will be hard to find in Turkey. If you can tahan kebabs all day long, then you should be quite ok – these are the cheapest food available in Turkey. Western cuisines are also available.
DL22 July, 2013 at 1:23 pm
Thanks so much for your very prompt reply. I do not want to book the local tour because we have to take the long bus ride. Cannot take the ride… I think at least 7 – 10 hrs per destination.
Ok… will goggle to check whether domestic flights are affected during winter. Besides, the domestic flights are very cheap.
As for your accommodation in the other cities, are they ok. May want to use your itinerary as reference for booking my accommodation.
Zhiqiang & Tingyi22 July, 2013 at 1:49 pm
Some airlines might not have space to accommodate so many passengers at the same flight (due to spaces taken by other passengers) so you will need to plan and book early.
I have consolidated the reviews of hotels, restaurants here for your ease of reference: http://www.passportchop.com/trip-itineraries/#turkey
For your trip (Istanbul – Cappadocia – Pamukkale), the relevant hotels are: Hanedan and Hali (which are ok but not fantastic – typical simple 3-star hotel type) – http://www.passportchop.com/reviews/accommodation-reviews/istanbul-hotels-hali-hanedan-review/
Dervish Cave House (i recommend this) – http://www.passportchop.com/reviews/accommodation-reviews/dervish-cave-house-goreme-cappadocia/
Pamukkale (organised by tour operator – not fantastic but ok accommodation) – http://www.passportchop.com/reviews/accommodation-reviews/dervish-cave-house-goreme-cappadocia/
ernie23 October, 2013 at 6:06 pm
you are the best! thank you for letting me, and of coz ur readers to have your brilliant itinerary. god bless u!
paulbroad23 November, 2015 at 6:14 pm
Wow great article! Living in England all I seem to hear about Turkey is the English holiday destination sections, which sound like exactly the kinds of places I want to avoid. But I love the way you’ve brought together every corner of the country, really well collected and useful! Also, your photographs are beautiful!
Tuna10 October, 2016 at 10:06 pm
There are a lot of people who thinks Turkey is not safe for visit.But it is wrong.Around the world, lots of things happening like bonbing.No one is %100 safe.You should visit Turkey before die 🙂