Itinerary, Planning & Information
Where: İstanbul, İzmir, Çeşme, Kuşadası, Ephesus, Selçuk, Şirince, Pamukkale, Bodrum, Fethiye, Ölüdeniz, Göreme, Uçhisar, Avanos, Kaymaklı, Çavuşin & Paşabağ.
Transport: Airlines, Bus, Taxi, Metro
When: April 2013, for two weeks
Who: One backpacker
After making a list of all the destinations I wanted to cover in two weeks, I had a rough idea of what it may cost for accommodation, commuting between places, meals and miscellaneous. Most accommodations & activities were selected after reading reviews on various websites, while engaging friends and fellow travelers on social media like Twitter and Facebook.
A lot of countries have an option of visa-upon-arrival, but it’s best to check their website and apply for a visa well in advance as the consulate may take anything between 1 to 4 weeks. Also, the visa upon arrival may be applicable to citizens of certain countries with different rules, based on the pre-existing visas or residency levels in the country you’re living.
Visa are given typically for 30 days, but visas upon arrival can be, and usually are, given for 15 days. If you want for more days then you should ask the officer before the stamping, maybe handing over a copy of your itinerary.
Being a citizen of India, I would have to get a visa prior to traveling to Turkey, but with a U.S. visa or permanent resident card, I’m eligible for visa-upon-arrival which costs US$20. Click here for visa information for foreigners.
Turkey uses Turkish Lira (TRY) as the official currency, but a lot of places like hotels & activity centers accept Euros. Exchange rate:
Currency exchange rate is provided ‘as is’ and solely for informational purposes, not for trading purposes or advice, and may be delayed. © Yahoo! Finance
Here are some tips that I experienced on my trip to Turkey:
If you are traveling on a budget then there’s no need to spend exorbitant amount on taxis from one place to another. You would rather spend on getting a tour guide to destinations like Ephesus or Kaymaklı Underground City.
- It’s very easy and affordable to travel around almost everywhere with excellent bus & dolmuş connections between cities and towns. For example, it will cost you TL 15 between Izmir and Kuşadası. Don’t pre-book anything because there are many companies out there with excellent coaches (some of them have wifi and snack services) that are comfortable and always on-time.
- Always make sure to check the timing of the buses. Most services run every hour, but some of the long-distance ones (for example, between Istanbul and Cappadocia) run a few times a day. For those ones that run few times, make sure to book them in advance as they fill up fast.
- Different bus companies (Pamukkale, Kamil Koç, Metro, Suha, etc.) do not have the same fares for the same destinations, so shop around. You may find some cheap ones, although those may not have wifi/snack service.
- Most dolmuş drivers speak a little English, enough to understand where you want to go and give you directions. But the drivers of the bus companies may not speak a word of English!
- Most hotels have hot water available 24 hours a day, but not all of them. For example, the hotel in Izmir shuts off hot water between noon and 7pm.
- There are a lot of hotels in Turkey. That said, you will find budget ‘pensions’ in all the tourist locations like Istanbul, Izmir, Cappadocia, Fethiye, etc. If you have not booked a hotel prior to your arrival then don’t fret, because it’s very easy to find one! Although it’s advisable to pre-book during the peak season from June to August.
- There are ATMs all over the country.
- Turkish Lira notes come in denominations of TL 5, TL 10, TL 20, TL 50, TL 100, TL 200 and coins come in 5K, 10K, 25K, 50K and TL 1. It’s always wise to keep low numbered notes such as TL 5, TL 10 and TL 20; although many businesses will accept a TL 50 note, but a TL 100 is frowned upon. Most businesses will not accept TL 200 note if you’re spending amount is small.
- You may accumulate a lot of coins which come handy when taking dolmuş or local buses, as most rides will cost you anything between TL 2.50 to TL 5.
- Utilities & others
- You can find toilets almost everywhere, just look for the sign “WC”. Be prepared to pay TL 1 for using the toilets, maybe TL 1.50 at some tourist places. Not all toilets are western-style.
- Tap water is not safe to drink in Turkey. One litre bottle of water from a local market will cost TL 1 to TL 1.5, sometimes even 50 kuruş, whereas restaurants will charge TL 2-3 for the same.
- Turkish çay (chai) can be found everywhere and costs about TL 1.
|Offline maps & directions
If you are using a smartphone, then you know how expensive international data plans can be. And if you find yourself lost in a place, then using the device for maps and directions can sometimes be a life-saver. But with no data to find directions in an unknown city can be frustrating.
So while you are at your hotel where you have wifi access, open the maps app and point it to the address or area in the destination town or city. Then zoom-in and zoom-out around the area, or around the entire town if it’s a small one. This time the app will load all the maps and places in cache (memory). That’s it. When you arrive at the destination, just open the maps app and you will still be able to browse around without any data.
Just make sure not to remove the app from the memory (kill it entirely).
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult. The exchange rate at the time of publishing is assumed to be USD 1 = TRY 1.8.
|United Airlines||$1,226||Flight from Los Angeles, USA (LAX) to İstanbul, Turkey (IST) via Newark (EWR). Return.|
|Visa upon arrival||$20||Payable in cash in USD, EUR or GBP only. Turkish Liras are not accepted.|
|Pegasus Airlines||$34.20||Flight from İstanbul (IST) to İzmir (ADB). TL 60 one way.|
|Turkish Airlines||$47||Flight from Kayşeri (ASR) to İstanbul (SAW). One way.|
|Total Costs||$1,327.20||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$1,327.20||Per person|