"Turkey is a vast land where East meets West in a rich mix of cultures, languages and religions and I soon found out that its natural attractions echo this diversity."
"From the tranquil Turquoise Coast to the remote majesty of the Barhal Valley, from the fantasy rock formations of Cappadocia to the mighty Taurus Mountains I never stopped being impressed by the changing landscapes. And if that wasn't enough I also explored legendary sites such as Ephesus and Troy, rafted in Koprulu Canyon, trekked along the Lycian Way, sunbathed on board a gulet in the calm Mediterranean Sea and searched for bargains among the four thousand or so shops of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar. But wherever and whenever you go, whatever you do, you can be sure of a warm and friendly welcome. I guarantee you'll quickly become a convert to 'Elma Cay' (apple tea). Which reminds me, the food...but I can't possibly do it justice here - you'll simply have to find out for yourself!"
Polly Nightingale, Traveller
Official Language: Turkish. Others: Kurdish.
Religions: Muslim 95%, other 5% (Orthodox Christians, Jews).
Voltage: 220 volts. Sockets are of the European, two-pronged variety.
Visas are required by most nationalities. A multiple entry tourist visa can be obtained on arrival and is valid for three months for most nationalities. For the latest information on your specific visa requirements you should contact the local Turkish Embassy or Consulate near your planned date of travel.
The monetary unit in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (YTL). Approximate exchange rates (as at May 2008) are as follows:
There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that a visitor may bring into Turkey, however very large sums should be declared on arrival.
The Imaginative Traveller Recommends: Even though many travellers like to arrive with at least a small amount of local currency we recommend you buy your currency on arrival. Banks are readily available at the airport in Istanbul and you will get a much better rate than at home.
XE.com is a useful site for currency conversion.
Banks and ATMs can be found almost everywhere in Turkey. Credit cards are accepted in most shops, restaurants and hotels. We recommend that you take either US$ or GB£ currency. The Pre-Departure Information that you will receive once you have booked your tour contains general information about organising your spending money. Your Tour Leader will be able to advise you on local facilities.
Please note: Traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to change, even at banks.
The Pre-Departure Information contains general information about the things you will need to consider when budgeting for your holiday. Below are some specific notes relevant to our tours in Turkey.
Although Traveller trips include entrance fees to all sites specified in your itinerary there are additional ancient sites that you may like to visit. Adventurer trips do not include any entrance fees. The average entrance fee is approx US$3, with the most expensive being US$30. Approximate entrance fees (per person) for popular sites are as follows:
All of our itineraries include some free time, the amount of which usually depends on the style of tour you are travelling on (Adventurer trips generally have more than Traveller). If you wish to take optional excursions your Tour Leader will be able to advise you of the possibilities in each area. Approximate costs (per person) for popular excursions are as follows:
You will find the meal plan for your tour clearly indicated in the brochure and on your Trip Dossier. Breakfast is provided each day on most tours, and many tours also include a number of dinners. Lunches are rarely included to give you more freedom. Approximate costs for meals and snacks not included are shown below;
For a guide to the type of food you will find in Turkey see the Local Food & Drink section of this dossier.
Tea and Coffee is always provided with breakfast. All other drinks (i.e. bottled water, soft drinks) are at your own expense.
Approximate costs for drinks bought in a shop in the street are shown below.
Note: Prices in restaurants, hotels, and cruise boats can be as much as double those specified.
It is not recommended that you drink the local tap water in Turkey however bottled water, carbonated soft drinks and fruit juices are widely available throughout the country.
If you are travelling by gulet (cruise boat) on the "Gulcin 2”, bottled water, soft drinks, beer and wine can be purchased from the bar on board. Crews on our gulets will provide water at meal times. There is no extra charge for this.
As our hotels are located in the old part of Istanbul, most of the main sites and bazaars are within walking distance. For longer journeys taxis are the most effective method of local transport. In Turkey all taxis have taximeters. There is day rate and night rate (which applies between 24:00 and 06:00). The night rate is approx. 50% more than the day rate.
Approximate taxi fares (All prices are per taxi) from our hotels in Istanbul to:
If you would rather not walk to the bazaars in the old city it is possible to take a tram. A single journey within the old city area costs US$ 1, and there are tram stations close to both our meeting point hotels.
The Pre-Departure Information that you will receive once you have booked your tour contains a comprehensive list of items that you should consider bringing with you. There are certain items of equipment (e.g. sleeping bags, towels) that you will need on some tours and not on others. Please note that you DO NOT need a mosquito net on any of our tours in Turkey. Check your Trip Dossier for any special requirements.
As a general guideline, clothing should be lightweight, loose fitting, hard-wearing and easily washed. In Turkey's hot summer months, cotton clothing is much more comfortable than man-made materials like nylon.
You should bear in mind that in Turkey there are few regions where local people have a conservative attitude towards dress; this is particularly true of Konya and Eastern Turkey. Women, and also to a certain extent men, will find that the way they dress will often determine the degree of respect they receive from both men and women. In most other parts of Turkey and particularly on the western coast you can dress much more casually.
The Imaginative Traveller Recommends: Make sure you bring at least one outfit which covers your legs to ankles and your arms past the elbows. A sarong is an invaluable item to carry as it can be used to instantly cover any exposed areas (i.e. head, legs). It also doesn’t go amiss to bring along a set of smart/casual clothes for the occasional night out.
In certain areas and religious sites your Tour Leader may ask you to dress conservatively. Out of respect for local values, we ask that you follow your Tour Leader’s advice at all times.
Make sure you allow for climate changes and remember that even in very hot countries, night-time and early morning temperatures can be extremely cold. You will generally find it is better to have several thin layers rather than one thick layer as it gives you more flexibility and warmth. A fleece can be invaluable and double as a pillow.
Whilst few of our tours can be described as physically demanding you will find all activities more enjoyable if you are reasonably fit and active.
Can You Swim?
Many of our tours in Turkey include a cruise of some sort – generally on our gulet cruise boat "Gulcin 2". Unless otherwise advised we assume that all participants on such tours are able to swim.
If you are unable to swim we recommend that you make this known at the time of booking and you must also inform your Tour Leader. This will enable us to take additional precautions for your safety.
While on our gulet it is important not to use shampoos on the deck shower. Shampoos and detergents can only be used in the showers inside the cabin.
Wherever you go to the toilet remember to place your toilet paper in the rubbish bin provided – DO NOT flush it down the toilet as this may block the sewerage system. You will almost always find a rubbish bin next to the toilet however you may find it useful to carry a supply of small plastic bags to put your toilet paper in if a rubbish bin is not provided. You may also want to carry your own toilet paper as not all toilets will supply it.
Travellers should respect that Turkey is a Muslim country. We encourage travellers to experience religious festivals, such as the holy fasting month of Ramadan, as a visit to Turkey during this time will give you a whole different perspective. If you would like to know more about Ramadan or you are travelling at this time please consult our special Ramadan Information Sheet.
Haggling is a way of life in the Middle East. In the shops there is no fixed price so the shop keeper will start with a high price which you are then expected to haggle down until you reach a fair price. Haggling should always be relaxed and can be a lot of fun – you will find most shop owners are very friendly and will probably invite you in for a cup of apple tea to break the ice before the haggling starts!
Upon arrival at Istanbul Ataturk International Airport or Ankara International Airport, please look for our representative who will be holding an Imaginative Traveller sign. He/she should be waiting for you after passport control and customs.
Please note that we do not offer transfers from Sabiha Gokcen airport.
The Meeting Point for your tour should be clearly marked on your travel vouchers.
At Istanbul Ataturk International Airport, you will find a 24 hour metered taxi service. The cost of a taxi from the airport to our hotels in old town Istanbul should be approx. US$18 during day rate and US$25 during night rate.
Alternatively, you could take the light railway which starts from Ataturk International Airport to Zeytinburnu station. You will then need to take a tram to the appropriate hotel. The closest station to our Traveller style hotel is Dikilitas, and the closest to our Adventurer hotel is Gulhane. The cost of the light railway and tram is around US$1 per journey, per person.
An airport bus runs hourly from Ankara International Airport to the city centre from where you will need to catch a taxi to the hotel. The airport bus costs approx. US$7 and the taxi should cost approx. US$2. A taxi direct from the airport to the hotel will cost approx. US$35
Most people find that Turkey is a very friendly and hospitable country and feel quite comfortable wandering around alone during the day. However, as with any country you are not familiar with (and in particular in large cities such as Istanbul), it is recommended that you exercise more caution at night and generally take taxis rather than walk.
Your Tour Leader's role is to ensure all aspects of the trip run smoothly. He/she will share their local knowledge, advise on how to fill your free time and co-ordinate the day to day running of the tour – although occasionally he/she may need your understanding if things do not go according to plan. If you have any problems on the tour, please let your Tour Leader know so that steps can be taken to put it right. Tour Leaders are supported by our regionally based office staff and, in most cases, a locally based manager.
In Turkey we also use the services of specialist guides at sights of particular historical interest in Istanbul, Ankara, Troy and Ephesus.
Please note that some styles of trip, such as Imaginative Escapes or Imaginative Honeymoons, do not have a Tour Leader. However, there will be representatives on hand who will be able to assist you in arranging any excursions that you wish you take.
Our main criterion for choosing hotels is cleanliness. On Adventurer tours hotels are simple, but comfortable. Bathroom facilities may sometimes be shared and rooms may sometimes be multi share rather than twin. Hotels on Traveller tours almost always have private bathrooms and bar / restaurant facilities. Please bear in mind that hotels can sometimes suffer from minor problems and technical difficulties.
At each hotel your Tour Leader will try to organise the rooming arrangements to suit everyone's requirements. If you are travelling alone you will be allocated a room with another group member of the same sex (unless you have paid a single supplement*). If you are travelling as a couple please note that we cannot guarantee the availability of double beds.
*Note: Single supplements are only applicable to single travellers who wish to have their own room. Single supplements are also only available on Traveller tours and are not applicable on overnight boats, trains and while camping.
A laundry service is available in most of the hotels we are use (Istanbul, Selçuk and Cappadocia).
Turkish people, quite rightly, are very proud of their cuisine. Turkish restaurants fall into two basic categories; restoran and lokanta. Most "restorans" offer a sort of a la carte menu, with foods on display that will be cooked to order. "Lokantas" on the other hand, have a selection of prepared dishes kept hot in ban maries; generally a wide and tasty selection of soups and stews.
Turkish food relies heavily on meat and your main meal will usually be some form of kebab or kofte (made from lamb, chicken or beef – never pork). Another delicious dish is pide which is basically a type of pizza where pide bread is covered with cheese, tomato, salami, minced meat etc. All meals are accompanied by one or two types of bread such as plain pide or lavash, both of which are ideal for the great variety of dips featured in Turkish cuisine.
The Turks are great tea drinkers. While you are shopping in the bazaars you will regularly be offered apple tea. Naturally coffee comes Turkish style - very strong.
Although most of the population of Turkey is Muslim, most of the hotels and restaurants we use do serve alcoholic drinks. Locally produced spirits (the main one is Raki) and wine are available everywhere and the local beer “Efes Pilsen" is quite good.
Although meat is often not the main feature of a meal, it can be found in many dishes, even if only as a stock. Therefore, if you are a vegetarian you may experience a distinct lack of variety in the food available at meal times. Your Tour Leader will do their best to offer a vegetarian alternative, but your patience and understanding is requested.
If you have food allergies or preferences, please make them known to your Tour Leader who will do their best to ensure that your requirements are met.
Please note: Unfortunately we can give no guarantee that special requirements can always be met.
Internet cafes can now be found everywhere in Turkey. The cost for an hour is approx US$1.
The Turkish phone system is fairly good. A 3 minute call (to the UK) will cost approx. US$10 from a hotel and approx. US$5 from a telephone centre or with a pre paid phone card which you can buy from post offices or a kiosk by the phone booths.
The postal service is good and stamps are available everywhere. An overseas stamp will cost approx. US$1.
Availability of Film
Camera film can be found everywhere in Turkey.
The climate in Turkey varies greatly according to the region and the time of year. There are noticeable differences in temperature between the north and the south.
In Central Anatolia and the South East summer starts early and is pleasantly mild before building to a hot and dry peak period. Mid-winter here can be very cold with a lot of snow. The Black Sea Coast is generally mild but wet and the summer is quite short. On the Mediterranean and Aegean Coast the climate is pleasant for most of the year.
The following chart shows average daily temperatures (in degrees celcius):
|City / Temp||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
Islamic Holidays are fixed in accordance with the Lunar Calendar. 2005 dates are:
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