“If the whole world was only one country, Istanbul would be its capital” – French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once said. Looking at the map of the world map, Turkey is the crossroads of the world, connecting the 2 continents of Eurasia and the North – South, the gateway to Europe and the end point of the legendary Silk Road. So, what to do, where to go and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Turkey for the first-time? Let’s check out our Turkey travel blog (Turkey blog) with the fullest Turkey travel guide (Turkey guide, Turkey tourist guide, Turkey visitor guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit and top things to do to find out the answer!
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Located at the intersection of the civilizations of the world, Turkey hides a huge historical & cultural treasure with long history, rich in culture, especially a powerful Ottoman Empire in the past. Among countless countries in the world, Turkey appears with a very unique beauty, not too luxurious, modern but nostalgic with the color of time. Turkey can be described as a mosaic made of countless different historical and cultural pieces.
Turkey travel blog: Overview of Turkey
Turkey is a country located in both the European and Asian continents with the main territory in the Anatolia peninsula in Southwest Asia, a small part in the Balkans in Southeast Europe with an area of nearly 800.000 km² and a population of over 85 millions people. Turkey shares borders with: Bulgaria to the northwest, Greece to the west, Georgia, Armenia and the Nakhichevan part of Azerbaijan to the northeast, Iran to the east, and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. In addition, the country is bordered by the Black Sea to the north, the Aegean and Marmara Seas to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Because of its strategic location between Europe and Asia and middle the three seas, Turkey was once a crossroads of economic centers, the starting point as well as the battleground of empires in the past.
The national language of Turkey is Turkish and many other minority languages. Turkey has no official religion, but almost the entire population is Muslim, with only a small percentage being Catholic and Orthodox.
Turkey blog: Why should you travel to Turkey?
- The country has a rich history, culture and many unique architectural works, historic and ancient cities. The powerful Ottoman Empire that once dominated Europe reigned here.
- Turkey has also Cappadocia, which is known as the most beautiful hot air balloon viewing spot in the world.
- It’s a Muslim country, so it is very safe and orderly: Muslims do not drink alcohol, do not steal as well.
- Turkey is also the factory of Europe, a lot of goods with good quality, especially: nuts, wool, rugs, leather and clothes are produced here.
- The exchange rate for the Turkish currency Lyra is very good. Traveling cost in Turkey is very cheap, affordable.
- Public transport in Turkey is quite developed, traveling between tourist destinations is convenient and economical with diverse vehicles.
Is safe to travel to Turkey?
In 2016, there was a coup d’etat and riots at the old airport in Turkey, causing confusion for visitors. After more than 3 years of efforts to rebuild the city and promote tourism industry, Turkey’s tourist cities such as Istanbul, Cappadocia, Izmir, Antalya become very safe and secure. In the period 2019-2020, there were conflicts in the border areas with Syria, but because these areas are very far from tourist cities, visitors absolutely can rest-assured.
You can use E-visa (visa applied online) to travel to Turkey. Getting an E-visa is very easy, especially if you have a valid visa from developed countries like the US, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan… and flying with Turkish airlines like Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, Onur Air and Atlasglobal Airlines… You just need to fill in the information and pay the fee by credit card, after a few minutes the E-visa will be emailed to you, printed and done. Refer to the link to apply for E-visa: https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/.
Turkey travel blog: When to come?
As a large country with diverse topography, Turkey’s climate varies from region to region and from season to season. The most pleasant weather is usually in spring, April-May and autumn in October-November. These also are the best times to visit Turkey.
If you want a Mediterranean or Aegean sea vacation, from June to September is the most suitable time. However, in these two seas, sometimes in the middle of summer, the temperature is quite high, can be above 40 degrees Celsius, so you should take precautions to avoid going out at the high heat time.
You can also enjoy skiing in Turkey in winter, and the period from December to April next year is suitable time for you to experience it.
Turkey travel blog: Getting to Turkey
There are many airlines operating flights to Turkey from European countries. Because of applying for an E-visa, we are required to choose 1 of 4 airlines: Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, Onur Air and Atlasglobal Airlines.
After searching for tickets for the London – Istanbul route, we chose Turkish Airlines because the price is very affordable at only £113/round trip and it has been voted the best airline in Europe for many years in a row.
The main airport in Turkey is the new Istanbul International Airport (Turkish: İstanbul Havalimanı), inaugurated and into operation in 2019. In addition, Istanbul also has an old internation airport called Ataturk.
Ankara’s Esenboga Airport is relatively limited to international flights, but there are direct flights from Mediterranean resort towns like Antalya during the peak season of summer or winter.
Kayseri Airport also handles a number of international flights from several European countries, this is one of the closest airports to the Cappadocia region.
You can go from Europe to Turkey by train quite easily, although today train ride is classic and romantic, not fast and convenient anymore. TransBalkan trains depart daily from Budapest, Hungary running through Bucharest, Romania, a two-night journey with a 3-hour stop in Bucharest. There is also a daily train to Istanbul from Sofia, Bulgaria. Or you also can travel by train from London to Istanbul as map below.
From Central Europe to Turkey is not difficult, but you will probably need an international insurance card – a green card to cross the border.
- Road 80 enters Turkey via the Kapikule border from Bulgaria.
- Road 87 enters Turkey via the Derekoy border from Bulgaria.
- Road 90 enters Turkey via the Ipsala border from Greece.
From Bucharest there is a daily bus to Istanbul that departs at 4pm. There are also daily buses from Constanta, Romania and from Sofia, Bulgaria. Another way is to take a bus in Athens, Greece that goes through Thessaloniki city. You can also find smaller bus companies that operate many routes from other countries in the Balkans.
Many people arrive at Bodrum by hydrofoil or ferry from most of the islands near Greece to Turkey ports. See details of ferry routes and timetables here.
Turkey travel blog: Getting around Turkey
Currently, the new Istanbul airport has just come into operation from April 2019 and is about 40km from the city center. To getting to city center, you can only take a taxi for around $31 and traveling time around 35 minutes, while take a bus cost about $3.1 with 80 minutes of riding. Or the most convenient way is take a metro.
Taxi or Uber
Taxi is also a popular means of transport in Istanbul, you can catch it anywhere, but very few drivers can speak English, so you should bring a card with a specific location or hotel address for easy communication with the driver.
Public transport: Metro, Tram, Ferry
Public transportation in Istanbul is convenient and cheap. Metro is similar to the sky train in Thailand, automatically buying tickets and swiping cards to get in and out. Tram is a train type that rides on a separate track on the ground. In Istanbul, there is a special route under the sea, running from the Asian coast to the European coast for only 5 Lyra.
Turkey has a very good long-distance bus network, there are many types of buses with air-conditioning systems, reservation, and good service with many main routes. There are also several companies that operate buses with first class seats and premium service. Buses are often crowded, smoking is prohibited, and some buses even ban mobile phones.
Traveling by bus in Turkey is very convenient. Go to Otogar (bus station) in any major city, you will find buses going to most different places in half an hour or an hour.
Another alternative is Fez Bus. This is a bus system that connects Istanbul to all the famous places in western Turkey, some of which are not on the tourist route. Fez Bus main office in Istanbul is located in Sultanahmet next to Orient Youth Hostel.
The cheapest way to getting around Istanbul is to use Istanbulkart – a travel card used for most types of public transport such as bus, tram, metro, public ferry (note, there are many types of ferry). This card can be purchased at most grocery stores around tourist areas (watch out for the Istanbulkart sign) or at ticket vending machines in front of train or bus stations. 1 card can be used for many people at the same time, so you only need to buy 1 card and then top-up more if travel a lot. More information about this pass you can find here: http://www.turkeytraveljournal.com/istanbulkart/
The card price is 10 TL and deposit 20 TL. (*Note that the purchased card cannot be returned or withdrawn.) Depending on your travel needs, you can top up your card at vending machines at metro stations. You just need to swipe your card at the entrance or exit gates at the metro station to get to the train platform (restricted area)
You should also get a map of metro and tram that is free and available at the stops. I went from the hotel near the old Atartuk airport to tourist attractions: Sultan Ahmet, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower which costs around ~ $4.5 for a distance of more than 10km. Going very fast, no traffic jams, cool air conditioning, sometimes I have to stand because there were no seats. In short, traveling in Istanbul is very simple and economical with metro and tram.
Most cities have airlines that operate domestic routes, with affordable prices, which convenient than bus, especially for long journeys. Tickets can be purchased at the concourses of the Istanbul domestic terminals or at the ticket offices of Turkish Airlines, Onur Air, Fly Air, Pegasus Airlines, etc. locally or buy online in advance.
To getting from Istanbul to Cappadocia you can take a night bus or take a flight. But travel by bus is too long which take 10-12 hours and ticket prices is not cheap compare airfare 60-120TL. While flight time is around 75 minutes with affordable price of around 160TL.
Taking train is usually cheap, but slower than the bus. Turkey has less than 11,000km of railway, so many cities and tourist attractions are not on the train route. Bus tickets include train tickets, no additional fees for boarding the bus.
Major cities and tourist attractions accessible by train from Istanbul are Edirne, Eskisehir, Denizli, Konya, Adana, Kayseri, Gaziantep, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Kars and Tatvan located on the shores of Lake Van.
Train tickets can be bought online, at stations, central post offices, travel agencies or from ticket vending machines, but quite rare when it usually located at main stations in big cities. It is recommended to book tickets in advance if you go in the summer or Friday, Sunday, before the religious holidays of this country.
Bicycle lanes are mostly absent, except for a few short routes – built primarily for sports, not traffic – along coastal boulevards or inner parks in big cities like Istanbul or Izmir. Another factor that makes riding a road bike even more difficult is that the terrain in Turkey is mostly hilly.
Turkey has two long walking routes, one of which is the famous Lycian Way, between Fethiye and Antalya, the other is the St. Paul trail, between Antalya and Yalvac up to the North in the Turkish Lake District. The eastern part of the Black Sea is covered with long hiking trails among the green steppes, several tour agents in the main cities in Turkey offer walking tours with vehicles in this area.
Turkey travel blog: What to eat?
Coming to Turkey, it is impossible not to mention Doner Kebab – a very famous traditional dish in Turkey. In the past, Turkey were nomadic tribes, so they often roasted meat to keep it longer, sandwiched with bread and vegetables, quite similar to today’s doner bread. In Turkey, there are doner sandwiches of lamb, beef and chicken… absolutely no pork because Muslim Turks do not eat pork. Chicken is marinated very delicious, soft, juicy. The beef is quite good, while the lamb is quite difficult to eat, maybe because I am not used to the taste of Turkey.
Simit is a snack that has been around since the 16th century. Tourist come and from Istanbul brought bagels to the city of Izmit. This place is the origin of the name Simit and turned it into a type of fast food. Today, simit is both eaten in breakfast and is a popular street food in Turkey. The simit circular bread is special thanks to its golden crispy crust and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Turkish people love yogurt, they consume more than 2 million tons of this food every year. Originating millennia ago from Central Asia, yogurt has been a popular dish in nomadic cultures. Today, yogurt can be eaten on its own, or added to soups or salads.
Turkish breakfast (Kahvalti) is very suitable for those who stay up late, get up early. Freshly baked bread with honey and kaymak (Turkish cream), marmalade spread, sheep’s milk butter, tomato, cucumber and olive oil are the best ingredients. However, each region has different variations. If you can continue to eat, try eggs with onions, green peppers and tomatoes.
This is a dessert that people from Central Asia brought to and gradually popularized in the land of the Ottoman Empire. However, the way of processing today is similar to that of Europeans. The current “baklava capital” is the city of Gaziantep, which is famous for its sweet pastries. Cake using dough with honey, milk, covered with pistachios looks that make it like a work of art.
Pide, also known as Turkish pizza, is flatbread, baked in a charcoal oven. The top of the cake has various ingredients such as sucuk (Turkish sausage), smoked beef or chopped lamb. In addition, the pide has added avocado and some vegetables. Restaurant chefs perfect this dish by adding an egg on top of the cake as it right comes out of the oven.
Turkish ice cream is unlike any other. The first impression is that the taste is especially natural, the cream is flexible and chewy than Gelato (Italian ice cream). The thickness of the ice cream comes from Orchis mascula root powder. Visitors when buying Maraş Dondurma ice cream can also enjoy the skillful performance of the salesman.
Appearing not only in Turkey but also popular from Poland to Japan, manti are traditional Turkish dumplings. The Italians call this ravioli, in Georgia it’s khinkali and the Turks fold them into manti plates. This dish served with fresh tart yogurt, drizzled with melted butter, sprinkled with chopped herbs and fish.
Dolma and sarma
Dolma is a dish consisting of rice and meat stuffed with peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, eggs and then stewed. Sarma has similar ingredients but is rolled with grape leaves or cabbage leaves. Both dishes go together in meals.
This is a simple dish cooked with stewed beans with tomato sauce that add more flavor to the dish. That is also the factor that makes kurufasulye different from thousands of other bean dishes.
Türk Kahvesi (Turkish Coffee)
Enjoying a cup of traditional Turkish coffee on the street of Taksim district in the early morning is a great experience for me. Unlike Vietnamese coffee, Turkish coffee has a slightly sour taste, very rich and especially when drinking to the bottom of the cup, you will see a layer of coffee powder residue because the Turkish people mix the coffee powder together, the coffee powder will settle below.
In additon traditional dishes above, you can try Turkish tea, especially raki is an alcoholic drink made of twice-distilled grapes and anise, the national drink of Turkey.
This is a famous chain of stores in Istanbul. The ice cream desserts, juices are delicious. In addition, they also serve savory dishes, pizza with quite large sizes, a meal costs about $9, quite full. The shop has a nice view, cozy, the service staff is very nice, well dressed.
Chain of specialty sweets shops Turkish Delight: The chain gathering famous Turkish brands, traditional Turkish confectionery and sweets. My favorite is Turkish Chocolate, very cheap and delicious.
Some good restaurant you should try:
- In Istanbul: Adora Restaurant, Gulhane Sark Sofrasi, Old Ottoman Café & Restaurant, Zukeyir Ocakbasi, Medi Sark Sofrasi, Taksim Bahcivan, Falafel House, Pepo Café & Restaurant, Vezenan, Galata fish sandwich.
- In Cappadocia: Pumpkin Goreme Restaurant & Art Gallery, Topdeck Cave Restaurant, Omurca Art Cave Café, Anatolian Kitchen, Kale Terrasse Restaurant, Dibek, Comlek Restaurant, Tandir Café Restaurant, No:10 Restaurant, Efe Restaurant.
Turkey blog: Where to go?
If you compare Turkey with European countries, it is obvious that this country is not distinguished by its richness and modernity. However, you will be amazed with the rich natural landscape along with ancient ruins and architecture here.
Sultan in Islam means king. This area was formerly the palace of the Turkish kings, now is the center of the old town in Istanbul, located on the west bank, concentrating many famous attractions.
Blue Mosque was built by Sultan Almed I in the 16th century. Inside the mosque, the walls are covered with blue stone with colorful glass windows. When it’s time to pray, Muslims sit inside and outside of the mosque is packed. Tourists want to visiting here must follow strict dress codes to enter: Women must wear a scarf, pants or long skirt (there is a free borrow area), men must wear long pants. All must take off their shoes when entering the mosque.
Hagia Sophia Mosque (also known as Aya Sofia) was built from 537 to 537 and was used as a mosque until it was turned into a museum as wee see today. For just $15 an entry ticket, visitors can set foot in what was once the largest mosque in the world for nearly a millennium. Imprinted with Byzantine architecture, Hagia Sophia makes a strong impression on visitors when entering the main hall, with a huge dome creating a feeling of overwhelming. Hagia Sophia Mosque is located about 100 meters from the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia is famous for its unique, magnificent, spectacular architecture, formerly a mosque and now becomes a museum.
Formerly a fortress of Turkey, located on the Asian coast and is the tallest structure on the Asian coast. From the top of tower, you can have a panoramic view of the city of Istanbul and the Bosphorus strait connecting the two continents of Asia – Europe.
The suspension bridge bears many historical marks of the world and of Turkey. With more than 1,500m long and 39m wide, the bridge with 6 lanes, every day witnesses people back and forth from Asia to Europe and vice versa. When flying to Europe with Turkish Airlines and transiting in Istanbul for 6 hours or more, you will enjoy a free city Tour – visit the most famous attractions or enjoy a river cruise tour through the Bosphoros Strait, seeing the bridge at night when it brightly lights up.
For shopping lovers, the Grand Bazaar is a must-visit place in Istanbul because it is one of the oldest and most famous markets in the world. Opened in 1461, the Grand Bazaar has witnessed nearly 6 centuries of ups and downs of Istanbul and is a place where shoppers can shop everything that a market can offer, as well as get them at surprisingly cheap prices if you know how to “bargain”.
Open from 9 am to 7 pm every day except Sunday, the Grand Bazaar attracts more than 250,000 visitors a day and is like a miniature city with eateries, fountains and even mosques. Inside this large market are about 5,000 stalls and divided into many zones with different types of products. Tourists can find everything from spices, coins, clothes to leather goods, carpets or jewelry.
Taksim area is considered as the heart of modern Istanbul with squares and walking streets filled with bustling shops, restaurants, cafes or even hotels. Tourists can find famous foreign fast food brands, diverse clothing stores, travel agencies, bars or even top 5-star hotels in this area.
Taksim’s nightlife is especially bustling when the large pedestrian street is always bustling with thousands of people even after midnight because of the attraction from fragrant restaurants or nightclubs with vibrant music. This is also the place where a large number of Istanbul residents gather on special occasions such as Independent Day or New Year’s Eve.
Dolmabahce Palace is known by as the “Versailles of Istanbul” thanks to its magnificent architecture. Dolmabahce impresses right from the location when it is located on the shore of Bosphorus Strait – which separates Istanbul into two areas located in Europe and Asia.
Built in the 19th century with 14 tons of gold leaf, the palace is considered the most beautiful in Turkey is a blend of traditional Ottoman architecture with European style. Not only was the residence of 6 Sultans (Kings) in the period from 1856 to 1924, Dolmabahce Palace also owns the world’s largest Bohemia crystal chandeliers given by Queen Victoria.
Topkapi was once recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site thanks to its historical stature as well as its unique beauty. This palace was built in the 15th century and served as the residence of the Sultans for approximately 400 years during the most prosperous period of the Ottoman Empire (1465-1856). Because of that, this palace complex is extremely large and can be a shelter for 4000 people.
In the early 20th century, the Turkish government used it as an office before turning Topkapi into a museum. Tourists will not only be impressed by the masive scale of the palace, but also have the opportunity to witness firsthand historical artifacts such as the weapons of the Sultans, collections of watches or precious jewelry from the Ottoman period.
Yerebatan Cistern (Subterranean Palace)
Istanbul owns a most magnificent subterranean palace, Yerebatan Cistern. Residents living here often hear the murmuring stream of the underground stream, but no one suspected that it was not until the 60s of the last century when archaeologists discovered a huge underground palace. Coming here, you will find the colors in the palace somewhat fanciful and a moment overwhelmed when you see the statue of the imprisoned Snakehead Goddess (Medusa) in upside-down position.
Princes’ Islands of Adalar
The Prince’s Islands consists of a cluster of 9 islands in the Marmara Sea, Southeastern Istanbul and is a popular summer destination for tourists. Contrary to the hustle and bustle of the city, the means of transportation on these islands are bicycles or horse-drawn carriages, bringing a peaceful setting.
After reaching these islands (usually the four big islands of Buyukada, Kinaliada, Burgazada or Heybeliada) by public boat or ferry, tourists can relax by taking a scenic walk or swimming in the sea. The best time to visit this archipelago is in summer because the harsh winter weather makes the area almost empty of tourists.
Located about 800 km (1 hour and 45 minutes of flying) from Istanbul, Cappadocia is known as the most beautiful hot air balloon viewing place in the world. Cappadocia is favored by nature with a unique landscape with many rocks and stone columns in weird shapes like mushrooms protruding from the ground. Everything here is made of stone: stone bridges, churches in stone caves, houses in caves, stone utensils. One of the famous tourist attractions here is the underground city of Kaymakli.
Izmir is located about 500km (1 hour and 30 minutes of flying) from Istanbul. If Istanbul is a crowded and bustling city, Izmir is a peaceful and clean seaside resort city. The beaches in Izmir is open to tourists during the summer months from April to July, which is also the peak season with the most crowded of visitors. I highly recommend traveling to Izmir in October when the weather is cold but still sunny. The people here are friendly, hospitable do not entice tourists, also do not scam. About 2 hours by car from Izmir, you will reach the village of Alacati – a little Greece in the heart of Turkey. The village is famous for its windmills, laterite houses, decorated with plants and fresh flowers, so lovely.
Antalya is known as the “Tourist Paradise” of Turkey with its long beaches, white sand, blue water and 5-star luxury resorts and hotels. Entertainment activities in Antalya are very diverse and classy, so the cost of traveling in Antalya is extremely expensive. Every year, here organizes a large-scale golf tournament, gathering famous golfers as well as wealthy business owners and directors.
Is the capital of Turkey and the second largest city of this country, after Istanbul. Ankara is located in the center of Turkey and the central of Anatolia Peninsula. It has attractions such as Anitkabir Museum, Ethnography Museum of Ankara, Ankara Painting and Sculpture Museum…
The city is located in the Asian part of the Marmara region. Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire, and the 4th largest city in Turkey after Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. It is famous for its beaches, pistachio nuts and textile industry.
The village of Alacati
Just about 2km from the city of Izmir. This is one of the tourist attractions in Turkey. A picturesque Greek village in Turkey. The village of Alacati is located in the central Aegean. Many visitors come here just to take a slow walk through the village, to see the beautiful architecture. You can chat with locals, learn about daily life or enjoy traditional food. Not only exploring the city, you can also participate in windsurfing on the Mediterranean coast.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pamukkale is located in the Manderes River valley in Deniz Province, Turkey. These are strange lakes lying on the cliffs, made up of calcium bocarbonate compounds in spring water that have accumulated over thousands of years, creating pure white limestone patches. There are about 17 hot springs with temperatures ranging from 35 to 100 degrees Celsius in this area. Many people often come here to bathe in hot springs because they believe that it can help treat diseases such as rheumatism, circulation, exhaustion, skin disorders, etc. It’s also a photogenic spot for virtual living photos.
A city in Eastern Thrace, northwestern Turkey. This city can be your starting or last point in Turkey depending on your travel itinerary, as it is located on the junction of 3 countries Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. The city has Selimiye Mosque, Arasta Mosque, Eski Cami Ancient Mosque and several other landmarks.
A city in Central Anatolia Peninsula, is a city famous for Seljuk architecture, once the capital of the Sultanate of Rum, the hometown of the great poet – Islamic thinker Rumi. Konya has still well-preserved many Islamic architecture as well as famous landmarks such as Mevlana Museum, Ince Minare Museum…
Referring to the attractive places of Turkey, it is impossible not to mention the ancient city of Ephesus. It was an ancient Greek city. Here, you can learn and discover the ancient cultural and historical values of Turkey. If you are interested in archeology or ancient features, then you will be able to explore the ruins left over from the Roman and Greek times such as the temple of Artemis, the terraced houses with unique architecture or visit world famous Celsus library,…
As you probably know, Turkey is famous for its large monasteries with strange architecture. Therefore, you cannot ignore Sumela Monastery which is located on the high cliffs of Trabzon province. Anytime you will see Sumela Monastery with an ancient, mossy and mysterious beauty hidden and appearing in the dense fog. The monastery is a massive structure with 72 rooms, the brick walls are carved with religious paintings. In addition, conquering the mountain road to reach the monastery is also a great experience.
Turkey blog: What to buy?
Leather clothing: Turkey oten is mentioned as the largest producer of leather goods in the world, so the quality and price of leather clothing is very good and reasonable. When you come to Istanbul, you can visit the shops specializing in leather goods in Beyazit, Laleli or Mahmutpasa to buy.
- Cosmetics: Turkish perfumes, beauty products extracted from Olives, … because olive oil in Turkey is outstanding quality.
- Handmade products: Ceramics, porcelain vases, antique plates with decorative patterns or colorful stone stripes are delicately and skillfully made. The handmade blankets and rugs are hand-woven and decorated simply but very delicate, with eye–catching colors.
- Turkish Evil Eye Amulets: Are amulets that bring good luck often attached to earrings, bracelets, necklaces. You can easily see dark blue round amulets of various sizes attached to chains, key chains, etc. which are sold in tourist areas, markets or souvenir shops.
- Apple tea: This is a famous Turkish beverage, with a sweet and sour taste of natural apple flavor, so it is very special and safe.
- Pine honey: Very special and famous in Marmaris, a specialty of Turkey.
- Pistachio nuts cake made from syrup: Unique cake with strange delicious taste. But you have to go to Bursa and find the cake where pistachio strees grow at the foot of Uladag mountain.
- Turkish traditional textiles
- Sweets: Turkey famous for its candies with the famous Turkish Delight brand.
It’s best to buy souvenirs in Istanbul, diversity in goods, affordable. Some best places to shopping in Istanbul are: Istanbul Forum, Mammara Forum, Florya Forum, Misir Carsisi spices market, Grand Bazaar.
Turkey travel blog: Where to stay?
Accordinn to my experience you should not book a hostel in Turkey because the hostels here are cheap, but generally not very clean and safe.
Hotels in Turkey have a lot of rooms for 4 people (which is hard to find in any other tourist destinations in Europe).
Turkey blog: Suggested Turkey travel itinerary for 9 days 8 nights
To fully explore the beauty of this beautiful country, you should spend at least 2 weeks. Because it is adjacent to many countries, in addition to self-sufficient Turkish tours, you can combine to visit neighboring countries such as Greece, Iran, Iraq, Cyprus… Below, I will suggested a Turkey itinerary for 9D8N for you refer to.
Day 1: Getting from Vietnam to Istanbul, Turkey
Day 2: City of Istanbul
- Old town of Sultanahmet in downtown of Istanbul
- Topkapi Palace
- Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque)
- Hagia Sophia Museum
- Dolmabahce Palace
- Old spices market Msir Casisi
Day 3: Canakkale Town – Kusadasi City
- Town of Canakkale: Ancient Citadel of Troy – Temple of Athena – Ancient Roman Citadel of Pergamon – Ancient Hospital Asklepion
- Kusadasi City: Aegean Beach – Temple of Artemis – House of the Virgin Mary – Basilica Of Saint John
Day 4: Kusadasi City – Pamukkale City
- Kusadasi City: Library of Celsus – Hadrian’s Temple – Marble Street – Agora Street
- Pamukkale City: Cotton Castle – Hot Springs
Day 5: Konya City
- Mevlana Museum
- The ancient hotel Caravanserai
- The Museum of Mevlana Celaleddin-I Rumi
- Mevlana Monastery
Day 6: Cappadocia City
- Experience flying hot air balloons
- Explore underground cities in stone caves.
- Goreme Open Air Museum
Day 7 + 8: Back to explore Istanbul
- Subterranean Cistern” or “Subterranean Palace”
- Dolmabahce Palace
- Strait of Bosphorus
- Grand Bazaar
Day 9: Fly back to Vietnam
Turkey blog: Traveling costs
- Because Turkey is located on both Eurasian continents, many people often think that traveling to Europe is very expensive. However, excluding the costs of air tickets and hotels, the remaining costs including transportation, dining, and shopping in Turkey are very cheap. Turkish food is more expensive than in Thailand, but shopping for candies or nuts (Turkey is famous for its healthy nuts like walnuts, almonds, pachitos, raisins, etc.) is about the same. The Turkish currency is Turkish Lira, $1 ~ 8.731 TL, fluctuating from time to time. A KFC meal here costs about 20-25 USD for 1 person, very full.
- The cost for a 9 days 8 nights tour to Turkey that departing from Vietnam costs aroundn ~ 1.300 – 1.500 USD, equivalent a trip to Japan. I think if you plan for a self-sufficient trip, you can save a little more.
- Here is a summary of some of the mandatory costs:
- Air tickets: If you can hunt cheap tickets, you will spend about 650 – 700 USD.
Visa fee: 45 USD for E-visa or 60 USD for stamped visa.
Hotel: 30 USD/night/room. The peak season is April and May, the price will be higher.
Traveling cost: 10 USD/day by metro or public transport.
Food: 25 USD/day is a relatively adequate and acceptable meal.
- Turkey travel blog: Some notes before you go
- You should prepare a wifi transmitter or buy a phone sim first at home (or if it is convenient to buy it at the airport). Because wifi in Turkey is very poor from public places to hotels. And if you buy a sim at shops, you have to pay at very high price. We went to the telecom company to buy it, the staff knew that we were tourists, so they introduced a very expensive sim package that is different from the reviews I’ve read online.
- Taxis in Turkey usually do not carry passengers in case if you want to ride a short distance, or intentionally press the wrong meter, so you need to check carefully before it runs.
- Turkish men are often very easy to express their feelings, they like Asian women and often show it right away such as giving flowers, inviting out to eat, sometimes knocking on your hotel room doors. Women should not take a taxi alone or go out alone. However, that are just warnings from some other people, nothing happens during my trip, I feel the security and safety in Turkey is quite good.
- Not everyone can adapt to Turkish food prepared in Islamic way… has a very specific taste, quite strong. I ate Turkish food for 4 consecutive days, on the last day I really couldn’t stand it, scared of the taste of Turkish food. You should bring your own food.
- Exchanging Euro/USD at gold shops or exchange counters run by local people is much more better than exchange counters at the airport. Withdrawing money from ATMs will be charged a quite high fee.
- Make the most of your bargaining power when shopping at bazaar markets! Just pay from 1/3 and then move up. Of course, bargaining in peace and fun, it is also considered an experience.
- And finally, shopping in Turkey is extremely good. Due to the devaluation of the currency, with big brands such as Zara, H&M, Mango… you can choose many products for just under 50 USD. Or the famous and delicious Turkish chocolates, with varying degrees of bitterness (cacao percentage) from 40 to 80% for only $1 or more. Be prepared to spend a lot of money to bring back a lot.
Are you looking for more top things to do in Istanbul: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here. And Istanbul guide here.