|Arrival & customs – You need to purchase a Turkish visa when you arrive in Istanbul. You’ll need $65 US, in cash. The visa line forms just before you go thru immigration, and is easy to spot. You need the visa before you get in the other line to go through and collect your luggage.
Once you have your luggage, follow the exit signs. Customs is simple, there’s a list of non-allowed items, but you’re not likely to have them, so just use the green gate. If you’re part of a group, this is where someone will meet you as you come out, and they’ll take you to our hotel. Otherwise just go to the ground transportation area to find a taxi into town.
Most meters don’t work so agree on a price beforehand. From airport to Istanbul, either
Sultanahmed or Taksim should cost about $15-25 depending on your bargaining skillsDaily Travelo As a rule, we drink bottled water; it’s cheap and easily available. Other drinks include soft drinks, beer, juices and ayran (a yogurt drink).o We use a van and driver / guide to allow easier access and scheduling when we have small groups. We’ve also driven in rental cars and with Turkish friends,. Turkish buses are clean, modern, air conditioned and very comfortable. The caravansaries of old are now truck & bus stops along the major highways. A group van is handy, so you can carry things you may not want to take hiking, and leave some things in the van. The driver will always be there to watch it.
o Our hotels should be good and complete. Air conditioning is standard in Istanbul and along the coast (it’s not needed in Cappadocia). Hair dryers are usually present. Be sure to carry adapters and transformers if you bring electrical items like battery chargers. An extension cord is useful and can be found in hardware stores in Istanbul
o A typical day will start with breakfast at the hotel between 7 and 8. We’ll start from the hotel between 8 and 10, depending on the itinerary. There’ll be a break for lunch, usually at a local restaurant around noon; sometimes a picnic of local fresh foods and specialties. We’ll be back or arrive at the hotel between 3 and 6 on most days, and supper will be around 7-7:30.
o ATM are common and you can easily get Turkish lira with a debit or cash advance card. Changing money at the airport ATM is fine; we’ve found the rate there to be reasonable. even with the fees, the exchange rate is better than using foreign banks, and MUCH better than getting cash at US banks before your trip
o Credit Cards are commonly accepted for large items, such as carpets, but be careful that a reasonable rate of exchange is listed, and be prepared to bargain.
o Now that ATM are so common, we no longer carry Travelers Checks, but you may wish to have them for security. They can be more of a hassle to cash, but in some cases (again, carpet sellers) they are preferred since it becomes a cash transaction. Since they cost the seller more, you usually get a poor rate of exchange.
o Cash – US one dollar bills are easily accepted and often preferred because of inflation. Bazaars, markets, street vendors readily accept dollars, and dollars can be handy for a quick tip if you’re on your own, for taxi fare, etc.
o Make a copy of your passport and keep it separate from your other traveling papers. It’s also handy to have copies of your credit cards, airline tickets, etc.
o Theft isn’t a major problem; just be careful as you would in any major city. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are the biggest problem, especially in the markets or on public transportation. Just be alert. I usually carry my walkin’ around money loose in a front pocket; some more is in my wallet, and the rest stored in locked luggage or a moneybelt. Nothing’s more attractive to pickpockets than seeing a tourist partially disrobe to get a few dollars out of a concealed moneybelt!
In spring and early fall, the weather should be warm and getting warmer as we move down the coast. We can hike in shorts, but skirt or long pants are suggested in Istanbul. Take swimsuits, although the ocean is going to be cool. Bring a small towel. Some of the hotels have pools, but we’ve found these are usually cool, too.
o Low, hiking or walking shoes are sufficient, no need for heavy boots.
o A small, flat rubber stopper is helpful for washing clothes in the hotel sinks.