If you're flying out to Turkey this summer then here are a few handy hints to help you keep your wallet intact while ensuring that you get the perfect holiday.
Now this not a definitive guide to Turkey and everyone is subject to their own opinions but I’m going to put forward my ten tips to enjoy Turkey to its full potential. This was my first time to Marmaris and Turkey and had it not been for my girlfriend who was travelling with me, I would have fallen at each of these hurdles.
So hopefully this might help any of you before your ‘Turkish Delight’! (sorry for the pun).
1.) Buy bottled water in the UK Airport Departure Lounge.
If you have been to Turkey before you will know how hot it can be out there (it reached 47*C in July), particularly if you have a 2 hour transfer from e.g. Dalaman Airport to Marmaris. I bought two 2L bottles of water in the UK for approximately £3.50. After your flight and a few stressful hours you will most probably be more dehydrated than you realise. In the Turkish Airport a 500ml bottled water was priced at 10Turkish Lira (TL), that’s roughly £4.50!
You might be too tired to realise how expensive this is at the time, especially if you’re trying to convert currency in your head and it’s only day 1 of your holiday.
Your UK bottled water should see you through to your hotel destination, where you can then buy a 5L bottle of water, for only 1-2TL (approx. 60p).
2.) Turkish Lira or Great British Pounds?
Both currencies are used extensively at the market and many restaurant outlets. It is cheaper to use GBP but we’re only talking about savings of, for example, 20pence on a 3course meal. I only took Turkish lira and had no problem however don’t forget you will need a £10 note to pay for a visa upon entering Turkey at the airport.
3.) The ‘Genuine Fake’
Henleys, Bench, Abercrombie and Fitch, Adidas… the list of t-shirts you will see in markets and in clothes shop with brand names on is endless. You will see many shops advertising for example 4 T-Shirts for £10/25TL. 4 Branded T-shirst for only £10? You’re now thinking, they must be fake. Well to put it rather confusingly, they are not genuine but they are certainly not fake. The lack of genuine branding rests with the fact that they do not have the official label on the inside of the t-shirt which is applied after the t-shirt is manufactured. The t-shirt material, the finish of the printing and durability of the t-shirt is designer quality. So if you’re not worried about a label that no one can see, you can actually purchase good, quality t-shirts for cheap prices. Football tops, Motorsport Jackets etc. however generally are the fake item and the ‘genuine fake’ really only applies to t-shirts.
4.) Negotiate, Barter, Haggle like your life depends on it.
After spotting that obviously fake Ferrari Jacket or those A+F hoodies you’ve always wanted. You’ll want to know what the price is. This is usually after the shop owner or market seller has persuaded you to try it on and who gives an oscar-nominating performance of your new look, saying how much you look like Fernando Alonso or when did Jordan come into the shop? Now the rule of thumb is: Whatever price they tell you initially you should, with some persuasive talk, be able to half it. I bought a rather flashy (and fake) McLaren F1 Team Jacket for only 50TL down from 110TL. If sellers aren’t willing to haggle for an extra 5/10TL, don’t buy it then and there (the most likely outcome is that they will not want to lose a sale and will settle for 5/10TL less). If they don’t go for that option and you really want the item, come back later and see if you can get that last couple of TL off. If sellers don’t haggle on the price AT ALL, simply don’t buy it.
5.) Turkish Delight. Don’t buy it, pre-packaged in the shops.
It might be 5 boxes for 10TL/£4.50, but you’ll only get the standard flavours for a set price. Visit the town markets, which usually happen once a week. Here you will be able to taste every flavour possible (which can be a good or bad thing, depending on what flavour) before you buy, you will be able to select different flavours for your box or boxes to tailor to your taste buds and… as mentioned in the above point… you’ll be able to haggle. The cost is usually much cheaper than the pre-packaged stuff anyway and it tastes much nicer. However, if it’s buy 3large boxes get a small box free, see if you can get it upgraded to a medium or even a large, for any plausible reason you can give!
6.) Restaurant/Food Prices. Where do you eat? What’s the best place to go to?
You will probably find yourself swamped by the number of restaurants in and around your resort. You’ll also be amazed at the deals every restaurant uses to get you into their establishment. Free Turkish Meze before your main meal. Free Ice Cream afterwards. Any chicken dish for X TL. Any Pasta/Pizza dish for X TL. Very simply, food in most outlets in Marmaris is lovely. Some places excel themselves but wherever you go you’ll be paying something around the 17TL/£6.99 mark for 3 courses. The best criteria to chose a restaurant to eat in is really the restaurant environment and the drinks prices; these can vary a lot and after a hot day by the pool, can either cost or save you a lot of money and stress.
7.) Do you really need air conditioning in your room?
Unless AC is included in your hotels accommodation price, do you actually need it? The hotel I was in charged £25/60TL a week(!) for AC. Generally you will be outside sun-bathing or in the pool during the day, eating out/clubbing in the evening so the only time you may feel the need for AC is at night time. So if you’re like me and on a budget, I found alternatives to help keep me cool, such as using no sheets to go to bed with and also I would put my hotel towel under the freezing cold shower before I went to bed and would place it on top of me while I slept. Primitive…yes, cheap…yes and also unsurprisingly, nice and cold.
8.) Before your flight home, make sure you feed yourself to the brim (almost)
As a young, male adult, eating is not a problem for me however it’s more the cost of eating that poses me a problem. On the day of your flight home make sure you eat well before you get to the airport. If you have an early morning or late night flight, dinner will cost you approx. 17TL/£6.99 as previously stated. If you have a late morning or afternoon flight, a full English breakfast at the resort will cost you 3TL/£1.50. This will fill you up.
Turkish Airport food prices start at 25TL for a regular sized Burger King meal. That’s almost £11, double what you would pay in the UK for a large meal! This will not really fill you up… but it will lighten your wallet.
9.) Talk to everyone
Shop owners, restaurant staff and day-trip organisers will talk to you wherever you go in Turkey and whoever you are. My advice is very simple; talk to everyone, at least once anyway. You will be able to wheedle out who is genuinely interested in you, your holiday and your experience of Turkey from those who are doing it solely to make money from a tourist attraction. The locals have the knowledge, they know where’s good to eat out, where to have a good night, what day-trips are worth going on, how much things should cost, if you require something where to get it from etc. I very much want to go back to Turkey, my main reason for this, is because of the people I met out there. Making new friends is great for everyone, for example, my good friends, the restaurant owner and staff, would give us great deals on food and drink. We got very cheap cocktails. They reserved a table for us in front of the TV for the world cup final. They made sure that they had the TV on so that I was able to watch the Formula 1 race. One of the staff’s uncle ran a day boat trip with free inclusive drinks and food, and the boat was not over crowded unlike some boats we saw departing, for a very good price. One of the staff’s cousin set us up for a Jeep Safari, Buggy Safari and Night Boat trip for £20, which was extremely good value for money! Most of the local people are there to make sure you have a great time and come back…so relax!
10.) Have fun
It’s a very simple point. There’s so much to do and for every type of person; buggy-driving, relaxing Turkish baths, laying by the pool, swimming in the sea…etc. It’s not a hard point to follow. After all, I don’t like to say this but…it could be a whole year until you go back to Turkey. So get the most out of it before you have to come back home and work!
Please feel free to leave any comments or ask any questions!