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Best of Turkey May 2016

This was a fantastic tour, to say the least. Our tour was led by Yaren Turkoglu. She is an excellent, competent tour guide who works with the Rick Steves Turkey partner, SRM Travel. Her professional expertise in art history and Turkey's archaeology, along with her personal history and political involvement in Istanbul--all of which she shared openly and passionately with the tour group--added significant depth and detail to our understanding and appreciation of Turkey.

If you've thought about doing the Istanbul or Turkey tours, now is a good time to go. A strong exchange rate (3 Lyra to 1 Dollar) means meals, transport, and goods are quite affordable. Minimal presence of tourists due to recent events means little competition to see major sites. It also means hotels, restaurants and shops seem practically empty. Everywhere we went, locals were glad to see us and welcomed us eagerly.

If you're concerned about safety, I think you need not be worried. Rick Steves altered the tour this year to avoid locations that might present a higher risk--we did not go up to Taksim Square in Istanbul and skipped over Ankara. Also, our guide altered her approach to reduce exposure to possible risks. All of us felt completely safe during the entire tour. And the security at Turkey's airports is quite good--unlike North American airports, they use a two-stage security check, requiring everyone who enters the airport terminal to pass through security so that there are no unsecured zones in the airport.

I'm quite glad I went and would encourage you to go, too!

Posted by
7209 posts

We went to Istanbul on our own and had a great time. I wouldn't hesitate to go back.

Posted by
7050 posts

I totally agree with you - Turkey is amazing, understated, and a great value for your money. The only RS tour I've taken was called "Village Turkey" (mostly along southwest coast) and it was led by Lale and Yaren back in 2011. At the time, Yaren was an assistant guide to Lale. I'm so happy to know she's now leading her own tours. She was incredibly knowledgeable on all the archeological sites, as well as a very personable, sweet and caring person. It's great you were all in good hands. I've been to Turkey three times now and had no problems on my own. I'd also highly recommend Turkish Air - great airline and never cost me more than $670 to get to Istanbul from DC round-trip. I do hope to go to Ankara someday, as well as the southeast all the way to Armenia...I'm really sad that even Ankara is considered a questionable visit choice now.