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Eastern Turkey- Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Tarsus

My wife and I ( active 70 year olds) are planning a trip to Eastern Turkey, primarily to visit the aforementioned places ( our interests are mostly historical and biblical sites) .
Most organized tours seem rushed ( one night in each place) and many start in Istanbul covering sites we have already seen more than once. Only one from Fez Travels covers all the bases but does spend 3 of the 9 days in Istanbul and Cappadocia, again a duplication of previous trips.
Would renting a car and doing it unescorted from Cappadocia be an option, in terms of safety ? Are public transport options available. Our plans would be to cover the Cappadocia to Tarsus/ Adana section in about 2 weeks then fly to Antalya for a week of relaxation and local touring, before flying home.
The quoted cost for the 9 day tour nets out at just over $400 Canadian per day for the two of us, including hotel, transport and some meals, which seems a little pricy but acceptable. But I am more concerned with avoiding the inevitable “ wake up at 6:30, luggage out at 7, on the bus by 8” schedule that is the norm for most tour companies.
I have travelled solo in several third world countries, so I am well prepared for a little rough living, I realize that Eastern Turkey is a far cry from Istanbul/ Ankara but is it really too remote and risky to do it independently.
Time wise we are considering May 2023 and a total trip length of 18-24 days

Posted by
2314 posts

I may be a victim of the news media but when I see 'Gaziantep' what leaps to mind are Syrian refugees and third-party mercenary meddlers -- have you checked out recent news of how things are going there?

Posted by
223 posts

Oh how funny, when I see Gaziantep, I think, “gastronomy capital of Turkey”! How brilliant. It is the one city I really wish I had visited for the culinary history known for baklava, kunefe, lachaman and their special spicy kebabs.

Antalya was as close as I came. Do look at intercity flights. They are incredibly cheap, like $25 Kayseri to Antalya on Turkish airlines or Pegasus. Drew Binky on YouTube does some good vlogs on the areas/towns you’re traveling to.

Posted by
15 posts

iNteresting comment for Gazientep being mentioned as a Refugee exploitation area. So that leaves me two options- Invite Greg Abbott along to show them how it's done or just base my trip on Nogales, AZ instead! Just America's Ganzientep, sans mosaics!

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you to the last poster. I was reacting tongue in cheek to the first posters comments. Having travelled in many countries that get “Dire Warnings” from US Government agencies about “safety” while having some of the highest crime levels in the Northern hemisphere is a source of endless amusement to me.
Having been in Turkey at various times of conflict, I think we’ll take our chances. The suggestion of internal flights does make sense, although it is years since I’ve done it. I have, since posting found a 5 day tour that covers my preferred destinations so I’ll probably go that route.
Just a final question- balloon rides in Cappadocia- safe? worth doing? Recommended suppliers?
Thank You everyone.