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Travel tip: Why we will never use a taxi in Istanbul again

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Yes a taxi will be extremely tempting when you FINALLY step out of customs at the airport! Being hot, overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle, along with multiple sales men hungry for you to use their transport makes anyone want to give in and take the EASY route. But how much are you willing to SPEND?!

The first time we arrived in Istanbul we were THOSE people. So, after pushing away a shuttle sales man that literally grabbed my arm, we ignored all advice and jumped in a taxi. Fortunately, our first experience with a taxi travelling from Ataturk airport to our accommodation near Galata Tower went smoothly. However, this is not NORMAL!

Massive queue for customs at SAW airport, Istanbul

Massive queue for customs at SAW airport, Istanbul

Why we will never use a taxi in Istanbul again

The only other (and last ever!!) time that we caught a taxi was from our accommodation near Taksim Square to SAW airport at 3.30am.

The taxi driver spoke little English, got up to speeds of 170kms per hour, and of course there were no seat belts available. Upon arrival to the airport he then ignored the metre and asked for a much higher amount of money, saying something about toll road fees (in very simple English). We refused, and agreed to pay 110 Lira (a little more than what the metre read which was already extremely pricey!).

So, I handed over a 100 Lira note along with a 10 Lira note. Being 4am, I thought I was paying attention but of course also felt almost drunk due to tiredness. So when the driver said I had underpaid and held up a 20 and a 10 Lira note – I WAS CONFUSED! Problem is, Moss trusted the taxi drivers word and assumed I had handed over the wrong amount. But, having only withdrawn cash the night before, I knew that 100 Lira was now missing from my wallet.

What was the result? Well we were fooled by the taxi driver’s magic trick of turning a 100 Lira note into a 20 Lira and had to dig money out of Moss’s wallet. Plus to make matters worse, we caught up with a friend a few weeks later, only to learn that he had the EXTACT same trick done to him.

Tip: If you do HAVE to catch a taxi, then pay the driver by counting the money out loud into their open hands

Cheapest way to travel from Ataturk Airport to Istanbul Central

If you are travelling on a budget and would rather spend 8 Lira per person in order to get to or from Ataturk airport, then we recommend catching the metro/tramway from Ataturk Airport to Istanbul central.

Once you have made your way out from customs, keep an eye out for the METRO/TRAMWAY signs. The signs will instruct you to go down a few floors within the airport. In order to enter the tram platforms you will need to purchase a token. The token is an orange plastic coin, and can be purchased for 4 Lira from a machine as shown in the image below.

Tip: Depending on how far your journey is you will probably need two tokens (orange coins) per person. Therefore to save hunting down a machine later, buy two tokens at the airport.

Istanbul ticket machine

Tips for using the trams in Istanbul:

– Each tram costs a flat fee of 4 lira per person, no matter how far you are riding it.
– Some stations are located in the middle of the road.
– There are token machines at each station. However you may need to look around for them as the pay stations are sometimes only located on one side of the road.
– Once you have inserted your 4 lira you will be issued an orange plastic coin which will give you entry to the stations platform.
– In order to get from Ataturk Airport to old Istanbul (The Grand Bazaar and Blue Mosque etc) you will need to get three trams costing a total of 8 lira per person.

Istanbul Network Map

Tips for using buses in Istanbul:

– Buy your ticket before boarding the bus
– Apparently there is a bus that runs from Taksim to SAW airport, and it would be a lot cheaper than our taxi experience!

Other forms of transport are also available:

– Shuttles are supposedly cheaper than taxis.
– Car service’s such as Blacklane Limos are also another option. For a traveller on a budget, they are fairly pricey, however due to everything being prebooked and prepaid online, they were hassle free and our driver was waiting for us at the arrivals gate.

Blacklane Limos

Blacklane Limos

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the Blacklane Limos car service, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

Since May 2014, Rebecca has been wearing out her jandals. She loves anything that involves the ocean whether it be scuba diving, wakeboarding, jet skiing or more recently - sailing! Consider following her via RSS Feed, Twitter and Facebook.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Ali

    October 29, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    I have had a few bad encounters with taxi drivers myself… I was physically assaulted by one in Indonesia for refusing to pay waaay more than the metre read!

    • Rebecca Barlow

      October 30, 2014 at 8:22 PM

      Jeepers that is terrible! I hope you didn’t get too badly hurt 🙂

  2. abdul

    December 6, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    Be careful with taxi’s and auto’s if you are visiting India… but now that problem is solved a little bit with online booking… I am not a traveller but i had lot of trouble with these people..

  3. Frank Bauer

    February 22, 2015 at 11:05 PM

    I find the public transport system in Istanbul somewhat confusing and not sure I would take it from Ataturk. Certainly not if it is your first visit. I would recommend preordering a car online before from a webiste that shows you the price in EUR. I did that and it work very well. You then know for sure what you are going to pay.

  4. Tiina

    May 12, 2015 at 10:55 PM

    Sounds familiar.. I was living one whole year in Turkey so I’ve seen my share of it 😀 When we were visiting Istanbul and trying to find our way to the center from the bus station, we were scam-attacked from every direction. Luckily at this point we had been living there already most of our year, so we were no strangers to the ways. At the end we believed the guy that had the most convincing story and we were able to find our way (without a taxi) to the center.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated and they are cities on our list to visit again once the Coronavirus allows. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy and we want to change that after Coronavirus. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them to learn about while stuck at home due to Coronavirus:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

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Adventure Travel

3 Tips For A Luxury Camping Experience

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If you are used to travelling in style and staying in high end hotels, camping is probably your idea of hell. Why would you spend a week sitting in a freezing cold tent, hiding from the rain when you could be relaxing around the pool in a nice hotel? But camping gives you a completely different travel experience and if you do it right, it can be very rewarding. If you invest in the right equipment, you can enjoy all of the good things about camping without any of the downsides. If you follow these simple tips, you will have a comfortable experience and fall in love with camping.

Image From Pixabay CCO License

Buy The Right Tent

The tent is the most important thing if you want a comfortable camping experience. All of those horror stories you hear about leaking tents only happen because people buy cheap tents. If you invest in a good quality tent, it should hold up to the weather and keep you dry and warm.

When you are buying a tent, you need to check the hydrostatic head rating. This gives you an indication of how much rain the tent can stand up to before leaking. The higher the rating, the less likely your tent is to leak. It is also important to consider the size of the tent and how easy it is to put up, especially if you are planning a road trip. You need to make sure that it fits into the car easily, and you also want to avoid anything that is too complicated to put up. However, be careful with pop-up tents because most of them will not stand up to the rain.

If you want the ultimate comfortable camping experience, you should consider a camper trailer instead. There are some great camper trailers that come with all of the same facilities that you would find in a basic hotel, so you can camp in comfort. If you really hate the idea of camping, this is the best option.

Get A Good Quality Sleeping Bag

If you are worried about being freezing cold at night while you are camping, you need to get a good quality sleeping bag. A cheap one will not be comfortable and it won’t keep you warm, so you need to make sure that you buy a good thermal one. Sleeping directly on the floor will be uncomfortable as well, so you should invest in a sleeping mat as well. If you are willing to spend a little more on good sleeping equipment, you will be nice and comfortable while camping.

Pack Good Food

The food is another big issue for people when they go camping, but there is no need to live on beans all week. You can get some great dehydrated camping food packs so, as long as you take a small camping stove, you can still eat proper meals. If you pack a coolbox and freeze some food before you go, it should last a while so you can have barbecues as well. As long as you plan ahead, there’s no reason why you can’t eat well while you are camping.

Camping doesn’t have to be the nightmare experience that you think it does. If you follow these simple tips, you can have a luxury camping experience and enjoy all of the benefits of the great outdoors.

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Adventure Travel

Tips for Planning Your Uluru Tour

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Located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the magnificent sandstone of Ayers Rock or Uluru stands tall at 1,142 feet above ground. The natural formation is widely known for being one of the most sacred places to the indigineous peoples in Australia. At the same time, it is also popular for attracting tourists from all over the world to the land down under.

If you want to visit Uluru in order to pay tribute to this wonder of nature, then doing so through the right tour is in your best interest. It’s not only because Uluru is located at least a few hours from civilization, but it also because such a tour allows you to enjoy the picturesque sights that come along the way within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

So what sights are there to see along the way and what other general tours suggestions you should keep in mind while visiting Uluru? To help you answer these and some other important questions, here are 5 top tips to keep in mind while visiting Uluru.

Don’t Climb the Monolith

First things first, while it is legal to climb atop Uluru, it is recommended that you do not attempt such an action in order to show your respect to the indigenous peoples.

It is a pretty easy rule to follow when you pay attention to the emotions of the indigenous tribes who have recommended time and again for people to not climb Uluru.

But that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the natural beauty that Uluru has to offer. In fact, you are encouraged to visit the sandstone and take in its natural glory by standing right beside the formation. That’s why 4WD tour is highly recommended. The tour guides would be able to tell you what you can and can not do.

Visit During Sunset

Ask anyone who has visited Uluru about the best time to see the formation, and you will instantly get the answer as “sunset.”

It’s because Uluru is not an ordinary monolith, but one that is formed through arkosic sandstone. This allows the rock to actually change its color according to the position of the sun. As a result, you can expect the formation to sport a different color depending upon what time of day you reach it.

At sunset, Uluru projects an amber glow that is surreal to take in, especially when you are seeing the formation in person for the very first time. That’s why, it is recommended that you time your trip in a way that allows you to experience this magnificent sight.

3. Take Your Time to Plan the Trip

Perhaps the best way to visit Uluru is through the nearby town of Alice Springs, which has various amenities and accommodation options for tourists who are making their way to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru can take around 5 hours, which is why it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before you are planning to tour Uluru.

This way, you can reach the national park while feeling fresh and rested. This also gives you time to plan longer trips to the park in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.

4. Take in the Sight of the Rock Art

Uluru is not just a wonder to look at by itself, but it also holds several little pieces of wonderful art within it.

The caves at the bottom of the formation hold several pieces of rock art that can only be found at Uluru. If you love learning about other cultures through their art, then this will be a must visit.

Just make sure that you take the time to learn about this art through a local tour guide or via the information provided within these exhibits. This ensures that you have an immersive and informative experience which you can remember for a long time.

5. Don’t Forget the Natural Attractions Around the Rock

Enjoying the breathtaking sight of Uluru sounds rewarding enough for a trip to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. But it’s not all that you can do during a tour of Uluru.

From seeing the red kangaroos and other marsupials to spending some time with the camels, and from seeing the one of a kind formations of Kata Tjuta to taking a walk by the Valley of the Winds, there’s so much to see and do around Uluru.

That is why, it is recommended that you take your time at the park and put aside at least two days to enjoy all of the unique activities that the area has to offer. It would give you a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life while also allowing you to make the most out of your long journey to the sandstone.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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