Why Filipinos should include Turkey in their Travel Bucket List

Hagia Sophia, a late antique place of worship in Istanbul

Turkey is becoming one of the top tourist destinations today in the Tourism Industry. It is because many people are becoming curious about the historical places and fairytale-like cities in the country. However, some travelers are still hesitant to visit this beautiful country due to safety and security reasons brought by the recent conflict between Turkey and the United States of America. I have visited Turkey last October 2019 and I will be sharing with you some of my personal experiences and my favorite tourist attractions that we have visited last year.

Turkey is approximately 13 hours away from Manila via Turkish Airline’s direct flight. But there are many other airlines that offer connecting flights such as Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways. In our itinerary, we visited 8 cities or towns in Turkey namely: Istanbul, Canakkale, Kusadasi, Pamukkale, Konya, Cappadocia, Amasya, and Safranbolu. From Istanbul, we had a short ferry ride to reach Canakkale. For the rest of the trip, we traveled from one city to another by land. The nature of the trip was a walking tour and a traveling tour. Hence, it was really a long drive. If you also want to visit these places, it is recommended to wear clothes appropriate to the weather condition, comfortable shoes, and make sure to bring light snacks with you during the trip. For long drives, the bus usually has a stop-over so that travelers have time to go to the comfort room and buy something to eat at the convenience stores.


For the local money, the currency they use is the Turkish Lira. Our pocket money was in US Dollar and I highly suggest that you exchange enough money at the airport that will last for the whole duration of your trip since it is a traveling tour and you are always moving from one place to another, it is quite hard to find and go to a money exchange if you have a very busy itinerary. However, please expect that there is a slight difference in the forex inside the airport and the city. If there is enough time on your first day, you can also ask your tour guide to bring you to a money exchange in Istanbul so that you can get a better rate.

The ruins of Troy in Hisarlik, Canakkale

As I have mentioned earlier, we have visited a total of 8 cities or towns in Turkey. The duration of our trip was 10 days and 8 nights. We spent 1 night each in Canakkale, Kusadasi, and Pamukkale. Then 2 nights in Cappadocia, and 1 night each in Amasya, Safranbolu, and Istanbul. Turkey has a very rich history and they have a lot of various tourist attractions to offer to travelers. But for this blog, I will only be sharing my top 5 tourist attractions that truly stood out to me the most.


The first attraction is the Ancient City of Troy. The Ancient City of Troy is very popular as it is the site where the Trojan War took place and was devastated several times in its history. You can actually see a replica of the Troy Wooden Horse on this site. You can climb and go inside of it to take a photo. This place brings back all the memories of when we were just studying this during high school and I still can’t believe that I saw the Ruins of Troy with my own eyes.

The second attraction is the Ancient City of Ephesus. If you have been to Petra, you will surely love this place as well. The Ancient City of Ephesus is one of the world’s most outstanding archeological sites. You will walk in its well-preserved marble streets to reach the famous Celsus Library, Grand Theatre, Roman Baths, and more.

The well-preserved ruins of the Ancient City of Ephesus

The third attraction is the Cotton Castle. Cotton Castle in Pamukkale’s unique terraces created from the deposits of white limestones from thermal springs. If you want to dip your feet in the water, please be informed that they do not allow tourists to wear slippers. Hence, it should be removed prior. Just be extra careful as the floor is very slippery.

Pamukkale or also called the "Cotton Castle" of Turkey

The fourth attraction is actually a region in Turkey and it is Cappadocia. This is my number one favorite place out of everything that we have visited in our trip and I was lucky enough to experience the hot air balloon ride. The hot air balloon ride is an optional tour that costs around USD 230.00 - USD 250.00 per person. Just to be safe, we made a pre-booking prior to the trip since usually, most of the hot air balloon companies are fully booked. On the date of our booking, we were picked up at the hotel around 5 am in the morning to take us to the take-off grounds. The preparation for the balloon took about 30 minutes then the flight itself lasted for about 1 hour. This experience was so surreal. We saw the spectacular fairy chimneys and beautiful rock formations. When we landed on the ground, we had a post-flight celebration where we received a certificate and had a champagne toast with everyone. 

Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

After that, they brought us back to the hotel since we have a full day of the itinerary to catch. But please take note that this optional tour is always subject to weather conditions. If in case the hot air balloon ride got canceled due to bad weather conditions, they will refund the payment. You can still do another optional activity to appreciate the beauty of the city by joining the Jeep Safari instead. I was also lucky to join this activity because we booked it in the afternoon right before the sunsets. It costs around USD 120.00 per person and lasted about 45 minutes to 1 hour. They took us to some of the beautiful spots in Cappadocia that are not accessible by tour bus. It passed through the adventurous routes that's why the ride was quite bumpy but fun at the same time. We were given enough time to take pictures and witness the sunset. We also ended this activity with a champagne toast and before they brought us back to the hotel right in time for dinner. Cappadocia is truly a magical place and I can definitely say that this is the highlight of our trip, and this is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been to in my life.


Last but not the least, the Old Wooden Houses in Amasya. When I first saw the place, it felt like I was in a different era. Amasya itself is like an open museum filled with different historical buildings along with the Green River. I enjoyed walking around and just admire the beautiful surroundings. I was really amazed at how they were able to preserve its cultural and historical assets to this day. This place is definitely a hidden gem in Turkey.

The Old Wooden Houses along the Green River in Amasya

After a very tiring tour, we always look forward to having our meal. Turkey offers the local Mediterranean cuisine but even if you are not fond of this type of cuisine, I still recommend you to try their local dishes so you can get a taste of their culture as well. 

A souvenir of the old wooden houses

And of course, another reason to travel is to shop. In Turkey, I highly suggest that if you saw something you like in a particular city, go ahead and buy it. That is what our tour guide recommended on the first day of our tour. Usually, at the tourist attractions, they always have a souvenir shop near the entrance or exit gate. If you like to collect ref magnets, I recommend that you buy them in each city because I noticed when we were in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, I can’t find any souvenirs for Pamukkale, Troy, and etc. Most of the things that I saw there were about Istanbul and Turkey in general. If you want to bring home snacks and drinks to your loved ones, Turkey is also famous for its Turkish Delights, Baklava, Flavored Teas, Turkish Coffee, and even Spices. 

Different kinds of Turkish flavored teas and spices

Another great souvenir is a leather jacket as this country is also one of the famous producers of high-quality leather products. We watched an upbeat fashion show where they showcased different styles and designs of coats and jackets. If you are looking to find something for your house, Turkey is also known for carpets. They have a lot of different designs and patterns in various sizes and materials. And lastly, if you have a loved one who loves to collect accessories, another souvenir that I would suggest is jewelry that has Turkey’s very unique color-changing “Zultanite” gemstone in it. We went to a shop that offers various kinds of jewelry and it was like heaven for jewelry collectors. For tours, please be informed that it is mandatory to visit certain souvenir shops as part of their Tourism Practices and the tour guide will give you enough time to shop depending on the local condition, group pacing, schedule, and itinerary. With everything that I have mentioned, I am sure that you will find something to bring home that you will surely treasure for the rest of your life.

Hot air balloons during sunset in Cappadocia

Indeed it was a great experience to visit Turkey and I enjoyed everything that we have visited in our itinerary. Thank you Rakso Travel for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

This country has a lot to offer, whether you like to see historical places, natural attractions, or magnificent architectural buildings. That’s the main reason why you should include Turkey in your travel bucket list and visiting this country with your family, loved ones, or friends will surely make it more enjoyable and memorable. I will definitely visit this country again in the future. 

For Turkey tour packages, kindly follow this link for more information. If you are interested to join a Filipino group tour that has the same itinerary as mine, click here.

Blog contributed by: Nicole Anne Martinez

Photos by: Rakso Travel



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