You read the title right. Let us go straight to the numbers.
- VISA: If you are a US Visa Holder, you only need to apply for an E-Visa for 20 Dollars. You can do that online and they will send it to your email for printing. – 1,040php
- Hotel: 12,868php for 4 days 3 nights, good for 2 – 4289.33php per night – 6,434php per person with breakfast
- Pocket Money: 100USD/350TL for four days – 5,200php (approx. due to conversion rate) this includes bus and train transpo, food, water and everything we spent (except SALT BAE’S resto. Paid with credit card for that one)
- Airport to Hotel Transport: 60Euro – 3,600php round trip – 1,800php per person – the van is good for 4 to 6 people so that can go down to 600php per person
TOTAL EXPENSES (excluding airfare) – 14,484 PHP – we actually had some Turkish Lira left from the 100usd we exchanged, so we gave it to all the hotel staff and our transport driver as tip.
- Airline expenses: Ticket prices ranges from 40,000php – 65,000php
I cannot compare how much I spent for this trip because I only booked a one way ticket and I did not book in advance.
We went to Jerusalem after our Istanbul trip thus we did not need the ticket back. The dates of our trip was only finalised less than a month prior the trip. We all know booking in advance is the best thing to do. With the cheapest ticket, the cheapest you need to spend to explore Istanbul is approx. 54,000PHP / 13,500PHP a day!
I always had the misconception that Turkey is expensive. It’s quite the opposite! Spending can be contained to the bare minimum. If you only spend for essentials like food and tours, you can live off with the 100usd. If you plan to buy pasalubongs and trinkets from grand bazaar, I recommend exchanging 200usd. Do note that before entering Turkey, they might require you to show that you have 50usd alloted per day. I also advise to bring more money than you need for emergency purposes.
Top 5 Tipid Tips:
- We decided to get a hotel near the tourist spots. By getting a hotel near the tourist spots, we saved so much on transportation. We stayed in Athemis Hotel. Our hotel is walking distance to Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar and less than 100 meters from the metro.
- Get a hotel that offers freebreakfast. We stuff ourselves during breakfast so we don’t get hungry early.
- Get a museum pass. A museum pass costs 85 Lira and can give you access to more than 5 places including Hagia Sophia and Topkapi palace.
- Exchange your money 100usd at a time. Most money changers only exchange 100usd at a time. Having too much local money will force you to spend on things you might not actually need. Knowing you have to keep yourself on a budget will make you look for cheaper options. Also, this will prevent you to have so much extra Lira at the end of the trip. You will lose money by exchanging it to USD once again.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for the WIFI PASSWORD. Wifi, is a very crucial part in traveling. You can save so much time and money if you decide to google and plan your day ahead.
Travel Tips – Where to go and what to do:
I went to: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Taksim Square, Rumeli Hisari, Dolmabache Palace. Do try some turkish ice cream, turkish coffee, some turkish delights, baklava, chocolates, and fill yourself up with all kinds of turkish food. I wasn’t able to visit Topkapi since it was closed the day we planned to visit it. For Dolmabache, we also went there when it was closed so we just had a snap form the gate.
We did eat at Nusr-Et, salt Bae’s restaurant. Turkey is his home town so we dicided to go and get some salt on our steak. It’s approximately 1500php per person for a steak. His restaurant is not a fine dining resto. Imagine Italiani’s interiors with Friday’s kind of food. It was a fun experience and exceptional experience especially because we saw him in the flesh! Do reserve in advance and go at least 30 minutes earlier than your reserved time. The restaurant has an awful reservation system. The food is good. Nothing exceptional tho. I’d rate an 8 out of 10.
Bring modest clothes as Turkey is a muslim country. There are a lot of tourist traps so be careful about that. Like all major tourist spots, there are pickpockets. Always be aware of your surroundings, your bags and belongings. From my experience, Turkish people are kind and hospitable. I do have some friends who had terrible experiences so I cannot generalize for everybody.
Istanbul is a place you must visit. My visit to Istanbul was such a surprise. It’s a country that is not boring. It’s not a place that is manicured to perfection. This place is raw, developing, and growing so beautifully. I was warned (multiple times) about safety. The people of Istanbul have been nothing but hospitable. From random strangers giving us free meals to giving us free train rides. Still, we remained alert and cautious like all tourists must do. This place left me breathless. It felt like I was back in the streets of Paris, sometimes it made me feel like I am in the French Riviera, the suburban places reminded me so much of San Francisco. It’s a unique blend of cultures that one must see. I want to go back. I need to go back.