Wednesday, January 16, 2013



executive summary by darmansjah

Why Go? At the eastern end of the Lycian Way, the largest city on Turkey’s Mediterranean coas is classic and stylish. Its wonderfully preserved old quarter, Kaleici, has a splendid Roman harbor and boutique hotels in historic buildings. Boat trips and beaches, finds from nearby digs at the excellent Antalya Museum and Kaleici’s nightlife  round off a stay in this colourful gateway to the Turkish Riviera. 

Stay; Tuvana Hotel is a discreet compound of Six Ottoman houses converted into one of the most beautiful and intimate hotels on the Turkish Mediterranean. The restaurant serves international dishes with a Mediterranean slant and the plush rooms mix kilims (flat-weave rugs) with a Modern audio-visual technology (from US$195;

Getting There; Antalya Airport receives domestic and international flights,  including Turkish Airlines from Istanbul Ataturk.


WHY GO? Stretching into the blue southwest of Marmaris, these adjoining peninsulas are riddled with raw, indented Aegean coastline. Their secluded coves, pine forests, fishing villages and mountain hamlets are best explored by scooter. On the ride, there are plunge pools for cooling off and ruins such as Knidos, a 2,500-year-old Dorian port settlement among olive, almond an fruit trees.

STAY Mehmet Ali Aga Konagi, located near the tip of the gangly Datca Peninsula, was once an aristocratic residence. Today, its renovated buildings and gardens are a veritable museum of Ottoman culture, with 19th-century wall engravings, a hamam and local fabrics in the bedrooms (from US$275;

GETTING THERE Dalaman Airport, 62 miles east, receives both domestic and international flights, including Turkish Airways from Ataturk.


WHY GO? Eastern Turkey’s star attraction is a field of toppled statues – the remains of a burial monument built by a pre-Roman king atop the 2,150m-high mountain. Watching the sun rise, and set, here, with views of mountainous Anatolian countryside, Nemrut lives up to its nickname of ‘the throne of the gods’.

STAY The most comfortable option near the summit, Hotel Eurphat Nemrut has recently renovated rooms and spectacular views from  its restaurant terrace and pool. The food, including freshly baked bread every morning, is very good (from US$55;

GETTING THERE Domestic flights serve Diiyabakir Airport, 93 miles east, including Andolu Jet from Ankara (, Turkish Airlines from Istanbul Ataturk (two hours; from US$137; and both airlines from Antalya and Izmir via Istanbul. Car hire is available at Diyarbakir Airport.


Cappadocia is one of the most spectacular places in the world to travel in a hot air balloon, with conditions favourable from the beginning of april to the end of November. Flights take place at dawn and reputable companies will not run a second flight later on, when winds may become unreliable. Two recommended companies are Kapadokya Balloons ( and Butterfly Balloons, with its superlative pilot Mustafa ( prices for both start at US$230 per  person, including hotel transport and a champagne toast upon landing Check credentials for operators, even if it means asking to seeing a pilot’ license (from regulatory body the Ministry of Transportation, Directorate-General of Civil Aviation) and logbook.

4 Ways To Do Istanbul

See - Budget , Wander through Grand Bazaar, where 2,000 or so shops sell incense, jewellery, lanterns, carpets, iznik tiles and lokum (Turkish delight). The side streets lead to boutiques and studios where finer workmanship can be found (8:30am-7:30pm Mon-Sat). 

Midrange – From Istanbul, take Bosphorus Cruise between Europe and Asia to a medieval castle overlooking the Black Sea (US$16; 

Luxury – Zoom in on a specific aspect of the city with a Walking Tour or Class: try Turkish cooking a traditional Turkish night  out or Galata’s Jewish history (cookery course US$84;; walking tour from US$2;

SleepBudget, Marmara Guesthoue is a delightful, family-run pension in Sultanahmet where the welcome is warm an some of the rooms have sea views. There’s also a charming vine-covered terrace (from US$64; 

MidrangeAmerican-run Hotel Empress Zoe has individually decorated rooms with embroidered canopies above the beds, local textiles, paintings and folk art. Breakfast is served in a flowery garden and there are sundowners on the rooftop (US$170; 

LuxuryFour Seasons Hotel Istanbul is one big ‘wow’ – everything from its extraordinary service and eye-poppingly beautiful rooms to its wonderfully disreputable history and Old Town location (from US$415;

EatBudget, Karakoy Lokantasi is great value. Try the lamb and aubergine dish hunkar begendi (from US$5;

MidrangeSofyali 9 serves kebabs, grills, and meze. Most dinners go for the meze of white cheese, melon and raki – an anise spirit (mains from US$11; 

 Luxury Cooking Alaturka offers a set four-course menu of Ottoman classics such as stuffed vine leaves and lenti balls (set menu US$35;

Drink Budget, Mavra GAlata café, surrounded by 19th-century apartments and boutiques, has a menu of sandwiches and pastries by day; at night, creatives descend for drinks before heading out for the night (sandwiches from US$5; 00 90 212 252 7488). 

MidrangeKumbaraci Yokusu’s Leb-I Derya adds glamour to the sixth floor of a disheveled building off Istiklal Caddesi, with views down towards the Bosphorus and across to the Old City (cocktails from US$14;

 Luxury Mikla sits atop the towering Marmara Pera Hotel. Its white-furnished, jasmine-scented terrace has one of the city’s best views – particularly when accompanied by a martini (martinis US$19;

Dig for traditional treasures through rows of market stores, take a cruise around the Bosphorus or drink in the terrace views over a martini: it’s all here in Turkey.

Getting There
From Singapore fly to Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport with Singapore Airlines ( and Turkish Arilines (  From Kuala Lumpur, fly with Malaysia Airlines(

Getting Around
Car hire is available at Ataturk or Izmir’s Adnan Menderes Airport ( Istanbul elektrik Tramway, trams and funiculars (

Further Reading
Istanbul Encounter guide

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