Turkey On A Budget: 5 Essential Hacks You’ll Need For Your Trip


Tarmidzi Muhammad •  May 04, 2018

Blessed with beautiful natural landscapes, great weather and an illustrious history, Turkey is a travel destination that has truly earned its place on all our bucket lists!

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If you’ve always wanted to go to Turkey but have always been a little hesitant because of the cost then you might be surprised to know that your local SGD can stretch quite a bit in the land where east meets west. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any additional cost saving tips we can share to help you make your dream of visiting turkey a reality!

1) Getting to Turkey

Plane tickets to places anywhere near Europe usually cost a bomb especially if you’re pressed for time and need to take a direct flight. Thankfully Turkey might be a little bit of an exception in this regard.

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You have a few options here if you’re if you’re not pressed for time. The cheapest option is to fly to Athens and then switch to a flight to Istanbul either with Turkish airlines or Pegasus airlines. The combined cost of both trips typically range around SGD790+ if you’re flying from Singapore or RM1967+ if you’re flying from Malaysia which is significantly cheaper than direct flights.

If that sounds a little cumbersome then you might want to consider taking a transiting flight. Flights taking this route usually will make a stop at Doha before heading to Istanbul. Qatar and Malaysian airlines make for great options with both offering packages that start from SGD788 and SGD852 respectively. Be sure to take into consideration the transit time though which can stretch from 2 to 8 hours or even longer.

If you don’t mind spending a little extra cash then you might want to consider just taking a non-stop flight. Many airlines offer this trip for at a good price. The most affordable deal probably belongs to Turkish Airlines with tickets starting at SGD 938. Of course, the earlier you book the cheaper it gets!

2) Best places to stay

Much like everything else, the costs of accommodation in Turkey is heavily influenced by the time of the year that you visit it. The volume of tourists usually spikes between June and September and peaks around July so things are the priciest during this period. A simple way to work around this is to try and visit it in April. The weather would still be fantastic since it will be spring and there aren’t as many people!

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As for where to stay, well that depends on what you plan on doing. If you intend on exploring Istanbul’s most significant historic sites then Sultanahmet is the place to be. A lot of the most significant landmarks such as the blue mosque and Hagia Sophia are all crammed together in Sultanahmet so staying within the area means you get to save some cost on travelling too!

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It’s likely that you are going to be spending most of your day exploring Turkey’s endless list of attractions and only need a need a place to crash. Should that be case then hostels are your best bet. They can be found all across turkey, are affordable and provide everything you need. Old city hostel, which is located in Sultanahmet, offers rooms for as low as SGD$27 a night and is only a stone’s throw away from all the top attractions. Plus check out the view from the terrace!

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Bucoleon by Cheers also makes for a great place to stay while you’re in Istanbul. This quaint hostel is popular for its proximity to the city’s landmarks and its breath-taking view of the sea! They also provide a free breakfast and all the necessary amenities you would need including wifi. All at a really affordable rate too!

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3) Getting around in Turkey

Getting around in Turkey is a breeze. Istanbul itself is very accessible due to the availability of trams, taxis and the metro. One tip for saving costs on travelling within Istanbul is to purchase the Istanbul kart. It works very much like the local e-zlink card and can be used on all forms of public transport. You can get them at any istanbulkart kiosk near any metro station. They only costs about SGD$4 and allow you to enjoy cheaper rates when commuting!

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Alternatively if you’re staying within areas such as Sultanahmet or Taksim square then you can choose to walk instead. Walking is always the best way to really get up close and personal with the city and really appreciate its sights and sounds. Don’t worry, many of the attractions in such areas are clustered together so getting around won’t be very strenuous at all.

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As for travelling between cities. Busses are the way to go. They’re a lot cheaper than domestic flights (which already are pretty affordable) and are a lot more comfortable than you might expect. Most busses are spacious and provide a range of on board comforts from snacks to even wifi. A 7 hour trip from Istanbul to Ankara for instance will only set you back anywhere between SGD14 to SGD30 depending on the service you choose. Be sure to book your seats a day before at the very least to make sure you don’t end up with undesirable seats!

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4) Things to do in Turkey

There's a ton of things to see and do in turkey but theres no need to splurge to enjoy most of what turkey has to offer.

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If you’re in Istanbul and plan on visiting the top museums such as Haga Sophia and Topkapi palace then you should consider buying the Museum Pass Istanbul. They go for about 85 turkish liras and give you access to most of Istanbul’s top museums. In comparison, entry to any one of Turkey’s top museums typically cost around 40 turkish which means if you visit two of them you’re already covering the cost of the pass! The passes valid for 5 days and you can only use it once per museum.

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Stuff you can do for free:

Perhaps the best thing is that there are a wide variety of attractions that you can visit for free!

The famous blue mosque stands as a shining example of this. Renowned for its overwhelming size, the mosque stands as testament to man’s ambition and continues to mesmerise visitors with its beautiful architecture to this day.

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Another attraction that wont burn a hole in your wallet is the Grand bazaar. Its one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world stretching over a mindboggling 61 streets with around 4000 shops. Here you’ll find a wide variety of things being sold from tea to lanterns and carpets. Even if you’re not planning on buying anything it’s a great place to window shop and just immerse yourself in Turkish culture for a bit. A little tip, make sure to haggle if you’re planning to purchase anything there. It can be quite fun and you might walk away with a better deal than you would’ve initially expected.

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Not list of Turkish attractions would be complete without a mention of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Only remnants remain of this ancient circus yet standing

across from its iconic obelisk still elicits a sense of awe amongst tourists. Entry to this area is also free and it’s a fantastic place to get your Instagram shots!

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More cheap thrills:

Speaking of cheap thrills, a trip to Pamukkale, which only costs about 35 TL or SGD12 is definitely something you should squeeze into your itinerary. Over millennia, the mineral deposits of the water of Pamukkale have accumulated to form the almost ethereal crystalline terraces we see today. There you can spend your afternoon soaking in the mineral rich waters of the hot springs while enjoying the view of the town below. It lies just adjacent to the city of Hierapolis which, having been transformed into a museum and Unesco world heritage site, offers a peek into the lives of the ancient Greeks who once called this great area home.

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If ancient greek ruins are your thing then you wouldn’t want to miss Ephesus. Once a flourishing city, Ephesus is home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the temple of Artemis. The place is steeped in history and religious significance and is even surrounded by other magnificent sites like the Isa bey mosque and Sirince village. Best part is, admission to Ephesus to costs only 40 TL while entrance to the mosque and village is free!

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5) Eating in Turkey

Being a Muslim country, its not difficult to find halal food in Turkey. Much of it is quite affordable too. Street food is a great option if you’re looking for the most value for money. Stalls selling doner kebabs and kofta are ubiquitous in cities like Istanbul especially around taksim square. These kebabs typically comprise of fresh cuts of either chicken, beef or lamb that have been slowly cooked to perfection on a rotisserie. Paired with fresh ingredients and rolled neatly into wrap they’re great at any time of the day.

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One variation of this Turkish staple that you should try is the balik ekmek. Literally translating into “fish bread” this tasty contraption consists of a huge chunk of fish, freshly cooked from the boat, sandwiched between a soft loaf along with crisp onions and other condiments. Various shops sell this along the harbour and for just under SGD2 its something you definitely won’t want to miss out on!

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Another iconic dish that is not to be skipped while in turkey is the pide. Also known as the “Turkish pizza”, the pide is a flatbread topped with an assortment of ingredients from sausages to spinach and of course, cheese.  Fatih Karadeniz Pidecisi is a restaurant known to serve some of the best and most authentic pide’s in Istanbul. Here you’ll find a wide variety of pide’s you can tuck into and at really reasonable prices too!

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Perhaps the easiest way to save some money on food in turkey is to visit their cafeterias. These self-service restaurants offer a great balance of quality, variety and affordable prices. Ordering is simple, you basically join the line, pick the dishes that you want and pay for whatever you eat. One cafeteria that is famous amongst both tourists and locals is Bolkan Lokantasi. Located in Besiktas , it’s the perfect place to settle down for a quick satisfying meal before heading back out for your days activities.

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Those are our tips for travelling to turkey on a budget! Don’t let expenses get in the way of you and your dream trip. Who knows there could be even more ways of making your trip less heavy on the wallet. I guess theres only one way to find out! ?