Advice worth a million

When in Turkey, change money in small amounts - and beware bus touts and minivans of retarded comfort.
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The Independent Online
Money

Do not change money in advance. The Turkish lira depreciates rapidly against all western European currencies - even sterling. Exchange rates in the UK rarely keep pace with the fall in value.

It is a much better plan to wait until you arrive, and then to change small amounts. You need only pounds 3 to become a lira millionaire.

Banks keep short hours. If you can't find one open, souvenir shops and hotels will give you reasonably competitive rates.

Getting there

Frequent scheduled flights link London Heathrow with Istanbul. A return trip on British Airways (0345 222111) or THY Turkish Airlines (0171-499 4499) costs around pounds 250 including UK tax of pounds 20.

Starting in a fortnight, there will be plenty of cheaper charter flights around, too. They have the advantage of serving a wider variety of airports - predominantly Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman and Izmir on the Mediterranean coast. Check for late deals with a high street travel agent, or look at the advertisements on ITV Teletext.

You can expect to pay around pounds 150 return (including tax), though cheaper last-minute bargains may be available.

To reach other places in Turkey by air, the best plan is to buy a through ticket, via Istanbul, on THY. The extra cost of a connecting flight to somewhere such as Adana near the Syrian border is not much higher than the standard return fare to Istanbul.

Getting in

Because Britain levies a fee on Turkish visitors to the UK, British tourists have to pay pounds 10 upon arrival for a visa.

Getting around

Domestic flights on THY are relatively cheap (around pounds 25 for the Istanbul- Ankara hop, for example), but the main mode of transport is the express bus. These are huge, air-conditioned conveyances with a courier who dispenses free soft drinks and eau de cologne to passengers. On main routes, buses run frequently - at least every 15 minutes on the six-hour trip between Istanbul and Ankara.

Services are run by numerous competing companies, and at some of Turkey's livelier bus stations it is easy to be hijacked by a tout who steers you towards a particular operator; shrug off all offers of "help" and check all the ticket offices yourself before buying a ticket. Fares on long- distance runs tend to be around pounds 1 per 100km (62 miles).

Shorter trips are operated by minibuses, usually of advanced years and retarded comfort. The name for this type of vehicle is dolmus, meaning "stuffed", which also applies to collective taxis - generally a stretched Mercedes which takes seven passengers on a good day.

Car hire is easy and relatively cheap, but roads in Turkey are dangerous if you are unused to the extravagant local styles of driving.

Rail travel has all but died out in the face of relentless competition from buses, but services on the main line east from Istanbul to Ankara and beyond have survived. See the Thomas Cook overseas timetable for details; this line is not included in the European timetable.

If you plan ahead, you need never pay for a Turkish map (unless you are hiking, and need some large-scale charts). The Turkish tourist office in the United Kingdom (on the first floor of Egyptian House, 170 Piccadilly, London W1V 9DD; telephone 0171-629 7771) has an excellent range of national, regional and city maps.

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