Something To Declare: Ankara; Portugal; Phnom Penh; London Midland
Saturday 12 February 2011
Destination of the week: Ankara
The Turkish capital used to have a link from Heathrow on British Airways, which was later taken up by BMI and subsequently dropped. But a new (to the UK) airline now flies from Stansted to Ankara on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. AnadoluJet (00 90 212 444 2538; AnadoluJet.com) is the low-cost offshoot of Turkish Airlines. A return between Stansted and Ankara next month typically costs £178. While Ankara is an administrative city of limited interest to most travellers, it provides useful access to elsewhere in northern and eastern Turkey – and even to the Iranian capital, Tehran, for a typical fare of £356 return.
Warning of the week: Portugal
If you are tempted to follow our Traveller's Guide to the Algarve, be aware that the Foreign Office has issued a warning that "pickpocketing, handbag snatching and theft from cars are increasingly common in major tourist areas", with thieves targeting cash and passports. "Don't wear valuable jewellery or watches in public areas."
Driving also presents special problems. "Portuguese police recommend car windows and doors are closed and locked at all times while driving at night," warns the Foreign Office. "When driving, in addition to your licence, you must also carry your vehicle logbook or rental contract, proof of insurance and MOT certificate," for fear of a "heavy on-the-spot fine". Remarkably, most police vehicles "have portable ATM machines to facilitate immediate payment" of fines.
Bargain of the week: Phnom Penh
Air France starts flying to the Cambodian capital at the end of March. It is thought to be the first direct service between Europe and Cambodia, and provides a one-stop connection from a range of UK cities – though the flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle also stops en route in Bangkok.
Return fares in April are typically around £850, and for the same sort of price you can get an "open-jaw" ticket, flying out to Bangkok and back from Phnom Penh. Alternatively, travel out to Phnom Penh, and back from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam – allowing you to travel down the Mekong – is around £920 return.
Before you book, check the fares on Asian carriers such as Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines, which could undercut Air France – and which offer one-stop services from Heathrow via their respective hubs.
Tip of the week: London Midland
The operator that competes with Virgin on the West Coast Main Line to and from London Euston has some impressive deals, if you are prepared to accept slower services. Between London and Birmingham, the maximum one-way fare is £42, compared with £62 on Virgin. And from 19 February to 6 March you can have unlimited travel in the area bounded by Liverpool, Shrewsbury, Hereford and London for just £10 (£20 in First Class). You must apply online and print out a voucher: www.bit.ly/hk6oTz will get you there.
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