Something to declare: Terrorism in Turkey; roving the rails of south-east England; South East Asia on a shoestring
Where to go, how to save, what to avoid
Saturday 23 May 2009
Warning of the week: Turkey
"There is a high threat from terrorism in Turkey" – that is the blunt view of the Foreign Office, which identifies two threats. The campaign by the Kurdish separatist group, the PKK, has included attacks in Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin and Mediterranean and Aegean resort towns.
"Devices have been placed in crowded areas, restaurants, refuge bins, outside banks and hotels and on dolmus mini-buses and trains," it says. In addition, "international terrorist groups, including al-Qai'da, and indigenous networks inspired by religious extremism have also specifically targeted western interests".
The FCO has taken the innovative step of commissioning a map of Turkey showing areas with a history of insurgency and attacks; it is available at tiny.cc/rbYdC .
Travellers may have problems if they don't have £10 in English (not Scottish) banknotes to obtain upon arrival a multiple entry visa valid for 90 days. And your passport should be valid for at least six months on entry and have at least three months' validity on the date you leave.
Bargain of the week: Roving the rails of south-east England
Surrey, Sussex, Kent and Hampshire enjoy an impressively dense railway network and if you plan a week ahead, you can explore hundreds of miles of track for £10.
The DaySave ticket is sold only online by Southern Railway ( southernrailway.co.uk ). The £10 ticket allows you to travel on lines linking London Victoria with Gatwick airport, Hastings, Eastbourne, Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton. It also covers the South Coast, the south London suburban network and the west London link to Olympia and Watford. And if three or four adults travel together, the total cost is £20. For comparison, a one-way, off-peak ticket from Hastings to Southampton costs £16.50. With either the individual or group ticket, you can take up to four children for an additional £1 each.
Trains before 10am Monday to Friday are excluded, as are early-evening services from London Victoria, London Bridge, Clapham Junction and East Croydon. At weekends you can use any Southern trains.
Destination of the week: South-East Asia on a shoestring
The title of an early Lonely Planet book applies to the deals currently on offer from Air Asia (0845 605 3333; airasia.com ). The long-haul route from Stansted to Kuala Lumpur is the subject of a short-term seat sale – due to end tomorrow – with plenty of return flights available at £313. This price applies between July and November; it does not include meals or a 15kg baggage allowance, costing £7 and £5 each way respectively.
In comparison, Malaysia Airlines (0870 607 9090; malaysiaairlines.com ), which flies often from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur, is quoting £479 return if you book direct, inclusive of on-board refreshments and a 20kg baggage allowance.
Once in the Malaysian capital, Air Asia offers the prospect of visiting "seven Asian cities from just £141". It illustrates the chance to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, Singapore, Kota Kinabalu (Borneo), Macau, Bangkok and Jakarta, before returning to the Malaysian capital. This is not an "airpass" – you have to book each individual segment. Some test bookings suggest the proposed hops are available at some very low fares – booking ahead, the trip from Kota Kinabalu to Macau, for example, has plenty of availability at the promised £19 one way.
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