OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 2020:
In October 2020, many countries were still closed. The ‘2nd wave’ was well underway. I had few options:
Turkey was open to tourists and did not require a ‘Fit to Travel’ health certificate within 72 hours of travel.
… we, now, go to Dalyan, Turkey …
The currency in Turkey is the New Turkish Lira (or the ‘TRY’). I will refer to them as T$s. At the time of writing, the exchange rates were:
|Published Wholesale Rate||T$7.89||T$9.29||T$10.23|
|Effective (Actual) Exchange Rate||T$7.66||T$9.02||T$9.94|
You will NOT get these wholesale rates (read the ‘Money’ section, below); expect to lose 3%. I lost an average of 2.86%.
Over time, these exchange rates will change. Please check the current rates.
I flew from Hurghada, Egypt to Dalaman, Turkey on Pegasus Airways one-stop via Istanbul. The flight left Hurghada at 1:40am and landed in Dalaman at 8:20am. The journey took 6.5 hours. I paid US$215 inclusive of 30Kg of check-in luggage (up from the standard 20Kg).
The security leaving Egypt was the strictest that I have come across in over 6 years of continuous international travel. Everyone had their check-in luggage opened and searched.
To enter Turkey, you need a Tourist Visa. On my previous visit to Turkey, I had to buy an eVisa online. Due to COVID, Turkey has waived this requirement and many tourists (like myself with a UK Passport) can get a 90 day tourist Visa On Arrival (VOA) for free.
I insure myself with World Nomads.
If you read the ‘small print’ you will discover that, if your target country is not listed on your certificate, you are NOT covered. Also, there are additional coverage restrictions because of COVID. Make sure that you read the ‘small print’.
I got online and bought a 1-year WorldNomads Backpacker Policy for US$615. I buy their (cheapest) Standard Policy. I, fundamentally, just need Medical and Personal Indemnity Insurance.
PLEASE NOTE: When you apply for a World Nomads policy, make sure that you get as much world-wide coverage as possible. I tell you how to get this extra coverage for free … read more here.
ISTANBUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT:
On the flight, we were given an Entry Form to complete.
In the International Terminal, there are many clusters of working ATMs from several different banks. I withdrew T$4,000 without any problems.
In the International Terminal you will find several Mobile Internet Service Provider Kiosks. You are advised to choose between the 3 biggest: Turkcell, Vodafone, and Turk Telecom. Buying a Turkish SIM and data plan at the airport is expensive and almost DOUBLE the price that you pay going to one of their high street shops.
MY ADVICE: Unless you are desperate, do NOT buy a SIM at the airport … wait until you get to your destination (see, below).
Dalaman Airport was efficient and I cleared with no problems.
Buses leave from here regularly going west to Marmaris and east to Fethiye … and beyond. I caught a bus for T$25 to Ortaca. The journey took about 25 minutes.
This bus dropped me off on the side of the main road about 300m from Ortaca Bus Station. In hindsight, I should have caught a microbus from Dalaman Airport direct to Ortaca Bus Station … ask around at the Airport Bus Terminal and don’t just jump on the first bus that says that it is going to Ortaca.
This journey took about 25 minutes.
Dalyan is a peaceful holiday backwater unspoilt by mass tourism. The romance of the place is heightened each morning as a fleet of gaily-painted boats chug up and down the Dalyan river carrying holidaymakers to the local sights. Within the Dalyan Village area, itself, you find the ancient city Caunos (1st millenium BC), Rock Tombs and Mud Baths.
Life in Dalyan revolves around the Dalyan Çayı River which flows on the western edge of town.
The small Dalyan Bus Terminal is located in the heart of town only 50m from the river. From here, you can easily walk to your chosen accommodation.
The boats that ply up and down the Dalyan Çayı River are the preferred means of transport to all the local sights.
Lonely Planet: ‘As well as the ruins on its doorstep, Dalyan is an excellent base for exploring Köyceğiz Gölü (Lake Köyceğiz) and the turtle rehabilitation centre at nearby İztuzu Beach. Once you’re done lapping up the sun on a boat trip or traversing ancient city ruins, pull up a pew on the riverside to admire Dalyan’s most famous feature: the mighty Kings’ Tombs of ancient Kaunos which are hewn into the cliffs … they take on a golden glow as the sun sets‘.
To the south of Dalyan (on the Mediterranean coast), lies İztuzu Beach. There are regular boat and minibus (Dolmuş) services to the beach. A public boat from Daylan Town to the Beach costs T$15 each way. Starting from Dalyan Harbour the voyage through beds of bulrushes and pampas grass takes around 45 enjoyable minutes – the entire Delta is a protected National Conservation area and is home to over 200 species of birds along with no less than three varieties of turtle, including the Loggerhead Caretta Caretta.
A Dolmuş costs T$7.50. The road route is scenic too … offering views of Sülüngür Lake.
A good plan would be to catch a boat to the beach, laze away the day, walk the 1.5km beach, and return to Dalyan on a Dolmus.
Visitors should be aware of the wooden stakes in the beach to mark Turtle nesting sites. In 2008 İztuzu Beach was proclaimed winner in the category Best Open Space (Europe) by The Times because of the eco-friendly exploitation of the beach. In 2011 Dalyan and İztuzu Beach were proclaimed Best Beach Destination of Europe by Dutch holiday assessment website Zoover.
WHERE TO STAY:
You can pretty much stay anywhere in town … it depends on how far you are prepared to walk.
PLEASE NOTE: Normally, I advise you to book into something reasonable for 2 nights in advance. Then, once here, walk around and negotiate direct monthly deals with the hotel(s) that you like. At the moment, this may NOT be necessary … right now, you can good discounts up-front before arrival.
This is what a GRANDPAcking Couple can expect to find around town at short notice for late October 2020 at CORVID-19 discounted prices:
PLEASE NOTE: HOTELS usually display prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES. But many search sites (like HOTELS) don’t provide a ‘private bathroom’ filter, so be careful with some of the cheap hotels and make sure that you read the room details.
AIRBnB / HOLIDAY RENTALS:
PLEASE NOTE: Other sites (such as Homeaway, FlipKey and VRBO) are also worth a look. I, personally, find AirBnB to be a good option in Turkey. HOWEVER, be careful … the prices displayed are NOT the final prices: ‘service fees’ and ‘cleaning fees’ can significantly increase the final price. ALSO, read the reviews carefully … in most cases the exact location of the property is hard to identify (which is intentional on AirBnB’s part) … looking at the pictures and reviews sometimes helps you identify the name (and, therefore, the exact location) of the property. If you can do the latter, you can check the reviews on the internet more carefully. LASTLY, you pay in advance … so, if you book 1 month and get it wrong, you are stuck there.
Make sure that you get heating this time of year. GRANDPAckers will easily find accommodation within our price range of upto US$30 / T$235 per night. Right now, because of CORVID-19, this is even easier … and good places can be found for under US$20.
PLEASE NOTE: Turkey blocks many sites when you are in Turkey (e.g. BOOKING.COM). But, you can use them to book accommodation before you arrive. If you are in Turkey, you can bypass this problem by installing a VPN ‘extension’ into your web browser (such as the free-to-use Hola VPN). This will allow you to enter a site pretending to be somewhere else in the World.
I chose a quiet location on purpose. With COVID around, I had no intention of socialising in restaurants, bars, etc. It suited me to get an apartment on the edge of town with my own kitchen.
AIRBnB – 2 BEDROOM APARTMENT:
I booked using AirBnB. I contacted the Host to make an enquiry … he responded and dropped the price per month from US$650 to US$575. This price included all utilities. This was under US$20 per night.
AirBnB do not show the correct location when you book. 50% of the time this causes me problems. The Host does not always send you clear directions after booking. This was the case with Villa Atalay. The link on AirBnB that gives ‘directions’ sent me to Google Maps. Google Maps had it in the wrong location … almost 200m from where it actually was. I walked the streets for nearly an hour trying to find it … the ‘locals’ didn’t know where it was either.
The furniture in the Villa Atalay was old but sufficient. The kitchen was very good with a Microwave, Dishwasher and a Washing Machine. There was a 4 hub gas cooktop but no oven. The beds were old but comfortable. The lounge had a flat screen TV but no Satellite Channel subscription … so you could only get channels in Turkish or English speaking news channels. However, the Villa comes with unlimited broadband and the TV has an HDMI socket … so, I rigged up my laptop and streamed sports and programs instead. There were 3 balconies to choose from each having different sun at different times of day. Town was a pleasant 10-15 minute walk along the riverfront path.
All-in-all, I was very happy with the place.
As always with AirBnB, contact then Host after booking and make sure that you get the exact address and details on how to find it.
Have a look yourself:
EAT & DRINK:
With COVID impacts, and my avoidance of restaurants and bars, it is hard to give a good indication of prices.
If you want to eat on the waterfront you will pay extra for the view. Add 25-50% to these prices.
LONG DISTANCE BUSES:
To connect to a long distance public bus, you need to catch a microbus for T$6 to Ortaca Bus Station and, then, connect from there.
BICYCLE / SCOOTER RENTAL:
You can rent bicycles in many places around town for under US$3 per day. Negotiate half that price if you want to rent for 1 month.
In Turkey you need to be careful and selective when withdrawing money out of an ATM. In busy tourist locations (e.g. Kas) the ‘conveniently located’ ATMs can charge 5-10% in fees. I usually use Garundi ATMs. The one that I used at Istanbul Airport charged a ‘standard’ fee.
My Home Bank charges me US$3 per Foreign ATM Transaction. With the usual 1.5% inter-bank exchange rate fee and the ‘standard’ Host Country ATM Fee at the Turkey end, I lost just under 3% in fees. This is ‘standard’ compared to other countries.
NOTE: The Garundi ATM at Istanbul International Airport delivered all of my T$4,000 withdrawal in T$100 notes.
INTERNET / WIFI:
FANDOM provide good information about Service Providers in Turkey. Turkcell has the widest coverage.
As aforementioned, avoid buying a SIMcard at the Airport if you can. At Istanbul International Airport Turkcell and Vodafone were both asking about T$230 for a new SIMcard with a 1 month 15Gb plan with 750 local talk minutes and 750 texts. They only offered ‘Tourist Packages’ and they had no promotions.
As I walked to Ortaca Bus Station I stopped at a Turkcell Shop. As a ‘new sign up customer’ I got their T$120 promotion. This 1 month plan came with 25GB, 750 mins, and 750 texts. Thereafter, I could top up each month (or as required) with another 15GB for T$49.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
Not all of the locals are taking the 2nd wave seriously … but things are improving fast. Ortaca is a University Town and it has high COVID numbers … this is starting to ‘spill over’ into Dalyan. Most of the staff in the restaurants and bars will be wearing a mask. However, social distancing is not enforced so you will need to do this yourself.
WHEN TO GO
The climate in Dayan is temperate.
During the month of April, May, October and November you are most likely to experience good weather with pleasant average temperatures that fall between 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and 25 degrees Celsius (77°F).
- The hottest season / summer is in June, July, August and September.
- The months of January, February, March, November and December have a high chance of precipitation.
- Dalyan has dry periods in May, June, July, August and September.
- The warmest month is July with an average maximum temperature of 30°C (86°F).
- The coldest month is January with an average maximum temperature of 14°C (57°F).
- December is the wettest month. This month should be avoided if you are not a big fan of rain.
- August is the driest month.
I arrived mid October. The weather was mainly sunny and pleasant. Over 4 weeks, you could feel the temperatures falling week-on-week. Local expats told me that the weather is usually good until Christmas with most rain (when it falls) falling overnight with clear (yet getting cooler) days.
Most shops sell goods at standard Turkish (not inflated tourist) prices. Shops selling Tourist goods are different. There are at least 3 good Supermakets in the centre of town: one of which is Migros. If you plan to stay for a while and self-cater, get a Migros Club Card for $1.50 at the checkout … with this, you will get all of their in-store Member discounts.
After getting your card make sure to register it online before you use it.
Here are some typical supermarket prices:
- 1kg of ‘cheapest’ cheese T$35
- 1Kg tomatoes T$6
- 1Kg potatoes T$3
- 3L tub yogurt T$14
- 300g Muesli T$8
- 1Kg Chicken Breasts T$25
- Loaf of bread T$2
- 1Kg Grapes T$8
- 500ml bottle standard Turkish beer T$12
Most items appear to be less than half the price found in other western countries.
That said, my daily costs (excluding accommodation and excursions) averaged less than T$100 per day inclusive of a couple of 500ml beers (T$20 each) in my local Pub each night.
A GRANDPAcking couple will not be able to LIVE in Dalyan to GRANDPAcking Standard on a GRANDPAcking Budget of US$55 / day.
How To LIVE on a GRANDPAcking Budget:
HOWEVER you can live on a GRANDPAcking Budget if you deviate from GRANDPAcking Standard. You just need to go self-catering.
- Find an apartment with self-catering facilities. You should be able to find one for US$650 / month.
- Groceries for 2 people can easily be kept to under T$100 / day (shop at Migros and get a Migros Club Card to get all of the discounts).
- I have added a return trip for 2 to Ortaca each week (to take a break).
- I have not added any trips to the beach because these will come out of your LIVING costs; a return trip for 2 on a public bus costs T$30.
- I have included a 1 month Turkcell SIM Card with a 25GB Data Plan, local calls, and texts.
- I have included (apportioned) Travel Insurance.
This leaves you T$122 / US$16 per day to LIVE on. If you like a few drinks every day this will NOT be enough but you can always moderate your habits and have a couple of beers at home on your terrace / balcony instead.
Many GRANDPAckers will enjoy this place … and many expats (there are many already here from England and Germany) already do.
Could you afford to retire here on a GRANDPAcking budget? YES. Would you want to? YES.