Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Turkey package tour and Travel Guides

I have chosen my next holiday destination and it is exotic Turkey which I'll be visiting in later part of May. I have opted for the total package tour by Parlo Tours. Here are the various major tour agencies prices for similar group package tour of Turkey. See my previous post on some possible reasons for the differences in tour prices.

1.Pearl Holiday, 10 days 8 nights RM4889 by Gulf Air (1st night at Bahrain) (This was the offer price at MATTA fair, now is RM5489)
2.Parlo Tour, 10 days 7 nights RM5163 by SIA (Special offer from SIA)
3.Parlo Tour, 10 days 8 nights RM5313 by Gulf Air (1st night at Bahrain)
4.GTT, 10 days 8 nights RM5546 by Gulf Air (1st night at Bahrain)
5.Reliance , 10 days 7 nights RM6024 by MAS
6.Sedunia, 10 days 7 nights RM6033 by SIA
7.GTT, 11 days 8 nights RM6088 by Emirates
8.GTT, 11 days 8 nights RM6646 by SIA

Except for the last two GTT tours where all the 8 nights are in Turkey, all the rest are 7 nights in Turkey with 1 night in Bahrain for those with 8 nights. Thus you can see there are big differences in price, especially if it is for more than one person. The itinerary is very similar and covers all the major tourist sites, except that some go round Turkey in a clockwise direction while others go in an anti-clockwise direction. Which one would you choose?

If money is not an issue, I would pick item 7 or 8 since there is one extra day and one extra night meaning it will be slightly less hectic than the rest. The cheapest would be item 1 and item 2 looks like the best value for money since the airline is SIA which means you can expect a 5-star flight (that's what the advertisement says). In fact that is what I chose, item 2 by Parlo flying SIA. I actually wanted item 1 (Pearl Holiday) but my wife was not happy with flying Gulf Air since we had a bad experience in our last trip to Greece when we flew Gulf Air. We were given one night free stay in Bahrain but the hotel was bad (a "chicken coop" as my friend commented) and the staff at the hotel was very rude. So my wife decided never to fly Gulf Air again! (Actually I don't mind but I suppose ladies are more unforgiving in such matters!)

Further more, Parlo Tour has this gift voucher for a hot air balloon ride at Cappadocia for 2 persons at USD285 (plus a Turkish bath thrown in) which would normally cost USD220 for one person. I have not decided whether to take up this option since it looks very expensive for just one hour's ride. If any readers have taken this ride, I would appreciate if they can give their comments and opinion to see if it is worth it. They are also using a 5-star hotel at Istanbul (2 nights) and this is their highlighted point in the advertisement.

Is this the best choice? I cannot tell unless I tried all the different tours but I will post my experience in this Blog after the trip. Meanwhile I am reading up on Turkey as I believe that if I have some background information on the country and the places to be visited, it will make the trip more meaningful and enjoyable.

There are so many travel books series available in the market and you can get more than one on the country that you intend to visit. I will use those on Turkey as examples here. My favorite travel reference book is the DK Eyewitness Travel series since it is not too wordy and designed for very light reading (but physically heavy though, because of thick, glossy pages used) with plenty of photos. I just bought my copy on Turkey over the weekend from Kinokuniya in KLCC.

The other travel book that I have on Turkey is the Footprint series which I picked up a few years back at a book sale. This is more comprehensive and has much less photos and can be very heavy reading. The print is very small so you need good eyesight as well. The one on Turkey is very strong on the historical aspect so if you are a history buff, this is for you. Also this is now dated since it is a year 2000 edition and missing the latest information. This is good for independent travellers who has plenty of time to visit all the smaller places but if you just want the main places of interest, the DK series is good enough and more up to date.

Oops, almost forgot that I had this small, light handy travel guide under the Globetrotter series. This is much smaller in scope and in size and good for an overview with not much depth but a very detail travel map is included.

There are many other travel series and here are some examples and just like the many travel agencies, you may like some better than others. And if you already have some other titles in the same series, you will know their weak and strong points as each series has their own character. Read the reviews in Amazon, take your pick and enjoy your background reading. (Keep an eye on the publication dates to ensue you get the latest edition. Most of the series are updated regularly and the more popular ones are updated annually.)

The Rough Guide series.

The Fodor series.

The Frommer series

The Lonely Planet series.

The Insightguide series.

Happy reading and happy travelling! My next posts will be on my first package group tour to Eastern Europe done almost 3 years ago, how time flies. So stay tuned.

Ronald Kwok