KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
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All meals are included in the price of the Silk Road Tours, as is wine or spirits with most dinners. In Turkey, all breakfasts and dinners are included in the price of your guided tour. However, lunch is not included as experience has shown us that the majority of our clients prefer the flexibility of making their own choices. Although lunch is still taken as a group, local venues are chosen throughout the tour to provide a variety of choices for lunch, from full meals to lighter fare such as salads, soups or sandwiches. This gives clients an opportunity to sample traditional local dishes, and to order according to individual taste and appetite. This is also the case on the free day in Istanbul, the only day when dinner is not included. Cost of lunches in Turkey will range from about US$2.00 for soup, to approximately US$9.00 for a full meal, not including beverages. Dinner cost on the free day ranges greatly depending on the choice of restaurant, but generally cost between, US$8.00 to US$50.00 per person.
Your CFT Brochure lists all of the sightseeing and special features included in your package, such as the farewell dinner in Bora tours where Bora plays a variety of folk music instruments with the Gypsy orchestra in Kumkapi, the Taverna District in Istanbul. Also included are the Whirling Dervish Ceremony, and the private cruise on the Bosphorous, which are optional with most other companies. This is also true of the many wonderful folk dance and music performances we will see, and the local horse games and eagle hunts we will experience on the Silk Road Tours.
However, you may wish to make additional sightseeing plans of your own when you are at leisure. Clients with a particular interest in art galleries or museums that are not already included in your tour package, should allow extra to cover the cost of visiting these places. As a general rule, entrance fees to museums and art galleries can range from US$4.00 to US $18.00.
In Istanbul, you may use the tram conveniently located across the street from our hotel to reach all major points of interest. Tokens cost 1.5TL each way, approximately US$1.00 per ride.
On your travels you may encounter an air-conditioning system in public places and in hotels that might not be up to the standard you are used to back home. Just think positively and look upon it as part of the travel experience!
Major credit cards are accepted in most countries, although this is a matter for individual shops and hotels. Most businesses in Turkey do accept credit cards. The bill you sign will be made out in the same way it is at home, except the total will be in the local currency. The credit card company will convert the total into the home currency based on the rate of exchange in effect at the time the transaction was recorded. You may also use Visa, Master Card and American Express to obtain cash abroad at the regular rate your credit card company charges.
Many locales in the Silk Road countries are still in the process of implementing this type of payment option, although all of the hotels used by CFT do accept credit cards.
If you choose to bring credit cards with you, do not forget to inform your credit card company that you are traveling abroad. A notation on your account will avoid blocked transactions due to heightened fraud security procedures.
Adapters are needed for 220 volts. Hairdryers are provided in most hotel rooms. If you take an electric razor, you should find a suitable socket in the bathroom.
Internet access is available in many hotels, sometimes for an additional fee. Internet café’s are found in many cities along our tour routes. Please remember to bring your complete email account details to ensure you can check your messages.
Enjoy the Unfamiliar!
It is exciting to visit and explore new places and experience the cultural diversity across our world. Part of the travel experience is discovering the food, customs and other aspects of daily life in other countries. You will, of course, find that the food, customs and aspects of daily life in other countries can be quite different from life back home. They can also vary greatly from one country to another. Some customs you encounter on your tour may seem strange to you, but if you try to keep an open mind and simply enjoy the unfamiliar, you will have a more enjoyable experience.
Food on Board
CFT has no restrictions about bringing food on the bus. We do ask that you deposit trash in the receptacles provided. This will help the drivers in keeping the coach spotlessly clean at all times. CFT prides itself on the comfort and cleanliness of its vehicles.
Currency exchange booths are available at most airports and along the tour route. Automatic Money Machines (ATM’s) are also widely available. On Bora’s Tours only, Bora will exchange money in case of immediate need.
Please remember to bring new bills to exchange and/or to spend. Bills that are worn, torn or currency that has been written on will not be accepted.
Holidays and Changes
Slight itinerary adjustments may need to be made during local or national holidays. At these times, access to museums, shopping and sightseeing tours may be limited. Also, local holidays, closing days, or other circumstances may change the day of the week for certain activities.
Hotels Around the World
When selecting hotels, we try to balance modern with traditional, so that you may enjoy the best of both worlds. In a country with a history as ancient as Turkey, often the tourist industry is centuries old in areas you will be visiting, and hotels frequently reflect the varied traditions and cultures of each historic location. CFT tours use five star accommodations whenever possible, but in certain areas of Eastern Turkey and in some of the areas on the Silk Road tours, we provide the best accommodations available. You will experience unique accommodations such as an overnight in a yurt in Kyrgystan, a 1200 year old luxury cave hotel in Cappadocia, and a luxury caravan hotel built in 1285 in Mardin.
Single rooms are often smaller than they are in North America, and rooms may not be ready for early check-in, as check-out times are usually midday. Also, the term, “private facilities” generally means a bedroom with an adjoining bathroom, usually with a bath and/or a shower. Some hotels do not provide washcloths in bathrooms, so guests are advised to bring their own. On certain occasions, for operational or local reasons, it may be necessary to change your hotel accommodation in a particular place. If this does occur, you will be notified of such changes as soon as possible.
Hotel Check-In and Check-Out on CFT Tours
Your Tour Director will advise you in advance of the procedure before arriving at each hotel to ensure that check-in and check-out runs smoothly. Crowding the reception area usually hinders rather than helps, so just relax in the designated lounge area until your name is called to take your key. On departing the hotel, always remember to return your room key to reception before boarding the coach.
Most of the meals included on your CFT Tour are open buffets. Occasionally, a dinner may be a set menu. Buffets offer a wide range of traditional, regional and vegetarian selections.
How Much to Take
The length of your stay, the extent of your travel, and your shopping and sightseeing plans are some of the many factors that will determine how much money you will need. This is always a difficult decision.
CFT has two suggestions: First, plan your budget well in advance of your trip and, second, take more money than you think you will need rather than less. This way you will not be disappointed if you find a “must have” item.
Arrangements can be made at the hotel for laundry service at your own expense when there is a two or three nights over. Please check the cost of this service before you proceed.
We ask you to bring ONLY ONE BAG or SUITCASE PER PERSON as storage space in modern luxury touring is limited. The maximum size of your luggage must be no larger than 30’ wide x 18? high x 10? deep (76cm x 45cm x 25cm) and the maximum weight is 50 lbs (23 kg). Be advised that a 44 lb (20kg) limit on most domestic flights is strictly enforced in China and most other Silk Road countries. You may bring one piece of hand luggage that fits under your coach seat or in the overhead luggage rack. Wheeled carry-ons are not practical, as they do not fit in the space on the coach.
Your comfort and safety are very important to us. We therefore appreciate your cooperation. If a SECOND suitcase is carried, or if your first exceeds the permitted weight and/or dimensions, a charge of US$4.00 per traveling day will be collected by your Tour Director. Baggage handling at hotels for ONE suitcase per person is included in the Guided Tour price (not included for Locally Guided or Independent packages).
Please note that regulations regarding airline luggage allowances are constantly changing. We advise you to check with your airline in advance of traveling, to ensure your luggage conforms to the most current regulations. Airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage.
Making Phone Calls
It is always cheaper for you to use public telephones (pay phones) to phone home from other countries. Post offices sell prepaid phone cards at a very reasonable price, and your Tour Director will advise you how to use the pay telephone if you are not sure. All hotels will add a service charge to the cost of any phone calls you make from your room. This charge can be very high. You may also arrange international cell phone service through your cell phone provider.
International Country Calling Codes
Silk Road Countries
Smoking is not permitted on board the coaches for the comfort of our passengers. Our itineraries are well-planned so that frequent comfort are made during each touring day.
CFT vacation packages are so well-planned and include so much, that optional sightseeing excursions are not part of our program. Hot air balloon rides are available for purchase in Cappadocia at a discounted rate for CFT travelers, and are the only optional excursion we offer.
CFT has compiled the following list of helpful hints and guidelines to assist you in the packing process.
1. Start by writing a packing list
2. Choose clothes that pack well and color coordinate
3. Leave expensive items such as jewelry at home
4. When packing an item, think about how many times you are going to wear it, the more times the better.
5. Be sure your personal and tour details are written on a label inside your suitcase, including your phone number, departure and return flight details.
6. If traveling as a couple, pack clothing for both people in each suitcase. In the unlikely event the airline misplaces one of your suitcases, you will have something fresh to wear.
7. Make sure that your luggage is in good secure condition, and don’t forget the TSA recognized locks and keys.
8. For your safety and that of others, never accept packages or articles from anyone unknown to you to carry onboard the aircraft.
Suggested items to pack:
2. Photocopies of the ID page of your passport, airline tickets, credit cards and itinerary (one for you and one for someone at home)
3. Extra passport photos
4. Credit Cards (only those needed)
6. Comfortable walking and dress shoes
7. Clothes that can be mixed and layered (smart and casual)
8. Toiletries-remember to pack 3-ounce sizes that fit into one 1-quart zip-top bag
9. Money belt
10. Spare memory card for your digital camera or film
11. Extra batteries or battery charger
12. Only those keys needed on return
13. Medicine and spare prescriptions
14. Extra glasses, contacts and prescription
16. Zip-top plastic bags
17. Earplugs and sleep mask
18. Travel alarm clock
19. Mini first aid kit
20. Mini sewing kit
21. Toiletries and tissues
22. Adapters and voltage converter
23. Patience and good humor!
Passports and Visas
All passengers require a passport that is valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip, with the appropriate visas. Due to the complicated nature of securing all visas for travelers on Bora’s Silk Road Tour, CFT specialists will handle the visa requirements for these tours at cost. In 2009, U.S. citizens are charged US$20.00 to purchase a multiple entry visa for Turkey at the airport before they go to passport control. No paperwork or passport photos are necessary, and this visa stamp is good for three months from the date of purchase.
You should carry a color copy of the ID page of your passport with you at all times. You may leave your passport in the room or hotel safe, or locked in your suitcase. Certain hotels will hold your passport overnight in order to comply with local regulations.
Please remember CFT and/or their employees are not responsible for passport, health or other requirements of the countries visited or for any loss incurred by you for failing to comply with the laws and regulations of countries visited.
Personal Expenses and Shopping
Your Tour Director, local host or hotel concierge will advise you where local markets and shopping areas are located. But please remember if you are planning to do a lot of shopping, you will need to plan for it in your budget and allow room for your purchases in your luggage.
Also, include smaller items in your budget such as stamps, postcards, taxi fare, laundry expenses and calling home. We recommend you estimate US$5 to US$10 per day to cover such expenses. Bringing home souvenirs of the places you visited is part of the travel experience. However, it is difficult for us to guide you on prices for general shopping. You know your purchasing habits, so you will have to judge for yourself a reasonable amount to bring.
Personal Hotel Expenses
Any additional costs incurred during your stay at a hotel, such as laundry, phone calls or mini-bar purchases, are your responsibility. Please check the price list for mini-bar items before you make a purchase. Please settle your account the evening before leaving to ensure a speedy and smooth departure the following morning.
CFT Tours are a photographer’s paradise, and no doubt you will want to capture all the beauty, history and wonder of your travel experience. Your Tour Director knows all of the best places and will stop the motor coach whenever possible to provide you with amazing photo opportunities. But please spare a thought for your fellow travelers who are not budding photographers. It is impossible to stop the coach every few minutes for shots from a different angle. So please be guided by your Tour Directors, who after all, know the country like the back of their hand and can advise you of the very best shots to take. If you use a digital camera, don’t forget to bring extra batteries or a charger, and extra memory cards. If you travel with a laptop, it can also be used to store photos along the way. If you use film, we suggest you purchase it prior to going on your tour. On Bora’s Grand Tour of Turkey, clients have commented that they have taken more photos than they did in Africa or China. One traveler shot more that 5,000 photos!
On Silk Road and tours of Turkey, locals gladly pose for photos and do not beg for money.
The CFT seat rotation plan ensures that you enjoy the views from the coach at a different vantage point each day. It also gives you an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers across the aisle.
Turkey is a very safe country. Interpol named Istanbul the safest city in Europe in 2008, and it is designated the “Cultural Capital of Europe” for 2010. However it is still important that you take precautions when traveling. If hotel security boxes are available, we recommend that you use them for all your valuables. Prior to leaving home, purchase a money belt and/or a shoulder or neck holster to carry items such as your passport or a color copy of the passport ID page and extra cash. Be wary of pickpockets, although this is not as serious a problem in Turkey as it is in other countries.
Sightseeing on Tours
Tours are conducted by highly qualified local guides. CFT selects expert local guides who have demonstrated their depth of knowledge and their passion for the local history and culture. They are eager to share their stories and specialized knowledge with our travelers. In places where a local guide is not available, your Tour Director, also well versed in history and culture, will familiarize you with the locality. On Bora’s tours, Bora, himself, will lead the majority of the tour in his unique and dynamic style.
Tour documents and travel literature will be received 10 days to two weeks prior to your departure. These documents are valuable and contain important advice and essential information to make your touring vacation as enjoyable as possible. Please read these documents carefully before departure. If you have any questions, contact your CFT tour specialist.
CFT believes travel insurance is an absolute necessity. It is imperative that you take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy, which covers you the entire time you are away from home.
When you feel you have received good service, it is customary to tip in most parts of the world. CFT has pre-paid certain tips and gratuities for you, including your baggage handling at hotels from the time you join your tour, gratuities for breakfast and hotel buffet dinners, reception desk, and gratuities for all local guides. Tips for your Tour Director and coach driver and assistant are not included.
You can find the sightseeing highlights and travel features for your vacation tour in the CFT brochure. The highlights vary depending on which tour package you take. Your CFT tour specialists try to include as many highlights as possible each day. There is an art to carefully balancing sightseeing, relaxation and free time, and we hope you agree that we get it right!
While tap water is perfectly safe to drink in Turkey, we suggest you drink bottled water. CFT provides bottled water to our travelers free of charge. All CFT transportation vehicles have cold bottled water available to you at all times. You are also welcome to take bottles with you to your room.
CFT has offered the following websites for weather conditions pertinent to your travel schedule:
What is included in your tour package?
Your CFT vacation package includes the following: Accommodations, transportation, breakfast and dinner every travel day, breakfast on the free day, hotel baggage handling, tips for included meals; city tours and tips for local guides have been pre-paid, and museum, park and archeological site entrance fees. For a complete list of included features, refer to your itinerary page in the brochure. We hope this information will assist you in planning your budget.
Daily lunches and gratuities for lunch, lunch and dinner on the free day, and gratuities for your Tour Director and Coach Drivers and Assistants are not included in your tour package. Be sure to bring more money than you think you need to cover these extra costs and other odds and ends you might encounter.
Your Motor Coach
CFT is very proud of its luxurious motor coaches. Although seating capacity is 47 passengers, CFT never operates these coaches at more than two-thirds capacity. This is in consideration of the comfort of our clients. Air-conditioning is standard, the reclining seats are comfortable and the panoramic windows are kept spotlessly clean. Smaller transportation vehicles also leave 20% of the seats open for passenger comfort. The on board stereo system provides musical entertainment for quieter periods.
Your Tour Director
If you have any questions or problems, talk to your Tour Director. Tour Directors are there to help you, and they are a wealth of information on knowing the best places to go for sightseeing and shopping, and of course, for historical facts, lore and other information about the places you are visiting. CFT Tour Directors/Guides are carefully selected and well qualified to make your vacation tour a memorable learning experience.
Cultural Folk Tours Int’l Inc. reserves the right to cancel any tour prior to departure for any reason, including insufficient number of participants, in its sole judgment. If Cultural Folk Tours Int’l Inc. cancels a tour, participants will receive a full refund of money paid.
The refund Policy below will be strictly adhered to regardless of the reason for cancellation. A WRITTEN CANCELLATION IS REOUIRED FOR ALL REFUNDS. (Oral notices are not valid.) The following refund schedule will be based on the date we receive the written cancellation:
· Up to 75 days prior to departure: Obligatory service charge of $ 200 per person.
· 75- 45 days prior to departure: Forfeiture of full deposit ($ 400 per person) and applicable airline penalty.
· 44-30 days prior to departure: Forfeiture of full deposit, plus 30 % of land cost and applicable airline penalty. (Discounted group airfare tickets are non-refundable after being issued.)
· 29 -14 days prior to departure: Forfeiture of full deposit, plus 60 % of land costs and applicable airline penalty or no air refund.
· 13 days to 72 hours prior to departure: Forfeiture of full deposit, plus 80% of land costs. No air refund.
· Less than 72 hours or during the tour: There will be no refunds.