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Travelling from Istanbul to Damascus watch

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    This summer, I'll be spending three weeks in Damascus with a friend, and having just looked at direct flights, they're looking pretty expensive (especially compared to last year, I could've sworn BMI baby used to fly to Damascus for about £250 return from London, but that doesn't exist anymore.. )

    So I was contemplating flying to Istanbul and then travelling down. Have done some reading on the internet, and there used to be a direct train that went from Istanbul to Aleppo, but that has been temporarily (permanently?) suspended since 2008. Another method is, apparently, getting a train to Adana, then buses Adana-Antakya-Aleppo (which involves staying overnight somewhere, and seems like a bit of a hassle.)


    Has anyone taken the Istanbul -> Damascus route (with the sole intention of getting to Damascus cheaply, rather than seeing things along the way.. which I'd like to do, but I don't think I'd have enough time this time)?

    I considered the option of an internal flight from Istanbul to somewhere near the Syrian border (I think that's possible) but I'm not sure where to start looking.

    I would mind a mega-long coach journey from Istanbul to.. anywhere near Aleppo or Damascus really, but I haven't read anything anywhere to suggest that these exist.

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Edit. Or even any other cheapish options to get to Damascus from somewhere other than Istanbul..
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    The coaches exist:

    You could do Istanbul -Antakya - Damascus (two coaches) or Istanbul - Aleppo (which may be better if you're going to Halab before Damascus). There may even be a direct Istanbul - Damascus bus but I'll let another TSR user confirm that.

    Alternatively - "budget" airlines (which would shorten your journey but obviously with a price)

    www.pegasusairlines.com (I would recommend this of the two)
    http://www.airarabia.com/index.php

    I would go for the easyjet option to Istanbul and coach it. Just remember that' it's a long coach journey (although they are VERY comfortable, and stop many times along the way for you to freshen up, have drinks etc). I had a 26 hour journey (33hours in total from destination A to B) but I wasn't to fussed about slummin' it.
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    I'm be doing the Istanbul-Cairo route in a few months with an extended stay in Damascus.
    Out of interest, when do you think you would be going? Found any decent accommodation?

    In regards to flights, I've got a vague recollection of seeing a good offer with BMI baby for a return to Beirut. Whether that was just a temporary thing or not though, I can't be sure. It's probably worth checking if STA travel have any decent fares as well.

    The flight to Istanbul and bussing it still looks like your best option though. Maybe with overnight stops along the way in somewhere like Goreme and Adana?
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    (Original post by Haft_Hasht_Shish)
    The coaches exist:

    You could do Istanbul -Antakya - Damascus (two coaches) or Istanbul - Aleppo (which may be better if you're going to Halab before Damascus). There may even be a direct Istanbul - Damascus bus but I'll let another TSR user confirm that.

    Alternatively - "budget" airlines (which would shorten your journey but obviously with a price)

    www.pegasusairlines.com (I would recommend this of the two)
    http://www.airarabia.com/index.php

    I would go for the easyjet option to Istanbul and coach it. Just remember that' it's a long coach journey (although they are VERY comfortable, and stop many times along the way for you to freshen up, have drinks etc). I had a 26 hour journey (33hours in total from destination A to B) but I wasn't to fussed about slummin' it.
    Ah I didn't realise there would be a direct coach to/from Antakya... that would be good. I've read some stuff on lonelyplanet of people saying that this is a mental trip to do on coaches.. is it really that bad? It doesn't sound bad apart from the length (although I imagine the roads aren't in the best condition!). 33 hours from Istanbul to Damascus you mean?

    ah yeah i did see pegasus.. not all that cheap sadly. I was looking at flights from Istanbul to Damascus too, but they're extortionate!

    thanks for the help.

    (Original post by frankfranklinin)
    I'm be doing the Istanbul-Cairo route in a few months with an extended stay in Damascus.
    Out of interest, when do you think you would be going? Found any decent accommodation?

    In regards to flights, I've got a vague recollection of seeing a good offer with BMI baby for a return to Beirut. Whether that was just a temporary thing or not though, I can't be sure. It's probably worth checking if STA travel have any decent fares as well.

    The flight to Istanbul and bussing it still looks like your best option though. Maybe with overnight stops along the way in somewhere like Goreme and Adana?
    I think we'd be going first week of June -> Last week of June (restricted to this because of uni term dates/house moving dates, otherwise we'd probably stay longer, I'm told it takes a while to adjust to the food/sleeping patterns!)
    I'll be staying with my friends family, so can't help on the accommodation front i'm afraid.

    Beirut did cross my mind briefly but my mum's initial reaction (not that I need to take it into account) was immediately something along the lines of Lebanon being safe, but that she wouldn't want to fly there.. I dunno. I just checked, it's £500 return, that rules that out then.
    Maybe Amman? Although they seem expensive too..

    The only reason why I want to avoid overnight stays is because I feel like we haven't got enough time as it is in Syria (we're really trying to push the dates but can't stay any longer than three weeks) considering we want to make a quick trip to Jordan and Lebanon too, and staying overnight in Turkey would waste a few days.. hmm.
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    Syrian airlines do cheap offers from London to Damascus if you travel during June you should check it out
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    Not trying to scare you but I went to Damascus at the end of the last of year (border crossing from Amman) and it was honestly the worst "holiday" of my life...

    Took us 5 hours to cross the border because my name was similar to that of a suspects (aye right) ... after providing endless documents and paying bribes (surprise, surprise) they let us through but we had to report to the immigration dept.... etc etc etc

    we spent 4 days there and it was all spent going from government building to government buidling (dodgy places)... paying bribes along the way!

    First and last time I go there.... S**** Hole of a country tbh with As***** officials in every place you can imagine!

    C****
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    Well Syrian airlines do pretty cheap direct, I went with them a few years ago. Best to buy from travel agents (TONS on Edgware Road).

    Word of warning: Easily adjustable seats in economy class. 'Nuff said
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    My friend had some bad experiences with Syrian Air.. their planes seem a little.. dodgy. So she'd rather not fly with them.

    (Original post by judicious)
    Not trying to scare you but I went to Damascus at the end of the last of year (border crossing from Amman) and it was honestly the worst "holiday" of my life...

    Took us 5 hours to cross the border because my name was similar to that of a suspects (aye right) ... after providing endless documents and paying bribes (surprise, surprise) they let us through but we had to report to the immigration dept.... etc etc etc

    we spent 4 days there and it was all spent going from government building to government buidling (dodgy places)... paying bribes along the way!

    First and last time I go there.... S**** Hole of a country tbh with As***** officials in every place you can imagine!

    C****
    Besides the amazing landscape/architecture/food/etc (which is the reason why I'm going there), I've been told by many that the Syrians are incredibly friendly and hospitable people (with a very corrupt government). I'm very sorry to hear that that happened to you but I really don't think that that is representative of general travel to Syria.
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    (Original post by Hispanic-Impressions)
    Besides the amazing landscape/architecture/food/etc (which is the reason why I'm going there), I've been told by many that the Syrians are incredibly friendly and hospitable people (with a very corrupt government). I'm very sorry to hear that that happened to you but I really don't think that that is representative of general travel to Syria.

    True mate, loads of amazing landscape, architecture, food etc but trust me if you have an experience like mine (and it happens quite often btw) you will hate the day you decided to head to Syria or the Levant in general....

    Jordan is not much better!
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    (Original post by Hispanic-Impressions)
    Ah I didn't realise there would be a direct coach to/from Antakya... that would be good. I've read some stuff on lonelyplanet of people saying that this is a mental trip to do on coaches.. is it really that bad? It doesn't sound bad apart from the length (although I imagine the roads aren't in the best condition!). 33 hours from Istanbul to Damascus you mean?

    ah yeah i did see pegasus.. not all that cheap sadly. I was looking at flights from Istanbul to Damascus too, but they're extortionate!

    thanks for the help.
    No, the 33 hours was from N. Iraq --> Silopi --> Istanbul (after coming from from N. Iraq) I used it as an example of a long coach journey within Turkey, to show that a Istanbul - Antakya journey will be fine and much shorter. The roads, especially within Turkey are absolutely fine!
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    (Original post by judicious)
    True mate, loads of amazing landscape, architecture, food etc but trust me if you have an experience like mine (and it happens quite often btw) you will hate the day you decided to head to Syria or the Levant in general....

    Jordan is not much better!
    Sorry but that is BS/ Yes, it's possible that some individuals may face problems here and there. But that's expected at border crossings in the Middle East and Asia. You just have to go with the flow and expect hiccups here and there. I've faced

    It's an amazing country and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anybody. I met several American's who just turned up at the Border without a pre-arranged visa. Yes, they faced a long wait (as they should have) but they were let in and had an amazing time. I have yet to meet anybody who has been to Syria/Damascus and disliked it.

    Your name was similar to that of a suspect - What's your ethnic background?

    Why did you go there for four days anyways?
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    (Original post by Haft_Hasht_Shish)
    Sorry but that is BS/ Yes, it's possible that some individuals may face problems here and there. But that's expected at border crossings in the Middle East and Asia. You just have to go with the flow and expect hiccups here and there. I've faced

    It's an amazing country and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anybody. I met several American's who just turned up at the Border without a pre-arranged visa. Yes, they faced a long wait (as they should have) but they were let in and had an amazing time. I have yet to meet anybody who has been to Syria/Damascus and disliked it.

    Your name was similar to that of a suspect - What's your ethnic background?

    Why did you go there for four days anyways?
    Look at you interrogating me :mmm:

    I can ******* go where I want mate.... had a weeks holiday from work so went to Amman for a day and then onto Damascus for 4 days!!!! is that such a crime? (I wanted to see the country which I'd heard about, big mistake)

    Talking of Americans, there were some with us who were held up for 10 hours and even when we got through they were still waiting.... for no reason!

    Then these S****hole countried complain about the bad image they have but F*** me they deserve it.... how do they expect tourists to visit if they treat them like animals!

    Stupid backward countries (yeah there may be problems which have caused this but I shouldn't have to think about that as a tourist) who don't understand the meaning of treating people with respect because they're too busy collecting bribes!

    Don't tar all Asian countries with the same brush mate.... I live in Dubai and all of the Gulf countries are civilised... you never get stopped for no reason etc...

    Plus why should anybody wait if they don't have a pre-arranged visa when all you need to do is pay 50 dollars (funny it's so expensive for such a backward country) and get the stupid visa???

    You go to any gulf country and you get visas upon arrival without any hassle.

    I'm British :fyi:
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    Interrogating? lol

    I asked you a simple question and you go off on a diatribe. Send a complaint if it bothers you so much, not that they'll give a damn.
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    (Original post by Haft_Hasht_Shish)
    Interrogating? lol

    I asked you a simple question and you go off on a diatribe. Send a complaint if it bothers you so much, not that they'll give a damn.
    True...

    which is why these countries will always be crap!
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    Rent a horde of peasant children to carry you.
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    (Original post by domino0806)
    Rent a horde of peasant children to carry you.
    Just so you know, I initially read that as pheasant children and was enormously disappointed to find that not to be the case.
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    Anyway, enough *****ing about Syria..

    (Original post by Haft_Hasht_Shish)
    No, the 33 hours was from N. Iraq --> Silopi --> Istanbul (after coming from from N. Iraq) I used it as an example of a long coach journey within Turkey, to show that a Istanbul - Antakya journey will be fine and much shorter. The roads, especially within Turkey are absolutely fine!
    Ah right. I've read somewhere that it's about 36 hours istanbul -> damascus and the roads are atrocious and there are loads of accidents.. i dunno. I've gone through albania and the roads were pretty bad there, i can't imagine it being too differnet from that..
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    (Original post by Hispanic-Impressions)
    Anyway, enough *****ing about Syria..



    Ah right. I've read somewhere that it's about 36 hours istanbul -> damascus and the roads are atrocious and there are loads of accidents.. i dunno. I've gone through albania and the roads were pretty bad there, i can't imagine it being too differnet from that..
    I guess 36 hours makes sense when you include the border crossing wait + the fact that you'll first stop at Antakya (I hadn't taken that into account).

    I took many intra-city bus journeys within Syria and had no problems. Yes, it may be bumpy at some points but I have no personal recollection of it The worst roads were probably from Deir-Azur to Hassaka --> Al Qamishli. But unless you're going to the North East, South Eastern Turkey nr. Iraq, you shouldn't face any problems.
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    ^Thank you, glad to hear that about the roads.

    36 hours is pretty long.. might consider an internal flight.

    Has anyone gotten a visa from the Syrian Embassy in London? Is it easy enough?
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    (Original post by Hispanic-Impressions)
    ^Thank you, glad to hear that about the roads.

    36 hours is pretty long.. might consider an internal flight.

    Has anyone gotten a visa from the Syrian Embassy in London? Is it easy enough?
    Have you considered flying to somewhere in the south of Turkey from the UK instead? holiday companies such as thomas cook, thompson etc opperate charter flights from loads of UK airports to southern Turkey. I've flown Antalya to Manchester and it was about £50 single, as you can just book yourself on the flight like with easyjet even if you don't actually go on a thomas cook all inclusive holiday! If you flew there you could cut a long time off your journey - I've done the Istanbul to southern Turkey by bus/train route and it took me about 14 hours... the roads are fine though, if not a bit bendy and the people on my bus took great delight in chatting to me in Turkish all the way and I just nodded and smiled From looking online, it seems you can get a bus from Antalya to Antakya (which according to someones blog is 15 hours) and then from there get the bus to Damascus which is 9 hours... meaning you're looking at quite a lot less than 36 hours!

    I've never done that route though, it just strook me as odd that you want to travel the length of Turkey! So there could be some logical reason for this, I don't know
 
 
 
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