(Although this trip happens quite a while before the situation in the region took turn for the worse, Turkey remains as one of the places with a lasting impact on me and it has a reserved spot in my top 5 favourite destinations.)
I planned this trip quite on a short notice as I did not have a clear plan for the japanese spring holiday but it turned out to be a highly memorable one. Getting to the country itself is quite easy as Istanbul Airport is well connected to most of the major cities in the world. Turkish government also provides e-visa service for tourists from over 100 countries so there is a high probability that you do not need to go to an embassy in advance (see here for details)
Like many travellers flying in from Asia, I used Istanbul as my base but as I wanted to cover the countryside as well, I reached out to a local travel agency and we worked on a separate itinerary for travel within the country. My final itinerary looked like this:
Tokyo → Istanbul → Kayseri / Kappadokya → Izmir / Kusadasi → Efes → Pamukkale → Istanbul → Tokyo
Istanbul itself is a great city where you can see and feel how the culture from Asia and Europe blend nicely. I spent 4 days there and still I don’t think it was enough. The main tourist sites such as Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the palaces (Topkapi, Beylerbeyi, and Dolmabahce to name a few), and the Grand Bazaar are all wonderful and beautifully preserved.
For a change in scenery you could visit the other side (or should I say, the other continent) of Bophorus with any of the water taxis. These boats are part of the local transportation network and I really enjoyed my time going back and forth on them (plus, you’ll get magnificent views of the city from the water). Or if you want something less hectic, you can take a ferry to the Adalar Islands and enjoy a scenic, car-free walk along its coast and beautiful mansions.
Outside of Istanbul, the scene of travertine springs in Pamukkale was unparalleled and left me in awe, while staying in a cave hotel in Kappadokya and seeing hot balloons rose in the morning from the hotel roof was my one-of-a-kind experience. A short trip to Kusadasi introduced me to turkish beach resort scenery, with great views of the Aegean. And last but not least, as a fan of roman & greek history, the visit to Efes ruins was one of the highlights of the trip. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Greece or Rome, but the scale and good condition of the Efes ruins was more than enough to give me a taste of ancient times.
In short, this was an amazing trip! I was able to get so much (culture, historical sites, nature, resort, and more) from my 9 days in the country. One disclaimer: I love turkish food and being surrounded by endless delicacy options (there is so much more than doner kebab!) also contributes to how I feel about the overall trip. If you happen to dislike turkish food, it may negatively affect your travel experience there.
I truly hope that there will be no further incidents that would deter people from visiting and I can come back in the near future.