Tickets to Turkey?

My wife and I would like to go to Turkey soon. However, over the past few weeks I’ve been discovering that it’s kind of difficult for Chinese people to go to Turkey. Difficult… but not impossible.

Now that we’re sure we can both actually get in, we just need to buy plane tickets, but we want to go during–you guessed it–the October National Day holiday. Somehow we kind of forgot that there are a freaking bazillion* people in this country, and a good number of them also plan to leave the country during the same time period. Demand drives plane ticket prices up. Good old capitalism.

Anyway, if anyone has some suggestions for travel agencies or other good ways to get to Turkey from Shanghai, please let me know, either by e-mail or comment. Thanks!

* Rough estimate


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Would it be any easier to get a plane tkt from another city. Like, take a train west to another city & get a flight out of there. True, it would cut into your travel time. It might also be more expensive. Just a thought though . . .

  2. Hey,just moved to Michigan for school. so what’s the difficulty?
    I am going to Turkey this Christmas and am looking forward to it.
    days ago, I surprisingly found out a 2 bedroom hostel costs about $20 in the Asian side of Istanbul. Well, I guess the rest of the country would cost me $10/night.
    haha, I will need tips for Turkey soon. Make sure you tell me where to get robbed

  3. Why Turkey?

  4. John, why Turkey besides the fact that it doesn’t receive much mainstream coverage? has netted some results lately.

  5. Why did you leave your vacation planning so late? if you booked 3-6 months in advance (or longer) you’d probably get cheaper tickets…perhaps flying out of HK would be cheaper for you..check out if you need help with booking with them, let me know.

    I’ve been planning to visit Turkey in the near future as well..if people are asking ‘Why Turkey?’ that’s a good sign;)

  6. There are ads promoting Turkey as a tourist destination in the Beijing subway at the moment. Shanghai subway is probably the same?

    Not that I’m insinuating you chose Turkey for that reason, of course 🙂

  7. I just got dissed on train tickets because, well, if there are a bazillion people in China, let us not forget that a trajillion of the young’ns and some of their parental units travel back to school in the first week of Sept. Grrr.

  8. Tim P,

    Yeah, I’ve tried that. Pretty much all flights out of China are pretty full (unless I want to drop 25,000 RMB per ticket on business class…).

  9. Turkey: interesting, good food, not too expensive. Why not?


    No, I’ve never seen ads for Turkey. Don’t remember where the idea came from, but I’ve had cool friends from Turkey since 1998, and I always thought it would be a good place to visit.

  10. dezza,

    It took a really long time to work out the visa, and we didn’t want to buy the tickets until we were sure my wife could go.

  11. Well, if you want to save money, you have only one choice = Aeroflot! I bet you can get tickets with them for around $1000 per person. Sounds sketchy, but I hear that their international planes and safety are actually pretty solid. Call their Shanghai office and check a travel agent that serves Russians for comparison.

    Other options include:

    I assume you’ve already checked the Turkish Air / Air China codeshare out of Beijing.
    1) Korean Air (contact the local airline office directly)
    2) ANA (contact directly as well)
    3) Austrian and Lufthansa (probably expensive, check their websites and travel agent for codeshares)

    There are lots of other routings, as well – search ITA here for possibilities.

    What dates do you want to fly?

  12. I forgot to add, Turkey is amazing – don’t give up on finding flights!

  13. I’m guessing you looked on C-trip? Jodi and I got our tix to Beijing during the same period, 四折, online. But like Tim said, maybe fly from/to another city, like to a second-tier European airport and then book a budget airline to Istanbul.

  14. I spent three weeks in Turkey in 2004 and absolutely loved it. Could have stayed three more had I the time. If you do have time, don’t miss Olympos (cool tree-house accommodation near a beautiful beach) and Cappadocia (amazing moonscape scenery). As you appear to have only about a week to ten days this might be difficult, but see what you can do. Allow a few days in Istanbul, too, truly a world-class city.

    I wouldn’t recommend staying on the Asian side- too far from the action! I’m sure you and your wife can find a decent hotel room in Sultanahmet or Taksim for a reasonable fee. Both neighborhoods are central and full of sights and restaurants.

    I wouldn’t know about getting there from China (my visit predated my arrival here) but I think Micah’s suggestion is a good one- fly to Frankfurt as they’re likely to have a budget flight to Istanbul given Germany’s large Turkish population.

  15. Yeah I’d agree with DD. Turkey is a huge vacation destination for Russian elitny so they have alot of flights. Maybe flying through Moscow or Novosibirsk may be your best bet. Hit up their website with your dates.

  16. Don’t listen to the haters and the doubters – I’ve been around the world and maybe Turkey is my favorite. Good food, exotic location, lots of ancient Mosques, Aegean seas better than Greece’s, plenty cheap, the top ancient Greek and Roman ruins…

    Yeah, try playing around with traveling to other cities first, the expedia.coms of the world don’t always arrange up all the connections – Bangkok and Hong Kong are strong possibilities.

  17. I’d also suggest flying anywhere to Europe and then continue to Turkey with a low-cost carrier. Europe has plenty of those, and Turkish migrants are strategically placed throughout Europe to make flights worthwhile.

    Wikipedia hast a list of LCCs flying to Turkey.

  18. Yeah, I was bored and ran it through, going to Bangkok & then Istanbul is a combined $1500. Still too expensive, but better than 25K Kuai.

    If it’s not too inconvenient with visas and plans, stop over for a day – I had a day stopover in Bangkok once, and it was the toppermost of the poppermost.

  19. Keep trying. I used to live in Turkey and there is no better place to go.

  20. Greg Pasden Says: September 4, 2007 at 9:04 am

    Merhaba! I think your Dad is leading you in the proper direction. I often do the same thing for myself when I travel (it can be a drag).

    You may want to consider calling World Airways. They fly ad hoc stuff into Adana, Turkey.

    I also have a friend who lives in Turkey – Able. You can contact him. I’ll email his email address to you or go to his website:

    Good Luck

  21. Istanbul is waaay up there at the top of my list of favourite cities, you’ll love it! And obviously, try and hit up the coast; the southern one is much quieter than the western one from what I can tell, although Efes was really cool, great ruins of a Roman city.

  22. I actually did look into flying into another city and getting a connecting flight from there, but nothing was simple. Part of the problem was bad internet connections.

    There were cheap flights with Aeroflot, but my wife refused to fly it, saying, “Russian pilots drink before they fly.” Sounds like something you could dismiss as a silly prejudice, but her statement was actually based on a personal experience, so I couldn’t argue with that.

    We got flights on Qatar Airlines with a transfer in Doha, but then later got an even better direct flight through Turkish Airlines. Both were $1500 per ticket. No way around that.

    This has definitely been a learning experience. I’ve never had to pay this much for tickets to anywhere, so I’ll be sure to avoid this problem in the future.

  23. $1500 was expensive. I got a deal in June and it cost me $660 to fly from Chicago to Istanbul. Did you get the tickets from local agencies? the price varies quite a bit when I booked the ticket for my trip to LA years ago. You may consult friends who’s doing airline ticket business .anyway, that’s for next time. Your wife must know much more on this issue.

  24. i loved my trip to turkey. you’d need at least a week to see all there is and the people are quite friendly. you won’t be sorry you went, despite what people seem to be saying. best of luck.

  25. I just got back to China from Istanbul yesterday and I am miserable. Having a party tomorrow to remind myself what great friends I have here. Istanbul is beautiful. I got my ticket through cTrip; it was a joint-Turkish Airlines-Air China flight. Paid 8700 rmb for it.

  26. $1500 isn’t really that bad considering the time you are flying – I’d say you did okay. As for not paying that much in the future, ticket prices are only going up for busy airports like Beijing and Shanghai and major U.S. airports.

  27. You should check into Kazakhstan Airlines, which I believe has a flight from Urumqi (in Xinjiang) to Istanbul with a stopover somewhere in Central Asia. China Southern also has flights to Sharjah in Dubai, where there are lots of connections to Istanbul. You’d just have to fly to Urumqi from Shanghai, which is easy.

    Let me know if you find out anything interesting.

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