When you think of Turkey, the images of magical hot air balloons flying over a dreamy volcanic landscape immediately comes to mind.
Though there are other activities you can do in this country in Southeastern Europe, Filipino tourists will most likely have flying in hot air balloons at the top of their travel bucketlists. Who wouldn't want to enjoy a panoramic view from up above in one of the world's best places hot air balloon destinations?
The balloons fly over a unique geological formation with “fairy chimney” formations carved by wind and rainwater known as the Göreme National Park and Rock Cut in the Cappadocia Region in central Turkey, which was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
This week, former Vice President Leni Robredo shared photos of the view from above with daughters Aika, Tricia and Jillian aboard a hot air balloon in Turkey.
Broadcast journalist Karen Davila also recently shared photos of her family vacation in this unique bucketlist-worthy destination.
"Cappadocia’s landscape is magical. Unique geological formations and fairy chimneys that are millions of years in the making. It’s a whole other world over here," wrote Davila, who promised to share videos on her YouTube channel.
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Dreaming of taking to the skies on a post-pandemic international trip? Here's what Filipino tourists need to know about traveling to Turkey in 2022.
How do you get to Turkey from the Philippines?
The most direct way to travel from the Philippines to Turkey is by flying from Manila to Istanbul. Both airports, Istanbul Airport and Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, are connected with other airports in their respective countries.
A direct flight from Manila to Istanbul takes approximately 16 hours and 30 minutes. From Istanbul, you can take another 80-minute flight to Cappadocia.
Where in Turkey can you enjoy hot air balloon rides?
The Cappadocia region of Turkey is said to be the most popular destination in the world for hot air ballooning. Before the pandemic, half of the world's balloon trips all took place in the region, with almost half a million people taking to the skies in 2018. Cappadocia is also one of the few places in the world you can try the activity almost all year round.
Travel requirements for Filipinos to Turkey as of 2022
According to the website of the Turkish Embassy in Manila, as of June 1, 2022, Turkey does not require a negative PCR/antigen test result or proof of two doses of vaccination/recovery for inbound passengers entering Turkey.
However, a visa is still required for Filipinos who want to visit Turkey. Passports must also be valid at the time of application. Additionally, the Filipino passport should have a minimum validity of 6 months from the expected date of arrival in Turkey.
As a temporary COVID requirement, Filipino travelers also need to fill up a Travel Health Certificate to enter their contact information and health status.
Do Filipinos need a visa for Turkey?
Yes, citizens from the Philippines need a visa to enter Turkey for short term stays. Philippine passport holders are eligible for a single-entry eVisa for Turkey and can stay up to 30 days.
To visit Turkish territory for tourism or business purposes, Filipinos can apply for the Turkey eVisa, by filling out an online form that can be filled out using a mobile device, computer, or tablet. All they need is an Internet connection and their passport number on hand.
In 2022, the Turkey visa requirements for Filipino citizens are as follows:
- A valid passport from the Republic of the Philippines
- An email address
- A debit or credit card
Without a passport, it is not possible to complete a Turkish eVisa application. The email address is mandatory, as this is where the Turkish government sends the eVisa to the traveler. The Turkey e-Visa carries a standard fee of $66.99 (P3,725.68), which at this time, must be paid with a debit or credit card. There aren’t any other available payment options.
Nationals of the Philippines holding diplomatic and official/service passport are exempted from visa for their travels up to 30 days.
For full visa requirements, check out this page.
How much do hot air balloon rides usually cost?
Similar to other top bucketlist activities like skydiving and bungy jumping, Cappadocia hot air balloon rides can be on the pricey side. The Standard Balloon Flight usually has a one hour flight time, with each ballon holding a capacity of 16 to 24 people. Roughly 150 hot air balloons take flight every day.
As of 2022, Cappadocia's hot air balloon rides ranges from €160 to €280 (P9,025 to P15,785) per person. The cost depends on the duration of the flight, the time of the day when you take-off and whether you fly during peak season or not.
The site Cappadocia Visitor lists the following rates, with rides inclusive of champagne cocktails, insurance and transfers.
- Regular Balloon Ride: €160 (P9,025)
- Comfort Balloon Ride: €210 (P11,845)
- Deluxe Balloon Ride: €280 (P15,785)
Best time to visit Turkey
While tourists can take a hot-air balloon flight any time of year, flying can also be weather dependent. With Cappadocia's hot, dry summers and cold (sometimes snowy) winters, the best time to go if you want to enjoy aerial rides is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September and October) months.
After the event was cancelled due to the pandemic, Cappadocia recently held their 3rd International Balloon Festival on July 21-24, 2022 with the participation of many special shaped balloons and other events.
Other things you can do in Turkey
Flying in a hot air balloon isn't the only thing you can do in Turkey. You can also stay the night in unique cave hotels, walk along the maze-like underground cities, go hiking around unique trails, and chow down on Turkish cuisine.
Travel site Planet Ware recommends hiking or horse riding in Cappadocia's Red and Rose valleys where "rolling and rippling rock faces arc out across the countryside in a palette of pastel pink, yellow, and orange cliffs, formed by volcanic explosion and millennia of wind and water erosion."
You can also explore the village of Göreme, the center of Cappadocia's tourism industry, with many of the traditional stone houses half buried into a hill have been turned into boutique cave hotels for tourists.
There are also surreal underground cities, said to have been chiseled out of the ground during the Bronze Age Hittite era, waiting to be explored.