Jayvee and I prepared for our June 2018 birthday trip since November of 2017, for 7 months at that. The trip covered four countries in 12 days, namely DUBAI (UAE), TURKEY, GEORGIA, and ARMENIA.
So these are what we needed to prepare to make it happen!
(1.) Draft itinerary
(2.) Save for travel budget
(3.) Book flight, bus, and train tickets
(4.) Book accommodations
(5.) Secure visas
(6.) Get travel insurance
(7.) Have our money exchanged
(8.) Pay travel tax
(1) 12-Day Itinerary
|0||Manila – Dubai – Istanbul|
|1 – Turkey||Istanbul|
|2 – Turkey||Selcuk|
|3 – Turkey||Denizli|
|4 – Turkey||Cappadocia|
|5 – Turkey||Cappadocia|
|6 – Turkey||Cappadocia|
|7 – Georgia||Kazbegi|
|8 – Armenia||Armenia|
|9 – Georgia||Tblisi|
|10 – UAE||Dubai|
|11 – UAE||Dubai|
|12||Dubai – Manila|
(2) Book flight, bus, and train tickets
|Trips||Airline / Bus / Train|
|1. Manila – Dubai||Cebu Pacific|
|2. Dubai – Istanbul||Fly Pegasus|
|3. Istanbul – Izmir||Turkish Airlines|
|Izmir – Selcuk train||local train|
|Selcuk – Denizli train||local train|
|Denizli –Pamukkale mini bus||local mini bus|
|Denizli – Geröme sleeper bus||RH Turizm bus|
|4. Kayseri –Istanbul – Tbilisi||Fly Pegasus|
|5. Tbilisi – Dubai||Fly Dubai|
|6. Dubai – Manila||Cebu Pacific|
(3) Book accommodations
We booked all our accommodations through Booking.com.
|Istanbul||Hotel Han Sultanahmet|
|Cappadocia||Local Cave House Hotel|
|T’bilisi, Georgia||Kipiani Guest House|
- We recommend Hotel Han in Istanbul because of its perfect location. It’s just walking distance from the top ‘must-visits’ in Istanbul, i.e. Hagia Sofia, Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and restaurants. Plus, its exterior design is eccentric!
- We totally do NOT recommend Rebetika Hotel in Selcuk! Worst service there is! The location was far, fine, we can work on that. But the awful treatment from the owner is just the worst!
- To stay in a cave hotel was a dream for me, particularly in Local Cave House in Cappadocia. I discovered it in social media and fell in love with its amazing structure. I made it sure to stay there when in Göreme, hence we booked it as early as February. Haha. Location was perfect – walking distance from the tourist spots and already in the center of Göreme; staff service was superb! They were very accommodating, considerate, and helpful.
- Kipiani Guest House is also much recommended. Our hosts were very kind and considerate to us. We arrived as early as 4am but our check-in time had to be at 1pm. Even without giving them heads up of our early arrival, they got us a room and allowed us to check in that early without charge! It included free breakfast where all guests of different nationalities had breakfast together. We felt really at home.
(4) Secure Visas
- DUBAI TOURIST TRANSIT VISA
TRANSIT VISA is for passengers staying not more than 96 hours (4 days) in Dubai. It costs 250AED (around Php 3700). When to apply: At most 58 days and a minimum of 4 working days before the travel date to Dubai. And it takes 4 working days to process the application.It is safer to have a confirmed hotel reservation in Dubai for more chances of winning. lol. In our case (travel hack!), we booked a cancellable (for free) hotel reservation and cancelled it after our visa application was approved.
1. Passport valid for at least 6 months from travel date plus its scanned biopage
2. Completed Visa Application Form: Link here: http://www.dubaivisa.net/uae
3. Colored passport-sized photo with white background (write full name and signature at the back)
4. Visa fee (transit visa rate)
5. Hotel booking confirmation OR if staying with relatives or friends in UAE, provide their names, address, contact number, name of employer, office address, and office contact number. Also indicate the duration of your stay.
6. Original bank certificate indicating transactions for the past 6 months
7. Copy of international credit cards
8. Original Certificate of Employment indicating the name of employer, employee’s position, salary, years of service, and duration of approval leave.
9. Copy of ITR (Income Tax Return)
10. Marriage Certificate if married
11. Of course, flight tickets
12. Proof of Residency: i.e. utility bill, phone bills, tenancy contract, credit card bill.
13. Other documents showing proof of income, i.e. local investments, pay slips, ITR
After having accomplished the Visa application form, we submitted the same and the rest of the required documents to a Dubai-based travel agent recommended by a friend to us. She represents South Travels DMCC and she then processed everything for us. We paid 255 AED each or approximately 3,700php.
2. TURKISH TOURIST VISA
The following steps are applicable only for those NOT qualified for e-visa applicants or those NOT holding Schengen, US, UK, or Ireland visa or Turkish residence permit.
Pre-visa Application online at visa.gov.tr. Walk-ins in Turkish Embassy for visa application are not allowed. An appointment schedule must first be obtained online through the following steps.
I. Prepare a scanned copy of all the following documents:
1. Duly completed Application form from visa.gov.tr.
2. 2 biometric photo (2×2 on white background)
3. Original Passport valid for 6 months prior to departure. Attach old passport.
4. PSA Original birth certificate
5. Certificate of Employment (indicate position, working record, monthly and annual income)
6. Income Tax Return (ITR)
7. Flight reservation (Roundtrip Airline Ticket)
8. Hotel booking or invitation
9 Daily itinerary
10. Travel Insurance
11. Other documents attesting the INCOME STATUS OF THE APPLICANT and inviting persons if any, including but not limited to:
a. bank statements
b. Original bank certificate addressed to the Embassy
12. Supporting document on the “applicant’s commitment to return:”
a. condominium unit or house and lot title
b. lease contract
c. certificate of employment
II. Go to visa.gov.tr. Fill out all required fields under each four parts:
(1) Nationality and Visa Details;
(2) Personal Information;
(3) Contact Information; and
(4) Travel Information.
III. After accomplishing the Personal Information section, choose either “Proceed with e-visa” if you are a holder of Schengen, US, UK, Ireland visa or Turkish residence permit. Otherwise, choose “Continue Online Form.” Click Save and Proceed after filling in all required fields.
IV: Upload the scanned copies of the required documents as enumerated above.Note: 2×2 photo must be in jpg or png format. The rest must be in pdf form.
V: After completing the online pre-application, you will be asked to pick a date and time for appointment at the Turkish Embassy in Manila. An email confirmation of the online application and selected appointment date will then be sent to your registered email address.
Note: As you can see below, the Embassy does not have schedule for applications on Wednesdays. And the receiving and releasing hours run only between 9:30am – 12nn.
VI. Print the email confirmation AND the screenshot as below. Bring them on your date of appointment together with your application fee of 60 US dollars (NOT IN PESO!), passport, a copy of your passport’s bio page, two 2×2 ID photo, and other requirements as above stated.
STEP 2: The Shuttle to Turkish Embassy
1. On the date of appointment, make sure to arrive at least at the village gate an hour before your scheduled time because of the following processes.
2. You can only get to the Turkish Embassy in Manila, 2268 Paraiso street, Dasmarinas Village, Makati City, via village shuttle which leaves every 30 minutes at the Amorsolo gate near Alphaland Building or MRT Magallanes station.Neither your private car nor Grab car can get through the village gate and more so to the Embassy because the village’s own shuttle for embassies.
3. You will be required to leave any valid ID with the guard at Amorsolo gate.
4. Before proceeding to embassies, the shuttle will drop by the village association office where you will be required to pay 150Php.
Submission of Documents at the Embassy
1. Upon arrival at the Turkish Embassy, the guard will give you a queue number.
2. Wait for your turn until the Consular Officer will collect your documents as enumerated earlier. She may ask you some questions about your trip and financial capacity. In our case, we were asked where we work.
3. The 60 USD for a single entry tourist visa will also be collected by the same Consular Officer. NOTE!!! They do not accept Philippine Peso! ONLY U.S. DOLLARS!!!
4. After which, the Consular Officer will give you a claim stub containing the date of visa release. In our case, our releasing date was exactly 10 days thereafter, including the May 1 holiday. Until then, just wait and pray for a favorable result. Just sharing an experience during the said 10-day period of waiting. I had to leave for Brunei within the said period. So I returned the day after we submitted our documents to ask the Consular Officer, in writing, if I can temporarily have my passport back to be able to travel abroad and will return it to the Embassy right when I get back to the Philippines. It went so smooth that she just got my passport and gave it to me. And so when I return from Brunei, I immediately went to the Turkish Embassy to submit again my passport.
STEP 3: Release of Visa
1. Claim your passport and visa on the scheduled date.
2. If it is approved, a visa sticker will be affixed on your passport. Otherwise, there will just be a written date on it. They will not explain why your application is disapproved.
3. GEORGIA TOURIST VISA
Unless a GCC resident or a holder of OECD countries visa, Filipinos are apparently required to secure a Georgian Visa before visiting the country, contrary to what many blogs claim! Follow this process:
Fill out the required fields in this website: https://www.evisa.gov.ge/GeoVisa/en/VisaApp You will be asked if you have a travel insurance. For more chances of winning haha, we purchased one online since it is also required for Turkish visa. Fill out your travel dates and pay the application fee which costs for 20.5 USD or around 1,000Php, which requires credit card as payment.Upload 2×2 photo and scanned copy of passport.
Note!!! GUYS LISTEN TO ME VERY CAREFULLY ON THIS PART! Haha. The 2×2 photo quality and size accuracy is very critical. My visa application was rejected twice! just because of the 2×2 photo I used. Carefully follow their photo guidelines which is also posted on the same website. To really ensure that my 3rd application will succeed, I had to have my 2×2 photo taken at a mall photo studio and even pay an extra for its soft copy. It finally made it to their standards! ^_^
4. ARMENIA VISA ON ARRIVAL
We embarked on a monastery hopping in Armenia for one day with an arranged group tour from Georgia.
For Filipinos, we are required to get a Visa on Arrival for 3900 Armenian Drams or around 430 Php.
(5) Travel Insurance
We got ours at Pacific Cross Travel Insurance through this website: https://secure.bluecross.com.ph/OqapV2Prod/Trip.aspx?transType=BUY
Good for exactly 12 days, we paid close to 800php.
(6) Money Exchange
We only had 10,000 Php worth of US dollars which we bought from Sanry’s in Greenbelt prior to our departure. We always buy USD (just enough for in and out of the airports) when we travel abroad either in Sanry’s Greenbelt or Robinsons Manila’s Moromax just because they have good rates.
It’s also important to have your ATMs activated for international banking PRIOR to your departure in the Philippines. I do this the day or hours before I travel by calling the bank. I learned this during my first trip to Bangkok when we ran out of money and our only saving grace was to withdraw from ATM. Unfortunately, it was not activated for international banking so we had to phone the bank overseas, which cost around 3,000Php.
Coming to Istanbul with only Philippine Peso entails a whole new level of inconvenience.
Despite the actually good peso-lira (Turkish currency) exchange value at the time of our travel, they still charged us at incredibly high rates. Probably because there are not many Filipinos arriving in Turkey and there are only few exchangers that purchase the Philippine peso. Lesson learned, ALWAYS HAVE YOUR PH PESO EXCHANGED TO USD.
We must have learned this lesson already during our trip to Myanmar when it took us more than an hour to finally find a money exchange that buys Philippine peso.
What we did instead is to withdraw from ATM.
We used our remaining USD in Georgia and exchanged it in the airport. The airport rate was actually better than those in the city money exchangers.
We exchanged our unused PHP to AED (UAE Dirham) in Dubai airport. They also have good rates. No need to burden comparing and looking for money exchangers in the city.
(7) Travel Tax
Pay either online at https://tieza.gov.ph/travel-tax/ or at the airport on the day of departure. It still costs 1,620php each.
Kindly comment if you have further questions, clarifications, or simply comments. ^_^