As part of my round the world trip, I want to take 1 month exploring Egypt/Jordan/Israel/Turkey. I will be departing from New York and afterwards be travelling onto India.
Factoring in cost vs time vs safety and obviously whatever limitations there are in terms of travel (coz I heard some countries don't let you travel through if you come through a certain country or something to that effect):
- What order should I do the countries and which country should I travel to first from NY?
- Which legs are best done via plane and which via land?
- This will be in january, will that influence anything?
Appreciate any thoughts and suggestions.
The only country where you can have a conflict is Syria. They will not let you in if you have an israeli stamp in your passport. If you travel in the order of turkey to syria to jordan, israel and egypt, then you should not have a problem. Also, for US citizens it is more difficult to obtain visa at the border - so it is highly recommended to obtain visa in the US. With the other countries, you should have no problem - you can get visas at the border. But don't skip syria - it's an amazing country with lovely people! And with the best food! Damascus is one of the most charming cities in the world.
In Jordan - Amman, Dead Sea, Petra and Wadi Rum are the places of interest. If you can - do a trek from little Petra back to the town. The scenery is amazing! "Petra by night" is also very nice.
Choose overland if possible. Should you want to go from middle east towards india overland - iran also has a policy against letting people in with an israeli stamp.
You can also make a small side trip to Kurdistani Iraq from Turkey and back to Turkey and after down to Syria. It's not so interesting but it's certainly a bit adventurous and you can tell at home you have been there.... It would take just a few extra days, and visa can be obtained at the border. Make sure you read wikitravel article before you go there - it's quite limited where you can travel safely, but there it is quite safe indeed.
The cheapest flight I found when I was travelling between middle east and india was with air arabia.
January will still be cold in most middle east countries, even delhi can be chilly.
Try to get your visa to India at home. Indian embassy can sometimes be a little fussy....
Have a great trip!
Dont know abt the middle eastern countries but January is one of the best months to visit india.. north india will be chilly but you will be able to avoid the monsoon and the summers... its perfect for all of india (especially west and southern) save kashmir...
@kichikacha - funny name
kichikacha, thank you for your advice! I will put Syria into consideration. Some more questions:
- I'm actually an Aussie citizen so that shouldn't pose a problem in terms of visa's should it?
- You mentioned getting visas at the border, would it possible to arrange visa before getting there?
- If travelling overland from Turkey to Egypt, what are my options? Is driving a possibility? Watched Top Gear the other night driving through the middle east and thought that would be fun if not dangerous?
- Would 1 month be enough time factoring in time taken to travel overland?
lubinarora, I'll actually be in india in february, what would the weather be like then? The main thing that I want to visit is the Taj Mahal.
Actually it's pretty easy ticket pretty much the whole way unless you plan on doing large portions by land. Olympic Airlines (the only airline I've ever flown with universally surly flight attendants) offers a flight from New York to Cairo (or vice versa) with a free stopover of up to 45 days in Greece. Fly NY to Athens - ferry to Turkey, then back, catch the free flight into Cairo. Overland to Israel and then to Jordan.
I've done that route in reverse and it was nice and easy.
Alternately you can fly directly into Turkey, then ferry to Egypt. But I'd certainly try to fly Jordan to India rather than from Egypt or Turkey.
It's absolutely safe to travel in these countries.
Driving can be a bit challenging as:
- the traffic is on the right hand side of the road,
- chaotic in Egypt, although you can get used to it,
- and you may have the problem that they require carnet douanier (plus extra insurance, fee) at the border - best source may be a motorbike travellers' website: http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/
- night driving is absolutely out of question - many cars don't have/use lights...
Otherwise, Turkey is full of caravan campers from western europe and I met a lot of people who rented car to get around in Jordan. Taking night bus in turkey is fine.
- a bus ride from Istanbul to the Syrian border takes about 30 hours (with a very few stops only),
- you can cross Syria and Jordan and Israel in one + one day,
- I don't know about Egypt, it's another big country. Depends also how far you want to go.
In general, I would say 1 month would be a bit of a rush, with comfortable pace - you could get only to Jordan or max Cairo.
Air asia flies from Amman, Cairo, Luxor via the Emirates to Delhi.
Visas: best website to check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_Australian_citizens
- Turkey, Jordan, Izrael, Egypt will be straight forward - no need to arrange visas in advance, practically you just buy a stamp at the border. Turkey (EUR 15 / US$ 20), Egypt (US$15) - just pay in euros or us dollars. Jordan (visa fee JOD 10) - try to exchange some jordanian dinar beforehand to avoid unfavourable exchange rates at the border.
- Syria: has a general policy that visa can be obtained only in your home country as long as they have a representation there. So, you will have harder time getting a visa in Istanbul or even in the US than at the border. I got my visa at the border. They excepted my argument that I had been away from my country for a long time. They just checked the stamps (also for the israeli, like ten times..). This might be the case for you as well. Maybe worth giving a call to the Syrian embassy to US. But again, if you are coming far away from you home, you should have no problem. Visa is about US$40.
Border crossings, getting around:
- Turkey - as there are many private bus companies competing, at each station look around to check for schedule, length and price. also at the bus park area. Pick the best for you, and haggle the price 15% down. They will just appreciate that, seriously. Buses in Turkey are the best in the world. Better than an airplane, some have free wifi on board too, some snacks and drinks are also included.
- Cross Turkey / Syrian border on foot and catch the next bus, shared taxi to Aleppo. Very cheap!
- Use shared taxis in Syria in cities and never let anyone convince you to take their car. Take a taxi driver that doesn't approach you. Insist on using the meter. They will still make a little loop, but it will still be very cheap.
- Bus service and network is very good in Syria. No need to haggle. Fixed price indicated on a blackboard. Except! to and from PAlmira - there take precautions, they may try to overcharge. Get info from LP or wikitravel.
- Try to find other travellers from Damascus to Amman. There is no bus connection. If you share a taxi for four, it should cost around 15 euros (20 us$) / person.
- Jordan is difficult to get around. In cities, use shared taxi, or insist on meters.
- Jordan inter-city travel: take morning buses, because they can easily fill them up, Amman to Aqaba (across the whole country) will cost you app 5 euros (5 JOD).
- Hitching also very common in Jordan, amongst locals too. If you see a minivan packed with locals, you can haggle a bit, and take that. Or, you can gently refuse, and take a free ride. If a lonely rider wants to take you for some charge, just gently decline it. I also hitched to wadi rum, as a lot of foreigners go there with rented cars.
- Unfortunately, I have not been to israel and egypt yet...
One more tip: you put your fingertips together and shake your hand. In Turkey it means good. In Syria/Jordan - patience. If a hundred taxi hawkers happen to approach you, just do this, and all of a sudden they all will keep quite. It's fun...
- Turkey - as expensive as Europe. Hostel: min 12 euros, Hotel: min 25-30 euros. Food cheaper. Buses relatively expensive: Turkey has the highest fuel price in the world!
- Syria: cheapest place. Hotel: 5-8 euros, dormitory 3-5 euros. Roof top will be too cold yet... Kebab: 0.3-0.5 euros. Meal: 2-2.5 euros.
- Jordan: hotel: 8-10 euros, dorm 5 euros. Kebab same as syria. Petra ticket: very expensive, maybe 60-80euros. Amman: stay at Cliff Hotel - it is very charming, and have a chat and tea with the receptionists... they are awesome!
I stop here, otherwise it will be longer than your journey...
India: i doubt after a journey in middle-east your no1 interest will be taj mahal...
Get ready for the culture shock. Lodging: go to main bazaar, aloop hotel is a good one.
Again, have a good trip!
For India. I cycled from north to south once, on the west side of the country. Here is a list of places I found the most interesting:
The most beautiful and interesting historical and religious sites (without order):
Amritsar (Punjab) – Golden Temple and the Pakistani border ceremony
Manikaram (Himachal Pradesh) – Sikh Bath
Keylong, Spiti & Pin Valley (Himachal Pradesh) – Buddhist Monasteries
Fathepur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh) – Mosque & Ancient Royal Palace
Jaipur (Rajasthan) – Monkey Temple
Most interesting, beautiful cities:
Most beautiful roads, nature:
Spiti Valley (Himachal Pradesh)
Pin Valley (HP)
Lahaul (Keylong) (HP)
Parvati Valley (HP)
Chamba Valley (HP)
Konkan coast (Maharatsra)
Munnar – Kumily, tea fileds, spices (Kerala)
Most beautiful beaches:
Beaches around Gokarna (Karnataka)
It makes more sense to fly from NYC into Istanbul first - Turkish Airlines is quite good with new planes and excellent food, and then you can travel overland to Israel via either Syria or Cyprus, and then continue on to Jordan, Egypt and on to India. Turkey will be cold with snow in Jan, but the rest will be much warmer.
The Turkey Travel Planner
[ Edit: Edited on 24-Feb-2011, at 22:28 by Daawgon ]
Sorry I should have mentioned the Olympic airlines one I found above was MUCH cheaper than flying into any other location with easy access to the others. That may have changed though, but I paid ~$400 NY-Cairo with the stopover.
All I can say is wow! Thats some really detailed help kichikacha! Interesting tip about putting figertips together and shaking my hands. I can't picture it in my head though? Why does it stop the hawkers from approaching you?
Everyone else thanks for all the pointers!
I've been reading the travel advisory for Australians and they recommend not travelling through the Turkey/Syria border. I'm getting nervous about this now.