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“Great Istanbul Tour with KSG Tours and Lale”

KSG Tours - Day Tours
Ranked #134 of 415 Tours in Istanbul
Attraction details
Reviewed June 8, 2012

We had a fantastic tour of Istanbul last week with Lale from KSG Tours. We arrived in port on the Seabourne Odyssey and were the first ones off the boat. Lale and our driver were waiting for us at the exit to the cruise terminal with our private minibus, which was very nice, spacious and clean. We left immediately for our day tour.

We had originally requested the tour of the old city of Istanbul which included the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapki Palace & Harem and the Grand Bazaar. We actually changed this a bit as the tour progressed through the day. This is ONE of the things that made the tour so special for us, Lale worked with us throughout the day to adjust the tour on the fly as we toured Istanbul. We had 4 couples on the tour with us and most of them had seen some of the old city, so we ended up skipping the Hagia Sophia (which we had seen before) and adding the Spice Market, which was fabulous.

We started the tour on the Hippodrome and it was obvious that Lale both loved her home town of Istanbul and knew a wealth of information about it. She was completely enjoyable in the way she presented information. We moved from the Hippodrome to the Blue Mosque where she found a quiet place for us to sit while she shared the history of the place. After we wandered around exploring on our own a bit we walked to Topkapi Palace, stopping along the way for some fresh squeezed grapefruit juice that Lale helped us with from the street vendors.

At the Topkapi Palace Lale secured our tickets for us while we visited the WC, no standing in line for either! She then proceeded to lead us through the Harem and the Palace with amazing stories and information. After the tour of the Harem we had time to view the Artifacts, library and jewels at our leisure. What an interesting site.

At this point we were a bit famished so we skipped the Hagia Sophia and went straight to lunch at the Pudding House restaurant. A very fun place with some great turkish food. More great conversation with Lale over lunch about herself and Istanbul and how she became a tour guide. She had been a tour guide for 23 years, so we had some amazing stories.

Next we were off to the Grand Bazaar. We had the private minibus, but were more interested in seeing the streets of the city so we asked Lale if we could walk. It was a short walk, but she was happy to oblige so we set off, enjoying the streets of Istanbul along the way.

The Grand Bazaar was almost overwhelming. Almost. It was great to have Lale with us showing us some of the history, but the best part was her understanding of the Bazaar, its vendors and how it works. As Americans the process of negotiation in the Bazaar is somewhat foreign to us, but Lale explained it to us well. She also went into each store we wanted to stop at with us to help insure the vendors were fair with us. She explained that most the vendors are fair, but you will get some that try to really take advantage of you and by having her with us in the stores she could help insure they were being fair, or she'd turn them in to the authorities. That eased some fears in the shoppers. We spent a few hours here looking at the many different options including clothing, watches, silk & cashmere and gold. Lots of gold.

When we grew overwhelmed with the Grand Bazaar we still had time left on our tour so we asked Lale to take us to the Spice Market. This was an amazing place like nothing we have experienced in America. Mounds of strong spices displayed in booths, many types of Turkish Delight the vendors were eager to share with us and some amazing teas. We stopped in several booths and bought some very wonderful foods and spices. This was the highlight of the tour for many of us. The vendors selling their spices, the booths of cheese, the fish vendors outside and the fresh produce was all amazing. We stopped on our way out and got some of the best cherries I've ever tasted.

For our last stop we asked Lale if she could find us some authenticate Turkish coffee to try. She took us to a restaurant at the top of one of the buildings near the water that had amazing views and great turkish coffee. It was a relaxing and fantastic way to finish a great day. We enjoyed the coffee and more of Lale's stories and the amazing view.

From there it was a quick ride in the minibus back to the cruise terminal. Thank you Lale for making our day in Istanbul unforgettable for all of us.

1  Thank LonghornRon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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44 - 48 of 53 reviews

Reviewed November 7, 2011

We had a wonderful tour in Istanbul with Lale. Lale is extremely knowledgeable about the history of the various sites that we visited. We were leaving a cruise and they arranged for the pick up at the port and transportation to our hotel followed by the tour. One of the best things about having a private guide is that you don't stand in line to get your ticket for the various sites. The lines looked like they could take an hour or more. Lale is able to purchase tickets directly and so - no waiting! Our tour was a walking tour and the pace was very comfortable. I would strongly recommend KSG Tours and Lale in particular.

1  Thank Seismo_mid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 2, 2011

My husband and I, along with several other couples, had the pleasure of touring with Kagan of KSG Tours while in port in Istanbul. We were met at our ship and boarded a comfortable, air conditioned van for the day. Kagan was the consummate professional, extremely knowledgeable and affable. We were supposed to tour the Blue Mosque, but our group elected to skip it since there were many ships in port that day and the line was ridiculous. We did, however, visit the Suleymaniye Mosque which was breathtaking. Other sites visited during the day included the Cisterns, Hagia Sophia, the Spice Market and the Archeological museum. Along the way, we stopped at a local restaurant for a terrific lunch. I can't say enough good things about Kagan. He really made our day in Istanbul one we'll never forget. My husband and I fell in love with the city and can't wait to return! I would highly recommend KSG Tours to anyone visiting this beautiful city! P.S. The day after he took our group, Kagan was going to be touring the actor, John Kusack and his family. We almost wanted to miss our ship and join them!

Thank Jagfan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 9, 2011

I wanted to love this tour. It was to be the highlight of my cruise. Our group booked 3 vans. The group who had Lale seemed to really enjoy their tour and spoke highly of her. The third van had? As a leader. They got involved in a huge hour plus traffic jam (yes, traffic is very congested but the other 2 vans managed to avoid the jam) and they didn't get to see everything listed.
Our group had Kosgan. The day started out fine. Kosgan is very personable and his love of Istanbul was very evident. Yes, he had a few interesting stories but it became very evident very quickly that he has trouble organizing a group. He is probably delightful for a couple or a family but our tour got totally bogged down when he allowed a few to monopolize the tour but asking many many questions. Rather than put the people off ( eg: let's talk about that later in the van) the whole group had to wait and wait and wait while minor questions were answered. I thought we would never leave the dormitory area at the palace. His standard response to any question about the harem was " sparkling eyes" complete with hand gestures. Interesting the first couple of times but not 10 or 20 times. He was publicly extremely rude to me when I attempted to get the group moving ( he totally missed that 3 of us were openly yawning). A full day tour? Not really. Over an hour for lunch ( lunch was excellent) followed by 2 hours while we shopped ( unaccompanied) at the Grand Bazzar. That's 3 hours out of 8 where Kosgan was not working ( eg he didnt sit with us through lunch and answer questions (Lale sat with her group and chatted with them) the but rather disappeared and then returned only to quickly eat). Add in driving time and not much tour time was left. The pace was brutally slow. Yes, the Cistern is interesting but did we really need to walk the entire length of it? And that was after talking about it. It felt like a time stall.

I think Kosgan loves his city, is entertaining but as one other participant said was OK at best as a group guide. A lot more substance and a lot less " sparkling eyes" would have made for a much better tour.

The people who asked all the questions thought he wad excellent. My husband and I thought he was one if the worst guides we ever had ( lazy comes to mind). No one wants a guide who reads from a script but " I'm not going to tell you facts and dates, I'm going to tell you stories" doesn't work unless the guide has many interesting stories that provide history. I think he would rather chat than guide.

Bottom line ... Either be guaranteed to have Lale or try another company.

Thank barbh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 1, 2011

We had the opportunity to take tours on 2 consecutive days in Istanbul with Lale of KSG Tours. What a delight! Lale has such a great personality - easy going but full of facts and information. We definitely saw the highlights of Istanbul in those 2 days, but never felt rushed. There were 10 of us and we all thoroughly enjoyed Lale and the tours. A few days later, we were in Ephesus and again used KSG Tours. Yelda was our guide and we were pleasantly surprised to find out that we had another terrific guide; intelligent and interesting. Both were easy to listen to, ran the tours at our pace and spent time on the things that interested us most. I would definitely highly recommend KSG tours to anyone traveling in Turkey.

2  Thank Cindy H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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