Getting back to campus safe and sound for the first time in an unknown country without knowing the language might sound a little nerve-racking to you, but don’t worry, this post is meant to help you feel a little more confident about what to expect 🙂
Bilkent University does NOT offer transportation to its international students from the airport to campus, therefore it is your responsibility to figure out how you’ll be commuting. If you feel unsure about what option to pursue, perhaps discussing this with your parents/friends might be helpful.
There are three ways you can get to campus:
- Taking a taxi
- Taking a public transportation service (BelkoAir) to the city’s bus station Aşti (pronounced “ashtee”), and from there taking a taxi
- Hiring a private cab company (“StarTurizm” or StarTours) in advance
Below you will find a brief summary and pros/cons for each option to give you general information. Details are also provided for those interested to know more.
Duration: approximately an hour with light traffic
Cost: circa 180 TRY
– best option if you have a lot of luggage or feel safer traveling directly to campus
-requires minimal Turkish
-most expensive of the 3 options
Tip: Never get into cars that do not look like taxis (which are yellow in Turkey), even if you are being offered.
Taking a cab back to campus takes at most an hour (with light traffic) and will cost you approximately 130 TRY. Once you claim your luggage and get out of the airport, there always are cabs waiting for passengers. Whilst getting into the cab, check to make sure the driver’s credentials and the taximeter are clearly seen on the dashboard (inside the taxi). Also, make sure that the driver turns on the taximeter. If you see that the driver has not turned on the meter (it should not happen, but just in case it does), do simply point to the taximeter and say “taksimetre” (pronounced the way it’s written). All cabs in Ankara have a starting fee of 4 TRY, so do keep that in mind.
Now if you don’t speak any Turkish and are already worrying about how you will explain your destination to the driver, don’t worry! You will just have to say “Bilkent Merkez Kampus” (Bilkent Main Campus) or “Bilkent Üniversitesi” (Bilkent University). Luckily, Turkish is mostly pronounced the way it is written, so you should go ahead and pronounce the above mentioned the way it’s written. The reason you should say “Merkez Kampus” is because your registration process will take place on Main Campus. East Campus usually hosts dormitories, as well as some classes such as for the departments of Business Information Management and Hotel Management.
Duration: anywhere from 1 to 2 hours
Cost: approximately 75 TRY
-cheapest of the 3 options
-you become acquainted with BelkoAir and Aşti, which might be useful if you’re planning on traveling to other areas of Turkey in the future
-you CANNOT benefit from this option if you arrive to the airport between midnight and 5 am
-time traveled can take up to twice as much compared to the other 2 options
-requires two transfers
-not recommended if you have a lot of/heavy luggage, as you will not be assisted
-confusing for newcomers
-you will be traveling in an unknown city by yourself
Tip: If you are worrying about having to get back to campus, it is recommended that you do not pursue this option alone.
This option is the most confusing one, and perhaps you should try it out once you get used to the city more and have acquired some basic Turkish. This option will take you anywhere from an hour up to two hours, and in sum will cost you around 75 TRY (so much cheaper right?). Detailed information will be provided below for those willing to take this option. Please do skip to the pros/cons of this option if you want a summary.
Once you get out of the airport, BelkoAir stops are visible, and you simply have to go up to the shuttle bus. If you cannot see any BelkoAir stop, simply ask the security or any airport personnel (“BelkoAir?” is enough to ask for them to understand). You may not see a shuttle bus at the moment, and that is because they arrive and leave the airport every half hour (Due to COVID-19, the timings have been changed! You can visit their website for more information). You simply have to wait at the stop for the designated time period until a shuttle bus arrives. Check out the English version of the company’s website (http://www.belkoair.com/en) for the exact timings. The shuttle service does NOT operate from midnight till 5 am, therefore if you arrive in that time period, you will not be able to benefit from this option.
Before you get on the shuttle, make sure to ask the working personnel (who will be checking in your luggage and placing it inside the bus) if the bus goes to Aşti (simply asking “Aşti?” is enough). Keep the luggage voucher the working personnel gives you when they place your luggage inside for later when you will be claiming your luggage. Once the shuttle has picked up enough passengers, it will leave at the designated time (sometimes earlier depending on the demand). They charge you whilst you’re seated in the shuttle bus, and the cost should be aeound 12 TRY. Keep the ticket until you arrive to Aşti and claim your luggage.
You will know you have reached Aşti once you see a three-floored white/grey station with a lot of buses arriving and departing (self-explanatory). You will get off there, and then have to find the exit. This might be a bit confusing at first because the station is big and has many exits, and is usually crowded. Once you are able to locate an empty cab, simply follow the steps mentioned in the first option. Getting to campus from Aşti should take approximately 20 minutes (with light traffic) and should cost you around 60 TRY. Although it might not seem like it, Aşti is in fact located in a popular area (known as “Emek”) where many Bilkent students choose to reside off campus!
Duration: circa 50 minutes with light traffic
Cost: 110 TRY (charge goes up for more than 3 passengers, details on website)
-cheaper than taking a cab
-office speaks English
-you MUST have a working mobile number (or other modes of communication) to contact the company and the driver at ALL times (before and after your arrival to Ankara)
-most of the drivers do NOT speak English; communication might prove to be difficult
Tip: If you are traveling with up to 2 friends, you will be able to split the 100 TRY fee among yourselves, resulting in the cheapest transportation cost. Do consider the volume of your luggage combined.
You will have to make a reservation beforehand in order to benefit from this service, which costs 100 TRY and takes around 50 minutes (with light traffic). This means that you will have to call StarTours from abroad. The StarTours office located in Bilkent Main Campus speaks English, so you should not have any trouble arranging your transport. You will have to provide your information such as name/lastname, number of passengers, date and time of arrival, as well as how much luggage you will have (self-explanatory).
The office, as well as the driver, will have to have a contact number to be able to reach you. This means that you will have to have roaming as well as enough credits to contact your driver to let him know which exit you are located at (there are a couple of international exist in the airport). Turkish will be needed as most drivers do not speak in English.
The only difference between this option and taking a cab is the cost: you will be saving around 70 TRY.