The city of Hakkari itself is nothing to write home about. Lots of army quarters but everyday life seems pretty normal. Getting there makes it worth the trip, as you are literally in the most remote city of the country, near the corner where Turkish, Iranian, and Iraqi borders meet.
People seem to be indifferent to tourists (or perhaps just a little cautious) but usually react in a friendly way if you want to take their pictures. You will hear very little Turkish. Almost everybody in the streets speaks Kurdish.
Frequent buses from Van make Hakkari easily accessible.
As Hakkari is not a big place most of the town is within walking distance. (But do read the "Stay safe" passage.) It does spread out, however, over various hills.
Hakkari has three hotels. None of them has its own website.
- Star Otel, Atlılar Caddesi 12, ☎ +90 438 211-02-14. Central, somewhat dark and very sparse but OK for backpackers. Better speak Turkish or use sign language. You might be offered an inside room without a window. Ask for a pencere (payn-JAY-ray), which means window. Cheap at 20-25 TL.
- Hotel Sibar (the former Ümit Hotel), Altay Caddesi 15, ☎ +90 438 211-25-05, fax: +90 438 211-24-69. This 3-star hotel is pretty modern and pretty good value for money. Make sure you get to see the room before you book. It offers street view, mountain view, and the wall of the building next door. Negotiate. They expect you to haggle. They might start with 80 TL/person. Try to settle for 60. But if you have the right room, you will enjoy the clean room with TV and fridge and spacious bathrooms with shower cabin and a western-style WC. Mind your step when you leave the elevator on the ground floor. Steps could be slippery.
- Hotel Şenler, Bulvar Cad. 38, ☎ +90 438 211-55-12, fax: +90 438 211-38-08, -09. This 3-star hotel is more old fashioned but also has spacious rooms. Try to get one at the front for a good view of the main drag.
All prices from the summer of 2011.
Travelling there is pretty safe as long as you stick to the main roads and/or use public transport. Going for a wild walk (to take pictures) on your own even to the top of one of the hills close to the city could let you end up next to a military zone. That could be very unpleasant as you may be thought to be a PKK agent and treated as such. You should always have your passport or ID with you. To a frustrated and rightly fearful soldier in these regions (not the most comfortable place to be deployed), it seems to be difficult to differentiate between a tourist and a terrorist.
(+90) 438 is the area code for Hakkari.
There are several buses to Van daily leaving from the city centre to all sorts of places. The only bus southwest to Şırnak leaves pretty early in the morning (7AM), though.
Check with big bus companies like Vangölü (☎ 0438 211 43 24) or Best Van (☎ 0438 211 67 34). Due to the regional conflicts there might be ID controls on the buses. In case of bombings roads might also be closed, so do not rely on too tight a schedule.