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Egypt Travel FAQs:
Must-Knows Before You Go

1- General Travel Advice

Generally, Egypt is safe for tourists, especially in areas frequented by travelers. As with any travel, exercise common-sense precautions. Stay informed by checking recent travel advisories from your home country and avoid any regions marked as unsafe.

The ideal time to visit Egypt is during the cooler months from October to April. During this period, the daytime temperatures are pleasant, making it suitable for exploring ancient sites and cities. The summer months, from May to September, can be extremely hot, especially in southern Egypt and the desert areas, where temperatures can reach uncomfortable levels.

Most foreign nationals require a visa to enter Egypt. Visitors from many countries can obtain a visa on arrival at major airports or apply for an e-visa before their travel. An e-visa can be a convenient option as it avoids the need to queue at the airport. The visa on arrival is typically valid for 30 days and can be extended if necessary.

Credit cards are increasingly accepted in major cities and tourist destinations within Egypt, including hotels, large restaurants, and shops. However, it’s advisable to carry some cash, especially when visiting smaller towns or local markets where cash transactions predominate. ATMs are widely available in urban areas.

Arabic is the official language of Egypt. English is commonly spoken in tourist areas, by hotel staff, and younger generations. Knowing a few basic Arabic phrases can be helpful and is appreciated by locals.

Egypt uses electrical outlets that accommodate plug types C and F. The standard voltage is 220 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz. Travelers from countries with different standards may need a voltage converter or plug adapter to use their electronic devices.

Focus on lightweight, loose-fitting clothes made from breathable materials like cotton or linen. Long pants or skirts are advisable. Pack a hat, sunglasses, high-SPF sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, and a scarf for women to cover their hair when visiting religious sites.

No, it’s not recommended to drink tap water in Egypt. To prevent illness, stick to bottled water which is easily found and affordable in shops and hotels.

2- Health and Safety

It is generally recommended to avoid drinking tap water in Egypt due to differing water purification standards. Bottled water is cheap and readily available throughout the country. Ensure the seal is intact when purchasing to avoid tampered bottles.

To prevent common stomach upsets, avoid consuming raw vegetables, unpeeled fruits, and street food that hasn’t been cooked in front of you. Wash your hands regularly, and carry hand sanitizer. Sunscreen and hats are essential for protection against the strong sun, especially while visiting open sites like the Valley of the Kings.

In case of a medical emergency, know the location of the nearest hospital or clinic. Major cities like Cairo and Alexandria have facilities that meet international standards. It is advisable to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses and possibly evacuation.

Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and try to schedule outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day.

No specific vaccinations are required for entry into Egypt unless you are coming from a yellow fever endemic area. However, vaccinations for hepatitis A, typhoid, and tetanus are commonly recommended. It’s best to consult with a travel health specialist a few weeks before your departure.

3- Transportation

Upon arriving at Cairo International Airport, travelers can choose from several transportation options to reach the city center. These include pre-arranged airport shuttles, licensed taxis, and ride-sharing services like Uber. It’s advisable to agree on the fare in advance if taking a taxi.

For long distances, domestic flights are efficient and save time. The train network is also a good choice for routes such as Cairo to Luxor, offering both regular and sleeper train services. Buses are available but vary in quality; choosing a reputable bus company is crucial.

Taxis are widely available in Egyptian cities. They are metered, but it’s not uncommon for drivers to negotiate a fare instead. Always discuss and agree upon the fare before starting your trip to avoid misunderstandings.

Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Careem are available and popular in major cities like Cairo and Alexandria. They offer a reliable and safe way to navigate the city without the need to haggle over fares.

Cairo’s public transportation system includes buses and a metro, which is the first of its kind in Africa and spans across the city. The metro is an efficient and cost-effective way to get around, especially to avoid the city’s notorious traffic. However, it can be crowded during peak hours. There are designated women-only carriages in the metro, which can be more comfortable during rush hours. For buses, it’s important to have small changes handy as tickets are purchased on board.

4- Culture & Customs

In Egypt, a handshake is the typical greeting, often accompanied by a smile and direct eye contact. In more traditional or rural areas, greetings can be more conservative, especially between different genders. Men may greet each other with a pat on the back or a kiss on each cheek, while women may do the same with other women. Observing the approach of your Egyptian counterpart can guide you on the appropriate form of greeting.

Showing respect in Egypt involves dressing modestly, particularly at religious sites and when interacting with locals in less touristy areas. For men, this means avoiding shorts and sleeveless tops, and for women, covering shoulders and knees. Always ask for permission before photographing people, especially in rural communities.

Egyptian dining etiquette includes using your right hand to eat, as the left is traditionally seen as unclean. It is customary to try a bit of everything that is offered and to compliment the host on the food. Leaving a small amount on your plate signifies that you are satisfied. Additionally, if invited to a home, it is polite to bring a small gift, such as sweets or pastries.

Haggling is part of the shopping experience in Egyptian markets. Start by offering a price much lower than what you are willing to pay, and expect the vendor to counter with a higher price. The final price should ideally be somewhere in the middle. Being friendly and maintaining a sense of humor can make the haggling process enjoyable for both parties.

Tipping, known locally as baksheesh, is a common practice in Egypt for a wide range of services, including in restaurants, taxis, and guides. The amount can vary; however, a guideline is 10-20% in restaurants, a few Egyptian pounds for bag handlers, and perhaps more for guides after a day’s tour. Always ensure you have plenty of small changes for tipping purposes.

5- Costs and Budgeting

The cost of meals in Egypt can vary significantly. Street food and local eateries offer meals as low as a few Egyptian pounds, whereas restaurants in tourist areas and hotels might charge considerably more. An average meal in a mid-range restaurant could cost between 100 to 250 EGP.

Accommodation ranges from budget hostels and guesthouses starting at:

  • Budget Hostels: Dorm beds in hostels are the cheapest option, ranging from $10-$20 per night.
  • Budget Hotels: Expect to pay $20-$60 per night for simple but clean hotels.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: More comfortable hotels with amenities like pools and restaurants usually range from $60-$150 per night.
  • Luxury Hotels: High-end, 5-star hotels can cost anywhere from $150 to upwards of $500+ per night.
  • Vacation Rentals: Apartments and villas on platforms like Airbnb are available, offering more space and flexibility. Prices vary greatly based on location and amenities.

It’s generally better to exchange some money upon arrival at the airport or in the city for competitive rates. U.S. dollars, Euros, and British pounds are easily exchanged, and ATMs are widely available. Some places might accept these currencies directly, but local currency is preferred for smaller transactions.

Absolutely! Most major tourist sites in Egypt have entrance fees. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Prices Vary: Entrance fees differ significantly across sites, ranging from a few Egyptian pounds to several hundred.
  • Major Attractions Tend to be Pricier: Iconic sites like the Pyramids of Giza or the Valley of the Kings are on the higher end of the price spectrum.
  • Additional Fees: Some sites charge extra for entering specific tombs or taking photos/videos inside.
  • Ticket Availability: Tickets are usually purchased directly at the site’s entrance. It’s advisable to carry Egyptian pounds for payment.

Price Examples (in Egyptian Pounds – EGP)

These are approximate prices and can change. Always check the latest information before visiting.

  • Giza Pyramids: 540 EGP (general entrance)
  • Entering the Great Pyramid: 900 EGP
  • Valley of the Kings: 600 EGP (includes 3 tombs)
  • Tomb of Tutankhamun: Additional 500 EGP
  • Egyptian Museum (Cairo): 450 EGP
  • Karnak Temple (Luxor): 450 EGP
  • Luxor Temple: 400 EGP
  • Abu Simbel Temples: 600 EGP

The cost of a trip to Egypt varies greatly depending on your travel style. Budget travelers can get by on a relatively small daily budget, while those looking for luxury hotels, fine dining, and private tours will naturally spend more.

6- Nile Cruises in Egypt

The best time for a Nile cruise is during the cooler months, from October to April. Temperatures are more comfortable, making sightseeing and outdoor activities more enjoyable. The shoulder seasons of spring (February to April) and fall (October to November) offer pleasant weather and fewer crowds.

Pack for both warm and cool weather, as temperatures can vary. Essentials include:

  • Lightweight, breathable clothing: Linen, cotton shirts, shorts, skirts, and dresses are ideal.
  • Warm layers: A sweater or jacket for cooler evenings, especially during the winter months.
  • Sun protection: Hat, sunglasses, and high-SPF sunscreen.
  • Comfortable shoes: For walking around temples and ruins.
  • Swimsuit: If your cruise includes a pool or swimming opportunities.
  • Scarf or shawl: For women, a scarf or shawl may be required for visiting religious sites.
  • Other essentials: Camera, adapter for electrical outlets, medication, and toiletries.

There are several types of Nile cruises to suit different preferences and budgets:

  • Deluxe Nile Cruises: These multi-day cruises typically travel between Luxor and Aswan, stopping at major temples and historical sites.
  • Luxury Nile Cruises: These offer upscale amenities, spacious cabins, gourmet dining, and personalized service.
  • Dahabiya cruises: These smaller, more intimate vessels provide a unique experience with fewer passengers and a slower pace.
  • Lake Nasser cruises: These cruises explore the temples and monuments around Lake Nasser, including Abu Simbel.

Nile cruises are generally considered safe. Reputable cruise operators prioritize passenger safety and security. However, it’s always wise to be aware of your surroundings, take precautions, and follow any local advice or guidelines.

The dress code on a Nile cruise is typically casual during the day. However, for dinners and evening events, slightly more formal attire may be required. Pack a few nicer outfits for these occasions. When visiting temples and religious sites, it’s important to dress respectfully, covering your shoulders and knees.

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