The Intrepid Guide

Egypt Travel Tips: 24 Essential Things You Should Know Before You Visit Egypt (2024)

Essential Egypt Travel Tips You Should Know in 2023

Travelling to Egypt? This Egypt travel tips guide will give you a detailed rundown of absolutely everything you should know before visiting Egypt. Including what to wear, tipping culture, scams, and loads of other useful hacks.

Egypt is awesome. Seeing its magnificent monuments and the mighty Nile will no doubt leave a lasting impression on you.

If you’re reading this, then there’s are good chance you have either booked your flights to Egypt  or you’re seriously considering going. Either way, that’s great! You’ve come to the right place and are in good hands.

You won’t regret deciding to travel to Egypt. I know  you will have a fabulous time.

How do I know that? Because you’re here reading this article!

You’re doing the right thing by researching and arming yourself with information. This is guide covers literally everything you need to know before visiting Egypt.

This is a very honest (and sometimes brutally honest)  guide. No sugar-coating. My intention is not to be a Debbie Downer. I simply want to prepare you, so you will have a wonderful time because there won’t be any nasty surprises.

You won’t find a more comprehensive guide out there on how to prepare for and what to expect in Egypt. I’ve literally poured all my knowledge (and then some!) into this guide because just like you, I was both excited about going to Egypt but also very anxious and probably a bit paranoid too.

With that in mind, here’s everything we’ll cover. Plus a bonus tip at the end you won’t want to miss!

Looking for something in particular? Use this table of contents below to jump around using the links.

Table of Contents

Why you should go to egypt, is it safe to travel to egypt.

  • Is Egypt Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
  • Survival Arabic Language Guide

When Should You Go to Egypt?

What is the safest way to travel around egypt.

  • Food and Upset Stomachs
  • Heat and Hydration
  • Vaccinations
  • Haggling and Bargaining
  • Nothing is free
  • Cairo Airport
  • Crossing the road
  • Photography
  • Camel Rides
  • School Children
  • Mosques and Religious Sites
  • Fridays and Saturdays
  • BONUS TIP: Fake Papyrus Scam

Egypt Travel Tips - Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple

There’s so much to love about Egypt and nothing comes close to experiencing it in in person and not through a TV screen. The history, the temples, the smells, the heat, the sand, the Nile and the moment when your eyes finally gaze up at the Pyramids of Giza. All along the Nile you can trace the Ancient Egyptians through history as you visit their impressive and carefully decorated temples and tombs. Learning about the Ancient Egyptians, how they lived, their beliefs, inventions, and actually seeing their creations is something that will stay with you forever. Egypt is simply a marvel that should be experienced by everyone.

Yes! It’s much safer than the media may lead you to believe. Which is probably why you’re here reading about this Egypt travel tips guide

As an Aussie, I always check the Australian Smart Traveller site for travel warnings. This is the equivalent of the travel warning list by the U.S Department of State for American citizens.

While Egypt is currently listed with a Level 2 travel warning (go to page 4 ) (True as of August 19, 2018), it’s important to remember that governments will always err on the side of caution.

There are four levels used. Where Level 1 means ‘exercise normal precautions’ and Level 4 means ‘do not travel’.

As you can see, this particular warning doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel. It just means that certain areas are better off being avoided and you just need to be more cautious when visiting them. That’s up to you to decide what you’re most comfortable with.

As of August 2018, the areas of Egypt which are flagged as dangerous are:

  • The Sinai Peninsula (with the exception of travel to Sharm El-Sheikh by air) due to terrorism.
  • The Western Desert due to terrorism.
  • Egyptian border areas due to military zones.

The site goes on to suggest ways in which you can reduce any risk:

  • Stay alert in locations frequented by Westerners.
  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds.
  • Obtain comprehensive medical insurance ( get a free quote here ) that includes medical evacuation.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Egypt.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

There are other ways you can ensure your safety and help you to feel more confident with your decision to travel to Egypt. This is covered in a later section.

Because of all the negative attention Egypt has received, tourism has fallen drastically which is great for us travellers but not so great for the locals who depend on the tourist dollar.

With fewer visitors, there are also fewer scammers and smaller crowds at famous attractions. So, there is a silver lining.

On a more personal note, I felt safe during my entire Egypt trip which started in Cairo and went all the way down the Nile to Abu Simbel near the Sudan border.

If I can offer any addition peace of mind, it’s that tourist attractions are generally the safest areas to be in in Egypt as they are heavily guarded.

In addition to this, the locals who I met in hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, souks and the Telecom store where I bought my local SIM card, were all very helpful, kind, and friendly.

Is Egypt safe for solo female travellers?

Egypt Travel Tips - Pyramids Complex

Admiring the Pyramids

Yes! While Egypt is safe, as a female, you will feel a little bit uncomfortable. This feeling will come mainly in open public places such as walking down the street and in souks.

It’s in these places that you will find men loitering, either by themselves or with a couple of other men. I can only describe this as people watching as most of the time they are sitting on plastic chairs and watching the world go by, including us.

If you’re female, you will receive a lot of looks. In my experience they were harmless. If anything, it just made me feel a bit self-conscious.

Sometimes these men will try to start talking with you or guess where you’re from (they’re very good at getting this right, by the way). Somehow they can tell an Australian from an American just by looking or listening to us speak. Very clever cookies.

It’s at this point, you should do what a local Egyptian man told to me, and that is, to ignore them. Don’t even look at them. This will be enough to discourage them. It might seem like you’re being rude, but ultimately it will protect you.

I was told that the seemingly harmless conversations that start with something like guessing where you’re from, will eventually lead into being invited into their home, shop or restaurant, where they will offer you tea (a traditional welcoming custom), then after some more small talk, they will present you with something and insist you buy it. If you decline, they will get angry.

Okay, so I just painted a terrible picture, but it’s important to be aware of these things. I experienced this first-hand and didn’t know what had happened until my local guide told me that it’s a very common ploy.

Not all men are like this by the way. Just some that give the rest a bad name.

Let’s move on, shall we?

Survival Arabic Travel Phrase Language Guide

Knowing some Arabic ahead of travelling to Egypt is such a game changer. When you can show that you speak a bit of the Arabic language   and can recognise certain keywords, this will give you an extra layer of protection, especially when it comes to dealing with money.

Not only will you feel more in control, but locals will appreciate and respect your efforts to learn their language.

Here are 13 useful Egyptian Arabic words and phrases you should learn and use:

  • Hello – salam / marhaban / ahlan
  • Peace be with you – As-salāmu alaykum – Even though this literally means ‘peace be with you’, it is a commonly used greeting. The response would be Alaikum Salaam, meaning ‘upon you be peace’.
  • Thank you – shukran
  • Please – min fadlak (if you’re a male), min fadlik (if you’re a female)
  • Y ou’re welcome – Afwan
  • Yes – aywa, No – lā, Ok – Mashi
  • How much is this? – bi-kam da. You can say, I’ll pay 100 – Enna hafda meeya. Incidentally, if you say ‘meeya meeya’ (’100, 100′) this means ‘perfect’ or ‘really good’.
  • It costs too much – Da ghali awi
  • I would like… – momkin
  • I want – Enna iza (if you’re a female) or Enna ayez (if you’re a male). To negative the sentence, add ‘mish’. For example, ana mish iza/ayez (I don’t want)
  • I don’t understand – ana mish fahem
  • Go away – Em’shee
  • Pyramid – Haram. Most Egyptians don’t understand the word “Pyramids”, so make sure you learn the Arabic word for them, especially if you’re taking a taxi there. Haram also means. The strict translation of the Arabic word ‘harim’ means (a prohibited place) and is from the verbal root ‘harama’ (prohibited), designated as ‘haram’ (a pyramid). ( Source )

For more Arabic phrases, get my free Arabic travel phrases guide here. 

Between June and August, the temperature in Egypt is unbearable. While you may have the luxury of quiet tourist attractions and more hotel options, to be honest, in that heat you won’t want to do anything but relax in a pool somewhere.

The best time to visit Egypt is in Spring. The weather is pleasant and the major attractions such as the Pyramids of Giza, Aswan, and Luxor are still fairly quiet.

You’ll also benefit from cheaper hotel prices, especially if travelling either side of the high season which is December to February.

Avoid traveling during Ramadan.

Egypt Travel Tips - Safest way to get around Egypt

Cruising down the Nile at sunset

This is probably my top tip in this guide. It’s not Earth shattering, but it made all the difference to me and was the only way I could see myself travelling around Egypt and finally fulfil my childhood dream.

Go on an organised group tour!

To simplify and avoid overthinking everything, I knew that I had to travel with an organised group tour. That way I would have a local guide with me, I wouldn’t have to worry about transportation and other logistics and I could just concentrate on having a good time.

Choosing Topdeck to go to Egypt with was a no brainer, for two reasons. I’d already travelled with them before around Outback Australia and really rated my experience with them. The accommodation, transportation, guide and organisation was all spot on. Plus, I met some wonderful people that I’m still friends with.

The second reason (which might sound a bit silly) was that they are an Australian company, which I knew would put my dad’s mind at ease. I knew he would be super worried about me going. Even me living in London makes him worry!

By the way, remember that Egyptian guy I mentioned earlier who warned me about talking to strangers? That was our Topdeck tour manager, Ramzy. Top bloke!

Ramzy gave a bunch of useful tips, a language guide (on behalf of Topdeck), and was basically a kind of bodyboard who protected us from negative experiences and scared off a few scammers. This made all the difference. If you’re curious, I went on the Egypt Express tour . Book your Egypt tour here.

Now, let’s get into the niggity gritty of the everyday realities of travelling in Egypt.

Top 24 Egypt Travel Tips You Should Know Before You Visit Egypt

The tap water in Egypt is heavily chlorinated and tastes terrible. It’s okay for brushing your teeth with, but don’t drink it. Especially if you have a sensitive stomach. Buy bottled water. It’s easy to get and only costs 5 EGP (0.28 USD) for a 1-litre bottle.

2. Food and Upset Stomach

You’re in a foreign place with foreign food, diarrhoea will happen. To help prevent this, again, buy bottled water and check the seal isn’t broken. Avoid eating salads, raw vegetables, unpeeled fruit, and meat that isn’t thoroughly cooked. Don’t buy food from street vendors that don’t have running water. If you want an ice-cream, check that it hasn’t melted and been refrozen. If you do get an upset stomach, take diarrhoea relief tablets  and drink plenty of purified water  with fresh lime.

3. Heat and Hydration

Egypt Travel Tips - Dealing with heat and staying hydrated

Looking up at the Great Pyramid of Giza

Egypt gets hot, obviously. You’re in the desert! Dehydration, sunburn and heat exhaustion are common, especially in Upper Egypt. As your sweat evaporates you may not realise how dehydrated you are.

If you’re travelling outside of winter, then I highly recommend wearing loose-fitting clothes made of natural fibre. Keep up your fluids up by carrying around this travel bottle  and add a bit of extra salt to your food to replace salts lost in sweat. Pack electrolyte tablets to take just in case you feel unwell.

If you need further medical assistance, Egyptian pharmacists generally speak English and can be trusted to provide sound advice and help you find a doctor if needed.

4. Vaccinations

Officially, visitors to Egypt do not require any vaccinations unless you’re coming from an infected area. However, there are some vaccinations you should get or have topped up as a precaution.

Check with yourr GP what they recommend. Beyond ensuring your tetanus and polio is up to date, other common recommendations include getting vaccinations against typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, and rabies. Rabies is a problem throughout Egypt, so avoid touching stray animals such as cats, dogs, monkeys, and bats.

Money and Valuables

5. currency.

Egypt Travel Tips - Currency - Egyptian Pounds and Piastres

Remember the difference between 50 Piastres (top) and 50 Egyptian Pounds (bottom)

The unit of currency used in Egypt is the Egyptian pound, written £E or LE. The Egyptian pound is divided into piastres (pt). My top tip is to recognise the difference between the 50 pt against the 50 Egyptian Pound notes since they are very different in value.

Make sure that if you’re given change or are paying for something, that you’re not duped into thinking that 50 piastres (or cents) is the 50 Egyptian pounds note. This is a common scam that is used on unsuspecting tourists. When I found out about this, I made sure I kept both denominations on me so I could tell them apart. Compare the difference of the 50 pt and 50 LE in the photo above.

Another word to add your vocab is ‘baksheesh’, which means ‘tip’. You’ll hear this one a lot and it will be expected for anything and everything. Tipping locals for their services is expected and a way of life in Egypt.

Many Egyptians are paid such low salaries that receiving tips is an important part of their income. But rest assured you won’t have to fork out much.

In restaurants, it’s normal to round up the bill or give 10 per cent directly to the waiter. Smaller tips (0.25 piastres to 1 EGP) are given to the likes of lavatory attendants, porters, and anyone willing to bend the rules a bit like letting you enter a site after hours or taking a photo in a restricted area.

While the rules are often bent in Egypt, authorities are cracking down on certain things (like being able to take a photo inside King Tuts tomb) with hefty fines. Don’t risk offering money just to get your way.

7. Haggling and Bargaining

One of the best things to do in Egypt is to visit a souk market. When browsing comes to buying and you ask, bi-kam da? (How much is it?) be prepared to bargain hard or walk away. As a general rule, offer one third of the asking price and expect to pay half.

8. Nothing is free

Egypt Travel Tips - Karnak Temple

Taking a sneaky photo at Karnak Temple without being spotted

Want to take a photo of a camel at the Pyramids? If the owner catches you look, he will probably demand to be paid.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I was at least 20 metres away when I was spotted taking a photo of a camel resting. It’s up to you if you choose to offer the owner something and if you feel like you’ve done something wrong.

A similar incident happened when I was at Philae Temple. Three men were talking amongst themselves and with the temple behind them I thought it would make a great shot. With at least 50 metres between us , I took the shot. They spotted me and came over and offered to have a group photo. By this point I knew the drill and was happy to give them a little baksheesh.

9. Belongings

It goes without saying that you should always keep your valuables with you. Decide on whether or not you feel comfortable  leaving your passport, laptop or iPad in the hotel room safe or if you’re better off keeping it on you. Using a PacSafe is a great option if you want to leave stuff in your room and there is no safe available.

If you go on a tour, don’t leave anything valuable on the bus, even if the driver is around. They can’t be responsible if something happens.

tourist tips for egypt

What to Wear

10. clothing.

Egypt Travel Tips - Souks and Markets - Khan el-Khalili

Khan el-Khalili market in Cairo

Egypt is dusty, sandy, and dirty. Your clothes will dirty easily and you’ll be washing your hair most nights. Be prepared to rinse out your clothes each night ( this will do the trick ) or pack extra items to wear.

So, what should you wear? As a general rule, wear loose-fitting clothes that are made of breathable material.

Ladies, it’s a bit more complicated for us. While Egypt is one of the more liberal Islamic countries, it has become more conservative in recent years with many women wearing a hijab or headscarf. Female tourists aren’t obligated to wear these but you may feel more at ease doing so, especially in mosques.

As a general rule, avoid showing your chest, shoulders or legs below the knees.

At this point you’re probably looking at my photos wondering why I didn’t cover up my legs, and you’re right! I did pack longer dresses, but when Ramzy told the group that it’s ok to wear shorts and normal summer attire when visiting monuments such as the Pyramids and the temples along the Nile, I felt comfortable in taking his advice.

The only exception he made was when visiting mosques, markets or souks. Which is why you’ll see me wearing long pants in the photo above in Khan el-Khalili souk in Cairo.

If you’re a female travelling alone, place ring on your wedding finger, this will show respectability.

11. Footwear

However hot and tempting it maybe to wear flip flops, with all the dirt, sand and grime present, I recommend wearing closed toe shoes.

You’re going to be doing a lot of walking in some pretty unclean areas and the last thing you want is having dirty feet all day.

Getting Around and Transportation

You need a visa! For Americans and Aussies, and a few other countries, you can either apply in advance for an Egypt e-Visa , or queue at the border for a visa on arrival.

For most travellers, the visa will cost roughly $USD25 (single entry, valid for 30 days) or $USD35 (multi-entry). Since I travelled with Topdeck, they organised my visa once I arrived. All I had to do was bring American Dollars to pay for it. Only American Dollars or Egyptian Pounds are accepted. In addition to your visa, ensure your passport is valid six months beyond your planned date of entry.

Taxis are cheap and easy to use. Simply go to a main street and wave your hand, that’s it. They even have Uber if you prefer!  Just be sure he follows the GPS.

Before jumping in the taxi, agree on the price beforehand and stick to it. Not matter what reason they come up with. For getting around Cairo, you can expect to pay 50 to 80 EGP. (2.70 – 4.50 USD).

If you’re staying in Downtown Cairo, getting to the Pyramids should only take 30 minutes, but Cairo has very busy roads so it can take 60-90 minutes.

There are three kinds of taxis in Cairo: Black Taxis, Yellow Taxis and White Taxis. Black taxis are the oldest ones. Most are without a meter and without air-conditioning. White taxis are the modern equivalent of black taxi. They have a meter and air-conditioning. Yellow taxis are professionally run and can be booked over the phone but are the most expensive. I recommend getting a white taxi and bargaining hard.

14. Air travel

With raised safety concerns in Egypt, some airlines like British Airways are becoming more strict with what you can take in your carry-on luggage or even in your checked luggage.

I flew both ways with British Airways but they only had an issue when returning to the UK. They had very strict guidelines on what size lithium batteries were allowed on board.

A bunch of us were fuming when we were forced to leave behind expensive powerbanks which we weren’t reimbursed for or given alternatively means of keeping them. To give you an idea, this is the one I had to part with. *sniff*.

Air France, who were also flying that day but didn’t have this rule. Check with your airline ahead of travelling so you’re not caught out and left out of pocket.

15. Cairo Airport

Cairo Airport is unlike any airport you’ve experienced. Upon arrival, everything seems pretty standard until after you go through passport control.

Once you pick up your luggage and head to the exit, there will probably be a massive long queue that wraps around the luggage collection hall. Guarding the exit is one or two men who will look you up and down and decide if they want to check your luggage.

Since we were with a Topdeck escort who came to help us get a visa and take us to the hotel, he was on familiar terms with the airport staff and was able to get us through quickly.

Once we got through to the other side, our escort disappeared briefly to hand back a permit he was given in order to come and meet us inside. This is just another reason why travelling with an organised tour is great.

If, at the end of your trip you leave via Cairo Airport, be prepared for three separate security checks; one as soon as you enter the airport at the entrance, one at customs, then another at the gate. The first one is where they’ll flag any illegal objects like my poor powerbank .

16. Crossing the road

Crossing the road in Cairo is a skill. If you’ve ever been to Rome  and stared down a driver then confidently walked out into a busy street, then you’re well-prepared for Cairo.

If locals see you struggling to cross, they will either let you join their own crossing convoy or come and assist you.

If you’re still too nervous to go it alone, you have some other options for crossing the road:

  • Wait for a lull in the traffic before crossing (this may take a while).
  • If possible, cross where there is only 1 or 2 lanes of traffic. Don’t stop in the middle of the road between the two lanes either. Cars will drive dangerously close to you while you wait for the other lane to have an opening.
  • Ask someone to join them as they cross. If they can’t understand English, simply smile and indicate to the other side of the road.
  • Find a policeman to help you, there are plenty around.

17. Driving

Whilst driving from Cairo to Luxor during the night, I noticed that many drivers didn’t have their headlights on. This is totally normal and nothing to be concerned about. Egyptians believe they see better this way.

When a car is approaching, they’ll flash their lights to let them know they’re there. Some drivers may keep their fog lights on. If you’re wondering, our Topdeck driver kept his headlights on.

Cultural Tips and Other Useful Tips

18. photography.

Egypt Travel Tips - Pyramid of Khafre and satellite pyramid

You will have to pay a small fee to take your camera inside the Pyramids Complex

Want to take your camera with you? Be prepared to pay for it!

Whether you want to take photos or film video, every monument, temple, tomb and museum you visit will charge a small fee just to take it inside. Expect to pay anything from 50 to 100 EGP (2.70 – 5.60 USD).

I was even charged extra when guards are Philae temple saw my tripod. At first they wouldn’t let me take it at all then they came around when I said I wouldn’t use it so they charged me for another camera ticket.

Once inside, flash photography is generally forbidden and should be strictly followed.

19. Camel Rides

Egypt Travel Tips - Camel rides

Camel and horse rides at the Pyramids of Giza

Going on a camel ride and taking a photo with the pyramids behind you is one of the most desired tourist souvenirs from a trip to Egypt.

If you know that going on a camel ride around the pyramids is something you definitely want to do, you may (and I hope), reconsider once you arrive and see how malnourished and badly treated the camels, and horses for that matter, are.

Egypt is a third-world country and many citizens are living in a state of desperation. As such, the men who run these camel rides prioritise feeding their families over feeding their camels. While they may have their priorities right, I can’t bring myself to support them. This has only become worse since tourism has declined.

If you do choose to take a camel ride, make sure you’re not hassled into paying more than the fair price. In order to crack down on scamming tourist signs have now been put up showing set prices for camel rides which are 50 Egyptian Pounds for 30 minutes.

Make sure you check out my guide on everything you need to know about visiting the Pyramids.

20. Toilets

Public toilets in Egypt are not the best, and that’s putting it lightly.

A trip to the loo will set you back 1 or 2 EGP and give you access to either a squat or western toilet. They generally don’t have toilet paper, are dirty, and the tap water may not be running. Bring your own toilet paper ( these flushable wipes are great ), hand sanitizer, and wipe down the seat if you must sit or get one of these.

There will usually be a hose next to the toilet, but the water will only be turned on if you pay a baksheesh.

Toilets in restaurants and hotels are usually staffed by an attendant who will give you toilet paper and turn on the tap for you. Giving a baksheesh of 25 – 50 piastres is standard.

21. School Children

You might feel famous when travelling around Egypt. At least that’s how the students in large school groups will make you think,

On countless occasions, at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the Pyramids, and Karnak Temple, young kids would run up to us asking for selfies or yell out and wave as our group walked passed. They were so excited and interested in us.

When I asked Ramzy why, he said that we are sort of celebrities to them. They watch people like us on TV who have very different lives from their own so they get excited when they see us in their country.

It’s actually very sweet. However, if you say yes to one, they’ll all come running. It’s best to politely decline from the start.

22. Mosques and Religious Sites

Egypt Travel Tips - Visiting Mosques

A beautiful Mosque on the Nile

Dressing modestly is a must when visiting mosques. Some places may ask women to cover their hair and will provide you with a headscarf. Before entering you will be required to remove your shoes and leave them with a shoe custodian (give him a baksheesh).

If you want to climb the minaret (tower), carry your shoes with the soles pressed together. It’s best to avoid visiting mosques during prayer times as to not intrude on worshippers.

23. Smoking

Everywhere you go, everyone will be smoking. Whether it’s a cigarette or shisha water-pipe, if you’re a non-smoker it can get really annoying.

Smokers are allowed to light up pretty much anywhere. The only exception is in fast-food restaurants thanks to an initiative by the environment ministry.

Restaurants have non-smoking tables, but these are almost pointless since they are surrounded by smoking tables. If you’re outside, try and stay upwind and always ask for a non-smoking room in your hotel.

24. Fridays and Saturdays

As in most Arab countries, their weekend falls on a Friday and Saturday. This means tourist attractions are much more busy on these days than the rest of the week.

I strongly recommend not visiting the Pyramids, Cairo Tower or the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on either of these days. The queues will be torture.

25. BONUS TIP: Fake Papyrus Scam

Egypt Travel Tips - Fake papyrus scam

Lady writing my name in hieroglyphics on real papyrus

The Ancient Egyptians were one of the first to master the production of paper, known as papyrus. One of the nicest souvenirs you can get after a trip to Egypt is a papyrus print. But, there is a very common scam take catches out many tourists. Fake papyrus!

In many markets and other street vendors will sell fake papyrus that is actually made from banana leaf, not the papyrus plant. These will be cheaper than the real thing.

So, how do you spot a fake papyrus? Easy! First, notice how these vendors show or display their “papyrus”, it’s stiff, like cardboard and will tear when rolled which is why they’ll never roll it. Real papyrus is strong, flexible and durable and can be rolled up. Second, hold the papyrus up to the light, you should be able to see vertical and horizontal strips that make up the papyrus sheet, within these strips you should see little dark fibres or flecks. This is a good sign!

I hope this guide has helped you feel more prepared for your trip to Egypt. Remember, every country has its quirks. If things were the same as home, you wouldn’t be visiting.

I would go back to Egypt in a heartbeat. Everything I saw blew me away. It’s such an incredible country with a wonderful history. The locals are welcoming and it’s very cheap to travel to.

If you still have any questions or concerns, please reach out and leave a comment below. I’d be happy to help where I can. If not, then I wish you a wonderful trip! Support this blog and book your Egypt tour here.

Shukran for reading! ;)

Take a day trip from Cairo

  • Alexandria Day Tour: See the city built by Alexander the Great
  • Private Full-Day Tour of Historical Alexandria from Cairo
  • Pyramids of Giza, Sakkara & Memphis: Private Tour with Lunch
  • Pyramids, Museum & Bazaar Private Tour with Entrance & Lunch
  • Cairo: Dinner Cruise on the Nile River with Entertainment
  • Cairo: Egyptian Museum 4-Hour Private Tour with Transfer
  • Cairo: 1 or 2-Hour Felucca Ride on the Nile with Transfers
  • Old Cairo and Khan El Khalili Bazaar: Private Half-Day Tour
  • Cairo: Best Kept Secrets Night Tour
  • Plus loads more here …

Let me remind you again why Egypt is amazing and watch my Egypt vlog below.

Going to Egypt? Get my free Arabic travel phrase guide.

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Essential Egypt Travel Tips You Should Know

Sources Eyewitness Egypt

Over to you!

Which of these tips did you find the most useful? Is there anything you would add? Tell me below! Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

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tourist tips for egypt

Michele creates language learning guides and courses for travel. What separates her from other instructors is her ability to explain complex grammar in a no-nonsense, straightforward manner using her unique 80/20 method. Get her free guide 9 reasons you’re not fluent…YET & how to fix it! Planning a trip? Learn the local language with her 80/20 method for less than the cost of eating at a tourist trap restaurant Start learning today!

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26 best things to do in verona, italy // 2024 guide, 17 comments.

tourist tips for egypt

Thank you so much for all the information.

Looking forward for a trip to Egypt !!

My pleasure! Have a wonderful trip :)

tourist tips for egypt

Hi Michele, a lovely and useful article to read! Just wanted to check with you about passport safety: was it with you at all times, or you left it in your hotel room? Also – when entering Egypt have you been questioned about what, if any medication you had with you – as some over the counter meds in Europe or US can be problematic to bring into Egypt? Thank you!

Hi Jo, thank you so much and thank you for your questions. Yes, I always carried my passport on me. In fact, I do this wherever I travel. I would also ensure you have a photocopy in your luggage and a copy saved on your phone or on the cloud as an extra safety measure. When it comes to medication, I would email the airport directly for any questions you have. I was worried when flying from London to NY after I had heard that you can’t take a certain quantity of protein powder in your luggage. I emailed US customs and they said it was ok. I also kept a copy of that email on me and on my phone and was ready to show the customs officers on arrival if I had any issues. This is good practice as the problem with customs is that it’s sometimes open to interpretation and depends on how the officers feel on the day. I hope this helps :) Have a wonderful trip!

tourist tips for egypt

Where do you recommend converting US $$ to LE and what volume of notes should I get to handle all the tipping. If at airport, is this best done before the border/customs or after? Thanks!

Hi David, before arriving, I ordered some USD so I would have enough to pay for my visa on arrival and have some money for incidentals. I had heard that they accept both USD and Egyptian Pounds at the airport. The tour company I travelled with had a guide on the ground who helped me through this process and I knew I need 100USD to pay for the visa. The rest of the time I used Egyptian Pounds. There is no tipping culture like the USA, so you can tip if you like but it’s not always necessary.

Hi David, before arriving, I ordered some USD so I would have enough to pay for my visa on arrival and have some money for incidentals. I had heard that they accept both USD and Egyptian Pounds at the airport. The tour company I travelled with had a guide on the ground who helped me through this process and I knew I need 100USD to pay for the visa. The rest of the time I used Egyptian Pounds. There is no tipping culture like the USA, so you can tip if you like but it’s not always necessary.

tourist tips for egypt

Hi, I have read and re-read this several times. Thank you. I’m going with a friend to Egypt early March and want to go on organised trips but I’m disabled and can only walk very slowly. In other countries I’ve just let the group go ahead and done my own thing then joined back at the coach. Is this a good idea in Egypt or can I hire an electric mobility scooter while there.

Hi Gabrielle, I’m not 100% sure how this works and it will vary depending on the accessibility of the group tour company. I would reach out to them directly for advice before booking. Best of luck and I hope it works out :)

tourist tips for egypt

Hello, thank you for your honesty. I enjoyed reading all of your tips. I am considering going in February from the 19th to the 24th. Do you think this is enough time to see everything you saw?

Hi Caroline, I went on a Top Deck tour, this is the best way to ensure you that we see everything and safely too. I highly recommend it. You can see the tour I did here http://bit.ly/EgyptExpressTour

tourist tips for egypt

Great info! Where did you take your photos??? THEY. ARE. FABULOUS.

Thank you SO much, Naomi. I took them during my Top Deck tour around Egypt . I highly recommend it! :)

tourist tips for egypt

This has been helpful and has eased my mind about travelling to Egypt. Going in a tour group, can’t wait ! :D

I’m so happy to hear that. You’re very welcome, Jacinda :)

tourist tips for egypt

Thank you so much for such a wonderful article, I can’t wait to land egypt.

Thank you so much, Priya :)

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14 EGYPT TIPS for FIRST TIMERS (How to Save Time, Money, and Be Safe)

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Traveling in Egypt can be challenging, even for the most seasoned nomad. There’s so much to know about Egypt and consider before planning a trip, however, with these 14 Egypt tips for first timers, you will make the most of your time, avoid possible challenges, and ensure you have a safe and enjoyable stay in Egypt.

Learn More About Egypt: 

Perfect 2-Day Itinerary in Luxor, Egypt (7 Things You Can’t Miss)

5 Best Day Trips from Luxor (Maps+Photos+Practical Tips)

18 Best Things to Do in Luxor (Ultimate Luxor Bucket List)

7 Best Tombs to Visit in the Valley of the Kings

You Might Also Like: 

12 Practical Tips for Hot Air Balloon Ride in Luxor

How to Visit Abu Simbel: Everything You Need to Know to Plan Your Visit

  • 1. 14 Egypt Tips for First Timers
  • 1.1. Is It Safe to Travel to Egypt
  • 1.2. When Should You Go to Egypt
  • 1.3. Will You Need a Visa to Travel to Egypt
  • 1.4. Should You Hire a Tour Company
  • 1.5. What Should You Wear in Egypt
  • 1.6. Is It Safe to Drink Tap Water
  • 1.7. What You Need to Know About Tipping in Egypt
  • 1.8. Do You Need to Exchange Money When Traveling in Egypt
  • 1.9. How to Get Around in Egypt
  • 1.10. Can You Fly a Drone in Egypt
  • 1.11. How to Bargain in Egypt
  • 1.12. Should You Go on a Camel Ride
  • 1.13. How to Use a Public Toilet in Egypt
  • 1.14. What to See in Egypt for First-Time Visit
  • 2. Intrepid Scout's Egypt Tips for First Timers

14 Egypt Tips for First Timers

Is it safe to travel to egypt.

Safety is the number one concern when deciding whether to travel to Egypt or not.

I understand it because, for many years, Egypt remained on my list of places to visit, however, it was not a safe place to travel to due to political instability and terrorism. It was not until 2019 that I started looking at the possibility of visiting Egypt and finally, I decided to travel to Egypt that year.

I have to honestly say that I felt safe during my entire trip to Egypt which started in Cairo and went all the way down the Nile to Abu Simbel near the Sudan border.

During my visit to Egypt in 2019/2020, I saw police and military at all major tourist attractions. While traveling to the Temples of Abu Simbel, we had to stop at several security checkpoints. And, every time I entered my hotel or visited a popular tourist site, I had to go through metal detectors. All these measures were in place to protect tourists and make them feel safe.

Tourism in Egypt used to be one of the leading sources of income, crucial to Egypt’s economy.

  • At its peak in 2010 , the sector employed about 12% of the workforce of Egypt, serving approximately 14.7 million visitors to Egypt, and providing revenues of nearly $12.5 billion.
  • Between 2015-2016 that revenue dropped to $3.3 billion due to political unrest and terrorism.
  • In 2017 , Bloomberg said Egypt has “shed its years of social and political unrest” and made the top 20 list of 2017 travel destinations.
  • Egypt was on the path of recovery until the Covid epidemic. In 2020 , Egypt’s tourism revenue dropped by about 70% to $4 billion, reducing tourist arrivals to 3.5 million from 13.1 million in 2019.  Egypt’s revenues from tourism for the months of the 2020-2021 fiscal year plunged by 67.4%.

When Should You Go to Egypt

  • The best time to visit Egypt is spring or fall . About mid-March until mid-May and mid-September until mid-November are the best times to travel to Egypt. In these transition months, temperatures are mild and the weather is pleasant. Spring and fall are the most perfect times of the year to visit Egypt.
  • Summers (July, and August) are unbearably hot. Temperatures can range from 104F to 130F. By all means, avoid traveling to Egypt in the summer months.
  • Winter months can be cool (especially at night, down to 50F), but temperatures during the day should be nice and perfect for exploring Egypt. December and January are the most popular months for travel to Egypt, so expect crowds at all popular destinations in Egypt.

Will You Need a Visa to Travel to Egypt

Most foreign visitors who want to visit Egypt need a visa as well as a valid passport.

  • The best and simplest way to obtain a visa is to apply for an e-Visa . Currently around 150 countries can apply for an electronic visa for Egypt through a quick online application. Once approved, the e-Visa will be electronically linked to the passport and a copy will also be sent via email . You will need to print it and present it to immigration control upon your arrival in Egypt. An Egypt tourist e-Visa allows a total stay of 30 days per entry.
  • You can also obtain a visa on arrival at any immigration checkpoint. In the Cairo International Airport, right before the passport control, there is a bank window where you can purchase a visa on arrival. It costs USD 25 and you need to pay in cash. Next, take your visa and passport to passport control where the immigration officer will add the visa to your passport and stamp it.

Should You Hire a Tour Company

I recommend hiring a reputable travel company that can assist you with navigating from one attraction to the next while you are visiting Egypt. I want to caution you against self-driving in Egypt due to heavy and unpredictable traffic as well as poor road conditions.

I am not recommending using public transportation either. You will find bus systems in larger cities like Cairo and Alexandria. However, buses are not the easiest mode of transport for visitors in Egypt. First of all, the bus numbers are displayed in Arabic. Second, they are overcrowded and uncomfortable.

In my opinion, taxis are the most efficient way to get around in Egypt.

I collaborated with Your Egypt Tours to help me put together an itinerary for Egypt. They supplied drivers and guides, as well as booked a cruise on River Nile for me. On the other hand, I researched and booked all the hotels and flights. Honestly, I recommend them and have to say that they have done a great job! Just to clarify, I am not getting paid for recommending them.

What Should You Wear in Egypt

Egypt is a conservative Muslim country . However, Egypt is used to foreign visitors and there are no set rules as far as the dress code. But, my recommendation is to be modest and respectful of Egypt’s religion and culture.

With that being the case, I would suggest wearing short or long sleeve shirts and loose or baggy-fitting pants during the cooler times of the year.

During the summer months, when temperatures soar above 100F, it is just fine to wear longer shorts and short sleeve shirts. I have seen many female travelers wear loose-fitting dresses and capris as well.

Simply put, be comfortable and yet be modest !

You will see the majority of Egyptian women wearing headscarves, and many women keep themselves completely covered. It is not required that you comply with these rules at all unless you are visiting a mosque – in that case, you do need to respect the fact that you are entering a religious building and it is advisable that you cover up. I usually carry a scarf wherever I travel and I have it handy.

As a female traveler to Egypt, I stay away from sleeveless or strapless tops and dresses, and shorts out of the respect for Egyptian culture and religion.

If you are planning on going on the River Nile cruise or visiting any of the resorts while in Egypt, you will find a very different and relaxed atmosphere with tourists wearing western summer attires – sleeveless tops, shorts, bathing suits, short dresses, etc.

Is It Safe to Drink Tap Water

It is not fun to get sick while you are traveling and I got very sick several times while traveling to different destinations around the world. So, I tend to stay super cautious when it comes to drinking tap water, consuming uncooked foods, or consuming food in general. While food and water might be safe for locals whose systems are used to them but can create quite gastrointestinal havoc for visitors.

The bottom line, it is not safe to drink tap water, brush your teeth with tap water in Egypt, or eat uncooked foods that might have been rinsed with tap water. Tap water in Egypt can contain harmful organisms such as viruses and bacteria that could make you sick if you ingested them.

Buy bottled water in Egypt and check that the seal is not broken. Drink bottled water, brush and rinse your teeth with bottled water, and above all stay away from any uncooked foods like salads, raw vegetables, unpeeled fruit, and meat that isn’t thoroughly cooked.

If you do get an upset stomach, take diarrhea relief tablets  and drink plenty of  purified water .

Supposedly, it is safe to use tap water in Cairo since it is heavily chlorinated, but, I was told, it tastes awful and requires some getting used to it. I would not recommend it either since a lot of chlorine in the water might upset your digestive system.

What You Need to Know About Tipping in Egypt

Tipping is a tradition in Egypt and while traveling in Egypt be prepared to tip a lot. By tipping, you are showing your gratitude for the services that were provided to you.

How much should you tip? It is recommended that you tip at least 5-10% of the total cost of the service.

I tipped in US Dollars and before traveling to Egypt, I prepared envelopes with tips for drivers, guides, porters, the River Nile Cruise staff, and the list goes on and on.

Following are some guidelines that you can follow:

  • Restaurant – it is usual to leave between 5 and 10% of the tip amount, in addition to the service charges.
  • Hotel – normally, $1-$3 usually left with the doorman and other employees
  • Hotel Bags – between 10 and 20 Egyptian pounds.
  • Tour Guide and Driver – a standard tip for the tour guide is $30-$50 per person for the trip and for the driver $10-$20.
  • Toilet Attendants – 5 Egyptian pounds is appropriate
  • Guardians at archaeological sites – 10 Egyptian pounds are suitable for a particular extra service. The tip is only to be given if you have formulated your agreement and accepted or requested this service, for example: taking your picture.

Also, just want you to be aware that if someone offers to take your picture, they are not doing it for free. They will want to be paid. So, be prepared to tip them for their service. If you see a photogenically positioned camel in front of the pyramids, be aware that if you snap a picture of the camel, then you will have to pay the owner of that camel.

Egypt Travel Tips

What You Need to Know About Tipping in Egypt /  Egypt Tips for First Timers

Egypt Tips for First Timers

Do You Need to Exchange Money When Traveling in Egypt

You do not need to exchange a lot of money while traveling in Egypt. Exchange just enough money to cover some of the tips and have some on hand.

Other than that, US Dollars are widely accepted and a preferred method of payment and tipping. Also, credit cards are accepted almost everywhere.

If you need to exchange money, then there are plenty of ATM’s pretty much every place that tourists visit.

How to Get Around in Egypt

  • My recommendation is to collaborate with a reputable tour company . They can provide drivers and tour guides and you can book flights and hotels. Or, they can do it all. Honestly, having drivers and tour guides scheduled for each day of your trip is the most efficient way to get around in Egypt.
  • Another option is to j oin a bus tour that stops at all major attractions in each location you plan to explore. It is probably one of the least expensive options. It does not give you much flexibility and you are stuck with a large group of visitors.
  • Another pretty efficient option is to just book a taxi and head to all the major attractions You will always be able to hire a guide right at the entrance.
  • I do not recommend renting a car in Egypt . The roads are in poor condition, the traffic is incredible (Cairo or Luxor), and traffic rules do not exist. On the roads outside the cities, there are security checkpoints, and you need to be able to communicate with the officers.

Can You Fly a Drone in Egypt

To bring a drone to Egypt and fly it, you need to receive permission from the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

If you do not have documentation of authorization, your drone will be confiscated at customs.

However, it’s difficult to get permission to fly a drone from the CAA.

How to Bargain in Egypt

Bargaining or haggling is an integral part of the Egyptian shopping experience and should be considered more like a fun game, rather than a serious battle.

Here are a few tips:

  • First of all, ask the seller for the price of an item you are interested in.
  • Most sellers will start their offer at some exorbitant price. My suggestion is to counteroffer with one-third of the asking price.
  • The seller will appear to be appalled by your offer and will ridicule it. Stay calm and just keep smiling. Remember, it is all a game and you should have fun.
  • If the seller is not willing to lower the price, then pretend you are no longer interested in the item and walk away.
  • I can assure you that you will be followed and offered a lower price.
  • Don’t feel guilty about getting the item at a lower price. It is a process and the seller is still making a profit.

Make Sure to Read: 

How to Visit Khan el-Khalili Bazaar in Cairo

Egypt Tips for First Timers

Busy Market in Cairo /  Egypt Tips for First Timers

Should You Go on a Camel Ride

Should you go on a camel ride at the Pyramids of Giza ? My answer is yes! YES!

Going on a camel ride and taking a photo with the pyramids behind you is one of the most touristy things to do in Egypt, however, it is a tradition that everyone coming to Egypt needs to do.

How much does it cost to go on a camel ride at the Pyramids of Giza? For a 30-minute camel ride, the average price is 300 EGP, which is about $20 USD.

However, this price can vary a lot. You will need to negotiate the price, time, distance, etc with the camel owner. Then, the camel handler will take you to several good photo locations and take your pictures. You will need to tip the camel handler at the end of the ride as well.

Pyramids of Giza

Pyramids of Giza / Egypt Tips for First Timers

How to Use a Public Toilet in Egypt

Public toilets in Egypt are not maintained to the best standard. Here are a few suggestions about how to use public toilets in Egypt:

  • Public toilets in Egypt are usually staffed by a toilet attendant . So, make sure to leave a tip for the attendant before leaving the restroom. They might hand you a piece of toilet paper and turn on the facet, but it is not a rule.
  • Bring your own toilet paper.
  • The water faucet might not be working. There might not be any soap. Make sure to bring hand sanitizer with you.
  • Be prepared that the restroom might have only ‘squat’ toilets. However, I have seen both “squat” and “sit down” toilets.

What to See in Egypt for First-Time Visit

From the incomparable pyramids, majestic sands of the Sahara, breathtaking Temples of Abu Simbel, and the beauty of the River Nile, the list of places to visit in Egypt goes on and on.

While you are working on your Egypt itinerary, make sure not to miss these must-see places:

  • Pyramids of Giza

I am sure you heard of the  Seven Wonders of the Ancient World . The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only Wonder of the Ancient World that is still in existence.

Built during the Old Kingdom (c. 2686-2181 BC), specifically, during the reign of the Fourth Dynasty kings, more than  4,000 years ago , the Great Pyramids of Giza give us a glimpse into Egypt’s past.

For me, the Great Pyramids of Giza are the most  magnificent structures  and the most  iconic sight in the world. Both, the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx of Giza have been on my list of places to explore for the longest time.

Learn More About Pyramids of Giza: 

What to See at the Pyramids of Giza (10 Things You Can’t-Miss)

How to Visit the Pyramids of Giza (Things to Know Before You Visit)

Pyramids of Giza

  • Valley of the Kings in Luxor

For a period of nearly 500 years, from the 16th to the 11th century BC, known as the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt,  the Valley of the Kings was the burial ground  for pharaohs such as Tutankhamun, Seti I, and Ramses II, as well as queens, high priests, and other elites of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties.

There are some 65 magnificent royal tombs, that have been discovered so far.

Nowadays, their contents are gone. However, you can still see the amazing wall and ceiling decorations with religious images and texts from the  netherworld  books, designed to guide the pharaohs in their journey to the afterlife.

Learn More About Valley of the Kings 

7 Best Tombs to Visit in the Valley of the Kings (Map+Photos+Useful Tips)

12 Practical Tips for First Visit to Valley of the Kings

  • The Temples of Abu Simbel 

One of the must-see sights when visiting Egypt is the  Abu Simbel Temple Complex . However, some advance planning is advisable to enjoy this incredible place to its fullest. Here is everything you need to know about how to visit Abu Simbel:

Learn More About Abu Simbel: 

How to Visit Abu Simbel: Everything You Need to Know to Plan Your Visit 

Inside the Great Temple of Abu Simbel / Egypt Tips for First Timers

  • Karnak and Luxor Temples in Luxor

Karnak is a massive Ancient Egyptian temple complex. At the heart of it lies the Temple of Amun, dedicated to the king of the gods. In addition, there are a number of smaller temples, chapels, and sanctuaries dedicated to other deities. Moreover, there are endless halls, a sacred lake, pylons, colossi, and obelisks.

Luxor Temple is one of the most beautiful temples located on the East Bank of the River Nile in Luxor.

Luxor and Karnak Temples need to be on your bucket list of places to visit.

Learn More Karnak and Luxor Temples in Luxor: 

How to Visit Karnak Temple (9 Things You Can’t Miss)

What to See at Luxor Temple (11 Things You Can’t Miss)

Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple / Egypt Tips for First Timers

  • Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor

The Temple of Hatshepsut, also known as Djeser-Djeseru (Holy of Holies), is one of the most stunning temples located on the West Bank of the River Nile in Luxor. Constructed by Pharaoh Hatshepsut and dedicated to herself and god Amun, the temple is built into a cliff face and consists of a series of spectacular terraces that can be reached by long ramps.

Learn More About Temple of Hatshepsut: 

What to See at the Temple of Hatshepsut (7 Things You Can’t Miss)

14 Tips for Visiting Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor 

Temple of Hatshepsut

Temple of Hatshepsut / Egypt Tips for First Timers

  • Cairo Egyptian Museum 

The Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities consisting of more than 120,000 items (with a representative amount on display and the remainder in storerooms). To see it all, would take you days! To make it manageable, read 19 must-see things at Egyptian Museum . PLUS, things you need to know before going to the museum.

Learn More About Cairo Egyptian Museum:

19 Must-See Things at Egyptian Museum in Cairo (+Practical Tips)

Intrepid Scout's Egypt Tips for First Timers

  • Get your e-Visa before traveling to Egypt. Apply and get your visa to Egypt online. It is a simple process to apply online and it will save you time when you arrive in Egypt.
  • The best time of the year to visit Egypt is during the winter months. The temperatures are mild and perfect for exploring Egypt.
  • Book the Nile river cruise! The Nile river cruise is still one of the most popular ways to see Egypt’s ancient sights. Many of the most famous sites are located directly on the river. At night, many of the temples and monuments are beautifully illuminated, and the sight of them from the water is stunning.

More Information About Egypt

How to Visit and What to See at KHAN EL-KHALILI BAZAAR in Cairo

Perfect 7-Day Egypt Itinerary for First Visit (Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Abu Simbel)

What to See at the TEMPLE of HORUS at EDFU (5 Things You Can’t Miss)

10 Epic Things to See and Do at the Pyramids of Giza

What to See at the TEMPLE of KOM OMBO, Egypt (9 Things You Can’t Miss)

How to Visit and What to See at the TEMPLE of PHILAE in Aswan

Best Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara (Maps+Photos)

Read All the Posts About Egypt in: 

Egypt Travel Guide

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Egypt Travel Guide

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Egypt stats.

Official Languages: Arabic

Population: 106 million

Capital City: Cairo

Currency: Egyptian Pound

Power Outlet: Type C and F

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Luxor, Egypt is the world’s greatest open-air museum. Ancient tombs and temples are scattered along the east and west bank of the Nile River. The Valley of the Kings, Karnak and Luxor Temples, the Temple of Hatshepsut…these are just a few of the best things to do in Luxor.

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Top experiences in egypt.

Cairo.  Cairo…this sprawling, historic, ancient city is most visitors’ first stop on a trip through Egypt. The Pyramids of Giza and the Egyptian Museum top the list for most, but there is a lot more to see and do in this city.

The Pyramids of Giza. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the last intact ancient Wonder of the World. This pyramid, along with the others that sit on the Giza Plateau, form one of the most recognizable sights in the world.

The Egyptian Museum. The Egyptian Museum contains the world’s largest collection of Egyptian artifacts.

Luxor.  Luxor, Egypt is the world’s greatest open-air museum. Ancient tombs and temples are scattered along the east and west bank of the Nile River. The Valley of the Kings, Karnak and Luxor Temples, the Temple of Hatshepsut…these are just a few of the best things to do in Luxor.

Valley of the Kings.  The Valley of the Kings is a burial ground for pharaohs who ruled Egypt during the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties.

Aswan.   Beautiful, laid-back Aswan…with its palm-tree studded shorelines, feluccas that sail the Nile River, and beautiful temples, Aswan looks and feels a lot different than many other places in Egypt.

Abu Simbel.  Sitting on the bank of Lake Nasser is one of Egypt’s most striking monuments, the twin temples of Abu Simbel. Built by Ramesses II over 3,000 years ago, these temples have stood the test of time.

Best Time to Visit Egypt

The best time to visit Egypt is the cooler months of the year: November through March. In the southern part of the country, such as Luxor and Aswan, rain is unlikely. During the winter months, it does occasionally rain in Cairo and Alexandria.

Expect the biggest crowds in December and January.

During the summer months, temperatures can be oppressive. Temperatures can range from 40 to 55°C (104 to 130°F). In Luxor and Aswan, this is a dry heat, but up north around Cairo and Alexandria, the humidity can make the heat feel even worse.

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Egypt Travel Tips: 14 Things to Know Before Your Visit

As I sit here, writing this post, I’m struggling to find the right words to describe my feelings about Egypt. Spectacular, awe-inspiring, infuriating, exhausting, and annoying are the first words that come to mind.

Visiting the Pyramids of Giza , taking a cruise down the Nile , and learning all about the ancient Egyptian pharaohs in Luxor were experiences of a lifetime. But being constantly hassled by touts to buy their souvenirs, ride their camels, and give them a baksheesh (tip) at times made me hesitant to leave my hotel room.

I tried my best to prepare for Egypt. I scoured travel blogs and guides, read travel advisories with warnings about past terrorist attacks, and mentally prepared for the best of times and the worst. Or so I thought…

After spending 30 days in this crazy, amazing country, I’ve come away with a list of 14 things that I really wish I would have known prior to landing in Cairo . Hopefully, this list of Egypt travel tips will help you prepare for the madness that awaits you in this amazing country! 

Egypt Travel Tips - Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt

I should clarify a few points before you read on:  

  • First, I refer to “Egyptians” in a negative context a few times in this article. I’m generally only speaking about Egyptian men who speak proficient English (among other languages) and work in tourism. Most Egyptians are very lovely people and, in general, don’t hassle you.
  • Second, I am a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned American woman. I traveled to Egypt with my husband (who also happens to have blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. No, we are not related). So we probably generated more attention as it is 100% clear as day that we are not Egyptian. And it is likely that I would have had a different experience if I was traveling alone (or if I was traveling as a brunette).
  • Third, if you visit Egypt with a tour group, you’ll likely escape many of the negative experiences that I describe in this post. Your tour guide will act as a kind of bodyguard to shield you from the touts.
  • And lastly, do NOT let this post dissuade you from planning a trip to Egypt. It is a spectacular country that everyone in the world should visit. But if/when you do make the trip, you should probably be a bit more mentally prepared than I was… (and you will be after reading these Egypt travel tips).

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

Tips for Visiting Egypt: 14 Things to Know Before Visiting

1. it is an incredibly safe country to visit.

Egypt Travel Tips (Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt): Cotton candy Vendor

My husband and I had talked about visiting Egypt for months until we actually bought our tickets. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. We had family members warn us of possible kidnappings. Nearly everyone we told that we were going responded with “are you crazy? Isn’t it really dangerous?”

I read blogs and travel advisories and convinced myself that I’ve lived an epic life, so it’d be okay to die a bit earlier than anticipated. So we booked our tickets and made arrangements to stay for the entire length of our visa-on-arrival. I pretended to be really excited.

And of course, I was wrong to be so nervous (just like I was wrong to be nervous about  visiting Turkey ). And I was kind of ridiculous. I found Egypt to be incredibly safe and the people to be quite welcoming. They seem to love Americans and think that Trump is crazy. I never even for a second felt unsafe.

Sure, it’s a bit scary trying to cross the street, but actual physical danger? No way. As an example, if you want to visit the Cairo Museum, you’ll pass through three different security checkpoints (complete with three separate bag and body scans).

That being said, while we were in Luxor there was a terrible attack on a mosque in the Northern Sinai region which is still notoriously dangerous. We would not recommend visiting the Northern Sinai peninsula area, nor would we recommend a land crossing from Israel. The Suez Canal is heavily guarded. It is how the remainder of Egypt has managed to stay safe from the forces occupying the peninsula.

2. The Most Frightening Danger in Egypt is School Children and Their Cameras

Egypt Travel Tips (Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt): Selfie at the Pyramids

We couldn’t figure out if it was because tourism has been so terrible in Egypt over the past seven years. Maybe the children have never really seen tourists, or maybe the kids are just naturally curious. But the biggest danger we ever faced in Egypt was children wanting to take selfies with their cell phones. Specifically at touristy destinations (these kids are likely visiting from smaller, remote villages).

At the Pyramids of Giza, I was constantly surrounded by 30-ish children trying to touch my hair, shake my hand, and take a selfie with me. The only English words they seemed to know were “ what is your name? “, and “ photo? “.

It sounds fairly harmless, right? What kind of monster would complain about taking photos with children? Well once you say yes to one, then another will see and then another. Soon enough, you will be surrounded by a mob of crazy kids demanding your attention for a selfie (or three). And god forbid they get organized and take one group shot, that would be far too easy.

If you have blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin, anytime you see a group of young children approaching – RUN!

3. Passive-Aggressive Groping is Not Common

Egypt Travel Tips (Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt): Sunset at Luxor Temple

I have repeatedly experienced a strange phenomenon in conservative countries like Jordan , Morocco , and India that I not-so-lovingly refer to as “passive-aggressive groping”. It’s when men unnecessarily brush up against women’s bodies in a creepy attempt to cop-a-feel way.

It happened to me so many times in India that I started carrying an umbrella under my arm. The point facing backward kept men away from my butt. And I gave a serious scolding to one emboldened gent who “tripped” up the stairs and caught himself with my buttcheeks. Not cool.

I read several blogs stating that this was also a problem in Egypt. There was an effort to educate younger boys in school that this behavior is wrong and not tolerated. I even shed a few tears just trying to mentally prepare myself to deal with this again (it makes me crazy that some people believe it’s okay to touch another person’s body without their permission).

But not even once in the 30 days that we spent in Egypt did anyone touch me in any way that made me feel uncomfortable, even a little. Sure, a few men tried to put their arms around my shoulders for a picture, but they refrained as soon as I said no. Passive-aggressive butt rubbing doesn’t appear to be an issue in Egypt. At least, it wasn’t for me, thank god.

(And PS, if you’re thinking that it’s probably because I don’t have a nice butt, you’re wrong, I totally do!)

4. Women will get Catcalled, but it’s Reasonably Harmless

Egypt Travel Tips (Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt): Egyptian Hospitality

I also read plenty of blogs warning women about making eye contact with men in Egypt as they would get aggressively catcalled. So I was ready for some good old-fashioned whooping, hollering, and whistling. And during my first day in Cairo, I refused to make eye contact with anyone (which actually makes it really difficult to see where you’re going).

And I did get catcalled a bit. But it was pretty harmless. “How many hearts did you break today?” and “how much do you cost? I’ll give you 1 million camels” were the most common. I did have one man tell me that he would kill his wife for me. It seemed a bit over-the-top but (hopefully) he meant it in jest. Most of the catcalls seemed to be more funny and flattering than anything else.

5. Many Egyptian People are at a Point of Financial Desperation

In 2016, the value of the Egyptian Pound (LE) fell significantly. It had previously been pegged which was causing turmoil in the country. While prices have been somewhat adjusted for inflation, wages have remained more or less the same as before. Meaning that many Egyptians are earning about half of what they were earning prior to 2016 but paying higher prices for everything.

Because of that, the Egyptian people are really struggling to make ends meet. In areas like Luxor and Aswan that rely heavily on tourism, you can actually feel the desperation in their pleas. It’s incredibly sad and difficult to understand. And sadly, for tourists, it makes for a very frustrating experience.

The next few things that I wish I would have known prior to visiting Egypt will make it sound like we had quite a negative experience. That is not the case, most of the time. But there were times when this desperation facing the Egyptian people was so infuriating that it tempted me to jump on the next flight back to the US. It helped to remember that many people in this country are truly struggling and some view tourists as their only option to earn money.

6. A Tip (“Baksheesh”) is Expected for Anything and Everything

Egypt Travel Tips (Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt): Egyptian Guard at Edfu Temple

Possibly due to #5 on the list, Egypt has developed a culture where a tip, or “baksheesh”, is expected for anything and everything. We had two pretty hilarious and memorable “baksheesh” requests. The first was when we left a restaurant to get into our Uber. There was a man standing nearby who claimed he “didn’t let anyone else steal our Uber” and tried to demand a tip (he was not successful). The second was when we went into a phone store to replace the screen protector for my iPhone. The store owner requested a tip beyond the price we paid. We still don’t really know what for.

When visiting temples, there are many guards dressed in traditional clothing hanging around. They will ask you to take a photo of them, or try to show you something in the temple, or even allow you to take a photo when it isn’t allowed (such as in tombs in the Valley of the Kings and inside of the Great Pyramid in Giza). Then, they will expect a baksheesh for their efforts. It gets REALLY old really fast. But I learned that these men earn about 1200 LE per month (~$65 USD) so your tip really helps their families.

Locals never seem to want to part with small change so it can be difficult to keep small bills for your baksheesh. Hang on to 5, 10, and 20 LE bills for dear life!

7. The Amount you Should Tip is Much Smaller Than you Might Expect

Egypt Travel Tips (Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt): Egyptian Money

When we first arrived in Cairo, we had a driver meet us to take us to our hotel. We tipped him 100 LE (~$5). He was literally ecstatic. He kept shaking our hands and asking us to call him again for rides wherever we needed to go. Turns out we tipped him about five times what we should have.

Expect to pay 10 LE for the guards hanging out at the temples. Public bathrooms will run you 2 LE. Pay the bellboy 10-20 LE for carrying your luggage to your room. And 10-20 LE/night for housekeeping is standard. The service charge is generally included in your check when dining out but if it isn’t, a 10% tip will suffice.

8. If Someone Offers to Help, it Usually Comes at a Price

Egypt Travel Tips (Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt): Camel Owner at the Pyramids

If I had a dollar for every time someone approached us on the street who genuinely wanted to help us find what we were looking for, I would be broke.

There were times when we thought someone was genuinely interested in talking to Americans. However, it was only a matter of time until they tried to direct us to their shop or restaurant. They seemed offended when we turned down their offer for “Egyptian hospitality” which would consist of tea in their shop while trying to “help us spend our money”.

We learned that (almost) no one who approaches you on the street really wants to chat or to help and anyone who aggressively tries to point you in any direction is lying. On the way to the entrance to the Pyramids of Giza , several people on the street point to a side street claiming “entrance here! Ticket office here!” It’s not, they’re lying. And there are police officers standing 10 feet away that know this scam is going on but choose to do nothing about it.

It’s also very difficult to ask anyone on the street for help. While they may be genuinely helpful, it’s highly likely there is a tout lingering nearby who will tell the nice person that they’re already helping you. Even though they’re really only trying to help you to find their shop. This is incredibly frustrating as they are really difficult to shake.

I wish I could give good advice but just this evening (as I write this) we had two people following us around at different times, pretending to just want to chat. I hate that this makes me sound cynical and I hope that you don’t find this to be the case during your visit.

9. “No” Does Not Seem to Mean No in Egypt

Every time we left our hotel in Luxor and in Aswan, we would see the touts start running toward us. “Felucca? Felucca? You know how much it costs? Very cheap, Egyptian price!” or “taxi, taxi, where you go?” It’s like we had giant neon dollar signs on our foreheads. And no matter how many times we said “no thank you” or “NO” or “LITERALLY STOP FOLLOWING US!” they persisted. We were often followed for blocks while ignoring their nonstop attempts to get us into their boat, car, or horse-drawn carriage.

It would seem that these Egyptians either don’t know the meaning of the word “no”, or they just don’t care that you don’t want what they are offering. They assume they’ll wear you out and eventually you’ll agree.

We learned that the best way to get them to finally leave us alone was just to ignore them. Giving a polite “no thank you” just gives them hope that they can wear you down. You’ll feel like the world’s biggest asshole pretending that the person that is walking alongside you while yelling in your ear doesn’t exist, but you’ll thank me in the end.

10. Many Egyptians Drive Without Headlights at Night

For some reason, many Egyptians believe that driving with the headlights on really impedes the vision of oncoming drivers at night. And thus many drive with either just their fog lights or with no headlights at all. They’ll often flash their lights to inform an oncoming driver of their presence when traveling at high speeds or when few other cars are around.

For a backseat driver, or for anyone attempting to cross the street, this can be horrifying. Keep calm, relax, and rest (somewhat) assured that their visibility is better because of it!

11. Uber Rides are Dirt Cheap

Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt: Our Uber Receipts

Uber rides are dirt cheap and also awesome because the drivers won’t try to hassle you! Most of the taxi drivers in Egypt will not accept the fact that you only want them to take you to one place. They’ll spend the majority of the ride trying to convince you to let them take you to some other tourist attraction. And, as I mentioned above, they have a hard time taking no for an answer. The Uber drivers won’t even try to talk to you!

We found that even though many Uber drivers got really really lost trying to find us (damn you one-way streets!), the wait was worth not getting hassled for more rides or duped on price. You’ll rarely pay more than $5 to go anywhere around Cairo so, of course, they appreciate (but certainly don’t expect or ask for) a baksheesh. Just be sure you ask that they follow their GPS – their way usually isn’t the best way!

12. The First Price Offered is Rarely the Price You’re Expected to Pay

Egypt Travel Tips (Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt): Felucca Ride in Aswan

We encountered this many many times during our time in Egypt. The locals are trying to be competitive in their pricing so they lie. Here is an example of what we encountered fairly frequently: we were walking down the street in Aswan and after dodging probably 30 men asking us to take a ride on their felucca, we were approached by a seemingly nice old man who offered us a ride for 25 LE (~$1.50 USD). We were only a short distance from our destination but figured we could take a cheap boat ride and get there much faster.

About midway through the trip, I started asking the nice old man about an excursion for the next day. When my question of price came up he informed me that the charge would be 75 LE/hour, “the same as our current ride”.

“Um, excuse me?” I said. “You said this felucca ride would be 25 LE.” He informed me that I misheard him and I could ask anyone what the going rate is and blah blah blah. Bottom line is that he blatantly lied to try to get our business and then flipped once our only escape was to swim back to shore.

The moral of the story is that we would have happily paid him 75 LE for his time and would have given him our business the next day if he’d just been honest. I get it, I’m being an asshole, it’s only a few dollars. But it gets so exhausting having to negotiate for everything and attempting to figure out the actual price to pay at the end of your trip.

Be sure to confirm the price several times (and even videotape it if necessary) before agreeing to any services in Egypt.

13. Visiting Tourist Sites on Fridays and Saturdays is Horrifying

Egypt Travel Tips (Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt): Selfie with a Local Family at the Pyramids

Fridays are prayer days for Muslims, and Fridays and Saturdays are weekends for most Arab countries. So every attraction that you (tourist) want to visit, the locals want to visit as well. And busloads of schoolchildren who have the day off of school will arrive shortly after you do. Referring back to #2 of this list, you’ll not only be bombarded by people wanting to take your photo, but you’ll also need to plan on waiting in long lines and sharing small spaces with lots of people.

If you plan on visiting either the Pyramids of Giza on Friday or Saturday during the midday, or if you plan to visit the Cairo Tower on a Friday night… just… don’t. Trust me.

14. Everyone Smokes. Everywhere.

Egypt Travel Tips (Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt): Egyptian Man at Kom Ombo Temple

I was walking through the airport, hacking up a lung and wondering why it reeked like cigarette smoke in the middle of the G gates. It turned out the doors to the “smoking room” were open wide so as to give the smokers inside some fresh air. That is a pretty accurate representation of all of Egypt. Smokers can light up pretty much anywhere – in hotel rooms, restaurants, in taxis, on buses. The world is their black tar oyster.

Be sure to request non-smoking rooms in hotels and non-smoking tables at restaurants. Prepare for your senses to receive an assault.

Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt Conclusion

Egypt Travel Tips (Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt): Stained Glass Windows at the Coptic Museum in Cairo

Would we visit Egypt again? Absolutely! Are we beyond ready to leave after being here for 30 days? Yes. But you should DEFINITELY VISIT EGYPT NOW! It’s super safe and super cheap, and the things you will see will blow your mind. Hopefully, these 14 things will help to prepare you for the good, bad, and ugly that you may experience while visiting this spectacular country!

We hope this guide helps you in planning and preparing for your trip to Egypt!

Planning a visit to Egypt? Check out our favorite books!

Egypt Travel Guide by Lonely Planet

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Egypt Travel Tips: Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt

About the Author:

Valerie Wheatley

Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag. Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her! These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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26 thoughts on “egypt travel tips: 14 things to know before your visit”.

tourist tips for egypt

Very interesting and useful article. Thank you.

tourist tips for egypt

You are so right. You two stand out in a crowd of Egyptians and once you open your mouths are targeted. Well done for staying the course and enjoying your travels. I read your comment on Egypt. specifically Giza, as we are going there in May. We have been before for a Nile cruise which was absolutely fabulous. We also lived in India for years so we are used to blarney, baloney, downright lies and entreaties. Thank you for your forthright and helpful words, now I know what I am getting into and it hasn’t changed. I really like the fact that you know all the flannel is not the people who live there but is the patter the touts, beggars etc given to foreigners without caring but trying to shame them into parting with money anyway they can. It is a dilemma how much you help, as you think, and also get furious with the sham. thank you for your accounts. We live in Dubai and are going to Giza for six days in May this year. it will be a pain, a delight and a joy to be there.

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THE EVOLISTA

15 Egypt Travel Tips You Need to Know Before You Visit Egypt

This site uses affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase through our links, we may earn a commission. You can read our full disclosure policy  here .

Visiting Egypt for the first time? Here are the 15 Egypt travel tips we wish we knew ahead of time that would have made our lives easier. It was so much easier than we expected to plan our trip to Egypt and get around.

We wrote this post for first timer’s visiting Egypt to save you from making the same mistakes we did and clarify some of the things that are confusing.

Planning Your Trip to Egypt Last Minute?

Here are the tours and hotels we recommend. Get more detailed information on our 7 Day Egypt Itinerary and an Egypt packing list on What to Wear in Egypt .

  • Cairo Private Tour to Pyramids, Sakkara & Memphis with Lunch
  • Full or Half-Day East and West Bank Luxor Tours
  • 4-Night All-Inclusive Nile Cruise From Luxor to Aswan & Abu Simbel
  • Benben by Dhara Hotels – ASWAN 
  • Sofitel Legend Old Cataract – ASWAN
  • Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor – LUXOR
  • The St. Regis Cairo – CAIRO
  • Marriott Mena House – GIZA
  • Egypt Visa in Advance
  • Travel Insurance for Egypt

15 Important Egypt Travel Tips

1. is egypt safe.

Since this is the main question we get asked about Egypt, it’s at the top of our travel tips.. There was not one minute on our trip where we felt unsafe.

We went through airports, train stations, walked though cities with no one around and through crowds that were jam packed. The airports and hotels had extensive safety precautions and procedures. We appreciated that they were so vigilant.

Egypt took a huge hit in their tourism numbers after the revolution but things have definitely gotten better. You do need to be cautious about your safety, which is true everywhere in the world.

In tourist areas, you will definitely be approached often by people trying to sell you things and we hear that some of them are pick pockets although we never experienced that.

Use reliable sources of information to make your decisions instead of TV or your friends that have never been there. The US Government has a travel advisory website . Other countries have the same service for their citizens.

We stayed away from the Sinai desert and did not rent a car based on the advisory.

As things can change, it’s always a good idea to purchase travel insurance  in case you need to change your trip due to some unfortunate change. After 2020, I think we all know the benefits of travel insurance and how things can change quickly.

2. Getting an Egyptian Visa & Money

Egypt offers Visa on arrival to many countries. That means, you can show up at Cairo airport and purchase your visa to enter the country. If you decide to do that, bring 25 USD. with you to pay at the window, BEFORE you get in the customs line. You need to have exact change. We had a $50 bill for the 2 of us and it was super easy.

That said, we recommend you get your Egypt Visa in advance . It just eliminates the chance of having issues and you will be more prepared to enter easily. If you are taking a tour, they will probably coordinate your Visa for you.

The currency is Egyptian pounds. You will need cash and there are ATMs all over the place. The only problem we had was the limit on how much you could withdraw so we went to the ATM 3 times in 7 days.

Egypt Travel Tips Mosque Outfit

3. Women and Men Should Dress Conservatively

I was expecting that women needed to dress conservatively but truthfully everyone dresses conservatively. In a country where temperatures are so hot, it’s amazing that everyone is completely covered up.

No one bares their legs except tourists. I did see tourists in tour groups with shorts but if you aren’t in a big group of tourists, you might want to blend in a little better. We wore shorts to take the train and I felt so uncomfortable that I changed to leggings immediately.

We have an entire post on What to Wear in Egypt With an Egypt Packing List . It includes things you are probably forgetting to pack, including electronics information, so make sure you go through it carefully.

Generally you will want lightweight pants, leggings, long skirts, long sleeve shirts and a lightweight scarf with you to put over your head or shoulders in mosques.

You will be asked to wear their clothing to cover up if you are not appropriately dressed. The one time that happened to me (photo on the right), it was really smelly so it never happened again.

4. It’s So Easy to Get Around on Trains and Planes

When we were reading info about how to get around, it all sounded confusing but it was sooo easy! There are one hour flights almost everywhere.

We highly recommend flying from Luxor to Cairo instead of the overnight train. The flight deals are cheaper. In our case it was $50 USD less, about 8 hours faster.

For the places that are 3-4 hours away, you can take the train in the first class compartment called AC1. The prices for those trains are really cheap. We went from Aswan to Luxor, a 3 hour trip in a comfy compartment for 90 EGP ($5.50).

Foreigners can buy train tickets online in advance. Foreigners cannot buy same day tickets online or tickets at the station. Ask your hotel get them for you and they will probably charge a small service fee. We were charged a 50 EGP ($3).

5. Driving in Cairo is Crazy – Use Uber

We grabbed a taxi right outside the airport when we landed in Cairo. He was a hot headed driver and we were just thrilled to make it to our destination in one piece.

The road has no lanes, so it’s a driving free for all, and to spice things up a bit, many stop lights don’t work.

The highway is more like a street with people walking on it! If you happen to be in the market for old used tires, you can buy them from people selling them on the shoulder.

When we were crossing the Nile and made a comment, our driver offered to pull over and show us the view – on the highway! 😂 It was kinda crazy!

Long story short, we found that the easiest way to navigate Cairo was with Uber. The drivers were so nice and normal (regular people who needed to make more money outside of their job).

The Uber cost is 1/3 of the taxi cost. It really made getting around Cairo more pleasant. If you do take a taxi, make sure to negotiate the price with them up front.

Nile River Aswan

6. Visit Egypt at the Right Time of Year

I’m a baby about hot weather but Egypt is way beyond that. Don’t be the person that went during the summer when you couldn’t even go outside.

It gets very hot in Cairo but add 10 degrees for Luxor and some extra degrees beyond that for Aswan. It is a desert so at least it’s better than being somewhere hot and humid but you shouldn’t underestimate how HOT it can be!

  • High Season is December – February and has the best weather. Daytime temperatures are in the 70-80s but nights can get chilly 50-60s. You can expect more crowds and higher prices overall.
  • Fall Shoulder Season (October – November): The weather is warm but manageable. We went the first week of October. Cairo was in the high 80s and Luxor was in the high 90s. It was really hot, but the morning and late afternoon/evening was fine. This is a good time to visit for less crowds and a climate that’s decent.
  • Spring Shoulder Season (March – April): Easter vacation has higher crowds. March and April see some sandstorms but they aren’t supposed to be that bad. You might want to plan an extra day so you don’t miss anything.
  • Low Season is the end of May – September. It is extremely hot and the weather exacerbates the pollution in Cairo. This is not a good time to visit.

Egypt Travel Tips Karnak Temple

7. Carefully Plan Your Egypt Itinerary

When you see all the photos of Egypt, you’ll want to see everything this bucket list destination offers. Egypt is a large country and some of the cities are far apart.

From Cairo to Luxor is a 1 hour flight, 10 hour bus ride or 9 hour train ride. From there, Aswan is a 3 hour train or taxi ride. Abu Simbel is an additional 4 hours from Aswan. Both of those cities and Sharm el Sheikh are a 1 hour by plane from Cairo.

We decided to visit Cairo, Luxor and Aswan which is doable with a 7 Day Egypt Itinerary . To see more, you need more time.

Egypt was part of a Middle East trip so we flew from Amman, Jordan to Aswan, Egypt connecting through Cairo. We took the train from Aswan to Luxor and flew from Luxor to Cairo.

Some of the Main Egypt Attractions by City

  • Cairo – Pyramids of Giza, Sphinx, Egyptian Museum, Khan el Kahlili Market, Mosques
  • Luxor – Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, Valley of the Kings, Temple of Hatshepsut
  • Aswan – Philea Temple, Aswan Dam, Nubian Village
  • Abu Simbel – Abu Simbel Temples
  • Sharm el Sheikh – Red Sea Diving, Beach resorts
  • Alexandria – Citadel of Qaitbay, Corniche, Bibliotheca Alexandrina

8. Sightseeing Early or Late is One of Top Egypt Travel Tips

I don’t know if I’ve ever been anywhere where it felt like there were so many important things to see. The history and significance of the incredible volume of monuments will keep your sightseeing card full.

The good news is that most monuments are in the middle of town and very convenient to visit.

Since it gets pretty hot during the day you will want to get out as early as possible to go see the places you want to see. Most monuments are open from 6 AM – 5:30 PM. Another great time to sightsee is at the end of the day.

At 10 AM, the Valley of the Kings had more than 20 huge tour busses and what felt like a zillion people. We decided to go back at 3 PM and almost everyone was gone. Relax by the pool at midday.

9. Going Inside the Tombs at the Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramids of Giza are pretty easy to see even if it’s packed with tourists because the area is so large. You will easily be able to take photos and check everything out.

We opted not to go inside of the pyramids because they are extremely hot. Most people say the heat is unbearable and the inside is very claustrophobic.

One of our best Egypt travel tips is to go inside the tombs at the Valley of the Kings instead (also very hot inside). I’m not sure of the exact temperature but it was 90 degrees outside and walking out felt cool.

At Valley of the Kings, you get to enter 3 tombs with your admission and they were all so interesting and different.

Pyramids of Giza

10. Take a Tour for the Pyramids

The Pyramids ARE AMAZING! Seriously one of the coolest things I have seen in my life. Our first glimpse driving through the city was “Wow!” The entrance at the gate was a completely different Wow moment. Finally we got up close and it was absolutely mind-blowing. Not only are the pyramids huge, each block is so massive. All you can think about is how beautiful it is and how impossible it would be to build.

You can easily tour the pyramids on your own but you will be hassled constantly. It will make your life so much more comfortable to have an Egyptian tour guide with you and it’s also nice to have someone who can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the history.

11. Tips to Deal With Touts When You Travel in Egypt

I never knew what a “tout” was until our trip to Egypt. They are the people who are bugging you to take a camel ride, constantly trying to sell you junk, etc… It’s a huge, annoying problem in certain cities and Egypt has some of the worst.

There are 3 major issues with touts:

  • They won’t leave you alone and persistently follow you.
  • They are trying to get as much money out of you as possible and that typically involves tricking you.
  • Some are actually trying to steal from you while they pretend to sell you something.

Don’t let touts ruin your experience. Here’s how to handle it:

  • Joke with them . My sister-in-law is a master at keeping it lighthearted and they leave her alone.
  • Tell them no thank you in their language . Showing them you are saying no respectfully works better than telling them off. In Arabic no thank you is “la shukran” (pron. la shook-ran).
  • Ignore them . Often what I do is just tune them out. I try to remember that these people try to get money from you in order to survive so I do what my mom tells me to do and “give them the gift.” What gift, you might ask – the gift of letting them do their thing without my judgement.
  • Have a local with you . That’s like tout kryptonite or a cloak of invisibility. If you’re not up for the 3 things above, just take a tour and call it a day. It’s a lot easier and more peaceful. Egypt is a good place to get a private tour guide.

12. It’s Better to Take a Tour Than Going Solo

We are very independent travelers, taking subways, going to local spots, and are pretty fearless in other countries even when we don’t speak the language. We like to see tourist things but we also like to immerse ourselves in our environment.

That said, one our best tips for visiting Egypt is to take a tour. If we were doing it all over again, here is why we would take a tour:

  • If you take a tour, you will have peace from the touts.
  • You can choose a tour that does early sightseeing or later entry. This option exists because of the midday heat. We saw tour groups entering Karnak Temple at 6:30am.
  • You will be able to be more efficient with your time because they work everything out for you. If you want to see multiple cities, they can make it so easy for you.

13. Top Notch Hotels Are So Affordable

Prices for everything in Egypt is low compared to Western countries. The best part was that you can stay at elite hotels for really reasonable rates. This is your chance to experience 5 star luxury at a fraction of the cost elsewhere.

We stayed at the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract in Aswan. The rooms were beautiful and spacious with a huge outdoor room overlooking the Nile. We loved the pool where they brought us ice cold towels and waters.

In Luxor, we stayed at the historic Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor , which has welcomed many famous guests including Agatha Christie, while she wrote Death on the Nile. Our room was an incredible old world luxurious suite with a large sitting room and patio overlooking the Nile.

In Luxor, many people are getting on a Nile Cruise. We opted not to do the 3-7 cruise because the cruise we wanted was fully booked. If you are looking for the nicest cruise, check out the Oberoi . Cruises are more expensive than hotels.

Egypt Travel Tips Four Seasons Cairo

Our favorite stay was at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza in Cairo . It’s an oasis of beauty and comfort in a heavily populated city. The Four Seasons, like every property they have in the world is the epitome of perfection.

Our room was a gorgeous suite with an incredible patio overlooking the Nile where we had the most delicious morning feast with Egyptian and American breakfasts.

The Nile view in Cairo is so impressive. Each sunset was a breathtaking view with felucca boats peacefully navigating the river.

14. Camera Equipment

You will be stopped and asked extensively about camera equipment at the airport. I also hear the same happens if you cross a border into Egypt. Our gimble easily added a few hours onto our time because they were suspicious about the battery.

One of our biggest Egypt tips is to travel with a picture from the manual or something that proves the pieces are all part of the equipment. Thankfully we did but they had a committee meeting of security agents at each check point through the airport.

Also, you cannot fly drones at any of the monuments so just leave it at home.

15. What to Pack for Egypt

These are the basic items you’ll need but you’ll find a comprehensive packing list in our What to Wear in Egypt post. It also has information on what NOT to pack.

  • Hat and/or Sun umbrella – You need to provide yourself some shade.
  • Scarf for women
  • Lightweight Pants and Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Bathing suit if you are staying somewhere with a pool
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Your own toilet paper can come in handy. These are not your public toilets from North America.
  • Hand Sanitizer – you will be so thankful you have it!
  • A water bottle or buy bottled water to carry with you. You need to stay hydrated.

That’s a Wrap on Our Egypt Travel Tips Except…

These travel tips cover most of our experience in Egypt with the exception of Wifi. Unfortunately we never truly figured it out. We tried using every hotel’s internet and it was really spotty. Our portable hotspot and phones were no better.

You might try getting a SIM card at the airport. If you find something that works, let us know and we’ll add it. If you have any questions about Egypt, leave them in the comments.

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10 comments.

Woow! I would love to visit Egypt, it looks a beauty place! Thanks for sharing your tips dear! Have a wonderful day! xx

La ilusión de Nina

This is such a comprehensive guide. Thanks dear!

Thanks for the tips hon! Egypt is on bucket list for 2020! Adi xx

You’ll love it. We’ll have more Egypt posts up soon.

I’ve been to Egypt so many times and I love this ancient country so much. Going to the bazar for the first time can be a real hassle, it’s so annoying to always negotiate about the price. Your travel tips are truly amazing, you defintiely covered every topic. When I look at your picture with the Nile it makes me want to go there asap!

You’re making me want to go back already! So glad with all your experience that you feel we covered everything. It’s such a great place to visit when you prepare ahead of time.

Michelle tucker

Love all these tips!! Egypt is definitely on my bucket list

You’ll totally love it!

I’d love to visit. Thanks for the tips!

Jennifer Effortlessly Sophisticated

These are such good tips 🙂 xx

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The Top 9 Egypt Travel Tips I Wish I Had Known

by Maggie McKneely | Feb 11, 2022 | Egypt | 25 comments

egypt travel tips

Last Updated on November 22, 2023 by Maggie McKneely

Planning a trip to the land of the pharaohs? Here are the top 9 Egypt travel tips you need to know!

*This post contains affiliate links. That just means that if you happen to click on one of those links and end up making a purchase, I make a small commission (and you will have made my day!)

Table of Contents

Top 9 Egypt Travel Tips

For those of us from Western nations, Egypt is a different planet. While it has been a popular tourist destination since….well, basically forever, it still is completely unlike our home countries. So, before traveling to Egypt, I read practically every blog post and article there is to read on things travelers should know about the land of the Pharaohs. Is it safe? What clothes should you wear (especially women)? Can you drink the water? What about the culture? Where can I ride camels?! (Let’s be honest, that was my most important question).

While I found lots of helpful information, much of what I read ended up being completely WRONG. So I feel the need to set the record straight on a number of questions, as well as give you some other tips I wish I had known before visiting Egypt .

1) You can wear what you want (just be respectful!)

The first of my Egypt travel tips: you can wear what you want (even if you’re a woman!). Yes, Egypt is a conservative Muslim country. The majority of Egyptian women wear headscarves, and many keep themselves completely covered. But Egypt is also very used to tourists from around the world and how they dress. Women in Cairo often pair their hijabs with skinny jeans, tight shirts, and pounds of makeup. I saw locals wearing eyebrow-raising outfits more often than the tourists!

I asked our native Egyptian tour guide for the truth about what Egyptians think foreigners should wear when in Egypt. His answer? Egyptians don’t care. There are no set rules (such as not wearing sleeveless shirts), and as long as you dress modestly, you’ll be fine. Unlike other Arab nations, Egypt is very open and tolerant to different cultures and ways of living. They don’t force outsiders to wear or do anything that they don’t want to do. For example, when we visited the Mohamed Ali Mosque, we non-Muslims were not even expected to wear a headscarf (even though every single article I read before the trip said the opposite).

I had also read that women who don’t wear headscarves are more likely to get harassed. I never felt harassed by anyone except the street vendors who wanted money for something. I certainly got lots of compliments (Egyptians are definitely more forward than the men at home, especially towards pale, blonde women), but I never felt uncomfortable because I was dressed like a normal Western female.

hatshepsut's temple

I always had a scarf with me because of all the blogs I read beforehand, but I ended up wearing just because I liked it and not because I needed it

An interesting thing our tour guide said was that Egyptians do prefer American and British tourists because they at least read articles on what to wear before visiting Egypt and try to be respectful, whereas other Europeans do not – many of them have no qualms about wearing string bikinis or going topless while vacationing at resorts on the Red Sea. I can’t confirm the veracity of this claim (I’m sure there are plenty of Americans who read nothing before visiting Egypt), but our tour guide made clear that so long as you try to be respectful, no one actually cares what you wear.

For more clothing suggestions, check out my full list of what to pack for Egypt .

2) You don’t need to use Egyptian Pounds

Don’t be me: don’t exchange dollars for a bunch of Egyptian pounds (EGP), expecting to use all of those EGP while in Egypt. Because it turns out that that is much harder than I expected it to be.

One of those good-to-know Egypt travel tips is if you need to exchange money for something while in Egypt, ATMs are very common. There were only two instances where we absolutely had to pay in cash with Egyptian pounds: King Tut’s Tomb in the Valley of the Kings and the ticket for going inside the Great Pyramid at Giza . Everywhere else took credit cards, Egyptian Pounds, or American Dollars. Euros were less common, but some places took those too. Much to my surprise, many places and people actually preferred dollars to anything else because they are worth more.

Egyptian pounds are useful for street vendors because they are more likely to have change in EGP, so it is useful to have at least some on hand. But you won’t need them for every purchase on your trip.

3) Nothing is free – NOTHING

Speaking of money, if you learn nothing else from this list, remember this most important of all Egypt travel tips: literally nothing is free in Egypt. Not the toilet paper in the bathroom (more on that later), not taking pictures of random camels, not having locals take pictures of you – NOTHING. Everyone expects a tip for any service done for you, even if you don’t consider it to be a service.

For example, we visited the Pyramids on our very first day in Egypt. At the base of the pyramids was a camel. We wanted to take picture of said camel with the pyramid in the background, and so we did. Next thing we know, the camel’s owner comes running up, asking us to pay him for letting us take a picture of his camel. He proceeded to follow us all the way back to our bus, demanding money.

We learned our lesson after that, but this incident happened over and over again on our trip. People would offer to take pictures of us in some temple, or tell us information about a painting, or even just hold a door open for us. Next thing you know, they are demanding money for doing something nice for you. Moral of the story: do not take anyone up on their offer to do anything for you, unless you are willing to pay for it.

Giza

The not-so-free-to-photograph camel

4) Bring your own toilet paper

Yes, you read that correctly. Ok, I lied, also remember this other most important of my Egypt travel tips: bring your own toilet paper stash!

Why this isn’t highlighted in bold and neon colors in every “Egypt travel tips” article on the internet is beyond me.

According to our tour guide, Egyptians don’t use toilet paper, so they only have it because the tourists use it. And that’s when the bathrooms actually have it stocked. Which, 90% of the time, they don’t. Or, they have a lady in the bathroom who expects you to pay her for giving you two squares of toilet paper. So you can save yourself a lot of confusion and annoyance by just keeping your own roll in your purse (for the ladies, anyway).

egypt travel tips

My mom swiped this from one of our hotels when we realized none of the bathrooms were going to have toilet paper lolololol

5) Get your visa at the airport

Most people arriving in Egypt must get an Egyptian visa. There are two ways to get one of these: online ahead of time, or at the Cairo airport when you arrive. If you’re like me, you may think “oh I’ll just get it online and save myself the trouble of dealing with it in Egypt.”

The next on my list of Egypt travel tips: DON’T do that. Wait to buy the visa at the airport. It’s $25 USD cash (yes, you must have cash). It’s a very easy process and doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes. If you try to do it online, the website is not user-friendly and can take weeks to be approved. One friend on the trip with me tried to do it online and wasn’t actually approved until the day before we LEFT Egypt. He ended up having to spend money to get it at the airport (since the online process was so slow) and for the one he tried to get online.

So save yourself the trouble and just get it at the Cairo airport. This is one of those rare times where doing it online is not actually the most efficient option.

6) Have a tour guide

I’m one of those people who prefers to make all of my own travel arrangements and will only hire a guide if I’m short on time in a city or really want to make sure I learn all of the important things. But I’ve never been anywhere where I was so thankful to have a tour guide along with us for the trip as I was in Egypt.

For starters, Egypt is, obviously, extremely historic. But for some reason, there are little to no informational signs anywhere! Not in the museums, not at the temples, nothing. And if there is something, the sign or plaque is out of date by several decades. Without a guide, it’d be very easy to go to Egypt and say “I saw the pyramids and some impressive statues but I didn’t learn anything about them!” And how sad would that be?

Luxor temple

Look at those impressive statues!

Second, Egypt is very chaotic and the language barrier is real. Finding out what time sites open, how much tickets cost, how to get from point A to point B would not be easy without having someone who knows what’s what to help you.

Because my trip was booked through a tour agency (read my Exoticca review here!), we had one tour guide with us for the whole week. But if you don’t want to do that, I suggest at least hiring a guide for all of the important sites. You won’t regret it. You can find a lot of great Egypt tours here .

7) Don’t rent a car

Seriously. Just don’t even think about it. There are absolutely no rules and no insurance. Ubers are plentiful. Use them.

(For the record, I did already assume this was true before my trip, but I just want to emphasize it here in case you’re holding out hope that you can drive yourself around Egypt)

Khan el Khalili

This is why you are not going to rent a car

8) Let the kids take pictures with you

After our experience at the pyramids, the cynic in me thought that the hordes of children that kept coming up to us were just trying to get money. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to discover that that was not what was happening at all!

Between Egypt’s revolution in 2011 and the COVID years, Egypt has not had many tourists in the past decade. The numbers were so low, in fact, that many schoolchildren have never met a foreigner! Now that tourism is returning, the kids have a competition with each other to see who can take the most selfies with international tourists.

So if you are a white, blonde, obviously non-Egyptian like myself – you might be frequently mobbed by children. Don’t worry – all they want is your picture!

9) Yes, Egypt is safe!

The top question everyone asked when I said I was going to Egypt was “but is it safe?” And to be honest, that was the first thing I googled when I booked my trip (“whoops, now that I have paid money to go on this trip, guess I should make sure I’ll get home in one piece”).

And it’s a fair question. For westerners, “The Middle East” evokes images of suicide bombs and radical jihadists. And Egypt itself, with its revolution and the rise of the Muslim brotherhood and subsequent ISIS attacks, does not have a scot-free safety record in the past decade.

But nowadays, Egypt (at least the tourist areas) is very, very safe, for both group and solo travelers to Egypt . Yes, there are parts of the country that are off-limits, like the Sinai peninsula, due to terrorist activity. But there isn’t anything there that you’d want to see anyway! Everywhere else is heavily patrolled by military men with AK-47s. Every hotel and tourist site has a bag scanner and extra security measures. And, due to an agreement between the US and Egypt, every tour group that has an American must have its own personal security guard. As someone who lives in downtown Washington DC , I felt much safer in Egypt than I do at home!

egypt military

tanks and large guns are a very common site in Egypt

Other blogs give a very detailed list of why people think Egypt isn’t safe and why they are wrong – this one is a great example. So I won’t go into an in-depth explanation here because others have already done the work. But know that the Egyptians have a vested interest in keeping tourists safe – tourism is their main economy, after all. And the locals are extremely welcoming and friendly! So the last of my Egypt travel tips: Do not let the fear of Egypt being unsafe keep you from visiting.

No matter how much or how little you prepare, there will be things you didn’t expect when traveling to Egypt, which is all part of the adventure! It’s an incredible country with the nicest people, amazing historic sites, and gorgeous scenery. I hope this list helps you take a little bit of the stress out of your planning and make the most of your journey to the land of camels, mummies, and pyramids!

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Planning a trip to the land of the pharaohs? Here are the top 9 Egypt travel tips that I wish I had known before I went there! #egypt #travel #pyramids #cairo

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25 Comments

Wow, I learned a lot about Egypt from this post.

Such great tips! Especially the toilet paper. Always important to have some extra tissue in a day pack. I can’t wait to go and put all that I learned in this post into practice.

Honestly, I read a whole blog post word by word after such a long time. I loved reading your blog post. You have mentioned some very great insider tips.

I heard about nothing being free from a few friends. It is a bit saddening to read as 10 years ago this was not the case. Nevertheless, thanks for sharing these super useful tips.

This is such an incredibly helpful guide and a must-read for anyone before they visit Egypt. I particularly found the nothing is free to tip helpful. I honestly dislike when people expect me to pay for something when I am unaware of the expectation. So – thank you for that. All around incredibly useful tips.

Great advice! If I ever visit Egypt, these recommendations will be a big help.

Wow, that really is very helpful info. Egypt is definitely on the bucket list so I’ll be sure to refer back to this when I do get to go. Thanks so much.

I haven’t been to Egypt yet so this is really good to know. Thanks for sharing your tips!

Great post – heading to Hurghada and a trip to Luxor in 3 weeks so these tips were great – I will have the toilet paper with me just in case! Do you think it a good idea to take sweets to give to the children when they come up to us or would that cause an almighty riot between them?

Enjoy your trip!! I don’t think it would hurt! One of the guys on our trip frequently gave out his extra food to the street kids. Most of the people are very poor, so it was appreciated, but it might also make them ask for more from you. I would suggest using your discretion.

Great tips! I wish I knew them before I went to Egypt too. I am planning to return again soon though!

So many great tips. Some I would have never thought of. Others such as “nothing is free” would be great to know as well. And the custom of what is traditional to pay for services such as taking a pic of a person’s camel.

This is so helpful! You answered so many of thr questions I had about going. Thank you!

Saving these tips! Good to know we should not rent a car!

Great tips! I never knew all of these little things about Egypt! Thanks for the helpful insights.

This is so informative. I love your tip that Egypt is safe. That’s encouraging. I would love to visit but I’ve wondered whether that’s wise. Pinning this for future travel!

Great post. Brought back some good (and not so good) memories of our 2012 trip. At that time I was happy to have a scarf to cover my head after being yelled at by a group of men in Cairo. Glad to hear things have changed!

Wow, this is so useful! I would never think to bring my own toilet paper haha… Always wanted to visit Egypt, hopefully soon!

We visited Egypt and did not get everywhere we wanted. So it is definitely on our list for a return visit. So good to get some tips for when we plan to travel around on our own. Good tip about when you will need cash. We are always leary about being stuck with local money. And I will definitely travel with toilet paper! A tour guide sounds like a good investment. Now to get this on the planning board!

Great article! I am planning to visit Egypt soon, so your tips are more than welcome..

The toilet paper info is super important! I learned to keep a travel pack in my purse when I travel just in case

These are some pretty important things to know – especially #3! I’ve been to India many times (my father’s from India) and it’s exactly the same at sites of interest too – it’s actually a real pity because over time, it just conditioned me to be super unfriendly and ‘angry-looking’ all the time so I don’t get approached – even though, in truth, I really do enjoy people-watching and immersing myself in the daily bustle!

LOL! dying about the toilet paper tip – as a missionary kid growing up in the Caribbean in the 1990s we discovered that there was often no TP available there either. Funny to see that it happens in Egypt and other countries as well. Great tips!

Wow! I want to go to Egypt even more after reading your post. I was one of those people who was scared of traveling to Egypt alone, but I keep seeing solo female travelers like yourself raving about how safe and beautiful it (at least the places one would want to visit as a tourist

Amazing work! I am planning a trip to Egypt shortly, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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tourist tips for egypt

I’m Maggie, a 30-something politico from Washington, DC, who always has one foot off the ground, looking for adventure. I work full-time in the Swamp, but use travel as a way to stay sane! Read on for my crazy stories from the road, and tips to help you in your own travels! Learn more about me

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Egypt Travel Tips: 20+ Things You Need to Know Before Travelling to Egypt

Planning your trip to Egypt and not sure where to start. Don’t stress – this guide is packed with all the Egypt travel tips you need to know before you go. 

One day I’ll stop raving about my recent trip to Egypt … but that day is not today. If you’ve read my recent Egypt Itinerary , you’ll know that I had the most magical time in Egypt. 

It was a trip filled with awe and wonder – from gawping at the pyramids in Cairo to seeing the tomb of Tutankhamun in Luxor , Egypt was one of those rare much-hyped destinations that did not disappoint. 

That’s not to say that I didn’t have a few (OK, tonnes) of questions before I travelled to the country. Like how should I prepare for a trip to Egypt? What are the dos and don’ts in Egypt? Of course, I also had questions about the best way to travel in the country too. 

I’m guessing that if I had those questions, if you have a trip to Egypt on your radar, you’re also going to have them too. 

That’s why I’ve written this super-detailed guide  – all the things to know before travelling to Egypt – broken down into practical and actionable tips. Pack your bags peeps, we’re going on an adventure. 

PS: I even created a super-quick video with many of these tips. Check it out! 

@thediscoveriesof Travelling to Egypt? Yallah, yallah! I got you 🙌🏾 #egypt #egypttravel #egypttravelguide #egyptrip #egypttravels #cometravelwithme ♬ original sound – thediscoveriesof

Top 5 Egypt Travel Tips

Camels and Pyramids of Giza Cairo, Egypt

Apply for Your Egypt Travel Visa Online

Before finding out the best way to travel in Egypt, you kind of need to make sure you’ve got the actual entering the country part of things covered. 

Citizens of most countries need a visa to enter Egypt (there are ten exceptions). It used to be the case that you’d have to get a visa on arrival at the airport (and this is still an option) but the Egyptian authorities have expedited the process and released an Egypt e-visa. 

To apply online, you only need your passport (or ID if you’re from certain countries) and host information for your accommodation in Egypt to apply online. You can stay for up to 30 days and need to pay a small fee with your application.

Inform Your Bank That You’re Visiting Egypt Before You Travel

Inform your bank well ahead of time when and where you’ll be travelling so you can use your bank account for international payments. 

Egypt’s currency is the Egyptian Pound. It’s not as strong as the British Pound or US Dollar, so if you’re from either of those countries you should have a pretty affordable time while you’re there (obvs this depends on how much cash you want to splash on things like hotels and tours).

You’ll find many ATMs dotted around which allow easy money withdrawals. You might struggle a bit more in smaller towns and villages, so have extra cash for them. 

Dress Conservatively  

Julianna at Karnak

Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country that is still quite traditional. You should dress conservatively to respect the religion and local culture.

Men’s dress codes are more relaxed: as long as you cover your shoulders and wear trousers, you’re broadly OK. 

Women, you have to follow stricter rules. If you’re a female traveller, pack loose-fitting clothes covering your shoulders, chest, and knees. 

If you’re visiting a mosque or holy building, you’ll need to wear clothes covering your elbows, legs and head.

Fortunately, if you fancy a swim at your private hotel, you can bring your usual bikini or swimsuit. These rules only apply to public spaces and religious areas.

I’ve written a whole guide for what to pack for Egypt , which goes into a lot more detail about what to wear, but thought it was worth flagging here. 

Don’t Expect to Be Able to Pay for Everything in Egypt with Your Card 

Khan El-Khalili - Cairo, Egypt

I don’t know about you, but these days I pretty much never use cash at home to pay for things, preferring to pay for things using contactless on my phone. 

Things are a bit different in Egypt. 

While paying by card is not generally a problem for many larger places – like hotels, bigger restaurants and supermarkets – it can be a problem in smaller shops and (more surprisingly) at the ticket booths to some of the landmarks. 

For example, although you can pay for your tickets to the pyramids with a card, the card machine often isn’t working – so it’s better not to rely on a card as your only option.

This also happened (the card machine was out of order) when I wanted to pay for Nefertari’s tomb in Luxor’s Valley of the Queens . It was totally fine because I had cash, but as there is no ATM nearby, it would have been a very disappointing situation if I hadn’t. 

Key takeaway? Bring cash. 

Keep Safety in Mind

While Egypt is a relatively safe place to visit, it still requires some vigilance as petty crimes, like pickpocketing, are common. 

There are a few things you can do to help yourself stay safe like ensuring you have valuables packed away out of sight – but the biggest one is really being aware of your surroundings.

The Egyptian authorities have lots of safeguards in place to protect tourists during their time in the country. These include having large numbers of “Tourism Police” in place, particularly at landmarks and touristy spots like Khan el Khalili market in Cairo.

If you do run into any problems, or need help – the Tourism Police should be your first port of call. Not only are they geared up to help tourists, but they’re also more likely to speak some English too. 

Tip: Read my Ridge Wallet review for a travel-safe wallet review.

Egypt Travel Tips: Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt 

tourist tips for egypt

Egypt is a big country with a long history of royalty, tragedy, and overcoming. So, it’s not surprising that there is also a long list of things to know before travelling to Egypt. To prepare you, here are the essential travel to Egypt tips.

Plan Your Trip for the Best Time to Visit Egypt

Hot Air Ballooning Luxor

Egypt has a dry and hot climate dominated by the desert. It is almost always sunny, with occasional rainfall along the coast. 

The average expected highs in summer are 40°C (104°F), while the average lows in winter are 9.5°C (49 °F).

The best time to visit is between October and April to get pleasantly sunny weather without the extreme summer heat. Out of all three seasons that occur during these months, autumn, which happens between September and November, is the best time to visit.

This way, you avoid big crowds and miss spring’s sandy winds. Daytime highs range between 25°C-30°C, while evenings are a bit chilly. 

Plus, if you visit in October, there’s a good chance you’ll also experience the Abu Simbel Sun Festival– a bi-annual festival celebrating Ramses II, when the light touches the inner sanctum in the stunning Main Temple. 

Or Don’t…. 

Julianna at Philae

I have to be honest – I totally ignored this advice and travelled at the beginning of June. 

Guess what? It. Was. Hot. 

I’m pretty comfortable in the heat and I’ll tell you, there were points in Luxor and Aswan where I was so hot I didn’t know what to do with myself. 

There were two significant upsides travelling at that time though: fewer crowds and cheaper prices. It’s up to you to decide. 

Learn Key Phrases

While most people in Egypt speak Egyptian Arabic, English is widely spoken and understood. You’ll especially encounter this if you stick to major cities like Cairo, Luxor and Alexandria near tourist hotspots, hotels, and resorts.

That said, learning a few Egyptian Arabic phrases wouldn’t harm. This handy Egyptian Arabic phrasebook will be a lifeline while in the country. 

Tip: Always carry your hotel’s business card with you if you get lost or encounter a language barrier with taxi drivers.

Haggle, Haggle, Haggle

Aswan Souq

One of the best tips on travelling to Egypt is that you can haggle (almost) every price at the markets and bazaars. It takes a bit of practising, but once you get your intended price, it can be so rewarding. 

Sometimes you can also haggle your taxi fare before entering the car. There are three types of taxis you can hail:

  • The black taxis are usually old and don’t have metres, so you must negotiate a fare beforehand and stick to the negotiated price.
  • The white taxis have metres and air-conditioning. But always check if the metre is running to avoid inflated prices. 
  • The yellow taxis are expensive and only available through a cab service.

Solo Travel Tips for Egypt 

If you’re travelling solo or travelling as a woman, Egypt can seem a bit intimidating. But, that doesn’t have to be the case. 

Here are the best ways to tour Egypt as a solo traveller:

  • If you’re travelling by train, the front cars on trains and streetcars are exclusively for women on many routes.
  • Get a guide to show you around rather than walk around alone at night. They’ll also be able to tell you insider tips or info about the areas.
  • Dress conservatively to respect the culture and avoid negative responses from people who feel you might not be honouring their customs.

Book Flights Wisely 

One of the top things to know when travelling to Egypt is knowing how to get the best deals on flights.

Typically, booking your flights in May or September is the cheapest as it is shoulder season. You’ll also save a few bucks if you book your flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays around midday. But, typically, flights are very affordable regardless of what time of the year you visit.

Good tips for travelling to Egypt or anywhere in the world is, if you travel often, apply for a rewards program with your airline or credit card provider. It offers many perks, including a few occasional free flights. 

Tip: EgyptAir offers fantastic direct flights from most countries, but notable airlines to also be aware of are Etihad Airlines, British Airways, and Emirates. Check flights on Skyscanner now.

Not Every ATM Works With Every Card in Egypt

Picture this – you go to an ATM to withdraw cash. You know you’ve got enough money in your bank account, but when you try and take your cash out, the transaction fails, the screen flashes an error message and the machine spits your card straight back into your hand. 

Don’t panic. 

Not every Egyptian ATM works with every international card. 

I can’t tell you the rhyme or reason behind which ones work and which ones don’t but try a few different banks before you panic. 

Obviously that’s a lot easier in places like Cairo and Luxor where there are lots of banks close to each other – I’d always recommend withdrawing before you run out of cash to try and head off any problems if one or two don’t play nicely with your card. 

Buy a Local Egyptian Sim Card (Or an E-Sim) 

While you’re in Egypt, it’s best to get a local sim card, just in case you’re not near an internet connection. You can buy a prepaid sim card at the kiosks at the airport. For your phone to work, you need to unlock it to be able to roam internationally. You can use this site to check if your phone will work abroad.

One near-magical (but more expensive) alternative is to get an e-sim for your phone. Rather than operating through an actual sim – an e-sim is a digital sim that you can operate in tandem with your normal simcard. 

There are a few benefits to using an e-sim over the traditional local-sim route. 

The first is that you can buy the e-sim before you travel, so it’s ready to go the moment you land. The second is that you can still keep your normal number for Whatsapp, voice calls and text messages. 

Overall, I’d recommend using an e-sim but it is more expensive – mine from Airalo cost $56 for 6GB over 14 days, which is still a lot cheaper than using roaming on my normal sim, but pricier than the local sim. 

Use a VPN to Browse the Internet

Almost every cafe in the big cities has Wi-Fi, but using public Wi-Fi can be unsafe as you risk making yourself vulnerable to hackers. 

If you use public Wi-Fi, use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to keep your data secure. 

Get Tourist Cards for Free Access to Many Historical and Cultural Sites

Pyramids of Giza - Cairo, Egypt

The Cairo Pass offers entrance to sites in Cairo, Giza, Dahshur, Mit Rahina, and Saqqara. 

You need your passport, two photocopies of your main passport page, and two passport photos to get this pass. You can buy it at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities office and a few other attractions.

The Luxor Pass offers entry to all archaeological sites on the east and west bank of Luxor. You can purchase this pass at the visitor centre of the Valley of Kings and Karnak Temple.

Try Local Food, but Avoid Tap Water

Salahaddin Restaurant

Egyptian food is a fragrant blend of spices with recipes perfected over centuries. This cuisine offers many vegetarian-friendly options, but you can also get some meaty main meals.

I’m not even going to start on the falafel. THE FALAFEL. Drool. 

Not only will you get an authentic taste when you buy street food at markets, but you can also save a few bucks.

While it is essential to stay hydrated, don’t drink Egypt’s tap water. Instead, buy bottled water. Bring your own bottle for a more environmentally friendly alternative (although understand that there will be limited places for you to refill it).

Dos and Don’ts in Egypt: A Quick Guide

Coptic - Cairo, Egypt

Travel hack your way through your trip to Egypt with these handy do’s and don’ts while you’re there.

Do use public transport like metros to get around at a reasonable price.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated, apply sunblock often, and bring your sunglasses. One of the most vital travel tips in Egypt people forget is that it is a desert climate with lots of sun and heat.

Do bring in small amounts of cash into Egypt, as there is a limit on the amount of money you can bring into the country. Don’t bring more than 10,000 USD.

Don’t forget to tip. The average tip percentage for waitstaff, tour guides, and taxi drivers is between five and 10%.

Do take many pictures of the ancient artefacts and structures but don’t take photos of any officials without consent. It is also prohibited to take photographs of the infrastructures outside of tourist hotspots.

Don’t neglect to download a currency conversion app like XE.com to keep tabs on how much money you’re spending. 

Travelling to Egypt: What You Need to Know Before You Go

Qalawun Complex Cairo, Egypt

Here are the best tips and tricks on how to travel to Egypt and where to stay while you’re in the beautiful country.

What to See

Kempinski Nile Garden City Cairo, Egypt

The best way to tour Egypt is to visit the best tourist hotspots. Besides the regular visits to the pyramids, consider these tours and trips too.

  • Dinner Cruise on the Nile  
  • Cairo and Giza Full-Day
  • Private Cairo Tour
  • Full-Day Plane Trip to Cairo

Where to Stay

One of my top tips for travelling to Egypt is finding accommodation near the city centre. Where you stay in Egypt also depends on what you hope to see on your trip.

Mosque Muhammad Ali Citadel Cairo, Egypt

As the country’s capital, it is no surprise that Cairo is many people’s top pick. It is modern compared to its historic buildings with many restaurants, coffee shops, and shopping malls.

Karnak Temple, Luxor

Home to the jaw-dropping Valley of the Kings, Luxor is full of history and some of Egypt’s most stunning sights. 

This beach resort is great for beach lovers hoping to get in some scuba diving and snorkelling. It also has a lively nightlife and many restaurants to enjoy.

Alexandria will show you a different side of Egypt, especially if you’re interested in ancient Egypt. It is also on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, which will provide amazing views while travelling. 

tourist tips for egypt

Aswan takes you back in time with its scenery of the Nile Valley and its sailboats. It’s the perfect place to visit to avoid crowds due to its peaceful aura.

Best Travel Tips for Egypt: Frequently Asked Questions 

Julianna at Philae Temple Aswan

Keep these travelling to Egypt tips in mind when planning your trip and when you’re in the country.

How do I Prepare for a Trip to Egypt?

Read this guide of course! 

Other than that, a few top tips are to consider Egypt’s time zone (GMT +2) when booking flights or activities. You should also keep this in mind in terms of jet lag. 

Stay hydrated before, during, and after your flights to combat these effects.

What Should I Avoid in Egypt?

Avoid travelling close to risky areas like the Libyan and Israeli borders – and the Gaza strip. These areas are under strict military supervision. 

What is Forbidden in Egypt?

Egyptian Laws strictly forbid tourists to take pictures of or near military installations. You also shouldn’t take photographs of public buildings and infrastructures, such as train stations and bridges. To use drones for overhead shots, you must obtain permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Things to Know When Travelling to Egypt: Read Next

  • The Perfect 10-Day Egypt Itinerary
  • Brilliant Things to do in Egypt
  • The Ultimate Egypt Travel Guide
  • The Best Time to Visit Egypt
  • Brilliant Things to do in Cairo, Egypt
  • Unmissable Things to do in Luxor
  • The Ultimate Egypt Packing List
  • Top Tips for Booking a Nile River Cruise

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Egypt Travel Tips: 20+ Things You Need to Know Before Travelling to Egypt

I’m Julianna Barnaby - a professional travel writer and geek extraordinaire. I started The Discoveries Of to help you to discover the best of new destinations from around the world.

Discovering new places is a thrill - whether it’s close to home, a new country or continent, I write to help you explore more and explore differently.

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17 Useful Things To Know Before Traveling To Egypt

Egypt travel tips

To date, Egypt remains one of the most challenging places I have ever visited. With the number of Egyptian friends I have (and that often took me around while I was in Cairo), you’d imagine everything would have gone smoothly. But it didn’t, and there were so many things I wish I had known before traveling to Egypt. 

You see, Egypt is a gorgeous country, with a unique, complicated, and incredibly interesting history; it has a rich culture, and there are lots to see and do. Add to this the friendly people – some of the most generous you can hope to meet – and the tasty food, and you can see why the country world-famous for the Pyramids is a favorite tourist destination. 

Yet, it’s worth asking yourself a number of questions before visiting Egypt – and looking for answers for them. So, I thought I’d come to assist you and tell you everything you need to know before traveling to Egypt and share a few Egypt travel tips that will help you make your trip a smoother one.

Table of Contents

17 Things To Consider Before Traveling To Egypt

Is egypt safe.

The first question most travelers ask themselves before considering a trip to Egypt is whether the country is safe. If you are thinking of traveling to Egypt, you need to understand that this is an extremely complex country. Though you can visit independently, I wouldn’t recommend a trip that is spontaneous and not properly organized. 

In the past few years, Egypt has notably been the target of terrorist attacks targeting both tourists and Egyptians; and since the protests that started with the Arab Spring (and which unfortunately didn’t bring much improvement in the daily life of Egyptian citizens), much turmoil has been reported. Yet, violent crimes against tourists are not a common issue – though you need to beware of scams and petty crime (more about this later).

With this in mind, the best place to look for updated and accurate information about any sort of security concerns would be your government travel advisory – for US travelers, it’s this one; whereas this is the British Government travel advisory. 

My experience in Egypt was good and I never felt unsafe – but remember, I spent most of my time there with local friends. Keep in mind, anyways, that no place in the world is 100% safe – I was in New York on 9/11, and only know too well. 

Army is everywhere

Going back to the issue of safety, one thing you will notice when traveling to Egypt is that there is a strong military presence (from this point of view, it’s similar to Israel actually!). Soldiers with heavy-duty rifles are everywhere, in all major tourist sites (in fact, in all hotels, stations, and tourist landmarks you will have to go through airport-style security). This should not intimidate you at all! Remember that Egypt relies a lot on tourism and making sure tourists are and feel safe is important. 

tourist tips for egypt

Scams, hassling and bribery are an issue

This was probably the most challenging thing for me when I was traveling to Egypt. Not a day went by without someone trying to lure me into a scam, or trying to bribe money out of me. Not even when I was with my local friends. In some places – the Pyramids comes to mind now – I was literally followed around by street vendors – but it could have been carriage drivers, or people offering camel rides – who couldn’t take no for an answer. It was annoying, to say the least, and it partially ruined my experience. 

In a country that relies so heavily on tourism, where the Egyptian Pound has lost value even more dramatically in the last few years and where salaries are incredibly low, many see tourists as an easy buck and rely on tips and bribes to make a living. 

Just make sure you go prepared, and thicken your skin, because the level of harassment you will experience in Egypt is extreme. A polite but firm no is the way to go – and if that doesn’t work, just ignore it. And remember that nothing is free – not even taking photos of a camel you see in the distance. 

You need a visa

You will need a visa for traveling to Egypt. Citizens of many countries can get an online visa really easily. For example, if you’re traveling from the UK you’ll need a valid passport and an Egypt visa for British citizens.

Though you also have the option of getting your visa at the airport when you arrive (you can buy it at the National Bank of Egypt counter before immigration for $25 USD), I recommend you do it online, as this will save you the hassle of having to stand in line at the airport to get your visa. The online process will take you a few minutes, and if you have everything in order your Egyptian e-visa will be sent to you via email in a day or two.

Tourists’ visas for Egypt are valid for 30 days and your passport must have at least 6 months validity from your scheduled return date.

The visa is valid for 30 days and you must have a passport with at least 6 months validity beyond your scheduled return date. 

Travel insurance is essential

Travel insurance is something I recommend getting for any trip – including a trip to Egypt. Get yours here.

tourist tips for egypt

A local SIM card will be handy

One of my Egypt travel tips that will truly help you during your trip is having a local SIM card, and if your phone is unlocked you can get one as soon as you land at Cairo International Airport. You will find an Orange Kiosk at the arrivals, close to baggage claim. You will need to show your passport – the overall process takes no more than a few minutes. 

Tipping is expected

Salaries are low in Egypt, and although there is no set of rules and tipping is meant to be optional, it pretty much is mandatory – so you can safely assume you will have to tip for just about any service. The porter takes your bag from the car to the door? TIP! Bathroom attendant? TIP! Waiter at a restaurant offers to take a photo of you and your family? TIP! Tour driver? Definitely tip! You get the idea.

If you come from a tipping culture, this will be easier for you. It was not the case for me, as tipping in Italy is not really a thing – and I had to learn quickly, to avoid any embarrassing situation. So, be prepared to always have some small change for you and to tip anything between 5 and 10 % of the price you paid.

Beware that everything has an additional fee 

One of the things I found really confusing when visiting Egypt was that for whatever thing I paid for, I had to pay an additional fee for a full service. So for example, if you visit the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, you will have to pay the regular ticket and, on top of that, a separate ticket to visit the Royal Mummy exhibit; if you visit the Pyramid, there is a separate fee for the burial chambers (which are so bare, it’s not worth paying, to be honest!). Not to mention, each and every site has an additional charge for photography permits. 

You may want to avoid traveling to Egypt during Ramadan (or not)

The majority of Egyptians are Muslims, and they will observe Ramadan, and will thus fast during that time. Though it is perfectly fine to visit Egypt during Ramadan, whether or not you do so is completely up to you. Tourists usually observe little differences – it’s business as usual – but opening hours for many places change, and eating or drinking in public is frowned upon, and many places won’t serve alcohol (which, by the way, is easy to find in Egypt). If none of these things bothers you, you may want to go then: it may be quite an enriching experience.

And in the summer months

When should you be traveling to Egypt? Let me put it this way: definitely not in the summer months!

The heat during the summer months is fierce, with temperatures getting well above 40° C (104° F) on any given day, sometimes going as high as 55° C (that’s 130° F). While the south of Egypt – Luxor, and Aswan – is dry, humidity in the North – Alexandria, and Cairo – is high and adds to the heat.

With this in mind, you should avoid visiting Egypt between May and September. The best time to visit is between October and March, with the largest crowds in December and January. I visited between the end of April and the beginning of May, and day temperatures were typically 30° C (86° F) and above. 

Driving is crazy

I have been to a lot of countries where driving is insane, but honestly, nothing compares to Egypt when it comes to driving. The combination of high amounts of cars on the streets, no such thing as speed limits, no traffic lights, no understanding of lanes, and everyone on their horns means that it just is crazy. There is no time of day or night when traffic stops, and the only place you can escape cars in Cairo is the Citadel.

You may think that traffic is not as bad outside of cities and in rural areas – but if anything, it is worse. Road conditions are bad, with two-lane roads where the center is used to pass (in both directions) regularly causing heart attacks to unaware tourists. Add to this the fact that people have a thing for speeding and that there are regular checkpoints, and you will easily conclude that renting a car is out of the question. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are no zebra lines or crossing lanes either. If you want to cross the street, your best bet will be to follow a group of locals and hope for the best.

Dressing modestly is recommended

Egypt is a conservative country. Unless you are visiting a hipster bar in Zamalek, Cairo’s most up-and-coming neighborhood, you really are better off covering your arms, legs, chest, and shoulder. It’s a sign of respect, and it will save you from unwanted harassment. 

There is a lot to see 

Egypt is a beautiful country, with an incredible history and stunning landmarks. Cairo itself, with the impressive Egyptian Museum, the Citadel, the many mosques, the Coptic Cairo, Khal el Khalili market, and the hipster Zamalek and Mohandessin deserve at least 5 days – one alone to visit the Giza Pyramids), and if you have an extra one you can take a day trip to the lesser-known pyramids of Saqqara (where the burial chambers of King Teti are actually incredibly ornate and well kept) and Dahshur.

Alexandria, on the shores of the Mediterranean, can be visited on a day trip from Cairo too.

Other places you should definitely consider visiting are Luxor, home of the Karnak Temple Complex, where you can see the tomb of Ramses V and VI (KV 9); Awan, where you can see the stunning Philae Temple; Abu Simbel, closer to the border with Sudan, where the temple dedicated to Ramesses II is located. And if you like diving, or want to relax at the beach, you may want to make your way to Hurghada or Dahab.

tourist tips for egypt

Consider joining a guided tour

Even though you may personally prefer traveling to Egypt independently, and you are the kind of person who doesn’t like a guided tour, I beg you to reconsider. Your time in the country will be a whole lot better if you actually have an expert local guide – and even better, an Egyptologist – and a driver.

An expert guide will be able to share all sorts of relevant information on the sites you will be visiting, giving it historical and cultural context. He will be able to inform you about the local customs and traditions, and even about scams. 

A driver will be able to dodge the terrible local traffic and take you safely to all the best places to visit. 

Tap water is not safe to drink

If there is a country where tap water is not safe to drink, that is Egypt. Not only you should directly avoid drinking tap water, but you should not even use tap water to brush your teeth, and you should avoid things such as salads and cocktails with ice unless you are 100% sure that tap water has not been used. As plastic waste (in fact, waste in general) is a major issue in Egypt I recommend carrying a Lifestraw water bottle and filter and refilling regularly.

Droning is out of the question

In order to fly a drone in Egypt you need to get a license from the Ministry of Defense – which, as a foreigner, you can’t obtain. Unless you want to risk having your drone confiscated at the airport, face a fine and even end up in jail (which really, honestly, truly you want to avoid in this country), you are way better off leaving your drone at home. 

Nile River cruises are expensive

Although I really wanted to, I ended up not doing a Nile River cruise during my trip to Egypt, because it was way more expensive than I thought it would be – especially if booked with a good company with good reviews.

Another thing you should beware of is that during the cruise you actually have very little time at attractions (which you typically visit with a large group of other passengers) – most of the time is spent commuting from the port where you are docked to the actual attraction. You don’t even cruise that much, in the end!

A good alternative to a traditional luxury river cruise may be sailing on a traditional Egyptian felucca – but keep in mind it is not nearly as comfortable. 

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Ellie's Travel Tips

Egypt Travel Tips: Your Ultimate Guide for an Unforgettable Trip

Posted on Last updated: August 22, 2023

Are you ready for an adventure like no other? Get ready to immerse yourself in the rich history and ancient wonders of Egypt. From the iconic Pyramids of Giza to the enigmatic Sphinx, this captivating country has it all. But it’s not just about the landmarks; Egypt offers a vibrant culture, mouthwatering cuisine, and warm hospitality that will make your trip unforgettable. When visiting Egypt, don’t forget to follow these travel tips, explore the major attractions, hire knowledgeable tour guides, and visit popular tourist sites.

Oh, and don’t forget the thrill of riding a camel! Picture yourself atop one of these magnificent creatures as you traverse ancient roads and capture incredible memories with your camera. So pack your bags, embrace adventure, and get ready for an extraordinary trip to Egypt – where history comes alive and surprises await at every turn.

With these Egypt travel tips, make sure to grab one of our free travel planners , and find knowledgeable tour guides to enhance your experience exploring the great pyramids.

egypt travel tips

Important Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt

Respect local customs and dress modestly when visiting religious sites..

When traveling to Egypt, it’s crucial for tourists and travelers to be aware of and respect the local customs, especially when visiting religious sites like pyramids. Egyptians, who are generally quite conservative, expect visitors to dress modestly out of respect for their culture and beliefs. Both men and women should ensure that their shoulders and knees are covered when entering mosques or other religious places. Women may also want to consider bringing a scarf or shawl to cover their heads as a sign of respect for the locals.

Stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun’s intense rays.

Egypt is a popular travel destination, especially for tourists interested in exploring the pyramids. However, it’s important for any traveler to be prepared and follow some essential travel tips. The scorching temperatures, particularly during the summer months, can be challenging. To stay safe and enjoy your trip, make sure to stay hydrated by carrying a water bottle with you at all times. Additionally, protect yourself from the intense sun rays by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and lightweight clothing that covers your skin without making you feel too hot.

Bargaining is common practice in markets, so be prepared to negotiate prices.

One of the most exciting travel tips for exploring Egypt is to visit the local markets like Khan El Khalili in Cairo. Haggling over prices is a common practice ingrained in Egyptian culture, so don’t be afraid to negotiate when shopping for souvenirs or other items. Start by offering a lower price than what you’re willing to pay and gradually work your way up until both parties at the bank reach an agreement. Remember that bargaining should be done with respect and good humor – it’s part of the pyramids experience!

Note: Egypt has a rich history waiting to be discovered.

Egypt boasts an incredibly rich history dating back thousands of years. From awe-inspiring ancient monuments like the Pyramids of Giza and Luxor Temple to fascinating archaeological sites such as Valley of the Kings and Abu Simbel, there are so many things to explore. Immerse yourself in the wonders of ancient Egypt with these travel tips by visiting museums like the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, a guide to countless artifacts and treasures from pharaohs and dynasties long gone that people will find fascinating.

When planning your travel to Egypt, make sure to allocate enough time to fully appreciate the historical sites, such as the pyramids and temples. Consider hiring a knowledgeable guide who can provide insightful information about each location, bringing history to life with intriguing stories and facts.

egypt travel tips on the river

Visa Requirements and Arrival Process

Traveling to Egypt requires careful consideration of visa requirements to ensure a smooth entry into the country. When planning your visit to Egypt, it is important to have a guide who can help you navigate the visa process and arrival procedures. Here are some essential tips to help you go to Egypt and visit the pyramids.

  • Check visa requirements before traveling to Egypt: Before embarking on your journey, it is crucial to check the visa requirements for your specific nationality. Different countries have different regulations, so make sure you are well-informed about the type of visa you need.
  • Obtain a tourist visa upon arrival at major airports or apply online in advance: For most visitors, obtaining a tourist visa upon arrival is a convenient option. When you arrive at major airports in Egypt, head to the passport control area where you can purchase a tourist visa. The cost may vary depending on your nationality but generally ranges from $25 to $60 USD. Alternatively, if you prefer to skip the queues upon arrival, you can apply for an e-visa online before your trip.
  • Fill out arrival forms accurately for smooth entry into the country: Upon landing in Egypt, you will be required to fill out arrival forms provided by immigration authorities. It is essential to complete these forms accurately and legibly with all necessary information such as your name, passport details, flight information, and purpose of visit. Providing accurate information will help expedite the entry process and avoid any unnecessary delays.
  • Be prepared for passport control and security checkpoints: As part of the arrival process, travelers must go through passport control and security checkpoints. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in Egypt. Present your passport along with other required documents when requested by airport officials.
  • Understand police checks and photography pass requirements: In certain areas of Egypt, especially near government buildings or sensitive sites, police checks might be conducted randomly. Cooperate with authorities if asked for identification or travel documents during these checks. If you plan to take photographs at archaeological sites or museums, it is advisable to obtain a photography pass beforehand to avoid any complications.
  • Keep important documents and cash readily accessible: During the arrival process, it is essential to keep your passport, visa, flight tickets, and other important documents easily accessible. This will help streamline the entry process and prevent any unnecessary stress or delays.
  • Consider transportation options from the airport: Once you have successfully cleared passport control and security checkpoints, you can choose from various transportation options available at the airport. These include taxis, private transfers, or public buses. It is advisable to research and plan your preferred mode of transport in advance based on your destination and budget.
  • Be prepared for service charges and ATM availability: At some airports in Egypt, there may be a service charge upon departure. Ensure you have enough local currency or access to an ATM if required. Familiarize yourself with the location of ATMs within the airport premises before leaving the arrival area.

Traveling to Egypt? Here are some tips you need to know before your visit. By understanding the visa requirements and arrival procedures, you can ensure a hassle-free entry into this captivating country. So pack your bags, prepare your travel documents, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through Egypt’s rich history and vibrant landscapes!

egypt downtown

Safety Tips and Dos and Don’ts in Egypt

Avoid political demonstrations or large crowds for safety reasons..

When traveling to Egypt, it is important to prioritize your safety. One of the key safety tips is to avoid political demonstrations or large crowds. While Egypt is a vibrant country with a rich history, political tensions can occasionally escalate into protests or public gatherings that may turn violent. To ensure your well-being during your visit, it is advisable to steer clear of such situations.

When traveling in Egypt, it’s important to be aware of potential unrest. Stay informed by following local news and checking travel advisories. If you come across a demonstration or protest, distance yourself from the crowd and find shelter until the situation calms down. These tips are essential for anyone who needs to explore Egypt safely.

Respect Islamic traditions by refraining from public displays of affection.

When traveling to Egypt, it is important to follow cultural practices and traditions. In this predominantly Muslim country, it is advised to be mindful of public displays of affection. To avoid offending locals or attracting unwanted attention, it is best to refrain from kissing or hugging in public areas. These travel tips will help you navigate Egyptian culture respectfully.

While exploring Egypt’s bustling streets or visiting its magnificent landmarks, keep in mind that modesty is highly valued within the local community. Dressing conservatively by covering your shoulders and knees shows respect for Egyptian customs and helps you blend in seamlessly with the local environment. By embracing these cultural norms, you can have a more immersive experience while also fostering mutual understanding between cultures.

Be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas, especially tourist hotspots.

Like many popular tourist destinations around the world, Egypt sees its fair share of pickpocketing incidents—particularly in crowded areas and tourist hotspots. To safeguard your belongings and prevent theft during your travels, it is essential to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions.

Consider investing in a reliable anti-theft backpack or bag that offers additional security features such as hidden zippers or slash-resistant materials. These can act as a deterrent for potential thieves. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and keep your valuables secure by using hotel safes or concealed pockets.

When exploring crowded markets or tourist sites, be mindful of your surroundings and keep a close eye on your belongings at all times. It’s advisable to carry only the essentials and leave unnecessary items behind in a safe place. Furthermore, consider dividing your money into different pockets or using a money belt to minimize the impact of any potential theft.

By being aware of these safety Egypt travel tips and dos and don’ts, you can ensure a more secure and enjoyable experience. Remember to prioritize your well-being, respect the local culture, and take necessary precautions against pickpockets. With these measures in place, you can fully immerse yourself in Egypt’s wonders while keeping any potential risks at bay.

camels in egypt

Best Time to Visit and Weather Considerations

If you’re planning a trip to Egypt, it’s essential to choose the right time to visit. The weather can greatly impact your experience, so considering the climate before you go is a good idea. Here are some travel tips for Egypt regarding the best time to visit and weather considerations.

Plan your trip between October and April for milder temperatures.

Egypt is known for its scorching heat, especially during the summer months from June to August. If you want to avoid extreme temperatures, it’s advisable to plan your visit between October and April. During this period, the weather is relatively mild, making it more comfortable for exploring the country’s famous attractions.

Summer months (June-August) can be extremely hot, especially in desert regions.

While visiting Egypt during the summer may have its advantages like fewer crowds and lower prices, it’s important to note that this season brings intense heat. Temperatures can soar above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), particularly in desert regions like Luxor or Aswan. If you decide to travel during these months, make sure you are prepared for scorching temperatures by packing lightweight clothing, sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.

Pack sunscreen, hats, and lightweight clothing suitable for warm weather.

Regardless of the time of year you choose to visit Egypt, it’s crucial to pack appropriately for warm weather conditions. Lightweight clothing made of breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen will help keep you cool under the Egyptian sun. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen with a high SPF level and wide-brimmed hats that provide shade and protect your face from sunburns.

Rainfall in Egypt is minimal throughout most of the year.

Egypt is primarily a desert country with very little rainfall throughout most of the year. However, there may be occasional showers during winter months in coastal areas like Alexandria or Marsa Matrouh. These rain showers are usually short-lived and shouldn’t significantly affect your travel plans. It’s still wise to check the weather forecast before your trip, but don’t expect rain to be a major concern.

sphinx in egypt

Exploring Popular Tourist Destinations in Egypt

Exploring the country’s popular tourist destinations is a must. From awe-inspiring temples to stunning beaches, Egypt offers a diverse range of attractions that will captivate any traveler. Let’s dive into some of the top places you should visit during your trip.

Discover the awe-inspiring temples of Luxor on the east bank of the Nile River.

Luxor is a city known for its rich history and magnificent temples. As you explore this ancient city, make sure to visit the east bank of the Nile River, where you’ll find some of Egypt’s most iconic landmarks. The Karnak Temple Complex is an absolute must-see, with its massive columns and intricate hieroglyphics transporting you back in time. Another highlight is the Luxor Temple, which beautifully showcases Egyptian architecture and offers breathtaking views at sunset.

Cruise along the Nile River to explore ancient sites like Kom Ombo Temple.

One of the best ways to experience Egypt’s historical wonders is by embarking on a cruise along the majestic Nile River. As you sail through this iconic waterway, you’ll have the opportunity to visit various ancient sites, including the remarkable Kom Ombo Temple. This unique temple is dedicated to two gods: Sobek, associated with crocodiles, and Horus, known as the falcon-headed god. Marvel at its well-preserved reliefs and learn about ancient Egyptian mythology as you wander through its halls.

Escape to Sharm El Sheikh for stunning beaches, snorkeling, and diving opportunities.

If relaxation and beachside activities are on your bucket list, then Sharm El Sheikh should be your next destination in Egypt. Located on the southern tip of Sinai Peninsula, this resort town boasts crystal-clear waters teeming with vibrant coral reefs. Dive enthusiasts can explore famous dive sites like Ras Mohammed National Park or take part in snorkeling adventures to witness the underwater beauty up close. After a day of exploration, unwind on the stunning beaches and indulge in delicious seafood at local restaurants.

Other notable tourist sites and attractions in Egypt

While Luxor and Sharm El Sheikh are major attractions, Egypt has much more to offer. Here are a few additional places you shouldn’t miss during your trip:

  • The Great Pyramids of Giza: No visit to Egypt is complete without marveling at these iconic structures. Witness the ancient wonders and learn about their historical significance.
  • The Egyptian Museum in Cairo: Immerse yourself in Egypt’s fascinating history by exploring the vast collection of artifacts, including the treasures of Tutankhamun.
  • Alexandria: Delve into the country’s Greco-Roman past by visiting this coastal city known for its historic sites such as the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa and Qaitbay Citadel.
  • Aswan: Discover the tranquil beauty of Aswan, home to magnificent temples like Philae Temple and Abu Simbel.
  • Siwa Oasis: Escape to this remote desert paradise, known for its natural springs, mud-brick fortresses, and unique cultural heritage.

Egypt offers an incredible blend of ancient wonders, beautiful landscapes, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re exploring temples in Luxor or relaxing on the beaches of Sharm El Sheikh, this captivating country will leave you with unforgettable memories.

culture tips in egypt

Cultural Etiquette and Respectful Behavior

When traveling to Egypt, it’s important to be mindful of the cultural etiquette and exhibit respectful behavior. Understanding and respecting local customs will not only enhance your experience but also show appreciation for the rich culture and history of this fascinating country.

Dress Modestly when Visiting Mosques or Religious Sites

One of the key aspects of Egyptian culture is its strong religious heritage. When visiting mosques or religious sites, it is essential to dress modestly as a sign of respect. Both men and women should ensure their clothing covers their shoulders, arms, and legs. Women may also need to cover their heads with a scarf or wear an abaya (a loose-fitting robe) in some places.

Remove Your Shoes before Entering Someone’s Home

Egyptians value cleanliness and hospitality, so it is customary to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home. This gesture signifies respect for the household and helps maintain cleanliness within the living space. Remembering this simple act can leave a positive impression on your hosts.

Learn Basic Arabic Phrases

While many Egyptians speak English, making an effort to learn a few basic Arabic phrases can go a long way in bridging cultural gaps and showing respect for the local language. Greeting someone with “marhaba” (hello) or expressing gratitude with “shukran” (thank you) will be greatly appreciated by locals.

Tipping: A Common Practice

Tipping is an integral part of Egyptian culture, especially in service-oriented industries such as tourism. It is customary to tip hotel staff, tour guides, drivers, waiters/waitresses, and other service providers during your travels. While there are no fixed rules for tipping amounts, a general guideline is around 10-15% of the bill or service cost.

Street Food Delights

Exploring street food in Egypt is a must-do experience that allows you to indulge in the local cuisine and immerse yourself in the vibrant culinary culture. From falafel and koshary (a popular Egyptian dish made with rice, lentils, and pasta) to ful medames (mashed fava beans) and taameya (Egyptian falafel), the variety of street foods will tantalize your taste buds.

Interacting with Street Vendors

As you stroll through the bustling streets of Egypt, you’ll encounter numerous street vendors selling a wide array of goods. While engaging with these vendors can be an exciting part of your experience, it’s important to remember that bargaining is a common practice. Negotiating prices respectfully and with a friendly demeanor can lead to enjoyable interactions and fair deals.

Respect for Armed Guards and Police

In some areas, particularly tourist sites or crowded places, armed guards or police officers may be present for security purposes. It is crucial to show respect for their presence by following any instructions given and refraining from taking photographs without permission. Respecting their authority ensures everyone’s safety and contributes to a harmonious environment.

Embracing the Reality of Pedestrians

Egypt’s bustling cities can be overwhelming for pedestrians due to heavy traffic and chaotic roads. When crossing streets, it’s essential to exercise caution, follow traffic signals when available, and be aware of your surroundings.

In conclusion, Egypt offers a wealth of incredible experiences for travelers. By keeping these essential travel tips in mind, you can make the most out of your trip to this fascinating country.

Before visiting Egypt, it is important to familiarize yourself with the local customs and traditions. Respectful behavior and cultural etiquette go a long way in ensuring a positive experience. Understanding the visa requirements and arrival process will help streamline your journey.

Safety should be a top priority when traveling to any destination. In Egypt, it is crucial to follow safety tips and adhere to dos and don’ts to ensure a secure trip. By staying informed about potential risks and taking necessary precautions, you can enjoy your time in Egypt without any worries.

Choosing the right time to visit Egypt is essential for an enjoyable experience. Consider the weather conditions and plan accordingly. The best time may vary depending on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in during your trip.

Exploring popular tourist destinations in Egypt will allow you to witness its rich history firsthand. From iconic landmarks like the Pyramids of Giza to cruising along the Nile River, there are countless attractions that will leave you awe-inspired.

To fully immerse yourself in the Egyptian culture, it is important to show respect towards locals and their customs. Being mindful of their traditions will enhance your interactions and create memorable experiences.

Now that you have gained valuable insights into travel tips for Egypt, it’s time to start planning your adventure! Take advantage of these suggestions as you prepare for an unforgettable journey through this captivating land.

FAQs on Egypt Travel Tips

Is it safe to travel alone in egypt.

While traveling alone in Egypt can be safe, it is always recommended to take necessary precautions such as avoiding isolated areas at night and staying vigilant about your surroundings.

What should I pack for my trip?

It is advisable to pack comfortable clothing suitable for warm weather along with essentials like sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable walking shoes. Don’t forget to carry any necessary medications and a plug adapter for electronic devices.

Can I drink tap water in Egypt?

It is generally recommended to drink bottled water in Egypt to avoid any potential health issues. Bottled water is widely available and affordable throughout the country.

Are credit cards widely accepted in Egypt?

While credit cards are accepted at many hotels, restaurants, and larger establishments, it is advisable to carry cash for smaller purchases and when visiting more remote areas.

How can I experience local cuisine in Egypt?

To savor authentic Egyptian cuisine, explore local markets, street food stalls, and traditional restaurants. Don’t miss the opportunity to try popular dishes such as koshari, falafel, and delicious Egyptian desserts like basbousa or kunafa.

Remember to do thorough research before your trip and consult official travel advisories for the latest information on safety precautions and guidelines. Enjoy your journey through the wonders of Egypt!

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10 of the best places to visit in Egypt

tourist tips for egypt

Lauren Keith

Destination expert

Tuesday February 6 2024, 10:06am

One of the cradles of civilisation, Egypt packs in more history than you can shake a textbook at. Home to the only surviving wonder of the ancient world, The Great Pyramid of Giza, this country is positively littered with pyramids, tombs, temples — and a new breed of museums to show off all the discoveries. One of the best ways to see Egypt’s ancient history is to take a cruise on the Nile, the world’s longest river.

But Egypt’s appeal extends far beyond its ancient sites. Scuba divers in the know come to marvel at the Red Sea reefs, and the country has long been a winter sun favourite for shivering Europeans, with hundreds of resorts lining the eastern coast. Most visits to Egypt start in Cairo, though more direct flights are arriving from Europe and the Middle East to Luxor, Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh. Here’s our pick of the best places to visit in Egypt.

Main photo: a visitor feeds a camel in one of the Nubian villages of Aswan (Alamy)

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Al-Muizz Street market in historic Cairo, Egypt

As chaotic as it is captivating, the Egyptian capital of Cairo is one of the largest cities in Africa and the Middle East. At the heart of downtown on Tahrir Square is the dusty pink Egyptian Museum, packed to the rafters with display cases of ancient artefacts, though the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza could steal its crown (and a lot of its treasures, including the famous 23-karat solid gold death mask of Tutankhamun). 

To the east, the neighbourhood of Islamic Cairo is a showcase of architecture through the ages, with mosques, madrassas (religious schools) and the maze-like medieval lanes of Khan el-Khalili, where traders have been touting their wares since the 14th century.

Across the Nile River is the main reason many travellers come to Cairo. The Pyramids of Giza crown a plateau and are visible from elevated points in the city on clear days. The Great Sphinx lies protectively at their feet, and the brave can even scramble around inside the steamy structures.

Make it happen

Stay in the centre of it all at the Nile Ritz-Carlton, whose central location backs onto Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Museum.

Book a stay

All Egypt itineraries with Exodus start in Cairo with a visit to the Pyramids of Giza.

A visitor at the Step Pyramid of Djoser, Saqqara, Egypt

The Pyramids of Giza certainly hog the spotlight, but they aren’t the only pyramids in the vicinity. Take a day trip from Cairo to Saqqara and Dahshur to see the Step Pyramid and the Red Pyramid, two even earlier examples that show how the ancient Egyptians worked to perfect the architecture. Part of the vast Saqqara necropolis, the Step Pyramid of Djoser was constructed in the 27th century BC for a Third Dynasty pharaoh, some 120 years before Giza. 

Nearby in Dahshur, the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid are a step closer to obtaining the smooth pyramid sides seen at Giza, though the maths weren’t quite right — notice how the angle of the Bent Pyramid was altered during construction. The interiors of all three of these pyramids are open for visitors to climb around.

Saqqara and Dahshur are on the western side of the Nile, closest to Giza. Stay at the historic Marriott Mena House at the foot of the Pyramids of Giza for a pyramid-filled day out.

Riviera Travel includes a visit to Saqqara on its 15-day river cruise Wonders of the Nile: Cairo to Aswan.

Statues at the entrance to Luxor Temple, Luxor, Egypt

Often touted as the “world’s greatest open-air museum”, Unesco-listed Luxor has a rich cache of historical treasures like few other places on the planet. The pharaohs of the New Kingdom moved their capital here, then called Thebes, and constructed mighty monuments to their gods and themselves, many of which still stand today.

Like many ancient Egyptian cities, Luxor is split in two by the Nile: the east side, where the sun rises, was seen as the “land of the living”, while the west was considered the “land of the dead” and the setting sun. Karnak Temple is the most impressive site on the east bank, and it’s one of the largest religious temple complexes in the world, covering nearly 500 acres. Karnak is connected to Luxor Temple by the Avenue of Sphinxes and fronted by colossal statues of Ramses II. This certainly isn’t the last you’ll see of this prolific pharaoh.

Across the Nile River, the Valley of the Kings is the New Kingdom’s royal necropolis, and the magnificent tombs are carved and painted floor to ceiling with spells and blessings for a smooth journey into the afterlife.

Many Nile cruises depart from Luxor and head south to Aswan, taking a few days to stop at temples along the way.

On the quieter West Bank, the personality-filled rooms at Al Moudira inject luxury and local character into a Luxor stay. 

Wendy Wu’s 11-day Dreams of Egypt tour takes in all of Luxor’s major sights before embarking on a Nile cruise.

  • Best Nile cruises
  • When is the best time to cruise the Nile?

A Nubian woman in Gharb Soheil, Aswan, Egypt

Laid-back Aswan is one of the best places in Egypt to enjoy the Nile. Cruises arrive and depart from here, and you can also hop aboard a smaller felucca (a traditional wooden sailboat) and skirt around the Nile islands. In fact, going by felucca is the easiest — and sometimes the only — way to see some of Aswan’s sights, including the Tombs of the Nobles and the colourful, mural-covered Nubian village of Gharb Soheil. South of the Aswan Low Dam, the Temple of Isis at Philae is set on a photogenic island studded with palm trees. At the end of the day, a sundowner on the terrace of the historic Old Cataract Hotel, built in 1899 by Thomas Cook and namechecked by Agatha Christie in Death on the Nile , is a classic Aswan experience.

For history with a side of sundowners, the Old Cataract hotel is unbeatable. For a more local experience, hop across the Nile to the Nubian village of Gharb Soheil to stay in the Instagram-ready, whimsically painted domed rooms at Kato Dool.

Newmarket Holidays’ 11-day Cairo, Luxor and Nile Cruise includes an exploration of the attractions of Aswan after disembarking from your boat.

5. Abu Simbel

The Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel, Egypt

Less than 25 miles from Egypt’s border with Sudan, Abu Simbel is the last tourist stop on the Egyptian portion of the Nile. The Great Temple of Ramses II is guarded by four colossal 20m-high statues of its namesake pharaoh. The temple is aligned so that twice a year (in February and October) the first rays of the sun illuminate the interior statues of Ramses II and the gods Ra-Horakhty and Amun. A smaller nearby temple is dedicated to Ramses II’s favourite wife, Nefertari, and the goddess Hathor. Most travellers visit Abu Simbel as a day trip from Aswan by plane or bus.

Most travellers visit Abu Simbel on a day trip from Aswan by road or air; however, the village itself has some accommodation options. Try Eskaleh Eco-Lodge for welcoming Nubian hospitality and traditional architecture.

Take a road trip to Abu Simbel with an optional excursion on Exodus’s nine-day Nile Cruise itinerary. You hit the road at 4am, but seeing Abu Simbel early is worth it.

  • Best hotels in Egypt
  • Best all-inclusive hotels in Egypt

6. Sharm el-Sheikh

Pleasure boats in the port at Ras Mohammed National Park near Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt

At the southernmost tip of the Sinai peninsula, Sharm el-Sheikh provides endless days of sun and sandy fun. This resort town caters to those who need an escape as well as energetic types who prefer to peel themselves off the sunlounger and get active. On Sharm’s doorstep is Ras Mohammed National Park, which makes a delightful day trip for scuba diving and snorkelling amid the vibrant coral reefs and schools of fish that swirl like colourful clouds.

Mövenpick Resort Sharm el-Sheikh offers the best of all worlds, with private amenities but one of Sharm’s main hubs within walking distance.

7. Saint Catherine

Saint Catherin'es Monastery in Egypt

Cradled in the Sinai peninsula’s mountainous interior among Egypt’s highest peaks, Saint Catherine’s is the oldest inhabited Christian monastery in the world, established by Byzantine emperor Justinian in AD548, and surrounding the bramble that is considered to be the biblical burning bush. For some, Saint Catherine’s is a place of pilgrimage, but even if you’re not a devotee, making the trek up Mount Sinai (also known as Jebel Musa, or Mount Moses) for sunrise is a spiritual experience no matter what you believe. The crowds pour out from tour buses at 4am to start the climb, but for a more immersive experience, arrange to camp overnight near the summit with the Bedouin guides at Wilderness Ventures Egypt. A Bedouin guide is mandatory to visit Mount Sinai at any time.

Most travellers visit Saint Catherine on a day trip from Sharm el-Sheikh or Dahab, booked through their resort. For an in-depth look into the region’s Bedouin history and culture, sign up for Exodus’s 12-day Bedouin Trails of Jordan & Egypt tour, which climbs Mount Sinai for sunrise.

8. Hurghada

An anemonefish

Similar to Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada is home to a glut of Red Sea resorts that often make good-value getaways. Chill out on the beach or go snorkelling or scuba diving in the crystal-clear water that’s filled with multicoloured coral and marine creatures, including highlighter-yellow butterflyfish, pouty-looking triggerfish and pipe-thin cornetfish.

Serry Beach Resort is one of the best in Hurghada. Monochromatic accents punctuate its Arab-style architecture of breezy corridors and arches, and the resort offers a huge menu of on-site activities.

  • Best hotels in Hurghada
  • Best things to do in Hurghada

Shopping on Lighthouse Road near the seafront in Dahab, Egypt

A haven of hipsters and digital nomads, welcoming Dahab is as chilled out as Egypt comes. Quirky cafés line the seafront, where remote workers sip coffee and watch wetsuit-clad figures emerge from the water after a successful scuba diving adventure. Divers and snorkellers have plenty of excellent sites to pick from right in town, and underwater canyons and vertical walls of coral await to the north at the Bells and the infamous Blue Hole.

On the town’s northern fringes, Dar Dahab is a well-designed, hip space filled with Bedouin-style cushions, rattan furniture and carved woodwork that’s suitable for short or longer-term stays.

10. Alexandria

Stanley Bridge in Alexandria, Egypt

Founded by Alexander the Great in 332BC, Alexandria was one of the great intellectual cities of antiquity. Though the famous library was lost to fire, war or invaders (scholars still debate its final fate), the institution has been resurrected as Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a modern marvel with enough shelf space for eight million books. Ancient archaeological sites have survived in Alexandria, including the remains of the Roman-era Catacombs of Kom el-Shoqafa and Pompey’s Pillar, and the 15th-century caramel-coloured Citadel of Qaitbay on the coast.

While Alexandria has a decent selection of hotels, some parts of the city feel very faded, so some travellers opt for a day trip from Cairo.

The Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano is hands down the most luxurious property in this seaside city, with plenty of sophistication and romance.

G Adventures’ short and sweet Classic Alexandria Mini Adventure offers the best of the city on a quick visit from the capital.

  • Best Egypt tours
  • Best things to do in Egypt

A camel driver feeds his camels with views of the Pyramids of Giza

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tourist tips for egypt

50+ Important Egypt Travel Tips (+ Tips for Women): Know Before You Go!

This past fall I took the plunge and visited Egypt for the first time. I initially started this post with the intention of writing solely Egypt travel tips, however it’s somehow turned into Egypt travel tips + my Egypt journal + a deep dive into everything I saw and experienced while I was there. In this post I’ll give you my 100% honest and unfiltered opinion of Egypt as well as tell you every single little thing you need to be aware of before you visit. Because there’s a lot!

Egypt has a lot of amazing things that can only be found in Egypt, however it’s an extremely difficult country to travel and you need to be prepared . Hence why I’ve put together this super detailed list of important Egypt travel tips: things I wish I’d known before visiting Egypt.

After I tell you all about the nitty gritty things to watch out for (the “don’ts” more or less), I’ll also give you a few fun travel tips (the “do’s”), recommendations for places to visit, and tell you whether or not I recommend travelling to Egypt. Keep reading!

Skip Ahead:

  • Change your mindset
  • Egypt travel tips for women
  • 50+ important Egypt travel tips
  • Fun Egypt travel tips
  • At the end of this post – find out if I recommend visiting Egypt

Explore my:

Are You Travelling to Egypt?

Make sure you protect yourself and purchase high quality insurance before travelling! I recommend this travel insurance as it’s used by backpackers from all over the world. It has tons of customizable options so you can ensure the activties, adventure sports, etc you participate in are covered. Additionally, here are a few more trustworthy travel insurance company options .

Change Your Mindset: Egypt Travel Tips

Important Egypt travel tips

Before I give you my 50+ Egypt travel tips, I want to highlight the fact that you’ll need to change your mindset before travelling to this mysterious country.

Everyone knows the culture, lifestyle, religion – everything – is different in Egypt. But I really don’t think the world knows just how different it is. This is partly because most of us can’t imagine a place that’s SO different from what we know, but also because Egypt officials don’t necessarily want you to know. I’ll get into camera rules later, but briefly, in a lot of places in Egypt you aren’t allowed to take pictures and you certainly are not allowed to take videos . The happenings of Egypt are kept a mystery

When you travel to Egypt expect different. But expect vastly different and different in every possible way imaginable. Expect constant chaos, noise, shock, fear, discomfort. Basically, expect the worst so that when you experience uncomfortable situations or “messy” travel, you’re prepared.

Change your typical travel mindset of “cool experiences,” “fun,” “relaxation,” and “exploration” to “caution,” “culture shock,” “discomfort,” “intrigue,” “amazed,” and maybe even “scared.” If you prepare yourself and understand you’re about to enter the most chaotic, wild, unorganized country in the world (tied with India), you have a chance at surviving – and maybe even enjoying Egypt!

But you have to know in advance that your Egypt travels are going to be challenging.

Egypt Travel Tips for Women

Important Egypt travel tips

Travelling Egypt is certainly more intimidating and dangerous as a female – but it is possible. In general there are sooo many more things women need to be aware of than men, and in Egypt this is amplified by an amount I can’t even begin to explain.

Generally speaking (of course this doesn’t apply to every situation) women are not treated great in Egypt compared to what we know in the Western world. I can say from experience that I often felt looked down upon and unimportant during my visit. I had Egyptian friends showing me around the country so I didn’t do too much research before I visited Egypt. However I wish a fellow girl would have sat me down, prepared me, and told me all the things I needed to know before I went. Because it’s the little things you don’t even think of that you need to be aware of in Egypt. And when you don’t think of or know these things, the unimaginable can happen in the blink of an eye.

  • Of course, dress modestly. It’s best to cover all skin.
  • If males (strangers) approach you in public, be polite but generally you won’t want to engage in conversation. Try to make a quick exit.
  • Upon entering an Uber, ALWAYS sit in the back.
  • Try not to go anywhere alone. Use trusted tour guides, group hostel trips, find friends, etc.
  • If you’re ordering food in, you CANNOT open the door in shorts.
  • Try to avoid going out at night.
  • If you’re travelling with local males, be prepared to constantly answer questions like “are you married?” “Is this your husband?” Typically, Egyptian women are not permitted to travel with males unless they’re married so it’s somewhat strange to see local men travelling with foreign women
  • As much as I hate to say it, Egypt isn’t necessarily the place to “break out and be independent” or “fight the patriarchy.” Lay low and follow the rules.
  • If you’re travelling with an Egyptian male, you are not allowed to share a room.
  • Ignore any unwanted attention and harassment. Just keep on walking and don’t make eye contact.
  • There’s a high chance people will ask to take photos of you – it’s okay to say no! I said no all the time.
  • Never use the men’s public washroom, even if it’s the “only one working.”
  • If you’re with a male, expect to be ignored. One thing that really bothered me was whenever I paid for something (with my money) the change was always handed back to my male friends. Even though I paid.

At the end of the day, just be smart and don’t take any unnecessary risks. If you’re coming from a first world country where you’re used to things being more equal, there’s a high chance you’ll feel “unheard” and possibly even disrespected here.

50+ Important Egypt Travel Tips

The following 50+ Egypt travel tips are for everyone, however if you’re a lady or if you’ll be travelling with women, make sure you read my travel tips geared toward women . It’s a super important read!

The Confusing Egyptian Visa

Important Egypt travel tips

My first Egypt travel tip is about the Egyptian visa. Technically every non-Egyptian who enters Egypt needs a temporary travel visa.

In my next Egypt travel tip I’ll explain the whole “no system” thing in Egypt. But for now all you need to know is that Egypt doesn’t have a proper “system” – in regards to everything. The Egyptian visa is a prime example of this.

In a perfect world you should apply for a 30 day Egyptian travel visa ($25 USD) upon arrival at the airport. However sometimes you don’t actually need to apply for the visa and you’re allowed to walk right through security without one. It’s a hit or miss if the Egyptian government will follow up on any overages on the 30 day stay and usuallyyyy if they do you’ll be slapped on the wrist, given a little fine, and be allowed to stay in the country longer.

I had a different experience with the visa and applied for it online prior to my arrival (tried to be organized). This costed me well over $100 CAD – opposed to $25 USD – and the visa was valid for 90 days total. See what I mean about there being “no system?”

More or less I’d advise you to wait until you get to the airport to deal with the visa for Egypt. Maybe you’ll need it, maybe you won’t. They’re relatively approved quickly at the airport and you’ll spend significantly less money in person opposed to buying one online.

There’s no “System” in Egypt

Pompey's Pillar, Alexandria

Now I’ll go more in depth about the whole “no system” thing in Egypt.

Basically, there’s legitimately no system in Egypt. Like I don’t even know how to accurately explain this over text because you need to experience it in real life to fully grasp what I mean. Essentially, there are minimal rules and everything boils down to how good you are at talking .

Maybe a good way of explaining this is through a few examples:

1st Example: you’re driving and someone hits your car. You don’t go through insurance, – because that’s not a thing in Egypt. You get out of the car and cause the same damage to the other person’s car. You yell at each other a bunch, you both get in your cars and you drive away (direct quote from an Egyptian friend).

2nd Example: you’re driving through military checkpoints. The prior 10 cars drive right through without needing to stop. The officer then stops your car, asks you to exit, searches the entire car, hangs onto your ID, makes you wait for a couple hours (with no cause or suspicion), then allows you to leave whenever they’re ready to let you go.

3rd Example: You’re at a market or in a store with no price tags. You buy the same item as the previous 3 people, only yours costs 200egp more. “Just because.”

You kind of get what I mean now, right? Between these examples and the visa thing most things in Egypt are random and up to chance. It’s unpredictable and it can be quite infuriating, but that’s just Egypt!

DON’T Choose Egypt as Your First Arabic Country!

St Catherine's Monestary

I can’t stress this enough.

Egypt is amazing, but it’s the epitome of chaos in the Arabic world. You’ll find that everything is very intense here, especially if you’re coming from an organized country.

You’re better off starting your Arabian travels in a slightly safer, more organized country. My Egypt travel tip in regards to this is to start with a place like Jordan, then work your way up after that. No sense in overwhelming yourself with Egypt right off the bat. Ease in gently.

Dress Code in Egypt

Important Egypt travel tips

Egypt travel tips

Egypt is a muslim and very conservative country. In some places (like in touristy destinations or the Sinai Peninsula) you can get away with wearing shorts. However I’d recommend alwaysss wearing pants if you’re on the mainland. Do what the locals do, but remember you’re a tourist which already brings lots of unwanted attention to yourself.

It’s best to cover all your skin, but at the end of the day showing legs is worse than showing shoulders or arms. This is especially true for women, but applies to men as well. Everybody just wear pants, okay?!

It’s best to purchase light, flowy clothes or linen in advance. I tried shopping for proper clothes in Cairo and found the selection to be minimal. If you’ll be travelling within the Sinai Peninsula there are lots of shops on the Mamsha (main street) in Dahab with long, flowy clothes.

Tourists are Viewed as $

Important Egypt travel tips

Countries like Albania absolutely adore tourists. Unfortunately that’s not the case in Egypt. In Egypt tourists are viewed as a means to make money. The locals often scam you or try to sell you random objects. And they’re pushy. Really, really pushy and borderline aggressive. You’ll most likely be overcharged for a lot of things, too. Tourists are always charged significantly more than Egyptians.

When I was in Egypt I traveled with my Egyptian friends so they took care of our trip’s finances. Whenever I had to buy anything on my own though I was charged significantly greater amounts of money.

If you’re going to Egypt, you’ll have to learn how to haggle – which is my next Egypt travel tip.

Easier said than done, but try to not let all the selling, scamming, and hassling bother you. This ruins the Egypt experience for a lot of people.

Learn to Haggle & Avoid Sellers

Important Egypt travel tips

Learning to haggle is one of the most important Egypt travel tips I’ll pass on to you – because you’ll have to do it and you’ll have to do it a lot.

If a taxi driver, salesman, tour agency – literally anyone – comes at you with a price, try to reduce it to an unreasonably lower price. For example, someone comes at you with 200egp, come back at them with 20egp. As a tourist you’ll still be charged a crazy high price (for Egypt standards), but if you don’t haggle you might as well start flushing your money down the toilet.

I personally HATE haggling. I’m non-confrontational and I’d never done it before Egypt. I found buying things very overwhelming, so I opted to buy what I needed from shopping centres or malls instead because those have set prices.

Know that wherever you go people will try to sell you random stuff – like really random stuff. You can of course buy things, but if you’re in a touristy area: don’t make eye contact, don’t engage in conversation, say no thank you (“la shukran”), and continue walking.

^This can be super uncomfortable and difficult because sometimes the sellers are children. They follow you around and they are relentless. Keep in mind Egyptians typically make very low salaries and every time you purchase their souvenirs you are helping out the locals!

Egypt has a Tourism Police

Important Egypt travel tips

This is actually a super important Egypt travel tip. Remember how I just told you about tourists getting ripped off? Well, if you’re ripped off an unreasonable amount, feel unsafe, or like you’ve been treated unfairly you can contact the tourism police.

Egypt’s tourism police don’t f*ck around and everyone knows it. They take their job seriously and they’ll rectify any wrongdoings. They are a force to be reckoned with and they’ll have your back.

You’ll find the tourism police in touristy destinations with “tourist police” written on their uniforms. If you require their phone number, ask your accommodation provider and they can give it you.

Travel with a Local or with a Tour Company

Important Egypt travel tips

Another Egypt travel tip I can’t stress enough – don’t attempt to travel Egypt on your own!

Everything is wildly complicated, confusing, unorganized, and chaotic in Egypt; especially if you don’t speak Egyptian Arabic. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to plan things, find local guides, and pay an appropriate price. A lot of tours/activities in Egypt aren’t actually designed for tourists either – they’re designed for Egyptians and you don’t want to accidentally embark on one of these tours. You’ll feel very uncomfortable and there’ll be no English.

I’m such a DIY traveller so this was a really hard pill to swallow, but you just can’t do things on your own in Egypt. Well you can, but your travels will be super stressful and they most likely won’t work out like you want them to.

My Egypt travel tip for finding tours is to ask your hotel staff or use reliable tour sites like Get Your Guide and Viator . Just make sure you read reviews before booking anything.

ALWAYS BE PREPARED & PLAN AHEAD

Farsah Cafe, Sharm El-Sheikh

I know I keep saying this, but another “can’t stress enough” Egypt travel tip is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.

I’m the queen of not planning trips, showing up, and seeing where the wind takes me. My only exception to this rule is when I travel to expensive countries ( like Norway ), then I plan the heck out of it.

If you decide to travel to Egypt you muuuuust plan things in advance though. Egypt is not a country where you can just show up and “see what happens.” You need an itinerary, you need to book things in advance, and you need a plan.

You also need to be organized throughout your day – especially with food and water. I swear Egyptian people don’t drink water and they wait hours and hours between meals. If you’re like me (constantly drinking water and on a consistent eating schedule), you’ll struggle. Always bring extra water, always have food on you, and bring anything you deem “essential” for your day. This mentality applies to guided tours as well.

^Egyptian people usually don’t communicate plans fully or follow through with plans, so you just need to be prepared for everything .

Egypt Transportation Tips

Important Egypt travel tips

I have about a million Egypt travel tips when it comes to transportation, so I’m gonna bullet point the important ones below. Know ahead of time though how absolutely wild the driving in Egypt is. There are no rules at all (seriously) and the driving is as bad, if not worse than in India.

Finding adequate transportation in Egypt can be very confusing, difficult, and stressful. This isn’t superrr common, but I was actually denied getting on a bus heading from Cairo to Sinai because I was a foreigner. I was charged 2x the price of the bus (which was actually kind of an expensive one) because I “cancelled” the trip. Like what the heck! But that’s just Egypt for you.

Anyways, here are my Egypt travel tips for transportation:

  • Don’t even try figuring out the intricate public transport system. Even my Egyptian friends can’t figure it out. As a foreigner it would be scary and uncomfortable/confusing using it.
  • If you’re in a city, Uber everywhereeeee – avoid taxis! Uber’s have a set rate and no haggling is required.
  • If you do have to take a taxi, you have to barter. They’re super cheap so don’t pay anything more than 50egp!
  • You need an international driving license in Egypt if you want to rent a car.
  • But DON’T rent a car! Unless you have driven in India or Egypt before and have nerves of steel. The exception to this would be renting a car in Sinai.
  • ^If you’re going to rent a car in Sinai though, know there are military checkpoints all over the highways; they’re really intimidating/confusing to drive through. Might be a better idea to rent cars within a specific city, then take intercity buses to and from other locations in Sinai. Also, never drive the Sinai highways at night! They’re soooo dangerous.
  • The only intercity bus I trust in Egypt is Gobus . Gobus is professional, clean, spacious, they always accept foreigners, and it’s safe. Gobus costs an extra few $, but it’s totally worth it.
  • Besides Gobus, SWVL is the main bus-finding platform in Egypt. But make your life easy and just use Gobus.
  • The trains in Egypt are super unreliable and are frequently late/delayed by hours.

Ladies, there are a few additional things we need to be aware of when it comes to transportation. I’ve listed these things here .

DON’T Walk in Egypt’s Big Cities

Important Egypt travel tips

Egypt’s big cities, like Cairo and Alexandria, are not designed for walking. So don’t even try.

Utilize the public transportation tips listed above because walking in Egypt is dangerous for a number of reasons:

1 – the traffic and streets aren’t designed for foot traffic. If you try walking there’s a good chance you’ll be run over.

2 – as soon as you step off the main street things get sketchy real fast and they become really dangerous. I remember in Alexandria the walk was only 5 minutes between locations, so my Egyptian friend and I decided to walk. Google maps sent us to a horrible area and people started following us. Luckily a taxi passed when things started escalating and it drove us out of the area. If it weren’t for the taxi and for the fact that I was with a male Egyptian, I don’t even want to know what would have happened to me.

3 – crossing the busy streets of Egypt is an extremely dangerous endeavour. The traffic is wild and there are no crosswalks/lights.

Expect Things to be Difficult

I’m assuming by this point you’ve gathered how difficult travelling in Egypt is. So this Egypt travel tip is all about expectations and acceptance.

Expect things to be difficult, complicated,, confusing and frustrating. When those expectations become reality, just accept it.

If you can master this, your trip to Egypt will be a breeeeeze (okay maybe not a breeze, but you know what I mean)!

There’s Literally no Wifi in Egypt – Buy a SIM Card with Data

Important Egypt travel tips

Holy wow this was so surprising. I mean it’s Egypt – anyone with a brain I’m sure can imagine that a third world country like Egypt wouldn’t have the world’s best wifi. But damn.

Some cafes were good for wifi, but other than that it didn’t exist. Even when I stayed in hotels – no wifi!

The only way to combat the no wifi issue is to download maps in advance and buy a SIM card with a data plan. You can chose between Vodafone and Orange which are the two most common companies in Egypt.

There’s a Huge Military & Police Presence in Egypt

The military and police presence in Egypt is super off-putting and intimidating, but it’s totally normal there. In fact, there’s mandatory military enrolment laws in Egypt for young men.

Cops walk around everywhere, especially in touristy destinations. The military is everywhereee and a lot of things (actually most things in Egypt) are owned and operated by the military. The military thing isn’t great to be honest – but I won’t get into that here.

Don’t be surprised if you see military personnel causally strolling around with huge machine guns too. This is especially normally when you drive through the Sinai region. The military checkpoints are absolutely idled with military personnel and guns.

It seems wrong and scary, but an Egypt travel tip from one of my Egyptian friends is to give the law enforcement shit. Don’t put up with any bull from the cops/military and basically tell them to “F off” if they try to pull anything with you. It’s unlikely you’ll have to do this, but apparently as a tourist they can’t do anything to you, even if you defend yourself.

^seems opposite from how every other country operates, but again this falls into the whole “no system” thing in Egypt.

Don’t Drink the Tap Water & Listen for the *Click*

Important Egypt travel tips

This maybe should have been my first Egypt travel tip, but I’m getting around to it.

Like in many African countries, the tap water in Egypt is not safe for drinking. You can bring a filter, but it will still taste bad. It’s best to just buy bottled water – even though it pains me to say this for environmental reasons.

You also always have to pay attention and make sure your water bottle clicks/breaks the seal when it opens. If it doesn’t click that means the seller has emptied the clean water out and has filled it with tap water.

Also – never buy water from touristy destinations. Bring your own because it’s so overpriced.

Don’t Travel Alone

Important Egypt travel tips

I absolutely adore solo travel, but to be honest Egypt isn’t a place I’d recommend travelling alone. There’s way too many hazards and unexpected situations that’ll arise where you’ll wish you had a buddy.

People do travel to Egypt alone, but I can’t imagine being there solo.

Be Forthright and Confident

Important Egypt travel tips

Most of the time – especially in public in big cities – you can’t be overly friendly or put up with sh*t as a foreigner in Egypt. You have to be direct, confident, and “non-negotiable” in a way when you speak. Especially if you’re trying to buy something or trying to get out of an uncomfortable situation.

If strangers approach you in public it’s best to ignore them and keep walking. Don’t engage because once you do there’s a good chance they’ll follow and potentially harass you.

Don’t be afraid to be confident and convey what you want to say.

Understand “Egyptian Time”

Important Egypt travel tips

Oh. My. God. Egyptian time absolutely infuriated me.

When I travelled in Albania this past summer there was “Albania time” which was delayed and relaxed, but reasonable.

In Egypt however, time has no bounds. If you say 8am it actually means earliest 11am. My punctual Canadian self was constantly ready hours earlier than my Egyptian counterparts. Everything – and I mean everything – is delayed in Egypt. Being late is just the way of life here.

Here are a few Egypt travel tips for dealing with “Egyptian time:”

  • Be patient – easier said than done!
  • Have a plan, but expect delays, cancellations, and mishaps.
  • Have a plan B and maybe even a plan C because plan A will probably fail.
  • Have an itinerary, but leave extra days for plan mishaps.
  • ALWAYS travel to your destination hours early if you have an important flight/transportation. Better yet, go a day early.
  • Always have all the food, water, phone charger, and necessary entertainment/survival resources with you because in Egypt you just never know .

Understand Egyptian People

Important Egypt travel tips

If you’re going to Egypt you’ll undoubtedly be dealing with a lot of Egyptian people and I therefore think it’s important to add a little note about what Egyptian people are like. This wouldn’t be a list of comprehensive Egypt travel tips if I didn’t explain the people and the culture!

Egyptian people can be absolutely lovely or they can be very difficult to deal with. Some Egyptian people (the people I was around) will give a stranger the shirt off their back. They’re kind, welcoming, generous, and loving. The person standing next to them though (oftentimes salesmen) might steal the shirt off a strangers back. Unfortunately you will come across some not-so-nice individuals while you’re in Egypt and you’ll have to know how to deal with them (refer to my previous travel tips).

Like anywhere, be aware of people’s intentions and always have your guard up.

Egypt is a Cash Society

Important Egypt travel tips

Egypt is a cash society and you’ll often find that many establishments only accept cash. You’ll therefore always want to carry cash on you.

The currency is Egyptian pounds (egp). EGP is very unstable and not worth much at the moment. This is unfortunately terrible for Egyptian people, but great for tourists. Your money will go far in Egypt.

There are ATMs all over Egypt and there’s normally no withdrawal fee – maybe $5 max. You can only take out 3000egp at a time and it’s best to take out that entire 3000egp.

Also, Egyptian money is confusing! It all looks the same and it’s hard to differentiate. You have to look at the actual numbers on the bills to figure out which bill is which.

Keep Small Bills & Expect to Tip Everywhere

Important Egypt travel tips

This Egypt travel tip is something I wish I would have known before visiting.

Keep all those 5, 10, and 20 bills. Egypt has a huge tipping culture and you’ll have to tip for random stuff all the time. Like when someone loads your bag on the bus or holds onto your shoes when you go into the mosques.

The tipping might seem ridiculous to you, but just remember that Egyptian people typically make a very low salary and struggle to pay rent, bills, groceries, etc. That 5 or 10 pounds means the world to them, when in reality it’s only worth 50 cents USD to you.

An additional Egypt travel tip for money is to keep your bills separate; small bills in one compartment, large bills in another. You don’t want to be pulling wads of cash out of your purse to count. I had to do this once and a local man literally put his hand in my fanny pack and tried to steal all my money.

There are Security Measures Everywhere

I found this intimidating at first, but it’s totally normal. If you want to go into any of the museums or tourist attractions you must go through enhanced security.

You can expect to put all your belongings (phone, purse, camera, etc) through a scanner and you’ll have to walk through a scanner as well.

There will most likely also be a large police presence at these sites.

Egypt is Weird About Cameras

St. Catherine, Egypt

As a traveller who loves to take photos and document their journey, this was a hard pill for me to swallow.

Egypt’s camera rules fall under the “no system” thing in Egypt which means you can’t really get a straight answer on whether or not you’re allowed to bring a camera around. The best piece of advice I can give you is to upgrade your phone so you have a small, but high quality camera with you at all times.

The following points are more or less a summary of the do’s and don’ts of Egypt’s camera rules:

  • DON’T (never) take photos of random people on the street, buildings, police, military officers/check points. This is strictly forbidden.
  • Cairo recently changed the camera rule in the city – you are now allowed to bring a camera around, however I wouldn’t. You don’t want to draw unwanted attention to yourself and because there’s no system, if an officer wants to confiscate your camera or have you delete everything on the sd card they can. With no reason behind it.
  • You can bring cameras to all the big attractions (temples, ancient sites, etc), however don’t bring a massive one because they’ll keep it at the gate.
  • If you bring your camera or tripod to a large tourist attraction you’ll have to pay an additional camera fee. This is worth it for the bucket list places, but the fees do add up quickly.
  • A lot of places/areas in Cairo are no camera zones and this includes phone cameras. These areas will be well marked. If you break these rules you’ll face a massive fine.

English is Limited in Egypt

Bedouins of Sinai

I don’t know what all those other travel bloggers say when they talk about English being widely spoken in Egypt because it isn’t. Well like it is, but it isn’t.

English in Egypt is widely spoken by the younger generation as they learn it in school, however you won’t be dealing with the younger generation when you’re in Egypt. The vast majority of people don’t speak English in Egypt and if they do it’s normally broken English.

If you plan to take any public transit in Egypt I can guarantee almost no one – and certainly not the drivers – will speak English. You’ll find some (broken) English at the tourist sites and maybe your accommodations. If you step one foot outside the touristy spots you’ll be hard pressed to find any English. And in such a different country like Egypt, this can be very intimidating.

Oh, also remember how I said everyone tries to scam you? People pretending they don’t know how to speak English is a favourite trick. Beware!

One of the biggest surprises I found in Egypt was the inexistence of toilet paper. Instead they use something similar to a bidet, except it’s just a hose attached to the toilet; it’s called a shatafa. #1s and #2s are all treated the same – do your business and spray.

I found this really strange and kind of unsanitary at first (actually I still find it unsanitary because we’re all using the same, uncleaned hose. yuck). However you do feel pretty clean afterwards. A big downfall to this though is that you have no way to dry yourself after you spray which feels pretty icky.

But Egyptians LOVE this thing. They’ve even made portable versions so they can bring it with them to other countries when they travel. Wild.

If you’re a TP lover, another Egypt travel tip for you is to BYOTP – bring your own toilet paper!

Food Culture & Eating Habits in Egypt are… Different!

Important Egypt travel tips

There’s a few things about the food culture you ought to know about before going to Egypt. I’ll write some of the Egyptian food options at the bottom of this post, but for now I’m focusing on the “how” of eating.

Egyptians claim they LOVE food, but they barely eat. They typically have a filling breakfast of ful (beans) and falafel (anywhere from 8am-3pm is considered breakfast) which tides them over to dinner – no lunch! And for dinner we’re talking anywhere from 5-11pm. You won’t have to deal with this as you most likely won’t be travelling with Egyptians, however my regimented eating schedule was struggling with this – big time.

Egyptians also eat community style and with their hands. You will experience this in restaurants. It’s very appetizer style where everyone’s food comes on the same dishes. And you always always always eat everything with bread. Egyptians fold the bread up into a little shape they call the “cat’s ear” and they scoop everything up with that rather than using spoons.

ALSO unless you’re eating at a “North American” restaurant, don’t eat any food that’s deemed North American style. Stick to traditional Egyptian foods because the North American ones will be gross. You’ll find the description is very inaccurate and not what you expect.

Don’t Budget Accommodations in Egypt

mud brick beach huts in Nuweiba, Sinai

I’m the ultimate budget traveller and I find the cheapest of the cheap when it comes to accommodations, even if it means pitching a tent for the night or staying with strangers.

In Egypt however you can’t do this. I tried and the accommodations I ended up in were absolutely disgusting; dirty sheets, broken furniture, holes in the walls. For this reason, my Egypt travel tip is to always go with a mid-range option or higher. The cleanliness will be more “up to standard” and you’ll feel much safer.

Alcohol is Almost Non-Existent in Egypt

Important Egypt travel tips

Alcohol is not common in Egypt and that comes down to religious beliefs.

You won’t be able to find alcohol at restaurants and if you do, be skeptical. Drinking is often seen as disrespectful in Egypt and unfortunately the mentally when it comes to drinking as a woman is “she was asking for it.”

There are nightclubs and “discos” (the popular thing in Egypt), but they’re very exclusive. There’s security, tickets that need to be purchased in advance, and the event is specifically labelled as a drinking event.

At the end of the day you can find alcohol in Egypt, however my Egypt travel tip when it comes to alcohol is to avoid it. I think Egypt is a country in which you want to be fully aware and have your wits about you 24/7. I can’t imagine the danger of trying to drunkenly find your way home in the streets of Cairo after a night out.

Be Bold When Crossing the Street

Desert highways, Sinai

Remember how I said the driving in Egypt is NUTS. Well, crossing the street is even nuts-er. Even on Egypt’s busiest streets you won’t find crosswalks, traffic lights, or any other aid to help you cross the street. And if you do, don’t trust them. The drivers will pay no attention to them.

If you want to cross you just have to put your hand out, walk into traffic, and hope the cars around you stop. It sounds scary and to be honest, it is. If you’re nervous ask local Egyptians to help you cross. Usually they’re more than happy to help because they understand how daunting it can be.

Be Cautious with Public Displays of Affection

Citadel of Qaitbay

Due to the widespread Muslim religion in Egypt, public affection is not okay. Even holding hands is considered a bit much.

Did you know Egyptian people can actually be fined or go to jail if they’re caught sharing a hotel room with someone of the opposite sex if they’re not married? This won’t affect you as a tourist, but I’m sharing this information to give you an idea of how strict the culture is with these things.

This Egypt travel tip is to save those affectionate moments for a private setting. Because they aren’t appreciated in Egypt!

Don’t Venture Off-the-Beaten Path

Ras Mohammed National Park, Sharm El-Sheikh

Another important Egypt travel tip is to stay ON the beaten path!

I love going to off-beat destinations and experiencing the lesser travelled places, but you don’t want to do this in Egypt for about 957923085 reasons.

I’ll let your imagination run wild on this one, but n e v e r leave the safe touristy destinations and never venture solo into “uncharted territories.” Even if you’re with a tourist company, be skeptical.

Don’t Follow People Who Are Trying to “Help” You

Just don’t.

9/10 times if a random local is trying to lead you elsewhere, they most likely don’t have the best intentions.

Don’t Visit Mosques During Prayer Time

Al Sahaba Mosque, Sharm El-Sheikh

The Muslim religion is taken so seriously in Egypt and it is extremely disrespectful to go to a mosque during prayer time.

During non prayer time you can enter any of the mosques, which I highly recommend! They’re beautiful. Just remember to take off your shoes, wear pants, and cover your shoulders. If you forget, silk robes will be made available to you.

Don’t Put Your Legs Up

Like on a table or when you’re sitting in a car. It’s seen as super disrespectful.

You Will Stand Out as a Foreigner

Hiking in Nuweiba

White people stick out like a sore thumb in Egypt. I’m clearly a brunette, but since everyone’s features in Egypt are so dark I was considered a blonde. I got so many unwanted comments about my features being “colourful.”

If you want to avoid unwanted attention, this Egypt travel tip is all about trying to blend in. Follow the reserved dress code, try covering your hair with a hat, or if you want to go the extreme route you can even dye your hair a darker colour.

Always Keep Safety on Your Mind

Important Egypt travel tips

In general you always want to have safety on your mind and take extra precautions in Egypt. It’s imperative that you’re always aware of your surroundings & that you follow your gut instincts.

When I was travelling in Albania situations seemed sketchy or looked unsafe, however 99% of the time it was just an appearance. In reality there was no danger at all. In Egypt that’s not necessarily the case. If anything makes you feel uneasy or weird, your gut is probably right and you should follow your instincts.

A few Egypt travel tips for safety – don’t go out at night, especially if you’re alone. Don’t follow Egyptian people that want to show you things or “help” you. If you’re a woman, ensure you read my female-specific travel tips .

Register with Your Country’s Embassy

As an extra safety precaution it’s always smart to register your trip & travel details with your home country’s embassy.

This way your home country can assist you and send resources if anything happens to you or to the country while you travel. You may gain some peace of mind in knowing that governments and embassies don’t mess around when it comes to Egypt. If one of their citizens are in danger in Egypt they typically come in swinging because they understand the danger that exists here.

Prepare Yourself for the Desert Climate

Hiking in St Catherine, Egypt

The desert climate is (obviously) hot and sunny. Hot is an understatement, actually.

Ensure you always carry an abundance of water and sunscreen. Wearing a hat and long clothing is also beneficial to protect your skin from the intense UV rays.

Don’t Go Hiking on Your own in Egypt

Hiking in St Catherine, Egypt

If you’re like me that means you’ve got hiking and outdoor adventure on the brain 24/7. In Egypt though, you can’t just go out hiking or adventuring solo.

A) the outdoor adventure infrastructure doesn’t exist in Egypt; especially for foreigners. B) trails are unmarked, only known by local Bedouins, and it’s very easy to get lost in the desert. C) There are many threats/dangers in the desert as well as a large military presence that you want nothing to do with. D) Hiking is actually illegal in Egypt.

If you want to embark on any sort of outdoor adventures Egypt you MUST go with a guide (Bedouin) or tour group. Get Your Guide and Viator are two great resources for finding tours and guides in Egypt.

Fun Egypt Travel Tips

Now that we’ve gone over all the heavy & scary Egypt travel tips, here are a few fun Egypt travel tips and things you can look forward to!

The Best Time of Year to Visit Egypt is…

Wadi El Weshwash

The best time of year to visit Egypt is typically winter (November to April) if you want to do any hiking or sightseeing. Summer temps are unbearably hot; like 50 degrees C hot. If you want to visit the beaches, shoulder season (spring and fall) are best, as the beaches will be too cold for swimming in the winter.

The Best Places to Visit in Egypt are…

Parasailing in Sharm El-Shiekh

  • History, Artifacts, & Museums – Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan.
  • Outdoor Adventure – the Sinai Peninsula. Nuweiba, and St. Catherine (big mountains) in particular.
  • Diving – Dahab, Sharm El-Sheikh, and, Hurghada.
  • Camel rides – you can find camels everywhere. I chose to ride a camel in front of the pyramids which I later found out is very unethical. The Sinai Peninsula offers more ethical camel riding opportunities.
  • Beaches – the North Coast, Sharm El-Sheikh, and Hurghada.
  • Tourist “Friendly” – the Sinai Peninsula. Sharm El-Sheikh is an international resort town.

My Personal Favourite Place in Egypt is…

St. Catherine, Egypt

The Sinai Peninsula. This is the outdoor adventure capital of Egypt and where I spent most of my time. You can find hiking, diving, and all sorts of water sport opportunities here. And kite surfing! Kite surfing is a beloved sport in the Sinai Peninsula.

St Catherine in particular I loved because this is where I went hiking and camped on top of the tallest mountain in Egypt. Nuweiba is also cute because it’s super quiet and full of beachside camps. Dahab is very tourist friendly and has a lot of cool sport and sightseeing opportunities. Sharm El-Sheikh is a resort town.

My Egypt travel tip is to go straight to the Sinai Peninsula. In my opinion, this is where all the real fun exists in Egypt.

How Long Should You Spend in Egypt

Important Egypt travel tips

If you’re extremely organized and have a super detailed plan ahead of arriving in Egypt, I think you can see ALL the country’s highlights in 1 month. However I think most people can only handle 1-2 weeks in Egypt because being there is just a lot happening.

I’d advise to look at what you want to see and create an itinerary, but be flexible with your departure date. Some people love Egypt and stay for extended periods of time, other people arrive and leave within a day or two because they can’t handle it.

I stayed for over 1 month between Cairo-Alexandria-Sinai and I personally felt like that was way too long.

Try all the food!

Egyptians loooove their food and they have quite a variety:

  • Fresh Juice : you can find freshly squeezed juice everywhere and it’s super cheap. Make sure you ask for no added sugar. A fan-favourite is lemon mint.
  • Ful – fava beans. Kind of like a more liquid-y version of refried beans, but packed with spices and fresh lime juice. Remember to make a cat’s eye with your bread and scoop the beans up.
  • Falafel (aka taameya) – every Egyptian’s favourite food. The falafel in Egypt is made with fava beans and they’re super fluffy.
  • Mahshi – basically a “stuff it with rice” situation made with any vegetable. Although it’s commonly rice stuffed in grape leaves.
  • Feteer – Layered, flaky “pie.” It can be plain, savoury, or sweet.
  • Konafa – a YUM dessert made of long threads of vermicelli-like dough. Traditionally it’s made with custard or nuts & milk. Now you can find just about every flavour.
  • Tahini – sesame paste. Egyptians put it on everythingggg.
  • Molokheya – A green, leafy vegetable chopped and cooked with garlic in beef, rabbit or chicken stew. It’s served with rice or bread. It’s very nutritious, but doesn’t have much flavour, and the consistency is sticky & slimy; like snot. Weird, but worth a try!
  • Shawarma – meat cooked on a spit, shaved, and put into a wrap.
  • Stuffed Pigeon – yup, Egyptians eat pigeon! It’s not common, but you may come across it on a menu here or there.
  • Kofta – Minced beef or lamb rolled with spices & grilled.
  • Kebab – various meat put on a skewer and grilled.
  • Grilled Eggplant – an Egyptian favourite! You can find this everywhere.
  • Bread – Egyptians LOVE bread and they have many types. My favourite was Baladi which is a local, fluffy pita style bread. The Bedouins also make all sorts of bread and they cook it in the desert sand.
  • Koshari – the ultimate “leftover dish.” A mix of noodles, rice, lentils, chickpeas, onion, a tomato sauce, and a garlic sauce.
  • Egg – not necessarily “Egyptian,” but you can find a variety of eggs on every menu. The “Egyptian” thing is to scoop up the eggs with bread – you don’t eat them with a fork!
  • Rice Pudding – Egypt’s favourite dessert.
  • Prickly Pear – exactly what it sounds like, but typically only found in the summer months.
  • Fruit – in general the fruit in Egypt is delicious. Especially the mangos. OMG.

Remember, Egyptians eat community style and with their hands.

Go Out for Egyptian Breakfast

Important Egypt travel tips

If you ask any Egyptian what their favourite thing about Egypt is, they’re gonna tell you Egyptian breakfast.

Egyptian breakfast is served anywhere form 8am-3pm because Egyptians LOVE to eat late. The “classic” Egyptian breakfast items are: ful, falafel, bread, grilled eggplant, eggs, fries, and fresh juice.

I know – not “breakfast.” But it is in Egypt and it keeps you full almost all day.

Egypt travel tip – Zooba is a restaurant with high quality, authentic Egyptian food. If you want the real Egyptian breakfast experience, go straight to Zooba.

Talabat – Egypt’s Food Delivery Platform

Continuing with the whole food trend going here, Talabat is the food delivery platform in Egypt. The delivery fee is so cheap it’s basically free. There were some days I just couldn’t bear the chaos outside and opted to order food in rather than leave the safety and comfort of my accommodations.

Ladies – you CANNOT wear shorts if you open the door to a delivery man. Unfortunately “she was asking for it” is the vibe when it comes to wearing shorts in this situation.

Fresh Juice

Important Egypt travel tips

Fresh juice is one of my favourite things about Egypt. There are roadside juice stands everywhere and a glass only costs around $1-2.

This Egypt travel tip is to take advantage of the fresh juice. You most likely won’t find fresh, good quality juice this cheap and readily available anywhere else in the world.

Everything is Old & There are Dead People Everywhere in Egypt

Important Egypt travel tips

ahhhh I know what you’re thinking and it isn’t what it sounds like!

Everything in Egypt is absolutely ancient – like 5000 years old ancient. Egypt has so many artifacts that many of them are just lying around in the streets as if they’re not even important. So those little lion sculptures, pillars, and different items you see on the side of the road – they’re actually 5000 year old treasures.

There’s also a large amount of preserved mummies and historic religious figures on display. These are the dead people I’m talking about.

Egypt has a Bedouin Culture

South Sinai Bedouins

Bedouins are kind of confusing to describe. They’re locals in the Sinai Peninsula, but they’re more than locals. They’re similar to Indigenous people, but they’re not quite the same. More or less they were the first people to inhabit the Sinai Peninsula and they have special rights and privileges; they actually have some governing power in the Sinai region.

They know the desert like the back of their hand and they’ve adapted so many survival techniques for the climate and landscape. They wear galabiyas and ‘oqals which are their traditional clothing. They make Bedouin tea which is comprised of local herbs from the desert and they load it up with sugar. There are also different tribes; some are chill and the roles between men/women are “more” equal. These tribes typically speak decent English and treat tourists well. Other tribes are extremely dangerous, violent/aggressive, and treat their women poorly. No need to worry though, as a tourist you shouldn’t run into these tribes.

Bedouins are also the local hiking guides in Sinai! Hiking is illegal in Egypt, however there’s a grey zone in which hiking with Bedouins is “okay.”

Something interesting is that Bedouins actually have opium farms scattered throughout the desert. The Egyptian military allows them to grow opium in exchange for their desert navigation skills and knowledge. Another classic “no system” situation in Egypt.

Adventure Options & Sports in Egypt

Important Egypt travel tips

Egypt actually has soooo many sport options. In the South Sinai region you can find all kinds of water sports like diving, snorkelling, kite surfing, parasailing, water skiing, etc. You can also go hiking – with a bedouin guide of course.

May & September are the Cheapest Months to Visit Egypt

Important Egypt travel tips

If $ is of concern, you may want to consider visiting Egypt during the shoulder season. In the months of May & September you’ll find cheaper rates on hotels, flights, and excursions. Make sure you book in advance to save an extra few dollars!

Purchase a Tourist Card

Hiking in Nuweiba

A tourist card is a one time purchase which gives you access to all the top tourist sites in either Cairo or Luxor. I personally didn’t purchase one of these so I can’t tell you all the details, however this post from Earth Trekkers outlines the pros and cons to the passes.

Egypt has the Coolest Museums in the World

Nuweiba, Egypt

Egypt is in the process of building the biggest museum in the world. Aside from size though the museums here are absolutely loaded with ancient artifacts, mummies, jewelry and tools dating back to 5000 years ago. Museums and history typically bore me (even though I try to be interested), however the Egyptian museums stole my heart and attention.

I spent hours looking and learning, although learning was difficult because there are limited and sometimes no information cards. The biggest highlight of the museums are the ancient pharaohs. They’re exposed so you can actually see 5000 year old human beings. Toe nails, skin, hair, and all.

My Egypt travel tip for you here is don’t JUST go to the ancient sites and temples/pyramids. Make some time in your schedule to see the museums too!

Arabic Music is SO Fun!

Arabic music is vibe-y. It’s sooo different from North American music and I think you should totally take advantage of it while you’re there. Turn off the European or North American music you’re used to hearing and fully soak up the Arabic music scene.

There are Camels Everywhere in Egypt

Concorde El Salam

Egypt does in fact have a huge camel culture. In Cairo they’re a big tourist attraction at the pyramids – however the camels are unfortunately not treated well there.

In the Sinai Peninsula you can find camels everywhere. Camels are part of daily life and culture in Sinai. If you’re aiming for a more ethical camel experience, I’d totally recommend riding a camel in Sinai rather than at the tourist sites. Plus, it’ll be much cheaper riding a camel there than going for a ride at the pyramids.

ps – riding a camel feels much different than riding a horse! It should definitely make your Egypt bucket list.

Go Diving in the Red Sea

Diving in the Red Sea

My final Egypt travel tip for you is to go diving in the Red Sea. Some of the best dive sites in the world exist in Egypt and there are countless diving schools and guides available. A few highlight locations for diving exist in the Sinai Peninsula (Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab), Marsa Alam, and Hurghada.

I tried diving for my first time at Concorde El Salam in Sharm El Sheikh and had a WONDERFUL experience. The instructor at Concorde is American and explains things exceptionally well. Once you know the drill and understand the logistics of diving, I’d recommend heading over to the Lighthouse dive site in Dahab (I LOVED this spot), or the infamous Blue Hole in Dahab.

BOOK THE FOLLOWING DIVING TOURS:

Diving in Dahab’s Famous Blue Hole

Diving Trip to Ras Mohammed National Park from Sharm El-Sheikh

Boat & Diving Trip in Hurghada

Should You Visit Egypt?

Mount Catherine, Sinai

I am so on the fence when it comes to my answer on whether or not you should visit Egypt. My experience there was so horrible and exhilarating and exciting and shocking and amazing and eye opening and unique all at once. Because of this I think it really boils down to who you are as a person, what you’re looking to experience while you’re there, and where you’ve previously travelled.

Yes – you should visit Egypt if…

  • You’re looking for a challenging, eye opening, culturally diverse, and entirely new experience.
  • You’ve done proper research and understand your trip to Egypt will be difficult, chaotic, frustrating, intimidating, and maybe even horrible.
  • You’ve travelled to other third world and Arabic countries before (I personally think Egypt is too overwhelming to start out with).
  • You’re a seasoned traveller/backpacker.
  • You’re brave and confident. Things don’t easily get under your skin.
  • You cope well with chaos/stressful environments and you’re okay with confrontation.
  • You’re open minded, non-judgemental, and love being thrown into entirely new cultures.
  • You want to experience the history, (huge) culture, atmosphere, and people – not just the pyramids.
  • You read all my Egypt travel tips, do’s, and don’ts – make an informed decision!

No – you shouldn’t visit Egypt if…

  • You get stressed out easily and chaos/noise bothers you.
  • You don’t handle confrontation or disorganization well.
  • You don’t fully grasp the cultural differences you’ll experience in Egypt.
  • You’re looking for a fun, relaxing, or easy vacation.
  • You’re fairly new to travelling and/or haven’t visited third world/Arabic countries before.
  • You’re timid, closed-minded, nervous, and new things scare you.
  • You haven’t and don’t plan on doing any research on the culture/customs in Egypt.
  • You’re just going to see the pyramids.

I personally have a love-hate relationship with Egypt. Part of me wants to return and see the rest of the country. The other part of me couldn’t WAIT to leave and will never look back. At the end of the day it’s up to you, but I truly think Egypt is a destination in which you have to work your way up to. You can’t just hop on a plane and go (like I did) – learn from my mistakes!

Happy adventuring!

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tourist tips for egypt

About The Author

HI, I’m Taylor – the voice behind The Holistic Backpacker.

After moving to Banff National Park in 2020 I became an outdoor adventure enthusiast and vowed to never stop exploring.

I now spend my days travelling the world, climbing mountains, and spending nights under the stars in the Canadian Rockies backcountry.

I created The Holistic Backpacker so I could share my adventures and help connect people like you with the same amazing experiences.

GET TO KNOW ME | WORK WITH ME

tourist tips for egypt

Miranda Tomczak

I am here in Egypt on my 3rd day of 12. I thought I was prepared as I did months of research on what to expect when traveling. I’m in a group of 3, and we are going through a tour company. My experience has been exactly as you described to a T. You have no idea how much reading this post is helping me right now. I’m starting to get stressed and frustrated already hyper focusing on the negatives. I’ve been waiting for this trip My whole life. It’s just good to know these things are thr norm in Egypt and there’s nothing I can do. So why not enjoy what I can and make the most of it, as there are so many cool things! Anyone traveling to Egypt needs to read this. Sums up everything perfectly!!

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theholisticbackpacker

Hi, Miranda!

I’m sorry your experience hasn’t been what you thought! Egypt is amazing, but it’s definitely frustrating to navigate. If there’s any way I can help, please reach out via the contact page or Instagram @theholisticbackpacker 🙂

Best of luck on the rest of your trip!

tourist tips for egypt

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Egypt Travel Guide – Things to Know Before You Go

Last Updated February 4, 2024 William Tang

You are here: Home » Travel Guides » Egypt Travel Guide – Things to Know Before You Go

I’m calling it.  Egypt is going to be one of the most epic trips you’ll ever do.  I know you haven’t even gone yet but you’re probably here because you’re in the middle of planning trip and looking for a travel guide that’s going to dish out all the things to know before going to Egypt.  You’ve come to the right place!

Let’s dig into the practical things you are already asking yourself in your head or going to be really soon as you delve deeper.

Read more about Egypt

  • How to plan a 10 day Egypt itinerary
  • Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan  – cruise ship or dahabiya?
  • Best place to stay near the pyramids
  • What to pack for a trip to Egypt

Where to stay with views of the pyramids?

  • Everyone asked us where we stayed in Cairo to get those epic rooftop views.  The secret is to stay in Giza where there are new properties popping up thanks to the enterprising young generation.  Places like the Comfort Pyramids Inn have epic views of the pyramids.  This is one of the properties mentioned in our guide on the best rooftop hotels in Giza .

Table of Contents 

Jump to the topics that you’re most interested in.

Here's what we're covering:

Egypt geography

How do you decide where to go, getting there, getting around, is egypt safe, why you need a good tour operator, what you need to know about cairo, what you need to know about egyptian sites, most annoying thing about egypt, food and drinks, connectivity, vaccinnations, how to prepare for a land tour day, what to wear in egypt, where to stay in egypt, what to pack for egypt, best time to go, about alcohol, how much does a trip to egypt cost, 5 main take aways , things to know before going to egypt.

things to know before going to egypt comfort pyramids inn giza

This is meant to be a comprehensive Egypt travel guide of practical things you need to know before you go.  My aim is to arm you with the information you need to know so there are less surprises when you go.

I’ll touch on many topics that you might be thinking about already and others that would have never crossed your mind.

Egypt is an incredible place to go to but it’s one of those places where if you’re not prepared can quickly turn into a nightmare.  It’s not because of the people or some sort of next-level sketchiness.  On the contrary, I found Egyptians to be incredibly friendly and hospitable.  It’s not even a question of safety that I know is on everyone’s mind.  In many ways it’s just how business is done there that may throw some off.

european electrical outlet plug drawing

  • 1 EGP = $0.06 USD = $0.08 CAD
  • ATMs are relatively easy in cities but since you’ll be spending a lot of time outside of populated areas, you’ll need to carefully plan and manage your money.
  • SIM card – The three main companies in Egypt are Vodafone ,  Orange, and Etisalat .  All companies have some sort of pre-paid package available but perhaps the easiest and recommended carrier is Vodafone because of the convenience of picking it up right at the airport in the luggage carousel area.  More details on where and the pricing down below.
  • Alternative data options – PokeFi – If you’re looking for a hotspot device that you can share with your group, an extremely affordable option is PokeFi.  It’s perfect for those that are hopping to many countries and like to save the hassle of having to buy SIM cards everywhere (watch the unboxing ).
  • Measurement system  – Metric
  • Tipping – You’ll quickly learn that the culture of tipping is quite aggressive.  In general, 10% is the rule of thumb for restaurants and for the one off thing, 10-20 EGP is sufficient.
  • Language – The official language is Arabic.

Back to the top

map of egypt geography and dahabiya nile cruise itinerary

Egypt is located on the northeastern part of the continent of Africa.  Geographically, it has quite a unique and strategic location both in ancient and modern times.  While it is officially in Africa, it has times to the Middle East with it belonging to the Arab League.  Bordering on the Mediterranean also means its connection with Europe.  Through the Suez Canal, the world connects with Europe from the Indian Ocean.

The defining feature of the country is the river Nile which is often described as the life blood of the nation. The water the flows from the south from Sudan and drains into the Mediterranean Sea is what provides vital natural resources to the Egyptian people in the form of fertile soil, plant life, animals, water, transportation, and electricity.  The Nile makes the country a hospitable place that is otherwise surrounded by desert.

With such vast spaces to cover, you’ll no doubt feel overwhelmed about how to plan your trip.  With the exception of the more adventurous itineraries that include the Siwa Oasis and the Sinai, it’s safe to say that you’ll be close to some form of water.  To me, it really comes down to asking yourself these questions:

  • Do you want a resort vacation?   It doesn’t have to be the only thing you do but if beaches, diving, and other water sports are your thing, you’ll want to be looking at heading to the Red Sea and resort cities such as Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh, and Marsa Alam.  This is a great trip extension that you can add on.
  • Is Alexandria on your radar?   Egypt’s second largest city and founded by Alexander the Great, you’ll find ancient library the remains of the lighthouse, and Corniche with its beach, market, and walkway.   The overall feedback though is that it isn’t necessary a must-see.  That said, if you’re tight on time, you can find a way to fit it in as a day trip from Cairo.
  • Do you want to do a Nile cruise? If the answer is yes, make sure you read my piece on choosing a Nile cruise.
  • How much time do I have?   Ultimately, time is going to be your big limiting factor to how much you see and do.  2 weeks gives you a lot of breathing room but if you have 10 days or less, you’ll have to pick and choose.
  • Are you interest in the “classic” route?   As you seek out example itineraries, whether from tour companies or like the one that I ended up doing , you’ll realize that there’s a common route that everyone does.

classic egypt gadventures upgraded itinerary map

How do you choose and which is the “best”?  Now I knew that “best” was subjective but I wanted to start with a few baseline itineraries.  That’s when I went to check out the Egypt itineraries of G Adventures and Intrepid Travel to get a few ideas.

Luckily for you, our sample 10 day Egypt itinerary is a great proof point that you can have a killer trip without a lot of days.  While I would’ve loved to have incorporated somewhere like Hurghada, Siwa Oasis, and El Minya, it just wasn’t possible.

So let’s start off with transportation logistics.  How do you get into Egypt?

giza pyramids view from window of plane

This is probably the least complicated.  The only way you want to think about getting into the country is by flying in.

Egypt’s primary international airport is Cairo International Airport (CAI) .  As the capital of Egypt, this makes sense.  It’s your main way in and out of the country coming from an international destination.

As alternatives, there are limited international flights that fly into Luxor International Airport (LXR) .

For the two of the largest vacation destinations in Egypt, there’s Hurghada International Airport (HRG) and Sharm el Sheikh International Airport (SSH) , there are many direct flights in via Europe or the Middle East.

The national carriers in Egypt are EgyptAir, EgyptAir Express and Nile Air.  EgyptAir is part of the Star Alliance and Nile Air is the local low cost carrier.

I recommend using the Skyscanner to find the best prices on flight tickets and be able to put alerts and trackers if you’re starting to plan early.   The Skyscanner app is also super helpful.

ALL ABOUT VISAS

Do you need a visa to enter Egypt? – Yes, you either need an e-Visa or visa-on-arrival in order to enter the country unless you belong to one of the 9 countries that are exempt.

Visa-on-arrival eligibility – Passport holders from these countries can get a visa-on-arrival:  USA, UK, EU Nationals, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Macedonia, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, South Korea, and Ukraine

e-Visa eligibility – Passport holders from these countries can apply for an e-Visa online: All European Union citizens (including the UK), Albania, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, South Korea, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, The United States and Vatican City.

Which countries are exempt from visas? – Bahrain, Macao, Hong Kong, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon (only at 3 specified airports), United Arab Emirates, Malaysia

buy egypt visa on arrival at bank at cairo airport

How to get a visa-on-arrival? – This is easy to do as long as you know where to go.  The odd thing about Cairo Airport is that there aren’t many clear signs that tell you where to get the visa.  What you have to do is locate one of the National Bank of Egypt stores that’s located right before the customs officers.  There’s one to the right where everyone flocks to and there’s one to the left (if you’re looking at the custom officers).  All you have to do is pay $25 USD to the bank and they’ll give you a sticker.  You put the sticker on an empty page in your passport and you’re all set.

How to get an e-Visa? – The official government website for VOAs is here which should not be confused with third party websites like iVisa.  The process is relatively simple online.  The cost is $25 USD for a single-entry visa good for 3 months.  You have to create an e-Visa application at least 7 days before your departure.

Should I get an e-Visa or visa-on-arrival?  – The truth is, while it may seem seem more convenient to get an e-Visa, on both trips of mine I just did the visa-on-arrival.  It didn’t take much time at time at all and

Do you need a Yellow Fever vaccination card? – No but if you are coming from a country that is known for yellow fever (i.e. what I learned going to Seychelles via Ethiopia or my first trip to see Ethiopia’s Omo Valley ) you’ll need to have one as they will check based on my own experiences.

If you’ve seen any of my other trips like the one we did to the Greek Islands , Taiwan , or Newfoundland , you’ll know that I love planning independent adventures where I more or less figure everything out on my own and rely on local transportation or rent a car.

From my two trips to Egypt, my opinion is that it is not the kind of place that most people will want to do independently.  That’s why I highly recommend that you find a reputable tour operator.

When it comes to getting around Egypt, there are actually many ways to get around.

boarding nile air plane

The easiest and fastest way to get between the main cities of Egypt are by plane.  For instance, there are flights that connect Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh.

For those that are tight on time, you can also find flights that will take you from Aswan to Abu Simbel.  These run on very specific schedules but does allow for travellers to drop in for the morning and fly out in the early afternoon.

The good news here is that inter-country flights are very affordable even when booking last minute.

  • There are usually 2 sets of x-ray scanners, one to enter the airport and another to go to the gate.
  • Make sure you bring a printout of your flight itinerary as they may ask for it at the x-ray security checkpoint to enter the doors of the airport.
  • It’s a full pat down at every security checkpoint at the airport.  When it’s busy they also separate security checks into male and female for pat down purposes.
  • There seems to be some arbitrary bias when it comes to photography and videography gadgets.  For some reason they weren’t cool with my LED light panel and that’s what prompted us to have to check it in.  I also saw them question camera gear from other passengers.
  • Even domestic flights have food boxes so you don’t need to buy food at the airport cafe.
  • Make sure to request not to be seated in front of exit rows because leg room even narrower and there is no recline.

A traditional way to get from Cairo to Luxor, Aswan, or even up to Alexandria is by train.  The only thing is these trains aren’t the smooth operators that you’ll find in Europe or countries like Japan.

These are instead rickety trains that are a throwback to travel in the mid-20th century.  You have the option of standard class or first class sleeper cars.

There’s certainly an inescapable romance of travelling by train and the experience of doing an overnight train is quite unique but the honest truth is that it’s way more efficient and sometimes cheaper to take a domestic flight with a low cost carrier like Nile Air.

I’ve written a full feature on Nile cruises so make sure you head there to help you decide what kind of boat to look for and a my full breakdown of the dahabiya experience with Djed Egypt Travel .

One thing I found interesting is that while the Nile is incredibly important to the nation, it is not used for commercial purposes.  This means they do not use the Nile to transport goods by barge nor do they run ferries to bring people from village to village.

As a result, you’re really only find the Nile cruises on the river or in the case of big cities like Luxor and Aswan, there are boats that can bring you from the East to West bank or vice versa.  These are typically in small motorboats.

Cruises in traditional boats are either in the dahabiya or felluca .  I talk about the dahabiya extensively but for those curious about the felucca, it’s a traditional sail boat significantly smaller than a dahabiya.  Simply speaking, this is a wooden boat with a canvas sail but their designs come in many shapes with the main difference in that they do not have any cabins.  This is why felluca’s are used as leisure day excursions.

Group Tour Van/Bus

Since I recommend seeing Egypt with a local tour operator, you’ll be spending a large chunk of your trip in a van or bus.

With a private tour, you’ll have a 9 passenger van.  Accompanied by a driver and a guide, you’ll be comfortably driven from place to place.  The vans are also typically stocked with bottled water so you’ll never really need to buy any on-the-go.

For a larger group tour, you’re looking at the big coach buses which are pretty standard.

is egypt safe walking streets of luxor

Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room.  The most common question I received from our trip to Egypt was “is Egypt safe?”

Bluntly put, yes, Egypt is safe.  During our entire 10 days in Egypt, I never felt that we were put in any situations where I had concerns over my safety.

To understand the question, it’s worth talking about its origins.  9 years ago, Egypt went through a civil uprising and for 18 days, there were protests, demonstrations, marches, and civil resistance.  A boiling point was reached there was a revolt over the president, injustice, and lack of freedoms.  Things were incredibly unstable at this point and big cities like Cairo were a mess.

It was this Revolution of 2011 that kicked off the massive downturn in tourism in the country.  Since then, things have recovered but it still isn’t quite at the levels pre-Revolution.  The main issue has always been around safety because of the scenes seen around the world of Tahrir Square and also stories of the Russian plane crash and road-side bomb that have kept this sense of instability and terror.  Many countries still have a warning on travel to Egypt as well and that hasn’t helped.

The truth of the matter is that when you’re on the ground, the reality is far different than what is projected.

Here’s why Egypt is safe:

  • Egyptians are incredibly friendly.
  • Tourism is a top contributor to the industry and they are doing all they can right now to change the negative perception.
  • No civil unrest visible in Cairo.
  • A majority of your time in Egypt will be outside of the metropolis.  We were told by locals that the countryside was barely affected by the revolution.  Outside of Cairo, there are no safety concerns at all.
  • Djed Egypt Travel does an amazing job at giving you opportunities to walk the local streets and you see everyone just going about their daily lives.
  • There’s a steady police presence everywhere with security check points at many of the tourism sites and also on the highways.

Comparing with another recent trip, I honestly I felt like I had to be more cautious in Athens than I did throughout all of Egypt.

Now are there certain things that’ll really nag and bug the heck out of you in Egypt?  Yes but every country, especially in this region will have these kind of cultural differences.  To enjoy your trip, you learn to accept some of the peculiarities and move on.

Is Egypt Safe?

My full breakdown based on two separate trips since the Revolution.

djed egypt travel logo on van

The most important thing about Egypt is working with a good local operator on the ground.  These are the people that are going to be responsible for putting together the itinerary you want, have a solid roster of drivers and Egyptologists, is organized, and put customer experience first.

There are a couple of ways of finding the right tours.

  • The big guys – You look at the big players like G Adventures and Intrepid Travel that have global reputation and brand behind them.  What is happening behind the scenes is that they will often subcontract the work to local operators.  These are often the larger group tours vs private ones. That said, these companies are leaps and bounds better when it comes to organization and communication.
  • Tour platforms – You can look at Viator and GetYourGuide for individual tours or packages.  The challenge with these is that the platforms are designed to obfuscate who the actual operator is so you really are relying on the reviews to determine whether it’ll be a good experience or not.
  • Find a legitimate local operator online – In Egypt this is harder than it sounds because most businesses are behind when it comes to the digital age but for those that are, you’ll appreciate that they can put together a package for you that is operated by their own people from start to end.
  • Roll the dice once you land – If you don’t have any plans, there will be no shortage of people gunning after your business and that includes the hotels you’re staying at.  This is great for people that like to make last-minute plans.  The risk you take is not knowing what you’re going to get because everyone is going to advertise their tours as “awesome”.

So having a good tour operator matters in every corner of the world you travel to but what is it about Egypt that makes it that much more important?

  • While safe, there are a lot of complexities of travel in Egypt where you really need someone local to help navigate.  This can include navigating tipping, known scams, what camera gear is allowed, and checkpoints.  These are things that you don’t want to have to deal with on your own.
  • The industry is filled with freelancers and companies-for-hire so you want to avoid as best as possible being shuffled from one company to another while you’re in Egypt.  The ideal is a company that uses their own people and boats for the whole tour.  Tours can use freelancers but the key is that they are vetted, are a small pool of talent, and have a good reputation.
  • While it may seem a little excessive at first but that end-to-end service is a necessary part of travel in Egypt to make sure you don’t have a negative experience.  A specific example is the airport pick up prior to customs which felt over-the-top and unnecessary but learned later that it eliminated visa-on-arrival confusion and the aggressive tipping which I’ll get to in a bit.
  • There are many security check points along the road and entrances to sights. If you’re with a tour company we learned that they need to have all the itinerary paper work filed to the police.  This paperwork is then required to have available because checkpoint officers might ask to inspect it.  All tour operators should know this.

Travelling with Djed Egypt Travel

djed egypt travel logo

Egyptian run and locally owned, I’ve travelled in Egypt with them twice and I can safely say that they’re one of the best in the businesses.  They have dedicated teams of people at each major city (Cairo, Luxor, Aswan) and they own their own dahabiyas as well which means they have full control of the experience.

CHECK OUT DJED

camel in front of great pyramids of giza

When travelling in Cairo, there are several tips that I recall making a mental note of as things not commonly shared.

  • While we loved our stay at the Comfort Pyramids Inn , these are technically unlicensed hotels in Giza.  Locals have taken neighbourhood apartments and converted them to hotels on their own which is why they’re cheap and also have great views of the pyramids.  Djed Egypt Travel warned us about it ahead of time but still went ahead of it.  Our stay was perfectly fine but did notice that it was still a bit of a work in progress.
  • Pyramid Sound and Light Spectacular is from 7PM-8PM but then will also repeat again for 2 more languages so if you have a rooftop in Giza, you come back later in the evening if you missed the first show.
  • The traffic is no joke in Cairo.  The only exception is Friday and Saturday which is their weekend days.
  • To get to the airport, especially if you’re in Giza, account for 1 hour of transit plus an additional 2.5 hours of early check-in to be safe because at anytime they can shut down the roads because of a prince visit or the President travelling somewhere.

walking hypostyles hall karnak temple

When in Egypt, you’ll be spending a lot of time at ancient archeological sites.  These are a collection of tips that I was either surprised about or wish we knew about before going.

  • Where photography is sensitive is typically in tombs and indoor enclosed spaces where there’s door entrance.
  • The Ministry of Antiquities has learned that smartphones are impossible to police so these are allowed in every site.  As a result, photos are allowed everywhere.
  • As another source of revenue, photography passes are sold at the entrance if you’re looking to take photos with anything that resembles as DSLR (anything with interchangeable lenses) but point-and-shoots are ok.
  • What they’re incredibly sensitive about is video.  In some enclosed spaces (i.e. inside the temples of Abu Simbel) they’ll stop you from recording video when stills are fine.  The other sensitivity about video comes from it being used for professional/journalistic purposes.
  • They are sensitive around tripods.  Tripods are an automatic indication that you’re “professional” and so is either not allowed or requires a special tripod pass to be purchased.
  • They are even more sensitive about microphones.  My recommendation is to not bring it into any archeological sites because this automatically means you’re from a television production and without special permission is banned and will be held at security.
  • Don’t show tickets to anyone unless right at entrance to tombs or museums.  Our guide told us about a common scam in Giza where they’ll try to steal your ticket.

camel riding pyramids giza cairo experience

  • There are “security guards” stationed  at tomb entrances and roaming around ancient sites.  They can be in uniform or in traditional garb.  Many will try to show you things, ask to take photos of you, or help you take photos of closed-off areas.  In return of course, they’ll ask for tips.  Just learn to say no and ignore them.
  • Take a look at the special passes that are available including the Luxor Pass and the Cairo Pass . This makes sense for those that are doing a lot of the sites. Personally, I’m not sure if they’re worth it unless you’re really looking to do all or close to all of the sites that the passes include.

most annoying thing about egypt hassling and aggressing tipping

I love Egypt but man they are extremely aggressive when it comes to seeking out tips to the point that you’ll become either numb to it or find it comedic.

Here’s a common example of what you can expect immediately after walking into a tomb or temple.

  • Guard:  Where are you from?
  • You:  Canada
  • Guard:  Canada Dry!!!
  • You:  … yeah that’s right heh
  • Guard:  Look!  Ramses!
  • You:  *look at something else in another direction*
  • Guard:  Picture for you!
  • You:  No thanks!
  • Guard:  *stalks you for awhile*
  • Guard:  Hey!  Come over here.  Okay to take photo! *waves you over to a restricted area*
  • You:  Haha that’s alright.
  • You:  *continue to walk around*
  • Guard:  Hello! Hello!
  • You:  *you turn to him and he’s doing the tipping finger motion*
  • You:  *Option A:  you feel bad and tip 10 EGP or Option B:  you pretend to be completely oblivious and walk away*

In this, you’ve played it cool and didn’t accept any of his attempts at providing you some sort of service.  If on the other hand you followed him around or got him to take a photo for you, he’d be all over you and relentlessly begging for tips.

Similar but different is the excessive hassling that happens as you pass by the stores that line the entrances leading to temples.  All the stores ironically will have signs that say “No hassle” but you’re guaranteed to be followed and harassed if you give any minuscule hint of interest at something.

It’s really unfortunate because you soon become immune to the strategies employed by people working at ancient Egyptian sites that you put your guard up anytime someone tries to help you or wants to talk to you.  I personally got to the point where I didn’t even want to do any souvenir shopping because I wanted to avoid the inevitable sales tactics.

At its core, it comes down to being fine tipping people for actual service rendered but if you’re going to harass me, not do anything for me, and still have the guts to ask for money, that’s what I have a problem with.

tourist tips for egypt

There’s a lot of amazing food you need to try when you’re in Egypt.  Egyptians cuisine is characterized as Eastern Mediterranean with heavy use of vegetables and fruit from the Nile Valley and Delta.  Here’s a list of a few dishes that you’ll need to have before you leave.

  • Koshary – Something that feels born out a college-dorm but surprisingly works well.  It’s a mix of rice, lentils, chickpeas, and pasta are cooked individually, then tossed together and topped with cumin-infused tomato sauce and crunchy fried onions.
  • Mixed grill – A variety of charcoal grilled meat.
  • Tajin – Cooked in a clay pot and a mix of a vegetable stew with your pick of protein.
  • Molokhia – Egyptian spinach.
  • Freshly made falafel – Watch them spoon the fresh mix into balls and dunked into popping oil.  Having falafel fresh is something else.
  • Baba Ghanouj – In other cultures, well-known as baba Ganoush, a puree of aubergines.
  • Foul/Ful – A paste of fava beans, garlic, and lemon that works well with freshly-made pita.
  • Camel meat – Not for everyone but if you’re feeling adventurous, they’ll certainly be opportunities to try this.
  • Fresh fruits – mango and figs are out-of-this-world sweet in the right season.  You’ll be visiting many markets on your trip so make sure to ask your guide to help you pick some up from the local stand.
  • Traditional breakfast – Not a specific dish but a culinary experience that you have to try at least once.

When it comes to drinks, our guides at Djed Egypt Travel also recommended a number of different ones for us to try.  In the end, it wasn’t that hard because these are the beverages that are offered at every restaurant.

  • Fresh guava juice
  • Fresh mango juice
  • Lemon with fresh mint drink
  • Hibiscus tea – hot or cold
  • Tea with fresh mint

Another piece of advice that you’ll want to know are the do’s and don’ts of eating in Egypt.

  • It is okay to brush your teeth with tap water but tap water is unsafe to drink.
  • Make sure food has been thoroughly cooked.
  • Avoid any uncooked food.  The only exception is fruit and vegetables that you can peel or shell.
  • Only drink bottled water and ensure the seal is intact.
  • Avoid fruit juices where water has been added.
  • Avoid ice in drinks which are general made from unsafe tap water.
  • They like a lot of sugar in their coffee/tea so you need to explicitly ask for less if that’s your preference.
  • Most restaurants say they have diet drinks but when you actually order them, they won’t have Diet Coke or Pepsi.

There are 4 ways you can stay connected on your trip to Egypt.

Local SIM card

vodafone cairo airport counter

Luckily this is a very easy process.  Once you land in Cairo, head to the luggage carousel and there you’ll find a Vodafone counter.

vodafone egypt tourist sim package prices

Their rates for tourists is pretty simple.  It’s 250 EGP for 10GB of data and and 500 EGP for 30GB of data.  Both include voice minutes in case you need it.

Even for someone like myself that is social media heavy, I was totally fine with 10GB of data during my 10 days.  One reason for that was because we spent 4 days on the Nile where cellular data was weak and I primarily used the wifi available on the dahabiya.

In general, I found that the speeds were serviceable in cities but would drop off in the countryside.  Another thing you need to know is that while there is 4G/LTE, a majority of the country’s coverage is 3G.

TIP:   Set your smartphone to stick to 3G.  Otherwise, your phone will constantly switch between 3G and hunting for 4G/LTE.  You’ll get more reliable service this way.

Wifi hotspot

If you’d rather have everything ready ahead of time or will be hopping to many countries in a short span of time, it may make more sense for you to buy a pocket wifi hotspot such as the PokeFi .

Hotspots are ideal because you won’t have to waste 20-30 minutes at the Vodafone counter to have your passport scanned, and SIM card issued and activated.  All you have to do is turn on your device, it’ll connect to the local network and you’ll be ready to surf.  It’s also worth noting that you can share this data access with everyone else that you’re travelling with.

It’s independent of what country is in so it’s one unified rate.  For instance, PokeFi is 5GB of data for $15 USD.  Yes, this means it’s slightly more expensive than the local SIM option but the convenience tradeoff is often worth it.

pokefi pocket wifi discount code and promo code

Use the code GAP23200 to get $200 HKD or $25 USD off the starter package which comes with an extra battery.

TIP: A rookie mistake is to have your smartphone set to auto-update apps, run background tasks, and sync files when on wifi.  Make sure to turn these features off when using a pocket wifi device or use “Low Data Mode” if you use an iPhone.

All hotels should have free wifi at this point but what’s not guaranteed is whether you’ll have wifi access from your room.  For instance, Basma Hotel only has wifi in the lobby.

Nile cruise wifi

I talk about how the wifi worked aboard the dahabiya we were on in the Nile cruise guide so make sure you read those details.

There’s actually nothing compulsory to look into when planning a trip to Egypt.  The main thing you need to know is that there is no Yellow Fever or Malaria risk so you won’t need those shots.

Everything else you should already have:

  • DTP (Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio)
  • Hepatitis A

The one thing you might want to look into is Traveller’s Diarrhea.  This is where you can decide to take Dukoral before your trip to help shore up your defences against e-coli and cholera.

djed egypt travel tour van

This deserves special attention because we felt like we were trying to figure things out as we went along.

Your days in Cairo and Luxor especially will be heavy because of the number of places you will go, the amount of knowledge you’ll take in, the walking, and the intense heat.  To make things as easy as possible, here are a few things that will help:

  • Make sure your day pack is as light as possible.  I quickly ditched my Travel Backpack of camera gear in the van and used my Peak Design Sling .
  • Pack a couple of 2L bottles of water for the van/bus but know that if you’re with a good tour operator, they’ll have a large supply of bottled water for you.  From our experience, you’ll easily down at least 3-4L of water per person per day.  The miraculous thing is that you’ll never feel the need to pee because you’ll be sweating it all out.
  • Pack a power bank especially if you take a lot of photos.
  • I don’t know if we were the exception but we ended up skipping lunch in favour of seeing more so snacks in the van are key.
  • You will need a bag that’ll help keep everything in the bus organized.  This is where you’ll keep your bigger water bottles, power bank, snacks, sunscreen, and things you buy along the way.
  • Put on sunscreen in the hotel before you leave because it might be a short ride to your first destination.

roxy exchange in giza

Managing your cash will be very important in Egypt because of how cash-driven everything is.  What makes it complicated is that it almost seems that USD is preferred over their own currency.

What you’ll notice is that tour prices and tipping recommendations are in USD.  This isn’t a bad thing because it’s much easier to exchange for USD in your home country compared to EGP.

That said, you’ll still need a healthy amount of EGP for daily discretionary spending and ad-hoc tipping.  The question inevitably will be, how much EGP should I exchange?

How much EGP to exchange?   This’ll be different person to person but to give you an idea, we exchanged 300 USD to EGP for two people for our 10 day trip.

Where to exchange EGP?  It is not recommended to convert in your home country.   Instead, do this once you arrive in Egypt for more favourable rates.  The good news here is that exchange rates at money changers are regulated and so it’ll be the same across the board which means you won’t need to shop around.

Are credit cards accepted?   Everything is cash with the exception of proper sit-down restaurants, hotels, and big stores like the alabaster and papyrus shops.

giza atm does currency exchange

Can I use ATMs?   Yes, you can use your debit card to withdraw money from the ATM.  We were also surprised to find that some ATMs even had the capability to exchange currency although the machine was extremely finicky to use.  We also learned that the exchange rate was slightly worse.

Stay organized  – My recommendation is to try to stay as organized as you can with your money.  There’ll be plenty of fixed costs that you can anticipate since you’ll most likely be on a tour.  Have USD set aside in envelopes for the tour balance and tips.

Break big bills early – All the tipping you’ll do is in 10-20 EGP denominations so ask break your big bills at stores and restaurants at the beginning of your trip.  You can also ask your guide for smaller bills.

At the end of the day, you have to think of it like this.  USD is ultimately more versatile so it’s always more beneficial to carry more US bills and under-convert EGP knowing that you’ll be able to get Egyptian currency along the way if you need it.

TIP: When shopping, get for the EGP price.  Their USD prices are almost always inflated.

dahabiya wood design nile cruise at sunrise

Tourism in Egypt is built upon tips and it’s a primary source of income for some which is why I can appreciate why people are so aggressive about it.  The other thing to understand is that tipping is culturally part of Egyptian daily life as an indispensable complement to the low income of the population.

When to comes to gratuities, it is of course discretionary but it helps to know what the expectations are.  Luckily, Djed Egypt Tour provided us with a guide as part of our pre-departure package.  We followed this to the letter so for those wondering, this’ll help prepare you.

  • Egyptologist – $7-$10 USD per traveller per day.
  • Drivers – $3-$5 USD per traveller per day.
  • City representatives – $2-$4 USD per traveller per day (these are the folks that aren’t your main guides during the day but those that pick you up from the airport or will meet up with you for a walk around the city).
  • Nile cruise crew – $10-$15 USD per traveller per cruise day (this is shared between all of the crew except your Egyptologist).
  • 10% tip at restaurants and hotel room service.
  • 20 EGP for porters, luggage carriers, washroom cleaners, and hotel cleaning staff.

The only other thing I can think of is the tipping that was shamelessly asked for by our camel guide in Giza with the classic line “You happy?  Okay you make me happy!”

  • Camel tipping – No, I don’t mean a camel version of cow tipping!  Our guide recommended that for our group of 4, a total tip of 150 EGP  (~9 USD) is enough.

what to pack for egypt packing list

To get a good sense of the type of clothes to bring to Egypt, make sure to read the Egypt Packing List .

villa nile house luxor room

If you’re planning to do a classic trip to Egypt, you’ll only need accommodations in the primary cities of Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, and Sharm el Sheikh.

In terms of things to know before going to Egypt, let me share what I learned from planning my own trip.

Here’s what I learned:

  • You can certainly book your own hotels but in some cases your tour operator may have access to special rates so it doesn’t hurt to get quotes from them as well.
  • I spoke about the hotels in Giza earlier – many at not officially licensed so there’s some element of risk in terms of the government doing a wide sweep of closures in one day.  That said, we didn’t have any issues.
  • For Cairo, hotels in Giza are actually preferred by tour operators because most of your activities will be concentrated on this sector, helping cut down on transit time.
  • We quite liked staying on the West Bank of Luxor.  We were initially worried that it was too far from everything but it turned out to be significantly quieter which we appreciated and the ferries were convenient to take.
  • In some cases, Booking.com helped us save money thanks to level 2 Genius.  Getting up to Genius level only requires 2 bookings and once you’re at that level, there are a lot of properties that offer 10% (level 1 Genius) and 15% off (level 2 Genius).
  • Most hotels in Egypt have breakfast included.
  • Most hotels are also willing to create breakfast boxes if you have to leave early in the morning including Basma Hotel in Aswan.

villa nile house open concept bathroom in luxor

For accommodation recommendations, make sure to read the 10 day Egypt itinerary .

We have a full fledged article about everything I packed for Egypt. Make sure you head there to find out what you need to be mindful about not just clothes but also gear to pack for a trip to Egypt.

READ EGYPT PACKING LIST

Normally, the standard answer applies but in terms of the best time to go to Egypt, it’s quite different because Egypt only has two seasons.

Winter (Mid-October – April)

Egypt experiences a mild winter which means that it is the most pleasant during these months.  As a result, it is also Egypt’s high season of travel.

If you’re looking for a quieter time, try to come at the beginning or end of the season (mid-October, early November, or April) to avoid the crowds.  The busiest time of the year is always around Christmas when families have time off.

Another thing to keep in mind that another thing people time their travel to is the Sun Festival which occurs February 22 and October 22.

Temperature wise, the evenings can drop to 0C (32F) but during the day, it rises to 18C or low 20’s (68F).

Summer (May – Mid-October)

Contrary to other destinations, summer is the worst time to go because the temperatures easily go up to 40C (104F) during the day.

The temperatures are a cooler along the coast but it is largely impossible to do a trip to Egypt so I wouldn’t even consider these months.

Just a quick blurb about this because you might not know.  As a Muslim country, alcohol is going to be a sensitive topic because it’s not allowed.  In fact, Egypt prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol anywhere.  The only exception are specific hotels and tourist facilities approved by the Ministry of Tourism.

Don’t expect to find any convenient stores to display beer, wine, or spirits for sale.  However, we did learn that some of these shops do hide beer in the back and so if you ask they might discretely disappear somewhere to bring out the local Egyptian Stella or maybe a Heineken.

Otherwise, if you’re looking to drink, you’ll have to do it on your cruise, at your hotel, or at tourist-specific restaurants.

If you’ve come from the  10 Day Egypt Itinerary , you’ll know that I didn’t do a breakdown of total costs but I did show the costs in the Nile cruise guide of our dahabiya experience.

To give you an idea of how much a 10 day trip costs for two people converted to $USD , I’ve broken down the costs by category.  Note that this does NOT include international flights (domestics are included) since this will vary drastically for people depending on where you’re located.  Another thing to be aware of is that most of the hotels were included in the tour package.

how much does a trip to egypt cost tally

This breaks down to  $2,035.05 per person or $203.51 per person per day .

Compared to the cost of the trip to Greece in the Greek Islands Travel Guide , this was actually more affordable which really surprised me.  What might put over the top are the flights though so take that into consideration.

How did we do?   I’d say that we had a good balance of a trip that was very thorough for 10 days with an excellent local company without having to blow the budget.

felluca sailing in luxor egypt at sunset

In this things to know before you go to Egypt travel guide, I hope you’ve come away with a ton more information than you were looking for or thought you needed to know.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that I somehow ended doing twice.  The first time was a bit of a teaser since I skipped Cairo.  The second time around, I managed to fit Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel, and the Nile cruise in 10 days and I couldn’t have been happier.

So if I was in an elevator and only had 30 seconds to tell you what you need to know to plan a trip without reading this Egypt travel guide, here’s what I would say.

  • Egypt is safe.
  • The dahabiya Nile cruise is a must-do.
  • The world of Ancient Egypt will blow you away – there is so much to see and learn.
  • The sheer scale, applied science/technology, and how old it all is mind boggling.
  • Having a good guide/Egyptologist is so important.

Have specific questions about your upcoming trip to the Egypt?  Drop a comment below in this things to know before you go to Egypt travel guide!

What you should read next

  • 10 Day Egypt Itinerary – Best of Egypt with Djed and Dahabiya Nile Cruise
  • Egypt Packing List – What To Wear, Camera Gear, and more!
  • 3 Days in Cairo Itinerary – Places to Visit Including The Pyramids
  • The Best Way To See The Nile – Dahabiya Nile Cruise
  • Is Egypt Safe for Travel? (How is it in 2022 with Safety Guide and Tips)

About William Tang

William is the Chief of Awesome at Going Awesome Places which is focused on off-the-beaten-path, outdoor adventure, and experiential travel. His true passion lies in telling stories, inspiring others to travel, writing detailed trip itineraries to help others plan their own trips, and providing helpful tips and tricks to guide readers to travel better. Make sure to learn more about William to find out his story and how Going Awesome Places started. He is a member of Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC), Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), and Travel Massive. He has also featured in Reader's Digest, Entrepreneur, Men's Journal, and Haute Living.

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15 Things to Know About Egypt Before You Go

15 Things to Know About Egypt Before You Go

An Egypt trip should be the excursion of a lifetime – the Pyramids , Khan el-Khalili , and the Great Sphinx are only a handful of the attractions that you’ll experience in the Gift of the Nile . Use this list as a guide before booking any luxury Egypt tours , ensuring an unforgettable time on your journey. Here are 15 things to know about Egypt before you board the plane .

You’ll need a visa to enter Egypt

Be prepared to purchase a visa at the airport in Egypt . The fee is 25 USD and must be paid in cash. The visa will be valid for 30 days.

Egypt Entry Visa

You’ll need Egyptian currency

Egypt uses the Egyptian pound (abbreviated LE, E£ or £E), so pick up some currency before you travel. At the time of writing this article, one Egyptian pound equals 0.056 in dollars. Carry small bills with you at all times, as some establishments won’t have change or accept credit cards.

Egyptian Currency

There’s more to see than the Pyramids

Of course, you’ll visit the Pyramids of Giza , but Egypt offers much more to see and do. In Cairo, the Egyptian Museum features more than 120,000 artifacts, and historic Cairo is home to ancient mosques, churches, hammams (Turkish baths), madrasas (Islamic colleges) and magnificent fountains. Luxor is a treasure trove of antiquities, so you’ll want to spend a day or two touring this city, and you won’t want to skip Aswan , a town in the south of Egypt and recognized for its spectacular archaeological sites.

Abu Simbel temple, one of the most amazing historical sites in upper Egypt

Traffic is heavy in Cairo, so allow extra time for your travels

Like many major cities, traffic in Cairo can be gridlocked. Driving around town takes longer than you’d imagine, so always allow extra time traveling from place to place. Egypt tour packages should include transit time when booking your itinerary but inquire to be sure.

Be careful crossing the street in Cairo

Because there’s heavy traffic in Cairo, pedestrians must take care when crossing the busy streets. It’s best to walk with a group of people. You’ll quickly learn the traffic patterns and when to cross the streets but remember: safety is in numbers.

Crossing the Streets in Egypt

Despite what you might have heard, Egypt is surprisingly safe in terms of violent crime

While you will need to practice common sense when crossing the busy streets and keep your wits about you in Cairo (like in all major cities), you should feel safe in Egypt . Sure, crimes of opportunity exist, but violent crime is surprisingly low, even in Cairo. Areas to avoid include the Sinai Peninsula and the Libyan border, but none of the sights and attractions that Egypt is famous for are anywhere near those places.

Travelers in Queen Hatshepsut Temple

It’s best to travel with a reputable guide

For an added level of safety as well as expertise, hire a guide. Many Egypt tour packages provide a knowledgeable guide and/or driver, so you can kick back and enjoy the trip and not have to worry about getting lost or communicating. Time is best spent with a local who knows the country as well as the history and culture.

Discover More

Sonesta Amirat Dahabeya

Be prepared for desert conditions

Egypt’s temperatures can soar, especially during July and August when the thermostat can exceed 100ºF. Be sure to pack sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, lightweight clothing, and several pairs of sunglasses. Bug repellant is also a good idea. August is known to have 13 hours of sunshine each day, so anticipate especially hot, dry conditions in desert towns like Luxor and Aswan , and always carry enough bottled water to stay hydrated (more on water next).

Egyptians built lots of old Pyramids

Drink bottled water only

Don’t attempt to drink the tap water in Egypt. While Cairo’s water isn’t unsafe to drink, the taste won’t be pleasant. Bottled water should be readily available, even in small towns.

Enjoy the spicy food, but don’t overindulge

Of course, you’ll want to savor Egyptian cuisine , but pace yourself and don’t overindulge. Your digestive system might not be accustomed to the many spices used in the country’s flavorful dishes.

Egyptian food

Respect the culture and dress appropriately

Egypt is a mostly Muslim country, so ladies should be prepared to dress modestly out of respect. Women should not wear low-cut tops, shorts, or skimpy skirts. Ankle-length skirts, pants, long-sleeve cotton, and linen blouses (with roll-up sleeves) work best. Though headscarves aren’t required in Egypt like they are in some other Muslim countries, carry a scarf just in case. Bathing suits, tank tops, sundresses, and shorts are more acceptable in beach towns. Khakis and T-shirts or button-down shirts work well for men.

Photo Credit: A Travel Blog for solo Travellers

A trip to Egypt is exceptionally affordable

The amount of cash that you’ll spend in Egypt will be less than many other destinations. While airfare will be the costliest portion of the trip, attractions , luxury hotels , upscale restaurants, and cocktail bars won’t break the bank. When you begin perusing Egypt travel packages , you’ll notice how major expenses will be included in the package price.

Shopping for souvenirs? Haggling is okay

Spending a few hours browsing the souk ? You’ll be hard-pressed not to buy. Know that negotiating is acceptable in Egypt, and make sure to carry cash.

Shopping in Egypt

Tipping is essential

While tipping or “baksheesh” is customary in many areas of the world, in Egypt, locals rely on gratuities to make a living and feed their families. Expect to tip any hotel staffer who assists you, the maid, waiters and waitresses, drivers and guides . Tips range from 3LE to 10LE for servers and hotel staff and 50LE or more per day for guides. Tip about 10% of the total bill in restaurants. Please note that American coins cannot convert to Egyptian money so be sure to tip in local currency or use dollars. Also, if a driver comments that your tip is too low, do not be offended! This is part of the tipping etiquette of Egypt. Do not feel obligated to increase the tip. Smile, politely say, “No,” and move on.

Egyptians are hospitable people

Anticipate warmth, friendliness and curiosity from Egyptians. Middle Eastern culture is widely known for its hospitality and when you visit Egypt, you’ll witness that kindness first hand. Locals may want to snap pictures, chat and ask questions, so learning a few phrases in Arabic will go a long way, even if they speak English. The point of travel is to mix and mingle with the natives, only to develop a better understanding of the place, people and culture. Enjoy Egypt!

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The Latest from Egypt: New Archaeological Discoveries Amid the Country’s Gradual Reopening

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tourist tips for egypt

Latest update

Reconsider your need to travel to Egypt overall due to the threat of terrorism.

Other levels apply in some areas.

Egypt

Egypt (PDF 261.26 KB)

Africa (PDF 1.68 MB)

Local emergency contacts

Fire and rescue services.

Call 180 or 123.

Medical emergencies

Call 122, 123 or contact the local police.

Advice levels

Reconsider your need to travel to Egypt overall.

Do not travel to within 50km of Egypt's border with Libya, the Governorate of North Sinai, including the Taba-Suez Road.

Do not travel to:

  • within 50km of Egypt's border with Libya due to the high risk of terrorist attack
  • the Governorate of North Sinai, including the Taba-Suez Road due to the high risk of terrorist attack and violent crime.

Exercise a high degree of caution in Sharm El Sheikh.

Exercise a high degree of caution in Sharm El Sheikh due to the risk of terrorist attack.

  • The situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories could lead to increased tensions, and the security situation could deteriorate with little notice. Avoid all demonstrations and protests. Peaceful protests and rallies can turn violent at short notice. Be aware, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media for updates.

There's a high threat of terrorist attacks and violent crime in the Governorate of North Sinai.

  • The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt may be closed or have highly restricted access for long periods and is subject to change at short notice. It has been subject to air strikes during the current conflict.
  • Terrorists have attacked popular tourist locations, resulting in deaths and injuries. More attacks are likely. Be alert to possible threats.
  • Terrorist groups in Egypt have targeted Christians in recent years. Take care, particularly during major religious periods and at religious sites.
  • You're at risk of kidnapping in Egypt. Take extra precautions. 
  • Violent crime can happen. Take extra care if you're a woman and alone. Don't leave valuables unsecured in your hotel room or unattended in a public place. 
  • Women, particularly foreigners, are frequently subject to unwelcome male attention.

Full travel advice: Safety

  • Infectious diseases are common. These include hepatitis, filariasis and rabies. Only drink boiled or bottled water. Avoid contact with dogs and cats.
  • Don't swim in fresh water, including the Nile River, to avoid waterborne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis).
  • Dengue and malaria are present. Use insect repellent and make sure your accommodation is insect-proof.
  • Cairo can have very high levels of pollution and dust. If you suffer from breathing difficulties or a lung condition, seek medical advice before travel.

Full travel advice: Health

  • Making public comments that criticise the Egyptian government, security forces, or Islam can be illegal. Police have arrested foreign visitors who posted critical social media.
  • There are severe consequences for carrying illegal drugs, including the death penalty, long prison sentences or deportation.
  • You need approval to bring satellite phones and radio communications equipment into Egypt. Apply to the  Ministry of Communications and Information Technology  before you leave. The use of drones is illegal.
  • Egyptian family law differs significantly from Australian law. Before you become involved in a local legal matter, get legal advice, including on family and business legal matters.
  • Although same-sex relationships are not explicitly criminalised in Egypt, the charge of 'debauchery' has been used to prosecute LGBTI people. There is little public acceptance of homosexuality in Egypt. Avoid public displays of affection. 
  • Sex outside of marriage is illegal. Dress standards are very conservative, particularly for women. Wear modest clothes that cover your legs and upper arms.

Full travel advice: Local laws

  • Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. You should contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Egypt for the latest details.
  • Foreign journalists need accreditation from the Egyptian Press Centre before arrival. There are severe punishments for journalists working without accreditation.
  • There are landmines in some areas. Get advice from local authorities before you travel.
  • Australian-Egyptian dual nationals are treated as Egyptian. This will limit your access to consular assistance. Always travel on your  Australian passport  if possible. This doesn't mean you will receive special treatment in terms of local law.

Full travel advice: Travel

Local contacts

  • The Consular Services Charter tells you what the Australian government can and can't do to help when you're overseas.
  • For consular help, contact the Australian Embassy in Cairo . 
  • To stay up to date with local information, follow the Embassy’s social media accounts.

Full travel advice: Local contacts

Full advice

Although the greatest terrorist threat is in North Sinai, terrorist attacks could occur anywhere in Egypt. Potential targets include:

  • religious sites 
  • tourist locations

Terrorist groups have targeted Christians and their places of worship in recent years. 

Take particular care:

  • during major religious periods
  • at holiday festivals
  • at religious observances
  • at religious sites

In the past, terrorists have attacked several popular tourist locations. People have been killed or injured.

Most tourist sites and places of worship have a strong security presence.

On 30 December 2022, there was an attack targeting security forces in the city of Ismailia, west of the Suez Canal.

On 4 August 2019, at least 20 people were killed by a car bomb in central Cairo.

In May 2019 and December 2018, bomb attacks on tour buses near the Giza pyramids killed and injured foreign tourists and a local tour guide.

More attacks are likely.

Previously, terrorists have set off small explosions in Cairo and throughout Egypt. People have been killed and injured, including bystanders. The attacks usually target security forces at:

  • government buildings
  • police facilities and checkpoints
  • metro stations and trains
  • universities

Possible targets for future attacks include:

  • embassies and polling places
  • hotels, holiday resorts, clubs, restaurants and bars
  • banks, markets, shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas and theatres
  • schools and places of worship
  • public transport, shipping ports and other infrastructure
  • outdoor recreation events, commercial, public and tourist areas

The greatest terrorist threat is in the Northern Sinai, where militant groups operate more freely. However, terrorists are active in other parts of Sinai and mainland Egypt, including Cairo.

Cooperate fully with security officials at airports and observe any additional security measures.

Sinai Province of the Islamic State and other extremist groups have made threats using social media and online statements. Their threats target Western nationals, institutions, and businesses in Egypt.

To reduce your risk of being a victim of terrorism, be alert to possible threats, especially:

  • at tourist locations, religious sites, and crowded public places
  • near police checkpoints and government buildings

To protect yourself from terrorism:

  • consider the level of security at places you plan to visit
  • have a clear exit plan in case of a security incident
  • report suspicious activity or items to the police
  • monitor the media for new or emerging threats
  • take official warnings seriously
  • follow the advice of local authorities

If there's an attack, leave the affected area as soon as it's safe. Continue to avoid the area in case of secondary attacks.

South Sinai

Attacks in South Sinai have included suicide bombings. Terrorists have also kidnapped foreign nationals.

Many bombings directly targeted tourists and their transport.

If you travel to South Sinai:

  • avoid road travel outside of Sharm El Sheikh
  • allow extra time to clear airport security
  • contact your airline or travel agent for concerns about the security or safety of aircraft servicing Sharm El Sheikh
  • have contingency plans and personal security measures in place

Governorate of North Sinai

There's a high threat of terrorist attacks and violent crime in the Governorate of North Sinai, including the Taba-Suez Road. Do not travel to North Sinai.

Terrorists or criminals could target you, or you might be included in violence directed at others.

North Sinai is under a long-term state of emergency.

In North Sinai:

  • terrorist attacks occur frequently
  • many personnel from Egyptian security forces have died
  • a dusk-to-dawn curfew is in place from 7pm to 6am

The border crossing to Gaza at Rafah is closed most of the time. It's only open for short periods on an irregular basis. See  Travel

There's a high risk of  kidnapping  in North Sinai.

If, despite our advice, you decide to travel to North Sinai:

  • seek professional security advice
  • arrange contingency plans and personal security measures
  • note that our ability to provide consular assistance may be extremely limited

More information:

Security Situation

The situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories could lead to increased tensions and the security situation could deteriorate with little notice. Avoid all demonstrations and protests. Peaceful protests and rallies can turn violent at short notice. Be aware, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media for updates.

The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt may be closed or have highly restricted access for long periods and is subject to change at short notice. It has been subject to air strikes during the current conflict.    

In October, drone impacts were reported in Taba , close to Egypt's border with Israel's Red Sea port of Eilat, and in the Red Sea resort town of Nuweiba, north of Dahab. Be alert to possible strikes. Monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.

Civil unrest and political tension

The security situation in the region remains unpredictable and could deteriorate with little or no warning.

Be alert and monitor local media for updates.

Demonstrations and protests

Protests can occur across Egypt. 

Clashes between rival protesters or security forces have resulted in many deaths and injuries. Foreigners, including journalists, have been among the victims. Serious  sexual assaults  on women, including foreigners, have occurred during demonstrations.

Security forces have targeted foreign journalists. Egyptian authorities have arrested, detained or questioned journalists.

Protest hotspots

Protests can happen anywhere and at any time, although strict security clampdowns have been preventing protests in recent years. However, the following places and times are common focal points for demonstrations:

  • Tahrir Square and surrounding streets, including the nearby British and US Embassies and Garden City area, in Cairo
  • the al-Ittihadiya Presidential Palace in Heliopolis, Giza
  • the area of the Raba Al-Adawiya Square in Nasr City
  • Fridays following midday prayers
  • the anniversary of the 2011 revolution on 25 January and the days leading up to this public holiday

Under Egyptian law, it's illegal for:

  • more than 10 people to gather without notice
  • foreigners to participate in protests and demonstrations

Authorities may arrest foreigners who participate in protests.

Egyptian authorities may impose curfews and restrictions on movement at short notice.

Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent. To protect yourself during periods of unrest:

  • avoid demonstrations, rallies and large crowds
  • monitor the media for possible unrest and avoid those areas
  • obey any curfews and respect local laws
  • be prepared to change your travel plans

Protests may disrupt transport. Contact your airline or travel agent to check.

  • Demonstrations and civil unrest

Violent crime

Violent crime is rare but can occur, including  armed robbery ,  sexual assault , incidents involving minors, carjacking and burglary.

Petty crime remains low in Cairo, although the declining economy and ensuing financial hardship have seen reports of increased crime.

Take extra care if you're a woman and alone. Women may be physically and verbally harassed or  assaulted , including when using public transport and walking in public areas.

Ensure children and young people are always accompanied by known or trusted people and not left alone with hotel or entertainment/excursion staff. If you feel uncomfortable, leave the area and seek help from the hotel or local authorities. The Tourist Police can be contacted on 126 or 122 if you're a resident of Egypt.  

Taxi and rideshare drivers have assaulted passengers, including foreigners. See  Travel

To protect yourself from violent crime:

  • don't leave valuables outside a safe in your hotel room or unattended in a public place
  • be alert to pickpockets and bag snatchers in tourist areas, particularly after dark
  • read  reducing the risk of sexual assault  before you go

If you're the victim of a crime, report the incident to the tourist police immediately.

If you don't report a crime before you leave, you may not be able to seek prosecution later.

  • Advice for women

Cyber security

You may be at risk of cyber-based threats during overseas travel to any country. Digital identity theft is a growing concern. Your devices and personal data can be compromised, especially if you're connecting to Wi-Fi, using or connecting to shared or public computers, or to Bluetooth.

Social media can also be risky in destinations where there are social or political tensions or laws that may seem unreasonable by Australian standards. Travellers have been arrested for things they have said on social media. Don't comment on local or political events on your social media.

More information: 

  • Cyber security when travelling overseas

Kidnapping is a risk for travellers.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers.

Tours and adventure activities

Transport and tour operators don't always follow safety and maintenance standards.

If you plan to do an adventure activity :

  • check if your travel insurance policy covers it
  • check tours are well equipped with food, medical supplies and emergency communications
  • ask about and insist on minimum safety requirements
  • always use available safety gear, such as life jackets or seatbelts

If proper safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.

Safaris and camping

Authorities have banned safaris and camping in the area near Bahariya Oasis until further notice. This includes the western and southern parts of Oases–Siwa and Oases Road.

It doesn't include the White Desert in Farafra. However, restrictions applying to Bahriya Oasis may disrupt access.

Climate and natural disasters

Egypt, particularly Cairo, experiences earthquakes . Find out about local safety procedures in case one strikes.

Sand and dust storms occur between March and May.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Find out about emerging natural disasters from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System .

Travel insurance

Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. 

Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.

If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.

If you're not insured, you may have to pay many thousands of dollars up-front for medical care.

  • what activities and care your policy covers
  • that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

See your doctor or travel clinic to:

  • have a basic health check-up
  • ask if your travel plans may affect your health
  • plan any vaccinations you need

Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.

If you have immediate concerns for your welfare or the welfare of another Australian, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or contact your  nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate  to discuss counselling hotlines and services available in your location.

  • General health advice
  • Healthy holiday tips  (Healthdirect Australia)

Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Egypt. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.

Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:

  • what the medication is
  • your required dosage
  • that it's for personal use

Health risks

  • Infectious diseases

Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases are common, including these listed by the World Health Organization:

Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.

To protect yourself from illness:

  • drink boiled water or bottled water with sealed lids
  • don't swim in fresh water, including the Nile River, to avoid waterborne diseases, such as  bilharzia (schistosomiasis)  (World Health Organization)
  • avoid contact with dogs and cats

Get urgent medical attention if bitten by an animal.

Insect-borne diseases

There's a risk of  malaria  (World Health Organization) in El Faiyum Governorate from June through to October.

To protect yourself from disease:

  • make sure your accommodation is insect-proof
  • use insect repellent
  • wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing

Air pollution

Cairo regularly experiences very high levels of air pollution and dust.

Get medical advice if you suffer from breathing difficulties or a lung condition.

  • Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency Air Quality Forecast

Medical care

Medical facilities.

The standard of medical facilities in Cairo is enough for routine illnesses. Elsewhere, facilities can be very basic. Treatment can also be costly. Many require up-front payment.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a place with better facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive and hard to organise. Ensure you have sufficient travel insurance to cover the costs.

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our  Consular Services Charter . But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Criticising authority

Authorities may treat public comments that criticise the Egyptian Government, security forces or Islam as illegal. Police have arrested foreigners who published critical social media posts, including 'liking' pages.

Possessing illegal drugs can lead to the death penalty, long prison sentences or deportation.

  • Carrying or using drugs

Egyptian family law differs significantly from Australian law, particularly in relation to divorce, child custody and support.

Before you become involved in a local legal matter, get legal advice, including for family and business legal matters.

It's important to know your rights and responsibilities under Egyptian law. See  Travel

Marriage laws

If you want to get married in Egypt, check the legal requirements before you travel. You can do this either through the  Australian Embassy in Cairo  or the  Egyptian Embassy in Canberra .

In Egypt, it's illegal to:

  • have sexual relations outside marriage
  • take photos of bridges and canals, including the Suez Canal
  • take photos of military personnel, buildings or equipment

The Egyptian Government doesn't interfere with the practice of Christianity, but preaching is illegal. If you're considering preaching in Egypt, seek local legal advice beforehand. Follow the advice of local authorities. 

LGBTI individuals face significant social stigma and discrimination in Egypt. Egyptian law does not explicitly criminalise same-sex relationships, however, people have been charged with 'committing an indecent act in public and breaching public morality' and penalised with imprisonment. 

LGBTI people and advocacy groups have reported harassment, intimidation, arrests, and other forms of abuse, including by police. 

There are also reports that authorities have used social media, dating websites, and mobile phone apps to entrap people suspected of being gay or transgender in the act of 'debauchery,' which is a criminal offence that carries severe sentences. 

There is little public acceptance of homosexuality in Egypt.

  • Advice for LGBTI travellers

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.

Staying within the law and respecting customs

Dual citizenship

If you're an Australian-Egyptian dual national, local authorities will treat you as an Egyptian, even if you travel on an Australian passport.

This limits our consular services if you're arrested or detained.

If possible, always travel on your  Australian passport .

Dual nationals living in Egypt for long periods need proof of Egyptian citizenship, such as a national identification card.

Male dual nationals who haven't completed military service usually don't need to enlist. However, they must get an exemption certificate before they can leave Egypt. Get one from the nearest  Egyptian embassy, consulate , or Ministry of Defence Draft Office.

If you're arrested, request local authorities inform the Australian Embassy.

Dual nationals

Local customs

The Islamic holiday month of  Ramadan  is observed in Egypt. Respect religious and cultural customs and laws during this time.

Avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public or in front of people who are fasting.

Orthodox Easter is observed by the Christian community, as is Christmas Day, which is celebrated on 7 January in Egypt.

The work week is Sunday to Thursday. Egypt's customs, laws, and regulations follow Islamic practices and beliefs. Exercise common sense and discretion in dress and behaviour.

Dress conservatively. Knee-length or longer dresses and long sleeves are preferable for women, and men should not wear shorts outside tourist areas. Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. Overt public displays of intimate affection are frowned upon in Egyptian culture.

If in doubt, seek local advice.

Visas and border measures

Every country or territory decides who can enter or leave through its borders. For specific information about the evidence you'll need to enter a foreign destination, check with the nearest embassy, consulate or immigration department of the destination you're entering. 

Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest  embassy or consulate  of Egypt for the latest details.

Check with your travel provider for the latest information and monitor the travel advice of the country you are planning to transit. There are no direct flights to Australia, but there are flights via a transit hub to Australia.

  • Egypt Electronic Visa Portal

Children of Egyptian fathers must have their father's approval to leave Egypt. Authorities may ask for proof of this approval before allowing the children to leave.

Other formalities

Journalist accreditation.

Foreign journalists must get accreditation from the Egyptian Press Centre  before arrival. You need this if your visit is for work purposes. The Press Centre is part of the Egyptian State Information Service.

Punishments are severe for journalists working without accreditation.

You need approval to bring satellite phones and radio communications equipment into Egypt.

Apply to Egypt's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology well in advance of your trip. Authorities are likely to confiscate equipment brought in without clearance.

The use of drones, for any purpose, is illegal. Authorities will confiscate drones on arrival.

Pest control

If you arrive in Egypt by road, officials may check your car for pests. Follow the advice of local authorities.

Yellow fever vaccination

You need a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter Egypt if you arrive from a country where yellow fever is widespread.

Countries where yellow fever is a risk

Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.

Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.

You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.

The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport .

Lost or stolen passport

Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.

Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:

  • In Australia, contact the Australian Passport Information Service .
  • If you're overseas, contact the nearest Australian embassy or consulate .

Passport with ‘X’ gender identifier

Although Australian passports comply with international standards for sex and gender, we can’t guarantee that a passport showing 'X' in the sex field will be accepted for entry or transit by another country. Contact the  nearest  embassy, high commission or consulate of your destination  before you arrive at the border to confirm if authorities will accept passports with 'X' gender markers.

  • LGBTI travellers

The local currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP).

You can take up to EGP 5000 in cash when travelling to or from Egypt.

You must declare all foreign currency amounts over $US 10,000 or equivalent. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash.

If you're visiting as a tourist, you may need to pay $US or euros for your accommodation. Most well-established hotels and resorts accept card payments. ATMs are available in most established areas.

Consult your financial institution prior to your travel.

Embassy or Consulate of Egypt

Local travel

Consider the security situation and risks to your safety in different locations. See  Safety

There are landmines in some areas, notably:

  • the desert areas around El Alamein
  • stretches of coastline near Mersa Matruh
  • the western shore of the Gulf of Suez
  • the Sinai Peninsula

Before you go, tell local authorities of your planned travel. Ask them about current risks and precautions for your route and destination.

Travel restrictions and disruptions

If you travel around Egypt, you may be stopped at military and civilian checkpoints. Officials at checkpoints have detained and harassed foreigners.

Rules apply to people entering the Sinai, including via the Ahmed Hamdi tunnel. When you enter, you must present one of the following:

  • a valid form of ID with a Sinai address
  • proof of ownership or rental contracts of property in the Sinai
  • hard copy evidence of hotel reservations

Travel to the Sinai in a 4WD vehicle may be restricted if you don't hold a valid permit. Check the advice of local authorities before travel. 

Land borders

Egypt's borders are under military control.

The military restricts and, in some cases, bans the movement of civilians and vehicles.

You need permission to cross borders off the main sealed roads, including at the borders with Libya, Sudan, Israel and parts of the Sinai. Get permission from the Travel Permits Department of the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior.

If, despite our advice, you plan to cross from Egypt into the Gaza strip:

  • read our advice on  Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank
  • check border crossing requirements with your nearest  Egyptian embassy  or the Ministry of the Interior in Cairo

You must get permission from Egyptian authorities to enter and exit the Gaza Strip using the Rafah border crossing.

If you enter the Gaza Strip through this border, you must leave the same way.

You may be delayed in the Gaza Strip for a long time, possibly weeks while waiting for approval to return.

The Australian Government can't influence the granting of approval or when the crossing will open. Our ability to provide consular help in Gaza is extremely limited.

Other borders

Road travel to Abu Simbel, 40km north of the Sudanese border, can be dangerous. If you do, go on an organised tour guarded by police escorts.

There's a high threat of terrorist attacks within 50km of Egypt's border with Libya. Deadly attacks have recently occurred in the area.

Driving permit

You can't drive in Egypt on your Australian driver's licence.

Before arriving in Egypt, get an international driver's permit and get an  embassy or consulate of Egypt  to certify it.

Road travel

Road travel can be dangerous. 

Road conditions are very poor. Cars, buses and trucks frequently drive at high speed and without headlights at night.

Road accidents occur often.

Where possible, avoid travelling by road. Visit regional places, including Luxor, by other means.

  • Driving or riding

Motorcycles

Take extra care if you plan to ride a motorbike. Be alert to the different road conditions.

Always wear a helmet.

Taxis and Rideshare

Cairo and Alexandria have a lot of taxis. Rideshare services are available in Cairo and Alexandria.

In Cairo, taxis are white. In Alexandria, taxis are black and yellow.

All taxis should have a meter. The law requires drivers to use their meters. However, many taxi drivers will claim that the meter is broken and try to negotiate a fare.

Taxis rarely have seatbelts, especially in the back seats. 

Sexual harassment of women by taxi drivers is common.

Avoid taxis, especially if you're a woman and on your own. Ride share apps may be safer as you can track your driver's details and share the trip details with others.

If you use a taxi, travel with people you know or advise others of your planned travel and destination.

Public transport

The Cairo Metro subway system is generally reliable.

Maintenance and safety standards of other public road and rail transport are very poor.

  • Transport and getting around safely

Rail travel

Train travel is generally safe, but accidents do occur.

In March and April 2021, two train accidents occurred in North and South Egypt. The accidents caused many deaths and injuries.

There have been a number of train derailments on the Cairo-Aswan line. Several people were injured when a train derailed between Aswan and Luxor in 2016.

Piracy  and  armed robbery  are risks in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

All forms of shipping are attractive targets for pirates. This includes commercial vessels, pleasure craft and luxury cruise liners.

The  International Maritime Bureau  issues piracy reports.

If you plan to  travel by boat , be highly alert and cautious in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Scuba diving / aquatic activities

Sharks and other potentially dangerous aquatic animals are in the waters off Egypt. Certain beaches and dive areas may be subject to temporary closures. Exercise caution and seek advice from local authorities. Ensure you dive with reputable and licensed operators.

DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.

Check  Egypt's air safety profile  with the Aviation Safety Network.

Emergencies

Depending on what you need, contact your:

  • family and friends
  • travel agent
  • insurance provider

Always get a police report when you report a crime.

Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Consular contacts

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular help, contact:

Australian Embassy, Cairo

11th floor, World Trade Centre 1191 Corniche el Nil Boulac, Cairo, Egypt

Phone: +20 2 2770 6600 Fax: +20 2 2770 6650 Website: egypt.embassy.gov.au Facebook: Australia in Egypt Twitter: @AusAmbEGY

The Australian Embassy in Cairo operates on Sunday – Thursday.

The security situation may affect Embassy opening hours. 

24-hour Consular Emergency Centre

In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:

  • +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
  • 1300 555 135 in Australia

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tourist tips for egypt

  • Passports, travel and living abroad
  • Travel abroad
  • Foreign travel advice

Warnings and insurance

tourist tips for egypt

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office ( FCDO ) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice .

Areas where FCDO advises against travel

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice. Consular support is also severely limited where FCDO advises against travel.

Egypt-Libya border

FCDO advises against all travel to within 20km of the Egypt-Libya border, except for the town of El Salloum (where we advise against all but essential travel).

North Sinai

FCDO advises against all travel to the Governorate of North Sinai.

Northern part of South Sinai

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the northern part of the Governorate of South Sinai, beyond the St Catherine-Nuweibaa road, except for the coastal areas along the west and east of the peninsula.

The eastern part of Ismailiyah Governorate

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the Ismailiyah Governorate east of the Suez Canal.

Western Desert

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the area west of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta regions, except for:

  • Luxor, Qina, Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings
  • the Governorate of Faiyum
  • the coastal areas between the Nile Delta and Marsa Matruh
  • the Marsa Matruh-Siwa Road
  • the oasis town of Siwa
  • the Giza Governorate north-east of the Bahariya Oasis
  • the road between Giza and Farafra (but we advise against all but essential travel on the road between Bahariya and Siwa)
  • Bahariya Oasis, Farafra, the White Desert and Black Desert

Hala’ib Triangle and Bir Tawil Trapezoid

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the Hala’ib Triangle and the Bir Tawil Trapezoid.

Find out more about why FCDO advises against travel .

Conflict in neighbouring Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs)

The Israeli government has declared a state of emergency across the whole country. International borders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) could close at short notice. As a result, the land border into Israel from Egypt at Taba could close with little notice. Check with local authorities and consult the travel advice for  Israel  and the  Occupied Palestinian Territories  before trying to cross the border.

In response to events in Israel and the OPTs, a number of demonstrations have taken place in Egypt and protests have been planned, including after Friday prayers. Demonstrations could take place at short notice, with a heavy security presence in place. You should avoid large gatherings, demonstrations and protests. See  Safety and security

Entering Egypt from Gaza

The Rafah border crossing partially opened on 1 November. This is primarily to facilitate the evacuation of seriously wounded Palestinians and some foreign nationals. We understand that the crossing will continue to be open for controlled and time-limited periods to allow specific groups of foreign nationals, including British nationals, to cross. It is for the Egyptian and Israeli authorities to determine who is permitted to cross, and when. The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will contact Embassies to let them know when their foreign nationals can cross. Should we receive notification from the Israeli and Egyptian authorities that individuals are permitted to cross, we will notify those people individually.

Movement to the Rafah crossing and beyond is at your own risk. You should only travel if you judge it is safe to do so. Check the  Israel and The Occupied Palestinian Territories travel advice.

The Egyptian authorities have said all aid going into Gaza from Egypt must be channelled through the Egyptian Red Crescent:

  • telephone: + 20 226 703 979, + 20 226 703 983
  • fax: + 20 226 703 967

They are unlikely to consider requests for humanitarian access made in Egypt at short notice.

Concern for friends and family

If you are concerned about friends or family, or need consular assistance call:

  • British Embassy Cairo on + 20 (0)2 2791 6000
  • +44 1767 667 600  (UK number) if you experience technical difficulties with the above number

Incidents in South Sinai  

On 27 October, an Egyptian Armed Forces spokesperson confirmed that an unidentified drone fell near a medical facility in the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Taba next to the Israeli border, injuring six people. An additional unidentified drone also struck outside the town of Nuweiba, though no casualties have been confirmed. The authorities are conducting ongoing investigations.

Incident in Alexandria

On 8 October 2023, an Egyptian police officer is reported to have shot and killed two Israeli tourists and an Egyptian tour guide in Alexandria. A third tourist was injured. Remain vigilant and exercise caution at tourist and religious sites, as well as public gatherings. Find out more information on current risks on the  Safety and security .

Border crossings from Sudan

There are still people trying to cross the border into Egypt at Argeen and Qustul. Our ability to provide consular assistance is very limited.

If you are a British national and have crossed the border without valid documentation, contact the British Embassy in Cairo for consular assistance on + 20 (0)2 2791 6000.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
  • information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram . You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance . Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

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Feb 7, 2024 • 6 min read

tourist tips for egypt

Find your way around Cairo with this guide to public transit and taxis © Manfred Bortoli / Getty Images

Welcome to the city that never stops.

In Cairo , much like the flowing waters of the River Nile, nearly 10 million people tirelessly navigate their days, constantly in motion. Despite this unstoppable momentum, getting around in town is surprisingly straightforward, although travelers will share one common antagonist with locals: traffic jams.

Yes, experiencing the city by car can be quite a stressful challenge, but don’t worry: the metro system is efficient, and if you decide to walk, mastering the art of crossing streets comes quickly with a bit of practice — just like haggling for prices . Here's our guide to finding your way around in Cairo.

Four women stand together on the platform under a sign that says "Ladies" as a train pulls in

Use a metro/microbus combo to get to the Pyramids

If traffic jams aren't your thing, rely on the Cairo Metro . The completion of Line 3, especially useful for airport access, has expanded Cairo's underground network, and it's likely to become a preferred mode of transit for many visitors. Cars can get crowded – keep in mind that there's a designated central one specifically for women – and during rush hours it's the same story worldwide, with people jostling for space.

To get to the Pyramids , pack your hat and sunscreen and head south. Sadat metro stop at Tahrir Sq, the location of the  Egyptian Museum , serves as an excellent starting point. Follow the signs for Line 2 towards El Mounib, and brace yourself for an authentic Cairo experience. It's six stops (LE5) to  Giza . For the final stretch, board a shared microbus (several vehicles will be waiting at the metro station, costing LE5–10, taking around 20 minutes). Be prepared to wait until all seats are comfortably filled, and to be packed with locals and travelers carrying all sort of items. The bus will drop you near the Pyramids' ticket office. Don't be misled by individuals claiming closures or reserved areas for specific groups — they're likely touts.

Upon entering the Pyramids area for a self-guided visit, skillfully maneuver past camel and horseback-ride sellers with the finesse of a soccer player and relish the mesmerizing views solo, perhaps from the top of the small sand hills that overlook Menkaure’s tomb . While hiking up there might require more effort than being transported, travelers are usually rewarded with some peaceful moments in front of one of the world’s ancient wonders.

The interior of a minbus with people packed tightly in their seats

Agree a fare before riding in a taxi, or take an Uber

It's true, being trapped in a taxi might make you wish you never left your hometown. The golden rule: avoid peak hours (8–9am, 6–7pm) and always negotiate the price before beginning the ride to ensure no surprises upon arrival (metered taxis aren’t common). Ride after ride you’ll sharpen your skills and establish your own fare standards.

While driving through Cairo, witness the city's chaos and contrasts firsthand, comfortably seated and most likely accompanied by the timeless music of Umm Kulthum, the Egyptian Diva. For a 30-minute journey from Downtown to the  Khan Al Khalili market, consider budgeting around LE100, but taxi fares might vary between LE50 to LE150 at times.

Opting to call a driver if you're spending the evening at a restaurant or cafe can be the fastest way to return to your hotel at night. Getting an Uber in Cairo happens quite quickly, especially in Zamalek  – amidst the thousand-and-one bars of the area you’ll wait less than five minutes. If cash payments suit you better, consider downloading Careem . Going to Downtown Cairo will cost you around LE50–60.

Knowing numbers in Arabic can be helpful to identify the car you've booked. Here they are: ٠ (0), ١ (1), ٢ (2), ٣ (3), ٤ (4), ٥ (5), ٦ (6), ٧ (7), ٨ (8), ٩ (9). Typically, car plates consist of three to four numbers followed by three letters.

A tuk-tuk driver gives a small smile to his passenger in the rear-view mirror as he drives along

Tuk-tuks are a speedy budget option

Fast (and furious), tuk-tuks have gained respect in Cairo for their ability to move swiftly through traffic jams. Although they appear to require more than just technical maintenance and, occasionally, they're helmed by surprisingly too-young individuals who might otherwise be in school, these noisy Bangkok-style vehicles are both quick and fun (for a 10 minute-ride you’ll pay LE5–25). If visiting the Citadel tops your list of must-see places in Cairo, taking a tuk-tuk will lead you through some of the city's most charming neighborhoods along the way.

Cycle and walk to get around Cairo's neighborhoods

Orange shared bikes are becoming increasingly popular in Cairo, with the installation of 45 brand-new bike stations across the city. To use them, simply download the  Cairo Bike app (LE1 per hour). If you rent one from Tahrir you can reach Zamalek in 10 minutes, take a leisurely tour of the island (approximately one hour) and then head towards  Midan Taalat Harb . This area is great for exploring on foot – you’ll find good shops, restaurants and cafes – thanks to its wide sidewalks and grand boulevards. While walking in Cairo is generally easy, be prepared for large crowds and the occasional challenge of crossing streets without traffic lights. Imitate locals and be brave, or you’ll be stuck forever.

There are no route maps for the citywide bus network

Those with a soft spot for traveling by bus will find a widespread network of old style, door-opened vehicles reaching literally every corner of the city. Expect crowded buses where you might often have to stand, but these rides provide a fantastic opportunity to interact with locals and immerse yourself in their renowned friendliness.

Unfortunately, no route maps are available: for a taste of the thrill, consider taking bus number 111 from Ramses Station to the airport (one hour). Or simply hop on a random bus and enjoy the ride for a few stops. Tickets (LE5–10) can be purchased from the seller on board or directly from the driver.

Cruise the river on a NileTaxi

Escape Cairo's traffic and enjoy a picturesque journey with NileTaxi  — an ideal alternative for moving around the city while cruising the legendary river. Convenient stops, including one near the Qasr el Nil Bridge, line the riverbanks and run from Zamalek to Maadi Pier, in the city's south (fares are LE50–100).

Accessible travel in Cairo

Travelers with disabilities might face challenges in Cairo, where architectural barriers are everywhere. There is a complete absence of curb ramps, and pavements might conceal holes or remnants from construction. Moving in Cairo without a wheelchair taxi is nearly impossible, save for a few exceptions like the grand  Al-Azhar Park , which offers accessible pathways in a beautifully green environment. In Giza, while sidewalks aren't highly accessible, the primary connecting roadway between attractions is new and relatively uncongested. Use that one.

If Cairo’s urban planning fails to assist travelers with disabilities, assistance from incredibly kind locals will always be readily available. Additionally, travel agencies offer specially curated tours and accessible excursions across Egypt, tailored to accommodate individuals with disabilities. For further information, download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel Online Resources .

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Travel with Meena

What to Wear: Advice For Women Traveling In Egypt

T here are cities like New York where you can walk down the street wearing whatever you want without anyone caring. Then there are places like Cairo where spaghetti strap tank tops and shorts will stand out no matter how hot it is.

I try to be respectful of local customs whenever I travel. One of the easiest ways to do that is through the clothes I wear. Egypt is a conservative Muslim-majority country where it’s customary to cover your knees and shoulders, so I made sure to pack accordingly.

I had two basic looks for my trip and a few variations within each look. For casual excursions, I opted for lightweight capri pants and colorful t-shirts from Target that I could mix and match. I packed a collection of lightweight maxi and midi dresses for just about everything else.

I left my sleeveless dresses, tank tops and shorts at home. Most other travelers appeared to do the same, but there were a few who didn’t. I’m glad I made the effort. As a travel journalist, one of my goals is to blend in. And as a traveler of color and foreign woman mostly on my own in Egypt, I stood out enough by just existing.

One thing’s for sure, nothing screams tourist in Egypt like a tank top and shorts.

Here’s how not to be that traveler.

What should I pack for Egypt?

What should i wear to the pyramids, do female tourists need to cover their hair, can i wear shorts in egypt, can i wear a bikini in egypt.

Egypt is hot, hot, hot, so lightweight, breathable fabrics are a must. Air conditioning isn’t ubiquitous and temperatures can exceed 100 F in some areas. I was in Egypt in November. And while it might have been winter on the calendar, it felt like summer on the ground. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable exploring the pyramids would be in July.

I swapped the sleeveless dresses, tank tops and shorts I would wear at home during similar temperatures for a collection of lightweight maxi and midi dresses, two pairs of drawstring capri pants and a few tees including my all-time favorite, a versatile black tee from Unbound Merino . This top is my game-changer because it can go from casual to happy hour with an accessory or two.

Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes and flip flops or the beach. You’ll also want to bring a wide-brimmed sun hat, a pair of sunglasses and sunscreen. I brought three pairs of shoes—a pair of trail running shoes, a pair of sandals and a pair of slip-on sneakers. I didn’t miss the heels at all even though I was in Egypt for the COP27 climate conference.

*We may earn commissions when you purchase through  our partner links , but that’s not our motivation for sharing them. If I’ve bought it, loved it and can’t live without it, I want to make it easy for you to do the same.

Rule number one about visiting the pyramids is to wear comfortable shoes. And by comfortable shoes, I don’t mean those cute flat sandals. I opted for my Salomon trail running shoes , and they were perfect for this rocky, dusty, uneven terrain. If you decide to go inside the Great Pyramid, you’ll be thankful for traction on those slick floors.

I opted for these lightweight capri pants and my go-to Unbound Merino tee , a choice that worked out perfectly. I was cool and comfortable all afternoon and didn’t mind getting this quick-drying outfit dirty. A long flowing dress may have been better for Instagram, but it would have made for an uncomfortable camel ride. Jeans would have been miserable in the heat.

Some, but not all, Egyptian women wear headscarves or hijabs to cover their hair. It’s a personal choice and not something that’s legally required. Tourists aren’t required to or expected to cover their heads. Throw a scarf or shawl into your bag in case you find yourself visiting a mosque that does require a headscarf.

You can, but you might not want to. If you’re in a beach resort town like Sharm el-Sheikh or Hurghada on the Red Sea, it’s acceptable to wear shorts. It’s rare to see people wearing shorts outside resort towns. I recall seeing exactly one couple wearing shorts in Cairo, and they were tourists.

You can. It’s not unusual to see women in bikinis at the beach or hotel pool, but this isn’t the kind of place where people don’t wander around town in their swimsuits. I spent two weeks in Sharm el-Sheikh, a beach town along the Red Sea on the Sinai Peninsula. I opted for a one-shoulder one-piece I bought in Italy pre-pandemic and a cute cover-up I picked up a few years ago at a local market in Vietnam.

The post What to Wear: Advice For Women Traveling In Egypt first appeared on Travel With Meena .

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tourist tips for egypt

I have already booked flight and hotel through booking.com

3 replies to this topic

' class=

The answer is yes, you can get a VoA because you have a BRP.

Go to IATA and submit the corect details to confirm:

https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/passport-visa-health-travel-document-requirements.htm

PS: Filling the IATA form as holder of an Indian Passport with a Residence Permit inUK will give you this answer:

"Passengers with a residence permit issued by United Kingdom can obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days. "

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