It’s time for a vacation and your tickets are booked. You’ve made your lists and started packing. Next stop… an Egyptian wonderland filled with history and breath-taking sights and sounds. Here are 10 things you should know before travelling to Egypt.
- POLITICAL UNREST
In recent times there has been quite a bit of political unrest in the Middle East. Despite this, it does not mean these countries are off limits. What it does mean, is that you have to be smart and do your homework. Avoid areas that are known for public demonstrations and be mindful of community privacy during these times. Make sure that you know exactly where your embassy is located before arriving. Have all contact details with you, at all times.
- DRESS FOR THE CLIMATE
Egypt is well known for its hot dry desert-like climate where temperatures can rise to 37 °C (99 °F). Pack lots of light loose fit clothing, hats and comfortable walking shoes. Take lots of water with you as dehydration is common for those who are not used to this kind of climate. Despite the weather, it’s important to remember that Egypt is predominately a Muslim country so appropriate is essential. Westerners are given quite a bit of leeway but remember Egypt is a repressed society. Be mindful of dressing provocatively. Modesty is the key word.
- PUBLIC INTIMACY
Public displays of affection are usually frowned upon as this is a conservative society. Men can be friendly towards other men and woman can be friendly towards other woman, but never a man and woman. Unfortunately you will have to keep the hand-holding and kisses for indoors.
- EXCHANGE RATES
The currency in Egypt is known as the Egyptian pound or ‘Geneh’. it’s best to keep some local currency with you at all times. Paying with dollars is possible but remember the shop owners will most likely decide upon the exchange rates, which can’t always be the favorable towards the foreign buyer.
Many of the well-known tourist spots request no flash photography as this can be damaging to ancient paintings and art work. Be respectful of this.
- TRAVEL BOOK OR TOUR GUIDE
Sometimes, we prefer to have our lonely planet guide books and travel apps as companions but a local guide can be your best source of historical explanations. Egypt is well known for the endless amount of freelance tour guides so if the price is good, this may be a fun option.
This is a very real issue in the Egyptian tourist industry. Low quality goods are often sold for extremely high prices. Always ask questions and inspect expensive items before purchasing. Don’t be afraid to say no and look elsewhere. Chances are, you’ll find the same item not too far away.
- TISSUES AND TOILET PAPER
Most of the public restrooms don’t have toilet paper. There is however, almost always, somebody waiting outside who is willing to sell you a piece of toilet paper. Clever entrepreneurial skills but very frustrating for a western tourist. Make sure to always keep a stash of tissues with you. It’s also a good idea to use the toilet in your hotel room before leaving as most of the public toilets are pretty dirty. Always keep a bottle of hand sanitizer just in case.
Haggle… haggle… haggle… whether it is for a scarf, souvenir or even a taxi price. Almost everything in Egypt comes at a negotiable price so don’t be afraid to bargain and walk away if you don’t get your asking price.
- STARES AND SMIRKS
It’s inevitable; you are going to be stared at. Whilst it almost always is frustrating, you are a tourist so the locals are going to find you a fascinating specimen! Be careful though, especially if you are a woman. It’s pretty common to receive sexual comments and cat calls from local Egyptian men.
Do you have any tips for travelling to Egypt? Share them below.