So, you decided your travelling to Egypt for your next vacation. Congratulations! A most amazing time awaits you. However, though, you need to consider a few things while planning your journey to ensure that nothing will bother you on your travels. I’ll tackle many of these things in this post so keep reading and take notes!
The Weather before the city
You have probably read many blog posts warning you from travelling to Egypt in the summer. They are not wrong, but they are not entirely true either. Egypt is a large country; and while yes you don’t want to visit Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh and even Cairo from May to August, because you don’t want your skin melting. Believe me, it reaches 40°C over 100 °F.
If you’re only available in the summer, don’t miss out on the Mediterranean. The Egyptian Northern Cost is a fantastic destination in the Summer. The softest sand beaches and the nicest turquoise pure water, and an average temperature of 24°C (75°F) will make your summer vacation a wonderful one.
Find yourself a nice hotel in The New Alamein city, Sidi Abdulrahaman City or Marsa Matruh City or rent a chalet or a villa on one of the hundreds of resorts along the 1000 km (630 Miles) long cost.
Ramadan … to visit or not to visit
As a majority Muslim country, Egyptian celebrate the holy month of Ramadan each year. They also fast (stop eating and drinking) from dusk to dawn.
What does that mean for you as a tourist?
Well, most restaurants won’t open until 7 pm. Eating and drinking in public are considered rude. Also, many of the opening hours of the tourist attractions might change. In addition, no alcohol will be served anywhere. If this is okay with you, then go ahead and book your trip. Hotels and resorts will work normally and will serve food at all times, and other than the slight change in opening hours the museums and temples will be operating normally too.
My advice, if you’re planning a beach vacation then absolutely go for it because 1. you won’t be affected and 2. you will avoid the usual crowds. Other than that, I’d pick another time.
It’s not all pyramids and mummies
Whenever I tell someone I’m Egyptian, they almost always tell me about The Pyramids and King Tut. Although the Pharaonic civilization is one of the greatest and oldest that ever existed, Egypt has much more. After the Pharos, there was the Greco-Roman era. Then, there’s Coptic Egypt and Islamic Egypt. Each era has tons of monuments and historical sites to see. So, don’t miss out on those civilizations too.
Egypt is more diverse than you think
You probably read this tip somewhere; “Always dress modestly and conservatively, and cover your legs and shoulders”. It’s a good tip in many parts of Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. On the other hand, In Hurghada, Sharm eL-Sheikh, Northern Coast you can probably wear whatever you want without grabbing any attention. As they’re filled with tourists and they’re beach destinations anyway. Even in Cairo, if you’re going to a restaurant or a mall in an upscale district or a night club, you can also dress as you please.
Avoid the weekends
Did you know that Egypt has a population of over 100 million! almost 10% of them live in Cairo. Imagine what’s it like on the weekends! (which are Fridays and Saturdays in Egypt). For a blissful experience don’t plan on sightseeing the big attractions these days. Otherwise, You’ll spend your day in queues surrounded by school kids. You have been warned!
You Will Carry Cash
Cash is still how most transactions are done in Egypt. Many establishments, governmental institutions and even tourist attractions will take only cash. Needless to say, you will tip in cash too. Luckily, ATMs are everywhere and your hotel will probably have a bank branch in it or near it. You will still need smaller bills though, the ATMs will usually give you 100’s and 200’s. You don’t want those, you will want to carry as many 5’s, 10’s and 20’s as possible. Ask the front desk at your hotel or the bank clerk for help. Avoid spending the small bills you already have when buying something, keep those for the tips.
The change in Egyptian Arabic is called “Fakka”. You can always say:
|Maa’eesh Fakka||I don’t have change|
|Aawez[male]/Aawza[female] Fakka, law samaht||I need change, please|
Tipping is less than what you think
Tipping is essential and very much expected everywhere. However, the amount you should tip is much less than you’d expect. For public toilets, no more than 1 or 2 pounds ($0.15) is expected. Give guards at temples, 5 or 10 pounds (0.35$ or $0.70)at most. For people who actually help you, like the hotel staff or your driver 20 pounds ($1.30) is just fine. In restaurants, we usually round up the bill and pay no more than 50 pounds ($3.5).
We need to talk about bargaining
Let me tell you a story, I was almost 10 years old with my family on a vacation on the beach and a guy came by selling beachwear. He told my mom that it cost 100 pounds. How did the story end? My mom bought 3 pieces for 20 pounds!!
Yes, it’s that crazy. For a shy person like me barging is a nightmare, but if you plan to buy souvenirs from the local Souks and bazaars, you’ve got to bargain. Otherwise, you’ll pay at least three times the price. Go for one-fourth of what the seller is telling you and pay around one-third of that price. A good strategy I learned from my mom, is walking away. Yes, just leave the shop.90% of the time the seller will run after you offering a more reasonable price. If he didn’t, you now know the limit he won’t go below for a particular piece. So, increase it a bit and get it from another shop.
Unless you’re an Egyptology expert, who reads hieroglyphics, hire a tour guide
I studied Egyptian history in school for 7 years. Yet, I always make sure I have a tour guide with me when visiting temples, tombs and museums. Even if you read all the books, watched all the documentaries, even if you are a super ninja independent solo traveller, you want someone explaining what’s on the walls for you. You will be standing in front of a 5000-year-old story, believe me, you want someone explaining it to you!
If you still don’t want to pay for it, at least find one of the guards and ask them to guide you and tip them generously later. Many of the guards speak English and other languages too.