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Visiting Egypt | A Brief Guide

Egypt is a fascinating country for visitors from around the world, and travelers come here to see the beautiful architecture and locations that the country is so well known for. While the country has a lot to offer visitors, there are certain things you’ll need to keep in mind to ensure you have a safe and hassle-free trip. Keep reading to discover our top Egypt travel tips for your visit in the upcoming months.

What Language is Spoken in Egypt?

The official language in Egypt is Arabic, and most Egyptians speak one of the dialects of that language. The spoken language is very different from the literary language. However, in the main tourist areas, you’ll find that most staff in hotels and restaurants are confident at speaking English and will be able to converse with you to assist you on your trip.

Weather in Egypt

The best time for travelers to visit Egypt is during the cooler time of the year, which is between November and March. In Luxor and Aswan in the south, you’ll be less likely to experience rain, but in Cairo, haze is an issue in the winter mornings. For that reason, we recommend visiting outdoor sites in the afternoon and be prepared for rain as well. The biggest crowds are found in December and January. The reason for avoiding the summer months is the extremely high temperatures, which can go up to 104 to 130°F (40 to 55°C). In humid areas, this can feel even worse, and you’ll find it almost impossible to enjoy sightseeing and visiting the historical sites. From the Nile, the elevation in the country rises quickly, reaching more than 1,900 m in parts of the country.

Safety in Egypt

There are many things to keep in mind in regards to safety in Egypt. In fact, there are quite a few illegal activities here that you might be surprised to learn about. Drones are not allowed to be used in the country, and you’ll also need to be careful about taking photos near military sites. It’s illegal to share a hotel room with an Egyptian of the opposite sex unless you are married, but this rule doesn’t apply between two tourists. If you are traveling with medication, ensure you only take the amount you need for your trip and have a letter from your doctor or your prescription to go with it. In fact, a British tourist was arrested a few years ago due to bringing a large number of painkillers into the country, as many people in the country use these instead of drugs.

Safety is one of the things tourists are most concerned about, but more visitors than ever are coming to Egypt. There is a big police and military presence throughout the country, and you might be surprised the first time you see guards with rifles at checkpoints. Metal detectors are found at the entrance to most hotels and tourist sites, but most people find this to be reassuring on their trip. Egyptians are known for how welcoming and friendly they are to tourists, but of course, where you visit in the country will be the main factor to consider when planning your trip. 

Where to Visit in Egypt

Egypt is a huge country, and if you stick to the main tourist areas, such as Cairo, Alexandria, Hurghada, Abu Simbel, Aswan, and Luxor, you’ll feel safe most of the time. Stay in tourist hotels and regions and travel with a guide or driver for the most secure trip. It’s highly recommended that you avoid the Sinai Peninsula and the western Sahara Desert, which is located by the border with Libya. Before your trip, keep an eye on the current news coming out of Egypt, and ensure you think carefully about where you stay on your trip.

Traveling Around Egypt

Driving is not recommended for visitors in Egypt. The traffic is crazy on the roads, and you’ll find it very hard to deal with, especially in the cities. The rules here on the roads are very different to the US or Europe, and you’ll find it appears there are basically no rules in place. Getting around Cairo and Giza can be more of a challenge, and you’ll find there are no lines painted on the road, and the roads are packed with cars throughout the day.

Be careful when traveling by taxi too, although they are a very convenient and inexpensive way to get around. Taxi drivers can sometimes be very aggressive, so make sure you are prepared for this before starting your journey. In Cairo, there are metered taxis, but many drivers switch them off or rig them. Make sure you agree on the price before your journey anywhere in the country. Taking the train is a popular option when traveling between Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, and Alexandria. You can take an overnight train as well, which is generally quite secure. There’s also a flight pass on offer, which is the fastest way to get around the country. This can be a cost-effective solution, but you’ll want to plan your route and trip in advance to ensure you can get on your required planes.

Cultural Traditions in Egypt

Egypt has a rich history and culture, which means there are certain things to be aware of before your trip. If you are visiting during the month of Ramadan and certain other holidays, you’ll find that restaurants and bars stop serving alcohol, and this is in fact illegal during this time. The dress code in Egypt is quite conservative for women, and you should try and obey this in the cities and tourist sites. Men usually stick to trousers and shirts, but in Cairo, you’ll need to avoid wearing shorts and tank tops. The beach resorts have slightly different rules, and you’ll be okay for the most part in standard vacation clothing here. Women in Egypt will usually wear a hijab covering their hair and head, but visitors don’t need to wear these during their trip.

Accommodation in Egypt

Accommodation in Egypt is quite varied, and you’ll want to do your research and check out reviews before booking anywhere. There are many luxury hotels around the country, but there are also some great local guest houses. You’ll also find vacation rental options are becoming more popular, but you’ll want to be more aware of safety when booking one of these. Accommodation is generally great value for money here, and you’ll find even luxury resorts won’t break the bank.

Things to Keep in Mind When Visiting Egypt

When visiting Egypt, never drink the tap water. Don’t even risk brushing your teeth with the water or eating uncooked food that you’ve washed in the sink. Instead, make sure you buy enough bottled water for all of these tasks and to keep yourself hydrated during the hotter months of the year. The bathrooms in tourist sites often don’t have toilet paper, so we recommend keeping a supply with you at all times. Most bathrooms will have an attendant, who hands you toilet paper or towels, and you’ll need to keep some cash to hand to tip these attendants. About 5 EGP will be enough, but you’ll find that it can be hard to gather together small change in Egypt. Keep your change aside for this purpose, so you aren’t caught short on your trip.

A trip to Egypt is something that you’ll want to remember forever, but you might need to buy a photography pass to use your camera or camcorder during your trip. Most tombs, pyramids, and museums need a photography pass to use anything except your mobile phone. You’ll also need to buy a pass if you want to use the video feature on your phone. Of course, most people are more than willing to buy this pass, but keep in mind that it will add to your expenses on a day out.

Egypt is a stunning country filled with culture and history and one that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Although there are certain safety considerations to keep in mind, by following the advice shared above, you can enjoy a safe visit on your upcoming trip to Egypt.

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