Tap water in Egypt is actually safe to drink but as it is heavily chlorinated we do not recommend that you do as it causes stomach upsets. Bottled mineral water is readily available in hotels, shops and restaurants and inexpensive. Brushing your teeth and showering with tap water in Egypt poses no problem.
When you visit Egypt, it is an essential part of experiencing the country by trying the food and drink. Egyptian food is a combination of Turkish, Syrian, Lebanese, Greek and French cuisines, adapted to match what the locals like. Street stalls and eateries provide dishes that are tasty, simple and cheap whereas restaurants offer a wider variety of dishes and are more expensive. Nonetheless, getting the opportunity to taste a broad assortment of Egyptian food is what it’s all about. The array of spices, vegetables, fruit and meat that is prepared so different from how you’re used to making a trip to Egypt unique. Due to Egypt being mainly a Muslim country, alcohol is not widely drunk however can be obtained in most places. Egypt’s countrywide beverage is tea (shai) and is very much part of their everyday lives.
With succulent grilled meats, fish and vegetables, Egyptian cuisine has something to appeal to most eaters though in order to avoid stomach troubles while on holiday, it’s worth taking a few precautions. As tap water is highly chlorinated it’s best to avoid salads unless dining in upmarket restaurants, hotels and cruise boats. Any food you do eat should be piping hot to ensure it’s been cooked properly – avoid food that looks like it has been sitting around for a while. Try taking a probiotic a few weeks before and during your holiday to build your own natural defense against bugs that may come into contact with your stomach.
Exotic juices freshly squeezed from the fruits of mango, guava, and other seasonal varieties are also widely available, as is fresh fruit. Alcohol is not readily available as Egypt is a predominantly Islamic country although the major hotel chains usually have well-stocked bars.
The word ‘backsheesh’ can refer to a tip and it is a word you are likely to hear when traveling around Egypt as tipping is a natural part of daily life. You’re likely to have a tip requested from you by anyone who has provided a service including the usual, waiters and drivers, to the less expected, including security guards at some tourist sites. As a guide, it’s customary to tip restaurant staff with 10% of the bill (assuming a service charge has not already been added through this goes to the restaurant and not to the waiter), housekeeping staff at hotels around USD $2 per day, taxi drivers around $1 and cruise staff $4-5 per day to be divided between the onboard crew. When delivering your
backsheesh fold the notes in your hands and pass the money in the form of a handshake.
Our suggested Easy Tipping policy takes the hassle out of tipping while on tour with a nominal pre-determined amount collected from all tour participants on the morning of day 2 in local currency. This tipping kitty is then divided among bellhops, luggage handlers, local guides, and other support staff that assist throughout the tour. The amounts collected for tips are as follows:
1 – 2 Persons: $ 10.00 per person per day
3 – 5 Persons: $ 8.00 per person per day
6 – 10 Persons: $ 6.00 per person per day
11+ Persons: $ 5 per person per day
Please note that our Easy Tipping Policy amount does not include the tip to your group tour leader, where we suggest an amount of USD $3-$6 per day of your tour. Naturally, though, the amount is up to you.
Egypt is a very price-competitive destination, in 2015 it was ranked the world’s second cheapest country for international visitors based on hotel prices, taxes and purchasing power parity. Issued by the World Economic Forum, the annual Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report highlights that Egypt is a bargain travel option, especially for those coming from the West. Food and dining out are a little more in comparison and you can expect to pay around USD $10 for an inexpensive meal at a restaurant while a more upmarket three-course affair will likely set you back around $30. A bottle of beer costs around $4 though expect to pay more at hotels, while a liter bottle of water is around $1.20.
Top buys include cotton shirts, brass wear, leatherwear, mosaic lamps and mirrors, backgammon boards, hand-crafted sheesha pipes, Pharaonic objects fashioned in marble and alabaster, Egyptian cotton sheets, clothing and, of course, authentic papyrus.
Bargaining and haggling over prices is a fundamental part of shopping in the markets and bazaars of Egypt. Vendors will often inflate their prices considerably so that after a back-and-forth exchange of numbers, a final price will be agreed on that suits both parties. The key is to go in low and work your way up but always have a maximum amount in mind.
The cultural attitude towards women in Egypt is different from that of the West so traveling as a solo female does require consideration to ensure a more comfortable traveling experience. The best way you can avoid unwanted attention is to dress conservatively at all times and this means keeping shoulders and upper arms, legs, and chest covered with loose-fitting and opaque clothing. The hot Egyptian sun might tempt you to do the complete opposite in order to perfect your tan but you’ll demonstrate respect for the local culture if you make an effort to dress more appropriately. In the Red Sea resorts, the Egyptian staff is more familiar with Western culture and therefore a more relaxed attitude to clothing is generally not a problem.
Like any large city anywhere in the world, it’s advisable to avoid walking the streets of downtown Cairo at night. If you do receive any unwanted attention. Egypt is by no means a dangerous place for female visitors – Egyptians are hospitable, friendly and humorous people and are likely to leave a lasting positive impression of their country but in order to make the most of your time there as a solo female, it’s wise to be a little more cautious and aware of how you present yourself.
It’s not just women that need to consider how they dress when visiting Egypt – it’s also best for men to wear trousers and keep their shoulders covered, keeping in line with how Egyptian men dress. Shorts are only acceptable at beach resorts but it’s surprising how many visitors to Egypt ignore this. When visiting a mosque both men and women will need to be completely covered with women also required to wear a headscarf. Remember to remove shoes before entering.
Displays of physical affection should not be made in public. It’s common to see Egyptian men greet one another with hugs and kisses but members of the opposite sex should refrain from any such contact outside the privacy of their hotel room.
In Egypt, the left hand is considered unclean as it’s used to remove shoes and wipe your bottom after going to the toilet so to avoid any embarrassment around the dinner table, use your right hand for eating and when presenting gifts or money to anyone.
Egypt offers a number of exciting experiences from camel rides to felucca boat trips on the Nile so it’s unlikely they’ll ever be bored. Along the Red Sea, there are plenty of family-friendly resorts with dedicated kids’ play areas, swimming pools, and activities so parents can relax while the children are entertained and looked after.
We offer special designed family tours that welcome children above 5 years of age with just the right amount of guided sightseeing, fun activities and free time
The following items may be imported into Egypt by travelers over 18 without incurring customs duty:
– 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 200g of tobacco
– 1L of alcoholic beverages
The currency of Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (LE), which is divided into 100 piasters. Banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200.
Pound Sterling, US Dollars, Euro and other major currencies can be exchanged in Egypt. Exchange facilities are available at various money exchange shops and all major towns have ATMs. It’s advisable to request bank notes in smaller denominations, as it can sometimes be hard to get change from large notes and smaller notes are handy for smaller purchases and gratuities. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in the government-run stores, most hotels, and the Red Sea resorts.
Traveler’s Cheques are not recommended as they’re often difficult to exchange and incur high fees.
Standard voltage is 220 volts. Primary sockets require the European, 2-pronged variety. We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor. You will need a voltage converter and plug adaptor in order to use U.S. appliances.
Internet and WiFi
Getting online in Egypt is relatively easy. In larger cities, most cafes and restaurants offer free wi-fi. All four and five stars hotels in Egypt must provide internet access. Often it will be free WiFi access in the hotel lobby, and free or chargeable WiFi, or dial-up access in your hotel room.
Egypt is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Egypt will not be observing Daylight Saving Time in 2017.
One of the pillars of Islam requires Muslims to fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan, the month which commemorates the divine gift of the Koran to the Prophet Mohammed. From sunrise to sunset, those who fast must refrain from eating, drinking and smoking. There are good and bad aspects of visiting the country during Ramadan. On the bright side, people hit the streets after the sunset “breakfast” ready to sing, play cards, enjoy some of the special musical and theatrical entertainments and just generally have fun.
Shops re-open until the wee hours, and many hotels create special Ramadan Tents where they offer traditional holiday snacks and drinks, live entertainment, water pipes, backgammon boards, card games and the like.
The other side, many aspects of “business as usual” doesn’t apply during the month. Banks and offices all have shorter working hours, some restaurants close for the entire month, and about an hour before sunset, the roads and streets will be full of people racing to buy last-minute supplies and get home in time for Al Iftar (the evening meal). If you plan to visit during Ramadan, you should understand that the touring day will be shortened. There will still be plenty of restaurants open and serving lunch, especially in the tourist areas, but it would be very bad manners to eat, drink or smoke in the sight of passers-by.
Do remember, if you visit during Ramadan, that your dress should be a bit more circumspect than usual. Some women who do not normally cover their heads do so during Ramadan and often feel that make-up, perfume and other “vanities of the flesh” should be given up during this month.
The precise dates of Ramadan vary from year to year. Ramadan lasts for about a month and is dependent on the lunar cycle and the Islamic lunar calendar. Forthcoming Ramadan dates are 23 April – 22 May 2020.
The sleeper train is the highest class of rail travel available in Egypt, though by western standards it would be considered of a moderate standard. Cabins on board the sleeper train are equipped with two bunk beds and fresh linen is supplied. There is also a washbasin and towel and the cabin door can be locked from the inside. Washrooms including western toilets can be found at the end of each carriage. Dinner and breakfast (of a basic standard) are included within the fare. There is a bar carriage located toward the center of the train where hot and cold beverages can be purchased, and sometimes alcohol.
We do always recommend that you seek professional medical advice when considering holiday vaccinations but the ones that are normally recommended for travel to Egypt are listed below:
· Hepatitis A
· Yellow (A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required when arriving from an affected area)
The majority of travelers to Egypt can usually obtain their visas on arrival into the country. This includes British, most European, North American and Australasian passport holders. The cost of the visa for UK, USA, CA, EU, and many other nationalities is US$25 per person (around £20) which must be paid in hard currency, ie UK£, US$, Euros. If you are in any doubt as to whether this includes you then either contact your local consulate or simply arrange your visa in advance. All African nationals are required to obtain visas in advance.
Once issued, the visa is valid for a stay up to 3 months and you may request single, or multiple entry visas. It’s not possible to give exact visa costs for all nationalities as this does vary.
There is never a shortage of sunshine in Egypt with the country averaging 11 hours a day during the summer and 8 hours a day in the winter. From April to October, the average temperature ranges from 21-28C (70-83F) while between November and March this drops to 13-20C (55-67F). This does vary more along the Mediterranean coast which while still warm, is more prone to periods of cloud and rain in the wintertime. During the spring months, the coast and the Nile Delta regions brace themselves for the strong Khamsin desert winds. Generally, the winters in Egypt are warm enough to allow pleasant and comfortable traveling all year long.
Egypt is a country that you can visit at any time of the year as it offers plenty of sunshine and minimal rain, however, the ideal months to visit Egypt are from September to November and from March to May as the weather is mild and the temperature is pleasant. The summer months which are from June to August usually mean that the temperature gets very high with the heat being more dry than humid. This is perfect weather for soaking up the sun’s rays and snorkeling however, not so great for busy sites and attractions. From October to February which is Egypt’s winter months, the weather is cooler with the chance of some rain. In comparison to most European countries, the temperature is still warm and activities such as diving can be done year round.
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