Egypt is one of the most mysterious destinations on the planet, and it’s been on my bucket list for years!
Egypt is an ancient land of dreams, full of history and vibrant culture. Isn’t it wonderful that a place that they teach us about in school is so achievable to be seen and get to know nowadays?
Most of us know that Egypt is the home of one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World – the ancient Pyramids of Giza and probably everyone wants to go there to see them in person. But the Pyramids are really not the only thing that you can experience while in this stunning destination. Continue reading to find out what else there is to see here.
Language: The primary language is Egyptian Arabic.
Currency: The official currency of Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). $1 CAD dollar is 12.18 EGP.
Credit Cards and ATM’s: Most mid- and high-end tourist hotels will accept major credit cards, with Visa and MasterCard having the widest acceptance in Egypt. American Express is less commonly accepted but still useful in higher-end facilities. Good to always have cash on hand.
Plugs: In Egypt, the power plugs are type C and F. The standard voltage is 220 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. I recommend buying a universal adapter (make sure it has surge protection) and using a converter for hair dryers and hot tools.
Best Time to Visit?
Egypt has a generally high temperature, particularly during the summer months from May to August, when the sun can be very strong and temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius. If you’re visiting Egypt during this time, take plenty of sunscreen and drink lots of water. It’s still fine to visit Egypt at these times of year and the heat is more dry than humid.
In Cairo and the Nile Delta region, winter (October to February) can be cooler, especially in the evenings and at night, so take a jacket, long-sleeved tops and sweaters. The south remains warm during this time but again, temperatures do drop in the evenings. This is the best time to visit Egypt for sightseeing if you want to avoid the hot sun.
The shoulder months of September, March and April offer pleasant daytime temperatures and are considered the perfect time to enjoy the Red Sea for sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling.
How to Get Around?
Domestic flights in Egypt can be affordable and great. You’d be looking at two airlines: EgyptAir and NileAir.
If you’re on a strict backpacking budget, you might want to look into Go Bus. It can be cheap and easy to book on the website or app on your phone.
Sleeper trains are another popular way of travelling, however if you’re a light sleeper and want to get some sleep, I don’t recommend taking the night-train. It was VERY bumpy, up and down, to side to side, it felt like we were going to derail! Also, the train was very loud. Clearly the tracks and train are pretty old.
Uber & Taxi’s
In Cairo, you can take Uber or Careem (it’s like Uber) anywhere and it’s very affordable.
Things to Know Before You Travel To Egypt
Respect the Culture / Religion
Egypt is a Muslim country with a conservative culture. Be sure to respect the local culture by dressing appropriately. For the ladies, this means covering your shoulders and legs in public places. It’s not mandatory for tourists, but you’re in their country, please do your best to respect their traditions. It’s your choice, but if you do decide to dress more provocatively, expect to get some unwanted attention.
Check For Visa Requirements
Visas are required for ALL visitors to Egypt. The Egyptian Embassy recommends that all visitors to Egypt obtain a visa in advance of arrival. You cannot get a Visa on arrival anymore.
It’s a pretty dry country. You may find booze in hotels or touristy restaurants.
Being in Cairo and Luxor you see police with guns all the time. I knew what to expect, so it didn’t scare me, yes it is different seeing it, but just know it’s for your own safety.
Don’t Expect Luxurious Accommodations
If you’re backpacking around the world and want to save money, just keep in mind that most of the accommodations are just basic. Going in with high expectations will only leave you disappointed!
We had a great place in Cairo, however the walls were paper thin and could hear the people on the streets, the hooves of the horses, and the very loud dogs barking at night.
Carry Hand Sanitizer and Toilet Paper with you at ALL Times
Egypt is a third world country, so sanitary standards are markedly lower. Most public bathrooms do NOT provide toilet paper (or soap). Be prepared and pack it in your bag, you won’t regret it!
You Can’t Drink The Tap Water
This may seem obvious, but it is very important that travellers are aware that the water standards are extremely below standards here and most often, water is not properly filtered, resulting in insufficient removal of harmful organisms from the treated water. Drinking the water WILL cause diarrhea, so be careful! We have heard that you can brush your teeth with the water, since it’s just highly chlorinated, BUT, I wouldn’t recommend it. Why risk getting sick?
The Driving Is CRAZY
If you come to Egypt, only one word will cross your mind when you’re stuck in traffic. “Clusterf*ck”
There is no speed limit, no lights (that we’ve seen), with no traffic lights or stop signs horns will be blown like crazy! It’s a little intense. You have the road lines that people should be in their own lanes, but you have cars driving in the middle of the two divided lines trying to pass other cars, very entertaining! Our driver was very good and patient.
If you come here get ready to see a ton of garbage. It’s very unfortunate. You see locals dumping their garbage in a parking lot etc. When driving to certain places you just see piles and piles of garbage at the side of the roads with dogs and horses scrounging through it. If you go to the desert by the Giza pyramids there will also be a ton of garbage in the sand. With the noise of camels, and horses stepping on the plastic water bottles.
You’re A Celebrity
Going to all the touristy spots you will come across lots of kids who want to take photos with you.Our guide had explained that they don’t see a lot of foreigners, except on TV, so they all want selfies! It does get overwhelming after awhile, so our tour guide either told them to leave us alone or asked us if we wanted more photos taken. Don’t feel obligated to say yes all the time, we eventually said no very politely.
Food Is Amazing
People return from Egypt raving about the mesmerizing sights and landmarks, but not enough people commend the amazing food that you’ll find throughout the country. Egyptian cuisine is unique and delicious. It gets addictive very quickly!
Dishes consist of hummus, veggies, tahini, potatoes, pita’s, chicken, and beef and plenty more! It’s nice to have options and different platters of food and sauces to choose from.
This one is very different from back home. You supposedly have to tip for EVERYTHING here. At our lunch spot, there were two kids one for each bathroom, they closed the doors with them inside and when someone came in you had to give them some money. It was very odd, just with the kids staying inside with the door closed while you do your business, and have them watching you wash your hands. It’s definitely takes getting used to, you will always have to pay people in public bathrooms, even at the temples you will have random guys come up to you before you leave a place asking for a tip, we tipped all the time, but I’ve just read that you don’t always need to, unless they are serving you etc. They do live off of tips though. Keep in mind they make little money here, little as $50CAD a month.
NOTHING IS FREE!
Our hosts and tour guides had told us that nothing is free, which is SO true. Whatever you do be careful, if you touch something or take pictures of someones camel and the owner sees you, know that you will be expected to pay. As we walked through the gates towards the pyramids of Giza, we gave the gentlemen our tickets and he put the headscarf on our heads then asked for money. We thought they were free and that it was a nice gesture, but nope.
This one is a touchy subject for me, because I preach about not riding elephants, petting tigers etc. We did ride on the camels, however we did research it and talked to our hosts / guides. We were aware of what was around us, no whipping sticks or accessories to hurt the camels.
Before going with a company I do HIGHLY recommend researching EVERYTHING when it comes to animals! Camels here in Egypt are transportation for locals. Just like back in the olden days, people still use horse and carriages, donkeys, and camels for a way of getting around. We didn’t ride the camels for “just pictures”, it was our way of getting around the sand dunes to the pyramids.
Is It Safe For Women?
Egypt is a safe country, is what i’ve read everywhere. However, if you’re a solo female traveller just have some rules for yourself, like not staying out too late, and don’t go to bars alone or walk alone at night.
Unfortunately, Egypt has a reputation of sexual harassment and assaults against women, both locals and travellers. In a study done in 2013 by the UN’s Entity for Gender Equality, it’s estimated that 99% of women in Egypt have been sexually harassed at some point; with most reporting groping followed by verbal abuse. Make sure you cover up and avoid eye contact with strangers. Do more research before you go, just to be on the safe side.
Being a women here can be a bit different… I had 2 incidents that made me feel a type of way.
When we arrived at the Cairo airport, we were in line for Immigration, Jamie was before me, he went up chatted a bit with the custom agent and even made him laugh.. My turn.. I put my visa and the rest of my documents on the desk and said “good morning” He didn’t even acknowledge me, he sat there at his desk, not doing anything, but looking out into the distance with not a single word or eye contact. I stood there for at least 2 whole minutes before he took my documents. He then yelled at someone to get me into a different line for secondary, without explaining anything. I went into the other line and the guy was so nice and let me leave without any excuse of what was wrong. That was the most awkward thing I have ever experienced!
Another time was when we had a tour guide for our time in Cairo, our tour guide was so very friendly with Jamie, putting his arm around him, telling him to look in this direction for a history story he was telling. I felt out of the group, he never said good morning to me or even bye on our last day. Barely any eye contact and the best thing yet, he snapped his fingers at me right in my face, not once but 2 times on different days! Told me to pay attention at the museum, when he was explaining a painting on the wall and I just turned around to look at all the cool stuff, second time he even told me to take my glasses off… I so badly wanted to say something, but I just left it alone, since we were in a different country, with a different culture and someone we didn’t really know.