Egypt is an incredible country to visit with the Pyramids, the Nile River, the Valley of the Kings, and so much more. However, it’s such a diverse country and requires quite a bit of planning in order to have the best experience when visiting Egypt. You may find certain aspects of the country to be quite a culture shock depending on where you are from, so I’ve compiled some of my top Egypt travel tips and advice on traveling to Egypt to get you ready for your trip!
When to go to Egypt?
The best time for traveling to Egypt is between October and April when you will experience great weather. I visited Egypt during April of last year, and the weather was perfect. It won’t be unbearably hot and at the same time the highest pick of tourism will pass by then.
The high season is between December and February so it can be a little more crowded and expensive to visit at that time. I would avoid visiting during the summer as it can be boiling hot and very dry, especially for touring the sites and long day trips. Temperatures in summer can reach up to 104°F/40°C, so be prepared to spend a lot of time indoors during a summer visit.
Which places to visit in Egypt?
Egypt goes way beyond the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. If you want to learn more information about all the must-visit places in Egypt during your trip click here!
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Is Egypt safe to visit?
One of the most common questions for people considering a trip to Egypt is in regards to safety. And the answer to this question is not very simple.
No country is 100% safe, and nothing can be guaranteed anywhere in the world nowadays, so I can only share my personal experience with you. I felt very safe and welcomed during my whole journey in Egypt.
The people of Egypt are lovely and very welcoming to tourists. Their culture is very different from that of Western countries, but it’s fascinating to immerse yourself in their country. Personally, I love to learn about how other people live and enjoy authentic travel experiences.
Educate yourself before visiting about common tourist scams and current issues in the country. For sure, Egypt doesn’t provide the same levels of ease for traveling as Europe and Asia do, where you can just plan things as you go along. So, I’d definitely recommend booking and planning your itinerary in advance of your arrival.
I would recommend reviewing travel advisories and local news before your trip, to keep up to date with the latest events. I would also consider a group tour, as traveling with a group and a guide can give you extra reassurance to fully relax and enjoy your experience.
I’d recommend keeping an open mind in Egypt and don’t expect everything to be the same as your home country!
Do I need a Visa to visit Egypt?
To visit Egypt, you will need a visa to enter. You have two options for this depending on your home country. Either you can apply in advance for an Egypt e-Visa online, or queue at the border upon your arrival. For most people, the visa will cost $25 US for a single entry visa (for up to 30 days) or $35 US for a multi-entry visa. If you travel with a tour company, you may find that they organize this for you. If you are purchasing upon arrival, you will need either US Dollars or Egyptian Pounds to pay.
If you’re a citizen of the USA, the EU, Canada, Russia, Australia, and some other countries, you’ll be able to get it on the arrival at the airport.
Do I need vaccinations to visit Egypt?
You don’t officially need to prove that you have any vaccinations to enter Egypt. I didn’t get any special vaccinations before my trip.
Check with your local GP what their recommendations are. Tetanus and Polio are the most commonly recommended, along with Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, and Rabies. Rabies is an issue throughout the country, so try not to touch stray animals on the streets.
How to get around Egypt
Egypt is an incredibly diverse country, with varying landscapes and adventures to be had, so I’d definitely recommend taking the time to visit multiple areas during your trip.
- Buses in Egypt are a very inexpensive and easy way to get around. If you want to see timetables and book tickets, check out GoBus, where you can book your tickets online.
- Domestic flights are also a quick and easy option, and very affordable for flying between major cities.
- You can also book a train for longer journeys as we did for traveling from Cairo to Aswan. I’d recommend booking a first-class ticket and sleeping overnight on the train, where your breakfast and dinner will be included. The other classes on the train can be very crowded and quite scary!
- If you just need to travel around Cairo, Uber will be your best option. It’s very cheap and will save you from having to bargain as you’ll see the price for the ride before booking. Download the app before your trip, so you don’t have any issues with the internet when you arrive.
Pro Travel Tip: I would suggest you get a local SIM card while at the airport. It will save you time and you’ll have an internet connection right from the beginning. It will be very helpful for getting an Uber and staying safe.
Renting a car in Egypt and Walking/Crossing the Roads
Traveling in Cairo and seeing the heavy traffic in the city is an adventure in itself! Be very careful when crossing roads and be very wary of oncoming traffic and swerving cars. Follow the crowds when crossing to stay safe and out of the path of vehicles.
I do not recommend driving or renting a car when in Egypt. The traffic is very hectic and it will be very hard to navigate. It’s simply not worth all the stress. The traffic rules are almost non-existent or at least it looks like it.
Booking a Tour Guide or Traveling Solo in Egypt
Even though I felt safe throughout my whole trip to Egypt, I would still not recommend traveling alone. Exploring Egypt on a guided tour or hiring a personal guide will definitely be worth the money, in my opinion.
I always prefer to travel solo and I never book organized multiple day tours. But when it comes to Egypt, I consider it to be not the best option. After hearing some very bad stories of other solo travelers, I decided to go with an organized tour and I don’t regret it at all.
Cruises on the Nile River
There are so many options and companies for river cruises on the Nile, and it’s one of the best experiences for visitors to Egypt. The cruise I went on lasted three days and was a relaxing and picturesque experience.
The food that was included on the ship was always fresh and local, and it was an all-you-can-eat buffet. It was one of the highlights of my trip to Egypt, and I loved chatting to the locals who worked on board and learn more about the Egyptian culture and way of life.
Keep in mind that if you want to spend more time exploring different places, it might not be the best option for you. Because all of the cruise ships have a strict schedule and most of the time you’ll be exploring temples with a great number of people.
In that case, simply booking a short Nile Cruise or felucca ride might be a better option for you to still get that Nile Experience.
This is a great option for a 2-hour dinner cruise on the Nile River from old to new Cairo.
How much does it cost to visit Egypt / Budgeting for your trip to Egypt
Egypt is a destination that you can visit on a budget should you need to. It’s very easy to find inexpensive yet comfortable places to stay at when doing some research online. I’d definitely suggest checking reviews before booking anything and ensure you are staying in a safe area for tourists. Local food is cheap, fresh and delicious, and a much more budget-friendly option than eating in Western chains.
Learn to Bargain
No matter, if you’re traveling on a strict budget or not, one skill you’ll want to master is bargaining!
It can be very overwhelming at times in Egypt, and you may feel hassled by sellers on the street. They might even chase you trying to sell you stuff. I’d recommend just not worrying about it and not letting it bother you and ruin your opinion about Egyptian people. Travel is all about expanding your horizons, so just stay positive and keep walking if you’re not interested.
It’s best not to engage if you have no intention to purchase, or you’ll probably end up buying something you didn’t want or need! When it comes to purchasing, always try to bargain and negotiate the price first before getting your money out. Most of the time sellers start with a price which is at least 3 to 4 times higher than you can get it for at the end.
Money in Egypt: Currency and Tipping
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound, shown as £E, EGP, or LE. Make sure you check your change in shops and restaurants, so you aren’t given a 50 pt instead of a 50-pound note. This is quite a common scam used on tourists, so get familiar with the currency before arriving.
Also, be sure to check with your bank about using ATMs in Egypt. Bringing a little bit more USD in cash and exchanging it to EGP later was the best option for me because the ATM fees were huge.
Tipping is very much expected everywhere in Egypt. You will have to tip a lot.
If you’re taking a picture of a camel, its owner might expect you to pay for it. Whether you are in a restaurant, hotel, cruise ship, or on a tour, make sure you have some cash on you at all times to tip the staff. Get some small notes in advance or as soon as you arrive in the country, and you won’t be caught short.
Additional Costs and Paying for Photography Passes
Something that I found quite unusual in Egypt and had not experienced before was the additional costs at some attractions for using a camera. In some of the temples and museums, you will have to pay an additional charge for camera use inside. Most of the time it won’t apply to your phone but it will apply to any other photography equipment.
So, it’s definitely worth to upgrade your phone before your trip to Egypt, if you have a lower quality camera as some passes may cost you up to $20 and will add up to a pretty big amount.
Weekends in Egypt
The weekend in Egypt falls on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Just like anywhere else in the world, expect busier crowds at tourist attractions on these three days. I would highly recommend avoiding the biggest attractions such as the Pyramids on these days, as you will spend a lot of your visit in queues and with crowds.
Smoking in Egypt
You will find smokers everywhere in Egypt, and as a non-smoker, it can be quite irritating! The only place where smoking is not allowed is in fast-food restaurants, but otherwise, smoking is permitted in most public areas. Some restaurants do offer non-smoking areas, but you will find these still receive smoke from nearby tables. If you are a non-smoker, make sure to request a non-smoking room in your hotel to avoid unpleasant odors.
What to pack and wear in Egypt
Here are some of the most useful and essential items I packed for my time in Egypt:
- Loose-fitting and light clothing – whenever you visit, Egypt is bound to be very hot! So wear light and loose clothing to keep you cool on those long days out. Try to be respectful of the local traditions and cover your knees and shoulders as much as possible.
- Scarf – if you are planning to visit mosques, this can be used to cover your head during your visit. Egypt is a Muslim country, so be respectful of their dress codes at all times.
- Adaptor – Egypt uses European plugs, so depending on where you are from, make sure you pack your adaptor for charging your electronics.
- Sunscreen and a hat – most of the activities that you’ll do in Egypt will be outside. To avoid sunburn or sunstroke, pack accordingly.
- Hand sanitizer and toilet paper– always comes in handy for bathrooms with broken taps or on long days out.
- Anti-diarrhea pills– Fortunately, I didn’t have to use them, but you never know!
You will have celebrity status in Egypt!
It’s not uncommon for tourists to be stopped by locals for a quick photo or a selfie on the streets. Even though Egypt is a very popular tourist destination, in my opinion, you still look very interesting to the locals. If you don’t feel comfortable, just say “no thank you” politely and move on.
Look after your belongings
I would give this advice for visiting any country, but make sure you keep your personal belongings close to you. I suggest using a money wallet and keeping your electronics hidden as best as possible. Be very aware of local scams and anyone trying to distract you from stealing your belongings.
Food and Drink in Egypt
Drinking tap water is not recommended in Egypt, so stick to bottled water and check the seal before drinking. Water is pretty inexpensive in the stores, and it’s not worth the risk of getting sick!
Ensure you drink plenty of water and also keep water with you on days out, to make sure you don’t get dehydrated. Add a little extra salt into your diet, and consider packing electrolyte tablets in case you do feel ill at any point.
I would recommend avoiding eating salad or raw vegetables on your trip, as it might have been washed with unclean water. Make sure any meat you consume is well cooked. Be cautious of some street vendors, as they don’t all have running water at their stands. Ice cream is another thing to be careful of, so make sure what you’re consuming hasn’t been refrozen after melting!
Don’t expect great things when it comes to the toilets! You will generally need to pay for public toilets in Egypt, so have some small currency with you at all times.
I’d recommend carrying your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, so you aren’t caught short! You will also need to tip in hotel and restaurant toilets, which are generally attended by a staff member.