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Egypt's sand dunes
Egypt's sand dunes | © 12019 / Pixabay
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Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt

Picture of Yosra Shohayeb
Updated: 16 March 2018
Considered a bucket-list destination to many, you can say there is something for everyone in Egypt. But in order to return home with a story to tell, you need a few tips to get the most out of your experience. Here are some essential things to know before visiting Egypt.

Book before you come

Whether you’re opting for a tour guide or not, it’s better to book all your trips ahead. Trips such as Nile cruises in Luxor and Aswan, safari trips in the Western Desert, or diving in the Red Sea require a lot of planning. Book before you come so you don’t find yourself all over the place.

The capital never sleeps

Cairo is always awake. Although most cafes, restaurants, shops, and so forth close around 12 to 2 am, the rest of the city is always on the go. This is great because you can walk around, explore the streets, eat local food, and enjoy the lights of the capital.

However, other cities such as Sinai, Hurghada, Gouna, and Fayoum close down much earlier than Cairo.

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Cairo Nile view at night | © Dan Lundberg / Flickr

The traffic (in Cairo) is crazy

Most of the time Cairo is in rush-hour mode, making the traffic impossible to bear. Nevertheless, far from Cairo there is little to no traffic at all, which is why it is better to stay for a couple of days in Cairo and then see the rest of Egypt in peace.

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Traffic in Aataba district, Cairo | © Endlisnis / Flickr

Get to know your ride options

Speaking of traffic, it’s crucial to know your transportation options so you can avoid it as much as possible. The metro is your fastest option for getting around during rush hour, but it can be a bit crowded. Depending on your budget, there are many other means of transportation such as Uber, Careem, microbuses, buses, and fairies. Outside of Cairo, you can mostly find taxis and microbuses.

Be careful crossing the street

No matter what city you go to in Egypt, there are no rules for crossing the street. It can be a frightening experience to those who are not used to it. The best way to cross the street in Egypt is to make sure there is someone passing in the same direction with you and try to ensure that there is a good amount of space between you and the cars. They won’t stop for anyone!

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Crossing the street in Cairo | © David Evers / Flickr

The weather is always great

There are days when it can get very hot in Egypt, but never very cold. During these hot days, take a trip to one of Egypt’s many beach destinations. In winter you’ll only need a sweater. Winter in Egypt means amazing safari and desert trips.

Know what to pack

It’s important not to forget that Egypt is mostly a Muslim country, which means that they have a conservative culture. It’s better for women to cover their arms and legs if they don’t want unwelcome attention. However, some areas are more laid back, such as the Red Sea, as they’re used to many tourists. Also pack a good pair of comfortable shoes, sunscreen and a hat.

PDA is not normal

You won’t find people French kissing in public like in Rome. Maybe some will hold hands here and there, but kissing, hugging and that kind of thing is definitely a no-no in Egypt. Some women won’t even shake hands with men they aren’t related to.

Everything is affordable here

Compare your currency to the Egyptian pound and you’ll find that most things are not only affordable but cheap here. This is good news because it means you can travel around many cities in Egypt without paying a fortune.

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Egyptian pounds | © emi moriya / Flickr

Learn to bargain

Because Egyptians know that everything is affordable for tourists, they easily take advantage of that and price everything up. It’s better to buy water and snacks from well-known stores rather than kiosks. When it comes to souvenir shops, don’t settle for the first price but bargain, bargain, bargain!

Tipping is important

Even though many restaurants have service included in the check, tipping is very important here. If you don’t tip, they’ll most probably think you’re cheap and consider it disrespectful. You’ll also need to tip people helping you with your bags, with parking, or giving you any added service. Usually 5 to 10 Egyptian pounds is quite enough.

Egyptians will help you around

Don’t worry about losing your way, as you can be certain that any Egyptian will help you reach your destination. However, make sure to ask several different people, as sometimes people give you the wrong answer. Choose someone who is familiar with the area, such as a gatekeeper or security officer.

Slow down on the food

One unmissable experience in Egypt is the food. A trip to Egypt is not the same without trying its unique dishes. However, don’t try everything at once, because you can get sick. Egyptians use a lot of spices, garlic, onions, and oil, so the food can be a bit heavy and greasy, which you may not be used to.

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Beef sojok sandwiches | © kareemelqaffass / Pixabay