I always dreamt of an Egypt tour taking snaps at Giza Pyramids or walking through the historical hieroglyphics. Tales from Egypt about the mummies and Goddess Nut fantasized me to visit there. The actuality is far away from stories, and you need to know some real things before visiting Egypt in a group or as a solo female traveler. Archaeological treasures of this country are captivating, but it can also be exhausting if you don’t hit the right path. Some aspects of travel are often left unsaid, and I would like to highlight them here. So, what should you know before traveling to Egypt? Details inside.
Table of Contents
- 1 12 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Egypt
- 1.1 Best time to visit
- 1.2 Visa on Arrival not for all countries
- 1.3 Paying hotels in foreign currency
- 1.4 Extra charges nowhere mentioned in the package
- 1.5 Choose tour and cab carefully
- 1.6 Security can be a significant concern
- 1.7 Egypt is not all about Pyramids
- 1.8 Asking for a tip a typical scene in Egypt
- 1.9 No drone photography allowed
- 1.10 Nile Cruise is not all about sailing
- 1.11 It’s ok to visit during Ramadan
- 1.12 Be ready to find a heavy Military presence
- 1.13 Are You On Pinterest? Click To Save This For Later Read!
12 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Egypt
Best time to visit
Don’t even try to plan a summer vacation to Egypt as it is sweltering hot then. It is a tropical country, and the desert land makes it unbearably hot in summers. The scorching heat is oppressive, and the dry climate would result in skin burns. You can ideally visit here from September to April. Some popular tourist places like Abu Simbel temple sites in Aswan is tough to see during summertime for extreme heat.
Visa on Arrival not for all countries
While nationals can apply for an e-visa, foreigners can buy it on Arrival at US$25 before clearing immigration. You may prefer buying it directly as the glitches of the e-visa network worsens at times. It is an easy method to get Egypt Visa on Arrival from the airport but not for all countries. I had to get a tourist visa from my country before traveling to Egypt.
Paying hotels in foreign currency
How to pay in Egypt for accommodations? According to Egyptian rules for tourists, you can make all hotel payments in foreign currency only by cash or a card. Only Egyptians are only allowed to pay in Egyptian pounds, not for foreigners. City tax or service charge and VAT are all included extra with each hotel room price.
Extra charges nowhere mentioned in the package
I experienced that there are many extra tickets and charges for various tourist attractions. And most of them are not up to the mark. Charges for the Royal Mummy exhibit in Cairo, entry fee for burial chambers of pyramids, and photography permit in the Valley of Kings are unnecessary expenses that you could skip. If you do not wish to miss any of it, consider an additional of 30%-40% charges over others.
Choose tour and cab carefully
My travel decision to Egypt was booking with a local tour and packages as I went on a solo trip. If you are planning family travel, you can explore the tour on your own or book packages as well.
I found there is a tendency to run several tour groups by one English speaking Guide and for that, you might miss exploring all the places. During our Luxor tour, the local guide failed to show us the Luxor Temple as he was occupied with many groups and tried to manage all.
Even intentionally try to skip some places to show, but you got nothing to do as already paid for the package. Sadly it happened during two days trip to Bahariya Oasis.
Traffic in Egypt is troublesome, so do not think of renting and driving your cars. Instead, get a reasonable Uber with professional drivers who can guide you to the best tourist attractions, timings, and nearby restaurants.
Security can be a significant concern
I do not consider Egypt as unsafe. Overall I had a fantastic three weeks solo trip to Egypt. But yes, security needs precaution over there. It is better to consider the local places and crowded tourist spots rather than hunting for some off-beat destinations. Right from hotel booking to security checks for taxis and restaurants, stay cautious on everything.
Egypt is not all about Pyramids
Egypt became a dream destination for the wonder of the world, the Great Pyramid. But you’ll also be amazed to see the diverse beauty of Egypt during a camping tour in Bahariya Oasis. There are beautiful deserts and mountains with natural rock formations of different shapes.
Even Egypt is best for a relaxing holiday in beautiful beach destinations. Beaches are pristine and perfect for diving in the Red Sea. You’ll also enjoy exploring the historic Mediterranean city Alexandria.
Asking for a tip a typical scene in Egypt
On my trip, I noticed that tipping is ridiculously so common everywhere in Egypt. Whether you get proper service or not, you must face this common scenario. Some might come themselves even without asking to help you and later will ask for a tip. It became a custom to tip locals for everything or any service you get from them. Locals ask for a tip or ‘Baksheesh’ a lot as they have low salaries.
No drone photography allowed
If you carry drones to capture splendid landscapes at various locations, you have to skip it in Egypt. Egypt prohibits any aerial vehicles without a License as per their Ministry of Defense. Punishment can lead to confiscation or even some severe penalties like going to jail.
Nile Cruise is not all about sailing
I booked five days Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor off my three weeks Egypt tour. It was all good, and only there is not much of sailing over there. The cruise sailed between the Aswan and Luxor, while it docked up at ports most of the time. And they will take you to sightseeing attractions with other transportations. There is not much cruising, but it was all fun during the holiday season for excellent food and indoor programs.
It’s ok to visit during Ramadan
As Egypt is an Islamic country, many people suggest that it is advisable not to visit during this holy month as there are many restrictions. But it is quite familiar over there, and the tourism industry works fine. The only hassle is you need to avoid drinking and eating in public as that is not allowed there. If you are an alcohol lover, escape that time of the year as you would surely not get any.
Be ready to find a heavy Military presence
You can see that the Egyptian Military is everywhere with heavy-duty arms and ammunition. Walking through the tourist attractions involves going through big scanners and metal detectors. And some areas, cameras not allowed to use, so be careful before photo shootings. I was road tripping by a cab from Cairo to Alexandria. Some of my video clips got deleted on the way by one of them as I was not aware of the restrictions over there.
Furthermore, get a fling of local Arabic language and terms used in Egypt as it helps while navigation and bargaining through this beautiful place’s colorful markets.
Every new place has a host of new challenges, a set of rules and norms that a good traveler always follows. But some surprises are not good, so it’s better to stay alert and know well in advance about it. Travel the land of ancient wonders and witness the fantastic cultural heritage to enjoy pleasantly.