What Should You Know Before Traveling To Egypt

Great pyramid view from Giza roadside

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.

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.

Food with Great Pyramid of Giza view from Marvel Stone Hotel Giza
Food with Great Pyramid of Giza view from Marvel Stone Hotel

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.

Inclusive ticket of Giza Plateau
Inclusive ticket of Giza Plateau

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.

Beautiful Philae Temple in Aswan
Beautiful Philae Temple in Aswan

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.

Kamal El Deen Salah Tunnel in Cairo
Kamal El Deen Salah Tunnel in Cairo

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.

Chicken and mushroom rock formation in the White Desert
Chicken and mushroom rock formation in the White Desert
Agabat Valley of White Desert
Agabat Valley of White Desert

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.

Hurghada beach resort town in the Red Sea
Hurghada beach resort town in the Red Sea

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.

Souvenir shop in the Great Pyramid of Giza
Souvenir seller in the Great Pyramid of Giza

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.

Gorgeous decor during Holiday Season at MS Monica Nile Cruise
The gorgeous decor of MS Monica Nile Cruise during Holiday Season

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.

Local eatery in Old Cairo
Local eatery in Old Cairo

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.

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