Egypt is a fascinating country that offers a rich history, culture, and adventure for travelers. Whether you want to explore the ancient pyramids, cruise the Nile, or relax on the Red Sea, Egypt has something for everyone. But before you pack your bags and book your Egypt tours, here are 10 things you should know before traveling to Egypt for the first time.
The best time to visit Egypt is from October to April, when the weather is mild and pleasant. Avoid the summer months from May to September, when the temperatures can soar above 40°C and the humidity is high. You can also find cheaper flights and accommodation during the off-season.
You need a visa to enter Egypt, unless you are from one of the visa-exempt countries. You can apply for an e-visa online before your trip, or get a visa on arrival at the airport for a fee of $25. Make sure you have a valid passport with at least six months of validity and a blank page for the visa stamp.
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piasters. You can exchange your money at banks, hotels, or authorized exchange bureaus. Avoid black market dealers who may offer you a better rate but are illegal and risky. You can also use ATMs and credit cards in major cities and tourist areas, but always carry some cash for emergencies and tips.
The official language in Egypt is Arabic, but many people also speak English, especially in the tourism sector. You can get by with basic English in most places, but learning some Arabic phrases can help you communicate better and show respect to the locals. For example, you can say “salam” (hello), “shukran” (thank you), and “ma’asalama” (goodbye).
The culture in Egypt is predominantly Muslim, and you should respect the local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites, and avoid showing too much skin or affection in public. Women should cover their shoulders, knees, and hair (while visiting mosques), and men should avoid wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts. You should also avoid drinking alcohol, eating pork, or smoking in public during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.
The food in Egypt is delicious and diverse, influenced by various cuisines from the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. You can find a variety of dishes, such as ful medames (fava beans), koshari (rice, lentils, and pasta), molokhia (green soup), and shawarma (meat wrap). You can also try the local desserts, such as baklava (filo pastry), basbousa (semolina cake), and kunafa (cheese pastry). Be careful with street food and tap water, and stick to bottled water and reputable restaurants to avoid getting sick.
The transportation in Egypt is cheap and convenient, but can also be chaotic and crowded. You can use taxis, buses, trains, or metro to get around the cities, but always negotiate the fare before you get in and have exact change. You can also rent a car or hire a driver, but be prepared for the hectic traffic and driving rules. For long-distance travel, you can take domestic flights, or book a Nile cruise for a more scenic and relaxing option.
The attractions in Egypt are numerous and stunning, and you should plan your itinerary carefully to make the most of your time. You can visit the iconic pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the ancient temples of Luxor and Aswan, the Valley of the Kings and Queens, and the Abu Simbel temples. You can also enjoy the natural beauty of the Red Sea, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Sahara Desert.
The safety in Egypt is generally good, but you should always be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Avoid political demonstrations, protests, and crowds, and follow the advice of the local authorities. Be wary of scams, pickpockets, and touts, and don’t accept any offers or invitations from strangers. You should also register with your embassy and have a travel insurance that covers medical and emergency expenses.
The people in Egypt are friendly and hospitable, and you will have many opportunities to interact with them and learn about their culture. You can join a local tour guide, who can show you the hidden gems and secrets of the country, or stay with a host family, who can share their home and meals with you. You can also visit the local markets, cafes, and mosques, where you can mingle with the locals and practice your Arabic. You will find that the Egyptians are warm, generous, and curious, and will make you feel welcome and comfortable.
Egypt is a wonderful destination that will amaze you with its history, culture, and nature. By following these 10 tips, you can have a smooth and enjoyable trip, and make the most of your Egypt tours. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures, souvenirs, and memories, and share your stories with your friends and family. Have a great time in Egypt!