5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Egypt
Sphinx and Pyramids. Courtesy of Flickr.com, by [Mrs Logic].
Soyou’ve booked your trip to Egypt – land of The Nile, and Cleopatra! You’ve checked the weather reports, cashed up with the local currency, bought travel insurance and confirmed your hotel – you should be all set, right?
Egypt is a wonderful breathtaking country, but beware that there are certain local laws and customs that you’ll need to adhere to. For instance, did you know that taking photographs of bridges and canals (including the Suez Canal), military personnel, buildings and equipment is illegal? Possession of even small quantities of illicit drugs in Egypt can lead to the death penalty, long prison sentences or deportation.
We know there is a lot to read before going to Egypt so we asked our friends in the adventure travel space to give us some tips on what they wish they knew before they went to Egypt.
1. Ask around.
I wish I had known that the pyramids and sphinx are not that far from the taxi entrance. Many tours, taxis and tour operators have commission based partners outside this area who tell you it is "a 5 mile walk" to the pyramids and sphinx and get you to ride a very painful camel or horse for 2 hours in an area running parallel to the sites. Say no firmly and ask directions to the entrance which is a 5 minute walk from the sites.
Given the occaisional fare-ups of troyble in the post 2011 revolution period, it might be best to check if it'ssafe to visit the pyramids
when you plan to go.
2. Be aware.
The touts can be very aggressive and annoying to tourists. The fact is, any local who starts a conversation with you is looking for money. You have to be onyour guard constantly, more so than with any other country I have visited.
3. Assess the add-ons.
A service charge of between 10% and 15% is applied in most upmarket restaurants and hotels, to which value-added tax (VAT) and municipal taxes are also added. In other words, the price that you are quoted at a hotel or read on a menu could be almost 25% higher when it comes to paying the bill.
4. Carry change.
Always carry a lot of coins and small bills, (the pound is the currency in Egypt), you will have to "tip" many times a day, for all kinds of reasons. I had to tip the guy at the entry of the washroom to get a few sheets of toilet paper.
5. Cover up.
Culturally, Egypt is a Muslim country. Even in the big cities a woman should have a male companion with her when on the street. Ladies should have shoulders and upper arms covered, closed neck top, skirt below the knees, pants are ok, but ought to be loose. Modesty is the key word. Don’t insist on your right to wear what you want, respect their culture and cover up.
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What did you learn in Egypt and wish you knew before you went? Leave us a comment...