5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Egypt

By , Travel Insights Editor Egypt 5 things, egypt, mid east, nile, pyramids, travel-safety
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.
Daniel Radcliffe,Volunteer HQ
WorldNomads: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 pyramidswhen 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.
WorldNomads:This is especially intimidating for women. It's best to have a few coping strategies ready to go.
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.
Gilles A.,GeckoGo.com
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.
Christy McCarthy,World Nomads
WorldNomads: Not so crucial at the Red Sea Resorts where sun-bathing westerners are common. Again, in the current climate, double check that everything's calm at the resorts before booking a trip.
Need some handy Arabic travel phrases? Try our Arabic Language guide podcast or iPhone app.

Read more stories from WorldNomads.com to help keep you travelling safely. WorldNomads.com - an essential part of every adventurous traveller's journey.

What did you learn in Egypt and wish you knew before you went? Leave us a comment...



  • World Travel Guide said

    Nice Post...Its so very informative and knowledgable for your visitors or readers...Thank You for sharing.. Keep up the good work.

  • Helen said

    I spent 3 wonderful weeks in Egypt in Sept 2008. Luxor was the main place I was hassled by teenage boys selling poor quality goods,surrounding me so I couldn't get onto the boat and when I did agree on a price for some postcards insisted I handover more money. I was saved by a policeman who forcefully got them to move on. The other distressing thing was the condition of some of the horses. One of the horses actually collapsed and the other so exhausted it couldn't go any further,that's when the poor thing was whipped. My friend got out of the cart and walked the rest of the way after telling the owner what they thought of him. Pick a horse that doesn't look overworked,the owner has feed and water with them and keeps the whip under his seat!

  • Shane WILLIS said

    Was in Egypt/Sharm/Cairo recently - most of those whom approach you still want money for anything & are quite forcefull about it but be assertive an they move off- great place to visit - a must see an I will be back to see more of it

  • lenlen said

    1. and 2. Ask! Locals, who are not in the tourist business are friendly and will give advice gladly. But especially in tourist resorts you meet only those who are on the business and looking way of making money.<br>3. True...especially fish restaurants can give you a surprise bill. Luckily food was so good that we didn't care<br>4. So true! Having 1 pound and also other smaller notes enough makes life more easy. Tipping is common and it also makes your life easy, toilets, waiters etc. Also negotiation of taxi price is more easy with right money. Btw. In Cairo there is also now white taxis which use taximeter - but better to say you want to use it before hand.<br>5. About covering up; I did use normal city clothes, which I use back home too, without problem. There are areas in Cairo where is normal to walk by yourself safety and no one bothers you and some areas maybe better to be avoid totally. I sometimes wonder tourists visiting mosques and churches in their holiday in bikinis etc. - would they go dressed like that to their own church?

  • Rain said

    Always take hand sanitising gel with you everywhere the money is very dirty & thats how you pick up tummy upsets we ised it all the time &we had no probs,other people not so lucky.

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