Egypt is unquestionably one of the most coveted tourist destinations in the world due to its Giza Pyramid Complex and its fascinating cuisine. Its hot climate and inviting people both add to its already-irresistible allure. So, without holding the golden information back from you any further, let us see the top six things to know before visiting Egypt.
1. Taxis and traffic:
Major cities like Cairo, Giza and Alexandria are known to be some of the most congested cities in the world and for this particular reason, we recommend that you avoid taxis as much as you can. If you choose to use them anyway, you will not only be stuck in traffic for much longer than you may have anticipated, you might even have the ill fortune of running into a pirate cab driver (for there are plenty of them). Especially avoid the taxis that are close to airports and train stations for they are most likely on the prowl for unsuspecting tourists. Also, urge the drivers that you choose to hire to start their metres and if they do not have one, agree on a price before undertaking the designated journey.
2. Dressing appropriately:
Since Egypt is under Islamic rule, one should strive to respect its traditions and its cultural code. For this particular reason, we recommend that you dress modestly, covering as much skin as you possibly can (this especially goes for women). While you might not be prosecuted for not doing so, you might attract a few uninspiring glares and disrespectful remarks. If you dabble in Arabic, these remarks will become sharper to your ear. Also, if you are visiting mosques, it is advised to take off your shoes and stay polite. Keeping a low profile is key. If you get past this small impediment, you will find that the Egyptians are great people (the ones that are not directly affiliated with the tourist industry and constantly looking for money).
3. The prowlers:
While services are excellent and the people are friendly, there is another side of this same coin. When random people engage in conversations with you, there is a 90% chance that they are looking to strip you of your money. This does not directly mean that they intend to rob you but they will find millions of reasons as to why you should hand over a few coins to them. These will include extra tips, helping “poor, lost people” gathering enough money to buy train tickets, feeding seemingly hungry kids (often run by greedy adults who will blow your money off on themselves anyway) and many others. Always keep your guard up and, like a haggling master, stand your ground. If these people notice that you are not intimidated, they will back down and leave you be.
4. Cash and change:
And here is another tip directly attached to money: if you are walking around only with your credit card, you are going to have a hard time getting at things in Egypt. Cash rules the country with an iron fist and people will only react if you flutter a few banknotes (or clink a few coins) in front of them. Note also that services can charge up to 25% extra, so do not be surprised when you see a discrepancy between pamphlet prices and real life.
5. A friend in need:
It is rare for us to state the following but the time has come to draw the friend card. Since the tourism industry in Egypt is packed with high-class thieves, it is best to call upon the local youth to guide you for they are open-minded, friendly and will even speak English. The greatest perk of having an Egyptian friend is that you will never be extorted, they will know how to get you out of situations that you might not understand and they will in NO CASE ask for your money. The best guides in Egypt are the selfless ones, so use the internet and befriend people!
6. The Pyramids:
This is essentially the place where most tourists get scammed. How? Well, some people will tell you that you cannot drive to the site and that you must use a camel or a horse to get there. The elephant gets even bigger in the room when they offer you rides themselves (not to mention the poor conditions in which some of them keep their animals). Oh, and let us not forget about the fact that they will overcharge you like you’re an ATM. Keep your eyes peeled and your wallets close.
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Egypt and what taste did they leave you with? Fill the comment section with all sorts of interesting trips! Safe travels!