Egypt
Travel Guide
SOLAR EMPIRE provides you with all the information you need for your selected destination to help you knowing more about every aspect on your Vacation/Trip.
This information is collected carefully, and has been verified several times and arranged in a matter to help you getting to the point in no time.
Here you will learn all you need to know about your Destination Map, lifestyle, transportation, communication, exchange rates, and much much more.
(Arabic: مصر Misr / Másr; more fully, the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: جمهوريّة مصر العربيّة Gomhuriat Masr Al-Arabiah) is a large country located in north-eastern Africa with its capital located in its largest city, Cairo. Egypt also extends into Asia by virtue of holding the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is bordered by Israel to the north-east, by Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the east (across the Red Sea), by Sudan to the south and by Libya to the west. The country is bounded by the Mediterranean and Red Seas (to the north and east respectively) and geographically dominated both by the River Nile and its fertile well-watered valley, and by the Eastern and Western deserts.
Egypt (together with its southern neighbour Sudan) is perhaps best known as the home of the ancient Egyptian civilization, with its temples, hieroglyphs, mummies, and - visible above all - its pyramids. Less well-known is Egypt's medieval heritage, courtesy of Coptic Christianity and Islam - ancient churches, monasteries and mosques punctuate the Egyptian landscape. Egypt stimulates the imagination of western tourists like few other countries and is probably one of the most popular tourist destinations world-wide.

Regions

Egypt can be divided into a number of convenient regions for the traveler:
  • Cairo - the capital of Egypt and its surroundings, including Giza, Memphis, Saqqara, Abusir and Dahshur.
  • Alexandria, Egypt's city by the Mediterranean Sea
  • Lower Egypt, containing the Delta region, where the Nile meets the Mediterranean, the extreme north of the country
  • Middle Egypt
  • Luxor - amazing temples and the Valley of the Kings
  • Upper Egypt, a string of amazing temple towns located on the Nile between Luxor and Aswan
  • Aswan - the relaxed alternative to Cairo and Luxor
  • Lake Nasser and Abu Simbel - two great monuments, one modern, one ancient
  • the Western Oases - five pockets of green in the midst of the Western Desert, each with their own unique attractions
  • the Red Sea Coast - luxury beach resorts, diving and marine life
  • the Sinai Peninsula - rugged and isolated, with fascinating relics of the past and infamous diving in Sharm el-Sheikh

Climate

Egypt is largely desert, an extension of the great Sahara Desert that bands North Africa. Save for the thin strip of watered land along the river Nile, very little could survive here As the ancient Greek historian stated: "Egypt is the gift of the Nile". Generally, dry and very hot summers with moderate winters - November through to January are definitely the most comfortable months for travel in Egypt. There is almost no rain in the Nile valley, so you won't be needing wet weather gear! Do bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a sturdy hat however.

Holidays

Banks, shops and businesses will close for the following Egyptian National Holidays (civil, secular). Public transport may run only limited services:
  • 7th January (Eastern Orthothox Christmas)
  • 25th April (Liberation Day)
  • 1st May (Labour Day)
  • 23rd July (Revolution Day)
  • 6th October (Armed Forces Day)

Terrain

Egypt consists of vast desert plateau interrupted by the Nile valley and delta.

Get in Visas and Documentation

There are three types of Egyptian visa:
  • Tourist Visa - usually valid for a period not exceeding 3 months and granted on either a single or multiple entry basis (note it is not visas are not chargeable when visiting the red sea resorts of taba and sharm-el-sheik)
  • Entry Visa - required for any foreigner arriving in Egypt for purposes other than tourism, e.g. work, study, etc. The possession of a valid Entry Visa is needed to complete the residence procedure in Egypt.
  • Transit Visa

Non-Egyptian travelers are required to be in possession of a valid passport.
Entry visas may be obtained from Egyptian Diplomatic and Consular Missions Abroad or from the Entry Visa Department at the Travel Documents, Immigration and Nationality Administration (TDINA).

Citizens of many countries may obtain a visa on arrival at major points of entry. The fees for a single-entry visa are as follows:
  • UK citizens: £15
  • US citizens: US$15
  • Australian citizens: A$45
  • Canadian citizens: C$25

Please check with your nearest Egyptian Consular mission for more details concerning visa regulations applying to your citizenship.

Citizens of the following countries are currently required to be in possession of a pre-arrival visa:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, Croatia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Lebanon, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldavia, Montenegro, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Tadzhikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and all African countries.

Residents of the countries above may apply for a visa through their nearest Egyptian Consulate or Embassy.

Visitors entering Egypt at the overland border post of Taba or at Sharm el Sheikh airport can be exempted from a visa and granted a free fourteen day residence permit to visit the Aqaba coast of the Sinai peninsular, including Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab and St. Catherine's Monastery.

Those in possession of a residence permit in Egypt are not required to obtain an entry visa if they leave the country and return to it within the validity of their residence permit or within six months, whichever period is less.

By plane

Egypt has several international airports:
  • Cairo International Airport — the primary entry point and the hub of the national carrier Egypt Air.
  • Alexandria Nozha
  • Luxor International Airport — now receiving an increasing number of international scheduled flights in addition to charter flights.
  • Aswan International Airport
  • Hurghada International Airport — receives a number of charter flights
  • Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport — receives a number of charter flights

By car

No need to worry, according the the CNN/Money Global Gas Prices in March 2005, the Price in USD Regular/Gallon is $0.65. So if you decide to rent a car, you will not be digging through your pockets looking for a lot of money to fill your cars tank! But remember, car rental sites require you to be at least 25-years-old

By bus

Egypt can be accessed by bus from a number of neighbouring countries, such as Israel (from the bus stations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) and Jordan.

By boat

A car ferry runs between Aqaba in Jordan and Nuweiba in the Sinai, tickets $50. A weekly ferry also runs between Wadi Halfa in Sudan, and Aswan in Egypt. There are also ferry boats available to and from Red Sea to ports in Saudi Arabia and Jordan Cruises to Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey are also popular.

Map of Egypt



  • Cairo - the capital of Egypt, home to the Giza Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and fabulous Islamic architecture
  • Alexandria - Egypt's window on the Mediterranean
  • Aswan - a more relaxed option, full of amazing sights
  • Luxor - gateway to the Valley of the Kings, amongst other fabulous attractions
  • Siwa - an oasis town

Other destinations
  • Abu Simbel
  • Abydos
  • Amarna
  • Baharia Oasis
  • Beni Hasan
  • Dahab
  • Damanhour
  • Dendera
  • El Alamein
  • Hurghada
  • Mansoura
  • Meidum
  • Rachid
  • Tanis
  • Tell Basta (Bubastis)

Get around


By train

The trains in Egypt are all run by Egyptian National Railways, a state-owned and -run company (no website available as yet).
Train tickets can be bought at most major railway stations' booking offices once you are in Egypt, (although, as this is Egypt, a great deal of patience is often required...)

Ramses Station in Cairo has several booking windows, for example, one for each class and group of destinations, so be sure to check with locals (usually very helpful) that you are joining the right queue. Train tickets can be paid for in Egyptian currency, except for the deluxe Abela Egypt sleeper which must be paid in foreign currency (dollars, euros or pounds sterling). An alternative to self-booking, if you don't mind paying a little commission to avoid the inevitable hassle and frustration, is to a local travel agent to buy tickets on your behalf (preferably at least the day before you intend to travel).
Busy holiday periods excepted, it's not normally difficult to get 1st class tickets on the day of travel or the day before. To avoid complications, however, book as far ahead as possible.

Always go for First Class tickets (ridiculously cheap in any case) - travelers probably won't want to experience anything below Second Class (the condition and provision of toilets, for example, drops away quickly after this level). If you must travel at a lower class than desirable, look for the first opportunity to "upgrade" yourself into an empty seat - you may pay a small supplement when your ticket is checked, but it's worth it.

By taxi

In the cities taxis are a very safe, cheap and convenient way of getting around. It has to be noted that while they are mostly safe there are sometimes fake taxis going around so make sure they have official markings on the dashboard or elsewhere. They are also always painted in special colors, in Cairo they are black and white and in Luxor they are blue and white. In Cairo and Luxor it is often much more interesting to use the taxis and a good guidebook instead of traveling around in a tour bus.

All the taxis have meters but they are calibrated using a law from the 1970s before the oil crisis and are never used. Generally the best way is to ask at your hotel for the prices from point-to-point prices. Or ask a pedestrian or policemen for the correct price. It is sensible to state your price when you get in to reduce the possibilities of arguments after arriving at your destination.

Some believe that the best way is to that you to tell the driver where to go and not mention a price. At the end of the journey you step out of the car and make sure you have everything with you and then hand out reasonable money. If the driver shouts, it's probably OK, but if he steps out of the car you almost certainly paid too little. The definition of reasonable seems to be variable but examples are 20 LE from central Cairo to Giza, 10 LE for a trip inside central Cairo and 5 LE for a short hop inside the city. Do not be tempted to give them too much except for exceptional service, otherwise ripping off foreigners will become more common and such practice generally tends to add to the inflation. Note that the prices listed here are already slightly inflated to the level expected from tourists, not what Egyptians would normally pay.

Taxis can also be hired for whole days for between 100-200 LE if going on longer excursions, for example to Saqqara and Dashur from Cairo. Inside the town they are also more than happy to wait for you (often for a small extra charge but normally they say it's free), even if you will be wandering around for a few hours.

English is often spoken by taxi drivers and they will double as guides, announcing important places when you drive by them. Of course they expect to be paid a little extra for that. This is not always the case and if you get your hands on a good english speaking driver it is wise to ask him for a card or a phone number, they can often be available at any time.

Very recently, a new line of taxis owned by private companies has been introduced to Cairo as a pilot project. They are all clean and air-conditioned. The drivers are formally dressed and can converse in at least one foreign language, usually English. These cabs stand out in their NYC-yellow. They can be hailed on the street if they are free or hired from one of their stops (including one in Tahrir square, downtown, across from the Museum). These new cabs use current meters which count by the kilometer. In general, they are not more expensive than the normal taxis and you can guarantee not being over-charged

By plane

The domestic air network is fairly extensive and covers most major towns in Egypt. The national carrier, EgyptAir, has the most regular services and is the easiest place to start looking before you go. From Cairo there are services to quite a few towns and places of interest around the country, the most common being Luxor, Aswan Abu Simbel, Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh, Alexandria, Mersa Matruh and Kharga oasis.

Due to a two-tier pricing structure fares can be more than four times as expensive for foreigners than locals but still relatively cheap — for example a return day trip to Luxor is about $150. It is wise to book early as flights fill up quickly in the peak season. Local travel agencies have internet web pages and can sometimes squeeze you in last minute, but booking in advance is recommended.

See

Highlights of any visit to Egypt would include:
  • the Pyramids
  • the Egyptian Museum
  • the temples of Luxor and the West Bank across the Nile
  • the Valley of the Kings
  • the Temples of Abu Simbel

When you're done with the historical touring don't miss:
  • The Red Sea resorts including Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. The Red Sea offers some of the best dive locations in the world.
  • The rest of Sinai. There are a multitude of locations to visit in Sinai. These range from secluded beaches with little more than huts, to climbing Mt. Sinai.
  • The Western Desert and the Oases
  • Alexandria. There are many historical sights in Alexandria. Also, you may be interested in checking out the recently established Bibliotheca Alexandria

Talk

The official language of Egypt is the Egyptian dialect of Modern Arabic. Egyptian Arabic differs in that the letter jim is pronounced g instead of j. Travelers are unlikely to encounter difficulties finding someone who speaks English, especially in tourist centers. Egyptians are eager to improve their English, and so offering a few new words or gently correcting their mistakes is appreciated.
Following usual rules of politeness, instead of simply starting a conversation with someone in English, ask "Do you speak English?". All the more better if you can do it in Arabic: inta/inti aarif il-inglezi? "Do you (male/female) know English?".
See Also:Egyptian Arabic Phrasebook

Holidays

Banks, shops and businesses will close for the following Egyptian National Holidays (civil, secular). Public transport may run only limited services:
  • 7th January (Othodox Christmas)
  • 25th April (Liberation Day)
  • 1st May (Labour Day)
  • 23rd July (Revolution Day)
  • 6th October (Armed Forces Day)

Terrain

Egypt consists of vast desert plateau interrupted by the Nile valley and delta.

Buy

The local currency is the Egyptian pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piastres. The currency is often written as LE (short for French livre égyptienne) or by using the pound sign £. In Arabic the pound is called gunaih (جنيه), in turn derived from English "guinea", and piastres are known as qirsh (قرش).
Banknotes are available in all denominations ranging from 100 pounds to the thoroughly useless 5 piastres, while coins were rather rare until new 50-piastre and 1-pound coins were introduced in the summer of 2006. Counterfait or obsolete notes are not a major problem, but exchanging pounds outside the country can be difficult.

Exchange Rates

Correct as of 16 February 2006:

$ US Dollar USD$1.00 = LE5.74 LE1.00 = USD$0.17
€ Euro €1.00 = LE6.82 LE1.00 = €0.15
£ Pound Sterling £1.00 = LE9.98 LE1.00 = £0.10
$ Australian Dollar AUD$1.00 = LE4.24 LE1.00 = AUD$0.24
$ New Zealand Dollar NZD$1.00 = LE3.87 LE1.00 = NZD$0.26
$ Canadian Dollar CAD$1.00 = LE4.96 LE1.00 = CAD$0.20
¥ Japanese Yen JPY¥1.00 = LE0.049 LE1.00 = JPY¥21

Shopping

Egypt is a shopper's paradise - especially if you're interested in Egyptian-themed souvenirs and kitsch, of course. That said, a number of high quality goods are to be had, often at bargain prices. Some of the most popular purchases include:

  • Antiques (NB: not antiquities, the trade of which is rightly illegal in Egypt)
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Cotton goods and clothing
  • Inlaid goods, such as backgammon boards
  • Jewellery
  • Leather goods
  • Music
  • Papyrus
  • Perfume
  • Sheeshas (water-pipes)
  • Spices - can be bought at colorful stalls in most Egyptian markets. Dried herbs and spices are generally of a higher quality than that available in Western supermarkets and are, of course, much, much cheaper (up to 4 or 5 times cheaper, though the final price will depend of bargaining and local conditions).

You will also find many western brands all around. There are many malls in Egypt, the most common being Citystars Mall, which is the largest entertainment center in the Middle East and Africa. You will find all the fast food restaurants you want such as Mcdonald's, KFC, Hardees, Pizza Hut, etc. Clothing brands such as Morgan, Calvin Klein, Levi's, Facconable, Givenchy, Esprit, and more.

Eat

Egypt can be a fantastic place to sample a unique range of food: not too spicy and well-flavored with herbs. For a convenient selection of Egyptian cuisine and staple foods try the Falafels chain of restaurants in Cairo. Some visitors complain, however, that these have become almost too tourist-friendly and have abandoned some elements of authenticity.

One contributor recalls: "The best meal I ever had in Egypt was in the backstreets of Hurghada, a fish shop near the port which also cooked the catch. I went with wife and kids and just said make us happy. We were, the freshest fish, old benches to sit on with a communal table and company who were more interested in us and the kids than their meals, but a meal we still remember!"

Be aware that hygiene may not be of the highest standards, even in five star hotels. The number of tourists that suffer from some kind of parasite or bacterial infection is very high. Despite assurances to the contrary, exercise common sense and bring appropriate medications to deal with problems.

Drink


Non-alcoholic drinks

Bottled water is available everywhere, the most common brands being Baraka, Nestle Pure Life, Hayat, ', Dasani, Evian - drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration in Egypt's dry climate.

Juices can be widely found in Egypt - kasab(sugar cane); erk soos; sobiia; tamer and some fresh fruit juices.

Alcoholic drinks

Egypt is a predominately Muslim nation and alcoholic drinks are, of course, forbidden (haram) for strictly observant Muslims. That said, Egyptians tend to adopt a relaxed and pragmatic view towards alcohol for non-Muslims and foreigners it is tolerated by the vast majority of Egyptians and consumed by a sizable number of them (including less strict Muslims - you may even be asked to "procure" drink for someone!) Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks are readily available throughout the country (especially in larger towns and cities, as well as tourist centers). Please note, however, that public drunkenness (especially the loud and obnoxious variety) is definitely not appreciated - without caution, you may end up drying out in a police cell. Try to be a good ambassador: if you must get "tipsy", confine it to the hotel or very nearby! (It's actually quite rare to see drunken tourists, even in the most intense tourist areas...)

Stella is a common beer in Egypt. For wine there is Ptolemy among others.

Restrictions on Alcohol

Egyptian laws towards alcohol are officially quite liberal compared to most Islamic countries. Except for the month of Ramadan alcohol is widely available. During Ramadan only holders of foreign passports are allowed to buy alcohol, by Egyptian law. However, the enforcement of this law is by no means consistent. In tourist areas like Luxor, alcohol is sold even during Ramadan, and those who look like foreigners will not be asked to show passports or other documentation.

During Ramadan alcohol is often sold only in Western-style hotels and pubs/restaurants catering especially to foreigners. A few days of the year, as the day of the full moon the month before Ramadan, alcohol is completely banned. Also some hotels and bars catering to foreigners will stop serving alcohol during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan - phone ahead to make sure alcohol is still being served in order to avoid disappointment.

Sleep

Egypt has a full range of accommodation options, from basic backpacker hostels to five-star resorts. Most major hotel chains are represented in Cairo and Luxor at least.

Learn

The American University in Cairo (AUC), is the the best school in the country and offers degree, non-degree and summer school study options. Popular courses include Arabic Language and Literature, Islamic Art and Architecture, Arab History and Culture, and, of course, Egyptology.

There are a number of options for learning Arabic in Cairo, including the Arabic Language Institute and Kalimat.
Other schools include the German University, the British University, the French University and the Canadian University.

Stay safe

Egypt is generally a safe and friendly country in which to travel. Egyptians on the whole are very friendly - if you are in need of assistance they will generally try to help you as much as they are able.

As in most Middle Eastern countries associated with large numbers of overseas travelers, recently there have been security concerns for Western travelers. Tourists from these areas have been targeted sporadically by militant groups, sometimes with tragic results.

The usual warnings for prudent behavior apply, but are not the same as in New York or London. In the latter, the anxiety is highest with respect to bombs. In Egypt, the bloodiest terrorist attacks have involved groups shooting on tourists. As for casual crime (muggings and robberies), Egypt is quite safe. As for pick pocketing, the problem is probably greater than it is in most Western cities. The danger in Egypt is much less violent attack than the less dangerous problem of cheating and scams.

The security situation in Egypt (as in many Middle Eastern countries) is frequently exaggerated by Western media outlets, creating a negative impression that is somewhat amplified by the heavy-handed policies of Egyptian authorities in keeping tourists safe. The reality is that traveling in Egypt is probably no more hazardous, with regard to terrorism, than visiting most Western capitals (and probably a lot safer!) Egypt relies heavily on foreign tourism for its national income and both Egyptians and their government are extremely keen to prevent any occurrence that might create a bad impression and keep tourists away.

Stay healthy


Fluids

Ensure that you drink plenty of water: Egypt has an extremely dry climate most of the year - a fact aggravated by high temperatures in the summer end of the year - and countless travelers each year experience the discomforts and dangers of dehydration. A sense of thirst is not enough to indicate danger - carry a water bottle and keep drinking! Not needing to urinate for a long period or passing very small amounts of dark yellow urine are signs of incipient dehydration.

Egyptian tap water is generally safe, although it does sometimes have an odd taste due to the high chlorine content added to make it so. It is not recommended for regular drinking, especially to very local differences in quality. Bottled mineral waters are widely available - the local brands, such as Baraka and Siwa, are just as good as expensive imported options. Beware of the old scam, however, whereby vendors re-sell bottled water bottles, having refilled with another (perhaps dubious) source.... Always check the seal is unbroken before parting with your money (or drinking from it) and inform the tourist police if you catch anyone doing this....

Be a little wary with fruit juice, as some sellers may mix it with water. Milk should also be treated carefully as it may not be pasteurized.... Try only to buy milk from reputable shops. Hot beverages like tea and coffee should generally be OK, the water having been boiled in preparation, though it pays to be wary of ice as well.

Sun

Wear sunscreen, wear a hat and bring good sunglasses - it's bright out there!
In order to avoid contracting the rightly dreaded schistosomiasis parasite (also known as bilharzia), DO NOT swim in the Nile or venture into any other Egyptian waterways (even if the locals are doing so.....) It is also a good idea not to walk in bare feet on freshly-watered lawns for the same reason. Although the disease takes weeks to months to show its head, it's wise to seek medical attention locally if you think you've been exposed, as they are used to diagnosing and treating it, and it will cost you pennies rather than dollars.

Respect

Keep in mind that most Egyptians workers expect tips after performing a service (baksheesh in Arabic).
If you're male, don't be surprised if another male holds your hand or forearm -- there's no taboo against men holding hands and unlike in the West, this behavior is NOT associated with being gay. In general, Egyptians are a lot more comfortable with less personal space than are most Westerners.

Another point is to note that, overall, Egyptians are a conservative people. Although they accommodate foreigners being dressed a lot more skimpily, it may be prudent, at least in the big cities, to not dress provocatively, if only to avoid being ogled at.

Contact and Communication

Egypt has a reasonably modern telephone service including a two GSM mobile service providers. Principal centers at Alexandria, Cairo, Al Mansurah, Ismailia, Suez, and Tanta. Roaming services are provided, although you should check with your service provider. Also, it is possible to purchase tourist mobile phone lines for the duration of your stay. The two mobile phone providers are Mobinil and Vodafone.

There are a number of internet providers. Most tourist towns, such as Cairo and Luxor, boast a plethora of small internet cafés - you won't need to look far!

In addition, an increasing number of coffee shops, restaurants, hotel lobbies and other locations now provide wireless internet access. To date, this is free so you can just walk into them with your laptop and internet away. Any of the numerous restaurant or location guides will list venues with such services.

Location

Flag

Quick Facts

Capital Cairo
Government Republic
Currency Egyptian pound (EGP) (LE / £E)
Area total: 1,001,450 km2
land 995,450 km2
water 6,000 km2
Population 78,887,007(July 2006 est.)
Language Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated people
Religion Muslim (mostly Sunni) 90%, Coptic Christian and other 10%
Calling Code 20
Internet TLD .eg
Time Zone UTC +2

 
Copyright © 2015 Solar Empire Egypt