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Dec 24th-Jan 1st
- 2 responses so far
Hi to anyone that is heading out on the December 24 – Jan 1st trip! I got some tips and info from my good friend who was on this same trip in December 2009. I know that was 2 years ago but it seemed silly not to share it with the rest of you!
Enjoy and see you Egypt! Alana
Here is some other info….
I found receipts from the curency exchange that looks like we exchanged $525 US to EGP (totaled 2,891.40 LE at 5.5075% exchange rate). I definitely remember exchanging back to US but it wasn’t much.
I also have some notes with some things we paid for looks like all prices are in Egyptian Pounds
150 LE – Valley of the Kings tomb entrance fees
10 – 15 LE for water per purchase (we bought some water at the hotel and obviously it was not negotiable) – see more details below
5 LE – Tip for creative pics at the Sphinx (a local boy took the pics for us)
300 LE – for perfume at the perfume shop – Eva bought this I think she got 3 glass bottles and 3 perfumes (I can’t remember)
54 LE – 2 beers
118 LE – sodas etc on the Nile cruise
Try to buy water before you get on the boat and then you can save some money.
The exchange rate is almost the same right now 5.775 to the dollar. It’s easiest to just divide by 6 to figure out what you are paying. That reminds me…I also brought a small calculator that I kept in my backpack. It sometimes comes in handy when dealing with larger amounts (and I’m bad at math!).
There were times when Eva and I were traveling in Egypt and SEA and we’d ask a price and then be like nah, we don’t need it b/c it seemed expensive. We’d later realize that it would have been a few US dollars and kind of laughed about it. If you are in the markets or buying water or paying for food you don’t want to ask to split checks (also shows that you have more money than you do). We’d also leave stuff in safes if they were available in the rooms.
I didn’t buy a lot of things b/c most is made in China…Here is what I did buy
-1 hieroglyphic t-shirt (from market)
-1 Egyptian style tunic (from night market in Aswan for the Egypt party – see below)
-1 Camel (leather from the market)
-1 Papyrus map of Egypt (from market, and I am sure it’s banana leaf – not real)
You will go to a Papyrus factory, they have some really pretty prints – I was VERY tempted to buy one but I just didn’t know where I would hang it. Lots of ppl bought at this stop. There is also a perfume shop – both these stops are obviously just made for tourists to buy things.
This is the information she wrote right when she got back from the trip:
Egypt Know How
Airport Arrivals: If you arranged a transfer through Contiki, a representative will be holding a Contiki sign for you just before baggage claim. They will help you clear customs and baggage claim and take you to your hotel. They will also provide you with a welcome packet.
Cleanliness: Egypt is a wonderful country – however it is pretty dirty. Be prepared with lots of Purell (antibacterial gel) and antibacterial wipes. Don’t shake hands with the locals unless absolutely necessary. If you do, promptly Purell your hands after (some do not observe western potty etiquette, especially around the Giza pyramids and the camel rides.)
Water: You will want to drink bottled water only. Contiki provides a small bottle each day, but Egypt is a very dry country, so be prepared to buy more. The best deal we found on the street was three 1.5 liter bottles for 10 LE (about 2 US dollars). If you can find a Mobil On the Run or grocery store, you find the best prices. At On the Run, name brand (Aquafina/Dansani) 1.5 liter bottles were 2.5 LE per bottle. Everything is negotiable, even water, from street vendors. Make sure water bottles are sealed (usually a tamper evident plastic wrap around the cap) before you buy.
Money: Currency used is the Egyptian Pound, EGP or LE. When exchanging money or accepting change, check the bills for tears and holes do not accept them if they are in poor condition. You will only end up getting stuck with them as street vendors and others will not accept them in bad condition. ALLWAYS count your change. It is smart to ask for smaller bills since everyone asks for Baksheesh (or tips) and you will want to have plenty of single pounds (which are available in both coins and notes). Most places and people accept US dollars or Euros.
Baksheesh = Tips: Everyone expects a tip, just get used to it. You can refuse to give baksheesh, but if someone really does a service for you or helps you, you should tip them, even police officers and guards. A small boy held hands with us to our tour bus and expected us to pay him – for that we did not tip. However a policeman helped us get a cab and we compensated him. Be aware of the Egyptian museum workers. They will start to tell you a story about the tomb or the ruin if you allow them to continue – or let them take you to see something specific you will have to tip them. Most baksheesh should not be more 50 Piastres to a few pounds. If someone is really helpful, give them 5 LE and they will appreciate it. That is less than $1 US.
Toilets: Most of the toilets we encountered were western style, except at some mosques or temples. Expect to have to pay to use them – most will accept whatever you give them (50 Piastres to 1 LE) and provide you with a small amount of toilet paper. Do not expect to find paper within the stall. It’s a good idea to always have some of your own. Charmin makes travel rolls that you can buy for $1.00 at Target before you leave.
Shopping: EVERYTHING is negotiable, everything. You don’t need to pay the price they offer to you. Figure out what you are willing to pay before you ask the price and bargain with them. Bargaining is expected. Most items you can get for ½ of what they say their original price is. Trust your tour manager for price guidelines. If they do not meet your price, walk away. They will follow you and the further you walk, the lower the price gets. Even cab fares are negotiable.
Examples of prices we paid in 2009
Box of 12 souvenir pens, org price 60 LE – Paid 15 LE
T-Shirts (4), org price 45 LE each – Paid 15 LE each
Egyptian Style Tunic (w), org price 80 LE – Paid 30 LE
Typical Egyptian Menswear, org price 300 LE – Paid 75 LE (and got the scarf thrown in)
Bag of Chips, org price 5 LE – paid 4 LE (told you everything was negotiable)
Weather: Our trip was from 27 Dec to 3 Jan and the weather was in the high 60’s and low 70’s F. The nights were really chilly, so bring lots of layers. On our trip, people wore fleece jackets, wool jackets, thin coats and sweatshirts.
Contiki Optional Tours:
Abu Simbel – This is a must see. We were all a little freaked out about the plane ride, but it is a commercial plane and seated 200 passengers.
Camel Ride in Luxor – This is actually your second opportunity to ride a camel – During your first day in Cairo, you will have the chance to ride a camel in front of the Pyramids. If you are only up for one ride or don’t want to budget for both, skip the one in Luxor, the Giza Camel ride (Cairo) is totally worth it. You will also have the option of riding a donkey or a horse in Luxor.
Group Photo – Why not?!
Sound and Light Show – Skip it!!! It sounds like a really great time and you will be tempted to do it because others on your tour will want to and hey, you are in Egypt … but in our opinion, this was an hour of our lives that we will never get back. Don’t expect an exciting show of loud music and extravagant laser light displays. It is very slow moving and a booming voice will rehash the history of the Pharaohs in Giza and the Pyramids. For us it was more like the adult voices in Charlie Brown. To be honest I fell asleep.
Other Optionals and Not so Optional Optionals
Traditional Egyptian Meal in Cairo – this is one of the not so optional things…..budget about $8 -10 US dollars for this. It’s a ton of food and definitely worth it.
Egyptian Party – In Aswan, you will visit the market for an opportunity to purchase belly dancing costumes, tunics, dresses, etc. for women and traditional clothes for men, which you’ll dress up and have a party. Dressing up is completely your decision but adds to the fun. Budget about $5-20 US for an outfit (it becomes a nice souvenir after all)
Tips – $25 US dollars that you need to pay on your first day – this covers baksheesh to bus drivers, porters, Nile cruse staff and the cabin stewards on the overnight trains
Hot Air Balloon Ride in Luxor – For some reason Contiki no longer offers the balloon ride as part of its optional excursions. Your guide will have information regarding the balloon rides in Luxor. This was also a must do for us.
Photos – Various photos will be taken of you during the trip (Egyptian Dress Up Night, Camel Ride in Luxor), budget about 10 LE (2 US dollars) for each photo
Alexandria – One of the guides from our tour organized a small group for a day trip to Alexandria. This may be available before or after your tour dates. Check when you arrive. We did this tour after our tour ended with some other Contiki folks both from our group and from the next and thought was a great way to round out our trip.
Other Egypt Sites – Although Contiki does not arrange this, if you have extra time there are other things to do in Egypt such as a Safari tour 3days/2nights, you can contact Spring Tours for more information. Spring Tours operates the Contiki Trip in Egypt.
Hope these tips will help you on your trip. You’re about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Enjoy!!!
Thanks for setting up the forum and facebook group. My friend David and I will be on the tour. Hope to see you there and maybe we can catch up before the tour starts. We will be getting there on the 24th. I am just about to join the facebook group and see you soon.
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