Last Updated: 12th Feb 2014
Currency: Egyptian Pound (official), Euro (unofficial), US Dollar (unofficial)
Language: Arabic (Egyptian dialect), English and French widely understood
Visas: A vast majority of passport holders can obtain a visa upon entering Egypt. This is often cheaper than obtaining one before you leave home. You should however check Egyptian Consulate web sites for the most up to date information on visa requirements and costs.
The Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Nile have come to represent Egypt but they are only the beginning of what this huge and diverse country has to offer. Visiting Cairo, the sprawling and buzzing capital is a must while the Pyramids have lured people to the plains of Giza for millennia.
The Pyramids and the Sphinx are just the beginning however as the sands of the Sahara also offer up the Temples at Karnak and Luxor while Abu Simbel in the south is a highlight for many others visiting the region.
The Sahara Desert and the Nile River are also must sees while for those lucky enough, crystal clear waters of the Red Sea in places like Hurgada provide a welcome and surprising break to the sand of the desert.
Manners and Customs
- Egyptians are extremely friendly and helpful people.
- English and French are widely understood along side the most common and official language of Modern Arabic.
- Egypt is a very, very safe country. Tourism is a highly valued industry and security is high particularly around busy tourist areas.
- Although Egypt is a predominantly Moslem country, as with Christian countries, there are some who follow religion more strictly than others.
- Be prepared to bargain and barter for almost everything – it’s a way of life.
- ‘Baksheesh’ is a form of tipping that refers to everything from giving money to beggars to tipping for service and even what some would consider bribery. Giving baksheesh is very common in Egypt.
- There is certainly no need for women to cover up their head, shoulders or legs while visiting the country however loose, longer clothes can also help protect you from the sun as well as showing your respect for local customs.
- Although not consumed by strict Muslims, alcohol is available and Stella beer (different to Stella Artois) is popular.
- Drinking bottled water is a must as microbes in Egyptian water often do not agree with many visitors digestive systems. Drugs such as Imodium and stomach calming medicines should be a must for most people.
- The food on tour is a mix of Egyptian and more familiar foods.
- Although very safe and relatively comfortable for tourists, Egypt is essentially a third world country and you should be prepared to experience very different ways of living.
- Egyptian restrooms outside of hotels, etc are often very basic and it may be of use to bring your own toilet paper.
- Most of Egypt is a desert and you should be prepared to be exposed to hot, dry desert conditions. Sun protection is a must and you should keep up your fluid levels to avoid dehydration.
- What to pack for your trip to Egypt.
Art and Culture
Egypt is home to over 5000 years of know human history and was home to one of the greatest civilizations the earth has ever seen. As such there is a massive wealth of art, culture and history that has been accumulated over the years. Places like the Egyptian Museum in Cairo are great places to check out artifacts from ancient Egypt as well as more modern Egyptian works of art.
Like the rest of Africa, soccer (football) reins supreme.
Haggling and bartering is a way of life when shopping in Egypt and it’s fun to get involved in. Some of the more famous Egyptian products to keep your eye out for include carpets, rugs Egyptian cotton goods, jewelery and cartouches, papyrus prints, perfume, oils, sheesha pipes, herbs and spices, alabaster and the regular tourist trinkets and faire.
Places Contiki Visits in Egypt
- Cairo (including Giza and Sakkara)
- Abu Simbel
- Hurguada and the Red Sea
- The Sahara and the Nile