General Information Directory
for Travelers to Egypt
Egypt is a country of contrasts, old and new blending together,
this can be seen everywhere on a daily basis. Truly a country
rich in History and Culture, the prices are reasonable, although
they do tend to fluctuate with the seasons and supply and
demand. The people are friendly and hospitable, and crime is
To help you better understand what to expect and to ensure you
get the most out of your trip we are providing some travelers
information that we hope will assist you in your journey. Go
with an open mind to the lifestyle and culture and the
experience will be memorable and rewarding.
Advice Page :
In order to respect the culture it is recommended that you not
wear anything sleeveless, (either for male or female), no short
shorts, and no see-through clothing. Conservative clothing is
the preferred wearing apparel.
Winter months: Bring sweaters, and a light coat for cool
evenings. Women should bring slacks or walking (long) shorts for
sightseeing, long sleeved dress for nightclub visits. Men should
bring at least one jacket and tie for the restaurants. Pack a
bathing suit if visiting Aswan and Luxor or if taking a Nile
Cruise. Summer months: Lightweight clothing. A sweater for cools
Cairo evenings. AT ALL TIMES: Modesty in clothing should be
observed, wear bathing suits and shorts at the beach or swimming
pools only. A good rule is to cover your back and shoulders
outside of the hotel area. Women should cover their arms when
visiting mosques. Bring comfortable walking shoes for
sightseeing and walking on desert sand. Sunglasses, as well as
sun visors, hats and scarves are recommended as protection
against the strong sun. On a Nile cruise dress is strictly
If you are planning to ride camels by the Pyramids, wear slacks
or jeans. Do not be tempted to have pictures taken with borrowed
Take plenty of film with you and all the necessary photographic
equipment, as these are very expensive in Egypt. You will need
flash to photograph inside monuments. The sun is very bright,
for outdoor pictures take a light meter and low ASA film. Take
high ASA film for indoor shots. You need special permission from
the Ministry of Culture and information to take pictures in the
Egyptian Museum, some of the Tombs and the Coptic Museum. Keep
your camera in a plastic bag to protect it from the find sand
and dust. You cannot photograph bridges, dams, ports, airports
and other restricted areas, there are clearly marked. Expect to
pay small tips for pictures or video filming.
Cancellation/Dental/Baggage/Medical Insurance :
We advise that you take out cancellation insurance to cover the
tour non-refundable costs should you have to cancel for medical
or other qualifying reasons. Of course it is always advisable to
carry medical insurance in another country, evacuation, as
general medical expenses can run extremely high.
One to 3 Month Visas can be purchased on arrival at the Airport
from most countries. Approx. $15 USD for a one month Visa. You
will need to have your money ready to go to the Bank on arrival.
They will sell you two stamps to place in your passport on a
blank page before going through customs.
We can arrange for a meet and greet service to assist with your
Visa processing before going through customs for little extra
charges. This speeds up the arrival process considerably.
It is important that you register with the Passport department
within on week of your arrival in Cairo. Your hotel will
normally register your passport and return it within 24 hours.
The local currency is the Egyptian pound (LE) LE 1=100 piasters.
Exchange your money at banks or at the counter of your hotel.
Black market exchanges are illegal and can cause you much
220 volts, 50 cycles AC in Cairo and most areas except in
Alexandria, in Heliopolis and in Maadi where the electricity is
110 volts AC 50 cycles. Wall plugs are the round, two pronged
9:00AM to 1:00PM and 4:30PM to 7:30PM. Most shops in the Khan El
Khalili Bazaar remain open until 9:00PM. Most shops are closed
8:30AM to 2:00PM everyday except Fridays and Saturdays when
Banks are closed.
American Express, Master Card, Visa and Diners Club are accepted
in major hotels and shops, however, AMERICAN EXPRESS IS NOT AN
ACCEPTED form of payment on the ship. The bill at the end of the
cruise for all incidentals must be paid by Master Card, Visa,
Diner’s Club or in Egyptian Pounds.
Police: Tel: 122
Ambulance: Tel: 123
Fire: Tel: 125
Although the water is treated, it does contain chemicals that
your body will not be used to, and these chemicals won't
disappear with boiling. So please be cautious with all drinks
and food that may contain water, i.e. Coffee, Tea, Ice, etc.
Bottled water is available everywhere, You can also purchase a filter
water bottle to take with you from most Department Stores.
Please note drinks are not included with any meals in Egypt,
this includes Water and Soft Drinks. Coffee or Tea are served
with Breakfast but all other drinks must be paid for. It is
important to check the prices of drinks before you order,
especially any alcoholic drinks which can work out expensive.
Rice, Pasta, Beans, Salads, Chicken, Fish, Lamb, Pickled
Veggies, Pita Bread and the local dips are just some of the
regular foods served. The Cruise Ships and large Hotels serve a
wide variety of European and North American style foods as well,
and there are numerous choices of restaurants particularly in
Take the usual precautions with meat and fish ensuring it is
well cooked and heated, and remove peel from any vegetables or
If you should run into problems the pharmacies carry products
that work extremely well. It is advisable to take and carry
Imodium around with you.
No immunizations or special Health precautions are normally
required for Egypt, unless you have visited an area infected
with smallpox, yellow fever or cholera before arriving in Egypt.
But it does not hurt to get the latest information from your
local travel clinic.
Lunches tend to be full meals like dinners and the prices range
from $8 US to $30 US depending on the restaurants chosen, and
the 5 star hotels of course are a little higher priced.
The best season is from September through June, when the
temperature in Cairo is comfortable in the daytime, and cool or
even cold at night. Weather in upper Egypt, Luxor, Aswan and Abu
Simbel is comfortably warm. During the summer months Cairo is
hot and dry, upper Egypt is extremely hot, sightseeing should be
done early mornings.
To Pack :
Talcum powder to help keep you cool. Toweletts for a quick
freshening up. Mosquito repellent. Sun screen. A flashlight will
come in handy for the dim light of the tombs and museums.
Imodium, Sunglasses and Antihistaminic if you are susceptible to
any allergies. If carrying any prescription medication, please
make sure to carry it in your hand-luggage.
Transportation information :
Although rental cars are available we would not advise renting a
car, traffic is congested, and the rules of the road are very
different. Parking is very difficult and sometimes impossible
particularly in the cities.
Most are basic and few utilize the meter system. Make sure they
know were you want to go, and negotiate a price before
departure. The prices will be reasonable.
Utilized extensively by the locals 50 piastas per trip, a
Street buses are a basic, but a cheap means of getting around
for locals. Buses between cities are of a higher standard, and
have washrooms and a waitress service onboard for longer trips.
On day trains it is well worth paying the extra for First Class,
still very reasonably priced. The seats are comfortable and
reclining. There is a trolley wait service for snacks,
sandwiches and drinks. The washrooms are either end of the
cabins but not much recommended.
The night sleeper trains are managed by Carlson Wagonlit (now
Abella Egypt) and are quite comfortable. Beds are one up and one
down bunk beds. Adjoining carriages are available for families.
An adequate dinner and breakfast are served directly to the
cabin as part of the price. Drinks with the meals are not
included other than coffee with breakfast. There is a wash sink
in each cabin, toilets at the end of each carriage. Luggage is
stored overhead in your cabin.
Expect to tip the cabin attendant, and anyone carrying your
luggage if the guide will not be with you to take care of these.
Always a good idea to have 1LE bills on hand for small tips.
In Cairo: Efficient, well organized, and runs to a strict
timetable, well worth using if the train goes to areas where you
want to travel.
Fast and cheap for crossing the Nile or going to the areas
closer to the river either west or east bank, like Cairo
University, Zoo, Ramses Hilton Hotel, Down town, Egyptian
and Maps :
Egypt has a unique location in the middle of the world, centered
between the East and West occupying the North East corner of
Africa. Here the Suez Canal connects Asia with Europe and onto
In Egypt air (Egyptair) is the best way to transfer between
cities (Cairo to Luxor/Sharm El Sheik/Hurghada/Aswan) average
flight time approx. one hour.
The other alternative between Cairo and Luxor/Aswan is by First
Class WagonLit sleeper train, with a sleeper cabin or flight
style seating or by First Class Day Train - the price is
considerably less by train than by flying.
Other options to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheik where there is no
train service is a drive of 5 to 6 hours by Deluxe A/C
Distances between cities
Cairo - Aswan:14 hours by train - one hour flight.
Cairo - Luxor:11 hours train - 45 Minutes flight.
Cairo - Hurghada 6 hours drive (no train available) - 45 minutes
Cairo - Sharm:7 hours drive (no train available) - 50 minutes
Cairo - Alexandria – 2 hours train 3 Hours Drive
Cairo - Suez Canal - 2 hours drive.
Cairo - St.Catherine - 6 hours drive.
Cairo - Fayoum - 90 minutes drive.
Luxor - Aswan - 4 hours drive or train.
Aswan - Abusimbel - 30 minutes flight or 4 hours drive.
Luxor - Abydos - 2 hours drive.
Luxor - Hurghada - 4 hours drive.
items to take with you :
Since the 11th September, rules on carrying electrical items
have changed so it is important to check with the airline before
departure if they should be in your main or carry-on luggage.
A Travel Hairdryer - some Hotels have them but they are attached
to the walls and usually only have one speed. There are small
travel dryers that you can purchase that take up hardly any
space in your luggage.
A Travel Iron - If you have clothes that need ironing it's best
to take a travel iron with you as most Hotels offer an ironing
service but not the iron itself. This of course takes time and
laundry services can run expensive.
A Travel Kettle - Great if you like to have a coffee or tea
before retiring. We found this item to be a blessing on numerous
A Water Bottle Carrier - You'll find this a useful item as there
is a tendency to carry a water bottle with you everywhere you
A Travel Water Filter - I found this to be indispensable, there
are various types but obviously the smaller the better.
A Small Fold Up Holdall or Back Pack - For those one night
occasions like on the night train or an overnight stop in St.
Catherines when you don't want to be using your large suitcase.
Egyptians in general do not drink, there are severe restrictions
on the purchase of alcohol. Most Restaurants and tourist spots
do serve alcoholic drinks, and if you have purchased duty free,
you may drink it in your room. However, alcohol is not readily
available to purchase by the bottle, and Alcoholic drinks can be
expensive. You should check the price first before ordering, so
there are no surprises.
You would be wise to carry tissue with you at all times, as
Egyptian public washrooms do not provide tissue. Most times
there will be an attendant who will supply a napkin for drying
your hands, but this is limited and tipping will be expected.
Try to carry 1 LE or 50 Piasta notes for washrooms, both male
and female will be required to pay.
Egypt is a cash community. ATM Machines, cashing money on a
credit card, or changing Travelers Checks are accessible at
major Hotels. The US Dollar is well received almost anywhere.
Credit cards are limited to major Hotels, upscale Stores and
Restaurants, and Travelers Checks are difficult to change
outside of a major Hotel and a number of banks.
It is advisable not to change money at the Airport as the
exchange rate and service charges may not be competitive with
the banks. And in the meantime carry some small US bills as they
are accepted everywhere.
The Hotels utilized are clean and of a good standard, both in
quality and service. If you should run into any problems with
your room or the Hotel or its service it is essential that you
bring it to the immediate attention of the Tour Operator or if
travelling independently the Hotel itself (the best way is to go
directly to the assistant manager usually located in the main
lobby of a 5 stars hotel). They will deal with any issues and
change your room or Hotel if necessary.
We are often asked what Hotels we use and what is the difference
between 3*/4*/5* star - so we have tried to explain this here.
3*Star - Tourist - clean hotel with no frills, private bathroom,
mainly Egyptian family owned.
4* Star - Superior Tourist - more amenities than the 3* like
restaurants and pools. Some Egyptian owned some Western
management Chain Hotels like the Novotel in Luxor.
5* Star - First Class - Major Chain hotels in Cairo i.e. Hilton,
Meridien, Sheraton either on the Nile or by the Pyramid. In
Hurghada these are major resorts overlooking the water with
private beaches and lots of facilities and large swimming pools.
Cruise ships: - We use only 4*/5* Star Cruise ships . All cabins
are outside cabins with private facilities.
Note: It is not possible to deal with Hotel issues on your
return as they are prepaid and once you have left they are not
about to issue any refunds, especially if your concerns where
not brought to their attention while you where staying with
(Tips or Gratuities) :
In Egypt tipping (or Baksheesh) is a general practice everywhere
(even among the Egyptians themselves), and ensures extra
services at monuments, museums etc. It can be irritating, but it
is part of the lifestyle in Egypt. It's best if you don't
require the services to refuse politely but firmly.
If you have a guide with you, check with them beforehand where
tipping is expected. They normally take care of any baksheesh at
the sites, and for included meals etc. However, you should carry
1LE notes for occasional tipping for luggage, housekeeping,
washrooms and other incidental services required when the guide
is not with you.
It is customary to tip Guide and Drivers at the end of the time
with them approx. $2-$4 US per day for the driver and $3-$5 US
per day for the guide - these are per person, the same for cabin
service and waiters on the Cruise Ships. The best way is to use
an envelope, and put in the tip with a little note if
appropriate and hand it to them in person at the end of their
Note: The above are guidelines on tipping, and it should be
noted that although tipping is customary and expected it is at
your discretion and it is entirely up to you how much you tip
and whether to tip or not.
If you want to take something to hand out to the kids when
appropriate Pens or Candy are very popular.
Drugs are strictly prohibited and the consequences for use can
be very severe. Don’t even consider it.
Crime is low, rape rare, Aids is almost non existent, arguments
may flare up over a traffic violation, but are usually over
quite quickly. Family feuds are more common then any form of
crime. It is safe to walk the streets at any time of day, like
all cities you should be cautious and attentive to your
Smoking is quite prevalent, although it is banned in all food
restaurants. If you are a smoker yourself you might want to try
smoking the water pipe (Shesha) in one of the many street cafes.
The population is made up of mainly Moslems and Coptic
Christians. The main day of worship is Fridays, which is their
weekend holiday. Government offices, Institutions, and Banks
close Fridays and Saturdays.
The food is varied, chicken and lamb are popular, as is rice,
pasta, beans and Pita bread. Tea (Shai) is the main drink of the
Egyptians, and is served frequently with mint.
Egyptians keep themselves and their homes very clean. Litter is
a problem, particularly in the poorer areas where solid waste
disposal is lacking. The noise level in parts of the Cities is
quite high, and Cairo in particular is a 24 hour city when most
stores and activities go on around the clock non-stop.
It is common form of greeting to see men or women holding hands,
linking arms, and embracing on the cheek with others of the same
sex. This is their culture and there are no sexual overtures to
it. Men and women do not show affection to each other in public.
It is acceptable to hold, or link arms with your partner in
public, but that is it. To be on the safe side, and so as not to
offend, it is best to follow what you see, Kissing and hugging
your partner or boy/girl friend is not appropriate in public.
Cairo is a shopping adventure. Buy brass, copper, and inlaid
wooden articles, silver and gold jewelry, leather shoes, bags
and belts, cotton goods and perfumes. Have a gold cartouche made
with your name written in hieroglyphics. Be sure that the
letters are soldered and not glued on. Have a kaftan of pure
Egyptian cotton tailor made in two days. Shop at the Khan El
Khalili Bazaar for better variety, interesting and artistic
goods. You should be able to bargain prices that were originally
quoted to you.
Shopping items :
Gold Cartouche's with your name in Hieroglyphics.
Papyrus Pictures - again you can have your name put on.
T-Shirts in Egyptian Cotton with Egyptian Logos or names in
Handmade Carpets and wall-hangings.
Egyptian Cotton items.
Unique Perfume Essences - These are wonderful but before leaving
the store check your perfume is what you purchased. Some
unscrupulous retailers have been known to substitute clear oil
for the perfume, then wrap it for you to take home - you may not
find this out until you arrive home and unwrap the package, so
please insist on checking them as they wrap - if you pay by
credit card you have a come back on them.
Note: Check over any purchases carefully, ask your guide for
advice but the final price and quality of any articles you
purchase are your own responsibility.
To avoid these problems which might rise, we usually deal with
certain shops which we are sure of the quality of their
products. In case something appears in these products after
leaving the shop , it’s guaranteed to return it and take your
Telephone, Cellphones and Internet Cafes:
The Telephone system in Egypt is overloaded and antiquated. 4/5
Star Hotels will have direct line dialing and international
service. Some hotels have data ports and even their own Internet
Cafes, or you can hook up your laptop directly to the phone if
you have an ISP service you can use.
Calling cards through an International Operator (AT & T etc) or
credit cards can be used for calling. They do have calling cards
available for sale everywhere to be used in the local call
boxes, which are usually two different types. Directions may not
always be in English.
There are Internet Cafes in all the major cities - Cairo/Luxor/Aswan/Alexandria/Hurghada,
They usually range from $3 to $6 US an hour, with a minimum 15
minute charge. However, the ISP's are not as reliable and it is
sometimes difficult to get on particularly in the evening, and
it's not unusual to get booted off.
Cellphones are everywhere in Egypt, it has one of the highest
usages for cellphones in the world, which makes sense as their
Telephone system can't keep up with the regular phone
requirements. They have international cellphone service, and it
covers just about everywhere, even the most remote areas.
Outgoing calls are quite expensive, but in most cases there is
no charge for incoming calls. If renting independently, check
all the charges ahead of time.
1. Do not expect to find things precisely as they are at home,
as you have left home to find things different.
2. Do not take anything too seriously for a carefree mind is the
cornerstone of a good vacation.
3. Do not let other tourists get on your nerves for you are
paying good money to enjoy yourself.
4. Do not worry or you will have little joy. Contact your Tour
representatives and let them worry for you.
5. Do not judge all of a country by one bad person or one bad
6. Blessed are those who are patient for they enjoy themselves.
7. Do only somewhat as the natives do. Remember you come from a
different climate and routine.
8. Treat your hosts with respect and you will be received as
9. Ensure you carry a valid passport when entering and exiting a
Country. Keep in a safe place at all times, it is said that a
person without ID is a person in distress.
10. Pack half as many clothes as you need and take twice as much
money as you plan on spending.
LAST BUT NOT
LEAST - HAVE A GREAT TRIP