Things You Need to Know Before Travelling to Egypt
Egypt, a land where the sands whisper ancient secrets, where the Nile River flows through a history that spans millennia, and where the pyramids reach for the heavens. Traveling to Egypt is like stepping into the pages of a living history book, and the experience is nothing short of magical. However, before you embark on your journey to this land of wonders, there are some things you should know to ensure your trip is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
Visa Requirements and Travel Documents
Before you jet off to Egypt, you'll need to take care of the essential travel documents. Most travelers to Egypt require a visa, which can be obtained online (https://visa2egypt.gov.eg/) or upon arrival at Cairo International Airport. However, it's always a good idea to check the specific requirements based on your nationality. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date.
Tipping, known as "baksheesh," is a common practice in Egypt and a way to show appreciation for services rendered. It's customary to tip service industry workers such as restaurant staff, tour guides, and drivers. In restaurants, leaving a tip of around 10% of the bill is appreciated, but ensure that it's not already included as a service charge. Additionally, tipping your tour guide and driver is a way to show gratitude for their assistance during your travels. While tipping is common, it's also essential to tailor the amount to the level of service provided and your satisfaction with it.
Tipping proved to be one of the more challenging aspects of our trip to Egypt, as I grappled with determining the appropriate amounts and navigating the tipping etiquette. I've shared a comprehensive article on this topic, which you can read here:
Best Time to Visit Egypt
Egypt is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences. The peak tourist season is during the cooler months, from October to April. The weather is pleasant, and you'll enjoy sightseeing without the scorching heat. However, this is also when Egypt can get crowded, so plan accordingly.
Travelers to Egypt should be up to date on routine vaccines. Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines are recommended. Depending on the areas you plan to visit and the activities you'll engage in, you might also consider vaccines for Hepatitis B and Rabies. Make sure you stay hydrated, especially in the heat, and take precautions to avoid food and waterborne illnesses.
Currency and Money Matters
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). While credit cards are widely accepted in major cities and tourist areas, it's a MUST to carry some cash for small purchases, especially in more remote regions. You can exchange your money at banks, exchange offices, or ATMs, which are widely available.
Arabic is the official language of Egypt, but you'll find that English is spoken and understood in most tourist areas. Learning a few basic Arabic phrases can enhance your experience and help you connect with locals.
Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, and it's essential to respect local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Women are advised to cover their shoulders and knees. It's customary to remove your shoes before entering someone's home. When taking photos of people, ask for their permission as a sign of respect.
Egypt is generally a safe destination for tourists, but it's always wise to stay informed about the current political and security situation. Keep an eye on travel advisories from your government and adhere to local advice. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, can occur in crowded places, so keep an eye on your belongings.
Egyptian cuisine is a delightful mix of flavors, influenced by Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North African culinary traditions. Try traditional dishes like koshari (a mix of rice, lentils, and pasta), falafel, and shawarma. Don't forget to savor the many types of bread, especially the fluffy pita.
Egypt offers an enchanting blend of ancient history, vibrant culture, and natural beauty. It's a destination that will leave you in awe of the past and inspired by the present. With a bit of preparation and a respectful approach, your journey to Egypt will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience that will leave you with cherished memories for a lifetime.