Below you’ll find my top travel tips for Egypt along with a little personal advice sprinkled on top. I hope you find these Egypt travel tips helpful.
If you find these tips to be helpful or you have some tips of your own, please be sure to leave a comment at the end of this article.
Egypt is one of my favorite countries in the world for a variety of reasons.
I’ve visited the country on four different occasions over the course of the last few years and three of those visits were 3 weeks or longer.
While I love this country to pieces, it also should be known that it’s one of the more difficult countries I’ve ever traveled to.
Ready to learn more about my top 15 travel tips for Egypt? Let’s get started.
When preparing for a trip to Egypt your first priority should be to make sure you make the small investment towards your health and well being by purchasing a flexible, reputable and affordable travel insurance policy for your trip.
Not only will this travel insurance policy cover you if your bags are lost/stolen and if your flight is delayed/canceled, but you’ll also be covered for all medical and injury-related issues as well.
Let’s face it. No parents, family or friends want to have to cover the cost of you getting MedEvaced home from the middle of Egypt.
As you know, in life, things happen.
Do yourself a favor and get your coverage now so you can rest assured that you’ll be taken care of in the event of a serious emergency in Egypt.
Hire an Egypt Tour Guide
Planning a trip to Egypt isn’t as easy as you’d think.
From accommodations to transportation and planning all the smaller logistics, there always seems to be a major disconnect somewhere along the way.
As you know, I’m more of an independent traveler than anything else and I rarely recommend hiring a tour guide.
If there’s one place in the world that I would recommend hiring a guide, it’s in Egypt.
Why? Because Egypt is a very unique and difficult country to travel to if you don’t have any prior experience.
In order to be sure that you have the best trip possible, my advice is to head on over to my recent article:
Bring Your Haggling Skills
One of the most important skills you need in order to have a positive experience in Egypt is the skill of haggling and negotiating.
Everything is negotiable in Egypt and it’s expected so don’t worry about offending anyone with your offers.
From buying water at the corner store to shopping for souvenirs at the market to non-metered taxis, haggling is absolutely necessary.
Bring Your Own Toilet Paper
Bring your own toilet paper. Trust me on this one.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find toilet paper in most restrooms in Egypt.
The toilets have a built-in bidet spray nozzle for those who forget to bring toilet paper along but who the heck wants to walk out of the bathroom with a wet behind?
Not me. That’s for sure. I think it’s safe to assume you wouldn’t either.
To avoid this sticky situation simply stop into a local shop and pick up a roll of TP and take enough to last you the day when you’re heading out to explore.
Use Uber in Cairo
Did you know Uber operates in the city of Cairo?
If not, well now you know. What’s even better is that you can get your first ride free (up to 70 EGP or approximately $8 USD) when signing up for a new Uber account.
While taxis are generally safe and easy to use, Uber is definitely your best bet if you’re looking to move around the city without worries.
All you have to do to take advantage of this Uber first ride free discount is the following:
Beware of Scammers
Be careful who you trust in Egypt. Many people are out for your money.
That being said, you should be able to figure out who is genuine and who’s not after the first few minutes of conversation.
If a person mentions a single thing about money, simply move along.
Personally, I’ve met some of the most genuine people in the world during my travels to Egypt, so I highly recommend that you attempt to initiate a conversation with the locals.
Note: If someone approaches you and starts to tell you that he owns a perfume shop, or mentions the Arabic word “baksheesh” which means “tip” in English, tell them “La, Shukran” which means “No, thank you.” in English and simply walk the other way.
Always Ask for Prices
Ask the price before buying water, soda, candy, and anything else that you can imagine buying at a convenience store.
If you’re used to paying a lower price in other shops for your item, haggle with the shop owner a bit to get a little closer to the local rate.
Use the Cairo Metro System
The Cairo Metro system is surprisingly one of the more efficient metro systems that I’ve encountered on my travels.
Be aware that it’s rare that you’ll run into other foreigners on the metro.
I’ve taken the metro countless times and never once saw another tourist or foreigner.
Considering you’ll be a minority, expect the train to go silent at times and when you look up, the entire car will be looking at you out of curiosity.
Did you know that the Cairo Metro system is the first of two built and completed metro systems in the entire continent of Africa?
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Walking shoes or comfortable sneakers are best when planning a trip to Egypt.
Sure, you can wear flip flops or sandals from time to time but please realize that the streets of Cairo and the majority of Egypt are dirty therefore you’ll be sure to return to your hotel with a pair of dirty feet.
Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands
Carry hand sanitizer with you when you travel to Egypt!
You’ll constantly be touching doors, handrails, and currency while you’re in the city and you won’t be the only one touching these things.
Remember, there are an estimated 20-25 million people in Cairo.
Be sure to wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer whenever you don’t have the opportunity to make a bathroom stop.
Watch Your Step
Watch where you’re walking while exploring the city.
The streets of Cairo are not maintained well.
One time I got really lucky and avoided breaking an ankle or worse after my foot and half of my leg fell into a hole in the sidewalk while walking through the city.
This was not your typical pothole, this was a hole that engulfed half of my leg to above my knee.
Dangerous isn’t even the word for the streets and sidewalks in Cairo. Beware.
No worries about drinking tap water because nobody drinks it (including the locals).
During your trip, you’ll be buying lots of bottled water.
You’ll need it to brush your teeth, drink during the day and maybe even some to pour over your head after being in the extreme heat all day.
Note: As a foreigner, you’ll be charged anywhere from 4 to 10 EGP for a “big bottle” (1.5, 2 liters) of water depending on where you purchase it. Trust me, you can get these bottles for 2, 2.5 EGP. Just haggle with the shop owner and you’ll get it for 2 EGP. If they say that it’s 4, or 5 EGP just tell them that you buy water down the street all the time for 2EGP and they’ll usually have no problem selling it to you. Just be aware of what the real “Egyptian” prices are for certain items and you’ll be fine.
Eat Where the Locals Eat
There is a universal rule for consuming food in foreign countries.
The rule is to only eat at street stalls and restaurants that are occupied by locals.
If there’s nobody in the restaurant during what should be a busy time of day, avoid it.
If there’s a line of locals standing in front of a street stall, get in line because you know that it’s not only great food but it’s also very affordable.
Cross the Streets with Confidence
The driving and traffic in Cairo will be shocking to you when you first arrive.
Crossing the streets is quite intimidating at first but after you get used to it, you’ll be crossing the streets without issue.
Trust me, there’s a science to it! Don’t bother getting assistance from the “Tourist Police” when crossing the roads as it’s not necessary.
Note: If you’re wondering why a police officer is asking you for baksheesh (tip) it’s because they probably just did something for you that you thought was a kind gesture (like escorting you across the road). This happens often so be prepared.
Respect the Dress Code and Culture
If you’re planning on traveling to Egypt please do your research before you leave.
Many foreigners arrive in Egypt and dress like they’re still in their home country.
This type of behavior can and will attract more unwanted attention, stares, and even perhaps physical advances by Egyptian men.
In order to blend in a little more and avoid disrespecting the culture, my best advice is to choose your clothing carefully.
- Be sure to keep your knees and shoulders covered at all times.
- Bring a scarf to cover your hair when visiting mosques and other religious sights.
- Always remove shoes before entering a mosque.
- If you’re visiting a mosque and do not have something to cover your shoulders, legs (from the knee down), and hair the staff will likely provide you with an oversized robe.
- Bikinis and other swimwear are totally acceptable to wear while at the resorts on the Red Sea.
- Wearing shorts when exploring the city isn’t a problem but you’ll need a pair of long pants or jeans for the evenings as well as when you visit someone’s home or get invited to an event.
- Sleeveless shirts, tank tops, and gym attire is not acceptable. Don’t be that guy.
- Think light, comfy and layers for the chilly nights.
- Swimming trunks and other swimwear would be acceptable to wear at the resorts or wandering around town in the destinations on the Red Sea.