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  • Writer's pictureYllara Maia

10 Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

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Hey there, fellow adventurers! Are you getting ready to explore the marvelous land of Egypt for the very first time? Egypt is an incredible country with a rich history and culture that will blow your mind. But before you pack your bags and head off on your Egyptian adventure, there are some important things you should know to make your trip smooth and unforgettable. So, let's dive right in!

1. Dress Modestly:

Dressing modestly in Egypt is a smart move, fellow travelers. It shows respect for the local culture and traditions. When packing for your Egyptian adventure, opt for outfits that cover your shoulders and knees.

Ladies, consider packing a scarf you can use to cover your head when visiting religious sites. Guys, swap those super short shorts for longer ones. It's all about blending in and making your trip more comfortable.

Since Egypt is also a place where tourism is important, they won't be super strict about your wardrobe - but it's nice to respect the culture regardless. So, pack smart, keep it modest, and you'll have an even better time exploring the wonders of Egypt!

2. Respect the Culture:

Egyptians are incredibly warm and friendly, but it's important to respect their customs and traditions. When you meet someone, greet them with a friendly "As-salamu alaykum" (peace be upon you). If you want to take photos of locals, always ask for their permission – it's polite and shows respect.

3. Bargaining is Fun:

Shopping in Egypt is an adventure in itself, especially when it comes to bargaining. Bargaining in Egypt is like a lively game where you and the shopkeeper try to agree on a price for something you want to buy. It happens in many places, especially at markets and bazaars.

Vendors often start with higher prices, expecting you to negotiate. So, don't be shy! Here are some haggling tips for first-time tourists: start by asking the price and then offer a lower amount, but keep it friendly. Be prepared to walk away if you can't agree on a price; sometimes, the vendor may call you back with a better offer.

Keep in mind, bargaining is all about having fun and reaching a fair deal for both you and the seller. So, embrace the game, and you might just find some amazing souvenirs at great prices while exploring the bustling streets of Egypt!

4. Learn Basic Arabic:

While many people in Egypt speak English, learning a few basic Arabic phrases can go a long way. Phrases like "Shukran" (thank you) and "La shukran" (no thank you) are handy. Locals appreciate it when you make an effort to speak their language. Below are some basic Arabic terms to help you get by in Egypt.

Sure, here are some basic Arabic terms and their translations to help first-time tourists get by in Egypt:

Hello - مرحباً (Marhaban)

Good morning - صباح الخير (Sabah al-khair)

Good evening - مساء الخير (Masa' al-khair)

Yes - نعم (Na'am)

No - لا (La)

Please - من فضلك (Min fadlik)

Thank you - شكراً (Shukran)

You're welcome - على الرحب والسعة (Ala al-rahb wa al-sa'ah)

Excuse me / Sorry - آسف (Asif) for males, آسفة (Asifa) for females

How much is this? - كم هذا؟ (Kam hatha?)

Where is...? - أين...؟ (Ayna...?)

I need help - أحتاج مساعدة (Ahtaju musa'adah)

Water - ماء (Ma')

Food - طعام (Ta'am)

Restroom - دورة المياه (Dawrat al-ma'ah)

These basic phrases can go a long way in making your trip to Egypt more enjoyable and convenient. Egyptians often appreciate it when tourists make an effort to speak a bit of their language.

5. Tummy Safety:

Egyptian food is delicious, but your stomach might need a bit of time to adjust to new flavors. When it comes to eating and drinking in Egypt, a little caution goes a long way in helping you stay healthy and avoid tummy troubles on your trip. First, drink bottled water instead of tap water to prevent stomach issues.

Also, avoid adding ice to your drinks because sometimes the ice might not be made with purified water. When it comes to food, street food in Egypt is delicious, but make sure it's hot and freshly prepared. Washing fruits and veggies with bottled water before eating them can also reduce the risk of tummy problems.

It's a good idea to skip raw or undercooked seafood and dairy products. And remember, moderation is key. Trying all the tasty Egyptian dishes is awesome, but overindulging might upset your stomach. By staying hydrated, choosing your meals wisely, and enjoying the local cuisine in moderation, you can savor the flavors of Egypt without any unwanted surprises on your journey.

Pro Tip: Bring Pepto-Bismol! Sometimes travel diarrhea is inevitable and it's best to be prepared - just saying!

6. Currency Matters:

When it comes to money matters in Egypt, it's good to have some cash with you, especially if you plan to visit smaller towns or local markets where credit cards might not be widely accepted. Egyptian pounds (EGP) are the local currency, so you'll need to exchange your money when you arrive.

Airports, banks, and authorized exchange offices are safe places to do that. ATMs are also common in cities like Cairo and Luxor, and they're usually safe to use. Just be cautious and avoid withdrawing money from ATMs in secluded or poorly lit areas, especially at night. I exchanged my cash at the airport in Cairo - but you can always make a cash exchange order with your local bank before your trip.

Many big cities and tourist spots do accept credit cards, but it's a good idea to carry some cash for small purchases or in case you come across places that prefer cash payments. So, a mix of cash and cards can help you enjoy your trip to Egypt without any money worries!

7. The Sun is Fierce:

Alright, let's talk about the weather and that blazing sun in Egypt! Egypt can get seriously hot, especially in the summer. So, if you're visiting during that time, make sure to pack lightweight, breathable clothes to stay cool. Don't forget sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the strong sun.

It's super important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially when you're out and about exploring. The sun can be fierce, so always carry a water bottle with you. If you're planning to visit historical sites, consider going early in the morning or later in the afternoon when it's not as scorching.

And when you're out and about, take breaks in the shade to avoid overheating. With these tips, you'll be ready to handle the Egyptian sun and enjoy your adventure without getting sunburned or dehydrated!

8. Transportation Tidbits:

Transportation in Egypt can be quite an adventure! When you're a first-time tourist, it's essential to know the best ways to get around. Public transportation like buses and trains can be your buddies, especially for traveling between cities. They're budget-friendly and relatively efficient.

But here's the thing: traffic in Egypt is wild! Driving can be like a game of bumper cars, so it's usually best to leave the driving to the locals. Taxis are also an option, but make sure to agree on the fare before you hop in because meters aren't always used.

For getting around within cities, consider using the metro in Cairo – it's fast, cheap, and a fun way to experience local life. And hey, if you're feeling adventurous, you can always try a tuk-tuk ride! Just hang on tight because it can be a bumpy journey.

So, when it comes to transportation in Egypt, it's safer to take a taxi or book private transportation. I recommend booking excursions with transportation included, so you won't have to figure out how to get around on your own.

9. Learn Some History:

Before you go, it's fun to learn a bit about Egypt's incredible history. Knowing about the pyramids, pharaohs, and ancient temples will make your visit even more exciting.

If you're the type of person that likes to go with the flow, booking guided tours is your best option. That way, you'll still learn a lot about the country and it's history while embracing the element of surprise.

I highly recommend having a guide for the museums and big attractions like the Pyramids, Sphynx, and any of the temples. Yes, they're all great to look at - but it's also important to know the history behind it all. Trust me!

10. Have an Open Mind:

Finally, the most important thing to know before visiting Egypt is to have an open mind. Embrace the culture, try new foods, and be open to different experiences. Egypt is full of surprises, and you're in for a fantastic adventure!

With these ten tips in your travel toolkit, you're all set to have an amazing time in Egypt. Get ready to explore ancient wonders, taste delicious food, and meet friendly people. Egypt is waiting to dazzle you with its magic, so go out there and make unforgettable memories! Happy travels!


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