7 lifesaving things to know before your trip to Egypt

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Egypt has been capturing the imagination of visitors for hundreds of years. The iconic pyramids and other relics from the ancient era combined with the more modern resorts, such as Sharm el Sheikh, makes traveling to Egypt irresistible.

However, unprepared tourists can find themselves in tricky situations. To stay safe, healthy, and to avoid being ripped off, there are a number of important things to know before going to Egypt that should be considered by anyone planning to visit.

This essential Egypt travel guide includes some things to watch out for and some useful tips for visiting Egypt.

1) Health risks to watch out for

Tap water

Avoid tap water unless it has been sterilized. Also don’t eat food, such as salad, which has been washed with tap water and don’t have ice in your drinks.

Sun exposure

Spending long periods of time in the sun can lead to sunburn and dehydration. Use high-factor sun cream and drink plenty of water.

High altitudes

If traveling to high-altitude areas, visitors should take due care. Sunburn, cold exposure, and altitude sickness can cause problems for the underprepared.

2) Accessing and spending money in Egypt

Visitors should keep the following pieces of Egypt travel information in mind...

  • Egypt’s currency is the Egyptian pound (LE: Livre Egyptienne)
  • Most banks are open from Sunday to Thursday 8:30 - 14:00
  • ATMs are common in towns, cities, and resorts
  • Major credit and debit cards are widely accepted in hotels and larger shops
  • Inform your bank before traveling to prevent your card being blocked
  • Keep track of your bank balance during your trip to identify any fraudulent activity early
  • Tipping is expected so carry change to give away

3) Respect the culture

Egypt is a conservative, Muslim country and it can be a culture shock. Visitors from western countries should be aware that public displays of affection, such as holding hands and kissing, are not approved of. Homosexuality is still illegal.

Wearing revealing clothing is also frowned upon and it can draw unnecessary unwanted attention. Dress extra-conservatively when visiting mosques.

4) Basic Arabic phrases and numbers

Arabic is the official language though most people understand English. You can get by with just English though using a few basic Arabic phrases acts as a good ice-breaker and generally gets a positive reaction.

Knowing the Arabic numbers can be a lifesaver and can stop you from being ripped off. Prices in restaurants, shops, and markets are in Arabic and if you understand them you won’t be overcharged.

5) Most nationalities need a visa to travel to Egypt

Very few nationalities can enter Egypt without a visa. The only visa-exempt countries are Bahrain, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Macao, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Every other nationality needs to present the necessary documentation to travel to Egypt.

Many nationalities can apply for the new Egypt e-Visa as long as they meet the passport requirements. The Egypt online application is simple and only takes a few minutes. Eligible countries include the US, Canada, all EU countries, Australia, Russia, and Ukraine.

There is also the option of a visa on arrival, which requires queueing and completing the application at the Egyptian border.

6) Recommended vaccinations for Egypt

There are no obligatory vaccinations for Egypt but you should see you doctor before your Egypt trip. If you are traveling from a country where yellow fever is present you need to show you’ve been vaccinated.

Travelers to Egypt should get the following vaccinations:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis B and Rabies in some cases

7) Places in Egypt to avoid

Is Egypt safe? Yes, overall Egypt is a safe country to visit but there are parts where tourists shouldn’t go. Egypt has had its fair share of political instability and security threats in recent years.

You should avoid the Governorate of North Sinai, including the Suez-taba road. Also, do not travel within 50 kilometers of the Libyan border due to the threat of kidnapping.

Most of the best places to travel in Egypt, such as Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh (where tourism in Egypt is central to the economy), are well-protected, safe locations to visit.

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