Passports and Visas. Both are required for entry. In March 2015 Egypt joined many other countries by asking for Visa’s to be done in advance of travel via your local Egyptian Embassy. (Note as of 2 April 2015 it is reported that implementation of needing Visa’s prior to travel has been postponed).
Wi Fi Increasingly Wi Fi is available across the country. In the hotels we select it is mostly available, in room, for a fee or free in lobby areas. We can specially arrange a USB WiFi stick for you if you ask in advance, for payment of a small fee.
Registration. Within 7 days of arrival every visitor must register with the police and in every city throughout the stay. Hotels provide the service automatically. Mostly it will be necessary to leave your passport with the hotel but this poses no concern; they are always returned.
Money. The Egyptian pound is divided into 100 piasters with denominations identified both in English and Arabic. Currency can be exchanged at the airport. Visitors must declare all money brought into the country (but this is rarely enforced). When changing currency the visitor receives a form which should be presented to the bank teller each time currency is exchanged at a bank and this form may be examined upon departure. Major credit cards are accepted in most hotels and the larger stores but infrequently in smaller shops. ATM cards can be used locally, but we advise checking with your issuing bank before you leave home. Egyptian currency may not be taken out of the country.
As of October 2014, you get around 7 LE ( Egyptian Pound ) to US$1.
Tipping. Tipping is an integral part of daily and we provide our Guests with Tipping Guidelines.
Business Hours. Banks are usually open from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM every day except Sunday when hours are 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon. Stores are usually open from 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM and 4:30 PM to 7:00 PM. in summer; 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM in winter. Businesses close on Fridays and many on Saturdays. Some shops close on Sundays.
Health Concerns.We do suggest always checking the website of the Centers for Disease Control for the most current information on health concerns. Currently (Oct 2014 there are no specific innoculations needed). Only if coming from an area infected by either cholera or yellow fever does one need a health certificate for entry. Eating uncooked fruits and vegetables or drinking local water can lead to “Ramses Revenge”…taking a supply of an anti-diarrheic medication is strongly recommended. Pharmacies are usually open from 10 AM until 10 PM and all pharmacists speak some English. Bottled mineral water is available everywhere and is very inexpensive.
What To Bring/Wear.Breathe-ability is the key to successful travel clothing. With casual, comfortable and loose-fitting garments that can be added or subtracted in layers you can easily move from sweltering day to chilly evenings. Wash and wear clothing is a great benefit and while the large hotels all provide laundry service you may only wish to wash a single shirt or top…and may find it’s much easier to do it yourself in the bathroom sink. Modest clothing, for both men and women, should always be worn: keep shoulders and upper arms covered, skirts above the knee and shorts for both sexes are frown upon. For women a one-piece bathing suit is a better choice than even a less-revealing two-piece style. Comfortable walking shoes are essential, as is a hat, umbrella, sunscreen and lip balm as the Egyptian sun can be ferocious. Travel as lightly as possible as you’ll be on the move a lot. Besides camera and lots of film, lightweight binoculars are useful as well as a small flashlight for the less-well-lit tombs. Bring a supply of the over-the-counter medicines (aspirin or other pain reliever, eye drops, first aid creme, band aids, etc.) you may need and any prescription medicines in their prescribed containers.
Cameras.Today virtually every traveler brings a digital camera. However if you are contemplating bringing a video camera it is best to record the camera’s registration number as this may be requested by Egyptian Customs when entering the country. Also, if you have camera equipment that looks to be “professional” (heavy tripod, extra lighting equipment) you will be asked to purchase photo permits. Egypt regulates professional photography very closely and permits can be expensive. Also, these days, almost all interior photography is not permitted, even flash-free photography.
Electricity. 220 volts 50 cycles AC in Cairo and most areas EXCEPT Alexandria, Heliopolis and Maadi where the electricity is 110 volts AC 50 cycles. Wall plugs are the round, two pronged European style.
People. Egypt has a population of well over 85 million and its rapid increase is a primary governmental concern. Egyptians are warm, friendly, courteous and genuinely pleased to have visitors in their country. Every effort will be made to satisfy the visitor, however, be forewarned, things may not always be “mumkin” (possible) and patience may be required. It is considered rude to be abrupt and social congress is the norm during every interpersonal transaction. Haggling or dickering over a price is considered social sport and not to engage in it is almost offensive to the merchant. “Baksheesh” or tipping is the normal way of life.
Egypt is a Muslim country which, while progressive in many ways, holds religious traditions and tenets quite seriously. Women, although occupying many professional positions, are still not equal by law to men. Most public places are basically male bastions. Many women, even in urban Cairo, do wear the veil but it is probably more a statement of modesty or piety, rather than of obligatory necessity. While alcohol is permitted (and Stella, the locally brewed beer, is actually very refreshing) moderation is the key. Some absolute don’ts include:
- Don’t drink and drive (good advice anywhere) and don’t overindulge in alcohol
- Don’t bring illegal substances in the country (penalties are very severe)
- Don’t touch or deface in any way any of the monuments
- Don’t pick up rocks in the desert without checking first for either snakes or scorpions
- Don’t go barefoot or touch the coral reefs…you could get a nasty scratch as well as kill what you’ve touched
- Don’t touch anything living in the reefs…you could get bitten or shocked
- Don’t even attempt a Pyramid climb…it is strictly forbidden now
Safety. Cairo is safer than any large Western city, but as in any country (including your own) common sense and precautions should be used. Wandering alone is not recommended and we strongly recommend against our women guests traveling alone or even in pairs in certain areas without an able-bodied male escort. Virtually all hotel rooms have in-room safes (or if not, there will be a safe at Reception) and this is where you should store any valuables when not on your person.
National Holidays Include:
- February 23 – Union Day
- April 25 – Liberation of Sinai Day
- May 1 – Labor Day
- July 23 – Anniversary of the 1952 Revolution
- October 6 – Armed Forces Day
- October 24 – Suez Day
- December 23 – Victory Day
Religious Holidays.These are based on the lunar calendar and shift from year to year. The primary and extensive religious holiday is the fasting month of Ramadan but tourism is unaffected. Your guide & driver will not eat or drink between sun up and sun down but tourism facilities are available for the Non-Muslim.
News. All hotels will have in room TV and most will pick up CNN International and the BBC. English language newspapers are available in all major cities.
Global Phone Cards. If you have a GSM phone you will be able to purchase a SIM card to allow the phone to operate in Egypt. Your guide will be able to help you find a local phone store.
Mail & Shipping Services. Mail is reliable and fairly speedy. If you purchase something you’d like shipped, allow the shopkeeper to do it for you and be sure to get a receipt…using a credit card may be the best way to pay for an item you would like to have shipped.
U.S. Services for Tourists. Must reading before your trip for U.S. citizens is “Know Before You Go” on the U.S. Customs website. Also on the must read list is the U.S. Department of State’s International Travel section which also provides a link to register your tour with the local U.S. Embassy.