Things to know before you go to Egypt

Things to know before you go to Egypt

Egypt is mind-blowing, intense, frustrating, exhausting, difficult to digest, and one of the most fascinating destinations in the world! When you lean in it will reward you a thousand times over! 

Nothing can prepare you for the attack on all senses, but you can make your stay much more pleasant in this incredible country by learning a few things before you arrive there. Here is everything you need to know to make the most of your trip. 


You will need a visa for traveling to Egypt. You can get an online visa or buy it on arrival at the airport.

The visa is valid for 30 days and you must have a passport with at least 6 months of validity beyond your scheduled return date. 

Get travel insurance 

You really shouldn’t travel anywhere without travel insurance and Egypt is no exception. If you get ill or injured, any medical treatment you require will be covered by your insurance and will be reimbursed. Some insurance policies will also cover you for theft, lost luggage, cancellations, and anything else that can go wrong during your trip. This will give you peace of mind knowing that no matter what happens you will be taken care of. 


Like most of the Middle East, Arabic is the official spoken language in Egypt. Most people who work in the tourism industry speak some English and tourists can get by with English at most restaurants, hotels, and tourist activities.


Egyptians use the Egyptian pound (LE), which is made up of 100 piastres and notes come in 1, 5,10,20,50,100, and 200 pounds. You can easily exchange money on arrival, and exchange bureaus and ATMs are widely available in larger towns and cities. 

Driving is crazy

We have been to a lot of countries where driving is insane, but honestly, nothing compares to Egypt when it comes to driving. It is like there are no rules. Cars do not follow lines, street signs, or any other rules found in Europe or America. We noticed that they love to drive between the lanes, finding even the smallest gap to overtake. Honking is like a strong habit and a sign for everything. If you want to pass, just honk. If you want to make it right, just honk. Or maybe you want to sign something, honk again. There are no rules for pedestrians. Don’t expect drivers to stop at pedestrian crossings. Just look left, right, and dodge cars, bikes, and carts when slowly crossing the street. Don’t worry, after a while, you will get used to it, and you will consider it to be fun! We don’t recommend hiring a car. It is better to hire a car and driver because it would be a lot safer. 

Stay safe

Generally, the criminality level is moderate and Egypt is relatively safe for tourists. The most common types of crime are theft and scams; overpriced taxis and tours, shop owners raising prices for tourists, sellers pressuring people into buying things they don’t want, …

Make sure to check your home government’s travel advice before traveling to Egypt, this will make you aware of any possible political disturbance.

Cover yourself and dress conservatively

Although the temperature may be warm in Egypt, walking around in a mini skirt or a low-cut top is not acceptable. It is a conservative destination and you will draw a lot of unwanted attention to yourself when you dress in a revealing way. Also, if you are visiting a religious site such as a mosque, it is disrespectful to dress in this way. Bring along lightweight long pants, shirts that cover your shoulders, and a shawl or sarong to cover your cleavage. 


There are a few types of scams that show up again and again, so if you can be aware of them you will be much less likely to be fooled by them. For example, a common scam is when the taxi driver will pretend not to have heard of your hotel, even if it is a very popular one. Or, they will insist that your hotel has closed down or has moved location. They will do this so that they can suggest another hotel instead, which will give them a commission for bringing in business. You can avoid this by knowing the address of your hotel in advance and having the phone number so that you can call and confirm the location. 

Don’t expect things to happen on time 

Remember that things happen in “Egyptian Time”. Trains won’t necessarily leave when they are scheduled, and things can take a lot longer than expected. It’s important to keep this in mind and to allow extra time for delays so that you don’t get stressed out. Take a good book to read while you wait and just sit tight, the things you are waiting for will happen eventually. 

Learn how to haggle

Haggling is a natural part of shopping in Egypt, but it will feel a little bit strange and intimidating at first if you are from a culture where haggling is not the norm. The important thing to remember is that it is not a battle, it is a friendly negotiation. 

The vendor will probably quote a price that is quite high and he is expecting you to give a lower counter-offer. Then, you can go back and forth and reach a price that works for both of you. The price is always negotiable and if you don’t haggle, you will end up paying over the odds for nearly everything you purchase. Plus, word will quickly spread to all of the vendors that you are an easy target and everyone will try to charge you more. 

Many Egyptian people are at a point of financial desperation

In 2016 the value of the Egyptian Pound (LE) fell significantly. Prices have been adjusted for inflation, wages have remained more or less the same as before. Meaning that many Egyptians are earning about half of what they were earning before 2016 but paying higher prices for everything.
Because of that, the Egyptian people are struggling to make ends meet. In areas like Luxor and Aswan that rely on tourism, you can feel the desperation in their pleas. It’s incredibly sad and difficult to understand, and sadly for tourists, it can be a very frustrating experience.

A tip is expected for anything and everything

Egypt has developed a culture where a tip (baksheesh) is expected for anything and everything. Expect to pay 10 LE for the guards hanging out at the temples. Public bathrooms 2 LE. Pay the bellboy 10 – 20 LE for carrying your luggage to your room. 

Nile River cruises are expensive 

Although we wanted to, we ended up not doing a Nile River cruise during our trip to Egypt, because it was way more expensive than we thought it would be. 
Another thing you should be aware of is that during the cruise you have very little time at attractions and you will visit them in a large group. Most of the time is spent commuting from the port where you are docked to the actual attraction, you don’t even cruise that much in the end. 

Beware that everything has an additional fee

For example, if you visit the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, you will have to pay the regular tickets and, on top of that, a separate ticket to visit the Royal Mummy exhibit, if you visit the Pyramids, there is a separate fee for the burial chambers. Every site has an additional charge for photography permits. 

Weather and temperatures

The best time to visit Egypt is between October and April, when temperatures are cooler, but still pleasantly warm across the country. Temperatures are around 25 °C. This makes exploring the busy streets of Cairo, visiting the Pyramids in the desert, and exploring ancient Pharaonic tombs more comfortable and enjoyable. 

The summer season from May to September is hot with temperatures around 45 °C. During the summer season, there are far fewer visitors and lower prices. 

Consider joining a guided tour 

Even though we prefer traveling independently and don’t like guided tours. We recommend you take an expert guide. The guide will be able to share all sorts of relevant information on the sites you will be visiting and inform you about the local customs and traditions and even about scams. 

Go for it! 

The truth is that traveling in Egypt will be much more challenging than traveling in other countries. You might find yourself overwhelmed and exhausted at times, so it is important to take care of yourself and be prepared for this. However, the experience of going to Egypt is worth it! You will see some incredibly beautiful sights, meet some unforgettable people and get to know a fascinating ancient culture. So just go for it and start planning your trip! 

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