Frequently asked questions

Egypt is a very safe place to visit and the police and army are in prominence wherever you go, giving you a feeling of being in secure surroundings. Egypt prides itself on its high safety record for tourists and will do all it can to maintain this.

Usually, you need to apply to your local Egyptian Embassy or Consulate-General for a pre-entry tourist visa but if you are from North America, Western Europe, Australia/New Zealand, Brazil/Argentina, or Hong Kong/Japan/Macau/Malaysia or Singapore you can get your tourist visa upon arrival in Egypt.

If you hold a residence permit in the country you live in you can apply to the Egyptian Embassy/Consulate General in that country, otherwise, you have to apply to the country that issued your passport.

Though many nationalities are exempted from requiring a visa for the many Sinai resorts, a full tourist visa is required if you come to any place in Egypt that lies to the west of the Red Sea/Suez Canal.

Though many nationalities are exempted from requiring a visa for staying in Hurghada, once you leave the confines of the town a full tourist visa is required.

Yes, as soon as you leave Egypt your visa will be stamped and so you will require another one. If you are from a country that can get their visa upon arrival in Egypt, you can get the new one when you re-enter the country, but if you require a pre-entry visa you should apply for 2 of these, using the second one when you re-enter Egypt.

A tourist visa can be extended if required. To do this you have to apply to Mogamma, El Tahrir Square, or to the equivalent offices in Alexandria, Luxor, or Sharm El-Sheikh.

The star ratings get higher as the facilities and overall standard of the accommodation get better and so it is easier to imagine a 5-star deluxe (or any suffix added to 5 stars) as being 6 stars; something that those who fix the star ratings seem feared to utilize.

If you are only in Cairo for a few days, it is a lot easier for you to see the sites starting from a base in Giza. The traffic from downtown to the pyramids can cause the journey to take over an hour, which means an early start if you want a full day’s experience, especially if you require to enter the Great Pyramid when you have to be at the plateau before 0800. If you are in Cairo for a while, the hotels at the Pyramids are all on a resort basis, built on acres of land with outdoor swimming pools and relaxing areas, something which Downtown hotels cannot really provide. This is why you tend to find that Downtown hotels are built like towers. Very tall and narrow, while Giza Pyramid hotels are limited in height, but cover more ground. Cost also comes into the equation as a simple 4* hotel in the Downtown area is more than often a lot dearer than a 5* resort in the Pyramids area. Cairo is like most major cities in the world in this regard as city-center property is a lot more expensive. Though it may appear that Downtown hotels do afford the luxury of being able to wander around the area for shopping and restaurants, etc, most of the Pyramid hotels offer free shuttle buses to allow you to do the same, plus taxis are not expensive and will still work out cheaper in the end.

Bed and breakfast means that only breakfast is supplied. Half board means that breakfast and dinner are supplied. Full board has all meals supplied (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) All-inclusive, means that all meals and drinks are supplied; some hotels also supply alcohol. This last point should be checked when making the booking.

No, definitely not, and we would encourage you to go out and enjoy the culture of Egypt. Many packages are full board, which tends to make people think they have to stay imprisoned in their hotel, but the sights and sounds of Cairo, especially, are too great to be missed. Why stay in the same hotel, with the same faces, when you could go out and have your dinner on a cruise boat sailing around Zamalek Island, accompanied by either a belly dancer or a Whirling Dervish; or sometimes both? This is your holiday, so enjoy every minute and get out and explore.[

All hotels and cruises have safety deposit boxes, sometimes even in your room/cabin. All you need to do is ask the receptionist and they will give you instructions on how to use them, or will safely put away your valuables until you need them.

The main bus depot is called Cairo Gateway (El Torgoman) bus station and is situated just off the city center. Any taxi will be able to take you there.

The bus station in Luxor is situated behind Luxor Temple.

Though many nationalities are exempted from requiring a visa for the many Sinai resorts, a full tourist visa is required if you come to any place in Egypt that lies to the west of the Red Sea/Suez Canal.

The bus station is situated in Hurghada town center.

The bus station is on the outskirts of the town on Freedom Road. You will require a taxi to get there, though many hotels do have shuttle buses that can do this.

There is no online facility for this but you can order them by telephone. Call “El Watania” at +20225749474 or +20225749274, or fax them at +20225749074. You will be given a booking reference and you can pay and pick the tickets up at Cairo station at least 24 hours before departure.

Many travel books mention the road and bus service between these two towns, but this is not advised for tourists and buses will often refuse admittance. The advised route is to get the bus to Luxor and then the train to Aswan.

You can, but you are advised to get your tickets at least 24 hours before travel, if possible. If you wait until the last minute you may find that you cannot get seats that are next to one another, or they may even be at separate ends of the bus. Not a good idea if you have children with you.

Car hire is available and many of the world’s major car hire companies are available in Cairo. Car hire is NOT advised for those who have not been to Egypt before and therefore do not understand the laws of driving implemented in Egypt.

Unless you are used to the way that Egyptians drive, it is not advised to attempt this. Lane etiquette is unknown, cars will cut across you to make a turn, and the use of lights during the night is very seldom done. Though some road signs are in English and Arabic, the majority are in Arabic alone and there are simply not any good road maps, especially town ones.

NO!! If you were to do this, you could find yourself paying more for the ride than the fare by bus/train would have been.

Yes, there are many places that will allow this but before you do so please remember a couple of very important things: As the day progresses so does the heat, so by the early afternoon, it can be exceedingly uncomfortable. Do you really want to be cycling for miles in this, with very little chance of shade? This is especially important for children, who will be very exhausted as the day progresses because of the heat. There are no cycle lanes and so you are sharing the roads with all other forms of vehicular traffic, which is not the best thing to experience. Many cyclists have been injured because of other road users not noticing them.

Unfortunately, the links between Alexandria (and Port Said) and other Mediterranean ports are not available right now due to the ongoing problems in Palestine and Israel. It is hoped that these will be resumed in the near future. Commercial ferries are available, some of which carry passengers, but you would need to contact the relevant port authority for information on these.

Abu Simbel can be reached by flight, which is the easiest and most convenient method taking about 4 hours for the round trip and visit, or, there are 2 police-controlled bus convoys that leave Aswan at 0400 and 1130 that take about 9 hours for the round trip and visit.

You can visit either of these sites by taking the train, getting off at the relevant station and then getting a taxi, or by hiring a taxi or private driven car to take you to them (from Luxor or Aswan).

Though movies like “Death on the Nile” show people using this cruise, it has not been possible to cover this route since the late 1990s. Flight or train are the only ways to get from Cairo to Luxor or Aswan nowadays.

Yes, but ticket sales for this are restricted to 300 people per day; 150 at 0800 and the other 150 at 0300. Tickets for this can only be bought at the main entrance, not the entrance close to the Sphinx. As tickets are sold on a first-come basis first-served basis, it is advised to get to the office as soon as possible as buses will arrive at opening times and they tend to get the majority of the tickets. If you can spare the time, try for the tickets in the morning, and if you are not successful you can be first in line for the afternoon tickets.

There is no restriction on these sales but only one of them is open at a time. The timings change to allow them to breathe, dispersing the high levels of carbon dioxide levels that tend to accumulate inside. Tickets are available at the main entrance to the site.

No, photography inside tombs, including the pyramids and Abu Simbel. It is strictly forbidden thus, all cameras are banned from the Valley of the Kings (you have to leave all cameras at the x-ray point at the second entrance). Excessive flash damages the paintwork inside the tombs and so, because of people who ignore these rules, draconian measures have been implemented to safeguard these ancient works of art. The simple rule of thumb when visiting sites is no cameras inside, cameras are okay outside.

Though most companies will use the same sites for their packages, this is mainly because the majority of visitors are experiencing Egypt for the first time and so these are the “must-see” sites. Egypt has literally hundreds of ancient sites which can be visited and it only takes a request for them to be explored.

NO!! Malaria has not been in Egypt for well over 85 years and there is no need for any type of anti-malaria medication. To be honest, it is quite observed that any type of anti-malaria medication can actually cause side effects that will simply ruin your holiday. Just because Egypt is in Africa does not mean malaria is here as well.

Yes, but please ensure that you only bring enough for your stay, with just a few days’ extra supplies like a back- up. It would also help if you could bring with you the prescription as well, as proof, or for topping up (there are many pharmacies in Egypt that can do this for you). If it happens to be traveling onwards from Egypt and have a lot more of your prescribed medicine with you, please ensure that you do have the prescription as proof.

Yes, but it is not recommended! Egyptian water has a high chlorine level in it which can upset the microbes in your stomach, causing diarrhea. For drinking purposes, it is far safer to stick with bottled mineral water, ensuring the seal is intact before drinking it.

Egyptian water is highly chlorinated, not poisonous, so it is perfectly safe to do this. You often swallow small amounts of water whilst in the shower, or swimming, and this causes no problems, so why should cleaning your teeth be a problem?

The protocol does ask for men to wear long trousers as opposed to shorts, though Egyptians are used to the latter being worn and so say nothing, or little if it occurs.

The protocol does ask women to cover bare skin as much as possible and so shoulders, especially, should be covered and a simple scarf will suffice. Again, it is advised to wear long trousers or skirts, as the legs should also be covered. Heads do not need to be covered, despite what some tourist books say, though it is a sign of respect if you do this.

You may wear whatever you like onboard the cruise but you are asked to dress formally for dinner. Casual but neat is acceptable, you do not have to dress formally. Swimwear is not acceptable.

When walking around the towns, dress as you would for a hot summer’s day back home. Shorts and T-shirts are actually worn by many locals.

This really depends on which site you are visiting and at what time of the day. Some offer little shade and so you should ensure that you do not have too much skin available for the sun to burn (the Giza Pyramids, in the afternoon, is a prime example of this). Temples are well shaded so you do not have to cover so much, but remember that even though they are shaded well, tombs tend to accumulate the heat from the sun as well as the many visitors, so try to wear something lightweight in them, especially cotton fabrics. Though many people like to wear open-toed sandals, please note that many of the floors are exceedingly unlevel and so it can be easy to stub your toes. Ladies, please do not wear high heels; not only they can be easily broken, but also, they can become trapped between the large stones in the flooring, and you will also find you will tend to slip and slide on the stone. High heels and sand are not the best partners either as the heels will sink in (you may laugh, but many ladies do insist on wearing high heels).

Many women travel alone and have found that they are safe. The police, tourist police, and army are always close by and the Egyptians themselves are generally safe and will try to protect solo travelers. In general, it is less safe for a solo female traveler in Egypt than in places like Greece, Italy, or Spain. Although the chances of being confronted are almost negligible, please ensure that you take the same precautions that you would do anywhere else and do not be tempted to walk in deserted areas alone: get a taxi back to your abode! You may receive some invitations, which on the whole are innocent, yet do not accept any of these from strangers.

This is a tourist book fallacy. Women walking around these towns can do so as if they were walking around their hometowns in the summer. You will be amazed at how many of the local women dress like this as well, looking more like tourists than Egyptian.

Yes, most places accept these nowadays, including all decent hotels and cruises. You are advised to carry cash when shopping in the many street markets (souks) though the larger malls, and street shops, can accept plastic.

Almost every bank has an ATM outside it, or just inside the front doors, and you will normally find that they are guarded by a policeman. Many shopping malls have their own ATM stand and you can also find them located along a busy pavement (sidewalk), or where two busy pavements meet. Airports and railway stations also have ATMs the same as the offices of big tour companies.

Egypt has a voltage supply of 220V and the plugs are the 2-round pin type that is common throughout Europe (except the UK).

Yes, alcohol is available in Egypt, either in classy hotels, higher-class restaurants, cafes, pubs, and beer gardens. You will also find a license as well. Nevertheless, please note that it is illegal to drink alcohol in the streets of Egypt, so do not walk around with a can of your favorite tipple.

Yes, you are only allowed to bring in 2 liters with you.

Will get an answer to your question with every help I can do to make your trip so enjoyable.

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