Important to Know about Egypt

  • NAME: Arab Republic of Egypt
  • AREA: 1 million Square KM
  • POPULATION: 100 millions
  • CAPITAL: CAIRO
  • LANGUAGE: Arabic
  • RELIGION: 90% Muslim (mostly Sunni), 9% Coptic Christians Other Christian 1%
  • PEOPLE: 99% – Egyptians, Berbers, Bedouin, 1% – other, Nubians & Europeans

Geography:

  • Egypt is nearly one million square kilometers in size.
  • 90% of the population occupies just 10% of the total surface area of the country.
  • This 10% is habitable land – known as the Nile Delta and Nile Valley regions suitable for sustaining cultivable crops etc.

Time Zone:

  • Egypt is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Climate:

  • Mainly hot and dry.
  • Temperatures exceed 38’C during summer (from May to September) with extremes of up to 50’C.(in Upper Egypt)
  • Late November to February temperatures range from 15 – 25’C on the Mediterranean coast to 20 – 30’C in Aswan in the south.
  • Winter nights, temperatures can plummet to 10’C on the coast in Cairo.
  • In the desert and the mountains of Sinai, days are scorching hot, but bitterly cold at night.
  • Alexandria in the north receives the most rain with 20cm per year, whilst Aswan in the south has received an average of 1cm in the last 5 years.

Currency:

  • Egyptian Pounds (EGP or LE).
  • British Pounds Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are easily exchanged.
  • You can obtain Egyptian Pounds (LE) at any major bank or your hotel.
  • The exchange rate fluctuate frequently; the Egyptian pound (LE) consists of 100 piasters (pt.).
  • Currency comes in the following denominations: 25pt and 50pt and 1LE (coins and notes) + 5LE, 10LE, 20LE, 50LE, 100LE, 200LE notes.
  • There is a severe shortage of small change.
  • 50pt, 1LE and 5LE notes are hard to come by so save them for tipping or paying for using the toilet!
  • Debit cards with can be used at local ATM/Teller machines for cash withdrawals.
  • Rely on these only in the cities or larger towns.
  • Take advantage of ATM’s in Cairo, as there are fewer machines in Aswan, Luxor and Dahab.

Visa:

  • To visit Egypt, you should get the visa, some nationalities like American, and British citizens can get the visa upon arrival at the airport, while the other some like Indian and Chinese nationalities should get the visa in advance before arrival from the Egyptian embassy at their country.
  • The cost of the Visa is 25 $ per person.

Health & Water:

  • Tap water in Egypt is heavily chlorinated although U.S. embassy tests have confirmed the water to be safe and fit for consumption.
  • However, if you are in Egypt for a relatively short – term stay, doctors recommend that you stick with bottled mineral water, in order to avoid gastric upsets.
  • Nestle, Hyatt or Baraka branded bottled mineral water are reputable bands.
  • Just ensure that the bottle sealing is not broken!
  • Take care with fruit juice, as water may have been added.
  • Milk should be treated with suspicion, as it is often unpasteurized, though boiled milk is fine.
  • Tea and coffee are favorable as the water will have been boiled.
  • We strongly advise that if you are travelling to Dahab DO NOT drink any of the tap water as it is mainly salt water with very few chemicals added to it.
  • showering and brushing teeth with tap water does not pose a problem.

Toilets and Facilities:

  • Public toilets, when they can be found, are usually squat-holes in the floor with footrests on either or if you are lucky western style toilets.
  • All public toilets come with an obligatory usage free of 1-2LE irrespective of standard of hygiene.
  • You will find some western toilet facilities near tourism sites, though again hygiene can be lacking.
  • Your best bet is to use hotel bathrooms and restaurant restrooms before leaving.
  • All toilets western and squat come fitted with a water jet for washing yourself, be sure to give it a try! If things don’t go as well as planned be sure to have supply of paper with you – not the daily newspaper as it tends to leave an impression of the country, which is hard to remove!

Trading Hours:

  • Mostly from 09.00 – 13.00 hrs. and 17.00 – 22.00 in summer and 10.00 – 18.00 in winter.
  • Many shops are closed on Friday.
  • Most of the touristic sites are opening from 8.00 am till 4.00 pm except Khan al Khalili Bazaar, it’s opened till around 9.30 pm
  • Opening hours change during Ramadan.

Banking Hours:

  • Banks open 0900 – 1400 form Sunday to Thursday.
  • Some banks in Cairo also open for a few hours in the evening.
  • Bureau de change and moneychangers are generally open during the day through to late in the evening.

Postage:

  • Postcard stamps are available at post-offices; some souvenir Kiosks, shops and some hotels will stock them at the front desk.
  • Stamps bought from anywhere but a post-office generally cost a little more than their face value.
  • Postage Stamps cost 1.50 – 2LE to send a postcard to any destination in the world.

Transportation:

  • Cars, Buses, Train, Flight are the most common means of transportation which links the cities with each other.
  • To travel to Upper Egypt (Luxor and Aswan) from Cairo, It’s preferable to take the sleeper train or the flight.
  • The Duration of the sleeper train trip to Luxor is around 10 Hours , while to Aswan is around 14 Hours , while the flight takes around 1 Hour to Luxor , and 1.20 Hrs. to Aswan.
  • Horse Drawn Carriage is one of the traditional means of Transportation ,but avoid taking horse and carriages in Luxor and Aswan by your own as near always it will lead to a scam.

Security of Personal Belongings:

  • On your tour most of the hotel guest rooms are equipped with safe deposit boxes for your convenience.
  • Each person is responsible for their personal belongings at all times.
  • Your safest option is keep your money and passport on you at all times and use the hotel safe deposit boxes only when needed.
  • Tourist police sometimes refuse to write reports for insurance purposes if they believe that the claim is untrue.
  • Keep bags or money belts well secured, especially in busy, closely confined crowds.

What to Pack & Wear each day:

  • Egypt is a Muslim country, due to this there is a more conservative attitude towards dress; respect must be given particularly when visiting local areas (train stations), markets and religious monuments (mosques and the Citadel).
  • In the holy places like mosques and churches ..there is a dress code for men must refrain from wearing shorts, and all visitors, prior to entry to any Mosque must remove footwear.
  • For women they have to wear long sleeves pants, and scarf to cover their hair when entering the holy places ….anyway in these places they offer women to wear garments and scarfs but it’s recommended to bring your own scarf
  • It is suggested that ladies avoid ‘clingy’, tight, suggestive attire and stick with cool flowing cottons, longer sleeved shirts and pants in busy city areas.
  • Beach attire can be worn onboard your felucca/ Nile Cruise and at beach resorts.
  • Shorts are rarely seen in cities; in fact Egyptian men choose to wear long pants.
  • Ex-military style clothing should not be worn.

Mosques and Religion:

  • About 90% of Egypt’s the Mosque is a Muslim’s place of worship and cannot be visited during prayer time.
  • At other times, you may visit, with the exception of two Mosques in Cairo, Sayyida Zeinab mosque and Al-Hussein Mosque.
  • There are a number of splendid examples of Mosques, most particularly in Islamic Cairo.
  • Al-Azhar Mosque is a great example of 1000 years’ worth of theological history, and it is also the world’s oldest surviving University.
  • Lose yourself in Islamic Cairo.
  • DRESS CONSERVATELY and ensure that limbs are covered when entering any Mosque.
  • Men must refrain from wearing shorts, and all visitors, prior to entry to any Mosque must remove footwear.

Alcohol:

  • Contraband products brewed in ‘backyard breweries’ with such names as ‘Johnny Talker’ and ‘Boredom’s Dry Gin’ are on offer.
  • Consumption of these bogus brands is dangerous and should be avoided.
  • Alcohol is available in bars, for consumption by international visitors and the local beer-Stella sold in pint sized green bottles at 20LE – 40LE is very palatable and widely available.
  • It is forbidden to drink Alcohol upon the streets or outside of a beer or hotel, Egyptian law strictly enforces this.
  • Most of the hotels don’t provide Alcoholic beverages during Ramadan.

Markets:

  • Almost everything is open to a little bit of haggling/ bargaining, especially in the markets where it can be a good, though tiresome game of cat and mouse.
  • Whatever you choose, be sure to inspect the item thoroughly and bargain hard.
  • Aim for 30 – 50% of the asking price and work your way up from there.
  • Keep a smile on your face and don’t get frazzled it all a well-rehearsed theatrical recital.

 

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