15 Top Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt + Cultural Do’s & Don’ts🇪🇬
Egypt is a magical country full of history, and it is a must visit. Discovering this land of mystery, and the ancient templates and artefacts is a unique experience that is a must at least once in your lifetime. Egypt also have beautiful white beaches and reefs on the red sea that are also a must.
Check Why You Should Visit Egypt: 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Egypt
How to Get Your Visa for Egypt
You can get the visa by going to the embassy, or visiting the official website, or getting it with an agency like iVisa. iVisa provides 100% online travel documents such as: Visas, health declaration forms, embassy registrations, passport photos, passport renewals, tourist cards, and other travel documents. It is the simplest solution to process your travel visa.
For most countries you can get an e-visa for Egypt, and you can simply do it through iVisa. It is quick and simple, your documents are reviewed first to gets approved, it is 100% secure and safe, and you also get 24/7 support from them.
Here’s why you should choose iVisa:
Speed and Simplicity - Easy, traveler-friendly application process. Simple and much less complicated than dealing with foreign governments.
Get Approved - All documents are reviewed by a team of immigration experts. Their staff is well-trained and offers years of experience.
Secure and Safe - World-class data centres and state-of-the-art security. Your credit card information will never be exposed to any government websites!
Awesome support - Their customer support is ready to help 24/7. They want you to enjoy your travels and avoid the stress of getting a visa!
Check Cairo Travel Guide: A 3 Days Travel Itinerary
How to Get to Egypt
If you are arriving in Cairo or Hurghada and you are looking for an easy, quick and reliable way to get from the airport to your accommodation, then Welcome Pickups are your best option! Welcome Pickups are the safest way to travel as they provide airport and port transfer, sightseeing rides, and in-city rides. Welcome Pickups are one of the best, most trustworthy and convenient 5-star airport taxi companies for your airport transfer based on user reviews across various platforms such as Google, Tripadvisor and Trustpilot.
Welcome Pickups offers a great experience and safety to its travellers such as:
Local english-speaking drivers
Flat, pre-paid fee
Flight monitoring for delays
24/7 customer support
Here’s why you should choose Welcome Pickups:
20 minute gap between transfers - After each ride, their drivers have 20 minutes to clean the car and ventilate the cabin.
Contactless ride - You can request to have zero contact with the driver during the transfer with just one click.
Regular Car Sanitisation - They provide hand sanitisers and hand wipes for all their travellers and drivers.
Cultural Do's & Don'ts
Learn a few words in Arabic: I always recommend learning a few words in the local language whenever you are traveling, locals appreciate it even if you only know a few words.
Spend time chatting with people: We are known for our great sense of humour, as well as hospitality and kindness, so it is always great to spend time chatting with locals.
Don't be scare to ask your guide when you don't understand something: If you are not sure about something, just ask, most Egyptian will be happy to help you.
It is better to stay in central Cairo: If you want a hotel near the Pyramids, it is fine if you don't want to visit any other sites, but the Pyramids are far from other sites, so it is better to stay somewhere else.
Dress modestly: In cities such as Cairo and Alexandria, it is better to dress modestly, there is no dress code but you will get looked at which is unpleasant.
No public display of affection: This is looked down upon as it is unacceptable in Egypt since it is a muslim country.
Ask more than one person for direction: Not going to lie, you can't trust one person to give you the right directions, Egyptian are kind and always want to help, but they are not always right, so ask at least three people for directions.
Ask for help when crossing the street: It is difficult to cross the street in most place in Egypt, don't be scared to ask for help, locals would be happy to help you.
Ask taxis for fares before going anywhere: If you use Uber or Careem then you're fine, but if you take taxis, then you need to ask for the fare before going anywhere and check if the meter is working or not , but I would recommend to use Uber or Careem as they are cheap and better.
Carry small change and coins: Always have cash with you as you would want to buy something from a place where there isn't credit card machines, so you will need cash for that as well as for tipping.
Leave tips: In restaurants, cafes, and most places, it is better to tip, this isn't just for tourists, Egyptian in general tend to tip and it is expected to do so.
Bargain when buying a souvenir: Never accept the first price when buying something from from the local markets, you need to bargain.
Respect signs: When visiting temples and other sites, make sure to read the signs. In some places, it is prohibited to take photos even with your phone, as this can be damaging to the artefacts.
Check Mount Moses Guide: Everything You Need to Know Before Hiking Mount Moses - The Complete Guide
Don't think about renting a car: It is chaotic and hard to drive in Egypt, so don't even thing about doing it, and also services like Uber and Careem are cheap and better to use.
Don't wear shorts and tank tops: As mentioned, you need to dress modestly in most cities.
Don't talk to people who approaches you: People will approach you in public places to offer you a service, decline their offer politely and be firm when saying no because they will keep asking you.
Don't drink the tap water: It is not safe to do, drink from bottled water, or you will find water filters at some hotels and you can drink from them.
Don't drink alcohol in the street: As a muslim country, alcohol is not socially acceptable, so you can still drink alcohol at bars or some restaurants and cafes, but otherwise, don't drink anywhere else.
Don't take photos of locals without their permission: It is not respectful to do so anywhere in the world, but especially in Egypt.
Don't visit mosques during prayer time: It is not respectful to do so unless you are a muslim and you are going to pray there.
Don't get intimidated by market vendors: Market vendors will try to get you to buy from them, don't get intimidated and as mentioned if you are going to buy then make sure to bargain.
Don't pet street dogs and cats: Don't do it unless you are vaccinated and not afraid of being bitten or scratched.
Don't use drones: It is prohibited unless you have a license from the Ministry of Defence.
15 Top Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt
1. Tipping is Expected
Tipping is expected everywhere in Egypt, and this is not just for tourists. Egyptians in general give tips, so it is always expected. If you are at a restaurant or a cafe for example, you should tip the waiter/waitress, and in most public toilets there will be an attendant that keeps it clean, so it is good to tip before or after using the toilets. It doesn't have to be a huge tip, it can be a small amount like EGP 5 or EGP 10. Also, be aware that most things are not for free, so if you take a photo with a camel for example. you are expected to give a tip. But a general tip, is to be prepared to tip a lot!
Check Cairo Travel Guide: 15 Top Things to do in Cairo, Egypt
2. It is Better to not Visit in the Summer
The weather in Egypt between May and August is hot, like really hot, so try to avoid visiting during this time as it would be unbearable and also, most sites have limited shade so you will be standing in the sun most of the time. The best time to visit Egypt is between September and April, it is still summer in September and October but the heat is not as bad.
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3. You Can Visit During Ramadan
Every thing is normal during Ramadan, you don't need to avoid visiting during this time of the year. Opening hours may change, but everything works normally and tourist sites are not affected.
Check Alexandria Travel Guide: 10 Top Things to do in Alexandria, Egypt
4. Dress Modestly
Even though there is no dress code, but it is respectful to dress modestly in most cities in Egypt. In cities such as Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria, you should dress modestly, but in other cities such as Aswan, Luxor, and cities near the red sea, this shouldn't be a concern.
Check Alexandria Travel Guide: The Best 2 Days Travel Itinerary
5. Leave You Drone at Home
The use of drones is prohibited in Egypt unless you obtain a license from the Ministry of Defence. It is not worth the hassle as you your drone will get confiscated at the airport and you might risk penalties if you use one.
Check Alexandria Travel Guide: 24 Hours in Alexandria, Egypt - A Complete 1 Day Itinerary
6. It is Easy to Get Visa Upon Arrival
Many nationalities can get their visa upon arrival, make sure to do your research before visiting to know if you can do that. Visa costs $25 and it is paid in cash at the airport just before passport control. The officer will add the visa to your passport and stamp it, and that's it. So, if you are from the US, Canada, European Union, and many other countries, you can simply book your flight and don't need to worry about the visa.
Check Cairo Travel Guide: 24 Hours in Cairo, Egypt - A Complete 1 Day Itinerary
7. Don't Drink the tap water
Do not drink the tap water in Egypt! It is not safe to do so, use bottled water or you can get a bottle that has a filter to avoid using plastic water bottles.
Check Why You Should Visit Cairo: 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Cairo, Egypt
8. Don't Rent a Car
As an Egyptian, I do not recommend renting a car to move around Egypt. It is chaotic to drive in Egypt, it is very different than most countries so you will struggle to drive in Egypt. You can easily use services such as Uber and Careem as they are cheap, and you can also take a taxi in places where Uber isn't available.
Check Why You Should Visit Alexandria: 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Alexandria, Egypt
9. Use Cash
Most places only accepts cash in Egypt, so make sure to have cash on you in case you are somewhere a card isn't accepted. Most tourists places have a credit card machine so you should be fine, but in general you will need cash to pay for other things and also for tipping. You will find ATM machines everywhere so you will be able to withdraw money whenever you need. Be sure to know the ATM limit set by your bank that allows you to withdraw in a day!
10. Buy a SIM Card at the Airport
It is better to get a SIM card from the airport, you will find a service provider at the airport such as Orange, where you can buy a SIM that is relatively cheap. All you need to do is show your passport and you're good to go.
11. Discounts on Entry for Children and Students
At most tourists sites such as museums, temples, tombs, and more, you will find a discounted tickets for children and for students as long as they show their student id.
12. Photography Passes
In most tourists sites you will need a photography pass if you are taking photos with a camera or any gear other than your phone. You can ask before entering any site but most probably it will be written at the entrance. Also, be aware that there are some places where photos are prohibited even with your phone.
13. Security Checks
Be aware that there will be many security checks as you enter tourists sites, as well as hotels and malls where you will have to go through security. You will put your bags on the x-ray machine, and you will walk through a metal detector. Similar to airport security but not as rigorous. Also, don't be alarmed by the military and police presence in most tourists sites or when you walk along the streets, they are there to protect you and protect the sites. It is completely safe to visit Egypt so don't be scared.
14. Book a Tour with a Reputable Company
If you are planing to travel with a company and not by yourself, then make sure to book a tour with a reputable company. Booking a private tour would probably be your best option.
15. Get Ready to Have Your Mind Blown
Lastly, get ready to have your mind blown by Egypt's history and landmarks. I would recommend reading about Egypt's mythology and familiarising yourself with the chronology of Egypt's history prior to your trip.