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Holidays in Egypt

Understanding Egypt


The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world's great civilizations A unified kingdom arose around 3200 BC and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 BC, who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries A local military caste, the Mamluks, took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest by Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517 Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914 Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in agriculture and the ecology of Egypt A rapidly growing population the largest in the Arab world, limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society The government has struggled to prepare the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure


Egypt is largely a desert, an extension of the great Sahara that bands North Africa Save for the thin strip of watered land along the Nile River, very little could survive here As the ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus stated: "Egypt is the gift of the Nile"

Generally, the summers are hot and dry and the winters, moderate November through March are definitely the most comfortable months for travel in Egypt There is almost no rain in the Nile valley, so you won't need wet weather gear!

The climate, however, does vary a little bit depending on where you are in the country On the north coast along the Mediteranean Sea, a thin strip of land stretching from the sea to 50 km southwards receives some of the most heavy rain in the country during winter months Thunderstorms along with heavy rain showers that often last several hours are not uncommon here such as in Alexandria, Marsa Matruh and all other costal areas, and even the Delta In some years the rainstorms can last for a whole day or so, though the rain tends to be less heavy Hail is also not uncommon, especially out in the desert where the weather is usually colder and allows for ice to fall and even frost to form on non-rainy days

In the Sinai Mountains and also the Red Sea mountains, which stretch along the east side of the country along the shore of the Red Sea, there is generally more rain as rain clouds tend to develop when warm air evaporates and rises as it moves across higher terrain Floods in these areas are a common weather phenomenon as so much rain can fall in a very short amount of time often a day or two, with thunder and lightning as well Because of the desert and lack of abundant vegetation, the water from the rain quickly falls down across the hills and mountains and floods local areas In fact, every year there are stories in the local newspapers about flashfloods in areas of the Sinai and also in Upper Egypt southern Egypt such as in Assiut, Luxor, Aswan, Sohag, etc These floods, however, only generally happen two or three times a year, and often do not happen at all in some years, depending on the weather When they happen though, it is often in early times of the season such as in September, October or late winter such as February or March often the rainiest season in Egypt Thus, one should be careful when venturing out into the desert or camping in certain areas as water can suddenly rush down from the nearby mountains and hills It can sometimes carry a quite strong current that has been known to break down homes of rural people who build their homes from mud, bricks, and other weak materials It is not surprising to hear that some people drown in the floods, which is strange for a desert country that doesn't receive much precipitation

Also, in higher elevations such as on top of the Sinai mountains, temperates can drop much more than the surrounding areas, allowing for snowfall in winter months, since temperatures can drop down to below freezing, as well as formation of frost even in the low lying desert areas where the temperatures are generally several degrees colder than in the cities

December and January are usually the coldest months of the year, although it is normally warmer the further south you go and within the bigger cities

Visitors should be aware that most houses and apartments in Cairo and Egypt do not have central heating like countries with colder climates as the main weather concern in Egypt is the heat Therefore, even though the weather might not be so cold for the Western traveller, inside the apartment it might be even colder as the temperature inside homes is generally a few or several degrees colder than out in the street


Banks, shops and businesses close for the following Egyptian National Holidays civil, secular, and public transport may run only limited services:

  • 7th January Eastern Orthodox Christmas
  • 25th April Sinai liberation Day
  • 1st May Labour Day
  • 23rd July Revolution Day
  • 6th October Armed Forces Day
  • 1st Shawwal,the 10th Hijri month Eid Elfitr
  • 10th Tho-Elhejjah, the 12th Hijri month Eid Al-adha


Ramadan dates

  • 2010 1431: Aug 11 - Sep 9
  • 2011 1432: Aug 1 - Aug 29
  • 2012 1433: Jul 20 - Aug 18

The festival of Eid ul-Fitr is held after the end of Ramadan and may last several days Exact dates depend on astronomical observations and may vary from country to country

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the most important month in the Islamic Calendar for Muslims, the majority religion in Egypt Commemorating the time when God revealed the Qur'an to Mohammed, during this holy month, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking or smoking until after sundown on each day Although strict adherence to Ramadan is for Muslims only, some Muslims appreciate that non-Muslims do not take meals or smoke in public places During Ramadan, many restaurants and cafes won't open until after sundown Public transport is less frequent, shops close earlier before sunset and the pace of life especially business is generally slow

As expected, exactly at sunset minute, the entire country quiets down and busy itself with the main meal of the day iftar or breaking-fast that are almost always done as social events in large groups of friends Many richer people offer Tables of the Gracious God موائد الرحمن in Cairo's streets that cater full-meals for free for the passers-by, the poorer ones or workers who couldn't leave their shifts at the time Prayers become popular 'social' events that some like to enrich with special food treats before and after An hour or two later, an astonishing springing to life of the cities takes place Streets sometimes richly decorated for the whole month have continuous rush hours till very early in the morning Some shops and cafes make the biggest chunk of their annual profit at this time of year Costs of advertising on television and radio soars for this period and entertainment performances are at their peak


Egypt consists of vast desert plateau interrupted by the Nile valley and delta, along with the Sinai peninsula Portions of the Nile River valley are bounded by steep rocky cliffs, while the banks are relatively flat in other areas, allowing for agricultural production

Talking in Egypt

The official language of Egypt is the Egyptian dialect of Modern Arabic Egyptian Arabic differs from the Arabic of other countries such as Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Persian/Arabian Gulf In fact, every country in the Middle East/Arab world has its own dialect of Arabic so even though you might master one particular dialect of Arabic, you might still find it difficult to communicate in Arabic in another country in the Middle East

Generally speaking Egyptian Arabic is the most easily understood by most natives of the Middle East because of the influence of Egyptian culture and cinema throughout the region and also because most other Arab countries listen to Egyptian Arabic on Egyptian movies, Egyptian TV programmes, or have at least met someone from Egypt Thus, if you can speak Egyptian Arabic, not only will it help you to communicate in Egypt, but it will also help you to communicate with Arabs of other countries in the Middle East, as most Arabs are most familiar with the Egyptian dialect

Some major differences in pronounciation you will notice between Egyptian Arabic and Arabic of other countries in the region are that: the letter jim ج is pronounced G instead of J For example the Arabic word "جمل", which means "Camel" would be pronounced "Gamal" in Egypt, while it would be pronounced "Jamal" in other countries of the Persian/Arabian Gulf

Other variations include the way people say "hello" or "goodbye" In Egypt people say "Izayak" or "A'amel Eh", while in other countries it might be "Keefak" or "Shou Akhbarak" In some cases, the dialects can be so different that they seem like two different languages and neither speakers of two different dialects can understand each other Thus, you will find that people from other countries will revert to the Egyptian dialect or speak "Fusha Arabic", which is the classical Arabic used in literature, media, and newspapers

All Egyptians learn Standard Arabic/Fusha Arabic at school, so they would generally be conversant in it as well


As Egypt was a British colony until 1952, most educated locals would have learned English in school Travelers are unlikely to encounter difficulties finding someone who speaks English, especially in tourist centers In fact, English and French are taught as second languages in all public Egyptian schools, although people who go to these schools might be able to speak the language with varying degrees, depending on the status of the school, their level of education, and the location of the school Furtheremore, a lot of young Egyptians who did not learn much if any English at school try to improve their level of English by taking up English language courses locally

Higher class Egyptians generally go to "Language Schools" a term that means, they went to a private school similar in context to public Egyptian schools, but where the main language of teaching was mostly or mainly in English Thus, anyone who went to a language school or a private school generally will speak better English than anyone who went to a public school, although there can always be exceptions depending on the person really


Besides, English, some Egyptians are fluent in French as well These would normally have gone to French private schools in Egypt or have learned it from their French-educated parents generally aristocratic families in the past spoke French more fluently than English, as French schools were more common than English schools in Egypt However, in the last 20 years, English schools have become more common as English became more popular and in higher demand in the country than French, so people who speak French are less common than those who speak English and the majority of older populations among highly-educated people will speak French more than English if they speak any second language after Arabic at all

Other Languages

A lot of young Egyptians like to take language courses to improve and learn other langauges Although the most popular language is English due to its high-demand in the work environment, the most other common and popular languages are French, Italian, German, Spanish These are popular due to the high number of tourists who come from Europe speaking these languages respectively Other popular languages that people learn are also Russian due to the high number of Russian tourists in Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada

Speaking to Egyptians in English

Following usual rules of politeness, instead of simply starting a conversation with someone in English, ask "Do you speak English?" All the better if you can do it in Arabic using an Arabic phrasebook if necessary: te'araf tetkallem inglezi? addressing a male or "te'rafy tetkallemy inglezi?" addressing a female, which means "Do you speak English?"

Egyptian Dialect in Areas outside of Cairo/Alexandria or Northern Parts

Note that Egyptians in the southern cities and areas south of the country like Luxor and Aswan speak a different dialect/accent from Cairenes They speak "Se'eidi" or "صعيدي", which may sound very different from the Arabic you hear in bigger cities like Cairo and Alexandria

Furthermore, resources to learn this dialect are difficult to find, but if you live there for several months and speak with the locals in their language, you will eventually learn the difference between this accent/dialect and the dialect of bigger cities Standard Egyptian Dialect Cairene Arabic should be enough to get by anywhere in Egypt really

If you know Cairene Arabic, remember that ق is pronounced with a "G" sound like "gah" in the southern cities instead of "ah" in Cairo, and ج is pronounced "jeem" as in classical Arabic instead of "geem" This should be enough for you to communicate, although many words are still completely different

Other Languages: Nubian: There are a few other languages native to Egyptians other than Arabic In southern areas like Luxor and Aswan, you might hear people speak a totally different language from Arabic These people are usually of darker skin and look like Africans They are Nubians, and related to an entirely different culture and background though related to Egypt and Sudan, called Nubia Nubia itself is an area of land between Egypt and Sudan, with its own history, culture, traditions, values, and norms, and of course language, which is "Nubian" language They are different in the way they dress and the way they behave They are generally more traditional than Egyptins in bigger cities like Cairo and Alexandria and you will know they are Nubians because of their brown/black skin color almost as dark as Africans or the same

Barbar: In Siwa Oasis and the western desert of Egypt, people speak Barbar, a language which is completely different and not related in anyway to Arabic In fact this language orginatd in North Africa in the areas of present day Morocco, Algeria, etc several hundred or even a thousand years ago, when people of the Barbar came and settled in the deserts of Egypt These people who were nomadic bedouins by nature moved across the land from Algeria and Morocco in search of food and water as resources are limited across the Sahara desert and with them brought this Barbar Language when they eventually settled after many years of traveling across the desert in the Oasis of Siwa This language is not written and only spoken so there is no evidence of it ever being used in writing

Bedouin Language:

The bedouin tribes who are again nomadic desert dwellers and live in various areas of the Egyptian deserts speak their own version of Arabic called Badawi, or Bedoin It may have a few hints similar to traditional Arabic because the roots of some words are the same, but again it is an entirely different language and is rarely understood by urban Egyptians ie Egyptians who live in the cities

Other languages although very rare, are Coptic, which is most likely spoken by the Coptic Christian Priests of Egypt for the purposes of their religious worship and reading the Coptic Bible

Still others although, exremely rare is of course the undoubtfully least surprising and yet most natural is the Heiroglyphic Language, which is of course the language of ancient Egyptians and the people living at the time of the Pharoahs People who speak this language generally study it in their university degree if they plan to work as a tourist guide for the Egyptian temples and monuments and thus need it to read the ancient scriptures on the temples and ancient buildings You will most likely hear it inside the Egyptian museam or further south in the cities of Luxor and Aswan again most likely from a tourist guide who is guiding a group of tourists inside a famous temple or monument Otherwise, the Heiroglyphic Language is mostly a dead language in the sense that you will not hear any Egyptian locals speak it or use it in their daily life like they use Arabic This is of course because it is an ancient language and it has been forgotten and declined as Egypt was conquered by many different civilizations and nations throughout the course of its long history including the colonization by the Arabs who in turn gave Egypt, its present day language, Arabic

However, most Egyptians not only speak English but also can speak other languages, especially in touristic places This is helpful for the Arabic learner and in daily life

  • See Also: Egyptian Arabic Phrasebook

What to see in Egypt

Highlights of any visit to Egypt include famous archaeological sites from both Lower North and Upper South Egypt The most famous are:


  • the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx
  • the Egyptian Museum
  • the pyramids and temples of Saqqara and Dahshur
  • Citadel of Salah El Din
  • Mosque of Mohamed Ali

Alexandria: Alexandria, with several historical sights and the stunning new Bibliotheca Alexandrina These include Roman and Greek monuments including the Roman Colloseum in Alexandria There is also other momuments to see underwater just off the shore of Alexandria, which form part of the heritage of Cleopatra's Era, and have now been submerged by water due to an ancient earthquake which took some parts of the land into the Mediteranean Sea You can scuba dive there to see the undwater historical treasures There is also word of building an underwater museum in Alexandria because there is so much to see underwater

You can see the Citadel of Alexandira, a Medieval castle built during the times when Egypt was ruled by Mamluks during the Middle Ages

You can see the Palace of King Farouk, the last king of modern Egypt who was expelled when Egypt was freed from the British during the 1952 revolution His royal palace which was previously his summer resort in Alexandria at the time remains with its lush gardens, which is now a park that can be visited along with the place by paying an entrance ticket


the temples of Luxor and the West Bank across the Nile

  • the Valley of the Kings
  • the Temples of Abu Simbel


In Aswan, you can see even more temples and ancient monuments There you can also see Geziret El Nabatat The Island of Plants This is an island in the Nile River of Aswan which was planted by rare species of plants, trees, and flowers It is a very nice experience to see a large park of greenery in the middle of the Nile River filled with exotic plants, most of them not even native to Egypt

Perhaps the most popular activity in Luxor and Aswan is to do the Nile Cruise on a ship from Aswan to Luxor, which usually takes a week and begins somewhere alon the Nile It enables you to stop at each location along the Nile where you can see all the famous ancient monuments as well as experience being in the Nile River inside a five-star hotel boat

  • The Red Sea resorts at Sinai peninsula, including Dahab, Hurghada, and Sharm el Sheikh The Red Sea offers some of the best dive locations in the world
  • The sights of the Sinai peninsula, including Saint Catherine's Monastery and Mount Sinai
  • The western desert and the oases there, including Siwa,
  • Memphis, with some relics of ancient Egypt - including a huge statue of Ramesses II, evoking the image which inspired Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem Ozymandias

What to do in Egypt

There is a lot to do for the foreign traveler in Egypt Apart from visiting and seeing the ancient temples and artifacts of ancient Egypt, there is also much to see within each city In fact, each city in Egypt has its own charm of things to see with its own history, culture, activities, and people who often differ in nature from people of other parts of Egypt

Cairo, for instance has so much to do and see Besides the ancient Egyptian history, there is the history of Romans, Greeks, Byzantine Empire, Islamic empire, Ottomans, and finally modern Egyptian history

Jewish and Christian History To see more about Egypt's Christian and Jewish history, go to a local tourist office and ask them to give you names of local Churches and Jewish Synagogues There is at least two Jewish synagogues dating back many years ago, when Egypt had a population of a few hundred-thousand Jews in the country, who eventually left during the formation of Israel

There is a lot of old and interesting Churches to see in different areas of Cairo, including downtown Cairo, Heliopolis, Korba, Shubra, Abbasiya, Zamalek, and Maadi Some of these churches have been around for several hundred years and their architecture resemble that of Churches in Western countries, often built by Europeans who built much of the city's architecture in the 19th century as a resembance to modern buildings of Europe at the time

Modern Cairo If you want to see modern Cairo, try walking in the streets of Zamalek, Maadi, Mohandiseen, or Heliopolis where you will see some of the more modern buildings and get to experience the way of life in Egypt

Cairo Tower is the tallest building in Egypt, and you can go up the tower and have a nice dinner with a full view of Cairo from above There are telescopes which enable you to see magnified sections of city in more detail and allows the traveller to see much of the city in a short amount of time

Local Cafes/Coffeeshops and Restaurants For social times, try sitting in one of the local cafes restaurants where you can meet and interact with fellow Egyptians There are numerous coffeeshops/cafes and restaurants all over Cairo all catering for different tastes and backgrounds and range from the very budget to the very expensive

Local chains include, Coffee Roastery, Cilantro, Grand Cafe, Costa Coffee and many other places Generally each area of Cairo has its cafes and restaurants

Sporting and Recreational Clubs: If the heat is too much, you can go to one of the famous sporting clubs such as the Gezira Club located in Zamalek, or the Seid Club otherwise known in English as the Shooting Club located in Mohandiseen, where you can have a dip at the swimming pool or otherwise enjoy sitting in the shade and comfort of lush trees and gardens Entrance for foreignors can be gained by buying a one-day ticket for 20-30 Egyptian pounds which enables the person to enjoy all the facilities of club including playing any sports There are of course changing facilities and restaurants inside the club where one can enjoy a meal or a drink after engaging in any activity

Nightlife: If you enjoy nightlife, there is quite a few nightclubs and discos where you can drink and dance to some of the most modern tunes in the west as well as listen to some arabic music The music varies from Dance and Trance to Hip Hop, Rap, Techno, as well as Rock and Pop These clubs are usually located inside five-star hotels or at areas such as Mohandiseen and Zamalek

Examples include: The Cairo Jazz Club mohandiseen Purple on a boat in Zamalek Hard Rock Cafe inside the Four Seaons Hotel in Garden City L'Obergine pub and bar in Zamalek

Desert Adventures: For other adventures, try going to the Haram District of Cairo, and look for any horse-riding stables There, you can rent a horse for a few hors and ride, or even ride a camel out in the desert by the pyramids and the Sphinx The best time to do this is at night when you can see all the stars shining together in the sky and capture the magical feeling of the place You will be with a local guide riding with you on another horse or camel, or you might even be joined a group of other individuals or groups of friends who enjoy riding horses in the desert by the pyramids like yourself

Nile Boat: Try rending out a Feluca boat small boat that can carry up to 20 individuals in the Nile of Cairo There you can experience the beauty of the Nile and the surround sceneery, where you can see the city and its buildings and streets from within the water around Depending on the weather, you can do this either day or night, but you will need to go to the Giza District and walk along the corniche area of the Nile and ask any of the locals for renting this boat

Islamic Cairo/Fatimid Cairo: For those interested in the Islamic architecture and history, try going to Islamic Cairo, el Gamalaya district or Khan El Khalili There you will see numerous buildings and some mosques and see how buildings and houses were built in the Islamic Era of Egypt There is also a Souk or Bazar where you can buy lots of different souvenirs and items

Buying stuff in Egypt

Local Currency The local currency is the Egyptian pound EGP, which is divided into 100 piastres The currency is often written as LE short for French livre égyptienne or by using the pound sign £ In Arabic the pound is called gunaih جنيه, in turn derived from English "guinea", and piastres are known as qirsh قرش

The Egyptian pound has been devaluating gradually over the last several decades In the 1950's or 1960's, the Egyptian pound was rated almost the same as the British Pound In fact, the Egyptian pound's value was so high that 1 LE was nearly equal 1 Gold Pound Today 1 Gold Pound is worth more than 1,000 LE! Nowadays, 1 British pound= 853 LE and was as high as 11 LE up until the time before the economic recession and financial crisis of the last two years when most foreign currencies have lost a small amount of their value against the Egyptian Pound

Other currencies value as follows: $1 = 567 LE 1 EUR= 699 LE 1 $AUS= 45 LE

'Exchanging Money and Banks Foreign currencies can be exchanged at exchange offices or banks, so there is no need to resort to the dodgy street moneychangers Many higher-end hotels price in dollars or euros and will gladly accept them as payment, although often at a premium rate over Egyptian pounds ATMs are ubiquitous in the cities and probably the best option overall; they often offer the best rate and many foreign banks have branches in Egypt These include Barclay's Bank, HSBC, CitiBank, NSGB, BNP Paribas, Piraeus Bank, CIB, and other local and Arab Banks Bank hours are Sunday through Thursday, 8:30AM until 2:00PM

Banknotes are available in all denominations ranging from 200 pounds to the thoroughly useless 5 piastres, while coins were rather rare until new 50-piastre and 1-pound coins were introduced in the summer of 2006 Counterfeit or obsolete notes are not a major problem, but exchanging pounds outside the country can be difficult American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted, but only bigger hotels or restaurants in Cairo and restaurants in tourist areas will readily accept credit cards as payment Traveler's checks can be exchanged in any bank, but it could take some time


Because of the economic situation of the country nowadays with an ever-expanding population and depletion of resources, this means that a lot of people may be unemployed a rate which is much higher than in more developed countries Even those who are employed in the service or hospitality industry ie restaurants, hotels, bars, etc are most likely underpaid as their wages do not really reflect the value of the work they do It is even more difficult for them to make a living with the problem of non-stop inflation, which means prices for everything even basic commodities like food and water keep rising steeply, while their wages remain the same and if they do rise, will not even rise to a fration of the increase that prices have risen to This means that 90 % of people who work in the service/hospitality industry try to make their main source of income from living off of tips In fact, for these people tips form a large majority of their income because without tips, their monthly wages/salaries would simply not be enough for them to survive in a place where prices rise steadily and salaries remain the same

Having read that, please bear in mind that these people quite oftenly live hard lives, often responsible for feeding large families and may very well live in poverty simply because their income from work is not sufficient for them to live easy lives Many of them are forced in these jobs because otherwise they would not find another job at all, in a country with such high unemployemnt rates and overpopulation Thus, don't be surprised or offended if almost everyone at your hotel asks for a tip, even if all they did was a small thing You don't have to pay huge tips as often smallest bills are appreciated However, you don't have to tip if you feel that you haven't received any service or help at all or if you feel that the service was bad Nobody will ever take offense or be disrespectful if you did not tip them

Some general guidelines:

  • Bathroom attendants: LE 3
  • Cruises: LE 30/day, to be divided by all staff on board
  • Guide: LE 40/day
  • Hotel bellman: LE 10 for all bags
  • Hotel doorman: LE 10 for services rendered flagging down taxis etc
  • Restaurants: In fancier restaurants, a service charge 10-12% is added to bills, but a 5-10% tip on top of that is common In fast-food places, tipping is unnecessary
  • Taxi drivers: 10% on metered fares, but not necessary if you agreed the fare in advance
  • Site custodians: LE 5 if they do something useful, none otherwise
  • Tour drivers: LE 10/day

If you ask a stranger for directions, tips are not necessary and may even be considered offensive Officials in uniform, such as police officers, should not be tipped Remember that bribery is technically illegal, although if forced to provide one you can rest assured that nothing will happen to you Last but not least, be aware that as a foreign tourist, you are seen by many as easy money and you should not let yourself be pressured into tipping for unnecessary or unrequested "services" like self-appointed tour guides latching on to you


Egypt is a shopper's paradise - especially if you're interested in Egyptian-themed souvenirs and kitsch However, there are also a number of high quality goods for sale, often at bargain prices Some of the most popular purchases include:

  • Antiques NB: not antiquities, the trade of which is rightly illegal in Egypt
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Cotton goods and clothing Can be bought at Khan El Khalili for around 30-40 EGP Better quality Egyptian cotton clothing can be bought at various chain stores including Mobaco Cottons and Concrete which have many branches throughout the country The clothes are expensive for Egypt about 180-200 LE for a shirt but cheap by Western standards given the quality
  • Inlaid goods, such as backgammon boards
  • Jewellery Cartouches make a great souvenir These are metal plates shaped like an elongated oval and have engravings of your name in hieroglyphics
  • Leather goods
  • Music
  • Papyrus
  • Perfume - Perfumes can be bought at almost every souvenir shop Make sure that you ask the salesman to prove to you that there is no alcohol mixed with the perfume The standard rates should be in the range of 1-2 Egyptian Pounds / gm
  • Water-pipes Sheeshas
  • Spices - can be bought at colourful stalls in most Egyptian markets Dried herbs and spices are generally of a higher quality than that available in Western supermarkets and are up to 4 or 5 times cheaper, though the final price will depend on bargaining and local conditions

When shopping in markets or dealing with street vendors, remember to haggle

You will also find many western brands all around There are many malls in Egypt, the most common being Citystars Mall, which is the largest entertainment center in the Middle East and Africa You will find all the fast food restaurants you want such as Mcdonald's, KFC, Hardees, Pizza Hut, etc Clothing brands such as Morgan, Calvin Klein, Levi's, Facconable, Givenchy, Esprit, and more

In Egypt, prices are often increased for foreigners, so if you see a price on a price tag, it may be wise to learn the local Eastern Arabic numerals:

Latin Numerals 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Eastern Arabic numerals ٠ ١ ٢ ٣ ٤ ٥ ٦ ٧ ٨ ٩

Like Latin Numerals, they are written from left to right For example, the number 15 would be written as ١٥

Shopping in Egypt ranges goods and commodities that represent souveniers of Egypt's ancient as well as modern things These include items such as small pyramids, obelisks, and souvenir statues which can be bought at more touristic areas such as Khan El Khalili and Islamic Cairo

You can also do general shopping in Cairo for clothing items and other goods such as in the modern shopping malls of City Stars, City Center, Arkadia Mall, or Nile City all of which contain some of the most famous designer brands of the world, including Guess, Calvin Klein, Armani, Hugo Boss, etc

Food and eating in Egypt

Egypt can be a fantastic place to sample a unique range of food: not too spicy and well-flavoured with herbs For a convenient selection of Egyptian cuisine and staple foods try the Felfela chain of restaurants in Cairo Some visitors complain, however, that these have become almost too tourist-friendly and have abandoned some elements of authenticity

As in many seaside countries, Egypt is full of fish restaurants and markets--so fish and seafood are must-try Frequently, fish markets have some food stalls nearby where you can point at specific fish species to be cooked Stalls typically have shared table, and locals are as frequent there as tourists


Be aware that hygiene may not be of the highest standards, depending on the place The number of tourists that suffer from some kind of parasite or bacterial infection is very high Despite assurances to the contrary, exercise common sense and bring appropriate medications to deal with problems "Antinal" is cheap, effective and available in every pharmacy "Immodium" or similar products are prescription drugs only

Although Antinal is very effective, sometimes when nothing else is, the elderly should check the brand name with their doctor before relying on it as it contains a high concentration of active ingredient that is not approved by the US FDA or the British regulatory pharmaceutical body

Local dishes

Classic Egyptian dishes: The dish Ful Medames is one of the most common egyptian dishes; consists of fava beans ful slow-cooked in a copper pot other types of metal pots don't produce the right type of flavor that have been partially or entirely mashed Olive oil is often an ingredient, and garlic is sometimes added Ful medames is served with plenty of olive oil, chopped parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon juice, and typically eaten with Egyptian baladi bread or occasionally Levantine shami pita Also sometimes seasoned with chili paste and tumeric

One must try is the classic Falafel known as Ta'miya in Egypt which is deep-fried ground fava bean balls but better known worldwide for the ground chickpea version typically found in other cuisines of the Middle Eastern region that was believed to be invented by Egyptian bedouins Usually served as fast food, or a snack

Koshary is a famous dish ,which is usually a mixture of macaroni, lentils, rice, chickpeas and tomato sauce Very popular amongst the locals and a must try for tourists The gratinated variation is called Taagin

Egyptian cuisine is quite similar to the cuisine of the Arabic-speaking countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Dishes like stuffed vegetables and vine leafs, Shawarma-sandwiches are common in Egypt and the region

Vegetarian Tourists Options:

Vegetarian tourists although have limited options for them to explore from but Falafel and Koshary are excellent choices for them

Exotic fruits

Egypt is one of the most affordable countries for a European to try variety of fresh-grown exotic fruits Guava, mango, watermelon, small melons, ishta are all widely available from fruit stalls, especially in locals-oriented non-tourist marketplaces

Drinking in Egypt

See also Stay healthy:Fluids section for hygiene and related info


Bottled water is available everywhere The local brands most common being Baraka, Siwa, Hayat are just as good as expensive imported options which are also available: Nestle Pure Life, Evian, Dasani bottled by Coca-Cola, and Aquafina bottled by Pepsi A note on the local brand Baraka: while it is perfectly safe to drink this brand of bottled water, some may notice a very slight baking soda aftertaste, due to the high mineral content of its deep well water source

No matter where you buy bottled water from even hotels are not entirely reliable, before accepting it check that there is a clear plastic seal on it and the neck ring is still attached to the cap by the breakable threads of plastic It is common to collect empty but 'new' bottles and refill them with tap water which drinking a bottle of will make you ill Not all brands have the clear plastic cover but all the good ones do


Juices can be widely found in Egypt - kasabsugar cane; erk soos licorice; sobiia white juice; tamr and some fresh fruit juicesalmost found at same shop which offer all these kind of juices except erk soos may be which you can find another places

Karkadae is also famous juice specially at Luxor and it is hibiscus tea which is drunk hot or cold but in Egypt it is preferred to drink it coldShould mention also that hibiscus tea is known to lower blood pressure so be careful

Alcoholic drinks

Egypt is a predominanty Muslim nation and alcoholic drinks are forbidden haram for strictly observant Muslims That said, Egyptians tend to adopt a relaxed and pragmatic view towards alcohol for non-Muslims and foreigners It is tolerated by the vast majority of Egyptians and consumed by a sizable number of them including less strict Muslims - you may even be asked to "procure" drink for someone! Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks are readily available throughout the country especially in larger towns and cities, as well as tourist centers Please note, however, that public drunkenness especially the loud and obnoxious variety is definitely not appreciated - without caution, you may end up drying out in a police cell Try to be a good ambassador: if you must get "tipsy", confine it to the hotel or very nearby! It's actually quite rare to see drunken tourists, even in the most intense tourist areas

Stella not artois is a common beer in Egypt Other local brands are available, most a with higher alcohol variant that have claimed levels of 8% or even 10%

Restrictions on Alcohol

Egyptian laws towards alcohol are officially quite liberal compared to most Islamic countries, except for the month of Ramadan when alcohol is strictly forbidden During Ramadan only holders of foreign passports are allowed to buy alcohol, by Egyptian law However, the enforcement of this law is by no means consistent In tourist areas like Luxor, alcohol is sold even during Ramadan, and those who look like foreigners will not be asked to show passports or other documentation

During Ramadan alcohol is often sold only in Western-style hotels and pubs/restaurants catering especially to foreigners A few days of the year, as the day of the full moon the month before Ramadan, alcohol is completely banned Also some hotels and bars catering to foreigners will stop serving alcohol during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan - phone ahead to make sure alcohol is still being served in order to avoid disappointment

Accommodation in Egypt

Egypt has a full range of accommodation options, from basic backpacker hostels to five-star resorts Most major hotel chains are represented in Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh and Luxor at least You can book most of your accomodation online or contact a local agent that can organise both accomodation and trips

Cities in Egypt

abnub  aja  akhmim  alexandria  aswan  asyut  beba  benha  beni mazar  beni suef  cairo  damietta  dekernes  deshna  diyarb najm  el badari  el balyana  el faiyum  el mahalla el kubra  el wasta  esna  fowa  gizeh  hihya  hurghada  ismailia  luxor  madinat sittah uktubar  marsa matruh  matay  port said  qalyub  qena  rosetta  safaga  sohag  suez  tahta  tala  talkha  tanta  

What do you think about Egypt?

How expensive is Egypt?
(1 EGP = 0 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant29.7 EGP
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)165.45 EGP
McDonalds meal38.75 EGP
Local beer (0.5 draft)10.8 EGP
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 17.57 EGP
Cappuccino15.87 EGP
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)3.46 EGP
Water (0.33 bottle)1.99 EGP
Milk (1l)7.7 EGP
Fresh bread (500g)5.17 EGP
White Rice (1kg)4.86 EGP
Eggs (12) 12.41 EGP
Local Cheese (1kg) 25.81 EGP
Chicken Breast (1kg) 42.72 EGP
Apples (1kg) 12.53 EGP
Oranges (1kg) 4.37 EGP
Tomato (1kg) 3.39 EGP
Potato (1kg) 4.23 EGP
Lettuce (1 head) 1.97 EGP
Water (1.5l)3.44 EGP
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 65.8 EGP
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)11.34 EGP
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 18.51 EGP
Cigarettes19.6 EGP
One way local bus ticket1.35 EGP
Monthly pass for bus64.4 EGP
Taxi start2.85 EGP
Taxi 1km1.32 EGP
Taxi 1hour waiting22.14 EGP
Gasoline (1 liter) 2.39 EGP
Utilities for a "normal" apartment151.39 EGP
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 47.93 EGP
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 876.55 EGP, your travel companion

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