Egypt is a country unlike any other. From the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and the Temples of Luxor, to the serene landscape of Aswan and the immaculately kept Abu Simbel – there is so much to see and discover here.
While the capital city of Cairo will be undoubtedly where you begin and end your journey, it’s not the only place worth visiting. There are so many gorgeous areas of Egypt, and on our 11-day tour, we see quite a few of them!
Egypt is one of only a handful of countries that combines features of both Africa and the Middle East. As a result, you really need to understand the Egyptian culture and beliefs, which can make it more difficult to go it alone. Having the right guide will make a huge difference in your experience, and allow you to make the most of your travels.
Here are some helpful things to know before visiting Egypt.
Tips are a way of life here
In the US, we can feel nervous talking about tips. But in Egypt? It’s just another form of currency and a way things get done. Egyptians will go out of their way to earn tips. Want to get into the temple that’s not open to the public? Want the best service at the bar? Tips make those things possible!
Here, tips are so common, that they’re called “baksheesh”— and you’ll likely want to keep some cash on hand so you’re prepared.
We recommend our travelers bring a small amount of $1 and $5 bills with them when they visit Egypt. If you’re ever in a situation where you don’t have local currency, these bills can really help and are widely accepted.
Our guides will handle all the negotiations and logistics to make things happen for you on our tours, and you’re likely not even going to know that there was a tip involved – but to peel back the curtain, so to speak, we have to say — tips are almost always how we get the best service for you.
If you’re in a situation where you don’t want to buy something or you need to politely refuse, no thank you in Arabic is “la, shukran”. La, means no.
Bargaining is expected
Want to buy an awesome souvenir? Get ready to haggle! Here, prices begin high because vendors expect that buyers will negotiate their prices. In fact, it’s rare for two travelers to purchase the same product, from the same seller, at the same price. The difference? Their negotiating ability.
Now, you can totally buy something without negotiating for it, and sometimes, that feels like the most respectful outcome. For example, if you see a scarf you love and it’s the equivalent of $5 USD, is it worth the hassle of trying to get it for $4?
Just know that vendors are never annoyed with travelers bargaining down their goods and services; negotiating is expected.
You might get tired of the pressure to buy
This is one thing we always tell our travelers. You might feel like everyone in Egypt is just trying to get your money. And to an extent, that’s understandable, and they kind of are. You’ll come across a lot of vendors selling things you probably don’t want, and they will call out to you, walk with you, try to get you to talk to them. A polite “la, shukran” will help to ward them off and also shows respect.
This is just a part of the way things happen here in Egypt. So say no thank you (la, shukran), and keep walking. If anyone ever tries to put a bracelet on you, or get you to hold something, immediately take it off or give it back if you don’t want to buy it.
Please dress respectfully
Egypt is an Islamic country and, as such, we encourage our travelers here to be mindful of how they dress. Tourism is very common in Egypt, so it’s not that local people have never seen a woman in a crop top. But, please be mindful of what you’re wearing, especially in local markets and smaller towns.
In the hotter months, you’ll see lots of other travelers dressing how they normally would at home. But you’ll also notice that they stick out, and likely that they’re drawing a lot of eyes. It’s just better to be a little more mindful. Be aware of how much midriff or cleavage you’re showing, and carry a scarf in your bag in the event you need to cover up quickly. Tank tops are ok, as are shorts, but no daisy dukes, please.
Note that you do not need to cover your hair.
You are safe
Whether you choose to travel with Damesly on a small women-only group tour to Egypt, or you choose to travel solo to Egypt, do so without fear. Egypt is a safe country (though chaotic, and overwhelming at times!). Travel here without fear, and remember that the things we think of in the West when we travel to Arabic countries (i.e. terror attacks) are very low and quite uncommon.
The Egyptian government does keep track of travelers here. You will be asked to show your passport at every hotel, and at many of the large touristic sites, like the pyramids, as well. In this way, the government is keeping an eye on where you’re traveling, and what guide you’re traveling with.
Already dreaming of beautiful bazaars and a cruise along the Nile? You’re in luck! Find out more about our Egyptian tour – departing later this year!
Have you been to Egypt? What was your favorite part?