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Egypt - Traveling

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises

Entry requirements

Organizing your trip

Means of transport recommended in town

In Cairo, the two best means of transport are the metro and the taxis. The metro has only two lines but a third is being constructed. Using metro would allow commuters to avoid heavy traffic of the metropolis. There are a huge number of taxis and they are convenient. However be careful, for at times the taxi meters are only for decorative purposes and also, taxi drivers have the tendency of exaggerating the tariff. Moreover, the drivers do not speak English and do not always know the schedules. Since 2006, there is a metered yellow taxi service, the Cairo City Cab. In Alexandria, there are tramway lines and taxis. Buses and urban minibuses are not recommended.
Maps of urban networks: Cairo Metro map.

Means of transport recommended in the rest of the country

There is a good railway network which serves all the cities along the Nile. There are also many buses stopping at the primary destinations of the country and notably Sinai. It is advised against taking the minibuses criss-crossing the country since they are very dangerous. Finally, there are domestic flights serving among others Sharm El Sheikh, Luxor, Alexandria, Aswan, Taba, Marsa Matrouh, etc.
Airlines
Name Type Domestic flights International flights
Egypt Air Major Yes Yes

Traveling by yourself

Recommendation: The major roads are convenient. It is better to avoid night driving outside the towns. Driving in Egyptian road is quite hazardous. There are very few gas stations. In the event of an accident, help is almost nonexistent. Hence you must rely on the help from other drivers. Only third party insurance, cheap but not of high value, is compulsory. It is advised to take additional insurance once you are in the country.
Road maps: Egypt Maps
Find an itinerary: Via Michelin

Visiting

Different forms of tourism

Historical: The city of Cairo with its historic district and the famous pyramids of Gizeh.
Luxor, Aswan and the Nile Valley cannot obviously be overlooked with their archeological sites (Valley of Kings, Valley of Queens, Temple of Karnak, Hatchepsout, Abou Simbel).
Cultural: Cairo hosts every year an international film festival in November. The city offers many cultural activities. The Ahram Hebdo proposes every week a selection of cultural events of the week at Alexandria and Cairo.
Nature: Ecotourism and desert safaris. Siwa Oasis, Marsa el Alam Park.
Religious: Religious tourism is not well developed. The pilgrimage around the St. Catherine convent can be pointed out. In the same way, the El Azhar mosque attracts many tourists.
Thermal: Spa tourism is not well-developed. It is mostly practiced around the Siwa oasis.
Beach: The Red Sea coastline is especially famous. Also the seaside resorts of Charm El Sheikh, Taba, Dahab and Hurghada have been developed to a great extent. Several tour operators offer stays in this area.
Winter sports: Non-existent
Outdoor activities: It is possible to do scuba diving, fishing and snorkeling in the Red Sea. In the same way, trekking in 4x4, on camel or on pony are possible in the desert.
Shopping: The Khan El Khalili Bazar in Cairo is part of the must-see, must-do places of Cairo. There is a trend of shopping centers multiplying, but for the most part, they have only medium range products. Some galleries of large hotels offer luxury products
Tourism organizations: Tourism Bureau

Living conditions

Health and safety

Health precautions: A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers over one year old coming from affected areas.

The risk of Bird Flu is high.

Generally speaking, health and hygiene conditions are not very good and so it is best to avoid eating less cooked or raw food (especially meat and eggs), drinking tap water and eating raw vegetables. Likewise, it can be difficult for persons suffering from respiratory diseases to bear the atmospheric pollution in Cairo.
Bathing in freshwater exposes you to the risk of bilharziasis (or schistosomiasis) present in the Nile river valley and delta.  

You are advised against bathing unless you get reliable opinion on the spot. Hepatitis A and B are common and it is wise to be vaccinated. For long stays, expatriation or stays in rural areas, vaccines against rabies and typhoid are recommended. A very high rate of Hepatitis C has been noticed. Skin piercing, barbers or hairdressers which are very popular must be avoided at all costs.

For further information on sanitary conditions: Recommendations of the World Health Organization on Egypt.

Time difference and climate

Map of the time zone: Cairo (GMT+2 in winter, GMT+3 in summer)
Summer time period: Summer time from April to September.
Climate: The warm season extends from May to September and the cold season from November to March. The temperatures vary from 14°C to 37°C and  are between 6°C and 46°C in desert regions.

Eating

Food specialties: The main specialties are:
The fuul: a beans puree usually served in a piece of shami (bread similar to the pita).
The ta'amiya or falafel
The koshari: a platter of noodles, rice, black lentils, fried onions and tomato sauce.
The molokhia: stew of minced molokhia (Jew's mallow) leaves served in sauce with rice or bread.
Drinks: Black tea is the national drink par excellence. It is easy to buy alcohol in various local stalls or in hotels. During the month of Ramadan, it is more difficult to find alcohol. You have to be careful with the locally brewed alcohol since it could be adulterated. Egypt has several labels of local beer such as Stella or Saqqara and several wines like Omar Khayyam or Obelisque.
Dietary taboos: Pork is forbidden for Muslims. However, because of the presence of a strong Christian community, it is possible to buy pork in some grocery stores or even get it served in some restaurants.

Speaking

Getting some knowledge: The blog: Egyptian Arabic courses give the basics of the Egyptian dialect.
Free translation tools:
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