Egypt is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Its sprawling deserts, fascinating pyramids, and beautiful natural sights continue to captivate masses of travelers year after year. However, whether you’re visiting Egypt to see first-hand the colossal tombs of ancient Pharaohs, or to scuba dive in the coral reefs of the Red Sea, there are some important things you need to be aware of.
Especially if you’re a first-time visitor, this multifaceted country and its unique culture can be difficult to prepare for. In this article, we’ll discuss the essentials you must know before visiting this land of mysticism and legend so that you don’t end up lost, stranded, or facing other difficult situations.
Tipping is almost mandatory
Due to the low base salary in Egypt, tipping is almost always expected as many workers rely on tips for their livelihood. Therefore, when traveling around the country, we recommend that you bring a healthy amount of small change and cash with you at all times to avoid finding yourself in an awkward situation.
Few low-wage workers in Egypt are shy about asking you directly for a tip, and you might be fielding an array of requests, from toilet attendants to baggage handlers, and even your tour drivers. In fact, your tour bus driver will most likely expect a daily tip, so calculate some extra costs if you’ll be engaging in organized tourism activities.
It’s easy to get a visa
One of the factors which helps attract countless visitors to Egypt every year how easy it is to get a visa. Not only is it possible to get an egypt visa on arrival, but it’s even more convenient and reliable to get an eVisa before arriving in the country. While having all the necessary documentation and paying related application fees is paramount, these easy visa options help make the country an attractive destination for many travelers. Just make sure you read into the necessary entry requirements for your country before booking your trip.
It’s safer than people realize
Due to Egypt’s tumultuous recent past and general history, many people write off the country as too dangerous to visit. And while there have been high-profile incidents of attacks on both tourists and Egyptian citizens within the last years, violent crime towards visitors is very low.
There is currently no civil unrest in Cairo, and the countryside areas (where many of the places you’ll want to visit are located) have been barely affected by past conflicts. While in the country you’ll also undoubtedly notice the heavy military presence and frequent security measures; and while these may be intimidating at first, they should help make you feel more comfortable and safer. Nevertheless, do make sure that you book tours with reputable companies and stay in hotels with ample security, to avoid any safety concerns.
Drones are not allowed
For many, drones have become the new selfie sticks. So much so, that it’s no longer uncommon to see unmanned aerial vehicles flying around at major tourist sites in various parts of the world. However, the Egyptian government prohibits the use or possession of drones unless you have a license from the Ministry of Defense. We advise that you leave your drone at home, as you may face strict penalties and possibly even jail time by using it within the country.
Almost nothing is free
There’s an excellent rule of thumb when it comes to visiting Egypt, and that’s to assume that basically nothing is free. By that, we don’t just refer to tickets for tourist sites or museums, but often you’ll have to pay for things like photography passes just in order to take photos of a famous landmark. You’ll also oftentimes be hassled to purchase “free” souvenirs or camel rides, which let’s just say, are not actually free.
To put this into context, it’s important to understand that the Egyptian economy relies heavily on tourism, and as a result, so do many of the country’s citizens. Due to Egypt’s low average salaries and its faltering currency, many Egyptians rely on tips, bribes, and scams to survive.
This means that scamming is rampant throughout the country, and while relatively harmless, it can lead to significant extra costs for your trip. So make sure that you firmly decline these offers, and ignore them in the case that they won’t take no for answer. If you are unsure whether you’re facing a scam or a legit offer, ask your tour guide or local tourists.
Egyptians are very friendly
One thing that many visitors note about Egypt is that the locals are extremely polite and hospitable. This can help make your trip especially enjoyable, as a pleasant atmosphere rife with humor will often backdrop your journey throughout the country.
As long as you avoid potential scams, you’ll find that most Egyptians will be more than happy to help you on your way. Business is also carried out in an exceptionally friendly way, which might throw you off at first, but you’ll soon see is a natural symptom of Egypt’s easygoing culture.
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