PASSPORTS AND VISAS
EGYPT REQUIRES A VISA, together with a passport valid for 6 months past the date of entry. Visas will be issued upon arrival in Egypt for passengers holding a U.S. passport. Passengers with other passports must obtain a visa in advance of arrival in Egypt through the Egyptian Consulate.
The following items may be taken into Egypt duty free (per person): 250 grams of loose tobacco or 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars; 1 liter of liquor or wine.
The Egyptian monetary unit is the Egyptian Pound (L.E.). It is divided into 100 Piaster (P.T.). The following currency denominations are used:
Pounds: 1 5 10 20 50 100 200 Piaster: 5 10 25 50
Money may be changed at any bank or your hotel. There is one standard "official rate of exchange."
Sunday through Thursday from 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM, All banks are closed on Fridays and Saturdays. The larger hotels have banking hours 24 hours a day for money exchange.
It is advisable that you carry your money in the form of Traveler's Checks. They can be exchanged to local currency at a bank. However, please note that Traveler's Checks are not widely accepted at shops or for payment of hotel or restaurant bills.
American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Diner's Club credit cards are accepted at hotels in Cairo. You will find them convenient to settle your hotel accounts at checkout time. U.S. Dollars and Traveler's Cheques are accepted in most stores in Cairo. Personal checks are usually not accepted. In Upper Egypt, cash is the accepted form of payment at shops.
The voltage in Egypt is 220 AC. 50 cycles. Wall plugs are the round, two-pronged European type. It is most important to bring adapter plugs. Most American appliances will need transformers.
Egypt is on Greenwich Mean Time PLUS 2 hours or 7 hours later than Eastern Standard Time; 6 hours during summer Daylight Savings Time.
CLIMATE AND CLOTHING
The climate in Egypt has been described as 95% sunny. The very dry and cool desert winds offer a pleasant contrast to the bright and sunny days. There are only six days of rain during the year.
The summer months (June to August) can be fairly hot with strong sunshine. In the evening, however, there is a rapid and significant drop in temperature. All year, except for the winter months, the climate calls for lightweight clothing. Don't forget to take your hat and sunglasses on tour. Also, take a light wrap for the evenings. During the winter you'll need light woolen clothes. Most hotels offer good, quick dry cleaning and laundry services.
Egypt is still a conservative country insofar as women are concerned. When visiting mosques, modest clothing should be worn (no shorts) Men require jackets at most luxury hotels and resorts. Comfortable footwear is essential for sightseeing and shopping; keeping in mind that walking will be done on rough stone terrain at archaeological sites.
WHAT TO WEAR: Winter Months: Bring sweaters, a light coat or jacket for the cool Cairo evenings. Women should bring slacks and one evening dress for nightclub visits. Men should bring at least one warm jacket. Pack a bathing suit if visiting Luxor and Aswan and if you are taking a Nile Cruise.
Summer Months: Bring very light weight clothing & a sweater for cool evenings in Cairo.
At All Times: Modesty in clothing should be observed. Women should cover their arms when visiting mosques. Shorts should not be worn at religious sites. Bring comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing and walking on desert sand. (Sneakers are preferable over open sandals.) Sunglasses as well as hats and scarves are recommended as protection against the strong sun. Bring a thermos or insulated bag to keep your drinking water cool during the day.
Nile Cruises: Dress code for Dinner each night is elegant casual attire. You may choose from a simple dress or a native "galabaya". Men usually wear a jacket but it is not necessary. Don't over pack! Captain's Dinner (on the Cruise): This farewell event is an exotic costume party where everyone has to dress up "the Egyptian way." You'll be invited to participate in games and competitions with prizes for the best costume.
Shops are open from 9:30 or 10:00 AM to 1:00 or 1:30 PM and again from 4:30 or 5:00 PM to 7:30 or 8:00 PM. obviously, times do vary. Some shops are closed on Fridays; most shops are closed on Sundays.
Cairo boasts many modem, well-stocked shops. Many visitors are also attracted to the Oriental bazaars. Here you will find many exotic items, such as: leatherwear, Oriental carpets, antiques, ivory, copper and brass articles, silk brocades, cotton fabrics, drapes, silver and gold jewelry. Remember...be sure to bargain before you buy... its part of the tradition and part of the fun.
Shipping services from local post offices in Egypt is not very efficient. We recommend that you buy only what you can pack and take home with you. However, DHL and Federal Express now have offices and are extremely efficient.
Automatic telephones are available in every hotel room for direct local dialing. Long distance and overseas call may be made through the switchboard operator. You can call the U.S. directly from your hotel room. MCI, AT&T and Sprint calling cards are widely used. Local numbers to be dialed from Cairo:
MCI: 348-4806 # 7524 AT&T: 356-0200 Sprint: 356-4777
It may take some time before you are connected, so please allow ample time for your call to be completed. Fax and Email services are available by contacting the Reception Desk or the Business Center at your hotel. Telephone booths are available everywhere for local and international calls.
In leading hotels and restaurants the food is usually clean and well prepared. However, reasonable caution should be exercised. Eat only food that has been cooked and fruits and vegetables that can be peeled.
DRINKING WATER & OTHER BEVERAGES
A few suggestions to ensure that you stay healthy during your stay in Egypt. It is advisable to drink only bottled mineral water. Ask for "Still" or "Pizzi" (with gas). Among the popular brands are: Evian, Vittle, Sohat and Baraka. Egyptian Stella Beer is very good and inexpensive. There are also some local wines that are reasonably priced and well worth trying. Pepsi Cola, as well as all-important spirits (whiskey & vodka) is available in most restaurants and hotels but they tend to be expensive since they are imported from overseas. We suggest that you bring a small thermos for touring days and fill it each morning with bottled water so that the water stays cool while you are on tour.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND EQUIPMENT
Egypt is a paradise for photographers, but remembers that the sun is deceivingly bright, especially at sites of antiquity. At some sites, photography is not permitted; however, you will be able to take photos inside most of the temples. For this you will need a flash or high-speed film! You are not allowed to take pictures of military zones, bridges and public works installations or at certain strategic places, such as the Aswan Dam. (Your guide will show you where you can take photographs at the Dam site.) To photograph, bring all film and photographic equipment with you as these items are very expensive in Egypt and selections are limited. Flash is not permitted in some temples. Photography is not permitted in tombs.
DON'T FORGET TO PACK
- A pair of dark sunglasses
- Protective sunscreen
- Immodium AD (n case you get the "Pharaoh's Curse")
- Ample supply of prescriptions (and copies of your prescriptions)
- Small light-weight flashlight for visits to tombs and temples
- Wash 'n Dri Towelettes
- Purell Sanitizer for cleaning hands.
- Insect repellent
- Soft foldable slippers for the plane
- Sewing Kit
- Very comfortable walking shoes
- Clothing which is crease-free and casual
- Packable tote bag for day trips (and overnight stays)
- Chap stick and moisturizer
- Extra pair of glasses/contact lenses (and copies of your prescription)
- Decaffeinated coffee packs
- Bathing Suit
- Travel Alarm
- Fanny pack for your waist (for all valuables)
- Copy of inside page of your passport
Departures from Cairo to Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel are very, very early in the morning in order to avoid touring during the extreme mid-day heat. Since touring in Egypt can be strenuous at times and does require a considerable amount of walking, it is recommended that tour participants be in good medical condition.
Airlines: If you are traveling on Egypt air, please note that no liquor is served on board. However, you may purchase your own at the Duty Free Shop before boarding; they will provide ice, water and glasses.
Flights within Egypt to Upper Egypt depart very early in the morning. Please be patient and flexible - every effort is made to eliminate any unnecessary waiting time or long delays. Sometimes delays are unavoidable and beyond our control.
Egyptians long ago discovered the secret that a smile makes everything-and everyone-more pleasant. In your dealings with many Egyptians, the smile is almost always sincere. Always shake hands upon meeting someone--Egyptians will often salute informally with the right hand before and after the shake. Other courtesies include never photographing someone without first asking his/her permission. Egypt is one of the few Moslem countries in which non-Moslems are welcome to visit mosques. Please be sure to be modestly dressed for your visit (no shorts or brief clothing) and remove your shoes before entering; an attendant will show you where to put them.
It's better not to go to a mosque at prayer times or on Friday, the weekly day of prayer. If a few people are praying when you visit, avoid walking directly in front of them, and be careful not to disturb the tranquility of the place.
The many small children you will meet during your travels are enchanted by American items. You can make new friends and see many smiling faces by bringing along pens, individual packets of candy, bubble gum and of course, small change.
TIPPING - THE PRINCIPLE
The world of tourism relies heavily on personal services. This truth has fashioned tipping into a universal practice. The very term is an acronym, which stands for the words "to improve performance." For a large segment of the industry, it is an important component in the total compensation of employees. We ask that you keep this in mind when you travel through Egypt.
Our staff, particularly our Tour Managers, are the finest in Egypt and the very best available. As you will learn, to your own delight, they bring to their profession vast knowledge, work experience and personal dignity that is truly unique. The amount that you compensate them with the end of your tour will truly be an indication of your appreciation and will tell them that their efforts to make your stay in Egypt was indeed rewarding for you.
Suggested Tipping (Per Person):
Driver $3.00 per day Tour Guide/Escort $10.00-$12.00 per day
Nile Cruise Staff $5.00 per day Local Guide $8.00 per day
Transfer men $5.00 per transfer
We recommend that you purchase adequate guaranteed comprehensive travel insurance before departure.
SOME BASIC WORDS...
Arabic is the national language. But, English has a long tradition as a second language in Egypt, so you should have no difficulty in communicating. Here is a short list of Arabic words that surely will come in handy.
- Good Morning - Sabah el Kheir
- Good Evening - Massa' el Kheir
- Hello - Ahlan(Salam Aleikm)
- Thank You - Shoukran
- Please - Men Fadlak
- Yes - Aywa
- No - La
- How Much - Beckam
- Bill - Faturah
- Excuse Me - An Eznak
- Square - Midan
- Street - Shari
- Goodbye - Maa el Salama