Sharm Touring Egypt General Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]
1. Is Egypt safe to visit especially after the political events that took place after the Egyptian revolution?
– In spite of the size and the population density of the cities, Egypt is generally considered one of the safest destinations in the world for travelers. Having tourists visiting the country as early as the Middle Ages, the Egyptians are historically known for their generosity, kindness, and warmth. Egyptians are friendly towards tourists because they know how important tourism is for the national economy of the country.
After the presidential elections, especially with the support that the new Egyptian president, Dr. Mohamed Morsi, has showed towards tourism, with the conditions getting more stable in the country, Egypt now is as secure as it has always been for ages. This is why many tourists state that they feel secure in Egypt even more than their homelands.
2. Is the Egypt considered a safe destination in comparison to other countries in the world?
-Egypt is always proud for having one of the lowest crime rates in the world and travelers are always safe in Egypt if they take sensible precautions that would apply to any destination in the whole globe.
3. Are there are any special advice for women travelers while visiting Egypt?
– Egypt is considered to be among the most liberal Islamic countries in the Middle East. The country has many touristic locations like hotels, resorts, bars, pubs, and casinos where tourists in general and women in particular may feel free to dress and behave the way they like.
However, on the other hand, when ladies are present in less touristic cities or places, ladies are expected to dress modestly and wear relatively long loose clothes that cover their chests, arms, and legs below the knees
If a lady is to take transportation, like the metro, unaccompanied, it is always a good advice to ride in the ladies wagon.
If a lady faces in problem in Egypt, many citizens would surly help her. Women are respected and protected everywhere around the country.
1. How can I obtain my visa to visit Egypt?
– Visitors to Egypt should have a passport that is valid for a period more than six months after the planned date of their entry inside Egypt. All North Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, and many other nationalities should obtain a tourist visa to enter Egypt. There are actually two ways to obtain the visa; the first is to apply in advance in one of Egypt’s embassies or consulates abroad or the tourists can usually obtain the visa within a couple of minutes upon arrival in the Cairo, Hurghada, or Luxor Airports.
2. How many entry visas does Egypt grant to the travelers?
– Egypt generally has three types of entry visas. The first one is called the Entry Visa and it is given to any non Egyptian citizen who wishes to enter the country for reasons different than tourism.
– The second is called the Transit Visa and it is given for any non Egyptian citizen who is entering the country for a limited period of time for transit reasons
– The third, which almost all tourists traveling to Egypt obtain, is called the Tourist Visa, which is granted for a certain period of time that usually does not exceed three months and it can be issued with single or multiple entries according to the request of the tourist.
3. How do I apply for a visa to enter Egypt if I live away from the country of my nationality?
– If the travelers has a Permit residence to live in a certain country, he can apply for the visa from the Egyptian Embassy or consulate of the same country, buy a visa upon arrival in the Cairo, Hurghada, or Luxor Airports, or otherwise he has to obtain the visa from the country from which his passport was issued.
4. Can I obtain a visa upon arrival in Egypt from any location other than the Cairo, Hurghada, or Luxor Airports?
– Travelers can never obtain a general visa to enter everywhere in Egypt except from these three locations. Special visas to enter Sinai only can be obtained from the overland crossings from Rafah, Taba, or Nuweiba or from the Sharm El Sheikh Airport.
5. If I have already obtained a visa to enter Sinai, will I be able to visit other destinations in Egypt?
– The visa obtained to enter Sinai gives the tourists the chance to travel anywhere around Sinai. However, if they need to visit any other location in Egypt like Cairo, Hurghada, Luxor, or Aswan, they will need to obtain a new visa by following any of the ways mentioned above in question number 1.
6. Can I extend the period of my tourist visa to be more than one month?
– If a tourist wishes to make his stay in Egypt longer than one month, he has to obtain a permit from the Tahrir Complex in Cairo or the governmental offices specified for these matters in other cities Luxor, Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, or Alexandria.
7. Can I combine my visit to Egypt with another country?
– Tourists visiting Egypt sometimes combine other countries in the Middle East or North Africa in the same trip. Jordan, Turkey, Israel, or Tunisia would make a wonderful destination to be visited with Egypt
8. Are there direct flights from UK & Ireland and USA to Egypt?
– Yes, Egypt Air, the Egyptian official airways, organizes direct flights from the United States & England to Cairo in particular. There is a flight from New York, the JFK Airport and London Airports direct to Cairo five times a week for USA and Many Times for Great Britain. The journey would approximately take around 12 hours. Egypt Air also flies from Los Angles directly to Cairo and this journey would take approximately 17 hours. However, most tourists coming from the United States would stop for transit either in Europe, in Paris or London for example, or in Northern Africa, in Morocco as an example.
UK & Ireland departure airports for flights to Sharm El Sheikh, Cairo and Other Airports in Egypt
- London (all airports)
- Heathrow (LHR)
- Manchester (MAN)
- Gatwick (LGW)
- Birmingham (BHX)
- Glasgow (all airports)
- Newcastle (NCL)
- Edinburgh (EDI)
- Bristol (BRS)
- Stansted (STN)
- Dublin (DUB)
- London City (LCY)
- Aberdeen (ABZ)
- Belfast (all airports)
- Belfast International (BFS)
- Bournemouth (BOH)
- Cardiff (CWL)
- Doncaster/Sheffield (DSA)
- East Midlands (EMA)
- Exeter (EXT)
9. If I am arriving in the Cairo Airport coming from USA, which terminal will I be landing at?
– It depends on the airways you are using. Eastern European and American airlines mostly use terminal number 2, which is also called the New Airport in Egypt. On the other hand, Egypt Air, Arab, African, and Eastern European airlines usually land in terminal number 1.
10. Can I arrive to Egypt by Sea?
– Although Egypt has many ports situated both on the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, the number of passengers arriving in Egypt by boats or ferries has greatly decreased because of the cheap air fares and package holidays that include the airline tickets.
There is only one exception to this, the crossing by a ferry from Aqaba in Jordan to Nuweiba in Sinai. The boats that used to sail directly from Greece or Cyprus to Egyptian Mediterranean ports no longer exist.
1. Can I bring my personal supplies of cigarettes and alcohol with me when I am visiting Egypt?
– It is always recommended for travelers who wish to have their own supplies of cigarettes and alcohol with them in Egypt to purchase them upon arrival in the Cairo or Luxor Airports. The tourists are allowed to purchase up to 4 liters of alcohol, a case of beer, and up to 200 cigarettes.
2. What happens if I didn’t purchase my alcohol and cigarettes upon arrival, will I have the chance to buy them elsewhere in Egypt?
– The tourists will have the chance for 24 hours after arrival to buy these products from any duty free shop located all around Egypt as they will have the chance to purchase up to 3 liters of alcohol and up to 200 cigarettes
3. Can I bring my supplies of Alcohol and cigarettes with me from any other country while I visit Egypt?
– The allowance for visitors to bring cigarettes or alcohol they have bought from any other country has a limit of 1 liter of alcohol and 200 cigarettes.
1. Do Egyptian speak languages other than Arabic?
– The English language is among the obligatory subjects in all the schools of Egypt. This is why most Egyptians who live in the cities speak or understand the English language, or some English words or phrases. Fewer Egyptians can speak French, Italian, Spanish, and German. However, professionals who work in the tourism sector are accustomed to welcoming visitors who cannot speak Arabic and they will speak enough English and many other languages to fulfill all the needs of any traveler.
2. Do I have to learn Arabic in order to enjoy my visit to Egypt?
– Many travelers who do not know a single word of Arabic have enjoyed their stay in Egypt to the max. However, it is always good to learn a few Arabic words of expressing greetings or thanks. If the traveler is planning to visit some of the off beaten tourist track in Egypt, it is always advisable to learn some Arabic phrases. The Egyptians generally are friendly and would love to help anybody especially foreigners and tourists.
1. What are the opening hours for monuments in Egypt?
– Most of the monuments, historical sites, and museums in Egypt would generally open from 9 in the morning till 5 in the afternoon. Open air historical sites, like the Pyramids of Giza for example, would open from 8 in the morning till the sunset. Many museums have morning opening hours, from 9 till 4, and evening opening hours, from 5 till 9 or 10 at night.
2. What are the opening hours for shops and different stores in Egypt?
– Most of the shops in Egypt would usually open from 10 in the morning till 10 at night. However, many shops, cafes, and restaurants especially in major cities like Cairo, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, Luxor, and Alexandria would be operating until late at night and some facilities and shops would be working 24 hours in touristic areas like Khan El Khalili and inside the hotels.
1. Is it allowed for non Moslems to enter historical mosques in Egypt?
– Non Moslems are generally welcomed to visit mosques in Egypt. However, it is always advisable to seek permission before entering mosques outside Cairo and Alexandria where people are less accustomed with tourists. Tourists and foreigners are welcomed almost in all mosques in Egypt except mosques where the relatives of the prophet Mohamed were buried like the Mosque of El Hussein and the Mosque of Sayeda Zeinab for example. Anytime except the Friday prayers and the five prayers of the day would be perfect for tourists to visit mosques.
2. Is there any special dress code to be followed during visiting a mosque in Egypt?
– There aren’t really special clothes to be put on while visiting a mosque in Egypt. However, modest dress would be highly recommended and in some mosques, the ladies would be asked sometimes to cover their hair. Both ladies and gentlemen will be kindly asked to remove their shoes before entering inside the mosques.
3. What are the most important historical mosques in Cairo?
– Cairo, nicknamed as the city of the thousand minarets, is featured with having a large number of remarkable historical mosques. The most notable and important among them would be the Mosque of Mohamed Ali in the Saladin Citadel, built in the beginning of the 19th century, the Mosque of Al Sultan Hassan, built in 1361, the Mosque of Al Azhar, built in 970 and restored and enlarged many times afterwards, the Mosque of Amr Ibn El Aas, built in 640 AD as the first mosque in Africa, the Mosque of Ahmed Ibn, built in 878, and the Mosque of Al Hakem, built in 1013. All these mosques would welcome tourists all day long, from early morning till sunset.
4. Would tourists be allowed to enter the Christian monuments in Egypt?
– In Egypt, churches are the same as mosques. Most churches and monasteries would welcome tourists and foreigners, except during lent. Modest dressing would also be advisable while visiting a Christian monument in Egypt.
5. What are the most remarkable Christian monuments in Egypt?
– Christianity was introduced in Egypt as early as the 1st century AD. Egypt hosts many interesting churches and monasteries. These include the Monastery of Saint Catharine in Sinai, the Monasteries of Deir Abu Makkar and the Monastery of the Syrians in Wadi El Natruon, and the Monasteries of Saint Antony and the Monastery of Saint Paul near the Red Sea to the North East of Hurghada. There are many historical churches in Egypt as well especially in Cairo and Alexandria like the Church of Saint Barbra and the Hanging Church in Coptic Cairo.
1. Can I take pictures while visiting the monuments in Egypt?
– Photography is allowed in most of the historical sites and museums in Egypt with some of them having extra charges for taking in a camera. However, in some museums like the Egyptian Museum of Antiquity and some historical sites like the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, photography is totally forbidden and visitors are asked to leave their cameras at the reception before entering.
2. Can I take photographs of people, streets, ECT? In Egypt?
– Egyptians are well known all over the world for their tolerance and hospitality. However, it is always advisable to take permission before taking a photograph of people, especially women, and stores or products. Some places like army bases, airports, dams, bridges, and the metro photography is absolutely not permitted.
1. What is the check in and checkout time in the hotels in Egypt?
– The same as many hotels all around the globe, the check in time in almost all the hotels in Egypt would be at mid day, either at 12 or at 1 o’clock at noon. If the tourist arrives in the hotel late at night or in the early morning, he will have to pay for an extra night to get to his room immediately without having to wait until noon time.
2. What are the different types of accommodation packages in the hotels in Egypt?
– The hotels in Egypt have the same types of accommodation that can be found anywhere else in the world and sometimes the same hotel may have different accommodation packages. This includes “Bed and Breakfast, where the guests are only offered the breakfast meal, “Half Board”, where guests are offered breakfast and lunch, “Full Board”, where guests are offered breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and “All Inclusive”, where guests are offered the three meals, drinks, sometimes snacks and ice cream in between, and in some certain cases this includes alcoholic beverages as well. The tourists can choose the accommodation packages that best suit their needs.
1. Is Egypt famous for causing any health problems for travelers?
– Generally speaking, tourists face minimal health problems in Egypt that can be summarized in some gastric disturbance if a traveler drinks from the tap water or eats in some local restaurants that are not recommended by their tour guides or the receptionists in their hotels. Some travelers might get hurt because of the heat and the sunshine. However, taking the proper precautions and drinking bottled water would eliminate any expected health risks.
2. Are there certain vaccinations to be taken before traveling to Egypt?
– There are no obligatory vaccinations that should be taken before being granted with the visa of Egypt. However, it would be recommended for the senior people and for young children to take vaccinations against Hepatitis C, Typhoid, and an oral dosage of Tetanus.
1. What is the official currency in Egypt?
– The official currency of Egypt is the Egyptian pound, or “Geneh” in Arabic and it is commonly written as L.E. One Egyptian Pound is 100 pilasters or “Irish”. There are banknotes from 1,5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and lately 200 LE, which is usually hard to change. This is why it is always advisable to have some change for taxis or Baksheesh.
2. Will I be able to exchange dollars in Egypt?
– There are a large number of banks and exchange offices that can change cash and travelers’ cheques in Egypt. Moreover, many touristic shops, restaurants, and bars would actually deal with dollars with rates that are relatively close to the official ones.
3. How common is the use of credit cards in Egypt?
– Credit cards are widely used in Egypt in hotels, many shops, restaurants, and cafes. Most stores in markets like Khan El Khalili and the Luxor touristic market accept credit cards. The most common types of credit cards used in Egypt are Visa, Master Card, and American Express.
1. Is it a common practice to give tips in Egypt?
– Due to the low salaries of many professionals in Egypt, many people depend on tips or Baksheesh as they call it in Egypt, as a major part of their income. Therefore, tipping would be considered a customary practice in Egypt.
2. How much would be the proper amount of money to be given as tips in Egypt?
– The amount of money to be given as tips in Egypt ranges from one place to another and according to the services achieved as well. It would be good if the tourist gives an extra 10% directly to the waiter.
Five Egyptian pounds would be a good tip to be given when someone helps you in some small way like lavatory attendance, parking cars, or carrying luggage.
Tour guides also accept tipping and 50 to 100 Egyptian pounds per day per person would be a sufficient amount of tipping for them. Drivers of the vehicles during your tours in Egypt would normally accept a tip of 10 Egyptian pounds per day per person.
1. Will it be easy for me to find transportation from the Cairo Airport to other destination in the city?
– There are several transportation means from the Cairo Airport. The fastest and easiest is to take a taxi. The moment you step out of the airport, you will find many taxi drivers asking if you need a lift. The new white taxis, which uses a sufficient kilometer counter, would be a good choice if you are going anywhere around Cairo. It is advisable to avoid riding in the old black and white colored taxies as they don’t use counters and the drivers will always ask for an exaggerated fare.
There is also the luxurious limousine service that the Cairo Airport offers to the guests of Egypt which would be sometimes more expensive than other transportation means.
Furthermore, there is the air conditioned bus that goes from the Cairo Airport to downtown almost every 20 minutes and its cheap and comfortable but carrying luggage in this bus is highly unadvisable as there is no special place for them in the bus.
2. Is it a good idea to take the train from Cairo to far destinations in Egypt like Aswan?
– Generally speaking, the overall standard of the railways service in Egypt is pretty good. The Egyptian railway network connects the Nile Valley, the Delta, the Suez Canal, and the North Coast in the summer all together.
Because of the high prices of domestic flights in Egypt that would sometimes do not suit the budget travelers, it is always recommended to take the sleeping train from Cairo to Aswan or Luxor. There are some trains that are specified for tourists and they move from Cairo at 9 PM and arrive in Luxor in around 4 in the morning and in Aswan around 7 in the morning. These trains are comfortable and the guests will be offered a private cabin and a hot dinner.
3. Are there any good trains that go from Cairo to major cities in Egypt?
– The trains in Egypt fall generally into two categories; the Air Conditioned trains that include the luxury wagons and the local stopping trains that would literally stop in a local village or town almost every 15 to 20 minutes.
The AC trains usually offer first and second class cars. First class cars are less crowded and the seats are larger and more comfortable. The second class, which is a little bit less in price, is not significantly worse.
There are around 15 AC trains from Cairo to Alexandria every day, five from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan, and two overnight sleeping trains from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan as well.
4. Can I travel by train from Cairo to Hurghada or Sharm El Sheikh?
– The railway service in Egypt does not pass the Suez Canal to reach any cities in Sinai and it doesn’t go further then the city of Ismailia in Red Sea region in Egypt. Other than airplanes, tourists can take the buses from Cairo to reach cities like Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada.
5. Is it a good idea for tourists to ride in the public buses of cities like Cairo and Alexandria?
– The buses in cities like Cairo and Alexandria literally cover the whole city. Although these buses are cheap as the price of the ticket does not exceed one pound to go from any place to any place within a city, these buses are extremely overcrowded and sometimes they are not clean. Therefore, it is recommended to use other transportation means like taxis, or the metro in Egypt.
6. Is it advisable to ride in the underground metro in Cairo?
– The metro is one of the best ways to go from one place to another within Cairo. With the streets being crowded with cars and walkers almost all day long, the metro has become the fastest mean of transportation in the Egyptian capital. Although the metro can get rather crowded during the rush hours, it is still the best transportation mean in Cairo.
The metro in Cairo goes from Helwan, the southernmost point in the city to Al Marg, located in the Eastern section of the city. The second line goes from Shubra in the North of Cairo to Giza in the Western section of greater Cairo. The third line of the metro of Cairo will actually reach the airport in 3 years and only 3 stations are operating nowadays as the beginning of this third stage of the metro.
The price of the ticket is one Egyptian pound for going from any station to another in any of the three lines. Each metro in Cairo has two wagons that are specified for ladies all day long.
1. What are the sights and activities that are not be missed while visiting Egypt?
– Egypt, with its rich distinctive history, is a country that offers a lot to the tourists and a traveler can never see everything in one visit or even a couple of visits. This is why there are a number of monuments and some activities that tourists are advised not to miss if they visit Egypt. These include:
- Visiting the Pyramids of Giza
- Visiting the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
- Visiting the Saladin Citadel
- Watching a belly dancer performance
- Visiting the White Desert
- Diving or snorkeling in Sinai or cities situated on the Red Sea
- Going for a Nile Cruise dinner in Cairo
- Going on a Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan or vise versa
- Exploring the Saint Catharine Monastery in Sinai
- Enjoying a night out in Sharm El Sheikh
- Drinking a fresh juice especially sugarcanes
- Eating Kebab and Kofta, the Egyptian traditional meat dish
- Visiting the Luxor and Karnak temples in Luxor
- Visiting Abu Simble, to the South of Aswan
- Exploring the Colored Canyons in Sinai
- Going to Khan El Khalili touristic market in Cairo
- Exploring Islamic Cairo on foot
- Discover the magic of the Egyptian oasis
- Visiting the monuments of the West Bank of Luxor including the Temple of Hatshepsut and the Valley of the Kings
- Eating “Fool”, the Egyptian beans and “Koshary” the traditional pasta dish in Egypt
- Spending a one day trip in Alexandria and having a fish meal at the end of the day