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How to Vacation in Egypt
Get a travel guide to answer your questions along the way
Plan Ahead for Travels
If you are planning to visit Egypt, the best place to start is by researching. Here are a few good questions (and their answers) to start.
· Is this a good time to travel to Egypt?
Like most countries, Egypt has had its times of change. A relatively peaceful country, it is currently going through a change in government leadership. If you are planning to travel and want to check if traveling to Egypt is recommended by the U.S. government, visit the State Departments website.
· What are Egypt seasons and average temperatures?
Egypt has two seasons. The first is a mild winter lasting from November to April and the second is a hot summer from May to October. Egypt is a desert with warm to hot day time temperatures and cooler nights. The summer temperatures can be real scorchers, soaring above 100 degree F (38 degrees C) by day. The winters range from 65 degrees F (about 18 degrees C) by day but can drop as low as 45 degrees F (about 7 degrees C) at night.
· Is it better to buy a package or to buy tickets, hotel and attraction prices separately?
This question has a lot to do with preference. If you want your trip to smooth and predictable, go with a package. If you are more interested in spontaneity and flexibility, plan it yourself. Pricewise, there is no clear answer.
Once you have researched and decided a reasonable cost for your trip, begin saving immediately. Egypt is full of sights, sounds, tastes and many souvenirs. You will want to have as much available cash as you are able to save for.
Have you gotten a passport? Will you need a visa? Are there shots you need to get? These are the kinds of details that if you’re planning a trip to Egypt you need to ask yourself. Making a checklist of steps you need to take before you leave is a great way to keep you on track.
When traveling abroad, it is always best to pack as little as possible and leave room for all the goodies you are sure to bring back. When packing for Egyptian travel, be sure to bring plenty of light clothing, a couple of outfits for more formal evening events, comfortable shoes (that you don’t mind getting dusty) and travel sized versions of your favorite toiletries.
5. Keeping in touch:
Before leaving it is important to think about how you will stay in touch with family and friends. I found that having a laptop or Ipad was great. Internet can be used at local cafes for a small price or you can even buy a traveling modem where you can pay one fee for a certain amount of internet time (and it’s refillable!).
Would you like to travel to Egypt?
Travel to Egypt
Flights to Egypt vary depending on the time of year and when you buy them. Summer prices are usually lower considering many tourists opt not to deal with the steamy temperatures. If you’re looking for a deal and feel you can bare it, go for it! Otherwise, buy your ticket at least 6 months before travel to ensure the lowest price.
Hotels in Egypt
Whether you are looking for inexpensive accommodations or a five star hotel, you will find it in Egypt. There are over 1,000 hotels in Cairo alone! I suggest using a variety of hotel search sites to find the best deal on the type of hotel you are looking for. Three good start points?
Nile cruises are a common and fun way to see and enjoy Egypt. A cruise can be as short as a few hours for a dinner cruise to a week or more to travel from Cairo to other cities such as Aswan. You can also choose cruises that travel to and from southern European countries such as Greece and Italy. Nile cruises, like hotels can vary in price and quality. For small boats to huge cruise ships, you can find whatever fits your taste and time frame best. Three good start points?
Popular Sights in Cairo: 5 Must See Attractions
1. The Pyramids of Giza
The pyramids of Giza are one of those places that are simply indicative with Egypt. The size, stature and permanence are truly not worth missing. Taking an opportunity to go inside is like stepping back in time. Located in downtown Cairo, you will want to bring a hat because there is little shade here.
2. The Sphinx
Alongside the pyramids of Egypt, the Sphinx is another wonder e often think of when we hear “Egypt.” Thankfully they are located literally side by side. Enjoy this wonder up close or from far for best pictures.
3. Khan el-Khalili
One of the oldest market places in the world, Khan el-Khalili is filled with exotic sights and sounds. The smell of fresh curries and the sound of tabla drums id sure to delight any tourist! This is a great place to look around, shop and eat.
4. Saqqara: Step Pyramids, Tombs of Mereruka & Ankhmahor, Pyramid of Unas, and much more
Located 32 km (about 20 miles) outside of Cairo, this sight will be well worth the travel. Packed full of history, you can plan to see everything from a step pyramid designed by Imhotep in 2650 BC to tombs built for the pharaoh’s overseers. I found this to be my most educational sight by far. For more on this area visit www.ancient-egypt.org, where you are sure to be excited by this off the beaten path sight.
5. Cairo Museum
The Cairo Museum is full of history! From well-known artifacts such as the burial mask of Tutankhamen to ancient jewelry, statues, boats and artwork, this museum will give you the feeling that you are traveling through Egypt’s history.
The second largest city in Egypt, located along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Alexandria is full of history, modern pleasures and yes, beautiful beaches. Most notable sights:
· Library of Alexandria
· Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
· Agamy (see popular beaches below)
Known as the ancient city of Thebes and often called “the world’s only open air museum,” Luxor is a very popular tourist attraction. Most notable sights:
· Luxor Temple
· Karnak Temple
· Valley of the Kings
· Valley of the Queens
· The Ramesseum (memorial temple of Ramesses II)
· Tombs of the Nobles
Located on the east bank of the Nile River in the South of Egypt, Aswan is a lively market city. Known as Swenet in ancient times, this was Egypt’s first city. Most notable sights:
· a trip to Elephantine Island on a wooden felucca
· the ruins of the Temple of Khnum
· Nubian villages
Located on the western shore of the Red Sea, Ain Soukhna (meaning “hot spring”), is a beautiful beach with temperate waters most of the year. Imagine the sea feeling like a jacuzzi with very few waves and you have a good picture of this cozy beach. Many hotels and resorts line the shore offering you several options for accommodations.
One of Egypt’s most popular beaches, Sharm el-Sheikh (or Sharm for short) is full of hotels, resorts and tourists. Located on the Sinai peninsula, Sharm is modern and trendy with lots of oprions for shopping, dancing, eating, diving, snorkeling and wind surfing.
My Poem about Agamy
While living in Egypt, I was invited to go to Agamy, a small beach town off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria. The beach we attended was a private beach but very full with chairs and umbrellas. I was amazed to see food service...
Located in Alexandria, is along the Mediterranean Sea. Truly a beach town where many Egyptians choose to vacation, you will see many resorts and homes with fewer hotels. The beaches have private entrances and you can be served food and drinks while lounging on the beach.
Once a Bedouin fishing village, Dahab is one of Sinai peninsula’s premiere diving locations. It is a much smaller, slower option compared to Sharm el-Sheikh which is located nearby. Tourists enjoy wind surfing, diving, camel rides into the nearest desert and lying along the beach. Other options for accommodations in this area include hostels and camps along with more traditional (and costly) hotels and resorts.
More on vacationing in Marsa Alam
Located on the south east coast of Egypt, alongside the Red Sea, Marsa Alam is just recently become a popular vacation town. Divers, snorkelers and naturalist have enjoyed this more secluded beach for years. Attractions include Wadi Gamel (Valley of the Camels) National Park where you can take a traditional journey into the desert to see how Bedouins once lived and Abu Dabab beach here you can swim with sea turtles. My personal favorite vacation spot, you can enjoy communal camp groups such as Deep South (www.deep-south-diving.com) or newer resorts and hotels.
5 Travel Tips for Egypt Tourist
- Always have your passport available (you might be asked to show it)
- Keep tissues with you at all times (they are not given away free and easy at restaurants or even at some bathrooms)
- If you’re going to be in the area for any length of time, build a relationship with one cab driver (this cuts down on the frustration of finding one, trying to communicate and possibly being cheated)
- Be flexible with time (as my friend’s and I called it, “Cairo time” is quite relaxed)
- Always tip (whether at a restaurant, in a cab or with someone handling your luggage, tipping is kind and expected)