If Egypt is not on your travel list, then i don’t know what is; Famously known for the Giza pyramids , River Nile and Pharaoh , this beautiful country that both lies in the Middle -East and Africa offers more than what we read in papers or see on TV. Yes i know the media has some how made us think that Egypt is not a safe place to visit but this was like a decade ago.
Egypt had always been on my bucket list, so when the opportunity presented itself in April 2018, i was over the moon excited. I got all the paper work in order and my visa application was accepted. In the middle of my excitement, the question of what clothes i should pack kicked in. Being an Islamic country, the first idea that popped in was to buy hi-jabs and scarfs (i literally don’t own any long dresses/skirts in my closet). I read a few blogs and finally decided to pack my normal vacay cloths and a few long dresses.
Fast forward , i was blown away by what Egypt has to offer and all the misconceptions i had disappeared as soon as i step foot at Cairo international airport.
There are some things that i didn’t know that i learnt on “trip”, so I’ve put down some tips that will make your trip easier and fun, so you don’t have to be as green as i was.
How to get around in Cairo, Egypt.
Being a big city with everything on the go every time, you’ve got to know how to get around or at least how to access your hotel or hostel.
Taxi – Egypt is basically an inexpensive country and so are the taxis. I mostly used Uber taxi since they were relatively cheap and were almost everywhere in the city. I didn’t get a chance of using the mini public taxis but they seemed pretty comfortable.
Train- Cairo being one of the few cities in Africa that has a metro system , i was so excited to use it. It was super cool- don’t blame me; we don’t have one in Uganda. The metro is very cheap, convenient and reliable. I recommend you download the Cairo metro app to help you with the metro lines and stations. (It might not provide all the information about time like some other big cities but its better than nothing )
Taking a walk on the banks of River Nile
Walking- The best way to discover the hidden places of the city is by walking there. I saw many places i wouldn’t have seen if i was in a car. So if you are a walker like me, go for it, you will be glad you did.
Plane- The domestic flights are relatively cheap. I remember i was about to take a 9 hours drive by bus from Dahab to Cairo when i realized the flight fare had dropped up to 45€ , i had to cancel the bus ticket for the plane ticket which is just a 1 hour flight. But if you are a backpacker and tight on budget, the bus is pretty comfortable too.
2. Food in Egypt.
If you are a foodie like me, you are likely to leave Egypt with a few extra pounds-at least i did. The servings are really huge in almost all hotels and restaurants. Egyptians are big on food and they go all out to prepare really delicious food and almost all meals are served with pita bread which is locally known as eish baladi .
On my very first day i tried out the Egyptian traditional dish, Kushari which was so tasty. The Egyptian cuisine is similar to the Eastern Mediterranean with foods like rice, kofta, kebabs, sea fish and vegetables. Generally food in Egypt is cheap but delicious and there are also plenty of fast food stalls on the streets .
3. Ask for help from locals.
Don’t make assumptions about everything, ask for help. Egyptians are very friendly people always willing to help, though some times it can seem too much making one question the real intentions.
One time i was asking for directions from a certain man, he was so kind to direct me but when he realized i wasn’t getting the location, he offered to drive me there in his car, which i definitely turned down -overly help, right?
Another time my uber driver contacted me to know the exact location i was at, clearly i couldn’t explain it very well since he didn’t know English nor could i speak Arabic, so i asked another gentleman to help me direct the driver in Arabic, he too was kind enough to oblige. He started explaining and before i knew it he had started moving away with my phone, imagine the anguish i felt at that moment. I hurriedly followed him and started devising ways of retrieving my phone in case he decided to take off with it. His intention was not to take my phone but rather to help me (which he did) but i wasn’t sure until he gave it back.
Ask for help but when it seems overly done, you can always turn down the offer.
A beautiful sunset in the heart of Cairo
4. What to wear in Egypt?
Egypt being an Islamic country, they mind so much about what you wear especially for women. In the big cities and the touristy sites, the locals might not mind so much what you wear if you are a tourist.But if you are planning to visit a mosque or any place of worship, carry a head scarf and dress decently-shoulders and legs must be covered. Don’t throw away your tank top, shorts or bikinis yet, you will need them when you hit the beach or the swimming pool.
5.How to make transactions in Egypt.
The local currency is the Egyptian pound. It is easier and cheaper to make all transactions in the local currency other than the dollar or Euro. Credit cards are accepted in some high end places but cash always win even when it comes to bargaining. The bargaining mechanism hugely works in Egypt. As a tourist, you are likely to be charged highly, so use your skills of negotiating and friendliness, you might just get the product at the right price.
The great sphinx of Giza
So now you can start planning your next adventure to Egypt and in my next post, i will be writing about the places to visit when you are in Cairo. Feel free to share with me your experiences during your stay in Egypt or ask me what you would like to know before you book that ticket.