Here’s some useful information that might come in handy if you’re planning a trip to Egypt.
1. What weather can I expect in Egypt?
Mainly hot and dry. Temperatures exceed 38°C during summer (from May to September) with extremes of up to 50°C. Late November to February temperatures range from 15 – 25°C on the Mediterranean coast to 20 – 30°C in Aswan in the south. Winter nights, temperatures can plummet to 10°C on the coast and in Cairo. In the desert and the mountains of Sinai, days are scorching hot, but bitterly cold at night. Alexandria in the north receives the most rain with 20cm per year, whilst Aswan in the south has received an average of 1cm in the last 5 years.
2. What currency does Egypt use?
Egyptian Pounds (EGP or LE). Pounds Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are easily exchanged. You can obtain Egyptian Pounds (LE) at any major bank or your hotel.
The exchange rate fluctuates frequently; the Egyptian Pound (LE) consists of 100 piasters (pt). Currency comes in the following denominations: 10pt, 25pt and 50pt and 1LE (coins and notes) + 5LE, 10LE, 20LE, 50LE, 100LE & 200LE notes. There is a severe shortage of small change.
50pt, 1LE and 5LE notes are hard to come by so save them for tipping or paying for using the toilet!
Debit cards with can be used at local ATM/Teller machines for cash withdrawals. Rely on these only in the cities or larger towns. Take advantage of teller machine facilities in Cairo, as there are fewer machines in Aswan, Luxor and Dahab.
3. What is a reasonable daily budget?
It is difficult to recommend a level of personal spending money which will suit everyone. As a guideline, we would suggest somewhere in the vicinity of USD$25 –USD$45 per day. (Excluding entrance fees, collected by your tour guide). Take more if you plan on doing a spot of shopping.
4. Is the water safe to drink in Egypt?
Tap water in Egypt is heavily chlorinated although U.S. embassy tests have confirmed the water to be safe and fit for consumption. However, if you are in Egypt for a relatively short-term stay, doctors recommend that you stick with bottled mineral water, in order to avoid gastric upsets. Nestle, Hyatt or Baraka branded bottled mineral water are reputable brands. Just ensure that the bottle sealing is not broken!
Take care with fruit juice, as water may have been added. Milk should be treated with suspicion, as it is often unpasteurized, though boiled milk is fine. Tea and coffee are favourable as the water will have been boiled during the making. We strongly advise that if you are travelling to Dahab DO NOT drink any of the tap water as it is mainly salt water with very few chemicals added to it. Showering and brushing teeth with tap water does not pose a problem though.
5. Are public toilets available in Egypt?
Public toilets, when they can be found, are usually squat-holes in the floor with footrests on either side or if you are lucky western style toilets. All public toilets come with an obligatory usage fee of 1-2LE irrespective of the standard of hygiene. You will find some western toilet facilities near tourism sites, though again hygiene can be lacking. Your best bet is to use hotel bathrooms and restaurant restrooms before leaving.
All toilets western and squat come fitted with a water jet for washing yourself, be sure to give it a try! Though if things don’t go as well as planned be sure to always carry an ample supply of paper with you – not the daily newspaper as it does tend to leave an impression of the country, which is hard to remove!
6. What are typical trading hours?
0900 – 1300 hrs and 1700 – 2200 in summer and 1000 – 1800 in winter, often with a long break in the afternoon. Many shops are closed on Friday and Sunday. Opening hours change during Ramadan.
Banks open 0900 – 1400 from Sunday to Thursday. Some banks in Cairo also open for a few hours in the evening. Bureau de change and moneychangers are generally open throughout the course of the day and evening.
7. What are some of the essentials that I’ll need to take along with me?
Egypt is a Muslim country, due to this there is a more conservative attitude towards dress; respect must be given particularly when visiting local areas (train stations), markets and religious monuments (mosques and the Citadel). It is suggested that ladies avoid ‘clingy’, tight, suggestive attire and stick with cool flowing cottons, longer sleeved shirts and pants in busy city areas. Beach attire can be worn onboard your felucca/ Nile Cruise and at beach resorts. Shorts are rarely seen in cities; in fact Egyptian men choose to wear long pants. Ex-military style clothing should not be worn.
8. What are the laws regarding alcohol consumption in Egypt?
Buying alcohol later en-route is harder after leaving Cairo. Contraband products brewed in ‘backyard breweries’ with such names as ‘Johnny Talker’ and ‘Boredom’s Dry Gin’ are to be found. Consumption of these bogus brands is dangerous and should be avoided at all cost!
Alcohol is available in bars, for consumption by International visitors and the local beer-Stella sold in pint sized green bottles at 20LE – 40LE is very palatable and widely available. It is forbidden to drink alcohol upon the streets or outside of a bar or hotel, Egyptian law strictly enforces this.
Need more info.? Visit the main site (www.onthegotours.com) or give our office a call on +44 207 371 1113.