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Egypt

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Royal Albatros Moderna
Royal Albatros Moderna - dream vacation

PO Box 215 , Sharm el-Sheikh

Hilton Sharks Bay Resort
Hilton Sharks Bay Resort - dream vacation

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Novotel Cairo El Borg
Novotel Cairo El Borg - dream vacation

3 Saraya El Gezira Street, Zamalek, Cairo

Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah
Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah - dream vacation

3 El Thawra Council St Zamalek, Downtown, Po Box 732 El Orman Giza, Cairo

Tropitel Sahl Hasheesh
Tropitel Sahl Hasheesh - dream vacation

P.O. Box Block 33 B, Sahl Hasheesh

Mercato
Mercato - dream vacation

Hadabet Om El Seed, Sharm el-Sheikh

The Arab Republic of Egypt (Arabic: màSr ???) is in north-eastern Africa with its capital located in its largest city, Cairo. Egypt also extends into Asia by virtue of holding the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is bordered by Israel and the Gaza Strip to the north-east, by Sudan to the south and by Libya to the west. The country is bounded by the Mediterranean and Red Seas (to the north and east respectively) and geographically dominated both by the Nile River and its fertile well-watered valley, and by the Eastern and Western deserts.

Egypt is perhaps best known as the home of the ancient Egyptian civilization, with its art, temples, hieroglyphs, mummies, and - visible above all - its pyramids. Less well-known is Egypt's medieval heritage, courtesy of Coptic Christianity and Islam - ancient churches, monasteries and mosques punctuate the Egyptian landscape. Egypt stimulates the imagination of western tourists like few other countries and is probably one of the most popular tourist destinations world-wide.

Regions

Cities

  • Greater Cairo – the capital of Egypt, home to the Giza Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and fabulous Islamic architecture
  • Alexandria – Egypt's window on the Mediterranean, with still-palpable glimpses of the past
  • Aswan – a more relaxed option, full of amazing sights
  • Hurghada – a town on the Red Sea, filled with all-inclusive resorts and diving
  • Luxor – gateway to the Valley of the Kings, amongst other fabulous attractions
  • Port Said – the centre of the third largest metropolitan area, has a cosmopolitan heritage, home to the Lighthouse of Port Said
  • Sharm el Sheikh – a hugely popular resort town on the Sinai peninsula, with some of the best scuba diving in the world.

Other destinations

  • Abu Simbel – a very remote town in the far south, with some beautiful ancient temples
  • Dahab – at Sinai, east of Sharm el Sheikh, a backpacker central, with excellent scuba diving
  • Karnak – scattered temples built with an emphasis on size, an impressive avenue of ram-headed sphinxes runs through the middle
  • Memphis and Saqqara – both filled with relics and ruins of ancient Egypt, they're often combined as a day trip from Cairo
  • Siwa – a stunning remote oasis near the Libyan border
  • St. Katherine home to the oldest continually inhabited monastery, Mount Sinai and Mount Katherine (highest mountain in Egypt) and truly Bedouin culture
  • Taba Heights – purpose built resort with views of Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia
  • Valley of the Kings

Understand

While Egypt is primarily known as a tourist destination and for the pyramids, it is also notable as having the largest population in the Arabic-speaking world, and the second strongest economy in Africa after South Africa.

History

See also: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire

The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world's great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose around 3200 BC and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 BC, who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks, took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Egypt gained partial independence from the UK in 1922. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in agriculture and the ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to prepare the economy for the 21st century through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.

Climate

Egypt's climate is generally classified as desert. It is an extension of the great Sahara that bands North Africa, and except for the thin strip of watered land along the Nile River, very little could survive there. As the ancient Greek historian Herodotus stated: "Egypt is the gift of the Nile".

Beware that from March till May, sand storms may occur, particularly during daytime. These storms not only make the air sandy and very dry, but also temporarily raise the temperature. Sand storms at other times of the year can still erupt but rarely and in winter, usually they won't raise the temperature.

Generally, the summers are hot, rainless and extremely sunny, but the air can be humid at the coasts and very dry at the south, away of the coasts and away of the Nile Delta. The winters are moderate. November through March are definitely the most comfortable months for travel in Egypt. Only the north coast (stretching from the sea to 50 km southwards) receives a little rain in winter; the rest of Egypt receives negligible or no rain. So, you won't need wet weather gear!

Thunderstorms along with heavy rain showers that often last several hours are not uncommon in Alexandria, Marsa Matruh and all other northern coastal areas, and even the Delta. In some years the rainstorms can last for a whole day or so, though the rain tends to be lighter. Hail is also not uncommon, especially out in the desert where the weather is usually colder and allows for soft hail to fall and even frost to form on non-rainy days.

In the Sinai Mountains and also the Red Sea mountains, which stretch along the east side of the country along the shore of the Red Sea, there is generally more rain than the surrounding desert, as rain clouds tend to develop when warm air evaporates and rises as it moves across higher terrain. Floods in these areas are a common weather phenomenon as so much rain can fall in a very short amount of time (often a day or two), with thunder and lightning as well. Because of the desert and lack of abundant vegetation, the water from the rain quickly falls down across the hills and mountains and floods local areas. In fact, every year there are stories in the local newspapers about flash floods in areas of the Sinai and also in Upper Egypt (southern Egypt) such as in Assiut, LuxorAswan, and Sohag. These floods, however, only generally happen two or three times a year, and do not happen at all in some years. When they happen, though, it is often in early times of the season such as in September or October, or in late winter such as February. Because of this risk, one should be careful when venturing out into the desert or camping in certain areas, as water can suddenly rush down from the nearby mountains and hills. It can sometimes carry a quite strong current that has been known to break down homes of rural people who build their homes from mud, bricks, and other weak materials. Poor people might drown in the floods, which is strange for a desert country that doesn't receive much precipitation.

Also, in higher elevations such as on top of the Sinai mountains, temperatures can drop much more than the surrounding areas, allowing for snowfall in winter months, since temperatures can drop down to below freezing, as well as formation of frost even in the low lying desert areas where the temperatures are generally several degrees colder than in the cities.

December, January and February are the coldest months of the year. However, winter days of southern places at the Nile Valley are warmer, but their nights are as cool as northern places.

Visitors should be aware that most houses and apartments in Egypt do not have central heating like countries with colder climates, because the main weather concern in Egypt is the heat. Therefore, even though the weather might not be so cold for a western traveller, inside the apartment it might be colder at day but the temperature indoors is more stable than outdoors. In Cairo, in indoor buildings without air-conditioning, temperatures are about 15°C (59°F) in the coldest winter days and about 34°C (93°F) in the hottest summer days.

Summary

Notable climatic features:

  • Alexandria and Rafah are the rainiest places
  • Assiut is the driest city
  • Aswan and Luxor are the cities with the hottest summer days
  • Saint Catherine (mountainous area in south Sinai) has the coldest nights and coldest winters

Cities or resorts with coolest summer days:

  • Marsa Matruh
  • Port Said

Places with least temperature fluctuation:

  • Port Said
  • Kosseir
  • Ras El Bar (a coastal town near Damietta)
  • Baltim (at the northern coast at the center)
  • Damietta (at the eastern end of the Nile basin at the northern coast)
  • Alexandria

Cities or resorts with warmest winter nights:

  • Marsa Alam
  • Kosseir
  • Sharm el Sheikh

Cities with most temperature fluctuation between days and nights:

  • Luxor
  • Minya (central at the Nile valley)
  • Sohag (southern at the Nile valley)
  • Qena (southern at the Nile valley)
  • Assiut (southern at the Nile valley)

Holidays

Banks, shops and businesses close for the following Egyptian national holidays (civil and religious), and public transport may run only limited services:

  • 7th January (Eastern Orthodox Christmas)
  • 25th January (Egyptian Revolution Day)
  • 25th April (Sinai Liberation Day)
  • 1st May (Labour Day)
  • 23rd July (July Revolution Day)
  • 6th October (Armed Forces Day)
  • 1st Shawwal, the 10th Hijri month (Eid al Fitr, "Breakfast Feast")
  • 10th Dhu al Hijjah, the 12th Hijri month (Eid al Adha, "Sacrifice Feast")
  • Working for shorter day hours for 29 or 30 days of Ramadan

Since Islamic holidays are based on the lunar calendar, their exact dates vary between years

Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the most important month in the Islamic Calendar for Muslims, the majority religion in Egypt. Commemorating the time when God revealed the Qur'an to Mohammed, during this holy month, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking or smoking until after sundown on each day. Although strict adherence to Ramadan is for Muslims only, some Muslims appreciate that non-Muslims do not take meals or smoke in public places. During Ramadan, many restaurants and cafes won't open until after sundown. Public transport is less frequent, shops close earlier before sunset and the pace of life (especially business) is generally slow.

As expected, exactly at sunset minute, the entire country quiets down and busy itself with the main meal of the day (iftar, "breaking-fast") that are almost always done as social events in large groups of friends. Many richer people offer (Tables of the Gracious God ????? ??????) in Cairo's streets that cater full-meals for free for the passers-by, the poorer ones or workers who couldn't leave their shifts at the time. Prayers become popular 'social' events that some like to enrich with special food treats before and after. An hour or two later, an astonishing springing to life of the cities takes place. Streets sometimes richly decorated for the whole month have continuous rush hours till very early in the morning. Some shops and cafes make the biggest chunk of their annual profit at this time of year. Costs of advertising on television and radio soars for this period and entertainment performances are at their peak.

Terrain

Egypt consists of vast desert plateau interrupted by the Nile valley and delta, along with the Sinai peninsula. Portions of the Nile River valley are bounded by steep rocky cliffs, while the banks are relatively flat in other areas, allowing for agricultural production.

Get in

Egypt is one of only three Middle Eastern countries that tolerate Israeli citizens in their country. As such, entry into Egypt will not be a problem for Israeli passport holders.

As a major tourist destination whose economy is dependent upon tourist money, Egypt is relatively easy to enter and/or obtain visas for if necessary. There are three types of Egyptian visa:

  • Tourist Visa - usually valid for a period not exceeding 3 months and granted on either a single or multiple entry basis
  • Entry Visa - required for any foreigner arriving in Egypt for purposes other than tourism, e.g. work, study. The possession of a valid Entry Visa is needed to complete the residence procedure in Egypt.
  • Transit Visa - rarely needed and only for certain nationalities

Entry visas may be obtained from Egyptian diplomatic and consular missions abroad or from the Entry Visa Department at the Travel Documents, Immigration and Nationality Administration (TDINA). Non-Egyptian travellers are required to have a valid passport.

Citizens of UK, EU, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Macedonia, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, Ukraine and USA may obtain a visa on arrival at major points of entry. The fees for visa are as follows:

  • USD60 – single entry visa
  • USD70 – multiple entry visa

Citizens of Bahrain, Guinea, South Korea, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen receive a 3-month visa on arrival. Citizens of Kuwait can obtain 6-month Residence Permit upon arrival. China and Malaysian citizens receive a 15-day visa on arrival. Citizens of China (only Hong Kong and Macau SAR) may have a 30-day visit without visa.

Egypt has announced plans to stop offering a visa on arrival to individual travellers not arriving as part of a package tour group,[1] but the planned May 2015 introduction of this policy has been temporarily postponed.[2]

Citizens of the following countries are required to have a visa before arriving, which must be applied for through an Egyptian consulate or embassy outside of Egypt:

Visitors entering Egypt at the overland border crossing at Taba or at Sharm el Sheikh airport can be exempted from a visa and granted a free fourteen day entry visa to visit the Aqaba coast of the Sinai peninsula, including Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab and St. Catherine's Monastery. Visitors wishing to leave the Sinai peninsula and to visit Cairo and other Egyptian cities are required to hold full Egyptian visas, although strictly speaking there is a small possibility no one will check for this unless you attempt to exit the country. These are not issued at the Taba border crossing and must be acquired in advance either in the country of residence, at the Egyptian consulate in Eilat or airport upon arrival. Visitors traveling on organized tours often may be able to have their visas issued at the border, but you should verify in advance with their travel agent or tour operator if this option is available to them. Those in possession of a residence permit in Egypt are not required to obtain an entry visa if they leave the country and return to it within the validity of their residence permit or within six months, whichever period is less.

Tourists visiting Sharm el Sheikh who are planning to undertake scuba diving outside local areas (i.e. Ras Mohammed) will need to obtain the tourist visa, because this technically means leaving the Sharm el Sheikh area and leads to the requirement for a visa. Officials on boats may check dive boats whilst on the waters so you are advised to obtain the visa beforehand: there may be fines involved for you and the boat captain if you are caught without the appropriate visa. Most reputable dive centers will ask to see your visa before allowing you on trips.

Egypt has peaceful relations with Israel, but the degree of friendliness varies, and with it, the direct connections betweeen the two countries. A direct air service between Cairo and Tel Aviv is operated by EgyptAir under the guise of "Air Sinai". Bus service seems to continue, as described below. In any case, verify the situation as you plan, and again at the last minute.

By plane

Egypt has several international airports:

  • Cairo International Airport — the primary entry point and the hub of the national carrier, Egyptair.
  • Alexandria Nozha
  • Luxor International Airport — now receiving an increasing number of international scheduled flights, mostly from Europe, in addition to charter flights.
  • Aswan International Airport
  • Hurghada International Airport — receives a number of charter flights
  • Sharm el Sheikh International Airport — receives a number of charter flights.
  • Borg el Arab International Airport
  • Marsa Alam International Airport

By boat

See also: Ferries in The Red Sea

Ferries run regularly from Aqaba across to Nuweiba on the Sinai peninsula, bypassing Israel and the sometimes complicated border arrangements. Generally there is no visa fee for entering Jordan through Aqaba since it is a part of the free trade zone. The line to Nuweiba is operated by AB Maritime. It is also possible to travel from Saudi Arabia to several Red Sea coast ports.

A weekly ferry also runs between Wadi Halfa, Sudan and Aswan, connecting with the train from Khartoum.

There are no scheduled passenger ferries between Europe and Egypt. For those intent to recreate the classical way of reaching Egypt, freighter travel remains an option.

By bus

Travelling to Egypt by bus is a cheaper option than short-haul flights from neighbouring countries. A trip between Jordan and Cairo can cost as little as USD45 (€35). The downside, of course, is that it's time consuming and, even if buses nowadays have plush seats and air-con, quite uncomfortable as you're confined to a seat for up to 40hr. Also, foreigners entering Egypt by bus must pay a LE 63 tax (Egyptian pounds).

Israel is the most popular country to travel by bus from and travellers can easily access Egypt by bus from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. There are however no cross-border services. The most common route is to take a bus to Eilat where you can cross over the border into Taba and take a bus to Cairo or into the Sinai. Generally, only two or three buses leave from Taba to the various destinations each day; one morning and one afternoon service, with an early evening departure from time to time. Plan the arrival in Eilat accordingly, and be prepared to spend the night in either Eilat or Taba if arriving late. As usual, crossing into Israel by bus means getting your passport stamped and many Arab countries denying you entry (read Visa trouble).

Other routes to Cairo includes; direct services from Amman twice a week by the Jordanian state bus company, JETT. There's daily services by SAPTCO from Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. There are also buses from Benghazi, although they can be suspended due to the fluid security situation there. Journey times for all these destinations are between 25 and 40 hours.

By car

Gas is rather inexpensive in Egypt, prices are heavily subsidized: LE 6.25/L in March 2017. If you decide to rent a car, you will not add significantly to the cost through gas. Car rental sites require you to be at least 21 years old. Driving in Egypt is very different than in a Western country and is not for the faint of heart; unless you really need this option it is just as easy and probably cheaper to travel by taxis and around the country by air, train, and/or bus. As you will see shortly after arrival, obedience of traffic laws is low and there are very few signs indicating road rules. You might also become a target for Egyptian police seeking a bribe, who will pick some trivial offence you have committed and which in reality you could not have avoided and remained on the road.

Get around

By train

The state-owned company Egyptian National Railways (ENR) runs almost all trains in Egypt. The Cairo-Alexandria route is heavily traveled by train, with frequent service daily. Overnight trains are available for travel from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan, in Upper Egypt; these are run by a separate private company called Abela Egypt. On ENR trains, a First Class ticket costs only a few dollars more than a Second class ticket and you will find it much more pleasant and comfortable.

Train tickets can be bought at most major railway stations' booking offices once you are in Egypt, although a great deal of patience is often required. It also is advisable to purchase tickets in advance, since at peak travel times, trains may be fully booked. Except during busy holiday periods, it's not normally difficult to purchase 1st class tickets on the day of travel or the day before. To avoid complications, book as far ahead as possible.

Foreigners

Foreigners' travel is subject to security restrictions. Several websites report that foreigners are allowed to buy tickets only on selected trains. Some sites report that one can instead buy tickets direct from a conductor. The situation may change again.

You may arrange train ticket purchases through a travel agency in Egypt, preferably at least the day before you intend to travel, but you will pay some commission to avoid the inevitable hassle of going to the rail station. Some travel agencies can arrange bookings ahead of time via e-mail, fax, or phone. If you choose to purchase tickets at the Ramses Station in Cairo, there are several booking windows (for example, one for each class and group of destinations), so check with locals (usually very helpful) that you are joining the right queue. The station sells tickets for Egyptian pounds, except for the deluxe Abela Egypt sleeper which must be paid in foreign currency (dollars, euros or pounds sterling).

First Class tickets are relatively cheap and a good choice, although Second Class will more than suffice for many. Travellers probably won't want to experience anything below Second Class (the condition and provision of toilets, for example, drops away quickly after this level). If you must travel at a lower class due to overbooking, look for the first opportunity to "upgrade" yourself into an empty seat - you may pay a small supplement when your ticket is checked, but it's worth it. Note that toilet facilities on Egyptian trains are at best rudimentary, even in First Class. Therefore, it is advisable to prepare toiletries for long journeys: wet wipes and hand sanitizer are all but necessities.

By bus

Egypt has an extensive long-distance bus network, operated mostly by government-owned companies. Their names are Pullman, West Delta, Golden Arrow, Super Jet, East Delta, El Gouna, Upper Egypt Bus Co and Bedouin Bus. Popular routes are operated by more than one company. Some bus companies allow you to book seats in advance; some sell spots based upon availability of seats.

Beware buying tickets from bus touts on the street or outside your hotel. The smaller companies are sometimes unlicensed and can cut corners with safety. There have been eight serious bus crashes involving foreign nationals since January 2006, in which over 100 people have been killed. If you are a passenger in a vehicle that is travelling at an unsafe speed you should firmly instruct the driver to slow down.

Road accidents are very common in Egypt, mainly due to poor roads, dangerous driving and non-enforcement of traffic laws. Police estimate that road accidents kill over 6,000 people in Egypt each year. This is twice the UK figure. Other estimates put the figure far higher.

By taxi

It is important to know that in bigger cities, especially in Cairo, main streets often become congested at peak times and that may double the time needed to reach where you want to go.

In the cities, taxis are a cheap and convenient way of getting around. Although generally safe, taxis drive as erratically as all the other drivers, especially in Cairo, and you should note that sometimes fake taxis travel around. Make sure they have official markings on the dashboard or elsewhere; the taxis are always painted in special colours to identify them, as the taxi mark on top of the car. In Cairo the taxis are all white (rarely with advertisement on sides), those ones are preferable as they have a digital counter to tell you how much to pay and you shouldn't pay more than what the meter tells you, you can tell the driver in advance that you would only pay what the meter displays. Other older taxis are black and white, there are also the rarer Cairo cabs, all in yellow, also with the meter. In Luxor they are blue and white, and in Alexandria yellow and black. In Cairo and Luxor it is often much more interesting to use the taxis and a good guidebook instead of travelling around in a tour bus.

Seemingly, Cairo is alone in Egypt with having a sizeable population of modern metered cabs. Since Jan 2009, in Sharm El Sheikh all airport taxis have meters fitted and they must be used. Generally the best way is to ask at your hotel or someone you know from Egypt for the prices from point-to-point. You could also ask a pedestrian or policemen for the correct price. The best way to hire a taxi is to stand on the side of the road and put out a hand. You will have no trouble attracting a taxi, especially if you are obviously a Westerner. It is generally advisable to take white taxis that use the meter because the black and white taxis usually involve haggling at the end of the ride, some white taxi drivers don't start the meter unless you ask them to, if they say the meter is broken it's better to ask the driver to drop you off before you get far. It's important to have some change with you (a couple of fives and a ten) because some drivers say that they don't have change to drive off with the rest of your money.

If riding a black and white taxi Negotiate a price and destination before getting into the car. At the end of the journey, step out of the car and make sure you have everything with you before giving the driver the payment. If the driver shouts, it's probably OK, but if he steps out of the car you almost certainly paid too little. Prices can be highly variable but examples are LE 20 from central Cairo to Giza, EGP10 for a trip inside central Cairo and LE 5 for a short hop inside the city. Locals pay less than these prices for taxis which don't have the meters; the local price in a taxi from Giza or Central Cairo to the airport is LE 25-30. Do not be tempted to give them more because of the economic situation; otherwise, ripping off foreigners will become more common and doing so generally tends to add to inflation. Note that the prices listed here are already slightly inflated to the level expected from tourists, not what Egyptians would normally pay. You can also hire taxis for whole days, for LE 100-200 if going on longer excursions such as to Saqqara and Dashur from Cairo. Inside the town they are also more than happy to wait for you (often for a small extra charge, but ask the driver), even if you will be wandering around for a few hours.

Taxi drivers often speak enough English to negotiate price and destination, but only rarely more. Some speak more or less fluently and they will double as guides, announcing important places when you drive by them, but they can be hard to find. The drivers often expect to be paid a little extra for that; however, do not feel the need to pay for services that you have not asked for. If you find a good English-speaking driver, you may want to ask him for a card or a phone number, because they can often be available at any time and you will have a more reliable travel experience.

A new line of taxis owned by private companies has been introduced in Cairo . They are all clean and air-conditioned. The drivers are formally dressed and can converse in at least one foreign language, usually English. These cabs stand out because of their bright yellow colour. They can be hailed on the street if they are free or hired from one of their stops (including one in Tahrir square in the city centre). These new cabs use current meters which count by the kilometre, which starts from LE 2.50. In general, they are marginally more expensive than the normal taxis; you can call 16516, two hours in advance, in Cairo to hire a cab if you can't find them where you are looking.

By metro

Three metro lines serve parts of Greater Cairo.

By boat

A ferry running between the Red Sea resort of Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh is available with a journey time of 90 minutes for LE 400, although it may take considerably longer in choppy seas.

By plane

The domestic air network is fairly extensive and covers most major towns in Egypt. The national carrier, EgyptAir, has the most regular services and is the easiest place to start looking before you go. They provide services from Cairo to quite a few towns and places of interest around the country, the most common being LuxorAswan Abu Simbel, Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh, Alexandria, Marsa Matruh, Marsa Alam and Kharga oasis.

Everyone pays the same fare regardless of nationality. Fares are still relatively cheap - for example a return day trip to Luxor is about USD170. It is wise to book early as flights fill up quickly in the peak season. Local travel agencies have internet web pages and can sometimes squeeze you in last minute, but it is safest to book in advance. Travellers can also check prices and book flights on EgyptAir's website, but only with Visa or MasterCard. Online ticket sales close 72 hours in advance. Travel agencies can still make bookings. The national sales call centre is unable to sell tickets over the phone, but directs you to a local travel agency; you can also ask your hotel staff about travel agencies nearby. EgyptAir has a large network of offices at strategic points around the country which can sell you tickets.

See

Highlights of any visit to Egypt include famous archaeological sites from both Lower (North) and Upper (South) Egypt. The most famous are:

Greater Cairo:

  • the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx
  • the Egyptian Museum
  • the pyramids and temples of Saqqara and Dahshur
  • Citadel of Salah El Din and Mosque of Mohamed Ali
  • Khan al Khalili bazaar and al Hussein Mosque

Alexandria: Alexandria, with several historical sights and the stunning new Bibliotheca Alexandrina, is the country's main summer attraction for Egyptians escaping the summer heat and looking for a place to spend the summer vacation. Tourist attractions include Roman and Greek monuments, Bibliotheca Alexandria, Qa'edbay's Castle, and Qasr El Montaza (El Montaza Palace).

Luxor:

the temples of Luxor and the West Bank across the Nile

Aswan:

In Aswan, you can see even more temples and ancient monuments. You can also see Geziret El Nabatat (The Island of Plants). This is an island in the Nile River of Aswan which was planted by rare species of plants, trees, and flowers.

Perhaps the most popular activity in Luxor and Aswan is to do the Nile Cruise on a ship from Aswan to Luxor. It enables you to stop at each location along the Nile where you can see all the famous ancient monuments as well as experience being in the Nile River inside a five-star hotel boat.

  • The Red Sea resorts at Sinai peninsula, including DahabHurghada, and Sharm el Sheikh. The Red Sea offers some of the best dive locations in the world.
  • The sights of the Sinai peninsula, including Saint Catherine's Monastery and Mount Sinai.
  • The western desert and the oases there, including Siwa,
  • Memphis, with some relics of ancient Egypt - including a huge statue of Ramesses II, evoking the image which inspired Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem Ozymandias

Do

There is a lot to do for the foreign traveller in Egypt. Apart from visiting and seeing the ancient temples and artefacts of ancient Egypt, there is also much to see within each city. In fact, each city in Egypt has its own charm of things to see with its own history, culture, activities, and people who often differ in nature from people of other parts of Egypt.

Cairo, for instance has so much to do and see. Besides the ancient Egyptian history, there is the history of Romans, Greeks, Byzantine Empire, Islamic empire, Ottomans, and finally modern Egyptian history.

Jewish and Christian history To see more about Egypt's Christian and Jewish history, go to a local tourist office and ask them to give you names of local churches and synagogues. There is at least two synagogues dating back many years ago, when Egypt had a population of a few hundred-thousand Jews in the country, who eventually left during the formation of Israel.

There is a lot of old and interesting churches to see in different areas of Cairo, including downtown Cairo, Heliopolis, Korba, Shubra, Abbasiya, Zamalek, and Maadi. Some of these churches have been around for several hundred years and their architecture resemble that of Churches in Western countries, often built by Europeans who built much of the city's architecture in the 19th century as a resemblance to modern buildings of Europe at the time.

Modern Cairo If you want to see modern Cairo, try walking in the streets of Zamalek, Maadi, Mohandiseen, or Heliopolis where you will see some of the more modern buildings and get to experience the way of life in Egypt.

Local cafés, coffeeshops and restaurants For social times, try sitting in one of the local cafes restaurants where you can meet and interact with fellow Egyptians. There are numerous coffeeshops/cafes and restaurants all over Cairo all catering for different tastes and backgrounds and range from the very budget to the very expensive.

Local chains include Coffee Roastery, Cilantro, Grand Cafe, and Costa Coffee. Generally each area of Cairo has its cafés and restaurants.

Sporting and recreational clubs: If the heat is too much, you can go to one of the famous sporting clubs such as the Gezira Club located in Zamalek, or the Seid Club (otherwise known in English as the Shooting Club) located in Mohandiseen, where you can have a dip at the swimming pool or otherwise enjoy sitting in the shade and comfort of lush trees and gardens. Entrance for foreignors can be gained by buying a one-day ticket for LE 20-30 which enables the person to enjoy all the facilities of club including playing any sports. There are of course changing facilities and restaurants inside the club where one can enjoy a meal or a drink after engaging in any activity.

Nightlife: If you enjoy nightlife, there is quite a few nightclubs and discos where you can drink and dance to some of the most modern tunes in the west as well as listen to some Arabic music. The music varies from Dance and Trance to Hip Hop, Rap, Techno, as well as Rock and Pop. These clubs are usually located inside five-star hotels or at areas such as Mohandiseen and Zamalek.

Examples include: the Cairo Jazz Club (mohandiseen), Purple (on a boat in Zamalek), Hard Rock Café (inside the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Garden City), and L'Obergine (pub and bar in Zamalek).

Desert adventures: For other adventures, try going to the Haram District of Cairo, and look for any horse-riding stables. There, you can rent a horse for a few hours and ride, or even ride a camel out in the desert by the pyramids and the Sphinx. The best time to do this is at night when you can see all the stars shining together in the sky and capture the magical feeling of the place. You will be with a local guide riding with you on another horse or camel, or you might even be joined a group of other individuals or groups of friends who enjoy riding horses in the desert by the pyramids like yourself.

Nile boat: Try rending out a Feluca boat (small boat that can carry up to 20 individuals) in the Nile of Cairo. There you can experience the beauty of the Nile and the surround scenery, where you can see the city and its buildings and streets from within the water around. Depending on the weather, you can do this either day or night, but you will need to go to the Giza District and walk along the corniche area of the Nile and ask any of the locals for renting this boat.

Islamic Cairo/Fatimid Cairo: For those interested in the Islamic architecture and history, try going to Islamic Cairo (el Gamalaya district) or Khan El Khalili. There you will see numerous buildings and some mosques and see how buildings and houses were built in the Islamic Era of Egypt. There is also a Souk or (Bazar) where you can buy lots of different souvenirs and items.

Alexandria: Since Alexandria was founded in 332/31 BC by Alexander the Great “the pearl of the Mediterranean” has been one of the major sites of Egyptian history. After the death of the Macedonian king the city developed under the Ptolemies into the intellectual and cultural center of the entire Hellenistic world. Great scholars lived and worked in the Museion

Talk

See also: Egyptian Arabic phrasebook

The native spoken language in most of the country and the national lingua franca is Egyptian Arabic.

The official language of Egypt is Standard Arabic. Although largely unspoken, it is taught in schools and thus understood by nearly everyone, with the exception of a small minority, mainly uneducated individuals, bedouins, and desert dwellers. Standard Arabic is the Arabic used in most written and official forms such as television, newspapers, government speeches, teaching and educational institutions. It is the only common form that is understood by all the different countries of the Arab world (except Western Sahara, Mauritania and Chad).

Egyptian Arabic is one of the numerous (mostly mutually unintelligible) regional dialects of Arabic. Each country in the Arab world has its own dialects, Egyptian Arabic has the highest number of native speakers and is in fact also understood to varying degrees by many Arabic speakers especially in the neighbouring countries, due to the popularity of Egyptian cinema and media in the Middle East.

Most educated locals learn English at school. Travellers are unlikely to encounter difficulties finding someone who speaks English, especially in the cities and tourist centres. Although people who go to these schools might be able to speak the language with varying degrees, depending on their education and socio-economic class (the higher having more language skills).

Among the educated class, older people over 40 will generally be more fluent in French, as French was the dominant language of education in the past before English became dominant.

Other languages such as German, Italian, Spanish and Russian might be spoken by tour guides, due to the high number of tourists who come from Europe speaking these languages.

Following usual rules of politeness, instead of simply starting a conversation with someone in English, ask "Do you speak English?". All the better if you can do it in Egyptian Arabic: betetkallem engel?zi? (addressing a male) or betetkallemi engel?zi? (addressing a female).

In the southern parts of the country, such as Luxor and Aswan, the local language is Sa'idi Arabic, and is different from the metropolitan Egyptian Arabic spoken in the north of the country. There are also Black African people in the far south speaking the totally different Nubian languages. However, basically all people can speak Egyptian Arabic and in the cities also often standard Arabic and English.

People of Siwa and the western deserts of Egypt speak a language called Siwi (a Berber language), which is an unwritten language unique to them. These people are bilingual in Egyptian Arabic.

The Bedouin tribes (mostly the natives of Sinai) of other areas of Egypt have their own dialect of Arabic, which would not be normally understood by the ordinary urban Egyptian, but again these people will be bilingual in the Egyptian dialect.

Contrary to the belief of some people, nobody speaks or understands Hieroglyphics (the ancient Egyptian language of the pharaohs) except those who studied Egyptology or work in the field of archeology or give museum tour guides.

Buy

Money

The local currency is the Egyptian pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piastres. (The currency is often written as LE (short for French livre égyptienne), or by using the pound sign £ with or without additional letters: E£ and £E. In Arabic, the pound is called gen? [màSri] / geni [màSri] (???? [????]), in turn derived from English "guinea", and piastres (pt) are known as ersh (???). Wikivoyage uses the "LE" notation for consistency, but expect to see a variety of notations in shops and other businesses.

  • Coins: Denominations are 25pt, 50pt and 1 pound. You won't really need to know the name piastre, as the smallest value in circulation as of 2014 is 25 piastres, and this is almost always called a "quarter pound" (rob` gen? ??? ????), and the 50 piastres, "half pound" (noSS gen? ?? ????).
  • Paper money: The banknote denominations are 25 and 50 piastres; 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 pounds.

In Egypt, the pound sterling is called, gen? esterl?ni (???? ????????).

The Egyptian pound has been devaluing gradually over the last several decades. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Egyptian pound was rated almost the same as the British pound sterling. Since 2011, the exchange rate has become relatively unstable and inflation sped up. On November 3, 2016, the central bank decided to devaluate the Egyptian pound to an exchange rate similar to that of the black market.

Exchanging money and banks

Banks and exchange offices or anyone who would exchange currencies, would slightly extra charge you for the official exchange rate. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at exchange offices or banks, so there is no need to resort to the dodgy street moneychangers. Many higher-end hotels price in American dollars or euros and will gladly accept them as payment, often at a premium rate over Egyptian pounds. ATMs are ubiquitous in the cities and probably the best option overall; they often offer the best rate and many foreign banks have branches in Egypt. These include Barclay's Bank, HSBC, CitiBank, NSGB, BNP Paribas, Piraeus Bank, CIB, and other local and Arab Banks. Bank hours are Sunday through Thursday, 08:30-14:00.

Counterfeit or obsolete notes are not a major problem, but exchanging pounds outside the country can be difficult. American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted, but only bigger hotels or restaurants in Cairo and restaurants in tourist areas will readily accept credit cards as payment. Traveller's cheques can be exchanged in any bank, but it could take some time.

Before leaving Egypt, even if traveling to neighbouring countries in the Middle East, convert your currency to US dollars, euros, or British pounds. Money changers in other countries will give you 30% to 50% per Egyptian Pound than the rate you will get in Egypt, if they accept Egypt's currency at all. Converting to and from US dollars, euros, or British pounds has a relatively small spread, so you will only lose a few percent.

Tipping

Because of the economic situation of the country with an ever-expanding population and depletion of resources, this means that a lot of people may be unemployed (a rate much higher than in more developed countries). Even those who are employed in the service or hospitality industry (restaurants, hotels, bars, etc.) are most likely underpaid as their wages do not really reflect the value of the work they do. It is even more difficult for them to make a living with the problem of nonstop inflation, which means prices for everything even basic commodities like food and water keep rising steeply, while their wages remain the same and if they do rise, will not even rise to a fraction of the increase that prices have risen to.

This means that 90% of people who work in the service/hospitality industry try to make their main source of income from living off of tips. In fact, for these people, tips form a large majority of their income because without tips, their monthly wages/salaries would simply not be enough for them to survive in a place where prices rise steadily and salaries remain the same.

Bear in mind that these people quite often live hard lives, often responsible for feeding large families and may very well live in poverty simply because their income from work is not sufficient for them to live easy lives. Many of them are forced in these jobs because otherwise they would not find another job at all in a country with such high unemployment rates and overpopulation.

Thus, almost everyone at your hotel asks for a tip, even if all they did was a small thing. You don't have to pay huge tips as often smallest bills are appreciated. However, you do not have to tip if you feel that you haven't received any service or help at all or if you feel that the service was bad. Nobody will ever take offense or be disrespectful if you did not tip them.

Most public bathrooms are staffed, and visitors are expected to tip the attendant. Some restroom attendants, especially at tourist sites, will dole out toilet paper based on the tip they receive. Foreigners may be especially susceptible to this, and although some locals ask or demand tips, they are often not warranted.

There is no rule for what is considered tip-worthy, so one must be ready to hand out an Egyptian pound or two just in case, to use the bathroom, for instance. For services such as tour guides or translators, a tip of 20% or more is generally expected. Taxi drivers provide service based upon agreed prices rather than the more objective meter system used in some other countries, so tipping is not expected when using a taxi service, though tips are certainly accepted if offered. Tips are expected at restaurants, and can range from a few pounds to 15%.

If you ask a stranger for directions, tips are not necessary and may even be considered offensive. Officials in uniform, such as police officers, should not be tipped. Remember that bribery is technically illegal, but it is likely that nothing will happen to you. Last but not least, be aware that as a foreign tourist, you are seen by many as easy money and you should not let yourself be pressured into tipping for unnecessary or unrequested "services" like self-appointed tour guides latching on to you.

Some general guidelines
  • Bathroom attendants: LE 3
  • Cruises: LE 30/day, to be divided by all staff on board
  • Guide: LE 40/day
  • Hotel bellman: LE 10 for all bags
  • Hotel doorman: LE 10 for services rendered (such as flagging down taxis)
  • Restaurants: In fancier restaurants, a service charge (10-12%) is added to bills, but a 5-10% tip on top of that is common. In fast-food places, tipping is unnecessary
  • Taxi drivers: not necessary especially if you agreed the fare in advance, not more than 10% of the metered fare
  • Site custodians: LE 5 if they do something useful, none otherwise
  • Tour drivers: LE 10/day

Shopping

Egypt is a shopper's paradise, especially if you're interested in Egyptian-themed souvenirs and kitsch. However, there are also a number of high quality goods for sale, often at bargain prices. Some of the most popular purchases include:

  • Alabaster Alabaster bowls, figures, etc are common throughout Egypt.
  • Antiques (NB: not antiquities, the trade of which is illegal in Egypt)
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Cotton goods and clothing Can be bought at Khan El Khalili for around EGP30-40. Better quality Egyptian cotton clothing can be bought at various chain stores including Mobaco Cottons and Concrete which have many branches throughout the country. The clothes are expensive for Egypt (about EGP180-200 for a shirt) but cheap by Western standards given the quality.
  • Inlaid goods, such as backgammon boards
  • Jewellery Cartouches make a great souvenir. These are metal plates shaped like an elongated oval and have engravings of your name in hieroglyphics
  • Kohl powder Real Egyptian kohl eye make-up (eye-liner) can be purchased at many stores for a small price. It is a black powder, about a teaspoon worth, that is generally sold in a small packet or a wood-carved container and it is generally applied liberally with something akin to a fat toothpick/thin chopstick to the inner eyelids and outlining the eye. Very dramatic. A little goes a very long way, however! Cleopatra would have had her eye make-up applied by laying on the floor and having someone drop a miniature spoonful of the powder into each eye. As the eye teared up, the make-up would distribute nicely around the eyes and trail off at the sides, creating the classic look. However, beware that most of them contain lead sulphide, which is a health concern. Ask for a lead-free kohl.
  • Lanterns (fan?s; pl. fawan?s) Intricately cut and stamped metal lanterns, often with colourful glass windows, will hold a votive candle in style.
  • Leather goods
  • Music
  • Papyrus (bardi) However, most papyrus you'll see is actually made of a different type of reed, not actual "papyrus", which is extremely rare. Know what you are buying, if you care about the difference, and haggle prices accordingly. If in doubt, assume it is inauthentic papyrus you are being offered for sale.
  • Perfume - Perfumes can be bought at almost every souvenir shop. Make sure that you ask the salesman to prove to you that there is no alcohol mixed with the perfume. The standard rates should be in the range of LE 1-2 for each gram.
  • Water-pipes (sh?sha)
  • Spices (taw?bel) - can be bought at colourful stalls in most Egyptian markets. Dried herbs and spices are generally of a higher quality than that available in Western supermarkets and are a fifth to a quarter of the price, though the final price will depend on bargaining and local conditions.

Important note: When shopping in markets or dealing with street vendors, remember to bargain. This is a part of the salesmanship game that both parties are expected to engage in.

You will also find many western brands all around. There are many malls in Egypt, the most common being Citystars Mall, which is the largest entertainment centre in the Middle East and Africa. You will find all the fast food restaurants you want such as Mcdonald's, KFC, Hardees, and Pizza Hut, and clothing brands such as Morgan, Calvin Klein, Levi's, Facconable, Givenchy, and Esprit.

In Egypt, prices are often increased for foreigners, so if you see a price on a price tag, it may be wise to learn the local Eastern Arabic numerals:

They are written from left to right. For example, the number (15) would be written as (??).

Shopping in Egypt ranges goods and commodities that represent souvenirs of Egypt's ancient as well as modern things. These include items such as small pyramids, obelisks, and souvenir statues which can be bought at more touristic areas such as Khan El Khalili and Islamic Cairo.

You can also do general shopping in Cairo for clothing items and other goods such as in the modern shopping malls of City Stars, City Centre, or Nile City (all of which contain some of the most famous designer brands of the world, including Guess, Calvin Klein, Armani, and Hugo Boss.

Eat

Egypt can be a fantastic place to sample a unique range of food: not too spicy and well-flavoured with herbs. For a convenient selection of Egyptian cuisine and staple foods try the Felfela chain of restaurants in Cairo. Some visitors complain, however, that these have become almost too tourist-friendly and have abandoned some elements of authenticity. A more affordable and wider-spread alternative is the Arabiata restaurant chain, Arabiata is considered by locals to be the number one destinations for Egyptian delicacies as falafel and f?l too.

Oddly enough, beware of any restaurant listed in popular guidebooks. Even if the restaurant was once great, after publication, they will likely create a "special" English menu that includes very high prices.

As in many seaside countries, Egypt is full of fish restaurants and markets so fish and seafood are must-try. Frequently, fish markets have some food stalls nearby where you can point at specific fish species to be cooked. Stalls typically have shared table, and locals are as frequent there as tourists.

Hygiene

Be aware that hygiene may not be of the highest standards, depending on the place. The number of tourists that suffer from some kind of parasite or bacterial infection is very high. Despite assurances to the contrary, exercise common sense and bring appropriate medications to deal with problems. "Antinal" (Nifuroxazide), an intestinal antiseptic, is cheap, effective and available in every pharmacy. "Immodium" or similar products are prescription drugs only.

Although Antinal is very effective, sometimes when nothing else is, the elderly should check the brand name with their doctor before relying on it as it contains a high concentration of active ingredient that is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration or the British regulatory pharmaceutical body.

People expecting to remain in Egypt for more than 2-3 weeks should be cautious about using Antinal, as it may hinder their ability to acquire immunity to local bacteria and make traveler's diarrhea a more frequent problem.

Local dishes

Many local foods are vegetarian or vegan compliant, a function of the high cost of meat in Egypt and the influence of Coptic Christianity (whose frequent fast days demand vegan food).

Classic Egyptian dishes: The dish f?l medammes is one of the most common Egyptian dishes; consists of fava beans (f?l) slow-cooked in a copper pot (other types of metal pots don't produce the right type of flavor) that have been partially or entirely mashed. f?l medammes is served with cumin, vegetable oil, optionally with chopped parsley, onion, garlic, lemon juice and hot pepper, and typically eaten with Egyptian (baladi) bread or occasionally Levantine (sh?mi) pita.

One should try is the classic fal?fel which is deep-fried ground fava bean balls (but better known worldwide for the ground chickpea version typically found in other cuisines of the Middle Eastern region) that was believed to be invented by Egyptian Bedouins. Usually served as fast food, or a snack.

koshari is a famous dish, which is usually a mixture of macaroni, lentils, rice and chickpeas, topped with tomato sauce and fried onions. Very popular amongst the locals and a must try for tourists. The gratinated variation is called Tâgen.

Additionally, hummus, a chickpea based food, also widespread in the Middle East.

kofta (meat balls) and kebab are also popular.

Egyptian cuisine is quite similar to the cuisine of the Middle Eastern countries. Dishes like stuffed vegetables and vine leaves, shawarma sandwiches are common in Egypt and the region.

Exotic fruits

Egypt is one of the most affordable countries for a European to try variety of fresh-grown exotic fruits. Guava, mango, watermelon and banana are all widely available from fruit stalls, especially in locals-oriented non-tourist marketplaces.

Drink

See also Stay healthy:Fluids section for hygiene and related info.

Water

Bottled water is available everywhere. The local brands (most common being Baraka, Hayat, Siwa?) are of the same price as foreign brand options which are also available: Nestle Pure Life, Dasani (bottled by Coca-Cola), and Aquafina (bottled by Pepsi). Evian is less available and is expensive. A note on the local brand Baraka: while it is perfectly safe to drink this brand of bottled water, some may notice a very slight baking soda aftertaste, due to the high mineral content of its deep well water source.

No matter where you buy bottled water from (even hotels are not entirely reliable), before accepting it, check that there is a clear plastic seal on it and the neck ring is still attached to the cap by the breakable threads of plastic. It is common to collect empty but new bottles and refill them with tap water which drinking a bottle of might make you ill. Not all brands have the clear plastic cover but all the good ones do.

Safety of bottled water

It is important not to buy strange brands, as they may not be safe for drinking. In 2012 the Ministry of Health ordered the following bottled water brands to be taken off shelves: Alpha, Hadir, Seway, Aqua Delta, Tiba, Aqua Mina and Aqua Soteir.

As of 2013, some of the previous ones were licensed, but the Ministry of Health warned against other unlicensed brands:

  • unlicensed, unsafe brands: (Safa, el Waha, Ganna, Sahari, Life, el Wadi, Zamzam?).

However, the Ministry of Health stated that in 2013, there are only 17 licensed brands that are safe to drink. These are:

  • 17 licensed safe brands: (Hayah, Safi, Aqua Siwa ,Siwa, Aman Siwa, Organica, Nahl, Aqua Sky, Mineral, Vira, Nestlé, Baraka, Alpha, Aquafina, Tiba, Aqua Delta, Dasani, Aqua Paris?).

Of the licensed brands, locals commonly advise tourists to avoid Baraka if possible, as it contains a high concentration of mineral salts and has something of an off flavor.

Juices

Juices can be widely found in Egypt - àSàb (sugar cane; ???); licorice (`erk s?s? ??? ???); sobya (white juice; ?????); tàmr (sweet dates; ???) and some fresh fruit juices (almost found at same shop which offer all these kind of juices except licorice may be which you can find another places).

Hibiscus, known locally as karkad? (??????) or `enn?b (????), is also famous juice specially at Luxor which is drunk hot or cold but in Egypt it is preferred to drink it cold.

Hibiscus and licorice should not be consumed excessively as they may not be safe for those suffering low blood pressure or high blood pressure. Hibiscus may lower blood pressure, while licorice may raise blood pressure.

Alcoholic drinks

Egypt is a predominantly Muslim nation and alcoholic drinks are religiously forbidden (haram) - though not legally - for strictly observant Muslims. That said, Egyptians tend to adopt a relaxed and pragmatic view towards alcohol for non-Muslims and foreigners. It is tolerated by the vast majority of Egyptians and consumed by a sizable number of them. Places which sell alcoholic beverages require special license and pay extra taxes to operate. Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks are readily available throughout the country (especially in larger towns and cities, as well as tourist centers). Please note, however, that public drunkenness (especially the loud and obnoxious variety) is definitely not appreciated - without caution, you may end up drying out in a police cell. Try to be a good ambassador: if you must get "tipsy", confine it to the hotel or very nearby! It's actually quite rare to see drunken tourists even in the touristic areas. It is illegal to drink alcohol in public and it's advisable not to attempt to drink in streets; however, on the New Year's Eve, many Egyptians in Cairo may be drunk and holding alcoholic beverages in the streets.

The cheapest alcoholic beverage is beer. Common brands are: Stella (not Artois) and Sakkara which are common lager beers in Egypt (approx. 4%), both brewed by Heineken's Egyptian subsidiary, Ahram Beverages Company. Other local brands are available, most with a higher alcohol variant that have claimed levels of 8% or even 10%. Foreign brands made under license in Egypt include Heineken and Meister but are slightly more expensive.

More expensive alcoholic beverages than beer are the carbonated Vodka cocktails, with 10% alcohol, specifically ID Double Edge which is popular with people who drink alcohol. There is also an assortment of liquors (generally only found in liquor stores, and generally only found at reasonable prices in liquor stores that primarily cater to Egyptians). Wine is available; however, prices for imported wine tend to be high, if not astronomical, and domestic wines (e.g. Omar Khayyam) are extremely overpriced for their rather low quality.

Do not buy anything you don't know or suspect, as there might be a risk that it may be counterfeit and have methyl alcohol (a cheap poisonous type of alcohol which causes blindness).

Restrictions on alcohol

Egyptian laws towards alcohol are officially quite liberal compared to most Islamic countries, except for the month of Ramadan when alcohol is strictly forbidden. During Ramadan only holders of foreign passports are allowed to buy alcohol, by Egyptian law. However, the enforcement of this law is by no means consistent. In tourist areas like Luxor, alcohol is sold even during Ramadan, and those who look like foreigners will not be asked to show passports or other documentation.

During Ramadan alcohol is often sold only in Western-style hotels and pubs/restaurants catering especially to foreigners. A few days of the year, as the day of the full moon the month before Ramadan, alcohol is completely banned. Also some hotels and bars catering to foreigners will stop serving alcohol during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan - phone ahead to make sure alcohol is still being served in order to avoid disappointment.

Sleep

Egypt has a full range of accommodation options, from basic backpacker hostels to five-star resorts. Most major hotel chains are represented in Greater Cairo, Sharm el Sheikh and Luxor, at least. You can book most of your accommodation online or contact a local agent that can organise both accommodation and trips.

Learn

  • The American University in Cairo (AUC), [3] is the best school in the country and offers degree, non-degree and summer school study options. Popular courses include Arabic Language and Literature, Islamic Art and Architecture, Arab History and Culture, and, of course, Egyptology.
  • There are a number of options for learning Arabic in Cairo, including the Arabic Language Institute, Kalimat and International Language Institute.

For undergraduate studies you can also apply to one of the many foreign universities based in Cairo such as:

  • The German University in Cairo (GUC)
  • The French University in Cairo
  • The Canadian University in Cairo
  • The British University in Cairo
  • The Russian University in Egypt

For public Egyptian universities, try:

  • Cairo University (one of the oldest universities in the Middle East and north Africa)
  • Ain Shams University
  • Helwan University

Stay safe

Egypt is generally a safe and friendly country to travel. Egyptians on the whole are very friendly - if you are in need of assistance they will generally try to help you as much as they are able.

Cannabis and other narcotics are banned and carry heavy penalties; the same holds true for abuse of prescription drugs. However, hashish in particular is common, even among Egyptians; it is seen to some extent as a part of Egyptian culture and is generally considered much less objectionable than alcohol, with many Egyptian clerics considering it makruh (permitted but disapproved of) rather than haraam (forbidden). Many Egyptians who recoil at the idea of drinking alcohol think nothing of using hashish; it is commonly used on festive occasions in rural areas in some parts of the country and in many Sufi rituals nationwide. The police have been known to use possession of hashish as a pretext for arresting and brutalizing people, but their targets are typically natives, not tourists, and so long as you do not antagonize the security forces or otherwise attract their attention, foreigners will find it unlikely--and we must emphasize, unlikely, but not impossible--they will suffer unduly from the private consumption of cannabis in Egypt.

Egyptian men will make compliments to women; do not take offense if they do this to you. Men shouldn't be worried, either; if they do this to your partner/daughter, it will be nothing more than a compliment, and hopefully won't go any further than that.

If you are a woman traveling alone or with another woman, be warned that some men will touch you or grab you anywhere on the body, whether you are negotiating with them or simply walking down the street. Dressing modestly will not deter them. Getting upset at them for touching you will be met with amusement by them and any onlookers, both male and female. The best way to avoid this is wear a wedding band and don't be too friendly.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a safety concern, and the country's terrorist groups have an unpleasant record of specifically targeting Western tourists and the places they frequent. The Egyptian security forces remain on a very high level of alert.

Realistically speaking, though, the odds of being affected by terrorism are statistically low and most attacks have only succeeded in killing Egyptians, further increasing the revulsion the vast majority of Egyptians feel for the extremists. The government takes the issue very seriously only when it harms them financially and tourist sites are heavily guarded, though with the level and proficiency of Egyptian police leaving a lot to be desired. For example, if you take a taxi from Cairo to Alexandria, you will be stopped at a checkpoint before leaving Cairo. They will on occasion ask where you are going, and on occasion communicate with the checkpoint at Alexandria to make sure you reach your destination within a certain time period. The same goes for most trips into the desert, particularly in Upper Egypt, which is probably best avoided due to rising religious tensions that seep below the surface and whilst appearing safe has the capacity to erupt without a moments notice. During different branches of your drive, you may be escorted by local police, who will expect some sort of financial payment. They will travel to your destination with you, wait around until you are finished, and usually stay behind at one of the next checkpoints often as they have nothing else to do and because tourists are seen as $ signs. The best example of this is when you travel from Aswan to Abu Simbel to visit the Temple of Ramses II. An armed tourism police officer will board your tourist bus and escort you until you arrive at Abu Simbel, and after your tour, he will ride on the same bus with you back to Aswan, again because its part of his job and without the tourists there would be no jobs and there would be no reason to ensure security for their own people as they don't represent a financial figure to them.

There are also many tourism police officers armed with AK-47s riding on camels patrolling the Giza plateau. They are there to ensure the safety of the tourists since the Pyramids are the crown jewels of all the Egyptian antiquities, even though very poorly maintained in recent years with no forthcoming investments from within, only outside investment given by countries and historical groups that cannot bear to sit back and see the ruin the local government is letting these sites of wonder become. Some tourists may find it exciting or even amusing to take pictures with these police officers on camel back; however, since they are all on patrol duty, it is not uncommon for them to verbally warn you not to pose next to them in order to take a picture with them, although anything is possible for an amount of money or financial payment.

Gay/lesbian

Gay and lesbian travellers should be self-aware and refrain from overt and public displays. While a few gay bars had been able to operate semi-openly in major cities in pre-revolutionary times, the situation has deteriorated and members of gay baths or gay wedding parties were being targeted for prosecution for "debauchery" in 2014.

Egypt is an Islamic and conservative country. Any display of homosexuality is considered strange, weird, disrespectful and may lead on most occasions to hostile reactions. Depending on the situation and the place and time, it could be anything from weird looks to physical abuse. Therefore, gays and lesbians should be discreet while in Egypt.

The gay scene in Egypt is not open and free like in the West. Gays have been arrested by the police and detained and even tortured in Cairo in the past for engaging in homosexual activity. Human rights groups have condemned such actions and the Egyptian government has been under pressure from different sources including the USA to stop this degrading treatment of homosexuals. The most famous arrests were in 2001 on a boat called the Queen Boat located on the Nile River in Zamalek district. Further arrests have occurred since then, but the exact situation of homosexuals in the last few years is uncertain.

There are no official gay places for cruising or meeting other people.

Crime

Pick pocketing is a problem in Egypt's bigger cities, particularly Greater Cairo. Many locals opt not to carry wallets at all, instead keeping their money in a clip in their pocket, and tourists would be wise to adopt this as well. On the upside, violent crime is rare, and you are highly unlikely to physically mugged or robbed. If, however, you do find yourself the victim of crime, you may get the support of local pedestrians by shouting "Harami" (Thief) but do not pursue because it's the easiest way to get lost and most criminals carry pocket knives, if the crime happens in a tourism area you'll find a specially designated Tourism Police kiosk.

Overall, scams are the main concern in Egypt. Be aware that many Egyptians who starts a conversation with you in Cairo and Luxor want your money. There is a very insidious tactic used where they will "befriend" you, take you around, show you things, even bring you back to their place for dinner, and then they will demand money for it. Basically, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Demand prices for absolutely everything, because if you say "I thought it was free!" after the fact you are in for a vicious argument.

Demonstrations

Protests against the Egyptian government have been ongoing since 2011. Caution should be exercised near protest zones. Demonstration or/and the response of the security forces to it could turn violent. Thugs take advantage of the lack of existence of police security at and around protest areas. Many incidents of rape, forced robberies and killing of foreigners have been reported.

Stay healthy

Fluids

Ensure that you drink plenty of water: Egypt has an extremely dry climate most of the year - a fact aggravated by high temperatures in the summer end of the year - and countless travellers each year experience the discomforts and dangers of dehydration. A sense of thirst is not enough to indicate danger - carry a water bottle and keep drinking! Not needing to urinate for a long period or passing very small amounts of dark yellow urine are signs of incipient dehydration.

Egyptian tap water is generally considered safe by most locals, but will often make travellers ill. It is not recommended for regular drinking, especially to very local differences in quality. Bottled mineral waters are widely available -- see Drink:Water section. Beware of the old scam, however, whereby vendors re-sell bottled water bottles, having refilled with another (perhaps dubious) source... Always check the seal is unbroken before parting with your money (or drinking from it) and inform the tourist police if you catch anyone doing this.

Be a little wary with fruit juice, as some sellers may mix it with water. Milk should also be treated carefully as it may not be pasteurized. Try only to buy milk from reputable shops. Hot beverages like tea and coffee should generally be OK, the water having been boiled in preparation, though it pays to be wary of ice as well.

Sun

In winter, the sun is generally the mildest, especially in December and is the weakest in northern Egypt. Egypt has a desert climate, which makes clouds almost non-existent in the warmer months, so expect extremely bright sunny days especially from June to August, try to avoid direct sun exposure from 9AM (10AM in summertime) to 3PM (4PM in summertime). Bring good sunglasses and wear good sunscreen, however sunscreen becomes ineffective when the exposed skin sweats. Additionally, you may wear a baseball cap or something similar, if you don't want to stand out as it is the most popular head-wear among urban Egyptians.

Schistosomiasis

In order to avoid contracting the rightly dreaded schistosomiasis parasite (also known as bilharzia), a flatworm that burrows through the skin, do not swim in the Nile or venture into any other Egyptian waterways, even if the locals are doing so. It is also a good idea not to walk in bare feet on freshly-watered lawns for the same reason.

Although the disease takes weeks to months to show its head, it's wise to seek medical attention locally if you think you've been exposed, as they are used to diagnosing and treating it, and it will cost you pennies rather than dollars. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain and fatigue, making the disease easy to mistake for (say) the flu or food poisoning, but the flatworm eggs can be identified with a stool test and the disease can usually be cured with a single dose of Praziquantel.

Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Egypt have led to 23 human fatalities since 2006. The last fatality was in December 2008.

Vaccinations and malaria

The following vaccinations are generally recommended for Egypt:

  • All routine vaccinations including: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine and yearly flu vaccine.
  • Hepatitis A and typhoid fever.
  • Hepatitis B if a sexual contact, tattooing/piercing or medical procedures are planned.
  • Rabies if a long stay is planned especially if with outdoor activities.

A low risk of P. vivax malaria exist only in the Aswan area of Egypt. While traveling to Aswan travelers are advised to avoid mosquito bites.

Respect

Tipping

Keep in mind that most Egyptian workers expect tips after performing a service. This can be expected for something as little as pressing the button in the elevator. Many workers will even ask you to tip them before you get a chance. The typical tip for minor services is EGP1 (about 14 US cents). Due to the general shortage of small change, you may be forced to give EGP5 to do simple things like use the bathroom. Just understand that this is part of the culture; the value of that tip is very small to most westerners but makes up a good portion of monthly income for many Egyptians.

Greeting people

See also Egyptian Arabic phrasebook

When you approach any individual or a group of people for the first time, the best thing to say is the local variation of the Islamic form of greeting "es-sal?mu-`al?ku" which literally means "peace be upon you". This is the most common form of saying "hello" to anybody. It creates a friendliness between you and people you don't know, builds rapport, and helps build respect! It is also considered polite to say this if you approach someone, instead of just asking them for something or speaking to them directly.

Other forms of greeting include "SàbâH el kh?r" ("good morning"), "mas?' el kh?r" ("good evening"), or the more casual "ezzayyak" addressing a male, or "ezzayyek" addressing a female, which means "hello" or "how are you?".

When leaving, you can say the same "es-sal?mu-`al?ku", or simply "ma`a s-sal?ma", literally: "with safety" or "with wellness" which is used to mean to say "goodbye". More educated Egyptians will say "bye-bye" derived from the English "goodbye" or "buh-bye" when leaving others.

Smiling: Most people appreciate a smile, and most Egyptians smile when they speak to someone for the first time. People who don't smile while they speak are considered arrogant, rude, aggressive, unfriendly, etc.

However, be careful not to be too friendly or too smiley, especially if you're a female speaking to an Egyptian male, as they might mistake you for trying to befriend them or asking for them to flirt or hit on you. Even in a male-to-male conversation, being too friendly might give the other person the chance to try to take advantage of you some way or another. Always use common sense.

Dress

Egyptians are generally a conservative people and most are religious and dress very conservatively. Although they accommodate foreigners being dressed a lot more skimpily, it is prudent not to dress provocatively, if only to avoid having people stare at you. It is best to wear pants, jeans, long shorts instead of short-shorts as only tourists wear these. In modern nightclubs, restaurants, hotels and bars in CairoAlexandria and other tourist destinations you'll find the dress code to be much less restrictive. Official or social functions and smart restaurants usually require more formal wear.

At the Giza Pyramids and other such places during the hot summer months, short sleeve tops and even sleeveless tops are acceptable for women (especially when traveling with a tour group). Though you should carry a scarf or something to cover up more while traveling to/from the tourist destination. Also, it's perfectly acceptable for women to wear sandals during the summer, and you will even see some women with the hijab who have sandals on.

Women should cover their arms and legs if travelling alone, you do not need to cover your hair; many christian women walk around in Egypt comfortably with their hair uncovered . Though as a foreigner, you may get plenty of attention no matter what you wear, mainly including people staring at you along with some verbal harassment which you can try to ignore. Egyptian women, even those who wear the full hijab, are often subjected to sexual harassment, including cat calls. You may find that completely covering up does not make a huge difference, with regards to harassment, versus wearing a top with shorter sleeves. In regards to harassment, it's also important how you act. Going out with a group of people is also helpful, and the best thing to do is ignore men who give you unwanted attention. They want to get some reaction out of you. Also, one sign of respect is to use the Arabic greeting, "Asalamualaikum" (means "hello, peace be upon you"), and the other person should reply "Walaikumasalam" ("peace be upon you"). That lets the person know you want respect, and nothing else.

Mosque etiquette

Do not enter a mosque with any form of shoes, sandals, slippers, boots, etc. on., as this is very disrespectful. Always take them off before entering as they carry the dirt from the street, and the mosque (a place of prayer) should be clean. However, you can keep socks on.

Etiquette in the Presence of Prayer:

Also, avoid walking in front of persons in prayer. The reason is because when people kneel, they kneel to God. If you stand in front of someone while they are praying or kneeling, it is as if they are kneeling to you or worshipping you, a complete taboo and against the basic foundations of Islam. Otherwise, it is quite acceptable for visitors or Christian Egyptians to carry on as normal in the streets or shops that operate during prayer times.

Public display of affection

Like most other countries in the Muslim world, the Middle East, and even some non-Muslim conservative countries, affection should not be displayed in public. Egyptians are conservative and doing things like making out with your girlfriend/boyfriend in public is considered offensive, rude, or disrespectful. A public hug is less offensive, especially if greeting a spouse or family member you haven't seen in a while.

You will notice male-to-male kissing on the cheeks when Egyptian men meet their friends, family, or someone they know well. This is not to be confused with the male-to-male kissing of some homosexuals in some western countries. Less commonly, some Egyptian men like to walk next to their male friend with their arms attached together like a loop inside another loop. Again, this is not homosexual behavior.

Other issues

Do not photograph people without their permission, and in areas frequented by tourists do not be surprised if a tip is requested. Smoking is very common and cigarettes are very cheap in Egypt.

Most Egyptians tend to have a loud voice when they speak, which is common to some other countries in the region. They are not shouting, but you will know the difference.

Gamal Abdul Nasser, the second President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and many others are considered national heroes in Egypt; you should say absolutely nothing that could be perceived as offensive or derogatory regarding him. Tread carefully around such topics and let others guide the openness of the discussion. Many Egyptians have a different interpretation concerning ambiguous expressions such as freedom of speech and democracy. It is advisable not to discuss Israel even if tempted; do not speak loudly about it as it may attract unwanted attention, even if you are only talking about it as a travel destination.

Take great care if you choose to drink alcohol (see above), especially if you're from countries where heavy drinking is accepted. Even if you are used to it, you can't estimate the effects of the climate, even at night. The impact drunk people have on Egyptians is quite large and very negative. The best plan is just to abstain or limit yourself to one drink per meal while in Egypt; it will be cheaper too.

Connect

Egypt has a reasonably modern telephone service including three GSM mobile service providers. The three mobile phone providers are Orange, Vodafone and Etisalat. Principal centers are located at AlexandriaCairo, Al Mansurah, IsmailiaSuez, and Tanta. Roaming services are provided, although you should check with your service provider. Also, it is possible to purchase tourist mobile phone lines for the duration of your stay, which usually costs around EGP30.

Internet access is easy to find and cheap. Most cities, such as Greater Cairo and Luxor, and even smaller tourist sites, such as Edfu, boast a plethora of small internet cafés. The price per hour is usually EGP2-10 depending on the location/speed. In addition, an increasing number of coffee shops, restaurants, hotel lobbies and other locations now provide free wireless internet access. Free wi-fi (Mobilnil) is also available at modern coffee shops such as Cilantro and Costa Coffee, where you obtain access by getting a 2-hour "promotional" card from the waiter, and if you go into almost any McDonald's, you will have access to a free WiFi connection.

Note that free internet can be unsafe and under surveillance, try to use a proxy for your privacy.

Cope

Embassies

  • American, ? +20 2 797-3300, e-mail: consularcairo@state.gov. 8 Kamal El Din Salah St., Garden City, Cairo, Egypt.,
  • Australian, ? +20 2 575 0444, fax: +20 2 578 1638. World Trade Centre (11th Floor), Corniche El Nil, Boulac (Code No. 11111), Cairo, Egypt, cairo.austremb@dfat.gov.au
  • British, 7 Ahmed Ragheb Street, ? +20 (2) 2791 6000 (24, fax: +20 2 2791 6132, e-mail: information.cairo@fco.gov.uk. Garden City, Cairo hour service 365 days per year),
  • Canadian, 26 Kamel El Shenaway Street, ? +20 (2) 791-8700, e-mail: cairo@international.gc.ca. Garden City, Cairo,
  • German - 2, Sh. Berlin (off Sh. Hassan Sabri) Zamalek / Cairo, Tel: + 20 2 739-9600 Fax: +2 2 736-0530, germemb@tedata.net.eg
  • Greece, ? +20-2-7950443, fax: +20-2-7963903, e-mail: gremb.cai@mfa.gr. 18, Aisha El Taymouria Garden City, Cairo,
  • Indian - 5 Aziz Abaza St., Zamalek, Cairo Tel: +20 2 2736-3051, +20 2 2735-6053, +20 2 2736-0052 Fax: +20 2 2736-4038, embassy@indembcairo.com
  • Indonesia, -13 Aesha Al Taymorya, Qasr an Nile, Cairo Governorate 1661, Cairo Tel: (+20-2) 2794-7200  (+20-2) 2794-7209 Fax: (20-2) 2796-2495, info@kbri-cairo.org
  • Italian - 15, Abdel Rahman Fahmy Str., Garden City, Cairo Tel: +20 (0)2 7943194 - 7943195 - 7940658, Fax: +20 2 7940657, ambasciata.cairo@esteri.it
  • Netherlands, ? +20 2 2739 5500, fax: +20 2 2736 5249. 18, Hassan Sabri Street, Zamalek, Cairo, Opening hours Embassy Sunday - Thursday 08:00 - 16:00 - Consular section Sunday - Thursday 09:00 - 12:00 - Visa section appointments only., E-Mail kai@minbuza.nl
  • Norwegian - 8 El Gezirah Street., Zamalek, Cairo, (Opening Hours Su-Th: 08:30 - 15:30) Tlf: +20 2 2735-8046 / 2735 3340 / 2736 3955, Fax: +20 2 2737-0709, emb.cairo@mfa.no
  • Spanish - 41, Ismail Mohamed.-Zamalek, Cairo. Phone: 735 58 13, 735 64 37, 735 36 52 and 735 64 62. embespeg@mail.mae.es

Laundry

There are a number of options for washing clothes whilst travelling in Egypt:

By far the easiest, most practical - and not at all expensive - is to arrange for your hotel to have your washing done for you. By prior arrangement, clothes left on the bed or handed in at reception will be returned to you by evening freshly laundered and pressed.

Determined self-helpers can persist with hand-washing or finding one of the many "hole-in-the-wall" laundries where the staff will wash and press your clothes manually - a fascinating process in itself! Just be aware that your clothes will probably smell of cigarette smoke when returned.

Cairo possesses a few basic Western-style laundromats in areas where foreigners and tourists reside - they are virtually nonexistent elsewhere in the country. Some hotels in tourist towns like Luxor and Dahab offer a washing machine service in a back room - the machines are usually primitive affairs and you'll be left with the task of wringing and ironing your clothes yourself.

The moral of the tale? Do yourself a favour, maximise your quality time in Egypt, and get the hotel to do your laundry for you!

Go next

Cruises to Israel, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey are popular. Egypt has direct land borders with:

  • Israel
  • The Gaza Strip
  • Libya
  • Sudan
  • Bi'r Tawil

Chris, the Amateur Traveler himself, talks about the recent Ralph Velasco / Amateur Traveler Photo Tour of Egypt which was a guided tour of Egypt run by Cosmos. The tour started in Cairo with the Pyramids and the Sphinx, the Egyptian museum, old mosques, churches and synagogues before moving on to the port city of Alexandria. After seeing the historic sites in Alexandria like Pompey’s Column and the Catacombs we continued on to the site of the battle of El Alamein and then to Marsa Matruh in the Northwest corner of Egypt on the Mediterranean. We continued back to Cairo with a stop at a Coptic Monastery and then flew to Aswan to tour Upper Egypt. We saw temples from the Greek period and the New Kingdom from Aswan to Luxor including the Temple to Ramses at Abu Symbel, the temple to Isis, the temple of Etfu, the Luxor temple and the great temple of Karnak. We also visited the Valley of the Kings and a Nubian village. Along the way we shopped and photographed.

Egypt can be a rough place to visit. There's pollution, crazy traffic, lots of hassle, and much much more that can turn your trip of a lifetime into a week full of stress and aggregation if you don't plan well. Comfortable accommodations can especially be a real challenge for visitors, since what we would consider a two or three-star hotel in the United States and Europe is very often called a four or five-star hotel in the developing world. However, a trip to Egypt for most is truly the trip of a lifetime. It's at or near the top of virtually everyone's bucket list. And as someone who has stayed in many hotels in Egypt and traveled all over the country many times, my first recommendation for travelers to Egypt is always to start your planning by investing in a top quality hotel for your stay there. Believe me - it's totally worth it in time, convenience, and reduced stress. After long rough days exploring the Pyramids, museums, markets, and tons of other sites and experiences to be had in Cairo and beyond, you'll thoroughly appreciate coming back to your luxurious oasis to unwind and recharge. 2016-02-16-1455665297-5998740-HuffPoPyramids.jpg In my more than two dozen trips to Egypt over the past 13 years, I've stayed in all of Cairo's major name-brand international hotels, and by far my favorite place to stay when I'm taking guests to Egypt for the first time is the Four Seasons. There are actually two Four Seasons properties in Greater Cairo, and each has its own character and advantages for different types of travelers. After three years away from Egypt, I recently returned with a friend to show him around this amazing country I've come to love so much. And knowing how aggressive our touring itinerary was going to be, I made sure to book our first few nights in Cairo at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza and our last few nights, after we returned from a quick overnight trip down to Luxor, at the Four Seasons First Residence. At only 12 years old, the Four Seasons Nile Plaza is still Cairo's newest and most luxurious hotel property. Unlike many other hotels in this ancient city that are renovated and remodeled versions of older buildings and properties, the Four Seasons Nile Plaza was built from the ground up specifically to be a fabulously luxurious and modern hotel. Situated along the Nile in the heart of downtown Cairo, on clear days you can actually catch a glimpse of the Pyramids of Giza out in the distance from the rooms on the river-view side of the hotel. Many of Cairo's main downtown attractions are easily walkable, including the Egyptian Museum, home to most of the unbelievable treasures that were excavated from King Tut's tomb in 1922. Tahrir Square, the site of the famous protests that brought about the Egyptian Revolution, and Abdeen Palace, a beautiful but decaying former residence of Egypt's last king, are also within walking distance. 2016-02-16-1455665565-4749385-HuffPoEgyMuseum.jpg But aside from what's outside and nearby the hotel, it's really what's inside that makes the Four Seasons Nile Plaza such a special place to stay when visiting Egypt. Immediately upon walking in and being greeted by their famously oversized floral arrangements, you really feel like you've stepped into a true seven-star hotel. If you've ever been to the world's only "allegedly" seven-star hotel in Dubai, you'll recall that it actually resembles a tacky movie set at Universal Studios or MGM. But inside the Four Seasons, you get a sense of true, genuine class and sophistication that automatically relaxes you, puts your mind at ease, and melts away the stresses of the day and the rigors of touring around a country like Egypt. 2016-02-16-1455665719-1907667-HuffPoFSFlowers.png When you're ready to strike out and start exploring what you came to Egypt to see and explore, take my advice and hire a guide and driver before you leave the hotel. You'll be hassled relentlessly if you just try to taxi out to the Pyramids and you are guaranteed to get ripped off in multiple ways if you're on your own. Even with as many times as I've taken friends and guests out to Giza to visit the Pyramids, I still get an Egyptian guide and driver to avoid the hassle and to enrich the experience. I would recommend booking both through the hotel concierge. If you try to find one online, chances are it's going to to be hit or miss. And you never want to pick one up off of the street, no matter how relentless they are or how honest they may come across. Even the other major hotels in Cairo will stick you you with one of the large but still shoddy local mass-tourism companies. But the Four Season is the only hotel I've seen there that uses truly first-rate service providers. Egypt is too important of a destination and too valuable a journey to have it soured by tourism predators. This, like with your accommodations, is 100 percent worth the investment of a little extra money to ensure that your trip of a lifetime is truly magical and worthwhile. 2016-02-16-1455666012-8056860-HuffPoUswithGuide.jpg On my most recent visit, my traveling companion and I broke up our stay in Cairo with a two-day, one-night trip down to Luxor to visit the temples to the gods and tombs of the pharaohs that dot the landscape around this ancient capital further south. There is an overnight train to Luxor from Cairo, but again take my advice and avoid it if you can. Even though they have sleeper cars on the train, they're uncomfortable and slow and you won't arrive refreshed.  Luxor has a lot of sites to visit, and you want to be well rested and energetic during your limited time there. So it's smart to just pay a little extra money for the 50-minute flight between Luxor and Cairo (as opposed to the 10-hour bumpy train ride). EgyptAir has quite decent domestic jet service within the country. I've flown it satisfactorily dozens of times, and I'm often accused of being an airline snob , so trust me that it's perfectly fine and pleasant for short hops around the country. 2016-02-16-1455666154-1880055-HuffPoLuxor.jpg Once we were finished taking in the ancient sites in Luxor, we flew back to Cairo and checked into the Four Seasons First Residence for the last leg of our stay. This Four Seasons, located diagonally just across the Nile from the other Four Seasons, is technically in the city and governate of Giza just across the river from central Cairo, but it's still right in the heart of what most people think of as downtown Cairo. All of the same downtown sites are still just a very short and cheap taxi ride away, but local transportation in Egypt is so inexpensive that you could honestly hire a nice black sedan and a professional driver from the hotel for about the same rate that you'd pay for a 20-minute taxi ride in a major city back home in the U.S. and Europe. If you do decide to hail a taxi, know that there are two types of taxis you'll find roaming the streets. Cairo is one of the few places where taxis are perhaps more ubiquitous than in New York City, but check out this quick primer on the differences between the two types of Cairo taxis over at EgyptTravelBlog.com (Taking the Right Type of Taxi in Cairo). Whereas the Four Seasons Nile Plaza is more glitzy and busy, the Four Season First Residence across the Nile has a more calm and subdued elegance about it. It's a smaller property, which gives it more of a boutique hotel feel. And it also has a 24-hour casino, which only foreigners are allowed to patronize. You'll want to make sure you have or can withdraw U.S. dollars if you're going to play here, though, as they don't accept or use local currency in the few casinos in Egypt. Whether you only have a few days in Cairo or you're in Egypt for extended adventures and explorations, trust me when I tell you that investing in a nice, comfortable hotel is an essential ingredient to getting the most out of your experience there. Save the budget hotel thing for Europe and North America. The developing world is not where you want to take a chance on a Bates Motel experience. You deserve to thoroughly enjoy and soak up every thrilling moment of your trip to a wonderful and fascinating place like Egypt. So live it up, and enjoy exploring 7,000 years of remarkably preserved history while indulging in modern luxurious comfort that would make even the Pharaohs proud and envious. 2016-02-16-1455666348-6984891-HuffPoSphinx.jpg For more stories and photos from my extensive adventures around Egypt , check out AIRistocrat.com and EgyptTravelBlog.com

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Egypt can be a rough place to visit. There's pollution, crazy traffic, lots of hassle, and much much more that can turn your trip of a lifetime into a week full of stress and aggregation if you don't plan well. Comfortable accommodations can especially be a real challenge for visitors, since what we would consider a two or three-star hotel in the United States and Europe is very often called a four or five-star hotel in the developing world. However, a trip to Egypt for most is truly the trip of a lifetime. It's at or near the top of virtually everyone's bucket list. And as someone who has stayed in many hotels in Egypt and traveled all over the country many times, my first recommendation for travelers to Egypt is always to start your planning by investing in a top quality hotel for your stay there. Believe me - it's totally worth it in time, convenience, and reduced stress. After long rough days exploring the Pyramids, museums, markets, and tons of other sites and experiences to be had in Cairo and beyond, you'll thoroughly appreciate coming back to your luxurious oasis to unwind and recharge. 2016-02-16-1455665297-5998740-HuffPoPyramids.jpg In my more than two dozen trips to Egypt over the past 13 years, I've stayed in all of Cairo's major name-brand international hotels, and by far my favorite place to stay when I'm taking guests to Egypt for the first time is the Four Seasons. There are actually two Four Seasons properties in Greater Cairo, and each has its own character and advantages for different types of travelers. After three years away from Egypt, I recently returned with a friend to show him around this amazing country I've come to love so much. And knowing how aggressive our touring itinerary was going to be, I made sure to book our first few nights in Cairo at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza and our last few nights, after we returned from a quick overnight trip down to Luxor, at the Four Seasons First Residence. At only 12 years old, the Four Seasons Nile Plaza is still Cairo's newest and most luxurious hotel property. Unlike many other hotels in this ancient city that are renovated and remodeled versions of older buildings and properties, the Four Seasons Nile Plaza was built from the ground up specifically to be a fabulously luxurious and modern hotel. Situated along the Nile in the heart of downtown Cairo, on clear days you can actually catch a glimpse of the Pyramids of Giza out in the distance from the rooms on the river-view side of the hotel. Many of Cairo's main downtown attractions are easily walkable, including the Egyptian Museum, home to most of the unbelievable treasures that were excavated from King Tut's tomb in 1922. Tahrir Square, the site of the famous protests that brought about the Egyptian Revolution, and Abdeen Palace, a beautiful but decaying former residence of Egypt's last king, are also within walking distance. 2016-02-16-1455665565-4749385-HuffPoEgyMuseum.jpg But aside from what's outside and nearby the hotel, it's really what's inside that makes the Four Seasons Nile Plaza such a special place to stay when visiting Egypt. Immediately upon walking in and being greeted by their famously oversized floral arrangements, you really feel like you've stepped into a true seven-star hotel. If you've ever been to the world's only "allegedly" seven-star hotel in Dubai, you'll recall that it actually resembles a tacky movie set at Universal Studios or MGM. But inside the Four Seasons, you get a sense of true, genuine class and sophistication that automatically relaxes you, puts your mind at ease, and melts away the stresses of the day and the rigors of touring around a country like Egypt. 2016-02-16-1455665719-1907667-HuffPoFSFlowers.png When you're ready to strike out and start exploring what you came to Egypt to see and explore, take my advice and hire a guide and driver before you leave the hotel. You'll be hassled relentlessly if you just try to taxi out to the Pyramids and you are guaranteed to get ripped off in multiple ways if you're on your own. Even with as many times as I've taken friends and guests out to Giza to visit the Pyramids, I still get an Egyptian guide and driver to avoid the hassle and to enrich the experience. I would recommend booking both through the hotel concierge. If you try to find one online, chances are it's going to to be hit or miss. And you never want to pick one up off of the street, no matter how relentless they are or how honest they may come across. Even the other major hotels in Cairo will stick you you with one of the large but still shoddy local mass-tourism companies. But the Four Season is the only hotel I've seen there that uses truly first-rate service providers. Egypt is too important of a destination and too valuable a journey to have it soured by tourism predators. This, like with your accommodations, is 100 percent worth the investment of a little extra money to ensure that your trip of a lifetime is truly magical and worthwhile. 2016-02-16-1455666012-8056860-HuffPoUswithGuide.jpg On my most recent visit, my traveling companion and I broke up our stay in Cairo with a two-day, one-night trip down to Luxor to visit the temples to the gods and tombs of the pharaohs that dot the landscape around this ancient capital further south. There is an overnight train to Luxor from Cairo, but again take my advice and avoid it if you can. Even though they have sleeper cars on the train, they're uncomfortable and slow and you won't arrive refreshed.  Luxor has a lot of sites to visit, and you want to be well rested and energetic during your limited time there. So it's smart to just pay a little extra money for the 50-minute flight between Luxor and Cairo (as opposed to the 10-hour bumpy train ride). EgyptAir has quite decent domestic jet service within the country. I've flown it satisfactorily dozens of times, and I'm often accused of being an airline snob , so trust me that it's perfectly fine and pleasant for short hops around the country. 2016-02-16-1455666154-1880055-HuffPoLuxor.jpg Once we were finished taking in the ancient sites in Luxor, we flew back to Cairo and checked into the Four Seasons First Residence for the last leg of our stay. This Four Seasons, located diagonally just across the Nile from the other Four Seasons, is technically in the city and governate of Giza just across the river from central Cairo, but it's still right in the heart of what most people think of as downtown Cairo. All of the same downtown sites are still just a very short and cheap taxi ride away, but local transportation in Egypt is so inexpensive that you could honestly hire a nice black sedan and a professional driver from the hotel for about the same rate that you'd pay for a 20-minute taxi ride in a major city back home in the U.S. and Europe. If you do decide to hail a taxi, know that there are two types of taxis you'll find roaming the streets. Cairo is one of the few places where taxis are perhaps more ubiquitous than in New York City, but check out this quick primer on the differences between the two types of Cairo taxis over at EgyptTravelBlog.com (Taking the Right Type of Taxi in Cairo). Whereas the Four Seasons Nile Plaza is more glitzy and busy, the Four Season First Residence across the Nile has a more calm and subdued elegance about it. It's a smaller property, which gives it more of a boutique hotel feel. And it also has a 24-hour casino, which only foreigners are allowed to patronize. You'll want to make sure you have or can withdraw U.S. dollars if you're going to play here, though, as they don't accept or use local currency in the few casinos in Egypt. Whether you only have a few days in Cairo or you're in Egypt for extended adventures and explorations, trust me when I tell you that investing in a nice, comfortable hotel is an essential ingredient to getting the most out of your experience there. Save the budget hotel thing for Europe and North America. The developing world is not where you want to take a chance on a Bates Motel experience. You deserve to thoroughly enjoy and soak up every thrilling moment of your trip to a wonderful and fascinating place like Egypt. So live it up, and enjoy exploring 7,000 years of remarkably preserved history while indulging in modern luxurious comfort that would make even the Pharaohs proud and envious. 2016-02-16-1455666348-6984891-HuffPoSphinx.jpg For more stories and photos from my extensive adventures around Egypt , check out AIRistocrat.com and EgyptTravelBlog.com

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Spiritual-Books

Photo by Ed Yourdon

MY OWN SPIRITUAL JOURNEY BEGAN when I picked up a copy of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. It wasn’t the first “New Age” book I had read, but for the first time, I felt open to receiving the guidance within those pages.

I don’t know whether I was just in the right frame of mind when I came across this book or whether it was Coelho’s parable about life that spoke to me, but from then on, I felt compelled to take Coelho’s words to heart, and look inside myself.

Similarly, the following twelve books have been largely influential for spiritual seekers all over the world. While some are more timeless than others, each will likely inspire to further your own spiritual journey.

1. The Secret

Written by Melbourne television producer Rhonda Byrne, and based on a film she created in 2004 of the same title, The Secret tells of the laws of attraction: Asking for what you want, believing in what you want, and being open to receiving it.

With a historical basis in the 19th century New Thought movement; Byrne’s book has proven to be a cultural phenomenon, making the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

While some consider the book little more than slick marketing and the re-packaging of many other spiritual beliefs, the book’s cultural significance cannot be denied. It remains to be seen whether Byrne’s The Secret will stand the test of time.

2. The Celestine Prophecy

In 1992, author James Redfield wrote and self-published his first book, The Celestine Prophecy. Since its initial publishing, it has gone on to become the most successful self-published novel ever.

The book is part adventure story (think The Da Vinci Code) and New Age spiritual novel. The book details one man’s journey through Peru as he uncovers nine spiritual insights.

While many have found the plot corny, the insights within captivate the reader into shifting their perspective.

3. The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist tells the simple tale of a shepherd who journeys to the pyramids of Egypt to find his treasure is truly timeless. The lessons told of the discovery of your personal legend, being your one true purpose, and of understanding omens, are ones that speak to all people regardless of religion.

spiritual-books

Photo by Matt Trostle

4. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living

Inspired by the Dalai Lama’s joyful nature despite the political situation in Tibet, author Howard Cutler wanted to write a spiritual book focused towards a Western audience.

The Art of Happiness talks about the importance and attainability of happiness in everyday living. The purpose of life is to find happiness, which is determined by one’s mental state, despite outside circumstances.

This is a book likely to stand the test of time because it speaks to people without the use of spiritual rules or religious guidelines.

5. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

In spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, the author talks about reducing the ego as a means to feeling the abundance of life, because the ego is the source of all inner and outer conflict.

Tolle’s New Earth gained in popularity after Oprah selected it for her book club. Since then, Tolle’s book about the awakened consciousness has influenced millions.

6. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

In his classic book, Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Chopra discusses the importance of success in life. For Chopra, success is defined as happiness and the realization of goals, although success is not limited to wealth.

Chopra lays down 7 laws found in nature used to create spiritual success. These laws include karma (cause and effect) and dharma (purpose in life). Chopra’s popularity lies in the way he is able to take ancient Vedic teachings and present them to a Western audience.

reader-lake

Photo by Malavoda

7. The Road Less Traveled

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck’s 1978 The Road Less Traveled book takes his ideas from his background both as a psychiatrist and as a born-again Christian.

His book details the attributes that Peck feels make a fulfilled human being. Split into three sections, his book talks about discipline (as a means for spiritual evolution), love (as a force for spiritual growth) and grace.

Though this book remains popular, some may find the psychological ideas of the book to be somewhat dated.

8. Jonathan Livingston Seagull

The tale has captured readers’ imaginations for nearly 40 years. Richard Bach’s novella reveals the story of Jonathan, a seagull whose passion for flying makes him different from other gulls.

Jonathan’s wish to perfect his flying results in being outcast from his group. At first devastating, the experience culminates in him moving to a “higher plane” where he meets other gulls like him, and his subsequent return to his flock.

Jonathan is a symbol to all those who refuse to conform for the sake of conforming, instead teaching love, forgiveness, and how to reach your true potential.

9. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

After a bitter divorce, author Elizabeth Gilbert took a year off to travel. She visited Italy, where she ate copious amounts of good food. She went to India to learn about spirituality. And finally, ended her journey in Bali, where she was able to discover a balance between the two: love.

Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love details the spiritual journey of someone in a tremendous amount of pain, to a balanced, loving human. Her story has resonated with readers everywhere, landing on the New York Times bestseller list, and eventually being made into a movie starring Julia Roberts.

prayer

Photo by Gustave Deghilage

10. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson

Mitch Albom’s book, Tuesdays with Morrie based on a series of interviews with Morrie Schwartz, his former professor who was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, has sold countless copies and inspired a TV movie starring Hank Azaria and Jack Lemmon.

Even after his death, Morrie has continued to touch people as he relates his ideas of love (both accepting love and giving love), shunning popular celeb culture in favor of more nurturing values and non-attachment.

11. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is yet another gift to the world from Oprah: Ruiz’s four agreements are based on ancient Toltec wisdom and are provide a relatively simple (but effective) formula for living well. The four agreements (spoiler alert!) are to 1) be impeccable with your word, 2) don’t take anything personally, 3) don’t make assumptions, and 4) always do your best.

Ruiz’s formula for a happy and successful life is surprisingly simple and easy to remember. Easy enough, at least, that Ruiz later decided to add a fifth agreement: Be skeptical but learn to listen.

12. Siddhartha

Herman Hesse’s classic Siddhartha should be required reading for the spiritually inclined: it follows the journey of a young Nepalese man named Siddhartha during the time of Buddha, and his quest to find spiritual enlightenment. Along the way, he makes several attempts at enlightenment (including under the Buddha himself), but finds spiritual fulfillment in a much simpler way than the way proposed by all of the world’s wise men. 

What books have inspired your spiritual journeys? Share your favorites below.

This article was originally published on October 27, 2008.

More like this: Here are 13 books that inspired me and changed my life

IN TRAVELER CIRCLES, THERE ARE a couple of accepted truths about the Muslim world. The first is that the people don’t hate Americans and westerners. Piia Mustamäki, one of our Finnish writers, writes that Iran is a great and hospitable place to travel, even as a solo woman traveler. British writer Will Hatton loves Iran, too: he met his wife there — on Tinder, of all places. Writer Shawn Sippin found that even Egypt, post revolution, was a fun place to visit with hospitable people. Photographer Jeremy Ullman says, “I feel safer in Amman than I often do in London.”

The second accepted truth is that, if you listen to the media, you could be forgiven to think that Muslim countries are extraordinarily dangerous, especially for westerners. But this, for the most part, is not true — there are, of course, places like Syria and Somalia, where you should not be traveling right now. But most of the Muslim world is safe.

In light of the recent events targeting Muslims here in the west, we’ve dug into our Travelstoke archives. The Muslim world is — like the rest of the world — a beautiful place full of beautiful people. It stretches from Oceania through Asia, across the North of Africa, and into Europe, and cannot be painted simply in broad strokes. It is as diverse as the Christian world, with about as many people. Don’t believe the hype.

Jordan

 Petra by NightPetra District, JordanPetra

 Amman CitadelAmman, JordanAmazing city views up here! Loved hearing the call to prayer while the sun went down. #myjordanjourney

 Ajloun CastleAjloun, JordanReally cool castle overlooking the city and some beatiful rolling hills.

Turkey

 CappadociaGöreme Belediyesi, TurkeyParallel universe

United Arab Emirates

 MesquitaAbu Dhabi, United Arab EmiratesAbu Dhabi

 Burj Al Arab JumeirahDubai, United Arab EmiratesSunset over the famous Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai. 💰

Iran

 Zoroastrian Towers of SilenceYazd, Iran#Zoroastrian #dakhma or Tower of Silence on the outskirts of #Yazd in #Iran. Believing a dead body was unclean and would pollute the soil, the Zoroastrians placed bodies at the top of this tower and exposed to the sun and vultures instead of being buried in the ground.

Egypt

 The Great Pyramid at GizaNazlet El-Semman, EgyptThe most surprising thing about the Great pyramids of Giza is how close they are to Cairo. You can actually see them while driving in the city. The second thing you notice is how small they are compared to your childhood imagination. But still, they are amazing. Whether it was alien laserbeams that created those things or the hands of lowly slaves, it is an impressive feat. Be careful of the locals, they will try to rip you off or rob you. Also be careful of the swirling mini sand-nado’s. If it gets in your eyes you will lose precious viewing time 🙈 ain’t no body got time for that!  Also head to the Sphinx statue nearby, find the best view from the bathroom of KFC! #sandy #wonderoftheworld #ancienthistory #egyptians #architecture #amazing #statue #history

Pakistan

 Mazino Base Camp, nullGreat please for spend time

Kyrgyzstan

 Alp-Lager Ala ArchaAlamudun, Kyrgyzstan#hiking #outdoors #Kyrgyzstan #bishkek #mountains

Indonesia

 Dusun BambuCihanjuang Rahayu, IndonesiaWonderful nature

 Teluk KiluanKiluan Negeri, IndonesiaKiluan #bay is the #cheapest place you can see a #dolpin . #extreme experience used small wooden boat go to #sea to watching #dolphins . #scary also #exciting #experience .

 Sewu TempleBoko Harjo, IndonesiaWithin the Prambanan temple compound. Eerily captivating, and has a very ancient spiritual feel here. Take a break away from the Prambanan crowd, and walk over here for some peaceful moments especially in the late afternoon sun, before ending your visit. #history #temple

Malaysia

 Perdana Botanical GardensKuala Lumpur, MalaysiaPetrona Towers, impressive skyscraper.

 Batu CavesBatu Caves, MalaysiaBatu Caves in Malaysia, climb 272 steps. You can go in and see the temple and on your way down make sure you go on a tour into the Dark Cave is quite and experience. #cave #temple #malaysia

Albania

 Divjaka Resort, AlbaniaOne way

Bosnia and Herzegovina

 Old BridgeMostar, Bosnia and HerzegovinaMeander around the narrow cobbled streets with an ice cream and browse the arts and crafts, or take to the shade under the trees at one of the many cafes nestled on the river banks. Marvel at the charm and character of what was a war zone in the early 90s…

Morocco

 Ait BenhaddouProvince d’El Hajeb, MoroccoOne of the coolest ancient Arabic cities in the world. Was a stopping spot for the caravans coming out of the Sahara on their way to Marrakech. Also where the Gladiator, Game of Thrones and countless other movies were filmed.

 Hassan II MosqueCasablanca, Moroccowhen in Casablanca, a visit to this impressive place of worship is a definite

 MedinaAsilah, MoroccoGreece or Morocco?

Gambia

 Leybato’s Hotel & RestaurantSerrekunda, GambiaA good place to relax for some days. Great view & nice people. #free-wifi

More like this: Why westerners should travel to Muslim countries

Once again, I went a full month without leaving New York! I barely even left Manhattan, venturing to Brooklyn a total of twice.

The first time I did that, in April of last year, I was shocked and horrified at myself. This time, I welcomed it! The past few months were much busier than I anticipated (a six-week trip to Europe and Australia, a nine-day trip to Germany, plus three trips home to Massachusetts), so I needed some time to recuperate.

And that was a smart decision. I spent this month working hard on my fitness regime, spending time with friends, and gearing up for a busy year.

Destinations Visited

New York, NY

Highlights

Taking part in the Women’s March! Millions of people marched all over the world to stand up for the rights of women, black people, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT people, and the environment. I didn’t go to DC but I was thrilled to march with my sister and our two close friends from home in New York City.

I couldn’t get over how huge the march was. It took us an hour to even get to the point where we could march, period! Everyone was friendly and in great spirits. And most importantly, when my kids and grandkids ask me how I stood up to Trump, I’ll be able to show them photographic proof. This is only the beginning.

The NO PANTS SUBWAY RIDE! On the coldest Sunday of the year, my friend Anna from Crazy in the Rain and I joined a group of strangers, got on the subway, and took our pants off, acting nonchalant about it when asked. We lucked out and ended up with a cool group of new friends and we finished our subway ride with a dance party in Union Square!

The No Pants Subway Ride takes place in lots of cities each year, but it originated in New York. Definitely join next year! It’s so much fun, even in the cold!

Image: @roamtheamericas on Twitter

Speaking at the New York Times Travel Show. This was my second time speaking and first time speaking at Industry Day. I was on a panel called “The Future of Travel Media” and I was the modern blogger paired with three more traditional travel writers, so I was a bit of a foil to the rest of them! We had a great talk and it seems like the audience really enjoyed it.

And because the show is such a big event, lots of my blogger friends were in town. The good times most definitely rolled.

Hosting my friend Amanda for a few days. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a houseguest, so I was happy to have Amanda from A Dangerous Business come stay with me during the show! We hung out, explored the city, took tons of pictures (including Times Square at night, which I hadn’t yet done), and made a visit to the Oculus, which I recommend seeing if you’re in Lower Manhattan.

A visit from a special puppy. Christine from C’est Christine brought her pug puppy Gertie to Harlem for a visit! She is the cutest, funniest thing and her fur is SO soft. You can see more of her at cestgertie on Instagram.

Seeing Maria Abramovic speak about her work. I’ve been fascinated by her performance art — she did the project at the MoMA where people would sit across from her and receive uninterrupted eye contact — so it was interesting to see her talk about art. I was surprised at how funny she was, in spite of her often-serious work, and now I’m eager to read her new memoir.

Finally getting framed art on the walls. After living in my apartment for almost a year, I finally have stuff on the walls! Should have done that a long time ago. I used Framebridge to frame everything, they were fabulous, and they gave me a discount code to share with you: adventurouskate15.

Challenges

This new presidency. I wasn’t going to watch the inauguration, but I was at the gym and it was on all the TVs. I thought that would be my low point of the week, but no. It kept getting worse and worse.

As Dan Rather said, “For many Americans, in the two weeks since the inauguration, we have whipsawed from tragedy, to farce, to the theater of the absurd.” I’m deeply worried by what we’ve seen so far. I’m standing up for the most vulnerable, I’m preparing to lose my healthcare (because we all know there’s no Obamacare replacement waiting in the wings), and I’m looking to continue my political activism and action here in New York and beyond.

Seeing a bike messenger almost get run over by a car. Not only that, the driver got out of the car and they almost had a fistfight. So scary, especially since lots of bike messengers don’t have health insurance — or at least they didn’t in the pre-Obamacare days, and they’re about to lose it again.

Most Popular Post

My Plan for 2017: A Commitment to Fitness — The big post about how I’m changing my life.

Other Posts

Where to Go in 2017: Kate’s Top Picks — 12 locations for 12 months of the year.

For the Love of God, Don’t Sew a Canadian Flag On Your Backpack — On traveling in the age of Trump.

This is the Islamic World — A photographic journey across 10 very different Muslim countries.

Most Popular Instagram Photo

I wasn’t sure how this photo of me at the Women’s March would do on Instagram, but it turned into my most popular photo of all time!

I’m closing in on 100k followers — I’ll probably hit that milestone by the spring. For real-time updates from my travels you can follow me on Instagram and Snapchat at adventurouskate.

What I Read This Month

This month I started the Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge! I’m enjoying sinking my teeth back into a challenge and reading some genres I wouldn’t pursue ordinarily. I’m also making an effort to read both fiction and nonfiction titles, books by authors of color, and books published in 2017 each month.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond — If there’s any one book I think every American should read, Evicted is at the top of my list. (I seem to say that often, don’t I? Well, forget everything I said before, because this is the real deal.) This is the most important book about poverty I’ve ever read. The book takes place in Milwaukee, one of the most racially segregated cities in America, and follows a black landlord in a black neighborhood, a white landlord at a white trailer park, and several of the tenants of both landlords. The stories that follow are rich, nuanced, and full of character — much more than I expected. It read like a novel.

I am shocked at how little I knew about how eviction affects poverty — evictions make it harder to get housing, and circumstances of poverty make it easier to get evicted, so the cycle gets worse and worse. Did you know that benefits haven’t risen, but private rents have, and so many people spend upwards of 80% of their income on rent alone? Did you know that having the police called to your house can get you evicted? So many domestic violence victims have to choose between their safety and their housing. That’s just the beginning of the horrors of housing in America. We have so much work to do. Category: A bestseller from 2016.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri — I’ve been meaning to read Jhumpa Lahiri’s books forever, but this is only the first. A collection of short stories that won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Interpreter of Maladies tells stories of Indians, Indian-Americans, their relationships, and how their two cultures spill over into each other.

I don’t read collections of short stories very often, but I should — because when they’re as good as Lahiri’s, they’ll make you ache inside. I’m still thinking about some of the characters! That’s the mark of a brilliant writer, and I look forward to delving into Lahiri’s other works. Category: A book involving travel.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman — This crazy novel was my book club’s pick this month. The premise? The ancient gods all over the world, from Norse gods to African gods to Hindu gods, have migrated to America over centuries and are now living among us. They’re gearing up for war against new gods, like media and technology, and one man finds himself caught in the middle of it.

A lot of people are crazy about American Gods, but I honestly wasn’t a fan. I appreciated the concept and Gaiman’s ambition, but this book annoyed me so much. The main character, Shadow, had no personality. The female characters were either whores, children, or unfuckable. The big climax was a buildup to nothing and reminded me of the end of the Twilight series. In my opinion, an interesting concept does not make up for a complete lack of character development. Category: A book based on mythology.

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide — When I had to read “a book with a cat on the cover,” I dreaded it, thinking my only options would be schmaltzy crazy cat lady stories. Instead I found this lovely wisp of a Japanese book. A couple living in Tokyo are living an ordinary life until their neighbors get a cat — and the cat starts spending all her time at their apartment. Soon, the cat is practically theirs and they discover a new love and affection for her that brings richness to their lives.

This book reminded me of how much I love Japan. This book is simple, calm, and focuses on feelings in the moment. Not a word is wasted. It’s also a quick read if you’re looking for something easily digestible. Category: A book with a cat on the cover.

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming — This is the story of a Doaa al-Zamel, a Syrian refugee who survived against all odds, from war in her city to a shipwreck at sea. Everyone needs to read this book to understand the Syrian refugee crisis (then again, the people who need to the most will probably refuse to read it). Doaa fought in the resistance before her family escaped to Egypt. After life in Egypt became hellish for Syrians, she and her fiancé decided to escape via boat to Europe — and their boat wrecked in the water. It is a devastating story, made all the more horrifying that so many people are continuing to go through this.

That being said — I wish Doaa’s story had been in the hands of another author. Melissa Fleming is Chief Spokesperson for the UNHCR, and she has done excellent work — but I don’t think she should have taken this assignment on. I found her writing to be distractingly bad, redundant and full of cliches. That said, Fleming’s writing style is accessible enough for high schoolers and even mature middle schoolers to read, so if you know a smart and compassionate kid, I recommend giving them the book. I still think you should read it, though. Ignore the bad writing and concentrate on the story. Category: A book about an immigrant or refugee.

What I Listened To This Month

“Time” by The Knocks. Spotify knows what I love most — that intersection of hip-hop, R&B, dance, and ambient music, sometimes with a little jazz or disco or gospel thrown in. This song is that genre in a nutshell.

What I Cooked This Month

I cook so much, might as well share some recipes with you!

Seriously the easiest snack ever: put 1 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes, 1.5 cups almonds, and 2 cups dates (pits removed!) in a food processor. Blend it. If it’s having trouble sticking together, add in a TINY bit of water — think a few drops.

Spread it into a pan, refrigerate at least an hour, and cut into bars. Amazing deliciousness.

Coconut-almond-date bars. Vegan, gluten-free, paleo, Whole 30-approved, and good for just about anyone…who doesn’t have a nut allergy. Just don’t go crazy on them, because while healthy, they do pack a lot of calories.

Fitness Update

Since I wrote about my new journey toward fitness, I decided to do some brief monthly updates on how I’m doing.

I’m amazed at how well I’ve been keeping up the paleo diet, even when eating out. I did have a few slip-ups, all of them when out with friends (most notably, a few bites of my friend’s chocolate cake…and the Catholic in me confessed to my trainer the moment I went in the next day…), but for the most part, no-bread-no-dairy-no-sugar has become second nature. I estimate I’m eating paleo 90% of the time.

Working out has been going well. I see my trainer twice a week and add in classes three to four more times per week. Having my own washing machine makes it so much easier because I SWEAT. A LOT.

I resolved to finally try spinning, despite being terrified of it — and I have no idea why I was afraid for so long. It’s not scary at all! Tough, and sweaty, but I’ve never felt remotely uncomfortable! I’ve even taken spin classes at three places: Equinox, Flywheel, and Harlem Cycle. That’s in addition to my Equinox classes: Zumba, True Barre, Cardio Core Ball and Powerstrike.

I also joined ClassPass, which allows you to try fitness classes all over the city. I got a five-classes-per-month pack and I’m already looking forward to underwater spinning, hip-hop candlelit yoga, and a variety of dance classes! (Interested in ClassPass? Join and we’ll both get $30 off!)

And I decided to start a “workout buddies” series with my friends — instead of going to a bar or coffeeshop, we go to a fitness class together! That pic is me with my friend Elissa after a spin class at Flywheel.

I lost about 7 pounds in January. My BMI went from “overweight” to “normal.” My jeans and bras went from too tight to just right to maybe a bit too big (damn, why do your boobs always go first?). I don’t expect to lose that much per month again, as you always lose a ton of water weight at the beginning, but now I’m losing a pound a week and hope to keep that up.

That said, even if I don’t lose 25 pounds by Memorial Day, that’s okay. This is a long-term process and it might not go as quickly as I hope. But when I get to my goal weight, I’m going to look much healthier than I did when I weighed that much in Southeast Asia because this time I’m not starving myself.

My big worry, however, is keeping up my diet and exercise when I’m on the road. I don’t care about staying on my diet — I just don’t want to make my friends uncomfortable. Would you feel comfortable if you really wanted some chocolate cheesecake but were with a friend who ate nothing but salads with chicken on them? I just want them to know that they can do whatever they want!

Image: Ed Schipul

Coming Up in February 2017

I’ve got two big trips planned and they’re not my usual fare, which is why they’re exciting!

First, in early February, I’m going to Florida with my friend Cailin! We’re starting off with four days at Universal Studios, where she has a partnership, and then we’re driving down to the Florida Keys before finishing up in Miami. Both the Keys and Miami are new to me and I’m especially eager to check out both the prettier and the grittier sides of the Keys (and the Bloodline locations).

And in late February, I’ll be going on my first cruise ever with my friend Jeremy! We’ll be on the brand new Carnival Vista for a week. The cruise leaves from Miami and stops in Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts (new country for me!) and St. Maarten. I have no idea how I’ll feel about cruising but I’m eager to finally try it!

I’ll be doing more of my usual solo, independent, international travel style later in the year. For now, these are some comfort trips, and I hope you enjoy the upcoming coverage.

What are your plans for February? Share away!

how to say cheers

Photo: Wil Stewart

CHEERS! Here’s to you! Bottom’s up! The clinking of glasses can help cement friendships and celebrate new ones — it’s an expression of goodwill and one that every traveler should know.

So raise your glass to the Matador editors, to the tourism bureaus, and to the hostels around the world that helped me put together our collection of how to say “Cheers!” in 50 languages.

Remember to use these responsibly — in some countries, drinking is illegal. There may also be some regional and formality variations in pronunciation, but these should get the job done!

A – E

Language Spelling Phonetic Pronunciation Afrikaans Gesondheid Ge-sund-hate Albanian Gëzuar Geh-zoo-ah Arabic (Egypt) فى صحتك: (literally “good luck”) Fe sahetek Armenian (Western) Կէնաձդ Genatzt Azerbaijani Nuş olsun Nush ohlsun Bosnian Živjeli Zhee-vi-lee Bulgarian Наздраве Naz-dra-vey Burmese Aung myin par say Au-ng my-in par say Catalan Salut Sah-lut Chamorro (Guam) Biba Bih-bah Chinese (Mandarin) 干杯 gān bēi Gan bay Croatian Živjeli / Nazdravlje Zhee-ve-lee / Naz-dra-vlee Czech Na zdravi Naz-drah vi Danish Skål Skoal Dutch Proost Prohst Estonian Terviseks Ter-vih-sex

  how to say cheers

Photo: Yutacar

F – M

Language Spelling Phonetic Pronunciation Filipino/Tagalog Mabuhay Mah-boo-hay Finnish Kippis Kip-piss French Santé / A la votre Sahn-tay / Ah la vo-tre Galician Salud Saw-lood German Prost / Zum wohl Prohst / Tsum vohl Greek ΥΓΕΙΑ Yamas Hawaiian Å’kålè ma’luna Okole maluna Hebrew לחיים L’chaim Hungarian Egészségedre (to your health) or Fenékig (until the bottom of the glass) Egg-esh ay-ged-reh or Fehn-eh-keg Icelandic Skál Sk-owl Irish Gaelic Sláinte Slawn-cha Italian Salute / Cin cin Saw-lutay / Chin chin Japanese 乾杯 Kanpai (Dry the glass) Kan-pie Korean 건배 Gun bae Latvian Priekā / Prosit Pree-eh-ka / Proh-sit Lithuanian į sveikatą Ee sweh-kata Macedonian На здравје Na zdravye Mongolian Эрүүл мэндийн төлөө / Tulgatsgaaya ErUHl mehdiin toloo / Tul-gats-gAH-ya

  how to say cheers

Photo: Are Sjøberg

N – Z

Language Spelling Phonetic Pronunciation Norwegian Skål Skawl Polish Na zdrowie Naz-droh-vee-ay Portuguese Saúde Saw-OO-de Romanian Noroc / Sanatate No-rock / Sahn-atate Russian Будем здоровы / На здоровье Budem zdorovi/ Na zdorovie Serbian živeli Zhee-ve-lee Slovak Na zdravie Naz-drah-vee-ay Slovenian Na zdravje (literally “on health”) Naz-drah-vee Spanish Salud Sah-lud Swedish Skål Skawl Thai Chok dee Chok dee Turkish Şerefe Sher-i-feh Ukranian будьмо Boodmo Vietnamese Dô / Vô / Một hai ba, yo (one, two, three, yo) Jou / Dzo/ Moat hi bah, yo Welsh Iechyd da Yeh-chid dah Yiddish Sei gesund Say geh-sund

 

cocktails drinking

Photo: Kristoffer Trolle

Know how to say “Cheers!” in a language that’s not on the list? Please leave a comment below!

Explore the world party scene with 101 PLACES TO GET F*CKED UP BEFORE YOU DIE. Part travel guide, part drunken social commentary, 101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die may have some of the most hilarious scenes and straight-up observations of youth culture of any book you’ve ever read.

More like this: What bartenders actually think of your drink order

Photo: M01229

First, highlights from International Women’s Day

The four women who organized the historic Jan. 21st Women’s March on Washington were arrested in New York at a Day Without A Woman rally. Along with several other protesters, they were seized not far from Trump Hotel near Columbus Circle after sitting peacefully in the street and causing a disruption in traffic. The 13 women were released Wednesday night, claiming that they had spent their detainment singing gospel songs like “We Shall Overcome” through the halls of the NYPD’s 7th precinct. [TIME]

Some of us have been arrested #DayWithoutAWoman pic.twitter.com/WSYVdrQjxA

— Women's March (@womensmarch) March 8, 2017

Massive demonstrations happened around the world yesterday. The activists numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Besides the United States, rallies happened in Nigeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Macedonia and Pakistan. TIME put together a round-up video, which you can view here.

A congressman from Missouri is concerned that women are paying a tax on tanning. Rep. Jason Smith claimed that under Obamacare women are required to pay taxes on their tanning salon visits. He wondered aloud: why, on International Women’s Day especially, was he the only one bringing this up? A congresswoman from Washington, Rep. Suzan Delbene, suggested that it may be because healthcare is a more pressing issue for American women today. [Huffington Post]

Respecting our environment

There’s a ‘super bloom’ happening in California right now. Specifically in Southern California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park where desert lilies, poppies, dune primrose, sunflowers, desert dandelions and other wildflowers are all blooming in unison. California received a lot of rain this winter which should make the super bloom’s climax even more vibrant. [CNN]

A post shared by J and S, and Hudson Dog! (@we_lexplore) on Mar 9, 2017 at 8:01am PST

China is emerging as a leader in addressing climate change. China canceled 104 coal-fired plants back in 2014 and in 2016, experienced a 4.7 percent drop in coal consumption as a result. The country is energetically onboard with the Paris Agreement and has begun a $474 billion renewable energy program — a majority of the program’s budget will go into renewable fuel by 2020. [Futurism] Read more like this: The protests that changed us

Photo: Ahron de Leeuw

Uplifting news from around the world

A massive and ancient statue was just discovered in a Cairo slum. The 26-feet high, 8,000-pound statue was found submerged in groundwater and most likely depicts Pharaoh Ramses II, an Egyptian ruler who reigned more than 3,000 years ago. [Reuters]

A post shared by Agenzia ANSA (@agenzia_ansa) on Mar 10, 2017 at 6:06am PST

They’re playing elephant polo in Thailand. And it’s in the name of elephant conservation. Thirty players and elephants just competed in Bangkok’s King’s Cup which is now in its 15th year. [Reuters]

A 5-year-old girl just spelled a Sanskrit word correctly, becoming the youngest National Spelling Bee champion in the U.S. Edith Fuller spelled the Sanskrit word for knowledge, “jnana”, correctly after asking for the definition. [Slate]

Travel in the year 2017

Several U.S. states have already begun to challenge Trump’s new Travel Ban. President Trump revealed his revised ban on Monday after legal efforts led by Washington and Minnesota defeated his original order in the courts. Lawyers are claiming their arguments still stand for the revised ban and Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts and Hawaii have all begun to challenge it. Hawaii, specifically, is taking a unique approach, claiming that the Travel Ban would drastically hurt its tourism industry and foreign student population. [BBC]

At least six nations have posted travel warnings against the U.S. on their websites. The UAE, Bahrain, the Bahamas, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are all warning travelers — especially travelers of color — about gun violence in the United States. [New York Daily News] Read more like this: 3 Reputable elephant sanctuaries in Thailand

BASED IN DUBAI, vloggers Jeff and Anne of What Doesn’t Suck travel around the world and produce a video series documenting 48 hours in various locations. On this trip to Egypt, Jeff enlists the help of a local guide to break the surprise to Anne. Guess what she says? More like this: When your boyfriend travels abroad to propose to you

Lonely Planet Egypt (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Egypt is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Visit the ancient wonders of the Pyramids of Giza, cruise the Nile to a waterside temple, or see the glittering finds in the Egyptian Museum; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Egypt and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Egypt Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, art, literature, cuisine, etiquette, sports, politics, landscapes, wildlife, architecture Over 102 maps Covers Cairo, the Nile Valley, Minya, LuxorEsnaSiwa Oasis, Western Desert, AlexandriaSuez Canal, Red Sea Coast, Sinai and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Egypt, our most comprehensive guide to Egypt, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Discover Egypt, a photo-rich guide to the city's most popular attractions or Lonely Planet's Africa or Middle East travel guides, for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Anthony Sattin and Jessica Lee

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Egypt

DK

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Egypt is your in-depth guide to the very best of the oldest tourist destination on Earth.

Take day trips and excursions to see ancient pyramids, visit the monuments of the Nile Valley and the souks, mosques and madrassas of Islamic Cairo, experience local festivals and markets, and don't miss out on the delicious street food.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Egypt.

   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city map of Cairo includes street finder indexes for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Egypt truly shows you this country as no one else can.

Recommended: For a pocket guidebook to Cairo, check out DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Cairo & the Nile, which is packed with dozens of top 10 lists, ensuring you make the most of your time in the city.

Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.

Egypt: The World of the Pharaohs

Matthias Seidel

Roman emperors, Arab scholars, and early travellers were already drawn to and enchanted by the fascination of the land along the Nile. The pyramids of Giza, the temple-city of Karnak, or the Valley of the Kings with the grave of Tutankhamen even today maintain their extraordinary force of attraction. Across the centuries the high culture of the ancient Egyptians has retained its allure. This can certainly be attributed to their astounding architectural,artistic, and technological achievements as well as their high level of writing and literature. The unified world view of old Egypt, in which science and religion are an indissoluble unity, impresses us deeply, as well. This book explores all the magic and mysteries of ancient Egypt that continue to fascinate us, in over 500 pages of full-colour photographs and comprehensive text. It covers everything from architecture, sculpture and painting to everyday life, statecraft, society and religion.

Egypt (National Geographic Adventure Map)

National Geographic Maps - Adventure

• Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel MapNational Geographic's Egypt AdventureMap is designed to meet the unique needs of adventure travelers with its durability and accurate information. This folded map provides global travelers with the perfect combination of detail and perspective, highlighting hundreds of points of interest and the diverse and unique destinations within the country.The map includes the locations of cities and towns with a user-friendly index, plus a clearly marked road network complete with distances and designations for major highways, main roads, and tracks and trails for those seeking to explore more remote regions.Egypt's northern half is shown on the front side of the map from its Mediterranean coast, Alexandria, and the great city of Cairo south to include the cities of FaiyumBeni Suef, Minya, Asyut, and Sohag. The reverse side of the map covers the southern portion of the country, and shows the cities of Nag Hammadi, LuxorAswan, and Qena, and the oases of Kharga and Dakhla.Every AdventureMap is printed on durable synthetic paper, making them waterproof, tear-resistant and tough — capable of withstanding the rigors of international travel. Each is two-sided and can be folded to a packable size of (4.25" x 9.25"); unfolded size is (26" x 38").Key Features:- Waterproof and tear-resistant- Accurate topography/terrain with a clearly labeled road network- Hundreds of points of interest, including the locations parks and nature reserves, protected lands, historical and cultural attractions- Thousands of place names including towns and natural features; detailed place names index- Important travel networks including airports, lighthouses, ferry routes and rail lines- Updated regularly to ensure accuracyProceeds from the sale of National Geographic maps go to support the National Geographic Society's vital exploration, conservation, research and education programs.Map Scale = 1:1,250,000Sheet Size = 37.75" x 25.5"Folded Size = 4.25" x 9.25"

The Egypt Fact and Picture Book: Fun Facts for Kids About Egypt (Turn and Learn)

Gina McIntyre

Turn & Learn presents: The Egypt Fact and Picture Book The Egypt Fact & Picture Book will allow your child to learn more about this world we live in, with a fun and exciting approach that will trigger their imagination.

We're raising our children in an era where attention spans are continuously decreasing. Turn & Learn provides a fun, and interactive way of keep your children engaged and looking forward to learn, with beautiful pictures, coupled with the amazing, fun facts.

Get your kids learning today! Pick up your copy of Turn & Learn's Egypt Fact and Picture book now!

Egypt (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

DK Publishing

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Egypt is your indispensable guide to this remarkable part of the world. This fully updated guide includes street maps of cities and towns, plus unique illustrated cutaways, floor plans and reconstructions of the must-see sights.

Vibrant full-color photography will help you visualize your destinations as you discover Egypt one region at a time. Detailed listings will inform you of the best hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops for all budgets. Explore local festivals and markets, day trips and excursions to see ancient pyramids, and find your way effortlessly around the region. DK's insider tips and cultural insight will help you explore every corner of Egypt, as if you were a local.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Egypt — showing you what others only tell you.

Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs, Fifth Edition (Odyssey Illustrated Guide)

Robert Morkot

Ancient even to the ancients, Egypt was a great nation a thousand years before the Minoan civilization was established in Crete. It was viewed by the Greeks and Romans of 2,000 years ago with the same awe with which we view ancient Rome and Greece today.

Egypt (Insight Guides)

Insight Guides

This brand new edition Insight Guide to Egypt features a wealth of inspiring full-colour photography, including double page spreads of some of the most outstanding views. The top ten sights are identified to show you the very best of this diverse country and to help you plan your trip priorities. A 'Best of' section highlights the most unique experiences Egypt has to offer, along with personal recommendations on the best views, Christian sights, mosques, museums and more. An in-depth 'Places' section covers the entire country region-by-region, with all the principal sites cross-referenced by number to the accompanying full-colour maps. Additional maps inside the front and back covers enable instant orientation and easy navigation. Colour-coded sections cover history and interesting features on everything from art and culture to the local people. There are also nine brand new 'Photo Features', covering the ancient gods, pyramids, wildlife and more. A comprehensive 'Travel Tips' section details transport, accommodation for all budgets, eating out, activities, and an A-Z of other practical information, including useful contact numbers, to ensure your trip goes smoothly. The unique combination of insightful exploration alongside practical advice means that this guide truly is a pleasure to read before, during and after your visit.

AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Civil Unrest

Civil unrest and demonstrations have been occurring in many parts of Egypt. Although demonstrations occur mostly on Fridays following the Noon prayer time, they can occur at any time without forewarning. The situation on the ground remains fluid and there is a potential for rapid escalation into violence where large groups of people are assembled. Local curfews may be imposed on short notice.

Although the state of emergency and curfew, imposed in August 2013, were lifted on November 12, 2013, armed security forces remain heavily deployed in many governorates.

While there is a heavy security presence in most parts of the country, especially in resort areas, a high threat of terrorist activities remains and could affect foreigners.

Be extremely vigilant, avoid all demonstrations or large gatherings and areas where they are taking place. Stay clear of military offices and facilities. Register with our Registration of Canadians Abroad service, keep well informed of the situation as it unfolds by monitoring local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities. Women in particular should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings as there have been multiple reports of sexual assaults. Once surrounded by a group, it can be difficult to escape.

Sinai Peninsula coastal resorts

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the Sinai Peninsula, with the exception of the coastal resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, where you should exercise caution.

Coastal resorts in the Sinai, including Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab and Nuweiba have, in the past, seen incidents of robbery. Tensions between security authorities and local Bedouin tribes may rise unexpectedly, affecting tourism.

If you are visiting Sharm El-Sheikh you are strongly discouraged from using any other means of transportation besides air travel to arrive and depart.

Red Sea and Upper Egypt coastal resorts

Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to Red Sea coastal resorts such as Hurghada and to the Upper Egypt cities of Luxor and Aswan.

Pay particular attention to local conditions if you are visiting Upper Egypt and the historic sites of the Nile Valley. Although tourist sites continue to operate, the Upper Nile Valley between Beni Suef and Aswan has seen a greater incidence of strikes, road blockages and civil unrest than the coastal resorts. Feuds between clans, some with a religious aspect, are becoming more commonplace and can turn violent quickly. You may find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Travel in large groups and by organized transportation, and follow the advice of local authorities, hotels and tour guides if you are travelling to rural areas.

Sinai Peninsula (except Sharm El-Sheikh) (see Advisory)

The security situation in the Sinai in the areas bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip remains extremely dangerous as the Egyptian military is currently engaged in military operations against terrorists in the region. Road blockades by unsanctioned groups as well as kidnappings, robberies and carjackings by armed groups and terrorists have been reported in many areas of the Sinai. You are discouraged from visiting St. Catherine’s Monastery or taking any other day trips from Sharm El-Sheikh as attacks and roadblocks have occurred outside of Sharm El-Sheikh city limits.

Terrorism

Egyptian Security Forces in the Sinai have elevated their level of alert due to terrorist attacks.

Reports indicate that explosions near police stations in various parts of Cairo on January 24, 2014 resulted in a few deaths and dozens of injuries. Exercise a high degree of caution, closely monitor local media and minimize movements around the city for the time being. You should particularly avoid police stations, security installations and government buildings, as well as all crowds and demonstrations.

In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred at tourist locations and elsewhere throughout the country. The threat of more attacks remains, and there is a risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Monitor local developments and exercise caution, especially in commercial establishments, government facilities, public areas, tourist sites, the vicinity of churches and mosques at the time of religious services, and other areas frequented by foreigners.

Kidnapping

There has been an increase in incidents of kidnapping in Egypt since the beginning of 2012. In the area of greater Cairo and the Nile Delta, there have been several incidents of kidnappings and/or carjackings involving individuals or their children. In these areas, locals are generally targeted and there have been no reports of foreigners being implicated. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.

Crime

Serious crimes have been on the increase in Egypt in the wake of the January 2011 unrest. In addition to the increased threat of kidnapping (see above), carjackings have become much more commonplace. Sports utility vehicles are typically targeted. Although isolated areas and night driving present the greatest threat, there have been reported incidents in daylight hours and in busy areas of Cairo. Assailants are likely armed, and a variety of tactics may be used to get vehicles to stop, including throwing objects at the windshield, feigning a traffic accident or a minor collision with the target vehicle, or “sandwiching” the target vehicle and forcing it off the road. If you find yourself in such a situation, do not resist as carjackers are typically after the vehicle and, if the carjacking is successful, will leave the driver unharmed.

Petty crime such as purse snatching and pickpocketing occurs, especially in tourist locations and on the metro. Anecdotal evidence suggests that crime is increasing, particularly property crime such as theft and robbery. Ensure personal belongings are secure and respect any advice or instructions from local security authorities.

If you are a victim of crime, report it to the Tourist Police or at any nearby police station as soon as possible. Request a copy of the police report at the time the report is made. Failure to report the crime while in Egypt makes it much more difficult to seek prosecution.

Women's safety

Women, particularly foreign women, are frequently subject to unpleasant male attention, sexual harassment and verbal abuse. This often takes the form of staring, inappropriate remarks, catcalls and touching. Please consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Guide to Safe and Successful Travel for more information.

Landmines

Unexploded landmines remain a risk in some desert and coastal areas, notably the Mediterranean shore, the Western Desert, the Sinai Peninsula and the western shore of the Gulf of Suez. Known minefields are not marked by signs, but may be enclosed by barbed wire. Seek local advice, especially if travelling off-road.

Transportation

Road conditions are often poor and the rate of vehicular accidents is one of the highest in the world. Drivers generally have little regard for traffic regulations and do not follow safe-driving practices. Be cautious when crossing streets as drivers do not give pedestrians the right of way. In the event of an accident, do not move the vehicle until the police arrive.

Use vehicles and drivers from reputable travel agencies.

Avoid microbuses because of hazardous driving habits.

Taxis and the metro are considered the safest means of travel. Most taxis do not have working meters, and back seats are rarely equipped with seat belts. Women should not sit in the front seat, as this could be misinterpreted by the driver.

Rail travel is generally safe between Alexandria and Cairo; however, safety standards vary throughout the rest of Egypt. In the past, protesters have blocked railways, causing deadly accidents. Exercise a high degree of caution.

Accidents have occurred on ferries because of overcrowding and poor safety standards. Use reputable ferry operators.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Scuba diving / aquatic activities

Sharks are present in the waters off Egypt. Certain beaches and dive areas may be subject to temporary closures. The Egyptian Chamber of Diving and Water Sports provides updates on closures and diving conditions in Egypt. Exercise caution and seek advice from local authorities.

Borders

Crossing the border between Egypt and Israel is strongly discouraged at this time. The status of all crossing points can be verified prior to arrival with the Egyptian Embassy in Israel or the Israeli Embassy in Egypt. Cross-border movement regulations and restrictions are subject to change at any time and are the prerogative of the responsible authorities.

The Rafah border crossing point to Gaza, which had been closed since June 2007, was reopened in May 2011. However, the border has been subject to sporadic closures since then. The entry and exit of people remain controlled by border authorities in both Egypt and Gaza. Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel in this area due to ongoing military operations against terrorists. Consult local authorities and refer to the travel advice for Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip for further information.

Beyond the provision of a travel document (the passport), the Canadian government does not facilitate the crossing of borders by private citizens. It is the citizen's responsibility to meet the entry requirements of the country where they wish to travel, in most cases either through application for a visa or simply by going to a point of entry. Authorities at the Rafah border crossing from Egypt to Gaza have sometimes requested a letter or witnessed declaration from the Canadian Embassy as a requirement to cross the border. The Embassy is unable to provide such letters given the foregoing and you should avoid all travel to Gaza. The Canadian government has very limited ability to provide consular services to Canadians in the Gaza Strip and once in Gaza it can be difficult to leave.

General safety information

Although most tourist sites are open, the situation across Egypt remains unpredictable and less consistently safe than it was before the events of January 2011. There is a potential for rapid escalation into violence where large groups of people are assembled.

Egypt has a special police force to assist tourists. Officers, who wear a distinctive arm band saying “Tourist and Antiquities Police”, can be found in hotels and at tourist sites.

Carry identification at all times. Photocopy your passport and other identification in case of loss or seizure.

Emergency services

Dial 122 for police.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Polio

There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers’ diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in North Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in North Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in North Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a limited risk of malaria in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in North Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.

Avian Influenza

There have been human cases of avian influenza ("bird flu”) in this country. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread by contact with infected birds or surfaces and objects contaminated by their feces or other secretions.

Avoid unnecessary contact with domestic poultry and wild birds as well as surfaces contaminated with their feces or other secretions. Ensure all poultry dishes and eggs are thoroughly cooked.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are below Canadian standards.

General health information

Air pollution is a health concern.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Laws

The state of emergency (Emergency Law), which had been in effect since 1981, was lifted on May 31, 2012. While this represents an increase in civil liberties, you are advised to exercise restraint and common sense during the transition period.

The use of drugs and open consumption of alcohol (other than in licensed facilities such as hotels and restaurants) are prohibited. Transgressions could be punished by detention or other penalties.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Capital punishment is a sentencing option for certain drug-related crimes.

Photography of bridges, canals, including the Suez Canal, government, police and embassy buildings and vehicles, as well as military personnel and establishments is prohibited.

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is recommended.

Customs

Strict duties apply on the importation of expensive electronics, including video and photographic equipment, laptops, and computer software and hardware. Such equipment should be for personal use and you should list it (model and serial number) and check it upon arrival and departure, in which case no duty will be collected. Appropriate permits and authorizations are required for the commercial importation of any type of electronics. It is prohibited to export any antiquity or any item older than 100 years without a licence. Contact the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Ottawa for further information regarding customs requirements.

Forced marriages

There are reports of Canadian citizens being forced into marriage without their prior knowledge or consent. For more information about forced marriages, please consult our Marriage Overseas FAQs and our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Guide to Safe and Successful Travel.

Dual citizenship

You may be considered an Egyptian citizen if you were born in Egypt or were born outside Egypt to an Egyptian father. Consular assistance by the Embassy of Canada is unlikely to be permitted by the Egyptian authorities and may therefore be extremely limited.

Egyptian-Canadian men may be subject to military service when in Egypt. In order to be exempted, before leaving Egypt dual citizens are required to present many documents, among them a document of discharge due to dual citizenship. This document does not necessarily provide an exemption; getting this document may be a drawn-out process that could affect your departure date; and the Canadian government has no jurisdiction in the process. In the end, military service for Egyptian men is the decision of the Egyptian government. You should contact the Egyptian embassy or consulate in Canada before travelling.

Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.

Culture

The work week is Sunday through Thursday.

Overt public displays of intimate affection are frowned upon in Egyptian culture. Demonstrations of homosexuality have been deemed an affront to public morals, and some Egyptian homosexuals have been jailed.

Islamic practices and beliefs are adhered to in the country's customs, laws and regulations. Exercise common sense and discretion in dress and behaviour. Dress conservatively: for women, knee-length or longer dresses and long sleeves are preferable, and men should not wear shorts outside tourist areas. Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

Money

The currency is the Egyptian pound (EGP).

A maximum of EGP 5,000 can be brought into or taken out of Egypt.

Traveller's cheques and foreign currency are easily exchanged in hotels and banks. U.S. dollars are preferred, particularly at tourist sites. It has become common practice for some travel agents and tour operators to request that payment be made in U.S. cash only.

Major credit cards are accepted in larger stores and for larger purchases, but many merchants will accept only cash or may charge a fee for payment by credit card. MasterCard may be refused in banks, hotels, shops, and by travel agents because of its link to the failed Bank of Credit and Commerce International. MasterCard is accepted for cash advances at the Bank of America, located on Qasr al-Aini Street near Tahrir Square in Cairo.

Climate

Egypt, particularly Cairo, is located in an active seismic zone. The country is also subject to sand storms and dust storms.