Just like any country in the world, Egypt has plenty of hiccups that will put a damper on your trip, especially for travelers who know little about this mysterious Arab country. Giving these tips (listed according to their importance) a read before you travel will help you make the most out of your time in Egypt, ensuring you don't waste any time.
Don't Take Photos Without Asking Permission
Taking photos without permission could cause lots of trouble in Egypt, especially when you are at famous attractions, such as the pyramids. One 'trap' that happens a lot is taking a photo of camels in front of the pyramids without getting permission and then having to pay for the shots or delete them all when the owner turns up.
In some instances, taking a photo can be considered something of a faux pas.
Taking photos in some parts of museums is prohibited — it is suggested that you follow the example of others if you are not sure about the regulations.
Don't Wear Shorts and Sleeveless T-Shirts
As a traveler, don't wear vests or any tops without sleeves in Egypt (except as underwear). Exposing any of your torso is a no-no so nothing low-cut should be worn. Normal T-shirts and shirts are fine. Similarly, all trousers and skirts should fully cover the legs or at least be 3/4 length to be respectful in Egypt.
Of course, this will not be the case if you are visiting coastal cities, such as Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab, Marsa Alam, and Hurghada. Wearing cooler clothing is totally acceptable there.
Don't Kiss Your Partner in the Street
Kissing (or other acts of intimacy, such as a hug) a person of the opposite gender is not that acceptable in public areas in Egypt (as well as in other Muslim countries). Shaking hands is fine in general. Please keep in mind that strict Muslims avoid any physical contact with the opposite sex so you should try not to give offense.
Don't Drink the Tap Water
It's better to stick to bottled water as opposed to drinking the potentially contaminated water in Egypt.
You can boil it or keep it in the fridge for a few hours to lessen the chlorine taste if you do wish to try some tap water.
For a sensitive stomach, we recommend bottled water to avoid upsetting your tummy. You don't want to run the risk of picking up a disease while you're on vacation, after all.
Don't Make a Purchase Without Bargaining
As with other tourist destinations that you have already visited, the local merchants in Egypt normally added some extra profit to their prices and expect you to bargain before taking out your wallet. Whether you're picking up a pack of postcards or you're picking out a souvenir, they will expect some negotiations before the final purchase is made. It's expected, so just do it.
Learning some of the Arabic words may be helpful: "Say-eeda" means "hi" and "shok-ran" means "thank you".
Don't Hire People on the Street
Making a reservation in advance and having a contract is always preferable. You need something in writing and to make sure the service provider is licensed and registered, otherwise the service delivered cannot be guaranteed.
When people approach you in the street or in tourist areas to offer services, such as city tours or special visits to tombs, sites, or shops, do not answer them. They seem friendly but it's more likely to be a scam.
Don't Expect Local People to Be on Time
It is useless to get angry or frustrated when someone is late. People in the country are very laid-back so, in some cases, people are always late and you will have to get used to it during your stay in Egypt. Be relaxed, you are there on vacation, not on a business trip.
Don't Get into a Cab Without Setting a Price First
Before taking a taxi in the country, you should make sure that you know what a reasonable fare is for your ride. Confirm if it is okay for that price with the driver before you actually get in the car. If the taxi has a meter, make sure it's working before you commit to a ride.
Be clear that the price you agreed on is for all passengers in the cab and not just for you if you are not traveling alone, and also whether it is a one-way cost or a round-trip cost. Sometimes the local drivers can be really sneaky.
Always choose a yellow cab if one is available.
Don't Pet Street Dogs and Cats
The dogs and cats in the streets are lovely and need cuddles but they could also spread diseases or hurt you. It's best to simply go past them unless you have had all your vaccines and don't mind dealing with issues caused by bites or scratches.
Don't Forget the Idea of a Professional Tour Organizer
Has the thought of this challenge got to you? Find out more about planning your first trip to Egypt. We can help you create your trip so that you don't have to worry too much about what not to do and can enjoy the rest of the country more.
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