Before You Go

Before You Go: Top Tips for Your Egypt Holiday

Travel to Egypt evokes images of camel trekking through the hot desert, wandering through ancient pharaonic temples, and soaking up the sun on beautiful Red Sea beaches; for this reason, it’s a bucket list item for many travellers. If you’re lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit this magnificent country, you should consider a few things as you prepare for your trip.

Plan Your Route

If you’re coming to the Sinai, plan your route well in advance. At the moment, there are limited direct flights from Europe to Sharm el Sheikh but you can find some from Istanbul, Milan, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Munich and occasionally Zurich. Be open to the fact that the most convenient way to arrive may be through Cairo. EgyptAir, the national carrier, offers numerous flights per day between Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh.

Check Passports and Visas

Passports should have six months validity from the date of issue of your visa. Two types of tourist visas are available for travellers. When flying directly to Sharm el Sheikh EU and US citizens along with nationals from several other countries such as Australia can obtain a 14-day Sinai-only stamp for no cost. However, if you think there is the slightest chance you might leave the Sinai to explore the mainland or dive the SS Thistlegorm, we highly recommend the 60 USD visa sticker that’s valid for 30 days of travel throughout Egypt. You can pay in Euro or GPB, but the cost is exchange rate dependent. If you transit through Cairo you must buy this visa sticker. You can generally get these up from the bank kiosks in the airport when you arrive in Egypt but first, check with the Egyptian embassy in your home country as there may be pre-arrival visa requirements for your particular passport.

Paying Your Way

In Egypt, cash is king. Major resort hotels, some tour agencies, and most dive centers will take credit cards, but some businesses will only accept cash or have a surcharge for credit card payments. Bring plenty of hard currency (USD, GBP, or Euro is best) and avoid exchanging money at the airport if you can help it. Better fees can be found at banks or local exchange offices.

Respect the Culture

Egyptians are accustomed to seeing people dressed in the typical Western style holiday-wear in resort areas in the Sinai and on the Red Sea coast. However, we advise you to respect the culture of modesty when in local Egyptian areas and places of worship. For visiting mosques, women can use a scarf to cover their head and shoulders, legs and arms should also not be bare. Men should be sure to pack a pair of long trousers. Public displays of affection are generally frowned upon and should be avoided, particularly outside of tourist areas.

LGBT travellers should note that sexuality isn’t generally a topic up for open discussion in Egypt but most hotels are perfectly happy to provide double rooms for same-sex couples. As with heterosexual couples, LGBT travellers should avoid public displays of affection. Many businesses (such as ourselves) are LGBT friendly.

Things to Pack

Bring something warm to wear. This is the desert, and temperatures can plummet at night in all but the warmest months. A light fleece or jacket will come in handy. Sun cream is a must-bring; you’ll need it to protect you from the strong daytime sun and it’s very expensive here. Be sure to pack travel insurance documents and phone numbers and bring enough prescription medicine for your entire stay.

A few simple preparations will make your Egyptian adventure unforgettable. Be sure to contact us if you have any questions about planning for your trip to Egypt and the Sinai.

About Author

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Monem Salama
Monem is the founder of Sinai Inside. He’s originally from Al-Jumea’a and the Sawarka tribe, he has been working in Tourism for 15 years. Monem guides desert trips and is a PADI Dive Instructor who’s been teaching courses for 8 years.

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