To initiate the Egypt series, we’ll get started with a handful of tips to navigate your visit before getting started with reviews and experiences from the Egypt Itinerary. I did my research before my visit, but I wish some things were explained further or addressed entirely. Below you will find my top five must-knows.
1. Dress appropriately
(This one is for the ladies.) Although this should be obvious, I’ve physically seen that it isn’t. Before visiting anywhere, it’s essential to do some basic research. Egypt is an Islamic country. Women are fully clothed, covered, and modest from head to toe. Though visitors are not expected to convert to wearing hijabs or burqas, be respectful by keeping it conservative. The rule of thumb is your knees and shoulders, and of course, everything in between should be covered. With heat and humidity, it may be a habit to wear less. Here’s a hack: purchase traditional Egyptian dresses. They are breathable and better than what someone would opt to wear in dry heat. If you’re not dressed conservatively, you won’t be sanctioned by local law enforcement. But, you will be disrespecting the locals, receiving stares, and not permitted entry to public spaces and places of worship.
2. Use Uber for transportation
My sister and I usually rent a car wherever we go as it ends up saving us money. However, with the driving habits of Egyptians, I was uncomfortable. Local cabs rip you off, and there’s no need to get your own driver with the efficiency of Uber. Plus, other options require a hefty cash tip. Uber was very inexpensive, and we were able to order motorcycles as well, which was how we got around most of the time. Unlike other services, it was reliable, safe, and we were aware of the final price without bargaining or arguing over the fare.
3. Intense tip culture
The biggest culture shock. I’ve heard about the Egyptian tip culture, but I was still taken aback when we arrived. Within our first two hours in the country, it was evident that tipping wasn’t an option. And, the amount you tip will not be accepted if the person providing the service does not deem it valuable. In our experience, locals will even convert Egyptian pounds to US dollars as a justification for why your tip is not enough. Not only will they refuse to accept, but they will cause a commotion. Tip culture is not exclusive to particular industries. It’s everywhere, for everything. As we all know, not everything or everyone deserves a tip, so we faced many challenges navigating.
4. Carry Egyptian pounds at all times
Egypt is not one of those countries where Americans or Europeans can keep their home currency and get by. That’s no surprise. However, you need to have cash with you at all times. Partly because of tip culture. But mostly because not everywhere accepts cards, particularly small businesses. When purchasing items or food in the street or markets, there is no doubt that you’ll be okay with your pounds. I made the mistake of running out of cash, and I struggled. I’d say exchange money at the airport. All of it. More than you think you’ll need. You can always exchange the remainder upon departure.
5. Beware of scammers
Chances are if you hear (and I quote) “it is my Egyptian hospitality,” it is most certainly not. I have many examples, but here’s one to visualize my point. I’ll keep it brief. My sister and I are walking around downtown. A man turns around, follows us, then ends up in front of us. He introduces himself and starts pointing things out to us when he notices what piques our interest. No matter how we attempted to get rid of this shadow, it didn’t work. We’d go to restaurants, and he’d wait for us though we demanded that he stopped. When we reached our breaking point, he insisted that we pay up. Argumentative, he continued to follow us, commanding that we pay for his so-called (and uninvited) services. That was one small example, but the scamming is worse than I ever expected. Be careful, don’t be too friendly, and stay to yourself as much as possible. Dodging these scam artists quickly becomes exhausting.