I used trains solely and that they were reliable and comfy, although a small amount filthy.
I bought the tickets on-line, they were terribly reasonable for the distances and also the standards of the journey.
I took the subsequent routes, bushed AC1 category (the best on the market really):
Cairo – Luxor, 10 hours, I paid 204 EGP ($11,40 / €10)
Luxor – Aswan, 4 hours, I paid fifty three EGP ($3 / €2,60)
Aswan – Cairo, fourteen hours (but eventually I disembarked in metropolis therefore the journey was shorter), I paid 245 EGP ($13,70 / €12)
To prepare for the journey take care to require with you sufficient of snack and drinks (although you’ll be able to obtain them within the train throughout your journey too), one thing take placed on because the air-condition is admittedly economical and a decent book to browse.
You will pay 1/2 the time beginning outside the window anyway as views are very superb and you’ll be able to see additional of the important Egypt.
Apparently international tourists can’t get a price tag for the Cairo-Luxor-Aswan route at the station in Cairo because of some restrictions.
But you’ll be able to simply obtain the price tag on-line, they are going on sale time period before the departure date.
You need to register at the web site of Egyptian Railways and once you get the confirmation email you’re absolve to book your trains.
It’s truly fairly straightforward, a regular procedure, and everything worked fine with my Polish passport and MasterCard.
The tickets are then sent via email, you’ll be able to conjointly check and transfer them from the web site whenever you wish to, victimisation the reservation range.
Funny issue, after I procured my Luxor-Aswan price tag the web site didn’t wish to refresh, however I still got my price tag and also the reservation was valid after I checked it. nonetheless on following day I got the cash back to my checking account.
When I took that terribly train everything was fine and nobody questioned my price tag.
To save the time you’ll be able to conjointly take the night train (but it’s a small amount too high-priced in my opinion, a technique Cairo-Luxor is outwardly around $80-$100) or fly.
That was my initial arrange, to fly a minimum of a technique between Luxor or Aswan and Cairo, however i used to be too late to book the flights so costs were method too high-priced compared to the train (normally you’ll be able to realize the unidirectional flight from Aswan to Luxor for $50).
When you arrange your trip to Egypt don’t create my mistake and appearance for flights not a pair of weeks before the departure however earlier.
There are few native airlines that you simply will use once traveling round the country, you’ll be able to realize them on the flights’ computer program.
That’s another topic that deserves the full separate post.
But to allow you a touch overview: no, Egypt isn’t a very safe destination on the other hand what country is?
Few hours when my arrival to Egypt a bus with tourists from Vietnam was attacked in city leading to four casualties.
For the full time I spent in Egypt I felt safe and although in few things i used to be a small amount anxious it absolutely was all my mind enjoying tricks as everything was fully fine extremely.
But in fact you have got to use caution and use your good judgment, Egypt isn’t a straightforward destination to go to.
Every time you enter a subway station / terminus / any monument and traveler attraction you have got to travel through the protection, like the one at the landing field. it’s annoying however when each day or 2 you may get wont to it.
Solo female travel in Egypt
Even if I was afraid of solo female travel in Egypt (and I’m not ashamed to admit it) everything was surprisingly good. After few minor incidents in Iran I was worried I will have to deal with some harassment or even unwanted touching but nothing like that happened.
There was some catcalling, of course, but nothing more than that.
Even if I was really tempted to show my middle finger I just ignored those and kept walking, forgetting about the whole situation quickly.
In general Egypt was a bit annoying but that had nothing to do with me being a solo traveler. I assume I would be equally annoyed at touts if I was travelling with someone else.
Food in Egypt
I’m a vegetarian so Egypt was a food paradise for me!
There were so many delicious options to choose from that I could finally try a variety of food but my favorite was of course falafel.
I bought it mostly from the street shops that would never pass the sanitary and health control but I never felt sick.
They were all so delicious and the cheapest I’ve ever tried.
If you are familiar and like Middle East food you know what to expect in Egypt.
I also ate a lot of fruits and drank so many fresh juices as they were so delicious! We don’t have such a good taste of fruits and vegetables in Poland!
Prices in Egypt
In general I found Egypt to be a rather cheap destination. Transport, food and accommodation were very affordable.
On the other hand a way too big part of my expenses were entrance fees.
Like in many other countries (Iran, Uzbekistan or Jordan, just to give you few examples) foreigners have to pay 5-10 times more for the entrance (if you learn the Arab numbers you will see this huge difference that just hurts the eyes).
Let’s say I can understand the whole idea behind it but I’d be fine if the extra money go for the restoration and taking care of the monuments. Sadly that’s not really the case with Egypt.
Anyway, during my 10 days in Egypt that’s what I’ve spent:
- Accommodation (9 nights, single rooms with breakfast) – 5950 EGP ($332 / €291)
- Transportation (trains, Uber, metro, ferries, taxis) – 2033 EGP ($114 / €100)
- Entrance fees – 2670 EGP ($149 / €131)
- Food and drinks – 1158 EGP ($65 / €57)
- Other (SIM card, tips, toilet) – 220 EGP ($12 / €11)
Total amount I spent on my 10 days in Egypt is 12 031 EGP ($672 / €590).
As I said I found sightseeing in Egypt to be a bit expensive.
Single tickets are not all that much but once you add the amounts you’ve spent it really is a lot.
With a heavy heart I paid for every entrance fee, after all I don’t know if I will visit Egypt again and I travelled all the way there to see all the great ancient remnants and other interesting sights.
Most places were definitely worth it but some not really.
On top of that in few sights you had to pay extra for the photography permits and sometimes (in the Valley of the Kings) it was more expensive than the entrance fee itself!
Here are the prices of entrance fee, prices from January 2019:
- Egyptian Museum – 350 EGP for everything (general entrance fee, Royal Mummies Hall, the photography permit)
- Cairo Tower – 200 EGP
- Coptic Museum – 100 EGP for the entrance and 50 EGP for the photography permit
- Random mosque in the Islamic Cairo – 5 EGP
- Tickets for 6 monuments in the Islamic Cairo – 100 EGP
- Pyramids in Giza – 160 EGP for the area, 340 EGP for the Cheops Pyramid
- Citadel in Cairo – 140 EGP
- Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan in Cairo – 80 EGP but they didn’t have a change so I paid 100 EGP
- Valley of the Kings in Luxor – 200 EGP entrance fee, 300 EGP photography permit
- Hatshepsut Temple in Luxor – 100 EGP
- Medinet Habu Temple in Luxor – 80 EGP
- Karnak Temple in Luxor – 150 EGP
- Philae Temple in Aswan – 140 EGP + 150 EGP for the boat
- High Dam in Aswan – 75 EGP
- The Obelisk in Aswan – 80 EGP
Getting money in Egypt
You need the local currency, Egyptian Pound, and the best way to get it is at the ATM.
You can either withdraw it (that’s what I was doing) or you can exchange the US dollars at the ATM (I didn’t try that but a friend of mine confirmed it works fine).
I was always using ATMs of Banque Misr and they were always working well.
The only issue was that it didn’t allow me to withdraw more than 2.000 EGP, claiming I reached my daily limit (I didn’t). But it wasn’t such a big problem really.
There are plenty of ATMs everywhere so you shouldn’t worry about running out of money (as long as you have them on your account, that’s it).
Where to stay in Egypt
I was searching for the accommodation at Booking.com (as always) and stayed in some decent places in Egypt.
I found all the places to be a fair value for the price, the rooms were clean and the included breakfast was huge however two out of the three hotels had a bit of the old-ish design. But I didn’t mind it all that much really.
In Cairo I stayed at Azar Hotel (Boutique hotel). It was perfectly located in the downtown, close to metro station Attaba and within a walking distance of Tahrir Square and Egyptian Museum.
The staff was very friendly and the view from the rooftop was just the best. I can definitely recommend this place. Click here to read more about this hotel.
In Luxor I stayed at Aracan Eatabe Luxor Hotel. It was a big hotel, with everything you needed on spot (the restaurant was a life saver really) but what I enjoyed the most was the view over the Nile.
I paid extra for it and it was the best decision as wherever I looked outside the balcony I could admire a gorgeous landscape.
The hotel also had a very good location, close to the Luxor Temple and the center of the city. Click here to read more about this hotel.
In Aswan I first booked the accommodation on the Elephantine Island but when I figured I will take the train back to Cairo that departs at 5.30am I changed my reservation for another hotel just 5 minutes walking from the train station.
I booked Marhaba Palace Hotel. and even if it has so-so reviews I found it fairly good.
Again, the view from the rooftop stole my heart! Click here to read more about this place.
Speaking of accommodation I had a very strange situation on my last night in Cairo and Egypt.
I booked a different hotel than at the beginning of my trip and once I got there, after 14 hours train journey from Aswan, I was told that they have no room for me.
They gave it to some other people who arrived earlier and paid in cash, I was told to look for another place to stay, after all there are plenty of hotels in downtown Cairo.
No one messaged me before to confirm I’m coming or secured the payment from the card I put on Booking. It was 8pm, dark outside and I was left alone with no accommodation.
Fortunately the hotel I stayed at during my first visit in Cairo was available and actually half the price of the one I was supposed to stay at.
I was lucky I already knew the city a bit and felt confident enough to walk around on my own in the evening but I can’t imagine I’ve just arrived to Cairo and I’m in this situation.
When I got to Azar Hotel everyone was nice, welcoming and happy to see me again, I don’t know why I didn’t book the room there again in the first place.
When I wrote about this situation on my Facebook page it turned out something similar happened to one of my readers, only she was supposed to stay in some other hotel.
It seems like this might be a common issue in Cairo so before booking the place make sure to read the reviews of the hotel (the one I was supposed to stay at, Valencia Hotel, had 8.4/10 score on Booking).
Giving tips in Egypt
That’s what annoyed me the most in Egypt, to be honest.
I’m from Poland, we don’t really have a culture of giving tips. I don’t mind giving a tip for a decent service but I get annoyed when I’m barefacedly asked for money every few minutes, even when the person did literally nothing for me.
I was confident enough to give the tip only when I felt it was right but every single tip-related encounter was really annoying.
One of the guys at the Pyramids, who I didn’t ask for help at all, was rude enough to demand more money than I originally gave him, claiming that “this is nothing” (I answered that no, you can get at least two falafel sandwiches for this sum) and I can pay him in dollars, showing me a wallet full of USD bills (I answered that I can see he has enough money by now and it’s 10am only). Eventually I added one more small bill of 10EGP to get rid of the guy.
That said all the tip related encounters were only in the touristic areas, whenever I was in the “regular” places everything was just fine.
When travelling in Egypt make sure you always have some spare bills with you as you will most likely need them for tips!
And yes, I’m aware that a fair bit of people’s income come from tips but giving them money for nothing is not the right way to do things in my opinion.
What to see in Egypt
The most popular Egypt attractions are Pyramids of Giza, Valley of the Kings in Luxor or the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
And all of these are spectacular and really impressive places but there is so much more to see in the country.
Be sure to give a few days to Cairo, to feel the vibe of the city and see what it has to offer (and there is a lot to see really!).
In Luxor, besides the Valley of the Kings, you can’t miss few other temples (Luxor, Karnak or Habu – the last one was my favorite).
A bit further south you should visit Aswan with its Naubian villages, High Dam on Nile and Philae Temple. Aswan can be also a good base to visit Abu Simble Temples.
If you like beach holidays then Hurghada, Sharm el Shejkh, Dahab or Marsa Alam are your places to go.
Sinai Peninsula, especially the St. Catherine’s Monastery, are supposed to be beautiful but unfortunately are not the safest places these days.
In the north the city of Alexandria, located on the southern shore of Mediterranean Sea, is worth a visit.
If you have some time to spare be sure to go for a Nile river cruise, especially between Aswan and Luxor. I wanted to do it really badly but since it was the New Year’s time the prices were horrendous.
Be careful when taking pictures on the street, especially when there is police around.
Numerous religious buildings that are not mosques are heavily guarded and you are not allowed to photograph them (I learnt the hard way when first I took the picture of the beautiful synagogue and then of the Armenian church).
In the touristic places be careful when taking pictures of people as you might be asked for a tip. Other than everything should be fine.
In some attractions, such as the Egyptian Museum, the Coptic Museum or the Valley of the Kings you need to purchase a special photography permit – I was checked few times in each place if I have it when I was taking pictures.
In the Valley of the Kings it’s actually even more expensive than the ticket itself but if you want to have a photo souvenir from visiting this spectacular place it’s definitely worth it.
People in Egypt
Besides the tourist attractions I found people in Egypt to be warm, friendly and really hospitable.
I exchanged so many smiles and greetings, drank tea with locals on few occasions and after I returned from Islamic Cairo some random souvenirs (bookmark, fruits, bread) because people insisted to share those with me.
Even in the touristic places people were nice but at the same time too pushy for my taste.
When you visit Egypt don’t be afraid of people, talk to them and you will see a completely new face of this ancient country!
When you are about to leave Egypt be sure to be at the airport ahead of time.
For my flight back to Kiev I, and everyone else, had to go to the check in counter even if I checked in online.
That’s where you will get a migration card to fill and a printed boarding pass. The counter opens some 3 hours before the flight but since mine was delayed it was a big mess.
Once you have the boarding pass and migration card with all your details written you can proceed to the passport control and afterwards enjoy a duty free zone.
If there is anything I missed or if you have some questions about Egypt travel feel free to ask in the comments below, I will be happy to help!