Egypt was known throughout its history as a destination for tourists and travellers since it was visited by “Herodotus” during the ancient time, when he got surprised because of the vast difference between Egypt and his homeland. Egypt maintained this image throughout the middle and modern history. However, the discovery of the Pharaonic antiquities long time ago has added a special charm to Egypt, besides its unique religious and cultural monuments. On the other hand, Egypt enjoys a geographical location, and a moderate climate all the year-round, along with its smooth vast coastlines, and beaches with its unique treasures of coral reefs, providing Egypt with advantages of a competitive edge.
Egypt enjoys various fields of tourism attraction, the most important are archaeological or cultural tourism as one of the oldest types of tourism in Egypt, where the landmarks of the ancient civilizations are visible to the naked eye, an incarnation of the nations that constructed these civilizations since the dawn of history. Despite the multiple types of tourism, and Egypt’s cultural tourism remains the unrepeated, unique and non-competitive component of tourism as Egypt possesses one third of the world’s known monuments.
Besides cultural and archaeological tourism, many tourism attraction types have come into existence and addressed broader segments of tourists across the world, including recreational tourism, beaches tourism, religious tourism, therapeutic tourism, eco-tourism, sports tourism, golf tourism, safari tourism, desert tourism, yacht tourism, and maritime tourism in addition to festivals tourism, and cultural events and finally conferences and exhibitions tourism.
Egypt is a wonderland of shopping opportunities. Of course, there are the famous bazaars such as the Khan el-Khalili, but then there are also thousands of unusual stores scattered about the country, and especially in Cairo, though some products are better purchased perhaps from the locale from which they are produced, such as alabaster in Luxor. However, Cairo provides a huge variety of everything from antiques to fine clothing and especially jewellery.
In some shops, you must haggle while in others the price will be set. Which type of store provides the best possible deals depends both on the shop itself and the haggling ability of the buyer and seller. Frequently though some of the best deals at the best consistent quality is found in stores with fixed prices. For example, one might haggle over a mother-of-pearl box in the Khan el-Khalili and pay a fairly low price but for an inferior product, while in a fixed price shop, one might end up paying more, but for a far superior mother-of-pearl box.
This information has been compiled for your reference in good faith but please use this only as a general guide. We advise you to check with relevant authorities with regard to the latest requirement for passport, visa, travel advisory, entry restrictions, health requirements, local currency etc. as these are subjected to change with without prior notice and our information given below may not be as updated.
Best time to go: The best time to visit Egypt is October through to April. The nights will be cool but most days are still warm and sunny. December through February aren’t the best times for swimming in the Mediterranean though, it gets quite cold and rainy. If you can bear very warm climate from May till September (going up to 50 deg cel), visit Egypt in the summer and you will to save a little money as all Hotels offer cheaper deals during summer.
Visa: New Zealanders require a visa to enter in Egypt. This can be obtained in advance from Egyptian Consulate in Sydney or on arrival at Cairo Airport at a cost of US$ 15.00 per person. Please keep one passport size photo handy, in case that is required at any time (please verify the Visa requirement and charges while planning the tour).
Currency: Currency of Egypt is the Egyptian Pound and 100 piasters make 1 Pound. You can change your foreign currency (advisable to carry US Dollars with a lot of small notes) at Hotel’s cashier or at a bank but keep a lot of time on hand as it take unusually long time to change currencies (you might be better changing only once). US Dollars are accepted as alternate currency at most Hotels, cruise boats and souvenir shops. Major credit cards are accepted at all big establishments but it’s advisable to keep small notes handy for petty expenses and tipping.
Health: Conditions in Egypt are different from here and you need to be prepared in advance for a comfortable trip. Though there is no need to take any precautionary vaccinations, it is advisable to consult your doctor well in advance as you will experience major change in climate, environment, food and water and general hygienic conditions. Your doctor will be able to help you prepare better.
Food and drinks: In Egypt, dining out can range from stand-up sandwich bars to luxurious five-course meals. You can find small, inexpensive establishments that serve good Egyptian food for only a few pounds. Egyptian cuisine is excellent, combining many of the best traditions of Middle Eastern cooking, and there are both large hotel restaurants and smaller specialist ones throughout the main towns. Some of the larger hotels in Cairo and its environs have kitchens serving top-quality cosmopolitan dishes. A typical Egyptian meal would comprise bread, hot & cold mezze (starters), soup, main course of meats and a dessert. Rice and bread form the bulk of Egyptian main courses served with vegetables or meat dishes. Torly, a mixed-vegetable stew, is usually made with lamb, or occasionally with beef, onions, potatoes, beans, and peas. Other popular dishes are Egyptian-style kebabs and Kufta, made from ground lamb flavoured with spices and onions. Pork, though not eaten by Muslims, is still available in Egypt. Fish, leafy vegetables and cheese are also used extensively in their daily cuisine.
All over Egypt, you will find small shops selling Egyptian version of sandwich called “shawarma” with filling of roasted chicken, lamb or beef. This is cheap as well as hygienically prepared and can be a good snack or a light meal.
Although Egypt is a Muslim country, alcohol is available in cafe-style bars and good restaurants. All popular international brands of beer and other alcoholic beverages are available.
Safety & security: Like in any other part of the world, a few precautions need to be taken to avoid any problems. Please do not leave your bags unattended at any times. Please use safe deposit in your hotel room or Reception to keep your money or valuables including passport. When you leave the room, it is recommended that you lock your suitcase. It is also recommended to carry a copy of your passport including the visa page.
Clothing: You can dress up casually. Shorts and t-shirts are absolutely fine but considering that Egypt is a conservative country, revealing dresses should be avoided in public areas. In certain cities, you may visit a mosque where you will be required to cover your shoulders and knees. Please take good walking shoes with non-slip sole as you will be required to walk frequently during your sightseeing programs and sometimes on uneven surface.
Language: Official language in Egypt is Arabic but English is widely spoken.
Gratuities: Tipping is not mandatory but it is highly appreciated by the people who serve you. In quite a few places, it is quite apparently asked – whether it is one of the serving staff or a camel boy who shows you a good spot to take a picture from – if you take help from anyone in Egypt, be prepared to give out at least a dollar in Baksheesh. Before you tip in restaurants, please check if the service charge has been added.
Airport tax: Generally your international air ticket should include airport tax on international departure. Domestic taxes are also included in the air tickets.
Internet: Internet is common in hotel rooms and a lot of hotels also have internet facilities at their Reception or Business Centre for use by guests at a small fee. Cyber cafes are popular but you will find them crowded.
Telephone: Egypt has a dialling code of +20 from New Zealand. Telephone numbers of Hotels arranged by us will be supplied to you in your itinerary. While calling New Zealand from Egypt, you will need to dial +64… Calling from Hotels is expensive but if you need to call frequently, it is advisable to buy a local SIM card on arrival. Calling home through local SIM card is quite cheap.
Time Difference: Egypt is 11 hours behind New Zealand from April to September and 10 hours from October to March.
Photography: Taking photos of airports, government buildings and military establishments are prohibited. If you are taking photos of local ladies, please politely ask for prior permission. You might be asked for some money if you take photo of a local person even after their permission.
Electricity: Voltage supply in Egypt is 220 volts and 2-pin or 3-pin (round pins) are used in Egypt. Few Hotels have adapters available which you could borrow free of charge during your stay but it might be a good idea to carry one from home. Please visit this website for more information on plugs: http://kropla.com/electric2.htm
CITIES OF INTEREST
Cairo, the Triumphant City, known officially as al-Qāhirah, is Egypt’s capital city and with over 16 million inhabitants, it ranks as one of the largest cities in Africa. This city of contradictions will enthral you with its ageless charm. The ancient and the modern co-exist in surprising harmony, and the hospitality and friendliness of its people will set you at ease. Historic Cairo includes the wonders of the pharaohs, as well as a religious heritage embodied in the numerous Jewish, Coptic and Islamic monuments that abound. It is the modern administrative capital of Egypt and has most of Egypt’s Pyramids, such as the Great Pyramids of Giza on the very edge of the city. And there are ancient temples, tombs, Christian churches, magnificent Muslim monuments, and of course, the Egyptian Antiquities Museum.
Cairo is an amazing city full of life and movement and it is that way almost 24 hours every day, with the noisy honking of horns, children playing in the streets and merchants selling their wears and services.
Cairo offers an incredible selection of shopping, leisure and nightlife activities. Shopping ranges from the famous Khan el-Khalili souk, (or bazaar) largely unchanged since the 14th century, to modern air-conditioned centres displaying the latest fashions. All the bounty of the East can be here. Particularly good buys are spices, perfumes, gold, silver, carpets, brass and copperware, leatherwork, glass, ceramics and mashrabiya. Try some of the famous street markets, like Wekala al-Balaq, for fabrics, including Egyptian cotton, the Tentmakers Bazaar for appliqué-work, and Mohammed Ali Street for musical instruments and although you probably won’t want to buy, the Camel Market makes a fascinating trip. This is, and has been for over a thousand years, truly a shopper’s paradise.
Aswan is Egypt’s sunniest city and has a distinctively African atmosphere. It was once the gateway to Africa and an important ancient trade centre. Aswan today offers beautiful natural scenery in addition to numerous sites of interest. Small enough to walk around and graced with the most beautiful setting on the Nile, the pace of life is slow and relaxing. Days can be spent strolling up and down the broad Corniche watching the sailboats etch the sky with their tall masts or sitting in floating restaurants listening to Nubian music and eating freshly caught fish.
In Aswan the Nile is at its most beautiful, flowing through amber desert and granite rocks, round emerald islands covered in palm groves and tropical plants. Explore the souk, full of the scent and colour of spices, perfumes, scarves and baskets. Aswan has been a favourite winter resort since the beginning of the nineteenth century, and it’s still a perfect place to get away from it all. Every night Nubian dancers and musicians perform in the Cultural Centre, just off the Corniche. Folklore troupes recreate scenes from village life and perform the famous Nubian mock stick-fight dances.
Relax here, visit a few mosques, but then prepare for an adventure. The bazaar runs along the Corniche, which continues past the Ferial Gardens and the Nubian Museum, and continues on to the Cemetery, with its forest of cupolas surmounted tombs from the Fatimid period.
Luxor is the most important destination for any visitor interested to learn about ancient Egyptian history. This outdoor museum has the largest collection of historical monuments in Egypt, distributed throughout the City of Luxor on the East side of the Nile, the town of Karnak north of Luxor, and Thebes on the west side of the Nile.
Luxor has often been called the world’s greatest open air museum, as indeed it is and much more. The number and preservation of the monuments in the Luxor area are unparalleled anywhere else in the world. To say that the Luxor area is a major attraction for tourists in Egypt would be an understatement. It has been a tourist destination since the beginning of tourism. Even in ancient times, during the late Dynasties of the Greek and Roman periods, the area drew tourists, and has been doing so ever since.
One thing you might notice is that various government and other buildings confirm to an ‘ancient’ building code. These buildings are all designed to appear as pharaonic constructions. This occurred after the Egyptianization of the modern town resulting mostly from the euphoria from Howard Carter’s discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun.
The second largest city in Egypt, Alexandria, known as “The Pearl of the Mediterranean”, has an atmosphere that is more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern; its ambience and cultural heritage distance it from the rest of the country although it is actually only 225 km. from Cairo. Alexandria has a history as rich and varied as Cairo’s having stood witness to the rise and fall of civilizations, maintaining its unique character and ageless charm. Alexandria was the capital of Greco-Roman Egypt, and it remains the repository of such historical treasures as the Greco-Roman Museum, Roman Amphitheatre and Catacombs. With its laid back Mediterranean feel, Alexandria offers the traveller a wealth of activities. Using the newly restored Corniche, you are within walking distance of most of the cities sights.
Marine archaeologists have discovered a vast array of underwater artefacts and monuments in the harbour, and some will even allow you to share in the excitement by diving alongside them in this underwater museum.
Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria became the capital of Graeco-Roman Egypt, its status as a beacon of culture symbolized by Pharaohs, the legendary lighthouse that was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The setting for the stormy relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Alexandria was also the centre of learning in the ancient world. But ancient Alexandria declined, and when Napoleon landed, he found a sparsely populated fishing village.
From the 19th century Alexandria took a new role, as a focus for Egypt’s commercial and maritime expansion. Generations of immigrants from Greece, Italy and the Levant settled here and made the city synonymous with commerce, cosmopolitanism and bohemian culture. Alexandria is a city to explore at random. It’s as important to enjoy the atmosphere as it is to see the sights.
Ramses II constructed the two great temples in Abu Simbel one for himself and one for his Nubian wife Nefertari. The two temples at Abu Simbel are perhaps some of most magnificent monuments in the world. The temples face east to receive the rays of the rising sun. It is said that twice a year, the sun shines on the face of the King: once on his birthday and once on his coronation day. It is still a mystery to archaeologists how the ancient Egyptians could have designed and built such miraculous structures.
In 1964 they were threatened by submersion in Lake Nasser due to the construction of the High Dam. The Egyptian Government secured the support of UNESCO for the removal and reconstruction of the two temples. The temples were dismantled and raised over 60 meters up the sandstone cliff where they had been built more than 3,000 years before. The project completed by an international team of 3000 specialists, cut the Temple into 2000 pieces, carved the entire Temple out of the cliff and reconstructed both cliff and Temple nearby. The project took $40 million to complete; one of the most ambitious relocation projects in history.
Sharm El Sheikh
The Sinai Peninsula is a vast area of unspoiled beauty. The excellent quality of the water, the magnificent underwater world and the impressing panorama of the Sinai Mountains, all promise an unforgettable experience. Sharm El Sheikh is fast becoming the main attraction of this area. A coastal resort where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches and sunshine, Sharm El Sheikh offers the vacationer a full complement of activities, whether water sports (water-skiing, windsurfing, diving, snorkelling), golf, tennis, horseback-riding or desert safaris.
If relaxation is what you’re looking for, there is no better place to simply sit back and enjoy the sun. Places like the Hard Rock Café, discos, cosy local oriental Cafes and fish restaurants guarantee that once the sun has set, your nights are also filled with fun and entertainment.
Sharm El-Sheikh city is one of the largest diving centres in the world because of its potential environment and unique diversified nature which leads Sharm El-Sheikh to be one of the major centres for attracting domestic and international tourism, in addition to being a resort for armatures fishing, tourism and diving. There you will find the biggest diving centres equipped with the latest devices, because of which, World Travel Awards awarded Sharm el-Sheikh the best global destination for diving in 2007