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Egypt - 5 Things To Know Before You Go


Hospitality first

Considering how budget conscious we were during our time in Cairo, I felt like we were treated like kings. We ventured into so many shops that offered tea, snacks, and any number of local treats that we "must try!". The saying goes, "You can't refuse, only chose" when it comes to the hospitable nature of Egyptians. If you're experience is anything like ours, you'll be pleasantly plump and happy.


The hard sell

Think you're pretty good at avoiding pushy street salesmen at markets and touristy hot spots? Egypt will put you to the test. The best advice is to put you head down, avoid eye contact, and walk without acknowledging them. If you're like me however, and struggle to not at least smile or say, "no, thank you", you might be in for a long day. Whether telling you something is a free gift, to wanting to take a picture for you, or simply showing you around - they want your money - badly. The good news is that prices are pretty cheap, but if you're truly not interested - just keep walking.



Transportation

The same principles apply to making your way around Cairo. Your best bet will be to book through the hotel you're staying in - people with an already vested interest in your trip's enjoyment. This is especially true when arriving at the airport where the wolves are waiting just outside the doors. The key is finding a person and upfront price that you can trust. Whether Uber, or the certified Taxi drivers, make sure you know exactly where you're going and exactly how much it will cost before making your journey. And don't forget that everything is negotiable. On another note, seat belts are rarely worn in Egypt, the driving is mayhem and you can easily be stuck in traffic for hours.


How to see the sites

When it comes to seeing the numerous sites of this world capital, it will help your experience greatly to have a plan in advance (at least before you leave for the day). Knowing where you are going, how you are getting there, and how much it should cost will all go a very long way to you avoiding uncertainty when hounded by the masses. Even though we're notorious for avoiding tours, we booked excursions through our hotel which also covered entry fees to places like the Pyramids, Memphis & Saqqara. Tour guides also know tips and tricks like where to see hieroglyphics (not in the Giza Pyramids), and can easily amend the plan as necessary. The Great Pyramids area does not open until 8am and requires entry tickets, as do many of the other sites. With low costs, just book the guide, sit back, and enjoy! One more thing: go early to beat the crowds!


Ramadan

The timing of your trip should consider the holy month of Ramadan since Egypt is a primarily Muslim country. During this time, Muslim's fast from sunrise to sunset with many of them staying up at night and sleeping during the day. We arrived during this unique time and encountered busy streets late at night and much smaller crowds when we were out exploring the city. This can work to your advantage at big sites like the Pyramids, where there are fewer people in your pictures. But it can also make many stores or markets unavailable that would otherwise be open during other times of the year.




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