Page update - Nov 29, 2022
What are the ways of cheating tourists in Egypt? How do scammers cheat in resort hotels? How not to become a victim of fraudsters? Read the answers on this page.
We consider this to be one of the most dangerous tricks, which is why we talk about it first of all.
Stealing of belongings from hotel rooms is a separate topic of conversation. It is a very serious problem in Egypt. Now we are going to talk about a slightly different form of stealing. All hotel employees understand that theft is a criminal offense and there is always a chance of getting caught. Therefore, they invent more clever schemes to steal valuable things from tourists.
On the day you leave the hotel, a janitor enters your room. He enters the room under the pretext of cleaning so he/she cannot be accused of anything. Of course, he/she won't steal anything.
You know the joke phrase: "Search it, find it, re-hide it?" This is just such a case. He/she does look for valuables and re-hides them, but in a way that the guests won't find them.
As a result, you have to check out and the expensive video camera is gone. You madly remember where you could have left it. But there is no time and you leave without it. It's a pity, but the plane won't wait.
The glad janitor waits for you to leave, goes into the room, and takes the thing, because he/she knows where it is hidden. This way they steal things without the risk of being caught. And even if they get caught, they simply say they found the item by accident while preparing the room for the next guests.
Conclusion 1. Don't put off packing until the last minute. Pack in advance to have time to check everything.
Conclusion 2. Check the room thoroughly before checking out. Particular attention should be paid to shelves that are high up, items on them may not always be visible.
Most beach hotels provide tourists with special cards upon check-in. Tourists receive beach towels in exchange for these cards. The hotel terms clearly state that all cards must be returned at the end of your stay and that you must pay a fine if you lose your card or towel.
The fines are rather high - from 10 to 30 US dollars (or Euros), which does not correlate with the quality of the towels.
You can buy such a towel for 5 US dollars in most countries. Naturally, the situation where you lose your towel is very profitable for the hotel because it sells a second-hand towel worth USD 5 for USD 20.
It is a common situation, tourists come out of the pool or the sea and find that the towels are gone.
Of course, someone could have taken a towel by mistake, as they are all the same in color. But there are hotels where a special person from the staff walks around the territory and collects towels that seem unwanted. This way the hotel earns money from tourists in a dishonest way.
Conclusions. We recommend taking your own beach towels with you, and such that it is impossible to confuse them with hotel towels. Cards should be hidden in a safe so that they are not taken by accident (or on purpose) by a janitor.
Egypt is the country with the cheapest taxis in the world. However, some tourists pay three or more times than the official fare. Why does this happen?
First of all, because many tourists often do not know how to call a taxi at official rates. Many hotels are far away from busy highways, and finding a taxi is a problem.
And in the hotel lobby, an agent sits with a sheet of paper with prices. Convenient, but overpriced. See next to the photo of such an agent from the hotel in Makadi Bay, click on the photo to enlarge. Tourists take these prices at face value. Sad.
Of course, the situation is better at hotels in the busier parts of the resorts. It's easy to catch a taxi right on the street there. However, even in this case, taxi drivers like to get an extra from tourists. They try to charge tourists a flat rate which is double or more of what you'd pay with the taximeter.
Conclusion 1. Find out in advance how to call an official taxi. There are apps, phones, Uber and Careem. Read our in-depth review "Taxis in Egypt" for all the details and fares.
Conclusion 2. Check in advance about the journey distance, so that you know a fair price.
There are several types of scams with Egyptian money. Egyptian banknotes have several features that fraudsters and traders take advantage of. These include swapping the 50 Egyptian pounds note for 50 Egyptian piastres and cheating on the change. Read about all this in detail in our review "Money in Egypt".
However, tourists often don't even see the Egyptian money itself. Maybe that's a good thing.
This cheat is common in Hurghada Airport.
After landing, you need to buy an Egyptian visa and fill out a migration card. And there you see your tour company's representative carefully handing out visas to the tourists. What a great service, you think!
You approach the person, he/she quickly glue on the visa in your passport and demands 27 US dollars. How come, because the visa costs 25 US dollars! It turns out that this visa delivery service has a price of 2 US dollars. Our readers tell us about cases when they asked for 30 dollars (i.e. +5 dollars).
Is it cheating or not? It's hard to say. On the one hand, the visa costs 25 at the official window next door. On the other hand, you don't have to queue. And often there is no change at the official counter and you have to wait for the change. And the person usually has change in hand.
Conclusion. Take your time. If you want to get through quickly and save time, there is a more efficient way. It is better to study instructions for filling in a migration card in advance in order not to bother with this card. And take your own pen to fill it in so that you do not have to wait for a free pen.
This method is simple. If the hotel staff sees that the tourist is checking out at the last moment, they decide to cash in on the situation.
Tourists are asked to pay for the use of the minibar which they really did not even touch. Or some services that they did not use, such as telephone calls. It happens that they charge for damage to property. It's all made up. They hope tourists have no time to sort it out.
Often a hotel employee asks for a guest's passport, supposedly to check something. The passport is held hostage in this situation.
Many pay to avoid delaying the transfer bus. The fee is usually small - 10 or 20 US dollars (up to 50). Naturally, this money goes into the pockets of unashamed hotel employees.
The conclusion is simple. Do not postpone checking out to the last minute. A little extra time is always needed, at least "just in case".
One more thing. You may give your passport to a hotel employee only once - at check-in. Do not give more. Some tourists do not give their passports to anyone except the police and always give a photocopy. It's a sensible approach, take it as an example.
You stay in an All Inclusive hotel and logically assume that all locally produced soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are included. You arrive tired and see a cold bottle of Stella beer or Coca-Cola in the fridge.
You know the fact that this beer is locally produced and should be included in the All Inclusive. The house-keeper carefully replaces the bottles with new ones and life seems to be good since you don't even have to walk to the bar. You've had a wonderful holiday!
When you check out of the hotel, you get an invoice. It turns out that all the contents of the minibar are chargeable. And it does not matter if these drinks are local or not.
But the essence of the "scam" is not in the fact of a paid mini-bar, but in the price of its contents. They ask about 5 US dollars for a bottle of the Egyptian beer which in any way doesn't correspond to its quality. It is three times cheaper in stores. See our review "Local alcohol in Egypt" for the current prices.
Unfortunately, there are no laws that define All Inclusive in Egypt. Since there is no law or standard, each hotel determines the set of AI services independently.
Conclusion. Always ask in advance whether the service is included in All Inclusive or not. And this applies not only to the minibar, but to all services totally.
Many package tourists encounter this scam. You come to a meeting with a hotel guide and he/she offers to buy excursions. The prices are 30-50% more expensive than those of third-party travel agencies.
However, he/she tells you a "legend" that your medical insurance is valid only if you buy the excursion from him/her. In other cases, the insurance is not valid.
Of course, this is not true. Read the insurance policy. There are no such terms and cannot be. This is a direct violation of all competition laws and no insurance company does this.
Let's talk about the price of excursions. Let's assume that the tour operator conducts the excursion only for its customers. In this case, the inflated price may be justified. There may be either more competent guides, or more comfortable buses, or richer programs.
But more often it happens that you buy an excursion from your hotel guide and pay USD 60, but there is someone in the bus next to you who bought it from an outside agency for USD 40. You paid different money for the same service. This is a real "scam".
Tourists face the cheat of excursion hidden fees in third-party tour agencies. Hotel guides don't usually have this, and that's great.
The cheat looks like this. You buy a tour and pay USD 30 for it (for example). When the bus arrives to pick you up, the guide tells you that you have to pay extra for additional services.
For example, you have to pay special insurance for driving a buggy or an ATV. Or the entrance fees to an attraction are not included. Or the payment for the boat ride is not included in the initial price.
This cheat is rare, but very unpleasant. It is unlikely that you will be able to cancel the excursion because a prepayment has been made and you will not get your money back.
There is only one way to fight this. Always ask when buying excursions - is it the final price or will there be some surcharges? But even this is not a guarantee, because most often the surcharge comes up with the guide himself for his personal benefit, not the agency and not the tour company.
Already in the hotel you will be constantly approached by vendors of different services - offering excursions, unforgettable photo shoots, baths and hammams, going to a restaurant, shopping tours and much more.
Remember the general rule. If you do not want to buy a service, then answer always in one word - NO. Do not say the phrases like "not now, come back tomorrow" or "we'll think about it later".
Some tourists faced the bad situation. They were approached by someone like that and offered an excursion. They have said something like "we just arrived, come back tomorrow".
The next day, this person came up again and said that they wanted to go on the excursion with him, but they did not show up. Now they have to pay 50% of the price as forfeit.
Of course no one is obliged to pay. No one has officially promised him anything and owes him nothing. You can safely tell him to get off. But the situation is already unpleasant. He/she starts screaming and threatening to call the police. Many tourists pay out of fear.
Think about it, is it worth it? The answer is always NO, and no other phrases. Even if they ask you why not, answer again - NO, and no explanations.
You've probably heard about the "it costs USD 1 to ride a camel and USD 10 to climb down from camel" scam. There is no point in talking about it in detail. Let's talk about more creative variants of this fraud.
The most common way is when the camel's owner wants you to take a picture with it and then demands money. It is practiced not only in Egypt.
The most artful and dangerous way is as follows. The tourist is offered a ride for 50 Egyptian pounds (or a similar amount). People agree as it is cheap. Next, the camel owner offers the tourist to put the belongings in a bag on the camel to avoid carrying belongings in the hands.
At the end of the trip he declares that he did not ask for 50 Egyptian pounds but 50 US dollars (or Euros)! The belongings in the bag on the camel ends up being held hostage to the situation. Very unpleasant and most tourists are forced to pay.
The conclusion is obvious. Don't leave your belongings with guides, helpers or anyone else. Especially don't leave your belongings with a camel! The most common frauds involving camels and horses take place at the Great Egyptian Pyramids.
This practice exists in most tourist countries. During excursions, tourists are taken to papyrus shops, carpet shops, ceramics shops and shops of all kinds. The guides and sellers shout at the top of their voices that everything is extremely cheap there.
In reality, these shops do not sell at a discount, but at a severe mark-up. Fortunately, this practice has not reached such gigantic proportions in Egypt as it has in Turkey. But it's still a shame.
If it's not your first day of vacation then you likely have a good idea about the prices. In this case, you can objectively estimate the prices in this shop on excursions.
If you have come recently, then the advice is one: buy nothing in such shops. It will be very sad to see the same thing in a usual store two times cheaper the next day.
For prices of popular gifts and souvenirs, see our detailed review "What to bring from Egypt".
Some Egyptians do this as a part-time job, although they don't make much money. They approach tourists and offer all kinds of help. For example, they can show you the way or tell you something interesting according to their linguistic abilities. There are a lot of options.
They ask for a bakshish (payment) for their help. The most unpleasant thing is that even if an Egyptian is helpful and a tourist gives him money, he is always displeased and demands more. Although sometimes they are not so shameless.
In some cases, these people are very helpful. First of all, they are helpful at markets where it is difficult for tourists to find their way around. They are often quick to point out all the interesting parts of the attraction, which is handy. However, they are of little help in most cases, especially considering their poor language skills.
How to behave. If you do not want help of any kind, answer clearly and briefly: NO. You can answer in English. After this you do not pay any attention to this person. He will leave you alone in a minute or two.
There are different regulations about taking photos at tourist attractions in Egypt. In some places, you can take pictures without any restrictions. In some places, you need to purchase a special photo permit from the ticket counter. Usually, you need permission to take photos with a DSLR, but it is free with a smartphone.
There are places where the rules are quite complicated. For example, at the Cairo Museum you need permission, but it is strictly forbidden to take photos in Tutankhamun Hall. Or at the Museum of Egyptian Civilisation, it's forbidden to take photos in the Mummies Halls.
Or in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, you can take photos almost everywhere and without buying a permit, but in some tombs it is forbidden at all and in some tombs it is forbidden with flash.
The guards and police at the sights hardly keep an eye on tourists. There are scammers who approach tourists who break the rules, introduce themselves as guards (police) and demand to pay fines. Taken by surprise, tourists often pay.
The conclusions are simple. First of all, do not spare money and buy a permit for taking pictures. It's not expensive, for example the Cairo Museum is only 50 Egyptian pounds. Secondly, look out for forbidding signs. Thirdly, if this happens to you, tell the person that you are ready to continue the conversation at the entrance to the attraction, where there are definitely real guards and a real policeman.
Buses are the most affordable way to get between Egyptian cities and resort regions. There are more than a dozen intercity bus companies operating in Egypt, but the diversity doesn't make things any easier for tourists.
The websites are all in Arabic, with information on routes, ticket prices, bus stations, and timetables. Only Go Bus has a convenient website in English - go-bus.com.
It is difficult for the tourist to find the timetables and buy the tickets. There are travel agencies, hotel sellers and other enterprising Egyptians, who are happy to help. But how much do they charge?
Conclusion: be sure to check out the Go Bus website. Even if you want to use services of a different company (not Go Bus) you can at least see the current ticket price for the desired route. Based on these prices, you will be able to understand whether the surcharge is fair or predatory.
- Tourists are sometimes cheated if buying local SIM cards. They are sold at triple the price. For the official prices on SIM cards and traffic packages see our detailed review "Internet in Egypt";
- For safety concerns, read our in-depth review "What not to do in Egypt".
Enjoy your holidays on Egyptian beaches, and read our interesting and useful pages about this country for tourists (find the list of the pages below).
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