Page update - Aug 19, 2023
What should not tourists do in Egypt? What laws do you need to know? What cultural features of Egyptians should you be aware of? What do you really need to be afraid of, and what is not necessary to be afraid of? Read the answers and 16 simple tips on this page.
Prices, statistics, and other information on this page updated in August 2023.
Pickpocketing remains a serious problem in Egypt. We forget about this problem, as many people already use plastic cards and hardly wear cash. We forget about pickpockets and let our guard down.
In Egypt, cash is still the main way of payment for the vast majority of people. The transition to "plastic" in Egypt is going on, but at a very slow pace. Pickpockets are there, and they are a threat to tourists.
Just recently (June 2023) there was a very high-profile case. Cairo police detained a group of 1 man and 3 women in the Nasr City neighbourhood who turned out to be a pickpocketing gang. They were carrying 6 stolen phones and a large amount of money. These high-profile cases of pickpocketing are reported by the police every week.
In early August, two extra class thieves were caught in Aswan. They were stealthily removing gold jewellery from people. We hope that all these cases have convinced our readers to take the problem of pickpockets seriously.
Since Al-Sisi came to power (2013), the Egyptian Interior Ministry has not even published statistics. The last available figure is 2,900 registered pickpocketing incidents per year. Keep in mind that these are only reported crimes. Multiply the figure by at least 10 times to get the total number.
The problem is not as severe at the resorts. There are almost no crowds at the resorts. And even more so now, because of the coronavirus, people are trying to keep their distance, and there are even fewer crowds. In Cairo, Alexandria, and other big cities in transport and at sights, the chances of theft are high.
But in any case, we advise you not to relax and not to forget about simple precautions. Keep money and documents only in inside pockets. Do not "flash" money without an urgent need.
In Egypt, the Traffic Laws exist only on paper. In fact the drivers do not follow them. Be very careful on the roads!
The result of such careless behavior to the Traffic Laws is sad. In Egypt, every year 75 people per 100 thousand cars die in traffic accidents. To compare, in the UK it is only 5.7 deaths per 100 thousand cars. In the US it is 14.2 deaths per 100 thousand cars.
See the result of the accident in Cairo in the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen. The conclusion: you have many times more chances to get run over by cars in Egypt. Be careful!
Even crossing a road on a green light does not guarantee safety. However, in Egypt, even traffic lights are rare. In the resort areas the problem is not so hard, as there are few cars, but in large cities you need to "keep your eyes open".
The situation is not getting any better. According to the figures from CAPMAS (Agency for Statistics), the number of accidents and deaths over the past 5 years has gradually increased by 10-20% each year.
During 2021, 7,100 people died on the roads. The increase was 15.2% compared to 2020 (6,164 deaths). And that's only those who died immediately at the scene of the accident! If a person survived an accident and died in the hospital, he/she is not included in these statistics. If you count more deaths in hospitals, then multiply the figure by 1.5 or 2 times.
The total number of accident victims for 2021 is 51,511. And that's only those who went for medical help or to the police. Egyptians usually don't go anywhere if they get abrasions, scratches or minor bruises. That is their mentality.
Tap water in Egypt is considered unsuitable for drinking. It should not be used for drinking, rinsing eyes or wounds, brushing teeth, rinsing mouth, or intimate hygiene.
And even if the water in the Egyptian water pipes were clean, it would not fix the situation. Egypt has very high wear and tear on the water pipes, and the water still would not reach the consumer clean.
Clean bottled water is always available. At All Inclusive hotels you can always get the water at the bar. If you come not on All Inclusive, you can buy it in a supermarket. The price is 5-7 Egyptian pounds for a 1.5 liter bottle. At the time this page was updated (August 2023), the Carrefour supermarket offers 12 bottles of 1.5 liters for 60 Egyptian pounds. Agreed, a small price to pay for your health. For the current rates, see our page "Money in Egypt".
If you think about it, the Egyptians can be understood. After all, only a tiny fraction of tap water is used for drinking. Does it make economic sense to thoroughly purify all the water? Egyptians don't see the point.
When you arrive in Egypt you need to fill out an arrival card. These cards are distributed in the plane on some flights, but most tourists have to fill out this card at the airport.
Tourists lose a lot of time and nerves there.
First, there is usually a shortage of pens in the arrivals hall. People line up for pens. This is both funny and sad. The conclusion one: You need to have your own pen so you don't have to queue.
Egypt's migration card is in English and Arabic. But despite the English text, some tourists have difficulties to cope. The conclusion two: study the sample of filling in beforehand, or better yet, print or make a photo of it.
Such a sad situation is observed not only in Egypt, but also in all countries where there are still migration cards (arrival cards). For example, in Tunisia, China, or Thailand. We hope that Egypt will abolish these cards in the near future, as most countries in the world have done.
This is advice for package tourists (transfer from the airport to the hotel is included in the package). And the advice is relevant in all countries, but in Egypt especially.
Many tourists are trying to get through security and customs checks as quickly as possible and get out of the airport to the transfer bus, which takes you to your hotel. But why to hurry? The bus will be waiting for all the tourists in the group. You will sit and wait for the latecomers.
It is better to take your time and do important things at the airport building. First, buy a local SIM-card. Recall that the Internet in Egyptian SIM-cards is much cheaper than in roaming, as we wrote about in detail in the review "Internet in Egypt".
Second, go to the local Duty Free. Remember that you can buy imported liquor and cigarettes in Egypt only at Duty Free, only for 48 hours from the time of arrival. Read more in our review "Alcohol in Egypt".
Thirdly, you can change money, if you think it is necessary. Exchange rates in Egyptian airports are sometimes normal, sometimes terrible, it depends on the airport. Read our review "How and where to change money in Egypt" for details.
Egypt has strict currency controls now. Exchanging dollars or euros into Egyptian pounds is without restrictions. But the reverse exchange is heavily restricted by CBE (Central Bank of Egypt) since 2011. In fact, the reverse exchange is forbidden for tourists.
If you exchange a lot of money, where will you spend the Egyptian pounds? You can take no more than 5000 pounds out of the country, which is a small amount. And even if you can take it out of the country, you will be able to exchange it home at a very unfavorable exchange rate.
Fortunately, you don't need Egyptian pounds in tourist zones. You can buy everything for dollars and euros there. However, you may need Egyptian pounds for excursions, to pay for drinks, additional services, and souvenirs.
Change as much as you're sure to spend. Spend the remainder at the airport Duty Free in the departure area. Keep only a couple of EGP 1 coins, they are very beautiful.
This tip is valid for all countries. Many tourists make the big mistake of buying gifts and souvenirs they liked in the hotel gift store in the first days of vacation. Do not do this.
Stores at hotels or attractions are always overpriced. In addition, many stores do not have price tags, and it is not clear how much the seller is trying to raise the price.
Also, we do not recommend buying anything in the stores, where you stop on excursions. These stores are always overpriced. They target those tourists who do not know the fair prices.
Therefore. First, walk around gift shops, look at prices and options for gifts and souvenirs. And then at the end of the vacation go shopping. Do not forget that many gifts and souvenirs are more profitable and convenient to buy in a supermarket.
For the list of the best gifts and the prices, read our detailed review "What to bring from Egypt".
Not everything is allowed to be brought into Egypt. Not everything is allowed to be brought out of Egypt. Don't forget the customs regulations and laws.
There may be problems with medicines when entering Egypt. Many medicines, that are sold relatively freely in our countries, are regarded as forbidden drugs in Egypt. This applies primarily to painkillers. Stock up on a medical prescription.
It is also forbidden to bring in drones and quadcopters. Alcohol import is limited for tourists - not more than 1 liter. All the details in our review "What you can't take into Egypt".
When leaving the country the most common problem is coral. It is forbidden to take corals or other marine animals out of the country. There may also be problems with stones or any items that may be of historical value.
At the entrance to the home country, tourists often found overweight fruit. Also problems are not uncommon when tourists buy too much alcohol in Duty Free. All the details in our review "What you can't take out of Egypt".
There are about 1,200 species of fish in the Red Sea, including 44 species of sharks, about 1,000 species of invertebrates, and about 200 species of coral. There are many venomous specimens in this diversity.
The most famous is the Pterois (aka lionfish). Its bite and sting jab are not fatal in most cases, but it's poison causes paralysis and you can just drown in the water.
Another poisonous fish "Masked puffer" is in the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge. It is a close relative of the famous Fugu fish. Fortunately, it is harmless in common situations.
Another interesting species is the "Conus geographus". This is a very poisonous snail. And not only poisonous, but also aggressive. Agree, it's hard to imagine an aggressive snail, but it does exist. Fortunately, these snails live on the reefs, and do not appear on the beaches.
Another famous fish is the "stonefish". It is poisonous, and its venom is deadly. Stonefishes rarely swim but lie quietly on the bottom waiting for prey. The stonefish can be stepped on.
It is better just not to touch sea animals. Watch from the side and enjoy their beauty.
Sharks in the Red Sea attack tourists, but fortunately the cases are rare. The most recent cases were on June 2023 in Hurghada. In the last 10 years there have been 14 cases of attacks. All the cases are described in our review "Sharks in Egypt".
There are some laws in Egypt that do not apply in resort areas. For example, it is a criminal offense to drink alcohol and/or be drunk in public places in Egypt. However, this ban is not officially in force in hotels.
In Egypt, it is forbidden to sell alcohol during the month of Ramadan and Islamic holidays. But this ban is not officially in force in resort areas. Also in the daytime in Ramadan, most cafes and restaurants are closed, because the fasting period is on. In the resort areas, however, all public catering is open. Read about the holy month of Ramadan in our review "Ramadan in Egypt". For the holidays calendar, see our review "Holidays in Egypt.
On Friday (the holy day in Islam), many stores and eating establishments close for about an hour or an hour and a half at lunchtime. This is done so that the owner and staff can attend Friday prayers. Read our page "Friday in Egypt" for details. But in the resort areas, stores remain open.
In Cairo, you'll take a cab for 6 miles (10 kilometers) for 30-35 Egyptian pounds. In the resort area, a cab driver will ask for USD 10 (5 times as much) for the same distance. You can pay in dollars and euros everywhere in the resorts, but in the rest of Egypt you need Egyptian pounds.
As you can see, resort areas and the rest of Egypt are two different worlds. Don't forget that when you go outside the resort for sightseeing or other business.
This is a very common mistake of tourists. They get used to the All Inclusive in the hotel and forget that there is no All Inclusive at the excursion. Excursion buses do not stop at stores to buy drinks and snacks.
Water is the first and most important thing tourists forget. It is very sad to observe the picture of such forgetful tourists begging for water in the bus. The conclusion: Be sure to take plenty of water with you.
You do not have to carry this water all the time, you can leave it in the bus. We recommend that if possible take not one large bottle, but several small bottles. This makes it easier to take water with you outside the bus. In addition you can do a good deed - to share with those tourists who forgot.
If the tour involves a long trip, take a snack. Of course, tourists are not allowed to take food out of the All Inclusive restaurant. But you can always take a couple of sandwiches, especially if you politely explain to the receptionist that you are taking sandwiches with you for the excursion. We have not seen a case the receptionist refused after a polite request in this situation.
Also, do not forget for the excursion: comfortable shoes, headgear, light and bright clothes. Egypt is a hot country.
Due to measures against terrorism in Egypt, there are many prohibitions on taking pictures.
It is forbidden to take pictures of military personnel, military vehicles, and military facilities. It is forbidden to photograph police officers, their equipment, and police checkpoints. It is forbidden to take pictures of strategic facilities, including the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dam.
There are so many such bans that it is impossible to control their observance. Therefore, tourists often have no problem photographing forbidden objects. Even if you take a photo of something forbidden, there is usually no liability. At worst, they will ask you to erase the photo. If asked, it is better to erase to avoid trouble.
However, the press periodically has stories about tourists who have been taken to police stations or even to jail for taking photos. But these are extraordinary cases! For example, in November 2018, a tourist from the UK was taking photos from the plane he was flying into Alexandria. He was arrested and accused of espionage as a photo of a military helicopter was found on his phone.
And another case. In July 2019, an American decided to take a photo in front of the Great Pyramids. And not a simple photo, but a photo of his "bottom", with his pants off. He was detained by the Pyramids security service and turned in to the police.
Let us turn to geography. The city of Hurghada is located at 27th parallel to the north latitude, and the tilt of the Earth's axis is 23.5 degrees. Accordingly, in Egypt during the summer months you are in one of the closest points to the Sun on our planet.
Egypt has the driest city on our planet - Aswan. It is located on the 24th parallel. If you find yourself in Aswan on the summer solstice day of June 21, you will find yourself the closest person to the Sun on Earth.
In Egypt, you should seriously be wary of sunburn. This problem is very acute in the summer months. In autumn and spring, the threat can be called "average", and in winter you should not think seriously about it at all.
In order not to get sunburnt, you should follow simple precautions.
- The sun is most active from 12:00 to 15:30. This time it is better to spend indoors: at lunch, shopping or just sleeping.
- Try to minimize being under direct sunlight during the first days of vacation. Sunbathe under an umbrella.
- Use protective creams. For adults, the better SPF 20-30, for children SPF 50-60. Do not forget that the creams are limited in duration. The cream should be reapplied every 2-2.5 hours.
- Try to move around to put under the sunlight different parts of the body. By the way, the tan will be smoother. But no matter how you twist, your shoulders will always be under the sun. Be sure to wear clothes that cover your shoulders on excursions.
All of these rules apply to the hottest summer, autumn, and spring months. During the winter months, you don't have to worry. For the complete weather statistics, see the review "Weather in Egypt by month".
Cases of poisoning tourists occur very often in Egypt. Unfortunately, most often tourists themselves provoke these cases.
At the hotel, tourists often take food from the All Inclusive restaurant in the room or to the pool. Then they forget to eat it. In a hot climate, pathogens multiply very quickly, food spoils very quickly.
Already the next day the food can become dangerous. Remember the rule: either eat it immediately or throw it in a trash can! Health is more important than irrational greed. And it's better not to take food from restaurants without an urgent need.
In the cities in Egypt, there are a lot of street food and small cheap cafes and restaurants. Remember the rule: never eat meat or vegetables in such cafes. Cases of poisoning at Egyptian street food places are very common, and many cases are fatal.
It is no secret that many employees of the tourism industry in Egypt perceive tourists as a source of money. There are dozens of schemes of taking money and valuables from tourists in Egypt. Some of the schemes are quite harmless and some are very dangerous.
For example at the airports, sometimes there is a man who sells visas for USD 27 instead of USD 25 at the official window. Legally he is a crook, because the visa is not subject to resale. But in fact he is not doing anything particularly criminal, because the tourist is paying USD 2, but is not standing in line at the window.
And there are very unpleasant cases. Some cleaners hide valuables in the room on the last day of tourists' stay. The cleaner hopes that tourists in a hurry will forget about this thing, and the thing will become his prey.
There are many schemes, and new ones appear all the time. Read our review "Scams of tourists in Egypt".
One more thing! Beware of strangers who seem to be on the street as if they are employees of your hotel or do-gooders, ready to help. They either ask for a "bakshish" (commission), or take you to an expensive souvenir store. In both cases, there is nothing particularly dangerous, but also a little pleasant.
All tourists have insurance now. It used to be possible to do without it, but now, due to the coronavirus, insurance is mandatory to enter Egypt.
But few tourists read the terms of insurance. And in vain! You should know exactly what you are insured against. It is a funny fact that many tourists sincerely believe that they are insured against everything. Not at all!
If you read the terms of insurance, you will find many interesting things. For example, the insurance does NOT cover any injuries or exacerbations of disease if they are sustained while under the slightest alcoholic intoxication. The insurance does NOT cover sunburns.
The insurance does NOT cover any injuries from sea animals. Does NOT cover any disease for which you have been vaccinated. Does NOT cover injuries from water skiing, "banana boats", and similar rides.
Don't be lazy, read the insurance terms and conditions. It will take you 3 hours or more to fly to Egypt, so spend it wisely.
- Take care of your camera equipment. It is usually black and may overheat and break under the direct sunlight of the hot Egyptian sun;
- Most electric sockets in Egypt are C (Euro) format. Some of our devices, such as laptop power supplies, have an F (schuko) plug. These plugs may not fit in the outlets;
- You should not come to Egypt (especially to the resorts) at the end of the month of Ramadan. Why exactly, read in our review "Ramadan in Egypt";
- On the features of vacation with children and safety read the review "Trip to Egypt with children".
Have a nice vacation in Egypt, and read our interesting and useful for tourists pages about this sunny country (see the list of the pages below).
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