Boasting some of the most famous historical landmarks in the world, Egypt is a popular travel destination for visitors from all over the world. They arrive by the millions each year to visit the famed Giza Necropolis, the mysterious tombs and burial chambers contained within the Valley of the Kings, and various other fascinating museums and temples scattered throughout the country.
Egypt will provide the experience of a lifetime, but there are a few things to know about the country before you go. Keep reading to find out what you should be aware of before you visit one of the most legendary countries in the world.
10 Crossing The Street Takes A Lot Of Courage
Crossing the street is a simple act that you probably take for granted at home. But in a country like Egypt, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Unlike the western countries that you might be used to, Egypt doesn’t have rules for crossing the street, so it really comes down to your own judgment. That can be terrifying!
The Culture Trip advises that the easiest way to cross the street, no matter where you are in Egypt, is to cross with someone else, even if you don’t know them. Stick with other pedestrians, and whatever you do, don’t stand too close to the cars.
9 Dress Conservatively At Religious Sites
The state religion of Egypt is Islam, so you’ll find that the atmosphere is generally conservative and there are also plenty of fascinating religious sites to explore. When visiting mosques, it is imperative that you dress conservatively out of respect.
Dressing modestly is important at religious sites, but it’s a good idea, in general, to cover up when you’re out and about in public. Some places are more lenient than others, but most of the time, if you expose more than your legs, you’ll earn a lot of stares from locals.
8 You Might Be Treated Like A Celebrity
When you come across school groups in Egypt, they might fuss over you as if you were a celebrity. This was the experience of The Intrepid Guide, who was asked for selfies and photos by young children at landmarks such as the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and Karnak Temple.
Some local children may be excited to see westerners, hence the rushing up and asking for photos. Of course, you don’t have to take any selfies if you don’t want to! If you say yes to one, prepare for many more to ask.
7 Expect Amazing Food
People return from Egypt raving about the mesmerizing sights and landmarks, but not enough people commend the amazing food that you’ll find throughout the country. Egyptian cuisine is unique and delicious. It gets addictive very quickly!
Many of the dishes are made using legumes, vegetables, rice, and fruit. A common breakfast dish is Ful Medames, which is mashed fava beans often served with boiled eggs. Another dish to watch out for is the colorful Molokhiya, a green soup often thought of as the national dish of the country.
6 Always Use Bottled Water
Depending on where you’re from, it’s likely that the water standards in Egypt will be less than what you’re used to at home. In general, the tap water in Egypt isn’t properly filtered of its organisms which will cause you to get sick.
As a rule, always use bottled water. This means drinking bottled water rather than tap water in restaurants but also brushing your teeth with bottled water in some cities. Crazy Travelista recommends checking with your guide or hotel as to whether or not the local water is safe for brushing your teeth.
5 There Are Certain Restrictions During Ramadan
If you’re traveling to Egypt during the holy month of Ramadan, be aware that there will be extra restrictions to keep in mind. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam that all Muslims must observe.
While you aren’t under any obligation to observe the rules of Ramadan, keep in mind that it’s respectful to refrain from eating and drinking in public when everyone around you is fasting. In the more touristy areas, this might be okay. But if you’re the only visitor in a rural location, it’s best to show respect in public.
4 Be Prepared To Tip
Tipping is a must in some countries and hardly done in others. In Egypt, it’s a very important element of the culture, and you’ll be expected to tip the locals for just about everything. This is because the wages in the country are so low.
The word for tip is “baksheesh” and it’s something you’ll hear a lot. It is customary to tip waiters, lavatory attendants, hotel staff and porters, among others. In a restaurant, the common tip is 10 percent of the bill, which can be given directly to the waiter.
3 Think Twice About Riding A Camel Around The Pyramids
Many travelers visit Egypt with the intention of riding a camel around the pyramids and taking home a photo of the iconic experience. Unfortunately, the camels and horses around the pyramids are often malnourished and mistreated. Those concerned with animal rights may want to refrain from supporting the service.
The Intrepid Guide explains that those who run the camel and horse rides prioritize feeding their families over the animals, and can’t afford to do both. You can still see the beauty of the pyramids without riding a horse or camel.
2 People Might Expect You To Pay For Photos
In the age of social media, we take photos of pretty much everything. This can cause some confusion in countries like Egypt, where taking photos is something that you might have to pay for. If you take a photo of locals, whether they’re near the pyramids or another famous landmark, they’ll probably want to be paid.
Some tourists think they can secretly snap a shot of people without them noticing, but in touristy areas, locals are trained to notice things like this. It’s very hard to sneak a shot, so if you do take a photo, be prepared to pay for it.
1 Bring Toilet Paper With You
It’s sometimes easy to forget that Egypt is a Third World country. While things may be clean in your hotel, the same cannot be said for public bathrooms. The majority of them do not provide toilet paper or soap, so you’ll have to bring your own.
If you forget to bring toilet paper in your bag on outings throughout the country, you could find yourself in a seriously uncomfortable situation. This is especially true in a country where the chance of picking up a stomach bug is high. A little toilet paper goes a long way, as does a pocket-sized hand sanitizer.