My First Trip to Egypt

By: Stuart Cheese

In my capacity as the UK Director of Operations for One World Tours Limited, I am often asked all kinds of travel questions.
A client recently enquired about travelling to Egypt for the first time and wanted my advice and a sort of checklist of what they should think about when planning their first trip to the land of the Pharaohs. This is the advice I gave them...

When planning your first trip to Egypt, the following items are things you should definitely think about

Flights : Depending upon where you are flying from, there will usually be direct and indirect flights. While direct flights obviously are shorter in duration, if you are on a budget, then looking at a non direct flight, or a flight with a short stopover can often save you up to a third off of the price

Visas : You should always check for yourself of course, but generally most major nationalities can get their visas on arrival at major ports like Cairo, Luxor, Hurghada etc. Certainly if you are travelling from Europe, North America, Australia, you will be able to roll up and get your visa on arrival within about 5 minutes.

Money : All major currencies like the US Dollar, Euros and British Pounds are all accepted as payment. There is a limit to the amount of Egyptian Pounds you can bring in and this currently runs at around 1,000 LE - Egyptian Pounds. You can of course take travellers cheques, other currencies, etc and all major credit cards are accepted.

Itineraries : 7 to 10 days in Egypt is a perfect length of duration for a visit to Egypt. Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel should definitely be included and my personal advice would be to book your basic package through a tour operator, just so you have the basic transfers, accommodation and tours all through 1 company

Tipping : Baksheesh as its know in Egypt is a tip for just about anything. You will need to be tough as otherwise you will be broke within 24 hours. A tour guide should get a tip of around four pounds English a day and a driver should get about half of that. Taking lots of cheap pens is a good idea too as children will ask you for baksheesh for just talking to you !, but if you offer them a pen, they will scamper off very happy indeed. The only draw back is they will probably come back inside of about 2 minutes with 3 friends all of whom will want pens too, but those are the breaks !

Pitfalls : When travelling there are always a few down sides. Water is one in Egypt. Definitely only drink bottled water and avoid salads (washed in water) and Ice (frozen water). Also, although you won't have this on an organised tour, if you travel independently you will run in to locals who may tell you certain hotels are full etc. You are in no danger, they are just trying to get you to stay in a different place so that they will earn a small commission from the hotel owners

Final Thought : Egypt is an amazing place, the locals are very friendly and without a doubt when you are taking a felucca down the nile and watching the sun set over the Valley of the Kings, you will definitely think to yourself - Egypt was a good choice !

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