Potential Pitfalls in Visiting Egypt

By: Stuart Cheese

As the Director of Operation of One World Tours, I obviously have lots of travel experience and of course some are good and some are bad, so here is my top 5 list of things to watch out for when your are travelling in Egypt

1. Your Hotel is full. This one is a favourite for people arriving at the airport and "apparently" travelling alone, ie not with a tour company. Local tour company reps will ask you which hotel you are staying at and either tell you it's full or it's a bad hotel. They do this for one of two reasons. One is to get you to sign up for a full package of accommodation and or tours or they may just offer to transfer you to a hotel of their choice. Chances are the hotel will be fine, their actual reason for doing this is they will be on commission from the hotel for any tourists they can "attract" to the hotel.

2. If you pay in a USD, GBP I'll give you a better rate. Whilst yes, some local traders "may" offer you a better rate, generally it is just an urban rate and in fact you will likely get scammed on the exchange rate. The truth is Egypt is not a county where locals can buy "restricted items" with foreign currencies, so keep this in mind when you part with non-local currencies.

3. Honestly, it's just ?5 for a horse and carriage ride in Luxor. This one is all about knowing 100% what you are paying for. The reason I gave this example is a local trader will offer you this deal, you will take it and then at the end he may ask for a lot more saying that the ?5 you agreed was for; just one person; just for the journey there, not back or EVEN, just for the horse - I kid you not. So no matter what product or service you are looking for, make sure you completely agree on what it does and does not cover.

4. My wife is having a baby today, come in and have a drink with me. This one relates to shops. When walking past a shop, you may well just come across someone and he'll appear to just chat with you. He may say that his wife is having a baby and would you like to celebrate with a soft drink with him ? You of course accept and find yourself in a small perfume shop having a pepsi or a cup of tea. The long and the short of this story is that (shock) he probably does not have a wife who is having a baby, but you are in a shop and you will be expected to buy some perfume - you have been warned !

5. Stand over there and I'll take your picture. This is a great one - don't worry, no one is going to steal your camera. But when you are offered to have your picture taken with "Bedouin" looking gentleman, what will happen is the picture will be taken, but believe it or not, you will now be expected to "pay for the privilege". Welcome to Baksheesh. This is a tip for just about anything. You do not have to pay this, but you may well get hassled for it until you do, so again, just be a little careful

Although these may be looked as as somewhat negative points, I'll counter this by saying that Egypt is amazing and if you do get the chance - go in a second, just keep your wits about you for some very "creative" locals !

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