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Egypt Travel Notes

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Australian Embassy in Egypt

Level 11, World Trade Centre,
1191 Corniche El Nil,
Boulac, Cairo.
Tel   +2 02 2770 6600
E   [email protected]   or   [email protected]
www.uk.embassy.gov.au

Smartraveller

The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers.
www.smartraveller.gov.au

Egypt sits on the northeast corner of Africa, and though it is generally lumped in with the Middle East, it remains, technically at least, an African country. To the west, it shares a long desert border with Libya, and to the south it borders on Sudan. To the east there is a short land border with the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian Authority. With a total area of around 1 million square kilometers (386,000 sq. miles), it is about three times the size of New Mexico, but the vast majority of the 80 million people who live in Egypt are squeezed into a narrow, densely populated strip of fertile land close to the Nile.

Time Zones

Egypt is on GMT time +2 meaning that it is 7 hours behind Australia. Egypt does not have daylight saving. To obtain the current local time and date in cities and countries in all time zones.
www.worldtimeserver.com

Voltages and Plugs

Egypt use 220 volts. Plugs are the standard continental European round-pronged plugs.
www.korjo.com/Adaptor-Guide

Currency

To obtain the most up-to-date exchange rate you may wish to visit
www.xe.com/currencyconverter

The Egyptian pound is the currency of Egypt. It is divided into 100 piastres, or ersh, or 1,000 milliemes. The Egyptian pound is frequently abbreviated as LE or L.E., which stands for livre égyptienne. E£ and £E. Smaller coins and notes are scarce and should be held on to for tipping.

Banknotes: £200, £100, £50, £20, £10, £5, £1, 50pt, 25pt
Coins: £1, 50pt, 25pt

Credit Card and ATM machines

ATMs are the easiest way to access your money. Once a rarity in Egypt, are now common in large cities and tourist destinations. While they offer good rates of exchange, some networks also charge hefty transaction fees. Most accept Visa, MasterCard, Electron, Cirrus, Maestro and InterBank cards. 

Please note that using a credit card in a growing number of foreign countries usually requires a new “chip-and-pin” credit card with an embedded microchip and an associated PIN number (the PIN is specific to each credit card). If you have questions about using your credit card in a foreign country, please contact your bank prior to departure from Australia. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Cash

Currency can be exchanged at the airport upon arrival, banks, exchange bureaux and larger hotels, though you may get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Accepted cash to exchange are USD, GB Pound and Euro
Travelers Cheques are NO longer accepted.

Telephone & Communication

Mobile telephones
Most mobile telephones work in Egypt and coverage is excellent. Check with your local provider that your phone can switch on ‘Global Roaming’ and that your provider has coverage in the places you are visiting. Mobile phones can be very useful for SMSing  (especially if you get lost!). International calls are often expensive, as is checking your message bank as calls have to be routed through Australia.

Should you choose to purchase a local sim card please check with your local provide prior to departure to make sure your phone is unlocked and will accept another sim card.

Internet
Internet access is widespread and available throughout the tourist areas of Egypt. Many hotels and almost every cafes now offer access, some you need to pay however most have free Wi-fi.

If you have Web access while traveling, you might consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype or Vonage, which allows you to make free international calls between online computers and phones, and cheap international calls if you’re calling a normal phone number. Most cybercafes throughout the country will be using these programs already, complete with headset, microphone, and webcam.
www.skype.com    www.vonage.com

Business Hours in Egypt

You have to accept that, in Egypt, businesses are open when they’re open. Posted hours should be considered guidelines, not hard and fast rules, and you should expect most places to open a little late, and sometimes close a little early as well.
Shops   09.00 / 10.00 – 1700/ 2200.   Small grocery stores may stay open later. 
Banks   09.00 – 14.00 and 17.00 – 19.00

Shopping
Bargaining and haggling over prices is a fundamental part of shopping in the markets and bazaars of Egypt. The Khan el Khalili Bazaar in Cairo offers a wealth of shopping opportunities: cotton goods, cartouche, papyrus paintings, carpets, wall hangings, jewellery, copper and brass are all good buys. Be prepared to haggle over the price, bargaining is an accepted practice. Modern shops may have fixed prices.

Personal Safety
  • We strongly recommend the use of a money belt to keep your cash, cards and travel documents in. This should be kept under your clothes at all times. This is a precaution that should be taken anywhere due to the difficulties that can be experienced in trying to replace stolen items.
  • Take photocopies of all important documents (passport, credit cards, airline tickets, insurance) and keep one copy securely in your luggage and leave another copy at home.
  • It is generally helpful to take a business card from the hotel you are staying at. This can assist hugely if you get lost. If you also have a key card for your hotel, make sure you keep these two cards separate or you run the risk of allowing a thief access to your room.
  • Take extra care in crowded places and try not to ‘advertise’ the fact that you may be carrying valuables by having something like an expensive camera over your shoulder. Put it in your bag or under your coat. And men, try to avoid keeping your wallet in your hip pocket.
What to Pack

Clothing (general)
The time of the year you visit this destination will dictate the type of clothing it is appropriate to bring. It would always be advisable to take a rain coat or a water proof windbreaker. For daytime activities, we suggest a wardrobe that is versatile, casual and comfortable. It is recommended that “layered” clothing might offer the best comfort in a variety of conditions. Always expect the weather to be changeable. During some of our tours you will be attending evening performances. Formal evening wear is not required, however, smarter casual wear would be appropriate (no jeans).

Beyond the normal wardrobe we suggest

  • comfortable walking shoes (very important)  While on tour you will be visiting towns cities and sites that often have uneven cobblestone pavements or rough paths hence flat shoes with grip are recommended.
  • torch and small binoculars
  • sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat, bathers
  • foldable walking/hiking stick/pole – good idea on uneven ground
  • folding umbrella and/or light raincoat
  • wet wipes, some toilet paper and antibacterial hand lotion
  • ladies should have a scarf with them at all times in case it is required to cover shoulders or head when entering religious sites
  • prescription medicines for the full duration of your time away and a written copy of your prescriptions including what they are for, provided by your doctor
  • Imodium (or equivalent) and rehydration sachets
  • extra prescription eyeglasses (if required)
Water 

It is not recommended to drink the tap water, or even brush your teeth with it! Water will be available on the coach and is included in the tour price. Bottled water will be included with all group meals. 

Etiquette

No attempt should be made to photograph anything remotely connected with the armed forces or in the vicinity of defence installations. Many people do not like being photographed. Always ask before photographing someone, they may try to obtain money from you. There are some tourist sites and interiors you are not allowed to photograph, make sure your ead the signs or ask.

Egyptians place a lot of stock in dressing well in informal situations, and a good pair of slacks and a few long-sleeved shirts should come with you on your holiday. For women, loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and trousers or long skirts are the best choice. In mosques, you will be expected to take off your shoes, and women will be expected to cover their heads. Unless you expect to visit a lot of mosques, the issue of lace-ups versus slip-ons isn’t very important, but you should have socks without holes. Women should carry a light scarf.

Gestures: Meeting and greeting are important ceremonies in Egypt. Shake hands, introduce yourself, and take a moment to get to know people, even if you don’t expect to see them ever again. Try to not show the soles of your feet as this is considered disrespectful. Showing the palms of your hands is also considered disrespectful so if you’re bargaining and wish to indicate the number five, try to keep your palm facing your chest. Placing your hand over your heart indicates gratitude and humility and is one of the most common gestures in Egypt.Platonic same-sex friends often hold hands in the street, but it is quite daring for men and women to do so. Cheek-kissing and hugging are de rigueur displays of respect and warmth between men and women, but any kind of public displays of affection are highly inappropriate between couples.

Tipping
The Egyptian term for “tip” is “Backsheesh” and you will definitely hear service workers use this word.  A “Backsheesh” will be requested of you from anyone who offers you a service.  The tour price includes tipping for the tour guide, airport reps, drivers, restaurant waiters,  Dahabeya boats crews, archaeological sites guards, and luggage porters at hotels and at airports where available

Useful websites

Egypt Tourist Board
www.egypttravel.com

World Airport Guide
www.worldairportguides.com

Emergency numbers:

Local Police       122
Tourist Police    126
Emergency Medical Care & Local Ambulance   123

Climate

We suggest that prior to departure you check the weather forecast for the most up-to-date information.
www.worldweatheronline.com

Average minimum/ maximum Temperature (°C).
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Cairo 13/19 14/21 14/23 17/28 23/26 26/38 25/40 26/40 23/33 24/31 21/27 15/21
Luxor 14/22 16/24 16/27 21/33 28/41 29/42 27/42 27/42 27/39 27/36 23/28 16/23
Alexandria 14/18 14/19 14/19 16/22 20/28 23/29 25/30 25/30 25/30 23/27 21/24 17/19