2018 has been a year to remember but my trip to the Middle East and North Africa was by far the best part. I had always wanted to visit Egypt but didn’t know if it would be possible. The 2011 revolution left the country unstable and tourism to the country was not recommended for some time. But 2018 proved to be different, I was going to Egypt!!!!
While traveling throughout Egypt, my cousin and I came up with a list of things to remember the next time we visit. Some things we knew, others we had no clue about. For all my Besties who plan on visiting the region, here some things you should know:
1. Yes, it’s safe. Egypt in 2018 is welcoming visitors. For the first time in the years since the 2011 revolution, tourism is trickling back—and American travelers are helping drive the comeback. Like any city or country you will find danger. Just stick with your guide, they know their country better than you.
2. Don’t get stuck, you need a Visa. An Egyptian visa is $25 and they want it in American dollars not Egyptian pounds. Don’t be like me, scrambling for $25 because I forgot to get cash before we touched down in Egypt. Yes, they have ATMS, but it’s outside the customs area.
3. Yes you need to have a travel guide. Everyone follows the same “program” when visiting Egypt. Start in Cairo and work your way down the Nile. However, your guide is well-versed in all the customs and historical facts. They are truly experts.
4. Pick the best times to go. Egypt is hot! We went in August and it was hotter than Hades. But it was low season so things were cheaper. October/November is a bit cooler (90s) but it is the beginning of high season. Just ask your guide.
5. No you don’t have to wear a burka. You will see most of the Muslim women covered at all times, however that is not the case for visitors. Visitors must be covered when entering mosques and sacred places. Just ask your guide.
6. Be prepared to tip. Street vendors, merchants, guides, drivers and the random person who takes your bag to the taxi, they all expect a tip. Just ask your guide.
7. Delicious food. The meats had so much flavor! The hummus was amazing. Olives delicious. Bread was life. Very much a Mediterranean/Lebanese cuisine. We took my cousin’s 6-year-old son, although he has a diverse palate, he is still 6. But he ate everything we put in front of him.
8. Ask about upgrades. The dollar goes a long way in Egypt. $1 USD = 17.60 Egyptian pounds (as of April 13, 2018) Because our dollar is strong, don’t be afraid to ask for upgrades. Stay at a 5-star hotel, it is affordable. A room at the Nile Ritz-Carlton, near the Pyramids was $186/night. We stayed at Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel and Spa…5-star!
So take the plunge, go to Egypt, experience the culture and see everything! Don’t skip anything.
Enjoy the Journey,