Egypt is a popular tourist destination, with some of the world’s most incredible historical sites, like the pyramids and the sphinx. However, thanks to an unsettled political situation, tourism has dropped a lot in recent years, with many tourists wondering whether it’s safe to visit there. Here’s some information to help you decide if Egypt is for you and if so, how to ensure you stay safe.
The UK government does warn against travel in certain areas of Egypt, so check their current advice before booking a trip. North Sinai, South Sinai and areas around the Libya border are unsafe for tourists, due to kidnappings and terrorist activity. However, other areas of the country are still safe if you take proper precautions, such as booking proper Egypt tours or staying in larger tourist resorts. Keep an eye on the political situation and any potential upheaval both before and during your trip, and avoid travelling during major religious holidays.
Like any trip, you shouldn’t travel without travel insurance. If you have to cancel your trip thanks to a change in circumstances in Egypt, you’ll be covered. Shop around for comprehensive coverage which will pay out in the event of cancellations, illness or injury.
You can have a safe trip if you don’t travel to an area with a travel warning and follow a few simple tips.
- Always keep a copy of your identification with you. You will likely have to share this at various points during your trip, and won’t want to lose your original passport. A copy is fine.
- If you’re an LGBT traveller, be careful with public display of affection. Egypt is not yet welcoming to the LGBT community, so it’s wise to remain lowkey. For heterosexual couples, you should be careful too. Physical demonstrations of affection in public are frowned upon, as Egypt has a very modest culture.
- Stay away from any political demonstration. It might seem interesting, but stay away, as it’s likely you could be injured.
- Get a local sim card. They’re cheap and easy to buy, but mean you’ll be able to keep in contact if there’s a problem.
- Learn some basic Arabic. Some simple phrases to greet people politely, say please and thank you and read numbers will be very helpful. Remember that Egyptian Arabic is different to Moroccoan Arabic. Showing you’re trying to communicate will be seen as polite and respectful.
- Prepare for the sun. Egypt is hot, and consistently sunny. Stay well hydrated and stay out of the sun when it’s at its hottest. Keep a water bottle with you and drink plenty of water. Wear sunscreen and don’t forget to keep reapplying it throughout the day.
- Avoid religious gatherings. Try not to travel during religious holidays and avoid any religious celebrations. These can be targets for terrorist action.
- Keep plenty of small change with you. In Egypt, it’s cultural practice to tip everybody from drivers to tour guides.
- Dress appropriately. Egypt is a conservative country. Most people cover up. You should keep your legs and shoulders covered and women should avoid low-cut clothing. If you’re staying in a resort, these are usually more relaxed, but take a swimsuit cover up and keep a shawl with you so you can cover your shoulders if you need to.
- Take bug repellent. Mosquitos are everywhere, so put on plenty of repellent and cover up at dawn or dusk. There’s no malaria in Egypt, but bug bites are still no fun.
- Be aware that many parts of Egypt will have armed security. If you see security like this, behave sensibly around them. Suspicious behaviour may end in you being shot, so don’t be an idiot. No messing around.
- Be careful with your camera. It is prohibited to take pictures of military installations or public buildings. This includes places like train stations, and can get you arrested. Be aware of where you’re pointing your camera.
- Don’t use a drone. It’s prohibited without the right authorisation, and looks very suspicious to authorities. Leave the drone at home.
- Be on your guard. Tourists make easy targets for pickpockets and other nastiness. Never go with anyone you don’t know, even if they claim to recognise you from your hotel. Only go on tours organised by your travel agent or the hotel.
- Keep your bags close to you. Bag snatching is common, so stay alert and hold on firmly to your handbag when you’re out and about. Be vigilant, and keep a close eye on valuables like cameras and wallets. Put money in a money belt and wear it around your waist around your clothes to keep it close to you.
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