Frequently asked questions about Egypt

What is the best time to travel?

Egypt lends itself for a visit all year around. However, the best months to go to the region are February, March, October, November and December.

What are the best festivals and when do they take place?

Since the Islamic calendar is moon-based, religious holidays are on different days every year. Ramadan (the month of fasting) can be annoying for tourists, because many restaurants are closed; eating, dinking and smoking in public are not appreciated. Tourists will be cared and cooked for, however. It goes without saying that you should not provoke people by eating right under their noses. This is however a fascinating time to travel.

In 2014, Ramadan starts on 28th June and concludes on 27th July. This is then followed by 3 days of celebration (Eid al-Fitr) beginning on 28th July.

During the oasis trip, in Luxor or Dahab, you will hardly notice it, but in Cairo you will see that life follows a different pattern. In the morning it is much quieter than usual and many shops are closed. This is the ideal time to visit the pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and the Sphinx. Suddenly, between 3 pm and 5 pm the traffic gets very busy: everybody is on their way home.

Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?

Yes you can pre book transfers (arrival only) and extra nights with Shoestring.You can add these on to your booking form.

What about my passport?

You need a passport that is valid at least 6 months at the date of departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.

Do I need a visa?

You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. At present, UK and EU nationals require a visa for entry into Egypt. Please check the embassy if you need a visa for Egypt or check here for info about the current situation. Make sure you inquire at least a month before departure if you need a visa so you do not run into time problems.

Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?

Please click here for questions regarding vaccinations or malaria tablets for this country and contact after your local practitioner or a specialized health centre and make an appointment to get your shots and pills. Please make sure that you allow at least six weeks for a full program. People who already have had a few shots might do with two weeks. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.

What is the recommended currency for Egypt?

The unit of currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piastres. Most credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants. . Banks are usually closed on Friday and Saturday, but private exchange bureaux, called 'Forex', are open daily and banks in major hotels are open 24 hours. Cairo branches of the Egyptian British Bank and Banque Misr now have ATMs available that accept Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus and are quite common in the main tourist areas.

What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?

Bring a pair of good worn-in walking shoes and a pair of sandals. That is all your feet will need. Summer clothes, plus a sweater on cool nights, are sufficient for the months of April through October. In the winter the evenings, nights and mornings can be cold, especially in Cairo and in the desert. Bring a warm sweater and a raincoat. Good sunglasses are best bought at home; they are expensive in Egypt. For women it is important to have their shirts cover the shoulders and their trousers reach to the knees. There are tourists who expose more flesh, but out of respect for the local people it is important not to walk the streets too daringly. You would also run the risk of being refused entry to temples. It is recommended to wear various layers of clothing. Your travel items may also include: sunglasses, suntan lotion, toiletries, a basic medical kit, sun hat or scarf, photo or film equipment and an adequate amount of film, spare batteries, torch, pocket knife (not allowed in your handpackage)

What kind of luggage should I take?

Do not bring too much luggage. Clothes, for example, can always be bought locally at little cost. As a rule, we do not think you will need more than 12 kg of luggage. It should preferably be packed in an overnight bag or a frameless backpack. Solid suitcases are hard to stow away on the bus or on board.

What is the situation with electricity?

What voltage and plugs are in use in Egypt? Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are in use in this country. You could consider taking a universal electric plug.

Which travel guides and maps?

If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.

In what kind of accommodation do we sleep?

Accommodation will be in twin bedded rooms in low budget hotels.

How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?

If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveler ( from the same sex when possible ) unless you have booked a single room.

Do I need a sleeping mat or sleeping bag?

This will not be necessary on all trips. If your itinerary includes camping in the desert and a night on a felucca then a sleeping bag is necessary. Except for the summer months, the nights can be cold.

What can I expect for camping facilities?

The camping facilities will be very basic and often you will stay on a mattress in the open air.

Do I need to take a mosquito net?

This is not necessary.

Do they cater for vegetarians in Egypt?

Vegetarians are well catered for in Egypt.

What kind of transportation is used?

Transportation will be by AC (mini)buses, train journeys from Luxor-Cairo; camel safari (two persons per camel) and felucca .

Is Egypt dangerous?

Pickpocketing is a popular phenomenon in the big cities. So mind your things when walking through crowded streets or riding on a bus.

What local customs do I need to keep in mind?

To begin with, travellers are expected to dress decently. Clothing should cover the shoulders, while skirts and trousers should reach to the knees. Covering their hair may help women avoid attracting unwanted attention. Topless sunbathing on Hurghada beach or in Sinai is really out of the question.
If you want to go into a mosque you are welcome to do so, but your arms and legs must be covered and you will have to wear something on your head. Women should cover their hair. You leave your footwear at the entrance to the place of worship. Women are often only admitted to part of the mosque. During religious ceremonies Westerners are not welcome.
If you are invited into someone’s home, always take off your shoes before entering. It is polite to offer a little present to your host. Never eat with your left hand, which is used to wash the backside.

Are there opportunities to snorkel or dive?

Egypt has some of the best dive and snorkeling sites in the world and there will be ample opportunities to take advantage of these on the majority of the tours.

Are there opportunities to swim?

There will be the opportunity to swim on the majority of the tours in Egypt.

What are other activities and sports I could do?

There will be the opportunities to take an optional camel trip or Jeep safaris in the desert.
You can explore the beautiful villages and green fields by bicycle and horse lovers can rent beautiful Arab horses and explore the banks of the Nile.

How are communications in Egypt?

The international access code for Egypt is +20. The outgoing code is 00 followed but the relevant country code. The city code for Cairo is (0)2. There are high surcharges on international calls from hotels; it is cheaper to phone long-distance from the 24-hour Post, Telephone and Telegraph (PTT) offices that are available in the major cities. For international directory phone enquiries dial 120. The local mobile phone operators use GSM 900 networks and have roaming agreements with all major operators. Internet cafes are available in the main tourist areas.

What is the time difference?

Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference

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