Years of political turmoil had left the tourist industry of Egypt in shambles. With the dramatic improvement in the situation, safety has become a national concern and crowds have started returning to the pyramids of Giza and one needs to book well in advance to get a seat on a Nile cruise. That said, Cairo has set its own standards of culture and rules, which this handy guide will reveal to anyone heading to the Egyptian capital for the first time.
Choose your dates with care
Avoid the hottest months of June and July and plan a trip between October and April, except January which is very cold and wet. Check the dates of the holy month of Ramadan, as visiting hours are drastically curtailed during that month, which can lead to frustration, especially if your schedule is tight. Ensure to also avoid peak season or else book in advance from reputed sites like Almosafer flights to ensure you don’t end up spending a bomb.
Carry proper attire
The climate and culture of Egypt prescribes that packing the right type of clothes is essential for a successful trip. For example, every Islamic site forbids shoes and going barefoot is considered indecent. So ensure that you carry at least one pair of socks for each day of your trip. You will need layers for protection from the desert cold and women should wear long sleeves and a head cover when inside a mosque.
Must visit the pyramids
The pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx should be on top of your must visit list, but to save time and get value for money book your tour in advance as only a limited number of visitors are allowed inside some pyramids each day. The entry through the tunnel which leads to the great burial chamber can also be challenging as one has to crouch in a restricted area to get through, so claustrophobes need to beware. You can also book a hotel in Giza itself, instead of Cairo, to bypass the bad traffic and watch the evening light and sound show from the comfort of your balcony.
Test your bargaining skills at Khan el-Khalili.
People may warn you about the tourist traps of the biggest souk in Egypt, Khan el-Khalili, but there are some real gems which can be found in this chaotic labyrinth of alleyways. This bustling market is the perfect place for authentic local souvenirs, jewellery and spices. Vendors will heckle you with astronomic rates, so be prepared to haggle and haggle well by cutting the price to half. The bazaar is home to some famous cafes like El Fishawy, which has been in operation for over 250 years.
While taxis in Cairo are fairly inexpensive, the metro is much cheaper and faster, considering the notorious traffic of the city. The services are regular and the maximum ticket cost is about half a dollar. Taxis in Cairo are metered and the drivers will happily accept a ride without surcharging you on a flat rate. Additionally there is Uber in Cairo and that too is quite affordable.
Getting to Cairo
You can easily take a flight from Jeddah to Cairo which is one the most popular routes. Egypt has an excellent bus network as well so buses are plenty and easy to reach Cairo by.