From Cairo to Aswan: A detailed guide for western tourists about travel safety in Egypt.
Do you want to see the Pyramids, the valley of the Kings, and Abu Simbel? But are you wondering if is safe to visit Egypt? Then read on!
The whole Muslim world isn’t especially popular among western tourists these days (unrightly so, I might add). Terrorist attacks, refugees, and human rights violations didn’t really help to advertise trips to countries in the middle east. But what about Egypt? Is Egypt safe to visit?
The short answer: Yes, Egypt is still safe! But in this travel guide, I tried to incorporate all my first-hand observations and experiences from my last visit to Egypt (read about it here). All in the hope to encourage further generations of travelers to visit the amazing country on the Nile. You can easily visit it independently (check out my 14 days Egypt itinerary for reference).
But let’s dive right into it?
Note: I update this article regularly. Last on July 7th, 2022. I also compiled a detailed Egypt travel guide for you. I am not addressing the coronavirus situation in this article. Please contact your embassy or consult the official website of the WHO for further information.
Currently, there are no covid-related immigration regulations. Masks are currently not required either. This situation may change on short notice.
General safety in Egypt
After the November revolution in 2011 and the ensuing rule of the Muslim Brotherhood (short as it may have been) tourist numbers almost dropped to zero. Even before those abductions and infrequent terror attacks against tourists had always been a problem – especially on the Sinai peninsula.
Luckily, the political situation stabilized in the following years. 2018 was the first year that saw a significant increase in tourism (according to local guides & hotels) and a renewed interest in Egypt.
Now, is it safe for Americans to travel to Egypt in 2020? This is a tough question, as terrorist attacks occurred in the USA itself, or in Paris, London or Berlin.
There were 7 terror attacks in Egypt in 2017, 6 in 2016, 4 in 2018. Sounds like a lot, but in a global context, it isn’t. The most important part: Few of these attacks targeted foreigners. Almost all of them happened in mosques or churches. The locals and their beliefs were the targets (mostly the conflict between the Christian minority and the Muslims, but also the special conflict in the North Sinai peninsula). In August 2019 a hospital was attacked.
So, what is the current situation in Egypt now?
This trend of no terrorist activities seems to change, though. There was one bomb to hit a tourist bus. In February 2019 a suicide bomber killed a policeman and two civilians which ultimately had several countries issuing partial travel warnings. And in May another bomb attack targeted a bus near the pyramids with at least 17 people injured. While there has been a resurgence of mostly peaceful demonstrations in Cairo and Alexandria 2019 as well.
Now, I don’t mean to downplay these tragic events, but you should also know that Egyptian security forces are aware of the situation. In fact, they are constantly trying to regain control. The military has quite visible checkpoints all over the country (virtually every 500 meters). Most tourist attractions have a quite high safety standard (and always a visible military presence), and buses usually travel in police-escorted convoys (for reference: read what to expect from a visit to Abu Simbel)
See, in the USA alone there were 15 mass shootings in 2016, yet 37.6 million tourists came to the US at the same time. Is the US safe? Hell yes, but so is Egypt. If you take certain precautions, it will be perfectly safe to travel to Egypt.
Visiting the Sinai Peninsula is currently (2020) probably not a smart idea, and going too deep into the western desert, especially without an escort, might not be smart either.
Is Sharm el Sheikh safe?
As long as you stay in your resort, go snorkeling, and only visit the actual city, things should Sharm el Sheikh is safe for tourists. Egypt, while slowly being on the way to enduring peace and prosperity, is still a region with lots of internal conflicts, terrorist groups, and quite some poverty. So, use your common sense!
But of course, if news like the above mentioned recent incidents scares you for some reason, there is little I can do about it. Contrary to what you might think, it’s probably much safer to visit Egypt alone than in a group, as tourist buses are the prime focus and not the single tourist walking across the market. On a more personal note, I felt safer walking around Cairo alone at night than visiting the pyramids or Luxor (do make sure to read my guide)
Is Cairo safe at night for tourists?
Cairo is an incredible city, but pretty much one big warren (definitely read my guide to the 20 best things to do in the city). It’s quite easy to get lost on the big markets and as a fair-skinned traveler, you might get quite some attention. But is it safe to go to the markets in Cairo at night? Pretty much.
Now, I wouldn’t bring the expensive watch, maybe leave my credit card in the hotel, and only take a reasonably large amount of money along. But other than that, you will be perfectly safe in Cairo. Some locals might be staring at you, but that’s probably your worst problem – apart from local vendors and café owners trying to sell you something. Again, use your common sense.
And remember, there is safety in numbers. So, if you are a small group, your biggest fear is probably getting lost. If you do, just call one of the ubiquitous taxis and tell him to get you to your hotel.
If you are not brave enough to venture out into Cairo, Luxor or Aswan at night (do read my guide to Aswan!) alone, hire a local guide for a couple of pounds. He will be your safety shield, know what to do in each situation and keep you from falling for scams (he might be affiliated with a restaurant or so, though).
Which tour guides are safe in Egypt?
Are you afraid of traveling independently in Egypt? You really shouldn’t, but I totally understand that you might seek the safety of a knowledgeable tour company to show you around Cairo and the wonders of the Nile. But the big question is: Which are safe and which aren’t?
I want to be honest with you: Terror attacks targeted tour buses and travel parties and not solo travelers. So, it is incredibly important to pick a reputable travel agency or tour guide. If you are staying at a top hotel, I’d go through them. If you’d rather like it cheap, stick to reputable western companies.
I can really recommend GetYourGuide.com for safe tour guides in Egypt, their prices are reasonable, they are working together with local experts and, which is really most important, you won’t be scammed. About every taxi driver you meet will give you his card and offer to show you around. The problem about such tours is often, that you are charged more than you should and sometimes weird additional costs the driver asks of you, even though you already paid the tour (like entrance fees or costs for an additional passenger, etc)
Quite frankly, not all of them are bad, far from it! But it’s somewhat important that you stick to tours that fulfill certain western standards. Not all buses have air conditions etc. For example, rather pick a good private tour to the Giza Pyramids, Sphinx, etc (like this one) or a tour to Abu Simbel with good reviews (like this one) than trying to save 2 dollars on locals buses where 40 tourists are herded around like cattle.
From experience, most of the tours and hotels that are dead cheap in Egypt, are usually dead crap. Egypt might be a cheap country, but you need to invest some. A friend of mine booked an all-inclusive vacation to Egypt for 600 USD for two weeks. She booked into a different hotel on the second day – it’s the same problem with tour guides.
Note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Travel safety for solo female travelers in Egypt
Now, admittedly I am neither a woman nor a solo traveler. But, I’m quite aware that out of necessity or preference some of my female fellow travelers like to go on vacations all by themselves. Generally speaking, Egypt is safe for solo female travelers as well.
Now, as a woman, you really should stick to dressing conservative – but if you have been traveling solo before, you know that this is probably THE golden rule, no matter where you can (do check out my guide on what to wear in Egypt). The same applies to talk with strangers and getting into any situation where you are not in control. Try to avoid flirting at all costs (except you REALLY want to) and generally stick to official channels. This means, call your taxi through your hotel, get your guide through the hotel, and all the other usual precautions you should take as a solo female traveler in Egypt or anywhere else.
There are a lot of reports of harassment, but that is (sadly) neither uncommon nor unheard of no matter where you go. There are lots of guided tours around the major tourist attractions and you can easily arrange for joining one of these groups or get a guide all by yourself.
Note: If you are uncomfortable with men leering at you or talking you up, and already define this as harassment, then Egypt is no place for you because it will happen and it will happen often. They will also touch you occasionally (but touching is a cultural thing and something you have to expect as a man as well). So, probably not the best country for your first solo trip and you will need quite a tough skin and loads of experience!
Your worst problem in Egypt is peddlers and shop owners. Ever since the decline in tourism, sales dropped as well – making some of them desperate. So, is it safe to visit the Pyramids in Egypt? Probably, but stick to one very important golden rule: Don’t ever talk to the locals! And never tell them where you are from. Just say “no thank / la shukran” in a friendly way and move on.
I’m dead serious. It might sound a bit crass, but it’s the only thing that will prevent you from getting scammed – especially around the pyramids (read my guide).
The most popular scam is the “present scam“. Vendors will usually start a conversation by asking your name and where you are from. From there, they will invite you to check out their offers and then they will make you a present. “Take it. Is present.”. Don’t. Walk away. If you told them their name, they will sometimes start writing your name in Hieroglyphs on the present, and you are doomed. The present will be free, but incidentally, the vendor’s sister will be marrying tomorrow and she would be mortally offended if you don’t chip in some money for her dowry.
Especially in Cairo, locals will offer to show you a shortcut or a safe way to cross the street. This is quite a tempting offer, but just another scam. In the best case, they will expect some baksheesh (tip), in the worst case you have to come to their gallery, shop, or home where some scam will take place.
Handing your camera to a local, especially around the Pyramids, might not be a good idea either. They will appear to be helpful and then ask a big tip for taking the pictures, and there is that chance they’ll run away with it.
Money-changing tricks are also abundant. Mostly, you are asked to change coins (Euros or Quarter Dollars) into bills. Stay away from it, even though they are asking for your help in the most insistent manner. And always change money at a local bank or withdraw it directly from the ATM. Nothing good will ever happen when changing money directly from a local for a “good rate”.
Taking local taxis can be a problem as well. New ones will have meters. If they don’t – prearrange a price beforehand, but always leave a small tip. Sometimes they will try to add a fee for extra persons or extra baggage, etc. Don’t fuss around over 5 pounds, but if it’s more, stay strong and walk away.
Last, but certainly not least, children joined into the scamming machinery in the past years. Some of them are truly poor wretches, but always be aware that giving them money, even if they tell you they don’t have anything to eat (which may even be true!), will never help them in the long run.
By supporting that kind of industry you will teach the locals that investing in local businesses, taking up a regular job that supports the economy is less lucrative than scamming foreigners or begging. The problem: The more tourists get scammed, the more children beg, the less effective it will be and the more tourists will come home telling bad stories – quite the vicious circle. If you want to help, go through the usual NGOs.
But please, don’t get the wrong impression. Egypt is by far not the only country where tourists are being scammed. Even in central Europe, it will happen in one way or the other. With a little bit of research and by using your common sense, you will almost certainly be able to avoid them.
Health precautions for Egypt
When it comes to travel safety in Egypt, you should also take common health concerns into consideration. Egypt is a very warm country (read my climate report here) and not all restaurants stick to common western hygiene standards. Diarrhea is your worst enemy and should not be taken lightly at all – you would not be the first European / American to end your vacation hospitalized (which is why having travel insurance is quite important in Egypt – normally I don’t advertise them!)
Always stick to “peel it, cook it, or leave it“. Don’t drink fresh juices, ice cream, or unbottled water. Never use ice cubes (I’m talking to you Americans!), don’t try those salads and buffets are, generally speaking, not the best idea either.
You also should never consider bathing in the River Nile, even if you take a cruise (read about my experience here). Schistosomiasis, also known as Bilharzia, is transmitted by parasites found in the river. Especially in the lower regions of the Nile, there is a lot of garbage floating down to the estuary and the currents can be quite dangerous as well. Please, stick to the pool – it’s a lot safer and cleaner.
Apart from that, Malaria isn’t a problem, but Hepatitis A can be, and you are probably already vaccinated against Tetanus, Diptheria, and Poliomyelitis, so there are no major precautions you need to take. If you are traveling in rural areas (99% of tourists don’t), you might consider a rabies vaccination, otherwise, Egypt is safe.
I hope I was able to convince you, that Egypt is safe, but you need to come prepared. In a way, I only wrote this guide because so many of my friends kept on asking me the safety question. I personally never had a single doubt about Egypt, and I really want you to feel the same.
Sure, the culture is different, and sure, Egypt has a history, but that history is more than 4,000 years and it would be quite wrong to reduce it on a scant few happenings in the past decade. Also, I feel it’s quite important to stress that you shouldn’t expect a trip to a foreign country to be as easy as a visit to your aunt’s house. You have to prepare and there will be moments you will feel uncomfortable, but the reward will be the unparalleled sights and highlights.
So, don’t let unfounded prejudices spoil the trip of a lifetime! :)
As you are traveling to Egypt, I’d really like to point you towards my free Egypt itinerary. Just enter your e-mail address and download it from the confirmation e-mail you get!
Egypt travel safety tips
- Ignore anyone who says he is your friend/knows you – don’t even respond to them. What follows is a scam and you don’t need those on your Egypt trip
- Don’t take pictures of military installations or behave weirdly in front of the military.
- Always keep your valuables in the hotel safe and be vigilant at all times, especially in urban areas and around tourist attractions.
- Don’t drink alcohol on the streets. It’s illegal. Don’t do drugs either. Both will get you into prison.
- Stay away from any large crowds, especially from demonstrations. Egypt is safe to visit right now, but these places are not meant for tourists!
- Don’t go on cheap scuba diving tours. Any deep water diver should know how important well-maintained equipment is on a dive. Don’t run the risk of spoiling your Egypt vacation.
- Always dress appropriately
- Order your taxis through your hotel (uber can be okay as well, though a lot of inexperienced drivers).
- Learn a bit of Arabic. Know how to say hello, read the numbers, etc
- Keep copies of your passports with you
- Stay away from religious gatherings and celebrations.
- Have small change to tip people – they expect it.
- Don’t hand any of your belongings to a stranger, especially not a camera.
- Don’t drive yourself or rent a car. Traffic is often quite chaotic, especially in the cities, while overland trips are downright dangerous (landmines, abductions, etc)
- Always take enough water with you. Egypt is hot
- Have a travel insurance – Egypt is one of these countries where you really need it.
- Only book tours from agencies with a good reputation – preferably through your hotel or places like GetYourGuide.
- Never drink tap water. Or ice cubes.
- Air travel is mostly safer than traveling by train, as some of the trains and tracks are in quite a poor shape.
Very informative, thank you for sharing/posting this! =)
Great article! Appreciate it greatly!
Thank you kindly for the informative article.
It helps out a lot.
Thank you…this has really helped to make my decision to go to Egypt. Send me an email so I can ask you a few more questions, If that is okay?
please ask your questions here in the public, so everyone can benefit from my answers. Thank you for your understanding.
what a great article about Egypt, it is very helpful to anyone
Thank you so much for all this info! I’m so excited to start planning my trip for this year!
One thing, in your file there is a typo: The title on the cover says EGPTY… Please fix it.
fixed! lol! so embarrassing. But do you know these texts where all letters are scrambled and only the first and last letter are in order and you can read it? I geuss tihs hppaend to me hree ;P
LOL, thank you!
thanks I planned to take my family there
Kids mum dad grandma and grandpa
I don’t think it would be wise after reading this
Well…from a terrorist point of view, I’d say it’s perfectly safe. But the health situation is not the best and they may have to visit the toilet once too often, if you get my meaning ;-)
Hi. A couple buddies and I are looking to go to Cairo this year, but we do not know much Arabic. How difficult is it navigating the city knowing very little of the native language?
not a big problem. Google maps will be your best friend and some taxi drivers speak a little bit of English (most locals don’t…except shop owners).
Tourists have been visiting Cairo for 200 years ;-)
If you are really worried and this is your first time navigating a big city in the Middle East, get a guide. They are cheap.
don’t worry, English is easy too many people can translate for you. however sometimes I found people not even speak English :D and they can deal with it.
Im in cairo today, my last night thank god . Today I decided to stay in the hotel and finally have few minutes of peace. But of course with the thousand of cars honking Day and night that will be impossible. Don’t get me wrong , I love Egypt, but I love the idea of Egypt of thousands of years ago. This , wherever you want to call it , it’s NOT what I dreamed . Please please please , don’t come here !!! There’s nothing DREAM like material about this trip. It has been the worse trip of my life and I feel like so many people are dreaming on coming here and have no idea what are they getting into . This is not vacation material . You will be harassed, lied to , cheat on, disrespected and believe me , it’s not worth it !! I’m traveling from NJ USA with my husband , we are 46 ans 45 , travel savvy, been traveling the world , and I was not prepared for such a nightmare / do yourself a favor , watch a documentary and stay home .
I’m sorry Egypt was nothing like you excepted.
Expectation management is quite important and there is a modern side to Egypt…but I feel it is somewhat wrong to see it as a negative. The Egyptians, much like Egypt, have changed since the Pharaonic times.
I feel this is a good thing.
My trips to Egypt have all been quite a dream. Visiting these ancient sites, so pristine after all these thousands of years, is quite unimaginable. But for somebody who has never been to the real Middle East (I’m not talking about Dubai or Istanbul), it can be a bit overwhelming.
I don’t want to imply anything, but in my experience, most Americans I met on my travels live and travel in quite a bubble – language, food, and experience wise. Which is totally okay. For those, it’s often best to rely on good tour operators working together with luxury hotels – else it might feel like a nightmare. Because frankly, the average Egyptian is rather poor and the suburbs of Cairo seem less inviting on the first glance (the locals are exceedingly friendly, tho!).
From my experience, all lot of the people who had a negative experience (and I talked to quite some), booked cheap hotels, cheap (bus) tours and thought 600$ for two week would buy them the ticket to a fantastic experience. Well, it won’t, but 600$ won’t really get you anywhere at home either, so that’s an interesting expectation at best.
Did you book as a tour or opted to travel on your own? Just wondering if you had a tour guide and was still cheated and lied and scammed or were you two venturing out on your own?
I just came back from Egypt last night. And, what Jesse said is true. “You will be harassed, lied to , cheat on, disrespected and believe me , it’s not worth it !!” This is ture even if you were to use tour operator or guides.
thank you for your valued feedback and your first-hand observations. To me, traveling is a unique chance to explore the world, and the world does not always share your beliefs or values. Sometimes it is even a hostile place. But above all, it’s a beautiful place. And there is no doubt to me, that Egypt’s ancient monuments are among the most beautiful mankind ever created.
I easily can bear a little cheating, and a bit of harassment, to see the wonders of the world. I guess it’s part of my mindset.
I also have to admit, that I experience the worst kind of cheating in the US and in France – but it’s the sort of cheating 99% of the casual tourists don’t even notice, and believe it to be normal.
When I, an American, lived in Cairo in 1966 and 1973/74, what Jesse and Han experienced was called “Culture Shock” because it is a completely different culture. It sounds like conditions are pretty much the same today so I guess, as Norman says, you have to adjust your expectations which is not always easy.
The one thing different I noticed in Norman’s article was the ticket office in front of the pyramids. That did not exist when I lived there. You just drove up to the pyramids and found a guide to take you into the pyramids, or they found you. After that, yes, people bothered you for baksheesh (tips). Still sounds the same today. And, yes, I would love to go back.
sorry , Egypt is not a terrible place …. yes you may sometimes get harrassed but that depends on the places you go to in egypt , definately the majority of the egyptians are very overwhelming and pure and warm hearted , you should be kind to them to recieve back kindness and its definately disrespectful to talk about those egyptians in such disgusting place. thanks in advance for whoever took time to read my message , and i would highly reccommend visting egypt especially sharm el sheikh and hurghada and dahab, if you go all aroud the world you wont have a more fantastic experience and you should definetely try diving and snorkling in sharm el sheikh the viw is magnificentttt .
You really should’ve done more research before going 😊 that’s really all I can say. If you are “travel savvy” as you say, you must only go to first world countries because you have very unrealistic expectations of a place where 70% of people are in poverty, and the government is oppressive and does not help the people economically. Egypt is not a bad place, and it is definitely a dream for some people (me)… I studied abroad at AUC, loved it, and then moved here a few years ago. Found the love of my life and will stay for as long as they will have me. I’m from SF so I know how the privileged American thinks and it’s just as you do. Reevaluate your life ma’m and don’t tell people a country is terrible and to stay home. It’s fucking rude.
Hi Norman, thank you for this great article and all the information.
I am planning to visit Cairo and Jerusalem in Aug/Sep 2019 for 6 days max.
Are 3 days enough for Cairo?
Traveling from Cairo to Jerusalem by Bus is safe? I like to travel by road in foreign countries.
How much budget I should keep for Cairo? (I know there is no best answer to this question, but I mean an average).
3 days in Cairo will be enough to cover most of it. As for traveling by bus – I possibly can’t say and it probably depends on your travel route ;-)
Budget..cairo is rather cheap, though some museums are a bit on the expensive side for tourists (like Egyptian museum or pyramids). I’d say with a hundred dollars a day you will be fine – more if you want to see the sound and light show and other such things in the evening.
Hi Norman, my brother and I were looking at hiking Mount Sinai on the southern end of the Sinai peninsula. Given what was mentioned in the article, and that it’s pretty rural, what would be your recommendations on trying to be safe in this Area?
Hm…this is a tough question. I’d look for a tour operated, to be quite frank with you. I’m currently not aware of any abductions etcs, but I want to be honest with you…I have no personal experience and so it would be a bit wrong to give you advice.
I was in Cairo last week (early Feb 2019). Saw numerous fires all over the city each day – mostly cars being set on fire. The locals appear numb to it, like a normal occurrence. My view is that the place is not safe, and I have recommended everyone I know to stay well away.
Not only that, my determination to still go there felt unrewarded, as I was constantly being targeted for scams and cheaters. It leaves you feeling frustrated and constantly on guard. You would think now would be a cheap time to visit Egypt, however the Egyptian response to lower tourist numbers is to further scam the ones that do show up.
i would like to visit cairo for 3days and luxor for 3 days including cruise to luxor temples and valley of the kings and museums. is it a good idea? your advice please.
Well as an Egyptian I’m telling u this, 3 days Absolutely are not enough to visit Cairo and travel to luxor , yeah 3 days are enough just rolling in Cairo, but to move from Cairo to luxor that takes a 14 – 16 hours bus traveling, and you’d not enjoy your tour doing this in just 3 days, so I recommend at least 6 days trip Cairo to Luxor .
Hi Sam, I’m planning to come to Cairo from Nigeria… I want to come to work and live in Cairo is it a good idea? And can I get work in Cairo and hope I safe?
I couldn’t possibly answer that as my blog is written for tourists. I really don’t know about the working conditions in Cairo, sorry.
Hmm…your arguments are a bit too simple for my taste, Mike. While it is true, there are quite a lot scams going on, I find it hard to fault them. So many people lost their jobs in recent years. Some of them literally have nothing to eat anymore.
Doesn’t make the country unsafe, if you ask me. BUT of course, if you are looking for a carefree holiday instead of exploring a different country, Egypt might be the wrong place.
Also, this article is about Egypt being safe. Losing a dollar or two doesn’t make a country unsafe.
I know so many European friends who are equally afraid of visiting the U.S. because they are afraid of the high crime rates and shootings.
I spent two and a half weeks traveling from Alexandria, Cairo, then the Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan. I had a friend who lived in Alexandria and it was a wonderful trip but I wouldnt have been comfortable doing it without an Egyptian with me, as he did all the planning and kept the harassment to a minimum . There are so many little things I would have never known such as tipping to use the toilets. I was disappointed in the food on the cruise but he had warned me ahead of time .. no Egyptian food ,and I’m the type who wants to experience how the locals live when I’m in a foreign country. Atleast I was able to visit his family a few times and they made me some really good food and were very friendly and a lot of people I met spoke English well or could atleast understand what I was trying to say. I didn’t see a lot of children on the cruise, those who were were from Arabic speaking families.
Yes I would definitely go again because there is still so much I wasn’t able to see!
I’m leaving for Cairo in a week and half. Bringing the family husband and 2 boys with me. We’ve booked with a tour company and doing Luxor to Aswan cruise. I’m worried to venture out on our own so we’re planning to stay at our hotel the days we are on our own. I’m worried about the attacks on the recent bus in December and the bombing that happened a few days ago in the market in Cairo. I’m also concerned with the recent man who was detained at the airport. All these thoughts are so scary. We’re there for about 12 days total. Looking for some feedback on my anxiety. I should feel excited about going but I’m super worried.
Hmm..the Things is, if you truly worry about such attacks, don’t go at all. Going with a tour won’t make it any safer, actually I’d wager it’s more dangerous in a tour than all alone.
It’s nothing I would ever worry about. Maybe you get scamed, but if losing a dollar or two is your worst fear….
That being said, there were only two places I personally ever felt unsafe and was afraid for my life: New York and visiting Sri Lanka during the revolution.
Thanks for replying. I’m not too worried about being scammed. It’s part of the process as in many countries & I always look at it as, if they needed the money more than I, then I’m ok with losing a few bucks. I won’t to make sure getting in out of places, airports and such are safe, despite the crowds and noise pollution. Ideally I wanted to walk around during the days and take in sites on our own, but many are saying it’s not safe to do so. Do you know how it is to use Uber there? We know it’s available.
Well, having a knowledgeable guide along will enhance your experience a lot, so do consider it. I had an egyptologist with a degree along and I don’t regret it a second. But then again I also didn’t feel unsafe at any second, so maybe I am different after all.
Uber is available and safe…and rather scam free. I never use it as it promotes cheap labour, but that’s up to you 😉
Norman what about the “non-essential” travel advisories put out by government recently for Cairo. Give that, would you say it’s still safe to go?
Tough question really. It’s do far, only a partial warning. And you do have to compare the millions of tourists who visited unscathed in the past years with the recent two inscidents. People often forget that the statitics look so much worse for say the U.S. or Mexico.
I’d still go, but hey, I am an experienced traveller and always believe in the kindness of humanity.
To me, visiting Egypt is as safe as drinking tap water at home. But I understand many people like to worry for no good reason and rather listen to the media which loves to report such events and little positive in between.
Planning a trip in late April with my wife. She wants sun and I want history, so we are doing a day and a half in Cairo and four days in Sharm El Sheikh. How safe is Sharm El Sheikh for western tourists?
I’d say it’s perfectly safe, especially as you will probably stay all day in your hotel which usually has quite a tight security.
Now, if you are planning to explore the surrounding areas, things are a bit different…
What about going out on boats for diving trips? Or going to restaurants in Sharm itself, a no go?
diving trips shouldn’t be a problem and restaurants in Sharm as well :) But hey…this is just my personal view.
Would you consider an all-inclusive hotel? Giving what has been said about the food safety – I’m a bit hesitant!
Guess it depends on the hotel. Personally I’d stay away from buffets, salads and ice cubes, but other than that all-inclusive comes in many shapes.
We have booked a trip with Goway travel in May to visit Egypt, can’t wait, the question we have is should we get a plug converter for our phones and iPads? We are staying at the Sheridan in Cairo and then on the M/S Nile Goddess On the Nile.
that I cannot answer..if you are from the US, you will need a converter…but well…you have to tell me from where you are to answer the question if you need a converter for Egypt :)
My son desp wants to visit Egypt I have found a 14 day tour, but am concerned will be too much in the heat ? Also is the White Desert a safe place to visit and sleep under the stars ?
can’t say much about the heat if you don’t say when the tour is, eh? :)
White desert is far off the standard tourist tracks…but if it is an organized trip by a reputable tour company, i think there is probably nothing to worry about.
I am looking at Habibi tours ? and which is the most comfortable Month for a sight seeing tour temperature wise please ? I assume a Typhoid Vaccination is advisable also ?
Well…transition months are best. So march, April and October and November. Mai and September will already be very hot and best avoided.
Typhoid is probably advisable, but you better ask your doctor for medical advise ;-)
Hello, I’m planning a trip in the next 2 weeks. After reading your article I’m wondering if the holtels I booked are safe or not ? They were all on booking.com I’m going to Sharm El Sheikh, then Cairo and the hurghada to swim with wild dophins! Can you please tell me if this is going to be a safe trip and also can you recommend where to eat to avoid getting sick ? I’m not worried about scams as it is part of the game and I’ve been traveling to many countries before so I’m used to it ?
Obviously, I cannot vouch for any given hotel, even if it’s on booking.com. that being said, sharm el sheikh is a very touristy place and as safe as it gets these day. Can’t recommend individual restaurants, tho.
Im planning trip to cairo for 3 days
Planning to stay near pyramids,
Also im musician
I play i restaurabts in tourist places, (tips] or hi red
Did you see any musicians in te area budi or play rock, 60’s 70s 90s
Could be bit of adventure?
Excellent article!! Thank you for the wonderful tips/tricks and safety measures!
Great article very informative, I’ll be traveling alone African American female for my bday, I arrive in Cairo at 930pm heading to Aswan staying at the Isis Island Aswan. My question is getting from Cairo to Aswan via train as you mentioned however, is it safe and easy to manage alone at night with luggage? Thank you
Hi I’m planning on doing a 3 days bus tour to Cairo and Petra through Viator. I’ll be coming from Eilat, going through the Taba Border to Sinai drive in the middle of the night tour. My partner is really scared to go visit Egypt, because of the recent tourist Vietnamese bombings and terrorist attacks. Is that drive from Eilat is very risky and going to visit Cairo dangerous even for a one day? Please help, I really want to book the tour, but my partner keeps telling me its suicide. I tried looking at flying to Cairo from TLV, but the flights are steep roundtrip, $500 plus and I already purchased my roundtrip tickets to from LAX to TLV. I really want to see the PHyramids, is there any tours that you can recommend that are safer or other options of transportation to get to the Pyramids? Thanks lots.
I like the article.
We went to egypt in 2016 it was great, yes scams everywhere, but a polite no is always good , and if that doesn’t work an impolite no seems to work. The tourists are targeted because they have the money . We love egypt and are returning next week.
When a bribe , I don’t like that word I would like to relabel that as a token of appreciation , is asked for I like to remember
That for many of the Egyptians ,especially at the historic sites,
This might be their only way to obtain income,it helps feed their family or provide subsistence. In many ways it is not the size of the token but the recognition of the person and their family
That is as important.
I am lucky enough that I am able to help these people out even though I admit that the mor aggressive they are the less I give
So at some where like the pyramids I would give the attendants that work there maybe a 20 lb note , and at the valley of the dead
At least that for each tomb I enter, I know that even though these attendant gets a salary,the token payment is an important part of the culture.
So this year we are going to Cairo and are going to a behind the scenes tour of GEM and then to Luxor .we love egypt and believe in supporting the country’s tourism and feel that travel there is safe and sound and hope that everyone who travels there find it as a amazing place as my family does
Hey Jeffrey – thank you for your detailed input! I’m sure other travelers will find it helpful
“You might be the only fair-skinned traveler within the radius of 1 mile…” the question was is it safe for Americans to travel to Egypt. Why assume that your American readers are, by default, fair skinned? This is messed up. What’s the point of traveling if you don’t come back with an open mind?” This says a lot of how you see the world and your place in it.
Okay Dee, while I value each comment, I was never somebody to see wrong around every corner.
I’m a blond white guy with blue eyes, with rich parents, excellent education and an extremely lovely childhood (and a host of other privileges I am quite aware of) and my blog can only reflect my opinions, which are naturally shaped by the way I travel and who I am. I do not see a problem in admitting that. In fact, I’d feel pretty weird answering problems people with another background might be facing. THAT indeed would be wrong.
Also, please understand that by means of various research tools, I know that most of my readers fall into the same category, which is not to say that I do not welcome people of different origin as well. I also hate overzealous acts of political correctness that never solve a problem. In fact, they build yet another border – and I’d like to be an advocate for free borders.
If I read the blog of an African or Asian blogger, I would never, for a second, stumble over such a phrase, which tells a lot about past wrongs committed. We have to strive for a society where all people share this sort of tolerance but are also comfortable with it. This battle, however, is not won with words, but with deeds.
Your reply is simply perfect! I am so tired of the PC culture. Of course you are going to blog on your personal experience. It would be presumptuous to try to imagine the touring experience of someone else. I think my next travel will be to Egypt with a touring group for safety. You have inspired me.
You can be a blonde-haired, blue-eyed guy with rich parents and still have a good understanding that not all Americans are fair-skinned. Nor have an expectation that all your readers will be such. It’s short-sighted and limited to think so. The previous reader pointing out your comment wasn’t an act of over-zealous political correctness. She (or he) rightly pointed out that possibly a google search for “Is Egypt Safe to visit” may lead more than just “fair-skinned Americans” to your blog. “This battle, however, is not won with words, but with deeds.” Quite true. Instead of being defensive, you could try being open?
if, and that is an if, if I had written that all Americans are fair-skinned like me, then I’d agree with you. But I didn’t. The discussion just arose because somebody read to much into a sentence. And that, alas, is happening too often. Openness also means being open to more than just one meaning and not seeing wrong, where none was intended. And if you still do, then the only thing you create is resentment, if not outright hatred in a person that was once open.
Anyways, if you are offended by the fact that on an African market the vast majority of visitors will be of African origin, and a white person will stick out, well, then I won’t be able to help with all my openness.
Old thread but just wanted to say I came here knowing that Egypt is most likely safe for locals, but maybe a little sketchy for tourists who stand out. I’m specifically interested in knowing how safe it is to travel to Egypt as someone who is 6′ tall and VERY fair-skinned. Having been to other countries, I quickly learned how much I stand out, but I haven’t been somewhere yet where I feel that’s potentially a safety issue. For that reason, I wanted to do my research and come prepared. While America is an extremely diverse country, I appreciate that you had travelers in mind that would physically stand out relative to the locals in Egypt :) thanks a ton for this blog.
don’t see how this could be a security risk as long as u don’t flash your things (were you a gird it might be different, tho). I’m as fair-skinned as it gets and I didn’t have any problems at all :P
People like Dee live sad lives, and that is a good thing :-)
I visited Egypt back in 2001, just before 9/11. I am English and was mistaken for an Italian many times. We took a cruise up and down the Nile and spent three days in Cairo as part of a tour group. For the most part I felt quite safe & I think the biggest mistake I ever made was pointing at a vendor store the next thing I know all these vendors came over wanting me to buy their wares. Lol! We made some friends on the cruise I one day took a felucca across from our cruise ship and felt perfectly safe. I know times have changed, but I would still definitely recommend visiting Egypt. Also, if you get a chance to visit Abu Simbel, take it (safety permitting of course).
I’ve dreamed of visiting Egypt most of my Adult life and these comments have helped secure that dream visit. Thank you. When visiting any foreign country, if learning basic Yes/No-Please/Thankyou in the countries language helps give basic respectful communication back, then I for one will learn it. Scams are in every countries emails and threw letter boxes, these scams are poverty and neglect for small change. Instinct and common sense should prevail when travelling here or any where in the world and not media driven scare mongering reports. It’s been great to travel even with children in toe – can’t wait to add Egypt and educate myself/children on real life not found in any text book.
glad I could help you life your dream. Go to Egypt – you will love it. I dreamed about it myself for way too long…and then I visited and it was just so mindblowing!
“Don’t ever talk to the locals! And never tell them where you are from. Just say “no thank / la shukran” in a friendly way and move on.” THIS. It’s incredibly sad, but getting befriended and then scammed can turn an otherwise amazing trip into a nightmare. I’ve had this happen and have endured numerous attempts, and it disappoints me. I am rather well-traveled and have not had this problem anywhere else, including India and SE Asia. I wouldn’t let it stop me from traveling. In fact, I turn it into a challenge. But yeah, keep to yourself, be smart, and take it all in. There’s tons of nice people here by the way.M
yeah, I agree with you. It’s sad. But what happened with Egypt tourism industry is sad as well, so perhaps understandable.
I have always wanted to visit Egypt and experience the wonderful desserts and pyramids. But the article and comments have now put in a huge doubt on whether this would be a good idea or not. Or probably just stick to Istanbul which is safe for the tourists for a middle east experience. Moreover, I was planning a visit sometime during December. I know its too early to plan and ask. But along with the food and safety precautions, I also wanted to know about how would the weather be during December if you have had a personal experience? Is Egypt worth travelling and getting to visit maximum places during this period as I surely would be visiting it just once and wouldn’t want to miss out on anything.
Thanks. Your suggestions would be highly appreciated.
Actually, Istanbul is soooo much less safe than Egypt. There’s been too many terrorist attacks in the past years, while in Egypt there was more or less only one you should be concerned of. December is a nice time to visit, in case you want to see the temples and pyramids. It is so worth it, and, in my opinion, much better than anything you’d see in Istanbul.
My husband and I are heading to Egypt next week. Seems everyone we know is trying to scare us into changing our minds. :-( We will spend a few days in Cairo, then fly to Aswan then take a tour guided trip to Luxor and spend a few days there before flying back to Cairo. We have pretty much planned the entire trip ourselves so your blog was a big help in getting the “inside scoop” any other tips, suggestions or precautions? Should we take small currency with us to spend each day or is it best to use our credit card? Is there anything we should absolutely see (or avoid)? We are an interracial couple (him black, me white) in the US there are still a lot of people that have an issue with that (smh) will it be more or less of an issue in egypt? We have thick skin but it’s good to be prepared.
Sorry, I really can’t say anything about travelling as a mixed couple in Egypt. There is a nubian minority in the country, and they are not all that popular among locals. If you do guided tours, hotels, you will not really face those issues, though (other than maybe a weird glance, etc(.
Definitely take some small change for tips. Most Egyptian will expect them for small services and help.
Hi Norman. I am going to Hurgarda in june with my children and grandchildren. I am a litle bit scare and specially becouse of the children but they are 3 from age 6 – 11 yers . We are traveling from Iceland, so we live in a small country and I have never went so far traveling before. Do I have to worry about anything ?
We want to see the pyramids, but its maybe to long traveling for the children. Is aircontrol in the bus there? Do you know how it is to traveling with children there?
Thank you for your help. your suggestions would help me a lot
Hmm..if you just stay in the hotel, there is just two things you really need to worry about: food & intense heat. June will be blistering heat, and you will need excellent sun protection for the young ones. And watch what they eat. Icecream and the like might be problematic, except you stay in a super luxury hotel.
Hi Norman, thanks for a very interesting take on what seems to be a great destination. I am planning a possible trip in July – more for relaxation than tourism so I am looking at flying into Cairo – doing the Pyramids and Cairo Museum for a day or two but then heading to Sharm El Sheikh for an AI 9 days at a 5 star resort. I will travel with my wife and my main concern is safety… Are the 5 star resorts in Sharm safe and interesting enough to keep one busy for 9 or 10 days? Is a full day enough to do an “I’ve done it” tour of the Pyramids, Sphinx and Museum in Cairo with a reputable tour operator – preferably a private tour for 2 or 4 people?…Thanks so much
You are right, there! It also survived a major earthquake. I focused more on the experience and not so much on the history. Probably because I know it by heart and it’s a bit like explaining breathing to me
One day in Cairo is enough to tick of pyramids and museum – for a casual first impression that is.
As for the resorts, they are as safe as they get these days, eh.
Going with my kids to visit Cairo my husband is Swiss just about settling down in Cairo. Any advisers?
wow.. great article. We are booked to travel on a major tour, 16 days, and includes a cruise. Part of 16 only guests with all Hotels, Food, Tipping, etc provided. This is in Feb 2020, so a little way off. I notice the smart traveller ( Aus Gov) advises that only essential travel should apply at the moment. My gut feel is to proceed anyway given the length of time away. Life is too short, not to take some risk, don’t you reckon?
Well..there has been another terror attack just yesterday, and actually I am about to revise my judgement as well. Not saying it’s unsafe, but there is a need to be aware of an increased risk. Group travel around the major landmarks is maybe a bit risky as opposed to independent travelling
As a solo female traveler I have been to Cairo and surrounding areas 4 times in the last few years. I have made several friends there and absolutely love the culture. I have always felt safe there. I do dress accordingly and am always aware of my surroundings. There is great history there. Thank you for your article.
thank you for your valued input. Glad to hear the perspective of a woman! Much appreciated!
I’m so glad to hear this. I’m a woman traveling alone, I’ll be spending two days in Cairo in a couple of weeks. After reading this article I’m thinking I could probably do the pyramids by myself (and just use “no, thank you” the whole time) and maybe get a guide to venture into the city? Would that be something either of you would recommend? Or am I good just taking ubers and/or taxis from the hotel? Or would it be better to get a guide for the pyramids as well?
Well…actually getting a driver is rather smart of the pyramids, as they are quite some distance away from each other. You don’t need a guide, but just something to get you to the different stations ;-)
Planning to go visit Sinai (Red sea) in July with a group of girls. I’m a bit concern about the airport how safe it is? we will be arriving at Marsa Alarm and amongst other things. Really Would like some reassurance. Because everyone kept telling us it’s not safe.
I think you are mistaking a few things here. The Sinai itself is a region of conflict and other than the tourist cities probably not all that safe. Mara Alarm, however, is NOT in the Sinai. Egypt has been hit by a couple of terror attacks recently, but those were in Cairo. the resorts on the Red Sea should be fairly safe ;-)
Hi Norman. Great article! I have also read all the comments. I’m from Brazil, and I’m going to travel outside here for the first time. I’ll visit some countries in Europe for a few days with a group of friends, and later we will split up, and I’ll go alone to Egypt. I’m staying in Egypt for 9 days, it’s my dream since childhood! =) So would be nice if you answer a few questions: 1- How is the weather in august? 2 – The archaeological sites are always crowded? I’ll visit Giza Pyramids, Valley of Kings, Abu Simbel, museuns and mosques in Cairo. I will also take a Nile Cruise and end the last days in Hurghada. 3 – Is there any way to be allowed to take pictures inside pyramids, musem and Tutankhamun tomb? I have read around some people pay to be allowed to take pictures, but I don’t know how wrong is this, some youtubers and bloggers has taken nice pictures and videos. I would like to save these memories in pictures or/and videos… Thanks for the advices!
sounds like quite the trip you got planed there!
1. Weather in August will be scorchingly hot – especially around the pyramids and the Giza Pyramids.
2. Sites won’t be all that crowded in August, and they currently still aren’t. There will be people, but now crowded.
3. The only place pictures are not allowed is Tutankhamun’s tomb – for the rest, you will have to buy a photo permit at the ticket booth. You are not allowed to bring big cameras into the pyramids. But you can shoot away with your mobile phone.
I really appreciate your advice on how to stay safe when visiting Egypt. My son has always wanted to go to see the pyramids and other monuments. Maybe it would be good to book a travel tour through a reputable company so we can see everything and stay safe.
I was in Cairo in 2012 during Morsi’s presidency ( I have a high fear threshold). I LOVED Cairo. Most comments from men on the street were “great moustache- you look like an Egyptian!” NO hostility. Many positive anecdotes but will share just one. I took a subway from Tahrir Square to Coptic area. I got down to the platforms and was the ONLY westerner in a very jammed station. I learned from the first train I missed that people exiting battle with people entering the trains. So 2 guys, not together, started gradually pushing to the platform edge. I knew from their demeanor they weren’t hostile. When the next train came they SHOVED me onto it. Same thing when I got to my stop- 2 other guys looked at me, probably thought clueless westerner, and gradually pushed me to the door and SHOVED me onto the platform. No words exchanged- just matter-of-fact guys helping a dumb American. Welcome to Cairo!
what an amazing story. I only ever experienced friendliness in the Arabic world. Sure, culture IS different, but most people genuinely love seeing people from foreign countries.
Thank you for such an informative and thoughtful article! I am planning to travel to Cairo with friends in mid July. What is your opinion on the heat at this time? I hope to do lots of exploring but I’m concerned I won’t be able to stand the heat for long periods of time. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks again!
well the heat will be intense in July. It’s the hottest month of the year in fact. Cairo will be still okayish, but Luxor and Aswan almost unbearable. Definitely take a hat or an umbrella, drink loads and take it slowly. Consider exploring in the morning, take a break around noon and continue in the afternoon. Hope this helps.
What a great amount of info! My wife and I are going to Cairo / Luxor in February 2020. It will be a private tour consisting of the two of us, a dedicated Egyptologist guide, and various drivers to the sites . It is the only way we would travel there. Basically from the time we got off the plane we will have someone with us at all times except for when we are at the various hotels. They take care of all of the details for the whole trip. A few questions –
1. I checked online and saw the weather for that time of year is between 68 – 85 degrees F. Is that accurate?
2. How are the crowds that time of year?
hard to predict the weather in February 2020, but yeah, it will be rather coolish. The Good part: These days there are no crowds in Egypt – not even in the high season. February should be very pleasant!
Bruce, would you mind saying which Company you are using for your tour?
Hi Bruce-we are looking for a guide in Cairo. Do you mind sharing the contacts for your guide? thank you
I don’t think it’s safe enough for white people….
don’t worry about that we are not comparing white to black people here :) all are smiley faces and respect each other. even we here like to hear people speak in other languages and like to help them.
every place in the world you can find good and bad things (I mean it)! but make good planning for your trip and ask Egyptians before you go they will help you a lot to plan it well :)
Have you heard to the tour company “Egypt Magic”? Are they a reputatable company?
Aslo, at the end of the tour, ending in Luxor, instead of traveling back to Cairo via a plane, we would have this company arrange a car ride for us from Luxor to Hurghada. We would like to spend 5 days in Hurghada and then fly from there to London. Any input on this would be greatly appreciated. We are a 58 and 62 year old couple.
I do not know this company – which says nothing about their quality. A transfer from Luxor to Hurghada should be easily arranged. If they can’t..better look for someone else ;-)
My husband and I are planning to take the trip to Egypt using Great Value Vacation. We used the travel site previously and we were very pleased. Have you heard of Great Value Vacations before? The trip includes staying in Cairo, seeing the pyramids, flying to luxor then taking the Nile cruise and visiting places such as valley of the kings and temple of luxor. It does state that they are all guided tour which makes me feel a little better. We are not sure what month to go in but we are planning between jan-april…what do you recommend?
if you will travel in March it is Sharm El Shaikh time, you will enjoy it really also DAHAB, TABA all of these places are wonderful.
Marsa Alam in March also is the best place to stay and nature.
in Jan i’d prefer ASWAN for you where you can find lovely temples and historical places with its lovely natural life, people there in Aswan are very helpful.
in cairo also you can enjoy your time too many things to be done just ask Egyptians :) they will tell you.
Nice article Norman, Thanks
I have just come back from Egypt and can say that the country is in desperate need of people like you to improve tourism and put into context the safety concerns.
I agree with the majority of your comments but there are a few additions I would like to make to put things into context further.
My first point concerns the food
I have been to Egypt countless (probably more than 40) times over the last 10 years and although most of my visits have been to Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, I have also been to Alexandria, Marsa Alam, Mersa Metruah, Safaga, Sokna, Dahab amongst several others. During this time I have stayed in 4 and 5 star hotels but also eaten at numerous local restaurants, been out to eat with friends and even had takeaways. I eat salad and have ice in my drinks (in the hotels) and In all of this time I have only had 2 stomach problems.
I have easily cleared this up within a day or so with Antinal from the local chemist for less than 5 dollars. To put this into perspective, over the same period of time (10 years or so) I have had several stomach issues from local takeaways in England. I buy takeaways much less frequently than when I eat out abroad so in my experience I have had more issues in England than in Egypt.
To the readers who ask about all inclusive in Sharm or Hurghada I would say yes this is a must, the all inclusive is for next to nothing and the quality of the hotels (especially 5 star) will generally be in a better location and many have numerous different restaurants so there is always a wide variety of options. The cleanliness in hotels is generally very high and the staff have are always exceptional. I wont pay for priority boarding at the airport as getting on the plane 5 minutes early does not make a great deal of difference to my holiday. I do however give small but frequent tips, roughly the same amount as priority boarding over the course of a week can make an immense difference to my holiday
My next point is regarding scams.
I dont quite know how to term scam but if it regards overpaying for goods or services a typical traveller will have been scammed several times before even entering the country. The cost of getting to the airport or airport parking will cost more than the odd inflated taxi price or a small tip. £3 for a bottle of water in the airport, expensive meals for mediocre food on the plane, paying to choose a seat or to sit together on the plane, overpriced insurance etc are what I consider to be scams.
It is quite simple to not get ripped off,- when buying goods or services decide beforehand what you are willing to pay for it and don’t pay over that amount. If you get it for what you have decided or less- you have not been scammed (even if someone else pays less).
The same applies to taxis agree a price before setting off or better still only use taxis with a meter. Some cities have Uber and others have recommended companies which can be found on the internet. Always have small change when using taxis as the drivers never seem to have change.
In Sharm and Hurghada I use the microbuses which are usually between 1 and 3 LE (Egyptian pounds) I always give 5 and never expect any change. I am more than happy to pay this (approximately 20 pence) so have not been scammed.
Phone and internet charges from home countries are one of the biggest scams going, I have a Vodafone modem which I load up with an Egyptian sim card. Around 35 dollars gets you 40Gb of data which can be used anywhere and I use messenger or Skype for my calls.
There can be a fair amount of uninvited attention with people trying to sell you something, as stated this can quite often be sorted with a ‘la shukran’ but I quite like the banter at times and don’t mind speaking for a couple of minutes. I very rarely buy anything and normally we part company with a smile and a handshake. I have never really had any issues with being ripped off or scammed but be careful of going in perfume shops. This are the one area where I would say be careful, for anyone who has ever had a double glazing salesman selling windows and doors-perfume shops are the Egyptian equivalent they are very persistent.
Hotel shops are quite expensive, this is due to high rent prices similar to the airport, this is not a scam it is just business. I get all my cigarettes snacks and toiletries from the local supermarket at about a third of the price.
Bartering is part of the culture and to expect otherwise in my opinion is ignorant, I quite like the interaction with the locals and always have a laugh and joke.
If I don’t want attention I usually buy a bracelet or wear a watch to cover my wrist band (when all inclusive) this helps but doesn’t always stop the attention. The Egyptians are tourist savvy and they still know who we are, To Debs who took exception to ‘the fair skinned traveler’ comment-don’t worry they will spot you and treat you exactly the same as they do any other tourist so you wont feel left out. Some hotels have a ‘red flag’ policy for on the beach or around the pool. You can pick up a red flag when getting your towels and the traders should respect it and leave you alone when it is on show. I have had some excellent trips diving snorkelling boat trip quad bikes etc from the local traders at a much better price than from the travel reps so would argue that the reps are scammers although they do play the ‘fully insured’ card.
My last (and main) point is regarding security. To put this into perspective, I live in England- there are stabbings and shooting on a daily basis and there have been numerous terrorist attacks in England over the past few years. including the Manchester Arena bombing. People were still visiting Manchester within a few days of it happening. In a foreign country the media shows a problem in a particular city yet people boycott the entire country? If you consider the size of England compared to Egypt I would fancy my chances in Egypt any day.
There have been countless terror attacks throughout Europe as there has been in the States and in fact most places worldwide.
I don’t think there is any corner of the world which is truly safe, all I can say is that I personally feel safe there and have never witnessed so much as a fight, (unlike most European destinations).
I was in Sharm when both revolutions kicked off in Cairo a few years ago and did not witness one bit of trouble (although tensions were a bit higher).
Security checks have been stepped up recently at the airport and there is still a high military and police presence everywhere.
In my opinion Egypt is as safe as England, Europe and America and probably safer than numerous other countries worldwide especially if you consider tsunamis, tornados, volcanoes, landslide, malaria, animal or shark attacks, snake bites, hypothermia, fevers, aids, pirates etc.
By far the biggest killers in the world are heart disease, strokes cancers and a whole list of other medical complaints, car related accidents are the only non medical killers in the top 10. Worrying about going to Egypt is more likely to kill you than actually going.
thank you so much for your very elaborate comment and I cannot agree more:
I said it elsewhere before: Scams happen in central Europe or the USA as well, but they are the ones so entrenched into our culture you take them for granted and not even notice them (which is even worse)
As for the stomach thing, you advice of preparing your stomach before you go is very sound, and I always do it. Still, I found that my stomach is very sensitive and reacts rather quickly, and I do have to admit that Egypt and me do have a history there – and so does the rest of my family.
And as for safety, again, I can only agree. Yes, its foreign, yes, its different, but that doesn’t make the Egyptians bad people or the country unsafe.
true I didn’t understand what Norman meant about food problems and fresh juices like half the fun of Egypt is the fresh juices especially sugar cane juice
also a tip in Egypt is to make friends the locals are friendly and will most likely help
also small food chains are the best eg sharwama or sougo(beef sausage)
they might be fun and I certainly want to taste them (and did so in the past), but the chances that I end up with diarrhea are like 90% ;-)
Thank you for such a well written and informative article. My husband and I will be in Cairo 22/8 till 3/9. I’m preparing myself for the heat 😁
We have booked our day tours with Memphis Travel. I believe they are reputably reliable. We decided full transport, an Egyptologist, meals is best for this trip. I’m expecting to learn so much from the professional guide. Apart from the usual tourist spots in Cairo, we are booked for Alexandria & Luxor. Is Alexandria worth going?
Someone mentioned Istanbul as an alternative. Well I just visited Istanbul in April and I must say like most countries, the locals are friendly, touting and a scam or two should be expected. While we are savvy travelers, we didn’t escape an incident which we quickly shrugged off and moved on so as not to spoil the rest of our trip. We lost US300 as I fell sick on one of our tour dates and they refuse any refund – yes we paid in full.
Poverty drives people to do things that may not appeal to us tourist but if we want to travel the world, then we should be aware that scams, pickpockets and crime happen everywhere and anywhere in the world. Take precautions not to be a victim but if you find yourself in such a situation, brush it off and move on – as long as it’s not a life and death situation.
Coming back to Egypt, this is a teenage dream I’ve had for a long time (30yrs) and I’m finally realizing it. I’m excited, a little worried of course, but I’m glad I will be going. Wish me luck that it will be as smooth as it can be, and if there are bumps, we will survive them LOL. Btw, we are avid travelers from Singapore, did you see many chinese Asians?
Egypt was a childhood dream for me as well! It’s such a marvelous country with so much history and I am sure you will love it. As for seeing other chinese Asians. I usually don’t really pay attention to that kind of thing, but looking through my pictures I didn’t notice any ;-)
Alexandria is quite lovely – not as awe-inspiring as Cairo, Luxor or Aswan, but nice!
Oh, and one more thing: Please show some understanding for freelancers. You know, if you ask someone to do a tour with you on a particular date, they naturally don’t arrange for another tour on that very date. But if you tell them one or two days in advance that you won’t be able to show up, the guide won’t be able to find another client. So, that’s income lost he was depending on. I don’t actually see this as a scam, even though you probably would have wanted to be anything but sick on that very date. Hotels, Michelin-star restaurants, airlines won’t refund you either. Why should tour guides be different? But hey..that’s what travel insurances are for.
Brilliant article! Thanks.
I do have a question though –
My wife and I are planning to do some driving in Egypt, between Cairo and Luxor and between Luxor and Aswan. However we’ve read a lot of conflicting articles about how safe that is, and whether it’s even possible without permits from the police, or in some cases tourists are not permitted to drive in certain areas at all. We accept there will always be some risk, but it’s difficult to know what to believe. Do you have any useful knowledge you can share on this?
well, conflicting information sounds typical Egyptian ;-)
The thing is, it used to be no problem at all (other than being slow and dusty :P). But, in the light of the most recent happenings, there might be a problem (not a risk, but a problem).
See, tourists are forced to take the tourist train most of the time as well. And you cannot drive to certain places without a police escort. So, quite frankly, I don’t know if it is possible.
Reading some of the articles have me a little worried. We are spending the day there visiting the pyramids with Globus Tours. I guess I want reassurance that it is safe to travel with a group.
while independent travel is obviously always safer than group travel, I don’t think you should be all that worried. Can I promise you nothing will happen? No. Can I promise you nothing will happen at home? No.
can I promise you the pyramids are going to be amazing? yes! :P
We are about to visit Egypt for the third time and our 4th is already booked. The weather is glorious and as there is no stagnant water around there are no mosquitoes! We always go All Inclusive with either Thomas Cook or TUI from England, and the hotels are excellent quality and no tummy troubles. We went to Sheraton Soma Bay in Feb and are going back there in a month as it was so good. In Feb we went to Cairo for the day but we hired a driver and a private Tour Guide and it was about £100 but well worth it. There was a camel owner who was a bit of a pain who foisted on us a nasty bead from a necklace and expected us to be eternally grateful, but we escaped in our private car. This visit we are going to Luxor and know not to accept gifts. Next March we are taking small children but will be staying all-inclusive again and doubt we will venture far, mostly enjoying winter warmth but obviously wouldnt take kids if we thought it was dangerous!
thank you for your detailed comment! Enjoy your upcoming trip!
My husband & I are senior citizen from Canada planning to travel with friends from Alberta Canada. We all are seasoned travellers & your blog has great impact in our decision the good outweighs the negative remarks. We plan to travel early May 2020. How’s the weather like? Most importantly how do we get Visa- from the airport according to Gate 1 agent or online & how much does it cost pp? Is there any agency you can recommend to get reliable tour guides & transport? Thank You.
weather in May will already be considerably hot, so way about 30° Celsius. You can apply for a visa online https://visa2egypt.gov.eg/eVisa/Home
A follow up to my previous post
My wife and I are just finishing up our visit to the great country of Egypt
People want to know if it is safe and I can confirm that is very safe
As I look out over the great Nile river at sun set in Luxor,what a beautiful scene,I will recap my wonderful adventure from the moment we touched down in Cairo I have not felt unsafe at any time , we went to the pyramids inside the big one and then off to a tour of the new Grand
Egyptian Museum,GEM, and a gem it is ,the economy is doing well
Never once were we hassled at the pyramids,then off to Aswan , there are many police checkpoints and the police represent their county
Extremely well, very friendly ,I felt very safe and could walk around Aswan without a problem, then to a Nile River boat ,we went to many temples along the great nile river , there was security at every site,and felt safe enough to leave the boat at night and walk through the small towns,onto Luxor,I felt as safe as in any American city the security is tight but that is good, off into the desert to dendrea at one of the checkpoints we had to wait for about 10 minutes and got out to stretch our legs , the soldiers at the checkpoint were friendly and even offered to share their lunch, we tried to communicate but I only speak English so we shared many laughs, they were so polite and offered up a bench to sit on for my wife and in-laws,very kind and nice,at all the check points we shared a thumbs up as we drove th the checkpoints.and back to Luxor strolling around was no problem, my Wife and I left our hotel
And strolled down the street the kids were more interested in practicing their English than hitting us up for money,as we went past a bakery we were offered bread for free, no obligation
So to sum it up there are still venders trying to sell you things ,some are aggressive,most are not,didn’t see any scams or crime
So have a wonderful adventure and visit the great country of Egypt
,it not America,but that’s what makes it such a great adventure
thank you soo much for your detailed travel report. I hope it encourages other travelers to follow in our footsteps! :)
My girl friend and I are travelling to Egypt during the second week of December and coming back to the U.S just before XMas.
We are staying at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plazawhich is supposed to be a 5 star hotel according to expedia… We also have booked a number of activities through tour guides from expedia.
I just read a quite a few negative comments here about Egypt as a tourist destination. Can you please advise, what/how we should have our expectations set given we are staying at a 5 star hotel and booked activities through tour guide companies from Expedia? I dont care about the money so If I have to cancel the whole thing I will, I just want to have fun and a memorable experience… please advise and appreciate your thoughts beyond words can express…
The Four Seasons Hotel Cairo is great and I stayed there myself – don’t even know what you would ever be worried about? As for tours via Expedia – i never booked any so I can’t comment that.
As for canceling? What sort of answer do you expect? :) I obviously enjoy Egypt very much and I would and will happily return again.
thanks for the amazing article , yet I’m from Egypt and i can assure you that not all the locals are scammers, trust me a lot of shop owners are scammers but not all of them
This is Kamran from Pakistan
After going through your article i have made my plan to visit egypt in december 2019. Could you kindly recommend some good and reliable local tour operators for affordable (not luxury or cheap eaither) 11 days package. Our area of interest would cairo, aswan, luxor, and sharm el sheikh. We all are adult males (arround 7 freinds not family). Your support will be highly appreciated in this regard.
Now that I have booked my trip to Egypt for December, I came across the news that wide spread demonstrations and political unrest have been going on the past 3-4 weeks… that latest one being just a few days ago… read this article form New York times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/world/middleeast/egypt-protest-sisi-arrests.html
Should tourists be concerned about this…?
yeah, I have seen them. So far, I have not heard anything that should concern tourists in any major way. The Egyptian Museum sits right on Tahir square, so that will probably place with extra tight security.
Other than that, you really should continue watching the news – things might escalate or not. But that’s nothing I could possibly predict for december.
I am traveling to Egypt with my son who is 36 years old this end of the year. We are traveling from Dubai to Aswan, then we will go to Luxor and then to Cairo. This is because of the hotel reservations which have availability on the dates in that order . We have checked the flights from Aswan to Luxor and it is very complicated to go by plane. We are thinking in renting a car and travel through the highway. We are Mexicans and know a little bit about scamming ;)
And all that. But we would like to know if driving in those areas is safe as in Mexico we know which are not.
We are taking three nights for aswan, three nights for Luxor and three nights for Cairo. What do you think? As we are coming from Mexico we are taking three nights in as one we know we will have Jetlag.
Also ask you to please really recommend us what is really worth visiting and maybe an itinerary you recommend for a Mexican tourist
We would like to travel by our own
Thank you very much in advance
there is a regular train between Aswan and Luxor – why not take that one? :P
And as for the rest of your questions, I’ll kindly refer you to my Egypt itinerary: https://www.annees-de-pelerinage.com/14-days-egypt-itinerary/
It was not written especially for Mexicans, but I am sure you will find it very helpful nevertheless.
Thank you Norman… I will certainly follow… in case you come across something appreciate it very much if you can post it here and let me know…
thank you again,
I did not know any better and tried to get my visa through this website egyptetouring.com . They charged me $75 and I submitted full copy of my passport also. But now I have come to realize obtaining a visa can be done at the cairo airport and costs on $25. It is not the money that I am worried about, but the info I have seen online that this website is a scam? Is that true? or have you heard or seen anything about this website egyptetouring.com? I have already disputed the charges and they have cancelled my application (so they claim). But my friend also have applied through them and submitted her passport copy but she got a message back saying they copy she submitted is unreadable and she must re-submit again. I have advised her not to do, and also to dispute the $75 that she was charged aslo.
Hmm..I don’t know about then really. Here is the thing: for some countries it’s incredibly easy to obtain a visa(like you said), so the service is all but superfluous. But for some countries it’s actually quite a deal harder, so the service would actually be fair value.
Hi, after reading you article I’m a little conscious. I am 26 year old woman. I am booked on a 7 day tour with a company that arranges the accommodations and tours. I am however arriving a night prior to the tour beginning and choose to stay in a hotel at the pyramid complex and planned to explore the pyramids for the day solo. Do you foresee this to be a problem, unsafe?
Probably depends on how you define unsafe:
The area around the pyramids is the busiest for tourists. So, there are a lot of scams going on and merchants and guides will probably try to prey on a single woman. But if you got a tough skin nothing you cannot handle.
You might still want to get a driver-guide as it’s quite far to walk and u do not want to miss saqqara.
Thanks for the guide. We (couple) will travel to Egypt soon and will have at least one day free in Cairo (after a cruise through the Nile).
Do you know any good local guides that can show us around Cairo in that free day we have? Or maybe even some acompanied tour to something nearby?
I mostly go through the hotel and grab a taxi. For guides, I personally usually use GetYourGuide (Here are their tours in Cairo)
Please also take a look at my Cairo guide :)
I don’t know why our media always shows the negative face of mostly country. I understand that every country has a peaceful until you followed his rules…
I’m Egyptian and im just reading the comments and laughing I personally visited the pyramids and there was like 1000 scammers do I care no
and I don’t know what you were expecting I also visited Jordan Petra and there was even more scamming going on
but overall Egypt is great and I think you all should at least try to visit Egypt
thank you for your input. Exactly my point – there will be people trying to scam tourists one way or another in almost all top tourist attractions. Sometimes they are obvious, and sometimes they are less obvious. Use your common sense and ignore it, like you said!
I was there in 2003 and fell in love. I have always wanted to go back. Would love to spend several months there. I was lucky enough to visit a friend who was working there so other than the trip to Giza the market etc. It was getting to hang around the city getting a taste of local life. You are right. If you’re not accustomed to the leering it can be a bit uncomfortable at first. But my time there was a gift and I got to meet some of the most gracious people.
In view of current military or political situation in Iran / Iraqi vs USA, any effect / change on Egypt in term of safety & security for tourists there? Thanks.
Hey YC Ho,
I am not aware of any at least. I mean, if things would escalate, things might be different, but right now I wouldn’t think so.
Hi Norman, thank you so much for your quick reply. We’re planning to visit Egypt next week for 11 days.
I was thinking of traveling g to dahab last week in feb 2020 but having read the alerts and your blog I am rethinking it. I’d appreciate your opinion on security around dahab?? I’d be traveling with 2 kids so maybe not right?
Hi I suppose to travel to Egypt April first from a travel agency tour, after I read all this good and bad complains I am very affray , do you thing is safe to go?
Hi, yes Egypt is safe, I’ve been living here for about a year. Anything you need just contact me, I can give you tips or even plan your whole trip.
Hi all! what do you do?
I travel to hurghada 2/3 times a year I am going back 24/08/2020 always use the same hotel I am 76 year old widowed travel alone in UK I will not go out evening time but I feel safer going out in hurghada I love this place very friendly just refuse when they try to get you into shops even swear as last resort go in its coffee and you’re doomed to spend money yes taxi arrange price first what he asks for half it and walk away food is perfect so is the country.
We traveled in February 2021 (during the Covid ‘Pandemic”) Myself, two daughters and my granddaughter. We had a wonderful independent Female Guide that was with us everywhere. The driving and traffic is crazy. People walk in front of cars, lane lines are ‘suggestions’, and horking is necssary. Police come up to the van often to check on their ‘American pale passengers’, and want to escort us everywhere. (The did that the first day…we thought several times they had left us, but no such luck). Our driver, Eman, was amazing. He drove a stick shift, honked, navigated cards, tuk tuks, people, and buses with great patience and skill (never heard him utter even close to a ‘naughty word’, even in Egyptian.
Fortunately, this guide, Doa, did not chqrge us per person, like so many of tour copanies do. It was a group rate for my family, which I greatly appreciatd. If I had paid per person, we couldn’t have seen as much of the country and the beautiful historical sites as we did. I have difficulty breathing (asthma) and walking long distances isn’t in my abilities. We saw Old Cairo, Coptic Cairo, Mosques (We had never been in a Mosque…they are very beautiful). Because of Covid, they We toohad tape on the floor to mark where each person could stand/knee to pray and space out from each other. She explained as much as possible about the structures, locations, and historical character of these beautiful buildings.
My daughter found a overnight train to Luxor, which was fun, but not sure I’d do it again. Food was mostly a lot of bread rolls, a hunk of cheese, and a soda or water. Mornng brakfast was a bit better with a creamy cheese and coffee.
Be aware, as women, there is a women in EVERY BATHROOM IN EGYPT to hand you a few pieces of toilet paper (carry extra in your pocket & wipes). They ALL except and demand a ‘tip’. We learned to only give them 1 American dollar for all of us (not each). Helpers t train and airport also expect extra tips. Had one guy that was cleaning the sidewalk with a broom and put his handout when I was tipping the guy that was putting our suitcases in the van. Keep a sense of humor and enjoy everything!
Everything in vegetables is very fresh. The tomatoes are soooo yummy I wish I could plant and grow them in Arizona. Do not drink anything with ice and always buy water in a bottle. Wash your hands and carry hand sanitizer.
We only used one Uber and price was only about $4.00 American. We were told to avoid white taxies as they price gouge. (We listenened to advice.
I did get caughter by one guy offering ‘free’ whatever and I did spend way too much $ in his booth. Never again, and the guide in Luxor, Mohammed, almost had a heart attack looking for me.
I was duly told not to do that again! (I wouldn’t).
Don’t carry handbags or at least large bags, if you must carry something (I carry meds with me at all times, so sometimes we couldn’t avoid this one!). Many venues will not allow you to take pictures unless you buy a photo pass (which we did). Our guide recommended against it, but we designated one person to take pictures and shared the small fee. We did not go in Tukananamen’s pyramid, as the guide said everything in it was s tripped away. We saved our money and went in others where the pictures, paint, and tombs were in tact and were beautiful (If you’ve seen one mummy, trust me, they all look the same…)
We loved our time in Egypt. Grateful we were able to go when very few tourists were there (which made those that helped us hands out for tips, too.). Going into the tombs at the Valley of the Kings, I needed help, so yes, I tipped the person that helped me. We went to the Embalming museum, which they said very few American’s go to… it was small but very interesting. Suggest you take the time to visit it. Not very costly at all, and it was open til 9 PM. You cannot go walking around the streets, like the author suggested. It’s simple too crowded and too many merchants trying to get you to buy stuff. Only go with someone that speak the language and do have a private guide and driver. The new Cairo Museum is now open, which should be a great improvement over the old dusty one. I’m amazed the artifacts lasted in this many years under the previous conditions. We would love to go back someday. My Granddaughter loved everything (She is 9).
thank you so much for taking the time to write this very detailed first-hand report. It is much appreciated!
Hi Karla, planning a trip to Egypt in November 2021, Can you please give us tour guide and driver information and where you contracted them from?
Thanks a lot for the information !
Could I receive your tour guide as you mention above?
My wife and I (we are Americans in our late 40s) are traveling to Egypt in about three weeks. We’ve hired a guide for Cairo and Giza and we’re flying to Luxor for another guided tour. I’m not really worried about anything there.
I am, however, a bit apprehensive about our side trip to Siwa. Upon pur return from Luxor, we are renting a car at the airport and driving there. We first plan to stop in Alexandria for a couple days.
The Cairo traffic looks like a nightmare, but I think we will endure because I know what to expect. It’s that second half of the drive through the Sahara Desert near the Libyan border that has me concerned because I have no idea what to expect.
Can anyone offer some advice or insight?