Passport and Visa Requirements:
– British citizens are able to buy a full Egyptian Visa on arrival in Egypt. At present this costs $17 (£12).
If you will be staying on the Sinai Peninsula a free Sinai Pass can be obtained instead. However this doesn’t allow you to travel to the rest of Egypt or dive out of the local area. If in doubt get a full visa.
– Other nationalities should check visa requirements with the Egyptian Embassy on 020 7235 9719.
– Passports should be valid for at least 6 months beyond your return date.
– It is essential that anyone travelling to Egypt has valid travel insurance that provides adequate medical cover and emergency medical repatriation should this be necessary. If you are diving you should also ensure that your insurance covers you for this. Please call us on 020 8744 0474 for a competitive insurance quote.
– Please contact your GP / Practice Nurse for up-to-date health advice before travelling to Egypt. Remember that some vaccinations and medications need to be taken several weeks before departure.
– The Department of Health booklet ‘ Health Advice for Travellers’ can be obtained at your local Post Office.
– The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (LE). There are 100 piastres (pt) in 1LE.
– US Dollars, Euros and English Sterling are generally easy to exchange or use in tourist areas.
– Most cities and resorts now have banks with ATM machines that accept UK credit and debit cards.
– Credit cards are generally only accepted at major hotels, expensive / tourist restaurants, some shops and airline offices.
– Banks are open in the mornings from Monday to Thursday. Some also open on Saturday and Sunday and in the evenings.
– On charter flights the baggage allowance is usually 20kgs per person plus a hand luggage allowance of up to 5kgs in a small regular shaped bag. On scheduled flights the hold baggage allowance in economy class is 23kgs. The hand luggage allowance remains 5kgs.
– Extra baggage allowance can sometimes be negociated in advance for sports or photography equipment. Otherwise you will be charged at check-in per kg that the baggage is overweight. Carriage of overweight baggage is at the airlines discretion. No bag weighing over 32kgs will be carried for health & safety reasons.
– Under current security regulations all sharp objects e.g nail scissors, tweezers, penknives, dive knives, and all electrical equipment must be packed in the hold luggage.
Things to Pack:
– Items we recommend you pack include a basic first aid kit, strong waterproof suncream, a good insect repellent and a torch.
– You may also want to bring a guidebook and map of the area if you are planning to explore as it is sometimes difficult to find good comprehensive information in English. English reading material is also difficult to find and is often expensive.
– Away from the cities and larger resorts availability of items such as toiletries and films may be limited.
– Some types of medication may be difficult to obtain even in the cities so it is recommended that you bring all that you may need.
– Clothing should be light cotton for most of the year. However between November and April jumper / fleece and trousers will be needed in the early mornings and evenings.
– Hotels often provide beach towels as well as bathroom towels.
– The electricity supply is 220v. Plugs are European style with 2 circular pins so adapters are needed for British electrical appliances.
– Many hotels away from the larger resorts have their own generator so please use energy, especially air-conditioning, conservatively.
– As a precaution drink only bottled water, and avoid ice and any salads and fruits that may have been washed in local water.
– As much of Egypt is covered by desert all water is valuable. Away from the larger resorts, hotels often have a desalination unit to provide their water. Please use all water carefully.
– Hot water is often solar heated and may take a short while to reach your tap.
– In Egypt most people speak Arabic. English however is a common second language and is widely spoken in tourist areas.
– Most Egyptians are Muslim. If you wish to visit a mosque during your stay you will be made welcome. However please be aware that both men and women should be dressed modestly (covering their arms and legs, and in the case of women their heads) and shoes should be removed before entering so as to not cause offense. Visits should not be made at Prayertime or on the Holy Day (Friday). Nor should you walk in front of someone praying as you come between them and Mecca. It is also advisable to dress modestly whenever you travel out of the resort areas.
Public Holidays and Festivals:
– Secular holidays include New Year (1st Jan), Liberation Day (April 25th), Sham el-Nessim (Monday after Easter), Labour Day (1st May), Revolution Day (23rd July), Armed Forces Day (6th October), Suez Day (23rd October), Victory Day (23rd December).
– Religious holidays depend on the Islamic lunar calendar so move forward by 10 to 11 days from year to year. Ramadan lasts a lunar month and is observed by fasting from sunrise to sunset. In 2005 this starts on 2nd October and on 21st September in 2006. The end of Ramadan is marked by the feast of Eid el-Fitr, a public holiday. Other holidays include Ras el-Sana el-Hegira (Islamic New Year), Moulid el-Nabi (the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday) and Eid el-Adha. Religious holidays start at sunset the previous evening.
– Tipping is a way of life in Egypt. 10-12% will automatically be added to your bill in restaurants and hotels. It is customary to add another 5%. Others such as taxi drivers usually receive 10%. People who perform small tasks, often unasked, such as looking after your shoes when you visit a mosque will expect some small change for their efforts.
– Always agree the price of your journey before you get in a taxi
– In cities and larger resorts larger taxis often travel along specific routes, picking clients up along route for fixed fares, an effective and economical way of travel around urban areas.
Keeping in Touch:
– If your mobile phone has a roam facility you should be able to use your phone in most cities and Red Sea Resorts. However away from these areas cover may be patchy. Most hotels will also have international phones but these may be expensive especially in the areas that use satellite phones.
– Some hotels have internet facilities, and cities and larger resorts have internet cafes.
– English newspapers are available in most tourist areas.
– Many hotels have satellite television.
– Post Offices are usually open every morning except Friday. The international postal services are fairly efficient. Airmail to Western Europe takes about 5 days.
– Most hotels either have a resident doctor or a doctor on call. They are effectively private doctors and you will need to pay for their services and any hospital treatment you may need, so ensure that you are adequately insured.
To help ensure you stay healthy
– Drink bottled water, avoid ice and salads and fruit that may have been washed in local water. Keep well hydrated.
– Ensure that all hot food has been thoroughly cooked and that all cold food has been kept properly chilled, especially if it contains mayonnaise.
– Wear high factor suncream, cover up where possible and wear sunglasses and a hat. Take particular care when outside between 11.00 and 15.00
– Use an effective mosquito repellent as dusk approaches and cover up.
– Be extra vigilant in unfamiliar surroundings, especially with young children around swimming pools and balconies.
– Be aware that the bilharzia parasite can be found in the waters of the River Nile. Do not drink Nile water, swim in the River Nile or walk barefoot in the area.
– If you are planning to dive some of the amazing Red Sea dive sites while in Egypt be aware that there are now new regulations guiding dive centres and divers. For details of these see our ‘New Red Sea Regulations‘.