Cairo Travel advice
Cairo Travel advice Reviews
Taxis in Cairo - best advice Jul 19, 2013
When taking taxis in Cairo, always but always take a white taxi with a meter. Once you get in, make sure the meter says LE2.50. These taxis don't normally rip you off. The only time they TRY to rip you off is if you get in one outside Carrefour, where they try to charge you without using a meter. Average prices: Pyramids to El Haram (Pyramids Street) between LE5-8.00, The Pyramids to Maadi, maximum LE30.00. In any other sort of taxi they will charge at least LE50 to Maadi from the Pyramids and around LE15.00 from the Pyramids to Pyramids Street.
Don't use the old black n white taxis, they are a safety risk and a rip off. Yellow Cabs have meters but you can't hail them, you can only order them and I hear that they are more expensive than the white taxis although, i have never used them.
I left Cairo after living there for 4.5 years and I am in the UK. However for anyone still interested in visiting Egypt, especially Cairo. Please note that during a day of demonstrations within Tahrir Square, you probably won't be able to visit the Egyptian Museum and it is virtually in the next street.
Visiting the Pyramids on the Giza Plateau. There are still two entrances but, I did notice at Xmas that vehicles may only enter now via the Mena House entrance, whereas, walking tourists may enter via Mena House or via Abu Houl near the Sphinx and the Sound and Light Show area.
There is a lot of construction work being carried out near the pyramids - the New Egyptian Museum is being built there and will take at least another 2.5 years (maybe longer now). Before I left, there were around 9 cranes there. The construction work is taking place to the right of the Pyramids - if you are staying in an apartment or any hotel on Alexandria Desert Road, you may see the work from your windows and hear a lot of noise. I am sure it will look lovely when it is all complete.
As you all know, Egypt is not an ideal place to visit at this moment in time. If you stay in an apartment, you would experience the many daily electric power cuts and sometimes water cuts, the internet is not very good at all.
I would recommend ALWAYS wearing a seat belt in cars and taxis. The roads are incredibly badly kept, or rather not kept, and a lot of the drivers are incredibly bad. Plus the fact there are no road laws and no one to inforce them even if there were. Drivers driving in the wrong direction in the opposite carriage way directly towards you, large trucks totally overloaded and often with bald tyres, not to mention all the old bangers which insist on driving slow in the fast lanes and lastly, the idiots crossing the roads, ring roads and motorways, in front of fast moving traffic wondering why they nearly get run over.
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Egypt, Cairo and Giza Jul 20, 2011
I made a trip to Egypt a few years back in May to take my parents ashes to the place they were married,Cairo. After months of planning, making guide and hotel arrangements I arrived in Cairo from the U.S. around midnight local time and to my dismay my scheduled guide and hotel transport were nowhere to be found! I easlily found a taxi and was drivin to my Hotel in Giza for about $20 US (very expensive since at the time this was about 100 Egyptian pounds). My hotel was the Pyramids Giza Intercontinental Resort. Read good and bad reviews (as most hotels have) and I was very pleased. This hotel was not at all like the high rise, big hotel chains in Cairo. The main building housed the restaurants and bar as well as the front desk checkin area, money exchange. The rooms were located a short walk, past the huge pool, in 3, 2 story "fingers" each with about 40 rooms. My room was clean, well appointed, although dated, with a mini bar and bottled water, very comfortable bed, nice bath and shower. The surrounding grounds were impeccably groomed, the pool was fabulous with an island in the middle, reached by a small bridge, where one could eat lunch or dinner. Would go back to this hotel in a heartbeat, friendly, helpful staff, $90 US a night.
Travel around Cairo is a nightmare with 18,000,000 people so a guide was a necessity. Intersections were a complete gridlock, no traffic lights, no stop signs or apparent speed limits -speed bumps! My guide,forgot name, who arrived on time with a driver, Mohammed (nice man!), appeared ill, not very friendly so I didn't bother with him after the first day and just relied on Mohammed and his older Toyota mini van. We had a great time as we were close to the same age with families, drove all over Cairo, visiting all the popular sites - Pyramids/Sphynx, absolutely magnificent but disappointed with the beggars and garbage all around - Cairo Museum of Antiquities, a must to see - City of the Dead, Saqqara Step Pyramid (one of the oldest), Ramses tomb. Sailed on a Felucca on the Nile too! I felt welcome and safe (Antiquities and Tourism Police everywhere). Great country to visit if you love ancient history and learning about other cultures - hope the new politcal turmoil doesn't affect the tourism industry
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Transportation Dec 11, 2009
The trip from the airport to the hotel should be memorable. If the driver is driving too fast please direct them to slow down. In Arabic “Hed-ee” means slow down. Traffic in Cairo is very crazy and is usually heavy. Most people long remember their first ride from the airport.
If you arrive at the airport or train station and are not met by an expeditor you will be approached by several touts offering rides to your hotel. These gentlemen are annoying at best. A fair price for a taxi from the airport to either the JW Marriott or Sofitel in Cairo is 50 Egyptian pounds. From the Alexandria train station to the Hilton Green Plaza a fair price is 20 Egyptian pounds. Taxi drivers will always claim they know the location of your destination even if they do not. It is common for a taxi to stop and ask directions several times.
Taxis are inexpensive and plentiful in both Alexandria and Cairo. Many taxi drivers speak Basic English. You can always ask staff at your departure location to translate for you and inform the driver of your destination. It is also helpful to have a mobile phone and the phone number of your destination. Often you can call the destination and they will give precise directions to the driver. It is good to have small denominations of currency as taxi drivers rarely have change.
A typically taxi ride is 3 to 10 LE depending on distance traveled. Taxis do not have working meters. You can ask the price in advance, but prices quoted in advance will always be on the high side. It is best to ask a local how much you should pay. 5 LE is a generous price for a short to moderate trip. One way to minimize problems is to get out of the taxi first, hand the driver the correct fare, say thank you (“Shukran”) and walk away.
or you can always get the new white taxis with working meters that starts from 2.5 LE
Crossing the Street:
Crossing the street can be a very dangerous
The sidewalks and streets are in moderate to poor condition. Please take care when walking as twisted and sprained ankles are frequent occurrences. When walking along the sides of the road take great care not to be sideswiped by reckless drivers. Getting hit on the elbow by a car mirror is a real and painful possibility.
If you are driving a car and you are involved in an accident drive away and report the accident to the proper authorities. If your car is non-operational depart the area on foot or by taxi. The aftermath of accidents usually results in violence between the parties and bystanders and the police are hesitant to get involved. Do not drink and drive.
In Cairo mini-buses are a common form of transportation among the locals. Please do not ride in the mini-buses by yourself unless you have an Egyptian friend. They are overcrowded and unsafe.
Cairo has a good Metro (Tube – Subway) system. If you are here for sufficient time you can learn the tricks of riding the Metro but this won’t be the case for most visitors.
“Ladies only” cars are found in the middle of the trains. If you are female, riding the ladies car is fun because the other passengers will often make conversation and help you find your destination. If you are male, don’t think you can jump on the women’s car even if you are traveling with a woman or if you might otherwise miss the train! You will probably be smacked lightly with a purse and told to get off at the next stop.
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Food Dec 11, 2009
There is a wide variety of cuisine available in Cairo – everything from traditional Egyptian street fare to up-scale Thai and Italian. people will have access to Egyptian markets as well as Western-style supermarkets. Nearly every restaurant in Cairo will deliver to your door for a small fee.
Almost any ingredient you could want will be readily available in the markets. Imported items are expensive and more difficult to find but are usually available at any of the several Western-style supermarkets. Apartments are usually equipped with furnished kitchens, although ovens can be unreliable and often do not have good temperature control.
Vegetarians have many options in most restaurants, though some more expensive restaurants feature mostly meat and fish dishes. Beans, nuts, cheese, yogurt, and many other forms of vegetarian protein are cheap and widely available. Vegetarians may want to bring some protein bars.
Both Western and Egyptian eating establishments operate nearly 24 hours. Meals in restaurants are affordable. Judge a restaurant by the cleanliness and appearance of the staff.
Most fast food and sit down restaurants offer delivery service. Fast food restaurants tend to have caller id on their phones and after the first time you have ordered and explained your address they will have your details recorded. Hotels discourage delivery of outside food to the rooms.
It is generally safe to eat salads in restaurants. Fruits that can be peeled are also usually safe.
Bottled water -
It is recommended you drink bottled water while in Egypt. Using tap water for brushing your teeth is a common practice.
Avoid dairy products which are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Milk bought cold in a clean store is ok. A good option if you must have milk are the powdered milk and long life milk which is available but ensure using bottled water to reconstitute the powdered milk.
All food should be either Hot or Cold.
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Packing Nov 18, 2009
Almost every item you could conceivably need is available in Cairo, however a few things are difficult to find or expensive. Not all brand names are available. Be sure to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and tampons as these items are expensive in Cairo. If you like to use specific brands of face wash, shampoo and conditioner, or other toiletries I recommend you bring a supply with you. Also be sure to bring sufficient supplies of any prescription medicines. We also recommend bringing an overnight bag/backpack and a bathing suit.
Egypt is a conservative country, and westerners need to consider and respect that, despite the heat! In most parts of the city, men and women should expect to wear long pants and women should wear long sleeves. In certain areas of Cairo, it is acceptable to wear short sleeves and Capri pants; however, women should always fully cover their shoulders, chest, midriff, and knees. Women are not expected to cover their hair except when entering some mosques. The weather will be hot and humid and you should expect to get sweaty at times. Modest dress is important. Western fashions are accepted in tourist areas but in rural areas conservative dress becomes more important.
Standards for women’s clothing can be confusing to foreigners. In general, Egyptian women cover their arms, upper chest/neck, and legs at least to the knee. Keep in mind that it will be very hot, so loose-fitting thin cotton skirts, light pants, and tunic-style shirts will be most comfortable and appropriate for work and sight-seeing.
you'd probably want to bring a few articles of clothing for going out to dinner or to evening events such as concerts. In these places, Egyptians tend to dress up more than Americans. Inside bars and most restaurants, you can dress as you would in the U.S. Tank tops are acceptable, however, women will still need to cover their shoulders with a wrap or jacket in the taxi or in the streets.
You may wish to buy clothes to add to your wardrobe once you arrive. Clothing stores are plentiful, though clothing tends to be as expensive as in the U.S. and generally lower quality.
Cairo tends to be hard on shoes so we recommend you bring at least a pair or two of good walking shoes, sturdy sandals, or sneakers. Paving on streets is uneven and Cairo is dusty, so shoes usually get dirty and wear out more quickly than in the U.S. Good shoes are hard to find in Cairo, and brand names (Nike, Adidas) are expensive.
Hot, dry summers with mild, dry winters and cold nights. Rainfall is negligible except on the coast. In April, a hot dusty wind blows from the Sahara. By UK or European standards it is always a comfortable temperature in wintertime in Alexandria or Cairo. During winter evenings a light jacket is good to have. Baggy shorts are acceptable in touristy areas.
Egypt is hard on clothes and shoes. Bring clothing that is easy to wash and difficult to ruin. Laundry services are very affordable.
Check each of your appliances to see if it will need a voltage converter. Most hair dryers and other similar devices do not seem to survive the conversion. If you can’t live without a hair dryer you may want to invest in a dual-voltage one before you leave the U.S. or you can purchase one in Cairo. Most laptops, camera chargers, i Pod chargers, etc., do not require a converter and will function normally with a small outlet adapter available in most travel stores. They are also very cheap (about 20 cents) and readily available in Cairo, so you may want to bring one with you and buy more once you get here. If you bought your computer within the past 8 years, it will not require a voltage converter.
We recommend bringing a camera and an iPod or a CD player.
It is your decision whether or not to bring a computer. It would be useful for downloading pictures and accessing the internet (many cafes and restaurants in Cairo have free wireless) but also raises the chance of loss/theft. Internet cafes are available throughout Cairo and some have Skype and will burn photo CDs. However, many do not have air conditioning and most allow smoking so they can be uncomfortable during the summer.
Money Advice Dec 17, 2009
Credit cards are not commonly used in Cairo. Usually only hotel bills and airline ticket purchases are settled via credit card. Remember to alert your bank and credit card company that you will be traveling to the Middle East or they may freeze your account when you try to make your first purchase. Incidents of credit card fraud do occur. Check your account activity routinely and limit using your card to businesses you feel are highly reliable.
ATM machines are easily accessible throughout the city and are the easiest way to access cash.
Western Union offices are available if necessary.
It is always a good idea to bring a small stash of emergency cash (in dollars or Euros) when traveling.
I do not recommend travelers’ checks, which are inconvenient to cash.
Egyptian pounds are commonly referred to as either Pounds or as LE. There are several banks and ATM machines at the airport. Each has the same rate of exchange. Count your money carefully before leaving the counter. It is difficult to change LE into dollars; Euro or Sterling so please be cautious about leaving Egypt with large sums of LE.
The current conversion rate is stable at 5.5 LE for One USD or 11 LE for One Sterling.
Passport/Visa Arrangements Nov 18, 2009
American; UK and most European citizens can obtain a one-month tourist visa at the airport for 15 USD. However, for example, holders of Philippine; Angolan; Taiwan and Gabon passports require a visa in advance. It is a good idea to bring dollars with you to pay this fee (rather than traveler’s checks or other currency) and to have exact change. Scottish bank notes are not accepted in Egypt. Please make sure that the expiration date on your passport is not within six months of your arrival in Egypt or you will not be allowed to enter the country.
Tourists are allowed to stay in Egypt for 30 days plus a 14-day grace period without extending their visa. If you are planning to stay longer, you may extend the visa for three months (two additional months) at the Mugamma building in Tahrir Square down town. If you are planning to leave Egypt and return, you must obtain a single or multiple re-entry visas at the Mugamma to avoid paying the 15 dollar fee again each time you enter. There are small fees for extending the visa or obtaining a re-entry visa.
There are reliable passport photo shops throughout Cairo, but it is always a good idea to travel with extra copies just in case. (These are especially useful if you are planning to travel overland around the region.)
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