Welcome to Egypt!
Egypt is the Arab Muslim country and the Egyptians tend to be very conservative with their own unique living habits, especially in rural areas, we will have to respect and comply with Muslim customs and traditions when traveling in Egypt. The following Egypt travel tips of dos and donts aim to help you enjoy a hassle-free trip to Egypt.
Egypt Travel Taboo
Pointing the toe or heel or any part of foot at any person.
- Do not go on holiday to Egypt without telling your friends or family how to reach you.
- Do not touch during a conversation, which is not usually appropriate unless the people having the conversation are very close to each other. In general, there is little to no touching between opposite sex during conversations or in public places. Do not hug and kiss in public.
- Do not wear sleeveless tops and short skirts or shorts on the streets or in markets. Swimsuits and bikinis are acceptable in hotel pools and cruise ships or in the Red Sea towns.
- Do not offer alcohol or pork to your local Egyptian guests unless you know for sure that they consume it. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, although it’s available in shops. Most Muslims do not eat pork and believe pork is unclean.
- Do not eat communal food with your left hand, as this is used for personal hygiene. The right hand is used for greeting, eating, and passing objects.
- Do not be offended if your Egyptian host turns on the TV when you visit. It is a kind of hospitality saying you are welcome in our house. The TV is a sign of wealth.
- Do not cross your legs in front of the master of the house or any other elder person, which is thought to be very impolite in Egypt. Do not point the foot at any person.
- Do not wear trainers for walking in desert as the sand will get inside the lining and make the show too tight. Sandals and boots are better.
- Do not forget to take enough money with you on your daily outings. Take a large number of single dollar bills. It’s very difficult to find single Egyptian Pounds.
- Do not get into a taxi without asking the price first or use a meter counter.
- Do not walk around alone if you are a woman.
- Do not eat and drink or smoking in public places on Muslim fasting days.
- Do not drink alcohol. Islamic countries are against alcohol, while eating at the restaurant, ask the tour leader if you can drink.
- Do not take photographs of local Egyptian without prior permission. Do not take the military restricted areas and government agencies.
- Do not forget to give some tips to waiters, tour guides, drivers and the room cleaners as an expression of satisfaction with the services, otherwise they will be greatly offended.
- Do learn a few Arabic words so that you can ask for help when needed. “Say-eeda” is “hi”, “Shok-ran” is “thank you”.
- Do handshake in certain circumstances. Cheek kissing is acceptable if closely related, but the most common greeting would be a slight bow of the head and a greeting of “salaam aleikum” which should be replied to with “waaleikum us salam”. It is taboo for religiously observant men to touch women and vice-versa.
- Do keep your valuables and all your important documents in a safe place.
- Do negotiate before getting in a cab or on a camel. Do negotiate price on all merchandise.
- Do prepare some sweets as a gift when visit an Egyptian house, according to local customs.
- Do make an attempt to take off your shoes when entering a Muslim house unless you are told not to. The house is where they pray, so some kind of sacred ground.
- Do wash your hands before entering the table. Do use your right hand when eating. Do not expect to have knife and fork. Eating with your hands is quite acceptable in Egypt.
- Do let the master of the house to have the first bite when dinning with the Egyptian, unless he invites you to have a nib before him.
- Do take two or more vehicles when making a long trip into the desert.
- Do ask to see the camels first on a camel journey and do check out when hiring a guide with vehicles. The desert is recognized by all as a serious place to have a breakdown and almost all guides go well prepared.
- Do watch out and plan on drinking between 1 and 3 litres of water a day in winter in addition to any tea, coffee or soup. In summer you can expect to last less than three days without water. In winter, it’s much longer, probably a week. It is the very lack of water that makes the desert a dangerous place to make a mistake.
- Do stock up on sun cream to avoid sunburn, especially between 11am and 2pm, especially in summer time. Do wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes and head.
- Do keep an eye on your groups departure time, and let the people you are with know where you are going so they know how long you will be.
- Do have a map or guide book close at hand always. Do hire a driver and a tour guide when you have extra time on your own.