The medical care in Egyptian hospitals today corresponds to international standard. The doctors are usually very well-trained. If needed, hotels will help looking for a doctor who speaks your language. Any expenses for medical treatment must be paid immediately. Hence it is strongly recommended to check your health insurance cover. The pharmacies are of a very good standard. Sometimes you will find products of different manufacturers or the names of the medication may differ, but the pharmacies provide lists of comparison.
On entering Egypt, European visitors need a passport still valid for a further six months. You will receive the visa on arrival. When entering through Sinai, only limited visas that do not entitle you to proceed into the Nile-Delta will be given out. In this case you should already have a visa issued in your home country at-hand. Extensions of visas can be applied for at the Mugamma (Midan at-Tahrir, Immigration Office) in Cairo. Certain objects (video cameras, electronic devices, special diving equipment) will be put down in the passport.
The tension voltage in Egypt is 220 V. There are all kinds of sockets – a universal adapter will be helpful. Usually two-pole plugs should not cause any problems.
Holidays: New Year’s Day (1st of January), Unity Day (22nd of February), Liberation of Sinai (25th of April), Labour Day (1st of May), Suez-Channel-Day (18th of June), Anniversary of the Revolution (23rd of July), Victory Day (23rd of September), Day of the Military Forces (6th of October), Suez-Day (24th of October), Invasion of Port Said (23rd of December)
Ramadan 2005 (1426): starting 05. Oct. - 02. Nov. 2005, duration 29 days. / 03. Nov - Eid Mubarak (Beyram), Id el-Fitr (lasting for four days, after the end of Ramadan), Id el-Adha (great sacrifice celebration, approx.70 days after Id el-Fitr). Coptic holidays: Christmas (6./7. January), Easter (in April, lasting approx. one week according to the western feast-calendar), Scham en-Nasim (on Coptic Easter Monday).
Women travelling on their own
In general, Egypt is a very safe country. This is the same case for women travelling individually, as long as they obey certain rules: clothes will set clear signals in Egypt – wear discreet and sensible clothes that veil your body silhouette. Avoid clear eye-contact in conversation. Holding hands or other “harmless” forms of physical contact carry a different significance in Egypt, so be reserved. If you feel uneasy or molested, raise your voice and turn down approaches clearly and in advance.
Money and exchange currency
100 Piaster (Pt) equal 1 Egyptian Pound (LE). You are allowed take a maximum amount of 1000 LE when entering or leaving the country, the amount of foreign exchange is unlimited (declaration recommended). Useful in everyday life are the smaller notes of 1, 5, 10 and 20 LE. Often no change can be given on bigger notes of 50, 100 and 200 LE. Bigger hotels and shops do accept the current credit cards, traveller cheques must be exchanged at banks. Recently more and more cash machines are being put up, at which you can withdraw money via credit card. Exchanging rates
There are no compulsory vaccinations. Recommendable, however, is a vaccination against tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. In order to prevent stomach troubles, you should only eat cooked, fried or peeled food and avoid ice-chilled drinks, ice-cream and non-sterilized water. Sufficient sun protection (headgear, sunglasses, sun lotion /SPF 20) and anti-mosquito-preparation are also important.
Climate and travel times
Throughout the year, Egypt’s weather is great for travelling, agreeing with different interests and chosen destinations. For study trips, the period between October and April is ideal with daily temperatures varying from 18°-25° Celsius. In December/January, the evenings are rather cool and there might be rain in the North. The time from end of September to end of April is perfectly suitable for Sinai-trekking and desert tours. In April and May, mighty sandstorms are to be expected. Less powerful sandstorms can occur at any time throughout the year. The hot summer months are ideally spent at the Red Sea, where the water temperature will exceed 25° Celsius from June on.
The following phone numbers are valid nationwide: police 122, ambulance 123, fire brigade 125, tourists’ police 126, traffic police 128
Most of the shops open Saturday-Thursday at 9am, are closed at noon between 12-2pm, but then reopen until 10 in the evening. Apart from Fridays, governmental institutions/offices are open daily from 8am-2pm, banks from 8.30am-3.30pm. Bank branches at hotels as well as some centres for telecommunication offer a 24-hour service. The sights are open daily from 7am-5 or 6pm during the summer, from 8am-4 or 5pm during the winter, most of the museums welcome their visitors between 9am-1pm and 5pm-10pm (4pm-9pm in wintertime). During Ramadan, part of the museums close even earlier in the afternoon.
Egypt is a mainly Islamic country. According to public statements, 93% of the population are Muslims, most of them following the Sunnite faith. About 6% form part of the Coptic-Orthodox Church, that split from the Byzantine Church in the year 451. The majority of both the Coptic worshippers and the Muslims are deeply rooted in their belief. The services at mosques and churches are well-attended, the word of the clergymen highly respected. Not only the Islam orders its followers to fast strictly during Ramadan, but also the members of the Coptic church are expected to fast on 200 days spread over the year. The observance of religious amendments causes members of both churches to lead a rather conservative lifestyle
The safety measures for tourists have been reinforced throughout the last years, some overland-tours and trips to sights can only be taken out with a police convoy. Your Foreign Office will give you up-to-date advice concerning potential risks. We consider tours into the Western desert as safe.
A large number of telecommunication centres offer reasonable prices for national as well as international connections. Mobile phones with roaming-contract can be used almost everywhere with only a very few exceptions. International codes from Egypt: Switzerland 0041, Germany 0049, Great Britain 0044, Ireland 00353, Denmark 0045, Sweden 0046, Noway 0047, Finland 00358. Egypt’s international code when calling from abroad is 0020.
Tips are an important source of income for many people in Egypt. Taxi drivers, waiters and porters expect a “Bakschisch” not only from the foreign guest. If the service was satisfying, 5-10% of the price is reasonable, the basic unit is the pound note (e.g. for toilet fees). Do not confuse tips with charity, only ever give money to beggars in obvious cases and never to children without some kind of service in return.
Throughout the year, the time is CET + 1 hour, respectively GMT + 2 hours, only in April and October there is no time shift compared to the CET.
Goods for your personal travel requirements are duty-free, persons over 18 years are allowed to import a maximum of 1 l of spirits, alternatively 200 cigarettes/100 cigarillos/50 cigars/250 g tobacco, 50 g perfume and presents up to a value of 100 LE. On leaving the country, presents up to a value of 200 LE are duty-free. The export of antiques, corals, minerals, stones, sand and fossils is prohibited. These goods an be confiscated at the customs in Cairo.
Check in/check out
Irrespective of what your airline states, it is highly recommended to arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure. Please remember to phone your airline 72 hours before your return flight departure in order to get your flight confirmed.
Climate and clothing
During the main holiday season from October to May, the weather is usually nice and settled. The air is clear and dry and provides the best and most agreeable climatic conditions. In Egypt, the temperature can sink dramatically in the evening. If you travel in midsummer, you will need light and comfortable clothes during the day, preferably made of pure cotton. For the evenings, you should add some jumpers/pullovers or cardigans to your travel wardrobe.
There are various advisable travel guides to Egypt on the market now.
As usual, you are allowed to take 20 kg luggage per person. Concerning golf equipment, you are allowed an extra, depending on the airline. Please inform yourself.
Eating and drinking
The cuisine is international and Oriental, rich and delicious, spicy but adapted to European taste and hence agreeable and digestible.
With only a few exceptions, photography is generally permitted everywhere. It is always prohibited on military grounds, bridges, ports and supply plants. We advice you to buy your films in your home country, because they are rather expensive in Egypt. You will find the best lighting conditions either at the morning sunrise or in the late afternoon. Filming and photography is strictly prohibited inside tombs. Some museums may charge you for taking pictures inside.
In Egypt you will find many things worth taking home as souvenirs. Highly recommended are papyrus rolls, Scarabeus bugs, Galabija (a light and draped robe), gold and silver jewellery leather-ware as well as traditional art and craft goods.