The land of Egypt is known as a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia. Planning a trip to the amazing country of Egypt is an exciting experience as there is almost no end to the possible activities and sights that awaits its visitors. For enjoying an easier and more pleasant adventure that can include heading to the Great Pyramids or the underwater cities of coral in the Red Sea, a visitor should know a number of things. Here is the complete guide of this country that will surely help you throughout the planning procedure.
How many days and what not to miss?
Egypt usually remains on the top of the bucket list of travelers. The stunning, colossal monuments of Ancient Egypt never fail to astonish. Everything, even the heat, sight and the light of the desert has something invigorating. The cool, turquoise waters rejuvenate and a romantic cruise along the world’s longest river Nile rejuvenates the senses. No place has the magic, mystery and pleasures of Egypt. The country has so much to experience but there are some things that one just cannot miss: Here is the list which one should not even dare to miss on the Egyptian trip:
1. The Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx
The Pyramids of Giza is the quintessential Egyptian landmark. Indeed this is the most famous site in world and a must visit on everybody’s Egyptian adventure. This attraction is more than 4,600 years old and one of the only remaining 7 wonders of the ancient world. The visitors can also hop on a camel or horse to ride to the to top of the hill overlooking the pyramids. The other highlight near the pyramids is the Sphinx. The Great Sphinx of Giza, literally meaning ‘the terrifying one’ lies on the west bank of the Nile and is directly in front of the Khafre Pyramid.
2. Sakkara (Saqqara)
Saqqara is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. The Old Kingdom capital and the kings of the 1st Dynasty as well as that of the 2nd Dynasty. are mostly buried in this section. Saqqara features numerous pyramids, including the world famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of mastabas (benches).
3. Egyptian Museum of Cairo
The Egyptian Museum has the largest number of antiquities on display in the world. It is packed with over 100,000 ancient artifacts dating back to 3500 BC. The most prized possessions of this museum is the iconic funereal mask of the boy king Tutankhamen and a number of other objects related to this famous young pharaoh. The museum has so much to see and it’s a good idea to plan your route before getting started, otherwise the whole experience can be somewhat overwhelming!
4. Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings is probably one of the most famous tourist attraction of Egypt. It is burial place of many of the great pharaohs, the Valley of the Kings contains a myriad of ancient tombs cut into the limestone of the valley itself. Among other highlights, visitors can discover the tomb of famous boy-ruler Tutankhamen as well as the tomb of Ramses the Great and Ramses IV. However, the real one to that you simply can’t miss is Hatshepsut’s Temple, which is phenomenal.
5. Abu Simbel- Temple of Ramses II
Abu Simbel is the location of the most famous Temple of Ramses II and his wife Nefertari. These temples were re-located the the Western banks of Lake Nasser. This is one of the most iconic monuments in Egypt.
Tip: Abu Simbel is difficult to get to and you will need to plan at least a day in advance. Abu Simbel is located 230km West from Aswan. It is illegal to go on your own and you must join a convoy of tourists in order to maintain security through this desert area. You can sign up to join these convoys at any hotel in the Aswan area. They leave 3 times per day – 4 am/7 am/10am. We suggest the 4 am convoy in order to avoid the heat.
6. River Cruise down the Nile
When visiting Egypt, one should not even dare to miss the opportunity to do a cruise down the Nile. The visitors can either do this on a traditional Felucca boat or a cruise ship. If one is looking for a more traditional Egyptian experience then one should go for Felucca cruise whereas if someone is looking for full room and board with air conditioning and a pool – sign up for the Nile River cruise ships.
7. Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple is a large Ancient Egyptian temple complex located on the east bank of the Nile River in the city today known as Luxor and was founded in 1400 BCE. The temple is dedicated to Amun, Mut, and Khonsu and was the focus of one of the most important religious festivals in ancient Egypt – the annual Opet Festival.
8. Temple Karnak
The Karnak Temple is located in Luxor and only a few kilometers away from Luxor temple. It has been said to be the one of the most amazing and largest temples of its kind in the world. The temple is so large that one can find plenty of places to sneak off where one may not stumble on another tourist for hours and this place offers amazing photo opportunities.
9. Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa is a historical archaeological site located in Alexandria. The Catacombs of Kom El Shuqafa is the largest and most important burial site dating back to the Greco Roman period in Egypt.
10. White Desert
The White Desert is justifiably the most well-known desert destination in Egypt – and for a good reason. The quantity of unearthly and beautiful wind-carved rock formations shaped in the form of giant mushrooms or pebbles is unequaled in any desert in the world. The chalk-white landscape is strewn with alien shapes, boulders of brilliant white which thrust up from the surface of the desert, intensified by the clear light of noon, shimmering gold at sunset or blackened and shrunken in a cloud-filled sky.
So choose wisely and plan accordingly to what to cover and what to leave out as every place has their own aura that aims at leaving its visitors spell bound. You can also plan a trip on your own at http://www.justorbit.com/africa/egypt/ and add attractions to visit as well as things to do that you want to cover in your trip.
Apply for your travel documents
Once you are done with the itinerary, your next step is to apply for the visa for Egypt. Visitors to Egypt must obtain a visa from one of the Egyptian diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries or countries that are eligible for visa on arrival. Visitors must hold passports that are valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival to Egypt.
There are 2 types of Egyptian Visa:
Entry Visa: It is required for any foreigner arriving in Egypt for purposes other than tourism, e.g. work, study, etc. The possession of a valid entry visa is needed to complete the residence procedure in Egypt.
Tourist Visa: It is usually valid for a period not exceeding three months and granted on either single or multiple entry basis.
In March 2015 it was announced that all foreigners travelling to Egypt for tourism will require visas in advance as of May 15, 2015. The only exemption will be for organized groups visiting through an Egyptian travel agency.[In April 2015 Egyptian authorities announced that they have reversed the decision until an electronic visa system is in place.
- Citizens of the Western European can get a visa from our consulates abroad or upon their arrival to Egypt. Citizens of Non Western European citizens are required to be in possession of a pre-arrival visa to Egypt and they CANNOT get a visa upon their arrival.
- Citizens of North Korea, South Korea, Republic of China, Japan, Singapore, Maldives, Nepal, Brunei can get a visa from the Egypt’s consulates abroad or upon their arrival to Egypt. Citizens of the the rest of Asian citizens are required to be in possession of a pre-arrival visa to Egypt and they cannot get a visa upon their arrival.
- Citizens of Australia and New Zealand can get a visa from Egypt consulates abroad or upon their arrival to any Egypt port of entry.
- USA, Canadian and South American citizens can get an entry visa from Egypt’s consulates abroad or upon their arrival to Egypt at any port of entry.
- All African Citizens are required to be in possession of a pre-arrival visa to Egypt and they CANNOT get a visa upon their arrival.
- Citizens of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Yemen, Geboti, Syria, Oman, Qatar, and Libya are exempted from getting a visa to Egypt.
- Citizens of Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Somalia, Sudan, Mauritania are required to be in possession of a pre-arrival visa to Egypt as they cannot get a visa upon their arrival.
After applying for visa the next step is bookings. Most of the tours and attractions’ ticket are need to be booked in advance as the city remains crowded with a large number of tourists most of them. Thus to avoid hurdles or waiting in queues the things need to be booked in advance. The city is loaded with great hotels of all the categories which can be booked easily from the various sites. You can go to http://www.justorbit.com/africa/egypt/ to choose from a wide variety of hotels. One can also try various travel packages available at http://www.justorbit.com/africa/egypt/tour-packages.html that offers accommodation as well sightseeing tours.
Tourists are often confused about packing for Egypt, since the culture and climate differ so greatly from that of the other places. A little pre-planning, however, will ease both your packing and your Egyptian vacation. When it comes to packing of clothes the we suggest loose, light clothes is the order to stay comfortable by the day in Egypt. Sun hats, sunscreen or shades are a must, especially in summer. For entry to mosques and other historic places, both women and men should wear clothing that covers their shoulders and knees. Camisole tops and shorts are frowned upon by the predominately Muslim culture of Egypt, but women do not need to cover their hair. Comfortable walking shoes are a must as exploration of Pyramids and the other important temples include loads of walking. Also pack and carry a light sweater or jacket for your travels in Egypt. In the desert, and during the winter months, the temperature can radically drop at nightfall, and it will become quite cool.
Avoid fancy clothing and shoes as they are unnecessary in Egypt.
Tips & Cautions
Before heading to Egypt the visitor must be aware of the basic facts, dos and dont’s about this country. Arabic is the official language. Most people, though, also understand English. It is easy to get by with English, but it is recommended to learn a few Arabic words. It acts as an ice-breaker & does elicit a smile from most Egyptians. Some of the basic Arabic words one can learn are:
- Yes: naam, aywa .
- No: la
- Perhaps: yemken
- Possibly: mumken
- Impossible: mesh mumken
- Necessary: daruri
- Please: men fadlak (m.) men fadlik (f.)
- Thank you: shukran
- Your Welcome Ahlan beka
- Sorry/Excuse Me: assef
- Good Morning: sabah el-kheir
- Good Evening: masa el-kheir
- Good Night tesbah ala kheir
- Welcome: Marhaba
- Goodbye: salam (peace)
- My Name Is: esmi
- My Name is Jena Ana esmi Jena
- What Is Your Name?: esmak eh? or Ma Esmok?
- How Are You?: ez zayyak? (masc) ez zayyek? (fem)
- Nice to Meet You Saadot belkak
- Today: en-nahar da
- Tomorrow: bukra
- Yesterday: imbarih
- I Speak English: ana batkallem englizi
- I Don’t Speak Arabic?: ma-batkallamsh `arabi?
- I Don’t Understand: ana mish fahem
- Do You Speak English?: int betetkalem inglizi?
- Can You Help Me?: mumken tsaa’dni?
- Information: istiilaamaat
- What Time Is It?: el-saa kam?
Below is the list of Dos and Dont’s in Egypt
- DO expect to haggle for the best price when shopping in Egypt.
- DO be sure to pack light cotton clothing with long sleeves. During the hot daytime hours, this type of clothing will keep the suns rays off your skin and help you to stay cool.
- Be aware that it is not necessary for women to cover their hair in Egypt, except when entering a mosque.
- Know that tipping in Egypt is expected, and in the Egyptian language it is known as “baksheesh.” Tips are an important source of income for many Egyptians, and hotel workers will also expect a small tip for services rendered.
- Be aware that in Egypt the workweek starts on Sunday, rather than Monday. Friday is considered a prayer day, and all banks and shops are closed. On Saturday, banks are also closed, but other establishments are usually open. Sunday is just like any other workday, and most business establishments are open.
- DO expect that if you wish to use a public restroom, be sure to bring some change, as access usually requires a small fee.
- DO know that per the Muslim religion, Egyptians do not drink alcohol, use drugs or eat pork
- DON’T plan to wear short sleeves, walking shorts, or short skirts in Egypt. This clothing is considered to be immodest by the Muslim faith, and it will be offensive to most Egyptian people.
- DON’T forget that any visitor who plans to stay longer than thirty days in Egypt needs to submit evidence of an AIDS test. However, there is no restriction for entry into Egypt based HIV/AIDS status.
- DON’T insult Islam. The people of Egypt hold great respect for their Muslim religion, and disparaging remarks about their faith is sure to anger an Egyptian person.
- DON’T try to bring anything that could be considered pornographic into Egypt. Pornography in any form is prohibited, and highly illegal.
- DON’T travel to Egypt if you have a severe cold, or are obviously in ill health. Since the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak, all visitors arriving to Egypt at Cairo International Airport are subjected to a mandatory health screening. Any person who exhibits flu-like symptoms will be taken to a hospital for tests and observation for a period of 48 hours. If test results are positive, the person will be held at the hospital until they no longer pose a health risk to others.
Keep these tips and cautions handy for a comfortable and hurdle free travel.
Enjoy the trip
The result of this whole task of travel planning is the trip. Don’t forget to carry your passport. Do your last minute checks, head to the airport, board the plane and enjoy your trip. Don’t forget to riding on rickshaws or bullock carts that offer the true essence of Indian experience. Indulge in cultural activities as much as possible.
With these steps the travel planning procedure for Egypt will surely become less cumbersome as well as it leads to a great experience of this spectacular country.