Is Egypt Safe To Travel
So you are wondering if Egypt is safe to travel.
The short answer is: yes Egypt is safe to travel, but...
Safety is a funny thing, and I hesitate to offer such a black and white answer to such a complex question. So for information on how to do so, and a slightly more in depth answer, please read on, because safety does not just mean nothing bad happened, but were you able to enjoy your time?
I know I did.
Egypt is a country that has seen a lot of political stressors, both old and new and on my mom's scale of places she worried about me going, it held a firm spot near the top. Not only that, but I am a millennial American who grew up in the shadow of 9/11 and the subsequent demonization of all things middle eastern. For more context on how my first experience in the Middle East went read here. Even still, from a young age I obsessed over the history, myths, and mystery surrounding ancient Egypt, and the great pyramids rank on many a bucket list. As my local guide put it:
The Pyramids are man's miracle.
2.3 million blocks of stone, each weighing between 2.5 to 15 tons. The largest pyramid every built. Constructed completely without the use of modern machinery. It is a wonder of the ancient world for a reason.
Beyond the pyramids, Egypt contains a treasury of culture and history from The City of The Dead, Islamic and Coptic Cairo, to the Muhammad Ali Mosque and the King Tut Exhibit in the Egyptian Museum (with the new Grand Egyptian Museum set to be opening in 2018). There is plenty to do and see even in just a big city like Cairo. And the best way to do it all, stress free is to have a local insider on your side.
Muhammad Ali Mosque
Enjoy views of this architectural relic and the city of Cairo.
There is enough to see in the Egyptian Museum to wander for hours
My first tip for visiting Egypt: Invest in a local guide.
Unless you have been to the country before, I highly suggest you have someone who can show you around because with a guide and native speaker you are far less likely to run into trouble be it accidental miscommunications, (like when I almost had my film equipment confiscated at the Egyptian Museum) or simply avoiding situations where pickpocketing and theft are prevalent. My local guide went so far as to rescue me from an airport mishap where I did not have enough foreign currency for my entry visa (Ask for Michael here). A visa is 25 US dollars or the equivalent in a major foreign currency for anyone wondering, but it must be a different currency than Egyptian Pounds.
A local guide also will bring out the richness of the stories and culture surrounding every exhibit and attraction. Everything I saw, and everything I did while in Egypt was painted with context and it made the whole experience far more memorable.
And if price is a factor, keep in mind that many of these local guides also include transportation so money saved from expensive taxi rides can be put to better use with a personal guide/driver in one.
Have your local guide pick you up from the airport and arrange all of your transport through them.
This way you will never have to search for a taxi, much less haggle with a driver.
The second tip for visiting Cairo, check out the Mena House Hotel
*See Instagram post below*
I do hotel reviews time to time, and to be brief, if you came for the pyramids, there is no better place to stay. With beautiful architecture, and rooms that open up to overlook the pyramids themselves, theres really not much else you need. The Mena House Hotel was a literal palace before being renovated to be a hotel, providing guests with a taste of true Egyptian luxury. Enjoying a sunset dinner by a meditation pool, while staring at the Great Pyramids of Egypt does a body good. Even the staff were warm and kind, the gift shop owner has been working there with his family for many many years, and did not hesitate to strike up meaningful conversation; leaving me with a parting gift for good luck and a safe return to Egypt one day. Safety-wise, the whole complex is gated and you can rest easy knowing security is pretty tight (they also have safes in each room for your convenience).
The point of this tip is not to get you to stay there (they are not paying me or sponsoring this post), but rather to say, don't be afraid to invest in a hotel that you will both love and feel safe in. Build your trip in such a way that the details are taken care of, and you can simply take in as much as you can. You will be glad you did.
And for some quick practical advice:
The technical term is baksheesh and having a guide will help you select proper amounts. But while out, use common sense, do not have too much money on you at one time and certainly not where it is visible or accessible to pick pockets.
-Be prepared to haggle
Rarely are the prices ever set in stone, and unless you can negotiate, rarely will you ever get the best price. Conversely if you do not want to be bothered by vendors, avoid eye contact or conversation, many will do almost anything to get your attention. I suggest learning the phrase "no, thank you."
-Drones are HIGHLY illegal
Creatives and drone enthusiasts be aware. I suggest bringing some sort of stabilizer like a gimbal or at the very least a tripod, but drones bring more trouble than they're worth here. There are also certain places where picture taking is not allowed (unless you have a inconspicuous camera or are prepared to baksheesh), navigating this space is also where a local guide will come in handy.
-Sunscreen, parasol, clothes that breathe and can cover you
Remember you are visiting a desert climate and inappropriate clothing/sun protection can make for a miserable excursion.
Go visit Egypt, but do it with a plan.
There have been countries I visited with little planning, and trips I've made where the entire preparation for the trip happened in the final hours before boarding the plane. Egypt holds a special place in my heart and wholly deserves a place on The Tiger Map, but (from a chronic improviser) do yourself a favor and plan.