safe to visit Egypt

Is It Safe to Visit Egypt? A Comprehensive Guide for Travelers

Egypt, is known for its iconic ancient monuments and lively culture, making it a popular destination for many travelers. The mysterious Sphinx, the fascinating Pyramids in Giza, and the artifacts contained in the Egyptian Museum are just a few of the many attractions that lure visitors from around the globe. Egypt assures the traveler an unforgettable journey through time. But the elephant in the room when visiting the Middle East, particularly in this day and age, is dealing with safety. In this article, we will explore the safety aspects of visiting Egypt, providing you with a complete guide to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Knowing the Political Climate

Political Climate and Stability

Egypt underwent a political revolution with a subsequent military overtake between 2011-2014. While those years did pose difficulties for tourist, currently, the political situation is stable. The government has taken measures to ensure stability and security, particularly in tourist areas. While occasional protests and demonstrations may occur, they are usually localized and do not present safety issues for tourists.

People mistakenly feel that turmoil in one part of the Middle East means all parts are unsafe. This is simply not the case. Even today, Cairo is considered one of the top ten safest cities for women and solo travelers, alongside places like Zurich, Oslo, Vancouver and Copenhagen. It is actually the only city in the Middle East to consistently make the top ten for the past several decades. Popular tourist locations, airports, and hotels are heavily guarded, and the presence of security personnel is apparent. It is essential to stay informed about the current security situation by consulting travel advisories from your home country’s government before planning your trip.

Key Safety Tips for Travelers

Stay Informed

Stay up to date on the latest travel advisories and news before embarking on your trip. Rely on internet sites sponsored by the government such as the U.S. Department of State, the UK Foreign Office, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. They consistently update their information and provide advisories for potential travelers. Consider contacting your embassy and mentioning your dates of travel so they can inform of anything that travel plans with your embassy can ensure you get timely updates and help if needed.

Choose Reputable Tour Operators

One of the best ways to ensure a safe trip to Egypt is by choosing reputable tourist companies. Established tour companies have extensive experience in handling the logistics and safety concerns of tourists. Often, they offer guided tours, arrange for transportation and hotel stays, and they can ensure a smooth and safe experience. Look for tourist operators with positive reviews and accreditation from recognized travel associations.

Be Mindful of Your Belongings

While political upheaval isn’t a concern in Egypt, pickpocketing and bag snatching is a definite possibility–especially in crowded tourist areas. To avoid this, keep your belongings secure and be attentive. Use a money belt or a crossbody bag that can be worn close to your body. Tuck in jewelry or leave it securely locked in your hotel room. Do not carry around large amounts of cash. Additionally, try to come with the necessary cash (and a little extra) to avoid using ATMs, but if needed, withdraw money from machines located in well-lit, secure areas.

Respect Local Customs and Traditions

Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country with rich cultural values and customs. Respecting local customs and traditions is not only courteous but also contributes to your safety. Dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites, and avoid public displays of affection. During the holy month of Ramadan, be mindful of local practices, such as fasting during daylight hours, and adjust your behavior accordingly.

Transportation Safety

Taking publics transportation in Egypt is its own adventure! Buses and trains are prolific and widely available. But you may not always feel it is the most convenient or safest option. There are reputable taxi services you can use instead or ride-share apps like Uber and Careem. If you plan to drive, know the condition of traffic in major cities like Cairo can be chaotic, and road conditions may vary.

Health and Medical Precautions

Vaccinations and Health Insurance

Be sure to get your routine vaccinations up to date such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), as well as tetanus. Additionally, vaccinations for hepatitis A and B and typhoid are recommended. Talk to your doctor for specific recommendations based on where you’re going and your unique health needs. Try to have comprehensive travel health insurance that covers medical expenses when abroad

Water and Food Safety

To avoid digestion/stomach issues, avoid water from local taps and soft drinks bottled by those sources. Drink bottled water. Ask for servers to leave out ice in your drinks. Egyptian restaurants and street food is quite popular and readily available. Eat only at trustworthy restaurants and avoid street food from vendors with subpar hygiene practices. You can usually determine the hygiene of a restaurant by its interior. Wash your hands often with soap and water (try not to use hand sanitizer unless there is no water and soap) to reduce the risk of illness.

Sun Protection and Hydration

Egypt has a desert climate and can be extremely hot in the summer.  Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Wearing modest clothing will be a help for it will not only show respect for the local people but keep you protected from the sun. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. If you plan to visit desert areas, be prepared for temperature extremes and bring appropriate clothing and supplies.

Exploring Major Tourist Destinations

Cairo

Cairo, the bustling capital of Egypt, is a city where history and modernity exist side by side. The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx are must-see attractions, and they draw millions of visitors each year. The Egyptian Museum, with its extensive collection of artifacts, including the treasures of Tutankhamun, is another highlight. While traveling throughout Cairo, stay alert in crowded areas and avoid venturing into less-traveled neighborhoods, particularly after dark.

Luxor

Luxor, often referred to as the world’s greatest open-air museum, is home to the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Karnak, and the Temple of Hatshepsut. These archaeological wonders allow visitors to peek into Egypt’s glorious past. Luxor is generally considered safe for tourists, with a strong security presence at major sites.

Aswan

Aswan, located along the Nile River, is famous for its stunning scenery and historical landmarks, including the Philae Temple and the Aswan High Dam. The city is known for its relaxed atmosphere and friendly locals. While Aswan is considered safe, it is still advisable to stay within well-populated areas and avoid remote locations, particularly at night.

Red Sea Resorts

Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, such as Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, are popular destinations for beach lovers and scuba diving enthusiasts. These resorts have a strong security presence and are generally safe for tourists. However, there are other safety concerns: strong currents and marine life should be taken into account when swimming or diving. Always check in with local authorities and tourist officials before partaking in sea activities.

Cultural Etiquette and Communication

Language

Arabic is the official language of Egypt, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants. Learning a few basic Arabic phrases can be helpful and is often appreciated by locals. Simple greetings and polite expressions can go a long way in enhancing your travel experience.

Interactions with Locals

The Middle East is known for its generosity and welcoming of tourists and Egypt is no exception. When dealing with the local people, be polite and respectful. Bargaining is a common practice at bazaars but stay respectful and patient. When visiting mosques or private homes, remove your shoes upon entering and dress modestly.

Photography

Egypt offers countless photo opportunities, from ancient monuments to vibrant street scenes. However, be mindful of local customs and regulations regarding photography. Avoid taking pictures of military installations, government buildings, and sensitive areas. Always ask for permission before photographing people, especially women who may cover their hair outside but are not wearing it inside their homes when you visit. Respect their wishes if they decline.

Conclusion

Visiting Egypt can be a safe and rewarding experience, but it is important that you prepare beforehand and be aware of the political situation. Follow these safety tips and respect local customs so you can enjoy the rich history, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality that Egypt has to offer. Whether you are exploring the ancient wonders of Cairo, cruising the Nile in Luxor, or relaxing in the Red Sea resorts, Egypt promises an unforgettable adventure.

Remember to stay vigilant, be respectful, and embrace the unique culture of this remarkable country. Safe travels!

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