6 Things to Know Before Your Egypt Trip

6 Things to Know Before Your Egypt Trip

pink pangea foreign correspondentUnknowingly, I planned to travel to Egypt on January 25th, 2011—the day of the first revolution in Egypt. During my first month of living in Cairo,  I had no phone, internet access, or way of communicating with my worried family back home. Although my embassy had tried countless times to send me evacuation warnings, I ignored all of them and instead rode out the storm.

I was settled in a horse stable a comfortable distance from Tahrir Square and despite the lack of customers, freedom to leave the facility and absolutely no outside contact or means of doing anything as simple as shopping for groceries, I fell in love with the country.

Although my entire family was military and I had been force-fed many misguided beliefs about Muslim people, I couldn’t get enough. The language, the food, the culture, the religion, the people, the sights—it was as if I had opened the door to Narnia.

Everything was vastly different, and it seemed I was a long way from California. My love for Egypt consumed me and in a short period of time, I found myself fasting for Ramadan and speaking Egyptian Arabic fluently. Nevertheless, here is a list of six things I knew before I decided to travel to Egypt.

6 Things to Know Before Your Egypt Trip

1. Egypt is a Muslim country and requires travelers to abide by certain rules

The biggest fact I can stress for a woman, especially a single woman traveling alone is to take care of the dress code. I understand that Egypt is a desert country and that it gets very hot. It’s still not okay to wear shorts or tank tops! Never. Do not pack any clothes in your suitcase that might tempt you into showing some skin.

Despite the number of foreigners they have seen or dealt with, even cab drivers and tour guides are Muslim men so it is in your best interest to dress respectfully.

2. It is never okay for an Egyptian man to touch you

6 Things to Know Before Your Egypt Trip
Egyptian adventure; photo by Krystal Kelly

Due to their strict religion, it is not even legal in Egypt for an Egyptian man to stay in a hotel room with a woman who is not legally his wife (and yes, a hotel receptionist will ask for a copy of your marriage certificate). Because of their strict religion, most Egyptian women are covered.

A handshake is appropriate, however any other form of touching, no matter how innocent it may seem, is simply a man’s way of testing a foreign woman. Unfortunately, as a foreigner, you will be subject to bad stereotypes.

Never let a man treat you differently–and less respectfully–than he would treat an Egyptian woman. Don’t be afraid to say no out of fear of offending someone. Egyptian men know when they have crossed a line and will respect you more for putting them in place.

3. Be sure to adjust to “Egyptian time”

6 Things to Know Before Your Egypt Trip
Time can move differently in Egypt; photo by Krystal Kelly

One of the things us westerners have a hard time adjusting to is what we expats like to call “Egyptian time.” If an Egyptian tells me she’ll meet at a certain time, I like to multiple that time by 3. For example, “I’ll see you tomorrow at 3” generally translates to, “I’ll see you maybe tomorrow or the day after between 6-8 PM.” And if you hear the word “inshaAllah,” it probably means they aren’t coming at all.

4. Arabic is a beautiful language

Before coming to Egypt, I was afraid of Arabs. I used to hear Arabic on the television and because it had such strange guttural sounds, it only sounded like shouting, screaming and spit flying. I admit, the first time I saw two Arab men speaking to one another, I again had flashbacks of Hollywood movies and watched in horror as the men’s faces appeared to get closer and closer and the shouting grew louder and louder.

Now I realize that the majority of the language is not fighting but laughter instead. The language has the most beautiful slang and is actually extremely romantic. Once I understood what the people were saying, I couldn’t wait to speak it!

6 Things to Know Before Your Egypt Trip

5. There is much more to Egypt than the pyramids

After the revolution, tourism in Egypt died. People were too terrified to travel to Egypt, even though the Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

To this day I can’t believe anyone wouldn’t be just as fascinated by the idea of seeing the pyramids as I am, even though I see the pyramids on my way to and from work every day! But shockingly, you’ll find the pyramids these days not very crowded and you might even get lucky enough to be the one and only tourist for the day.

Although the Pyramids are truly a remarkable, there is much more to Egypt than the pyramids and those who travel to this wonderful country should plan to stay for as much time as possible in order to absorb all of the culture, history and artifacts! You could also try riding an Arabian horse or camel in the desert!

6. Islam is not the enemy

I learned so much about Islam simply by asking. I was surprised by how open and friendly the Egyptian people are! Both men and women were more than happy to answer any and all questions I had about their religion and they never once passed judgement on me or attempted to convert me.

In fact, I felt more warmth and acceptance from the Egyptian people than I did in the majority of my travels! You would be amazed how much you can learn just by having an open mind and kind heart.

Don’t let the reputation of a few bad eggs, destroy your chance at meeting some fascinating people. Even in America, there are certain neighborhoods you just don’t go, or certain places you avoid and people you take caution with, but that doesn’t stop you all the same!

As Dean Spanley said, “Only the closed mind is certain.”

6 Things to Know Before Your Egypt Trip

6 Things to Know Before Your Egypt Trip

Related Reading

5 Places Female Travelers in Egypt Must Visit

Have you traveled to Egypt? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

6 Things to Know Before Your Egypt Trip photo credits Krystal Kelly

About Krystal Kelly

Krystal KellyKrystal Kelly is a Californian girl determined to see the world on the back of a horse. She has traveled solo (mostly) to 50 countries and counting and has worked internationally in over a dozen. She promotes women empowerment and encourages women to see the world and follow their dreams. For more information on her travels please check out here. She continues to travel to this day and is on a quest to see every country in the world!

5 thoughts on “6 Things to Know Before Your Egypt Trip

  1. Avatar
    Amel
    January 29, 2018
    Reply

    Hi there,
    Great article and all your points are true.

    I am the author of the book, “The Tomb Opens”. If you want to know more accurate details about the Egyptian culture before you visit Egypt, pick up a copy of this novel.

    You’ll be able to learn about egyptians’ emotional patterns, attitudes & behavioural cues.

    Egypt is a very rich culture. The typical Egyptian is by nature generally modest, friendly, helpful to the extent of giving you his own jacket if you are cold.

    Certainly they have been through a lot that buried such nature to a great extent. Yet once you trigger that buried side in them, it will easily surface up.

    Enjoy the novel and have a pleasant trip.
    Amel A.

  2. Avatar
    Mike
    January 20, 2015
    Reply

    Dear facebook friends tourism in Egypt is experiencing heavy times and we want to support tourism in and to Egypt.
    Every like for our page is very important so that we can reach as many people as possible to help to promote and support tourism in and to Egypt
    You can help through sharing and like us and invite as many of your friends to this page. We need your help !!!
    Thank you, Dank u, Shokran, Merci, Danke
    https://www.facebook.com/friendsofegyptsupporttourismtoegypt

  3. Avatar
    Rima
    January 15, 2015
    Reply

    Nice blog.

  4. Avatar
    Selma Sahirah
    January 14, 2015
    Reply

    Very nice information dear, your images and tips are so attractive. I think your information will help many travelers. Now many travelers come to Egypt for traveling. Nile cruise is very attractive and memorable for all travelers. There are so many travel companies available there to guide travelers. Complete Egypt is a good travel company in Egypt.

  5. Avatar
    Passainte Assem
    January 12, 2015
    Reply

    Nice piece, everything nicely put, however I do not agree with the “due to their strict religion” wording, there is nothing called a strict religion, it’s a religion just like any religion with different beliefs and interpretations, accordingly generalizing and calling it strict, rigid, moderate or lenient is all relative. Better call it that Muslims are more conservative when it comes to clothing, and do not accept pre-marriage relationships.
    And women are veiled not that the religion is strict, but that it’s believed that Muslim women should be veiled, however there are Muslim women -believers, who do the five prayers, fast, and so on- like me who are not!

    Glad you enjoyed your trip to Egypt, hope you’d visit again soon 😉

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