Visas and entry
If you have obtained an Egyptian entry visa in your passport before traveling, go straight to the passport counter. If you need to get a visa on entry, go to the airport bank (just before the passport counter), buy visa for aprox $20 USD then go to the passport counter. Airport banks use the daily exchange rate, so you can safely change some money there. Collect luggage and pass through customs. At the airport you can get a taxi (around 80le) or arrange a transfer to hotel. You can expect them to ask for a tip, 10-20le is fine. Note: Your entry visa is valid for one month.
What to pack
A packing guide for Winter in Egypt - mild to cool, weather: 2 pairs trousers/jeans, 3 t-shirts, 2 long sleeved shirts, knee to calf length skirt for ladies or knee length shorts for men, cardigan or lightweight jacket, scarf or pashmina style wrap plus one set of dressy clothes for special events. One good pair of sports shoes, pair of sandals, one pair of dressy shoes, flip-flops for the pool, bathers, sunhat, sunglasses, journal, pen, mobile phone, camera, ipod, vitamins, toiletries, antiseptic wipes, sunscreen. A copy of itinerary and passport. Laptop if you must.
Wear the right shoes!
At the Pyramids and Giza and Sakkara, wear closed sports shoes as you will be walking over sand and pebbles. The Bazzar streets are sandy too, so wear good walking shoes. Save the high heels for nightclubs and dinner rendezvous, or buy new in Egypt! At the hotel, sandals are fine.
Save on phone bills with an Egyptian sim
Leave your sim card at home in an old phone, with someone who can take calls. Get an Egyptian sim card in Cairo (they are cheap) plus some credit. You'll feel safer - store all Egyptian contacts on this phone. To sms overseas from Egypt cost local prices.
Keep fresh wipes with you
Arabic food is often eaten by hand - bread, dips, etc. Its a good idea to carry antiseptic wipes with you and wipe your hands before eating. Antibacterial foods help; raw ginger, ginger tea, garlic, lemon...even a nip of white spirit (vodka, gin, rum) works wonders!
Pack light - shopping in Egypt is great!
You can buy cotton clothes, shoes, costumes, Bedouin rugs, trinkets, Islamic lamps, leather goods, handbags, music cds, henna, spices, apple tobacco, perfume bottles, perfume oils, Arabic music, dvds, shishas, fabrics, weavings, ramadan tent fabric and so much more! Khan el Khalili is the best place for trinket shopping, but there are fixed price shops around too.
Power-Travelers eat regular snacks!
Travel, jet-lag or late dinners can cause low blood sugar, and the fast pace of Cairo agitating with the "low sugar grumpies"! Keep some almonds, raisins or health bars in your bag, plus a few pieces of fruit. Need a protein fix? Vacume packed envelopes of tuna with a plastic fork, nuts or a few boiled eggs from the hotel breakfast keep protein up.
Its sensible to always carry a bottle of water with you, and avoid drinking from the taps. Bottled water is very inexpensive in Egypt when you buy it from local stores rather than from the hotels. You can brush teeth and wash fruit with bottled water, but there is no need to be paranoid as intestinalflora often take a day or so to adjust to the new environment.
Tipping is a way of life in Egypt. it is polite to give 1LE to toilet attendants in hotels, shops and road houses. Porters usually get 10le ($2) for carrying bags to the room. Guides and drivers are also tipped as their wages are low, the easiest way to do this in a group is for each person to give 5le ($1). A small tip goes a long way in Egypt and the people are grateful. It is customary to give a tip of 10% of the bill at a restaurant. It is a good idea to try and keep small change in your wallet at all times for tips.
Service charges and taxes
Dining out? Food at restaurants and hotels often carries an additional 22-25% service charge and tax, often this is not shown on the menu price, so be sure to add it if it is written in fine print at the bottom of the menu.
You can withdraw money from most atms with your bank or credit card, in LE (Egyptian pounds) converted at the daily rate. There is usually a bank fee nvolved. You exchange foreign cash at any bank. Hotels have safes.
Please "Min fad luk" and Thank you "Shokrun" will get you better service and the Egyptians will say "Ah! You speak Arabic!" At cafes - to call a waiter, say "lau samahkt". Egyptians are friendly, open-hearted and like to joke.
Counting and Numbers
1 wahid, 2 etnein, 3 talata, 4 arba, 5 khumsa, 6 setta, 7 sabba, 8 tamania, 9 tessa, 10 ashra, 11 hidasher, 12 etnasher, 13 talatasher, 14 arbatasher, 15 khamastasher, 16 settasher, 17 sabatasher, 18 tamantasher, 19 tessatasher, 20 eshreen, 21 wahid wa eshreen, 30 talateen, 40 arbaeen, 50khumseen, 60 Seteen
70 Sabheen80 Tamaneen 90 Tesheen 100 meyya,
Medications and toiletries
Any pharmaceuticals are inexpensive and readily available in Cairo,incase you need antibiotics or have tummy problems. If you take medications, bring them plus have a copy of the name of the medication with you just incase. You may wish to pack yourself a small travel kit with the basics - immodeum,asprin, antiseptic cream, a few bandaidsand a muscle balm. Contact lense fluid and toiletries are easy to find. Hairdressers and beauticians are easily available and the fees are very affordable if you wish to get a blow dry, pedicure or beauty treatment for a big night out!
What to eat
Egypt offers a variety of delicious cuisine. If you are traveling for the first time, or have a sensitive stomach, you may wish to eat cereals and cooked vegetable dishes the first day and gradually introduce fresh produce. Salads and fresh fruits are fine as long as they are fresh or served in a good hotel or cafe. Egyptian, meat, chicken and fish is excellent and recommended; superb Egyptian cuisine. However, avoid eating meat and cheeses from street vendors. If you wish to have take-away from street vendors, felafeland tameya sandwiches are best - delicious and under $1!
Hello and welcome - ahlan wa sahlan,
answer - ahlan bik! - hello back!
Good morning - sabah el kheir
Good evening - misae el kheir
How are you? - Izzayak/izzayik?
I am fine thanks to God - Ana kwaiss/a el hamdulilah
See you again, God Willing - a shoufak tani, inshalla
Where you from? - enta/enti minein?
I am from... - ana min...,
What is your name? - ismak/ismikeh?
My name is... - ismi..., Goodbye - maasalema
Yes - aiwa, No - la, Maybe - yimkin
It is possible - mumkin
It is not possible mish mumkin
Thanks - shukran, You'rewelcome - afwan
Sorry - ana asif/a, Pardon? - efandim?
Where is... feyn..., What? -eh?, Why - Leh? When - emta, please - minfadluk/ik,
Alright - tayyib, I am tired - anataebana,
I am happy - ana mabsoota,
I need a taxi - Aiza taxi,
Right - yemeen, Left - shemel,
Straight ahead - ala tool,
Good - kwaiss, Very good - kwaissawi
Shops and cafes
tea - chai, coffee - ahwa, sugar - sokar, mint tea - chaybi nea-nea, milk - laban, water - maya, toilet - hamam, room - oda, hotel - fonduk, house - beyt, tips - baksheesh, money - filus.
How much is this - bi kam di?
Can I look at this - mumkin ashouf?
Thats very nice - di helwa,
Too expensive! - da ghali awi!
No thanks, I do not want it - la shukran,ana mish aiza, Ok - meshi,
today - inaharda, tomorrow - bukra