Well, first and foremost, prepare yourself for a culture shock, when you visit Our Egypt for the first time! Find out that Egypt is unlike any other country you visited before!
Egypt is an Islamic country. For most people it will be an introduction with totally different traditions, customs and laws. Please respect our local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all time. There are many things that for you probably seem totally normal, which we as Egyptians are still frowned upon. So be aware of this. What may be acceptable in the tourists resort areas may not be in other areas? So, try to be more conservative in your attitude, especially when you visit our rural areas and mosques.
If you travel through Egypt, do not rely solely on what travel books are telling you. Though they do give a lot of good information, they do not explain everything. Sometimes the information they give, is out-of-date.
Plan enough time when you want to visit sites and be prepared for delays. This because before gaining admittance to a site your personal belongings (camera bags, carrier bags, etc.) will be searched. Though this is annoying, it is done for your safety!
Bring an open mind and sense of humour with you. The hassle factor can be pretty high in Egypt and it’s easy to lose one’s cool with persistent salesmen on a hot day. Remember that the Egyptians just try to earn a living. They mean you no harm. Simply say ‘la sjukran’ (no thank you) and walk on. The more relaxed you are, the better you will enjoy your stay. So, take a deep breath and shake it of. You cannot change Egypt, but it may well change you …
Some general things, which are good to know.
The electricity current is 220 volts, 50 Hz, and uses round-pronged plugs. North American and other non 220 volt users we advise to bring a converter! If you are coming from the UK, you will need only an adaptor for your plugs.
Police – 122
Ambulance – 123
Fire Brigade – 180
Tourist Police – 126
Most of the monuments are open for the public for a fixed time period set by Egyptian Antiquities Office (EAO). Museums are generally open from 9 am to 5 pm daily and from 9 am to 4 pm on Friday. Other sites are also open for the same hours.
There are thousands of internet cafes in Egypt. Egyptians are extremely switched on. If you have a laptop and you bring it along on your trip, you’ll find out that many of the hotels provide internet access. So you can go online right from the privacy of your own room. And if you don’t have a laptop, don’t worry. There are many internet cafes in cities and towns, where you can go and use there internet service. You could ever be more than a street away from one. People in shops or in the street can always direct you to one, if you need to go online for checking your e-mails, just to keep in touch with loved ones at home or need to do some serious business. You will always be able to stay online during your trip.
The official language of Egypt is Egyptian Arabic. It is the most widely understood first dialect in the Middle East and North Africa, probably due to the influence of Egyptian cinema throughout the Arabic-speaking world. In tourist areas you will also here English, French, German and Italian. Don’t be surprised if you even here the Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Chinese language. There are specialized guides that are fluent in most any language. The Egyptians themselves are always impressed by foreigners, who have made some effort to learn their language.
The Standard Time in Egypt is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2). Egypt operates summer time between the last Friday in April and the last Thursday in September when the clocks are 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+3).
Telephone Number Assistance – 140 / 141
International Calls Information – 120
If you want to call Egypt from abroad, the international dialling code is: +20. To call any country outside Egypt, dial your country code, then the city code and then the number. If you wish to purchase a mobile phone Sim Card for your visit, both Mobinil and Egypt Vodafone offer a tourist line. It will give you an Egyptian number so that you can make phone calls, your friends and family can reach you, and it will save the roaming charges.
Take notice of the limited hours for shopping, which can differ in cities. General shopping hours in the winter season: from 9 am to 7 pm, on Monday and Thursday until 8 pm. In the summer season: from 9 am to 2 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm. On Friday many shops close because of the Islamic Sunday. Also on Sunday some shops close, this because of the Coptic Sunday. Egypt has special shopping hours during the Ramadan festival.