Time Zone

Egypt standard time is GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) + 2 hours.


The national language in Egypt is Arabic. However, tourists will rarely find a problem communicating as English is widely spoken in hotels and shops, with French a close second, and many staff in tourist areas also speaking German or Italian.


Egypt is a Middle Eastern country where both the Muslim majority and the Christian minority are fairly conservative. When visiting mosques, churches or synagogues, casual, comfortable clothing covering knees and elbows is best, in order to respect the local culture.


The unit of currency is the Egyptian Pound (LE), which is divided into 100 piasters. Pounds are issued in notes of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200. Coins are issued in denominations of LE1 and 25 and 50 piasters.

Money Matters

It is useful to have local currency for tipping or for shopping in smaller souks or local restaurants, and it is easy to change money at any hotel bank. US dollars are widely accepted in major tourist establishments, hotels, and souvenir shops.

There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency or travelers cheques which may be brought into the country. However, passengers entering Egypt with Egyptian currency exceeding 1000 USD must declare this on arrival.

Currency may be exchanged through banks or currency exchange houses which can be found in most major cities and are usually open from 10:00 to 21:00 every day of the week. All major hotels will exchange major foreign currencies at the same rate as banks. You will be issued a receipt which must be retained to permit currency to be re-exchanged when leaving the country and as evidence that exchange of currency has been through official channels.

Banking hours are normally 09:00 to 14:00, Sunday through Thursday, closed on Fridays and Saturdays. Cairo Airport and the majority of major hotels in Cairo offer 24-hour banking services. Please remember to have your passport on you as this will be required to affect any transaction. MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted at major restaurants, almost all hotels and many shops. American Express is less common but is still normally accepted at major hotels.


Tipping is not compulsory in Egypt. You are travelling on an independent itinerary and the cost of your program does not include gratuities. Tipping is a very personal matter and should only be considered when the staff have gone above and beyond for you. Should you feel you would like to acknowledge their service, please consider the following as a rough guide, per person per day.

Type of Service

Group Size (Number of People)














Tour Coordinator














Hotel Porters (Per bag)







Nile Cruise







Zein Nile Chateau Private Boat

















Please note: Currency is in USD

The above tipping guidelines are recommendations only and are not compulsory. Please use your own discretion in tipping, based on quality of service.



It is customary to add about 10% - 15% to the bill in restaurants, if the service has been satisfactory.



Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped but they appreciate the fare being rounded up.


Please Note: In Egypt it is extremely common to encounter restroom attendants in airports, bazaars, and other sites frequented by tourists. While not compulsory, it is customary to tip these individuals an amount in Egyptian Pounds equal to approximately 25 to 50 cents.


Throughout Egypt, days are commonly warm or hot, and nights are cool. Egypt has only two seasons: a mild winter from November to April and a hot summer from May to October. The only differences between the seasons are variations in daytime temperatures and changes in prevailing winds. In the coastal regions, temperatures range between an average minimum of 14°C in winter and an average maximum of 30°C in summer.

Temperatures vary widely in the inland desert areas, especially in summer, when they may range from 7°C at night to 43°C during the day. During winter, temperatures in the desert fluctuate less dramatically, but they can be as low as 0°C at night and as high as 18°C during the day.

Throughout the Delta and the northern Nile Valley, there are occasional winter cold spells accompanied by light frost and even snow. Egypt receives fewer than eighty millimeters of precipitation annually in most areas. Most rain falls along the coast.

A phenomenon of Egypt’s climate is the hot spring wind that blows across the country. The winds, known as the khamsin, usually arrive in April but occasionally occur in March and May. The winds reach high velocities and carry great quantities of sand and dust. These sandstorms, often accompanied by winds of up to 140 kilometers an hour, can cause temperatures to rise as much as 20°C in two hours.


Egypt is generally a hot country, so light cotton clothing is advisable for the warmer months (April to September) and a light jacket for the evenings during the cooler months (October to March).

• Blouses/shirts with long sleeves to protect you from the sun. Short sleeves are also fine.
• Cotton t-shirts and tops
• Personal toiletries, sun screen, lip balm and insect repellent
• Hat, sunglasses and prescription glasses
• Comfortable walking shoes
• Camera

For standard and customary dress codes throughout the country, it is important to keep in mind the below to avoid any offense or unwanted attention:

Men – It is advised that men wear full length trousers, shirts or t-shirts. In Cairo it is not considered acceptable to wear short shorts or tank tops/sleeveless tops, trousers should be worn by men at all times, especially in local restaurants or markets in Cairo. In resorts such as Sharm El Sheik, Hurghada, Sinai, etc. shorts are acceptable, and the dress code is far more relaxed.

Women – Adopting a conservative dress code will help deflect unwanted attention. Loose linen/cotton trousers or a below the knee skirt and long-sleeved blouse are advised. Tight and/or transparent clothes and low necks should be avoided. It is not advised to ride a camel wearing a skirt. A relaxed dress code in resorts is also applicable to women, however women may feel more comfortable in trousers when they enter the market areas of Hurghada.

Religious Sites – When visiting a mosque, it is advised that both men and women stick to the conservative dress code as described above. Some of the major mosques will provide women with cover ups to ensure they are dressed appropriately for the mosque. Some mosques offer canvas shoe covers but in most other mosques it is appropriate to just remove your shoes and walk around in socks. Any Muslim who enters a mosque for prayer will simply remove their shoes. For visitors it is advised to remove shoes and leave them with the mosque guard at the entrance desk, where your shoes will be stored away safely.

Winter – During winter in Egypt it can get cold at night. It is often warmer in the streets than it is inside as the buildings are designed to be cool, so it is a good idea to bring a casual jacket or shawl out with you. In Egypt it is very rare to have central heating or central air conditioning inside buildings except in big hotels or high-end establishments.


No vaccinations are currently needed for visitors to Egypt, unless arriving from countries where yellow fever is endemic. Drink plenty of water when staying outside during the day. Take care from the sun, which can often feel cooler than it really is due to the cool coastal breezes and lack of humidity. Short term dehydration can cause various unpleasant symptoms including fever, headache and nausea. Fortunately, these disappear rather quickly after a long drink. We recommend that you drink as much water as possible while on tour. You should not drink tap water and avoid ice in your drink unless it is made from mineral water.

Please advise your tour operator of any special dietary requirements/allergies at least six weeks prior to the beginning of your journey. Every effort will be made to comply with your request. Travelers with physical disabilities and those who require frequent or on-going medical attention should advise us of their health situation at the time of booking (or at the time such a situation occurs should this be after the reservation is made). We recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover you in the event of a medical emergency.


Egypt electrical current is 220V, and sockets take the standard continental European dual round-pronged plug.


When taking a photograph of locals, it is customary to ask for permission. If you plan to travel with digital photographic and/or video equipment, make certain to pack the specific charging apparatus for each piece of equipment (as well as the appropriate socket plug adapter and voltage converter if required).

Local Food

An important part of the traveling experience is to savor the many local culinary delights. All over Egypt, and especially in Cairo, you will find an enormous range of high-class restaurants serving international cuisine.

For those who adore hearty fare, then look no further than Egyptian cuisine. With a plethora of spices and herbs, Egyptian food is a feast not just for the palette, but also for the eyes. From sauce laden stews, to succulent grills, to delicate salads, Egyptian food is a combination of Middle Eastern, Turkish and Mediterranean influences that feature much of the local ingredients on offer in the country.

For meat lovers, try tagjin lahma (meat casserole/tajin) or the wonderful sharkasia chicken (Circassian chicken on a bed of rice, covered in a rich and creamy walnut sauce).
Egyptians also have a sweet tooth, so be sure to indulge in national favorites, like Om Ali (bread and butter pudding with nuts and cream), or Konafa (shredded filo dough cooked in butter and syrup).

No Egyptian meal is complete without a fragrant glass of mint tea – and drink it like an Egyptian, very hot and very sweet! Egyptian beverages are varied and cater to many different tastes. The fruit juices are rich and indulgent, with mango, lemon, sugarcane and guava being firm favorites. Traditional drinks have been around for hundreds of years and have become an art form. Among the most popular is Karkade, a rich, sweet infusion of the dark red hibiscus flower, usually enjoyed cold but can also be served hot. In addition to juices and traditional drinks, Egypt’s wines have also improved dramatically over the past few years and visitors should try the locally produced wines and beers during their stay.

Local Handicrafts

Shopping in Egypt can be relaxed and leisurely, at high-class souvenir stores and hotel outlets, or part of an authentic and bargain wielding experience at local bazaars and souks. For the latter, the world-famous Khan El Khalili bazaar is not to be missed, where gold and silver cartouches, carved alabaster, exquisite wooden pieces and intricately embroidered galabeyas can be brought for fabulous prices. A healthy amount of bargaining is expected and contributes to the fun of shopping in Egypt.

For those who prefer a more laid-back experience, some smaller galleries in the affluent residential area of Zamalek offer some beautiful handicrafts and jewelry. Highlights are Alef Gallery for tapestries and handicrafts, and Dima Jewelry as well as Mounaya Gallery for truly exquisite handmade jewelry pieces.

As a courtesy to our clients, our office will, if requested, help refer you to a shop that carries the merchandise you are looking for. This is not intended as Akorn's endorsement of the shop nor responsibility for merchandise (or shipping arrangements) purchased from the shop.

Other Notes

Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, lasts for 28 days each year with the dates moving back compared to the western calendar by around eleven days per year. Nightlife blossoms during this period, despite it being a "dry" time for Egyptians, and special temporary entertainment tents spring up all around Cairo serving huge quantities of oriental food, aromatic water pipes or sheesha, and loud Arabic music in equal abundance from sunset to 04:00. Tourists welcome!

Between March and May each year, depending on the Coptic Easter, a national holiday called Sham El-Nessim - "Smelling the Blossoms Day" - celebrates the fragrant blossoms that grace Egypt's many flowering trees at the beginning of spring. Families often spend the day with a picnic in a local green area - sometimes simply on grassy roadside verges - and traditionally enjoy a pickled fish dish called fesikh.

You should keep all travel documents, travelers cheques, cash, passports and other valuables in your hotel or cruise boats safety deposit boxes. Although street crime is at a minimum, as in any other country, travelers are encouraged to use common sense and not wear ostentatious jewelry. It is also advisable to carry only small amounts of money.

In general you will find people hospitable and friendly. Personal security in Egypt is rarely an issue at all, and Cairo is considered one of the safest cities in the world. Visitors can comfortably walk at night along main city streets. However, it is recommended that a tighter hold on purses and wallets is kept when wandering round bazaars and it is advisable for women in particular to dress more conservatively out of respect for local customs when in more traditional areas or small towns.

Taxis are a relatively cheap method of travel, but you should ensure you take a licensed taxi. Always agree the price before your journey and do not pay until you reach your destination. Drivers normally expect a 10% tip.

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