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Practical information about Egypt

Weather in Egypt
The land where the sun always shines is blessed with the waters of the Mediterranean and Red Sea and benefits from excellent year-round weather conditions: temperate dry summers and relatively cool, but sunny winters with just an odd rainy day in December and January. Though winter days may be warm, nights can have a desert chill.

Temperatures
Month Type Cairo
Min/Max
Alexandria
Min/Max
Luxor
Min/Max
Aswan
Min/Max
Hurghada
Air/Water
Sharm
Air/Water
Jan/Feb C
F
8/21
47/69
9/19
49/67
5/25
42/78
8/26
46/79
24/18
75/64
24/18
75/64
March/April
C
F
11/28
52/83
11/23
52/75
10/32
51/95
12/36
54/97
26/25
79/77
26/25
79/77
May/June C
F
17/34
63/95
16/28
62/83
20/41
69/107
21/41
71/107
35/28
95/82
35/28
95/82
July/Aug C
F
21/35
71/95
22/30
73/87
23/41
74/107
24/42
76/108
40/28
107/84
40/28
107/84
Sept/Oct C
F
19/29
68/89
28/29
65/85
18/38
65/101
19/39
66/103
32/27
95/81
32/27
95/81
Nov/Dec C
F
10/24
51/75
11/24
52/75
8/29
45/85
10/30
50/86
26/23
79/73
26/23
79/73

Documents
Your passport should be valid at least 6 months beyond your stay.
Please inquire about your particular visa requirements at your local consulate/embassy. For most foreign nationals a visa stamp may be issued for 15 USD at the bank in the arrival hall at the airport of entry. Glue the stamp on an empty page of your passport and proceed with your arrival card filled out to the immigration lines.
A single-entry visa allows one entry into the country for a stay of one month.

Currency
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound, abbreviated as LE, which is divided into 100 piastres.
Major credit/debit cards such as American Express, MasterCard, and Visa are accepted in hotels and in many restaurants and shops. The larger hotels have an ATM machine and/or Bank. Cash payments at the hotels should be in Euros or US Dollars.

Except for the banks at the airport and in hotels which are open 24 hours daily, banks are open from Sunday to Thursday 08:30 – 14:00.



Health

In general, visitors risk few problems. For some visitors only climate and changes in diet can create health problems.

Protect your self from the sun
Drink plenty of water, apply a sun block on exposed skin and wear sun protective light-colored cotton clothing, a hat and sunglasses.

Vaccinations
Although no vaccinations are required, consult with your physician or health clinic 4-8 weeks before departure whether vaccinations are recommended.

Stomach problems
Stomach problems mainly occur because of change in climate and food. In order to avoid diarrhea, take it easy on the delicious food. Protect yourself well against the heat of the sun and avoid extreme changes in temperature by turning the air-conditioning on low.
Diarrhea can occur as a side effect of malaria tablets. For your information: There has not been a case of malaria in Egypt for over 80 years.

Medicines
Bring a supply of any medicines you take regularly, and have a photocopy of the prescription with you. In case of the unlikely event of physical problems, your hotel or cruise boat staff will provide a doctor for you instantly.

Mosquitoes
Bring a mosquito repellent for open-air events and during Nile cruises.

Is drinking tap water safe?
Although most tap water is safe, in some places it is highly chlorinated. For your comfort, better drink bottled spring water which is available everywhere.

Food
Egyptian cookery has borrowed from every culture with which they have come into contact. Major hotels serve international cuisine and operate one or more specialized restaurants: Italian, Thai, French and Egyptian or Lebanese. Egyptians begin their day with a light breakfast and eat their large, starchy lunch around 2-5 pm. They enjoy a British-style tea in the late afternoon and eat a light supper late in the evening. Dinner parties are scheduled late, often no earlier than 9 pm with the meal served an hour or two later. In restaurants lunch is served 1-4 pm and dinner 6 pm till midnight. Most hotels maintain 24-hour coffee shops.

Native foods
Dishes are simple, made with natural ripened fruits and vegetables and seasoned with fresh spices.
Bread (aish) comes in several forms. The most common is the pita type. Try aish shams or sun bread, which is made from leavened dough and allowed to rise in the sun.
Beans (ful) are cooked and served in several ways, often with vegetables and then mashed with onions, tomatoes and spices. Formed into patties and deep-fried they are called ta’miyya or falaafil if made from chickpeas. Served with salad, pickles and bread.
Molokhiyya is a distinctively Egyptian thick soup, made from a leafy green vegetable. If you don’t like molokhiyya, try the lentil, vegetable, and fish soups, which all are delicious.
Salads (salata) can be made of greens, tomatoes, potatoes, as well as with beans or yoghurt. At the salad bars you can make a whole meal of the fresh produce. The yoghurt is fresh and unflavoured.
Egyptian style kabab is lamb seasoned in onion, marjoram and lemon juice, roasted on a spit over an open fire. Kufta is ground lamb flavoured with spices and onions, rolled into narrow meatballs and roasted like kebab. Beef is often water buffalo. Firaakh mashwi is grilled chicken. A national delicacy is Hamaam, grilled pigeons stuffed with seasoned rice. Both freshwater and sea fish are served.
Rice (ruzz) is often varied by cooking it with nuts, onions, vegetables and spaghetti.
A multitude of fruits are available year round, which are all tree or vine-ripened.
The desserts are bountiful present at the buffet style dinners and all are delicious. Pastry or puddings are usually drenched in honey syrup. Classic desserts are basbousa, a semolina pastry soaked in honey and topped with hazelnuts; Umm Ali, raisin cake soaked in milk and served hot; mahallabiyya, Egyptian rice pudding topped with pistachios.

Drinks
Drinking coffee (ahwa) is a national tradition. The strong Turkish coffee is made from finely powdered beans brewed in a small pot. Breakfast coffee in the hotels is the strong French type and is usually called Nescafe. Tea (shay) is served with milk, lemon and sugar on the side. Karkaday is a refreshing bright red native drink made of dried hibiscus flowers, served hot or cold.
Bottled water (mayya) is spring water and available everywhere. Delectable treats are the fresh fruit juices, which are made from fruit in season including strawberries and mango. You can also get drinks made of vegetables such as cucumber, tomato and carrot or in combination with fruit. Western soft drinks are widely available and popular among Egyptians.
Although almost all Egyptians refrain from drinking alcohol, beer, wine and hard liquor are available at bars and restaurants.

Egyptian People
Egyptians are easy to connect with. Over 80% of them are Muslims and believe that we are all One in God, all brothers and sisters. This awareness is very much present among these warm, generous, hospitable people. Egyptian people are spontaneous, incredible patient and forgiving, happy and humorous.

Etiquette and customs
It is a good Muslim’s duty to offer his brethren food and drink. The polite refusal is ‘Showkron, Allah y barakfeek’ (‘No thank you, Gods Grace upon you’) Consequently, to be really polite, one offers again. On the third refusal they need not offer again. Please don’t be upset by Egyptian’s seeming inability to understand that the answer is ‘no’. It may seem convoluted to the Western mind, but this is simply a different culture, and a very gracious one.

Dress code
Egypt is a conservative society and it is very much appreciated if you respect local values and dress modestly. For women the wearing of loose fitting trousers and covering the upper arms discourages unwanted attention.

Social interactions
In Egypt, the standard greeting upon someone you know, whether in business or social situations, usually includes kissing on the cheeks while shaking hands, however… only between persons of the same sex. Egyptian women, but also men, link arms, which symbolizes friendship. Male-female interaction stays on a rather formal level and male-female touching should be limited to a handshake. Kissing, fondling or other public displays of intimacy are strictly taboo in Egypt.

Language
Arabic is the official language of Egypt. High educated people and those working with tourists communicate minimally in English, but also French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Russian are widely spoken.

Tipping
Tipping is appropriate for any small service rendered. A service charge is added to most restaurant and hotel bills but a 5% tip is normally given directly to the waiter. Please also tip roomservice, porter, guide and your driver as many depend on tips for a reasonable income.

News/Newspapers
Major hotels have satellite TV with several Western News Channels like CNN and NBC.
Many Western newspapers and news magazines are available at the hotels. Among the English language publications available are USA Today, Newsweek and Time.

Phones, Fax and the Internet
The international access code for Egypt is +20. The outgoing code is 00 followed but the relevant country code.
The local mobile phone operators use GSM 900 networks and have roaming agreements with all major operators.
Fax as well as Internet services are available at the business centers in most hotels. The better hotels have Internet access in the rooms.

Electricity
The electric current is 220 Volts - 50 Hz and uses two round-pronged plugs. You might need to bring a converter and an adaptor for the plugs.

Egyptian time
Local time is GMT+2
Daylight Saving Time: GMT+3 from the last Friday in April to the last Friday in September.

How safe is Egypt?
Although the news confronts us daily with the results of extreme points of view in culture, religion and politics, in our daily lives we hardly encounter anything like this and the same is true for Egypt. The Egyptian government has taken severe measurements to protect tourists. For the latest travel advise consult the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country.

Do you have specific questions? Please contact us.