Currency in Egypt
The Currency in Egypt is the
Egyptian pound ( referred by LE - Livre Egyptienne) and it is divided into 100
piaster. In Arabic it is called Genaeh. Here you will find Half and one Pound
notes and various sized coins . At present $1 dollar is equivalent to 17.80
In Egypt most of the banks are open
from Sunday to Thursday; working hours being 0830 to 1400 though banks at the
airports and the major entry ports are open 24 hours daily.
Note: Most of the major credit/debit cards such as American
Express MasterCard Visa all Euro cards and JCB are widely accepted in various
hotels and shops. If you want to use an ATM machine they mostly accept Visa
MasterCard and Cirrus cards. If you can't find an ATM machine in your vicinity
you can still obtain cash if you go to any of the Misr Bank branches. Banks are
unwillingly to accept $100 notes issued before 1992. If you wish to convert
your currency you can use $US UK or Euros as they are accepted in many banks
and other places. TIP: Don't change your $ or Euro until you arrive in
Egypt the conversion rate is much better here!
Please don't bring Scottish pounds
Irish punts and New Zealand dollars etc. as they are not accepted in Egypt! You
will find plenty of banks at the airport and several foreign currency exchange
offices. Your duty free goods must be purchased within 48 hours after arrival.
If you at any point during your tour
run out of money and your credit cards are not accepted you still can get money
wired to you from abroad. In Egypt there are plenty of Western Union branches;
it takes just a few minutes to get any sum of money sent to you from abroad.
Egypt as a tourist cannot be
compared with other countries. Things are cheaper here. Even entry fees to the
sites are cheaper than many other countries. Flying to Egypt is cheaper from
many tourist destinations around the world. Nowadays you can even get an organized
package trip for $500 with accommodation!
Often I will advice travellers to
avoid getting taxis to tour the sites. What do you expect from a local taxi
driver who cares nothing but how much you will pay him at the end of your trip?
This is the job of a travel agency or a local licensed guide to do.
Today there are so many travel
agencies in Australia and the UK that offer very cheap trip they are very well
organized. You picked up the choice to do it on your own! Then you must be
Hints and Tips
- If you must take a taxi then it would be best if you
asked the reception/ concierge of your hotel to get you one. They have
certain assigned taxis that they know very well and deal with on a daily
basis If you want to tour a site on your own you have to be aware of where
you are going how much you are going to pay for the ticket and what is
included with the ticket! This is the reason I built my information site:
- To help first time travellers to Egypt. If you want to dine
out then you must know where the recommend restaurants are and where you
will find the clean healthy food. Don't consider the price even if you
dine in a 5 star hotel it is still cheaper than in your own
country!Independent travel for your 1st experience is not advised. I have
explained elsewhere about how "Lonely Planet" gives the wrong
impression. I have spoken to many people who have tried it this way and
wish they had gone as part of a group (I do not mean a package holiday groups
can be arranged when you get there!).
- First and foremost prepare yourself for a culture
shock! Many seasoned travellers are amazed when they first visit Egypt and
find that it is unlike any other country that they have previously
- Egypt is a Muslim country so please respect their
faith. Many things that you take as the norm such as kissing and/or
fondling your partner in public wearing revealing clothing etc. are
frowned upon here so try and be more conservative in your attitude.
Homosexuality is actually illegal in Muslim countries!
- Have a look at the ask-aladdin forum to get more
hints and tips from other travelers. If you have any questions before your
trip ask on the forum no matter how trivial you may feel the question is.
- Do not rely solely on travel books such as Lonely
Planet and Rough Guide. Though they do give a lot of good information they
do not explain everything or how to help if you get into problems. Too
many people have come to Egypt armed with one of these books and have left
totally disappointed with their trip vowing never to return again!
- If you are travelling alone or in a couple and wish to
organise everything yourself please let the hotel know your plans before
you leave. If you should get lost the hotel will be able to act on your
behalf! Also take a note of the hotel's name and telephone number in case
you do get lost or change your plans.
- If you wish to organise everything yourself be prepared
for the occasional "rip-off". Like many other tourist
destinations Egypt has its "wolves" those who prey on
unsuspecting travellers. Often the total cost of an excursion can be a lot
more than if you had arranged it through your hotel or a travel agent and
a lot less enjoyable.
- Never drink the tap water! It is okay to wash shower
and clean your teeth with it but not advised to drink. Bottled water is
cheap and plentiful; use it instead!
- In Egypt they drive on the right be careful when
crossing roads. Take special care in Cairo where the traffic is a lot
busier than in other Egyptian cities â€“ especially outside the Egyptian
museum! UK and Japanese travelers should be extra careful as you will be
used to traffic driving on the left.
- Get your entry visa at your destination airport; it
often works out cheaper than getting it at home. Also you can exchange
your $ £ or Euro at the same time the conversion rate is far better
- If you are going to be using the Abela Sleeper Train
service please try and make your reservation in advance. For help with
this try here.
- Internal flights by Egypt Air must be booked in advance
- Get to know the other guests in your hotel many of them
will give you advise about what and whatnot to do. They should also be
able to tell you where the best restaurants and bargain centers are; no
one will knowingly recommend a bad place!
- Ask your hotel's reception desk for help and/or advise.
They will know the best taxis tour companies etc. and will let you know.
Some hotels can also take bookings for excursions.
- Do not be scared of being part of a group for
excursions. These groups have leaders (a tour guide and/or Egyptologist)
who will help with problems explain about the site you are visiting
arrange transport (if necessary!) etc. things you would find difficult if
you tried it alone. You will also find that you will get less hassle if
you are part of a group! Many traders will not approach a group of people
but they will approach a lone traveller or a couple.
- When you pay for a group excursion the price includes
everything except for tips (sometimes admission prices are not included).
This includes transport a driver a tour guide tolls etc. Some longer
excursions may even include a stop for lunch (often included in the price
too). Many will take you to places where Ancient crafts are still
practised giving you the chance to buy good quality merchandise at low
- Buy (and drink) plenty of water. You will find it a lot
cheaper to buy in the various shops than buying at your hotel or cruise
boat. You may not drink a lot of water at home but make sure you do in
Egypt. It is very easy to become dehydrated if you don't.
- Remember that Egypt is a 3rd world country and has many
poor people who think that all tourists are rich no matter where they come
from in the world! Learn the phrase "La Shukran" (No thank you!)
and don't be afraid to say it to anyone who tries to sell you anything or
asks for "baksheesh". Believe it or not it does work. Please do
not say "Emshi" (as many tour books advise) this can be taken as
- If you forget the expression "La Shukran"
just politely say "No thank you" and walk away. Don't get
abusive to the trader; he is only trying to feed his family.
- If you feel that someone is being too pushy let a
member of the Tourist Police know. You will see them everywhere in Egypt
and their job is to protect you.
- Admission to all sites is payable in LE so make sure
that you carry enough with you. Try and plan each day in advance work out
how much you will need for admissions and keep this money separate from
your spending money.
- If you want to go on a felucca trip be careful! Again
ask for advise from your hotel first to find out the best captain to approach.
Unfortunately there have been reports of some captains demanding extra
money for the return leg of a journey or demanding to take you somewhere
else first! While this is not the norm it does occasionally happen.
- You will find that many tours (especially to the desert
sites) are done either early morning or late afternoon. The reason for
this is because of the heat in the middle of the day. If you do want to
visit sites independently please try and follow the example of the
experienced tour organisers and avoid the midday sun!
- Be prepared for delays when entering some sites.
Because of the threat of terrorism you will have your personal belongings
(camera bags carrier bags etc.) searched before gaining admittance. Though
this is annoying it is for your safety! Also on some sites they may find
video equipment which they will take from you. Don't worry you will get it
back! It is just that certain sites do not allow video's to be used.
- Take a small pocket flashlight with you when visiting
the sites. Many tombs temples etc. use the natural light for illumination
(including a local with a large mirror reflecting the light!) and a small
flashlight can be very handy. A small mirror such as the one in a ladies
make-up can also be used to highlight a relief. Please Note: Do not take
one of the really bright halogen torches you could cause damage to the
- Once developed for cleaning the parts underneath a
babies nappy / diaper "Wet Wipes" (the small damp tissue usually
bought in a plastic tub) are becoming more and more popular with adults.
They are also very useful when travelling in Egypt. When you have felt the
relief's in a Temple touched the hieroglyphs in a Tomb caressed the stones
on the Pyramids etc. you only have to take one of these wipes out to instantly
clean your hands. No more looking for a washroom!
- Make up a small "medical-kit" before you go!
Include things like safety pins plasters (different sizes) antiseptic
cream diarrhoea tablets headache tablets and sun cream (high factor
- Take a box of cheap ballpoint pens. The children (and
many adults) are very happy when you hand them out handy for baksheesh.
- When shopping for bargains keep your own currency and
credit cards out of sight and separate from your LE. It is easier to
haggle over a price if you can show that you have only a few Egyptian
pounds in your possession! Plus some traders may try and insist that they
meant $ or £ instead of LE if they see that you are carrying them.
- Wear sensible footwear when visiting the various sites.
High heels and open toe shoes are not advisable. The floors of most sites
are either sand or rough-cut uneven stone. Inside many tombs wooden
floorboards have been installed but thin heels could get caught in the
gaps between the floorboards.
- Many monuments have signs that say " No Flash
Photography" please obey these signs (you can be ejected from the
site if you ignore the sign!). The very bright flash can cause serious
damage to some of the ancient paintwork!
- Some reliefs have depictions that show male genitalia
â€“ this is not pornography so there is no reason to be offended! If you
are part of a group (of any size) the leader/guide will explain the reason
for the depiction.
- If you are travelling by road to Abu Simbel ask your
hotel or cruise boat if they supply a "breakfast box". Some
hotels do this as they cannot supply you with a breakfast before you
depart. If they do not do this service take some food with you as hunger
will set in before you reach Abu Simbel (a 3½ - 4 hour trip each way!)
Also make sure you take plenty of water with you; it tends to be hot here
and you can dehydrate very quickly.
- When visiting the West Bank sites at Luxor again take
plenty of water with you! You will be there for either Â½ day or a whole
day (with a break for lunch) and it can become very hot drink a lot of
water to avoid dehydration!
- Ladies if you intend visiting the inside of one of the
pyramids please wear trousers (or jeans). You may have to ascend/descend
ladders and/or crawl through narrow passages. For the same reasons I would
advise men to avoid wearing short trousers.
- Public transport (town bus services and in Cairo the
Metro!) in Egypt is very cheap but try and avoid it if you can. You will
only put yourself into an awkward position having many locals staring and
talking about you. Taxis are not expensive so use these for travelling
about town. Your hotel will let you know the best companies to use.
- If you on a "multi-centre" holiday and you
will be returning to your first hotel before your departure arrange to
leave some of your luggage and items you have bought with the hotel. Most
hotels offer this service free of charge (or for a very low cost) and it
saves you having to carry too much to your next destinations.
- When you have paid your entry into the Egyptian Museum
and received your ticket (s) a "guide" offering his services
will approach you. These "guides" are not employed by the museum
they are freelance. Most of the museums exhibits are not labeled so the
chances are you will not know one from another. A guidebook is available
from the museum but it is up to you if you want to employ one of these
"guides". If you decide to do so make sure you haggle for a good
low price so that if he is useless you have not wasted much money. You
could even try and form a group of visitors to share the cost! To avoid
this problem in the first place ask at your hotel for advise on getting a
- At most sites especially if you are alone or in a
couple a "guide" offering to show you around may approach you.
To these people you should say "La Shukran" or "no thank
you"! The Egyptian Government does not employ any guides at any of
the sites and monuments! Again ask at your hotel for help before you visit
- Do not buy anything from the traders inside the Giza Plateau!
The items they are trying to sell you can be bought a lot cheaper at
places like the Khan El-Khalili. Also beware the many people offering you
camel rides as they are not all genuine! Head for the main stables if you
want a camel ride or better still arrange one at your hotel.
- If you go to the Citadel try and ignore the traders
selling "papyrus" pictures as the "papyrus" is made
from banana leafs they are not genuine papyrus! Also if you buy some from
one trader another will approach selling you "pictures that the other
man did not have"! To get mementos here there are some stalls between
the bus park and the old bank where the traders are better to deal with
and not so pushy.
- Many people to save money use the express train service
Cairo - Luxor/Aswan - Cairo. This is a long journey though it is
comfortable (and the scenery is breathtaking!). Before boarding the train
make sure you take some food with you as the supplies "on-board"
run out very quickly and are not replenished. A book is often advised to
help pass the time. Make sure you get the 1st Class air-conditioned
express train (normally tourists have no option â€“ the lower class
carriages are for locals only!). They are non-smoking but you can smoke in
the entrance/exit area!
- Do not feel that 5 star hotels are always the best!
There are many 3 star hotels that are Egyptian owned and run that offer
the same facilities as the big multi-national ones sometimes they offer a
better service and in most cases a lot friendlier!
- We at Ask Aladdin advise against the idea of a felucca
trip between Aswan and Luxor (Esna) unless you are really intent on
sleeping under the stars and eating food that is not of the best standard.
Many of these little felucca tip over due to the strong wind and you will
end up losing all your luggage in the bottom of the Nile. We recommend
using big Cruise boats they can do the same trip with better sleeping
accommodation and first class food!
- And finally: Please do not let this list put you off going
to Egypt. It has been compiled from questions that people regularly ask
and complaints that travelers have experienced. This list is to help make
your visit as enjoyable as possible.