When I started planning my trip to Egypt everyone I told had a remark about how unsafe it was. Even the well traveled flight attendants I had asked, told me that they enjoyed their time in Egypt but they would never go back. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I was preparing myself for the worst. Now, after traveling through Egypt for myself I can give you my honest opinion.
Egypt is completely safe! I mean really…I do not see what people were talking about. As a young female traveler I am usually extra cautious as it is, and maybe it helped to have a friend with me, but if you use the common sense you would use when traveling anywhere, then you should have no problems in Egypt.
For this trip, we visited Cairo (Cairo blogpost), Luxor, and Hurghada. Each city had a totally different atmosphere and it is hard to compare them all to each other, but I will let you know what my personal experience was with each.
If you are interested in my full breakdown of Cairo you can click the link in the paragraph above and it will show you all the amazing activities we were able to fit into one day. Since I have explained so much about Cairo in that post already, I am just going to point out the things that could be taken negatively by tourists:
- Cairo is the busiest city we visited
- The traffic is HORRENDOUS. It took us 2 hours to go 12 miles once and the driving is chaos! They don’t stay in the lines, pedestrians walk in the middle of the street, and cars stop instantly within inches of each other.
- Cafes are actually Hookah bars. Many of these cafes are males only so if you are a female I would avoid them unless escorted by a local male.
- If you are out without a guide people will try to lure you into their shops or offer information for you. Keep in mind that NOTHING is free in Egypt. Any time someone helps you they expect compensation.
If you go into Cairo with this in mind, you will be prepared for the actual conditions of your vacation. Do not let people who have never been to a country tell you about its conditions (one of my biggest pet peeves). Nobody tried to steal from us, nobody tried to physically harass us, and for the most part people took no as an answer. Occasionally people would try to insist on helping us by offering to be a guide, but if you stick to your guns and aren’t rude, they will backdown. Overall, I would definitely go back to visit Cairo! If you read my Cairo post you know I had a shorter visit than expected, but there is a lot to do there and we made friends with some great people who were so welcoming! Obviously if you come to Egypt you will want to see the pyramids, so Cairo will definitely be on your list! Aside from the museums and pyramids though Cairo is just a busy city. Fun, but busy. However, don’t let what people tell you scare you off! It truly is a great place to visit!
Luxor was a smaller city and the first thing Erica and I noticed was the change in traffic! The driving was a lot milder here than it was in Cairo and we were so grateful for that! Luxor was a very easy city to walk around in and we were able to navigate on our own just fine. As we walked around though we did have more people stopping us to offer tours and rides places but again we simply said no and were able to move right along. The highlights and tips I have for Luxor are:
- If you want to do a hot air balloon ride don’t wait until your last day. The weather changes quickly and our first ride was canceled and we had to rebook it for the next day.
- The city is divided between East and West Bank. West Bank I recommend doing a tour for, the East Bank can be self guided.
- Do NOT give money/food to people on the street. This was the only time I saw things escalate during my time in Egypt and that is because if one person sees you giving stuff for free to someone then others will want what you are giving as well. It created a problem with the kids when a boy in our group tried to give them snacks.
- Ask in advance what prices you should expect for things. If you know what the average price is from a local you won’t get ripped off. The best people to ask are the employees at your hotel/hostel for unbiased rates for transportation, tours, and food
If you are a history buff then you could probably spend 4 days in Luxor. If not, 2-3 days is fine. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the tombs and temples in Luxor, we even got to see the mummy of King Tut, but spending 1 day in East bank and 1 day in West Bank was enough. Luxor is very small and you will run out of things to do pretty quickly there. I loved my time in Luxor but will probably not go back simply because there is not much to do. However, what they do have to offer is unforgettable and you must go to see it!
I loved, loved, loved Hurghada! Hurghada is also very small but a bit more modern compared to Luxor. There were many foreigners who lived in Hurghada and they seemed to have a wider variety of accommodations and food options to please all different types of people. I will say though that if you aren’t a beach person then you probably won’t have much to do in Hurghada. Since we had been traveling in hostels and been on the go constantly, it was great for us to take a break, get a tan, and enjoy relaxing for a couple days before heading to Amman. Notes to keep in mind for Hurghada are:
- There are 2 areas in Hurghada. The resort area (which we stayed in) and the city of Hurghada. The resort area is expensive and isolated, but for a short visit it was perfect.
- Scuba diving in the Red Sea was incredible! You can find very affordable tours and even if you aren’t certified you will be able to dive!
- If you stay near the resort area I would recommend bringing your own gear to snorkel if you can. Renting was almost as expensive as our whole scuba dive, however the coral reefs were worth the price.
- Be prepared for beach days and water sports during your stay, but other than that, Hurghada doesn’t have much to offer.
If you do a longer trip I would recommend doing Hurghada either in the middle or at the end of the trip so you can relax. I think the reason I enjoyed it so much is because it truly felt like a vacation. We just were able to tan, relax, read and soak up all the luxurious amenities that a resort area has to offer! The best part Hurghada seemed like the safest place in Egypt that we went!
Now my friend and I are finishing up our trip in Jordan, but I really wanted to write this post to share with people a little more insight on what Egypt is actually like. As I said before, do not listen to people who say Egypt is unsafe, especially if they have not even been to Egypt. It is a poorer country and you will find many things that are different from your everyday life. However, our safety never felt in jeopardy and I actually didn’t even mind the endless offers of camel rides or tour guides. Personally, I had more respect for these people than the beggars in America because at least they were trying to offer a service. They are extremely hard workers and if you take the time to get to know them, you will see that the people of Egypt are welcoming and accepting of visitors!
Once I get back I will be posting a FULL itinerary for this entire trip that will include everything!!! The places we stayed, what we did, and the total cost for every single day! I truly hope that one day everyone will get to make these same wonderful memories in Egypt that I have! Stay tuned!