Please sign in to post.

Egypt Safety

I would love to experience and visit Egypt. I was wondering how are the safety issues in that area especially being a young female. Has anyone experienced any negative problems? Any tips or recommendations? Thank you!

Posted by
6410 posts

Who told you that; was it someone that has actually traveled there or someone that has been watching too much TV?

However, absolutely do not go by yourself. Or if you do go with a tour group.
Otherwise you will not have any problems.

I am a guy who has traveled there (Cairo to Luxor to Aswan all the way to Abu Simbel) with two ladies and another guy. The ladies were being surreptitiously groped on the crowded metro there.

Get a current guide book like Lonely Planet and read the area about precautions which covers everything.

When is this trip ?

Posted by
266 posts

I am also seriously considering a trip to Egypt in 2020, and security is a big concern. Traveling solo to Egypt is not a good idea for a lot of reasons -- general safety, getting hassled by touts, sexual assault, and scams to name a few --- especially for young females. Stay out of the Sinai and the Sahara completely.

However, if you are on a tour or have private guides throughout the trip, and you stay in the main tourist areas --- Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan --- you will probably be fine.

Dress modestly. Stay aware of your surroundings. Take out good trip insurance.

As things stand now, I am not planning to let security concerns stop me from visiting. Of course, things could change quickly.

Posted by
30931 posts

lm,

I would also highly recommend that you travel in Egypt with an organized tour group, especially being a young female. It would be a really good idea to read this carefully - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Egypt.html#/ . The Safety & Security section has lots of good information and the Local Laws & Special Circumstances section has some information for woman travellers.

Also have a look at the Health section and be sure to visit a travel medicine clinic well in advance of your trip to get any required vaccinations.

Posted by
290 posts

Egypt is a magnificent country to visit but I would agree with the suggestions of using a tour company.

I visited in 2011 (January), planning everything myself, but I did engage a local guide for my time there. She arranged airport pick up, entrance fees, aggressive vendors, haggling, the language barrier and every else. We had a fantastic hassle free time.
I am going again next month but this time I decided to use Gate1 Travel just because the country has changed so much since my last visit. Tourism is on the rise but I would not attempt to visit on my own again.
I feel more comfortable leaving it in the hands of a tour company. Gate1 one seems a little fast paced but they do hit all the must see places.
I would suggest Memphis Tours if you wish to do a cruise (the only way to see the sites along the Nile). They also do other all inclusive tours so you can look at their website and see if anything works for you. They provide great service.

It's a lovely place and you would have a great adventure but use a tour company for safety and peace of mind.

Posted by
2675 posts

I also suggest going on a tour, but am not averse to suggesting a bit of time independently. I will state my last visit was 2012 just after tours started returning after the Arab Spring, and I am an older woman so received respect and curiousity rather than hassles on my independent time before and after the tour. I later met and talked with a world traveling solo woman and she was there on her own in 2014 and by that time there was a lot more sexual harrassment as the fundamentalists were taking more control. She was young, modest and knew the ropes, but while waiting for her visa for her next country, she had to leave Luxor due to the harrassment and went to Sharm el Shak to stay in a resort to escape. She said it was really uncomfortable and she had her travel chops.
Cairo would be easier to spend some time on your own if you are close to say the Museum or the Pyramids. I did enlist a woman guide for a day in Alexandria and her driver for a half day at the Pyramids (hoping he would be a buffer from the touts but he wasn't very effective). I was very near the Museum later and walked the mall across the street, the river promenade and the Museum on my own. Traffic is crazy, so it was harder to figure out how to get across the road than avoid the touts ;-)
I know it sounds hokey, but wear mirrored sunglasses.... and ignore all men. Don't make eye contact and don't 'window shop' for trinkets....unless you are experienced in haggling and aggressive salesman.

I would also ask this question on a country specific forum like TripAdvisor. They were really helpful with on the ground current day to day details when I was deciding to go in 2012. I was on the forum frequently for some months to get the real news and when I learned elections were going to be held in November (my planned travel time), I was able to turn things around with 2 weeks' notice and go in May instead. It was really hot in the south, so isn't the ideal time, but it was a window of safety and stability that I felt more confident in actioning.
Often fear can be reduced with education. Read and lurk everywhere you can for young woman travel. Safety is as much a personal internal perception than reality and due to long planning and self educating, I rarely have a need of 'safety' for my travels through the years. I may be lucky having some height and a no nonsense way of walking and carrying myself, but I've never been a victim of anything. If you have street smarts and confidence, it goes a long way in safeguarding yourself when traveling.

Posted by
4124 posts

I visited Egypt twice, once in 1983 and again in 1985. I lived in Saudi Arabia working for the US Army Corps of Engineers and had several Egyptian friends.

This was before the Arab Spring a few years ago and the Muslim Brotherhood elected the President. Fortunately, that President lost the faith of the people and was thrown out by the military. Many Egyptian Christian churches were burned down while the MD President was in power. The current government is fighting against extremism and terrorism, but the risk is a bit higher now than in the 80s. Still, going with a tour group is the only way to go.

Prior to my visiting Egypt decades ago, my Egyptian friends warned me about getting into any taxi. They said that there was a problem with taxis taking foreign tourist out into the desert, robbing (sometimes raping) and leaving them. Some died. They said to only take taxis from your hotel or the airport where the taxi is registered and a log is made of picking you up.

Stay and dine only at a 4 or 5 star hotel or upscale restaurant. Don't drink any water unless you have an unopened new water bottle.

There have been two fairly recent incidents were tour buses were attacked by terrorists. All tour groups have armed guards, but attacks may still happen. The risk is still low, but it is there.

Egypt is loaded with amazing history, enjoy it, but be careful.

Posted by
115 posts

I have visited Egypt twice, once on a tourist tour and the other a tour organized by the Field Museum. The first tour was a great introduction to the country and and covered everything from the Cairo Museum to Abu Simbel. Egypt can be overwhelming to the first time traveller on all levels which is why a tour is recommended. On the next trip I went a few days early and organized a side trip to Alexandria with a guide and driver. I also went alone to the Egyptian Museum and enjoyed visiting it at my own pace.

Some good suggestions above about avoiding eye contact etc. And learn some basic Arabic phrases. Lonely Planet does a phrase book of Egyptian Arabic. Useful phrase is imshee - hissed it is the equivalent of get lost.....

My first trip was with Insight Travels. Excellent guide, good hotels and covered all the big sites.

Posted by
4124 posts

A few Arabic words:

La means NO
shukran means thank you

A young female should never travel alone in Egypt, unless you are with a tour group.

Never go out on the street alone. I lived in the Middle East for five years. Recommend reading a great book on Arab culture. The Arab Mind.

Posted by
290 posts

I did my first all inclusive ever tour this past April with Gate 1 Travel to Egypt.
They did a great job from beginning to end.
I highly recommend a tour because it's a lot to organize on your own
and tours make it so easy. They all follow a similar route/itinerary.
They will take the stress out of the planning and dealing with the aggressive vendors etc. making your trip far more enjoyable.
I say go to Egypt but only with a reputable tour company.

Posted by
5627 posts

And now the car bomb in Cairo, killing 20. Undecided about whether to go now.

Posted by
2675 posts

@Suki, I can understand it jarring you. But as this past weekend shows in your own country, this can happen anywhere.
Realistically, Cairo's incidents are not in tourist areas. You also need to do normal practices when traveling - avoid demonstrations and congregations of people like malls or Friday muslim gatherings.
If you go on a tour, keep in mind that tour guides don't want bad things to happen and they have a pretty good pulse on current situations.
I will admit that for my own travel in 2011, I kept daily visits to TripAdvisor Egypt forum reading what tourists and locals were doing. There were some local regulars that posted frequently and gave good honest information. British flights and vacations started back first - primarily to Sharm el Shiekh and then to Cairo. I had planned to go that November, but then they announced that would be the election so had to change plans. But there was a window of quiet and North American tours were returning, so with short notice, I booked one and went.
The point is I educated myself and kept up with local news and went on short notice when things were quiet.
Self research and education creates rational decisions and overcomes fears of the unknown.

Posted by
2 posts

My husband and I went to Egypt in November with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). It was absolutely wonderful. The advantages of a tour are: safety (our group always had an armed guard with us everywhere), ease of getting around, education (the guides are all Egyptologists and wonderful at explaining what you are looking at), people to share experiences with (OAT has a maximum of 16 people). I could go on, but I say GO! I recommend doing a little reading before you go. I wished that I'd had a better knowledge of the major pharaohs, the gods, and the history.

Posted by
5627 posts

Trying to figure out which European city to connect in. Might stay there a few days to recover from jet lag too.

Posted by
925 posts

I am amazed that some posters are encouraging travel by a lone female is ok if you do “this or that”!
I was there just before the Arab Spring on an organized tour only to watch a young woman on our tour harassed everywhere we went. Her husband could not stray from her. Once, I had to step in to help her and I was not all that young.
Don’t go on your own, not even for a walk during the day by yourself.
Take a tour and enjoy!

Posted by
5 posts

I've been there 4 times. To be hornest there is nothing to scare. Just stay in the hotel and enjoy your vacation!

Posted by
11411 posts

Just stay in the hotel ? Why bother going then ?

Travel by a young woman alone is just a “no” .

My mom went to Egypt years ago - she was almost 70 at that time - she was still counselled to wear long sleeves and pants or long skirts that cover legs ! Can’t imagine a young solo female would encounter wearing clothes less modest than that .

Posted by
16 posts

A recent newstory in Septemberr said that about 1500 locals and tourist were arrested on-the-spot in the streets. The Police approach individuals, demand to see their phones, search their history and if there are any newsarticles or emails or texts which are in their eyes Anti-government, these people were arrested right there and put in jail for several days. On NPR they covered a story about an American man who this happened to.

Posted by
350 posts

I was there in 2007 with my mother. We were on a tour with Insight and it was perfect. No one bothered either of us, in fact, I would say we were treated with paternalistic care every where we went. Of course, I was with my "mommy," and that was regularly commented upon. Security was very tight in Cairo (mirrors under cars that came onto the hotel property, scanning our bags everytime we entered the hotel) but more relaxed elsewhere. Aswan was a highlight for me in terms of sheer beauty. Our tour included a Nile cruise that was relaxing and fun way to travel between towns. I would not hesitate to go as long as you are with a tour group.

Posted by
285 posts

I've been seriously considering a 2020 tour with either Tralfagar (less expensive but with a longer Nile cruise) or Smithsonian (more expensive but likely more luxorious accomodations). I'm really on the fence regarding the safety issue for a woman even with a tour. I've dreamed of seeing the pyramids ever since I was a kid, and not getting any younger :-( this may be my last chance to go while still fit enough for climbing around ruins.

Does anyone have experience with either Tralfagar or Smithsonian in Egypt that I could use as a guidepost? Thanks!

Posted by
4943 posts

lmason219 & Debbie, we are also looking at tours to Egypt right now, and reviewing our options. I can suggest that you look at the TripAdvisor forum on the subject and also look at some of the videos of travelers on youtube. They helped set our minds at ease. There are just some things you need to be prepared for, but it sounds pretty much like what I have seen in other non-European countries.

We went to a local presentation of a tour operator we are leaning towards, that covered a lot of our concerns. The rep mentioned that Egypt has tourist police that accompany tour groups and cruises, and that security for tourists is a big deal for an economy that depends on tourism. Yes young unaccompanied females attract unwanted attention, but my observation is that is true here in the US too, maybe everywhere.

Posted by
10889 posts

Yes young unaccompanied females attract unwanted attention, but my
observation is that is true here in the US too, maybe everywhere.

Stan, then it is apparent that you are not yet prepared to understand the world.

As far as traveling in Egypt. I would read everything you can, try and get a better handle on the culture in general. Actually, while I am not trying to imply "they are all the same" you would get a lot out of having a conversation with any Muslim from the region. I work with a number, men and women. Im just naturally inquesitive so I ask questions and questions and, well, and it is amazing, that while I was "open minded", I really understood so little. And some of what I didnt realize could have impact on, maybe not safety in the most violent definition, buy at least leaving behind a perception of respect for your guests. Would I go to Egypt right now? I was hoping to go for New Year, but its not looking good at the moment for reasons that have nothing to do with safety. BUT, I would be cautious, respectful and humble when there.

Posted by
4943 posts

@ James E., yes no doubt I am still learning. And I know the threats are not the same everywhere or close to equivalent. I know that the difference between the US , Europe, and Muslim countries is more than just a degree of caution that young unaccompanied females must take. But I wanted to address the question that was asked, and the total discussion of travel ethics, the clash of civilizations, and cultural conflict is too big to be addressed here.

Posted by
10889 posts

Let’s begin with Egypt can be within my comfort zone. That statement shouldn’t mean a whole lot to anyone, because, who am I? Its only in my comfort zone because I don’t believe myself stupid. My rules are, first learn enough about the culture to minimize the risk of inadvertently being offensive (doesn’t matter if I share the values or not – I’m a guest). Second exercise heightened awareness at all times. Third, travel in the company of a local.

Stan

I know that the difference between the US , Europe, and Muslim
countries is more than just a degree of caution that young
unaccompanied females must take.

Well the question was specifically “I was wondering how are the safety issues in that area especially being a young female” and your answer was:

Yes young unaccompanied females attract unwanted attention, but my
observation is that is true here in the US too, maybe everywhere.

So you have observed here and there and you make your statement based on those observations? I doubt it. Your statement implies that a young American woman in normal Western dress for a young woman, walking alone down the street in Cairo should expect about the same response as if she were walking through a mall in Hoboken. I figure if there is someone here so blind to reality as to make such an inference then there is surely someone on this forum as equally uninformed as to believe you. That, my friend, runs a great chance in the young woman ending in a very unfortunate situation.

But I wanted to address the question that was asked, and the total
discussion of travel ethics, the clash of civilizations, and cultural
conflict is too big to be addressed here.

Im not sure where that comes from, so I will assume you stand by your statement. So I called a young lady from a country that neighbors Egypt. I asked her if she would behave the same in Egypt as she does in her hometown in the U.S. She told me she would have to be out of her %$#^& mind. Of course, that’s one opinion and as such its anecdotal. So feel free to ignore it.

Posted by
4124 posts

James,
Thank you for your candid comments.

I have been to Egypt twice as well as many Middle East countries. I lived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for five years.
Saudi Arabia is more conservative than Egypt, but Egypt has more internal security problems.

Caution is the word for anyone traveling alone in Egypt. This is magnified for women.
If you want to understand the difference between Western culture and Arab culture then read the book "The Arab Mind."

I first visited Egypt in 1983. I had Egyptian friends in Saudi Arabia that advised me to never take a taxi without registering it with you hotel. Also, never eating street food or at cheap restaurants. They said always eat at four star hotel restaurants or equivalent.

Upon my arrival at the Cairo airport, I wanted to take a taxi to the Ramasees Hilton. There was a security gate that took down the taxi driver's name and company, my name, passport number and hotel. My Egyptian friends told me that this process was to protect tourists from criminals using taxis to take tourists to the desert, raping the women and usually killing everyone. Of course, stealing anything of value. You were lucky if they just dropped you in the desert, which without water you would likely die anyway.

If you go to Egypt, take a tour and stay with the tour.

Posted by
4943 posts

@James, no, I was not at all implying that anyone could or should behave or dress the same in any other country as they do at home, or that the safety concerns were pretty much the same. I think that's a leap from what I actually said. The context of my post being that I was looking into going there too, my intent was encouraging the OP to research and find her comfort zone. My statement was intended to confirm that a heightened level of concern for safety for young females should be considered everywhere, even here in the US, and that you must be aware of differences in culture and custom.

I think geovagriffith's simple statement of "take a tour and stay with the tour" sounds like the best reply.

Posted by
10889 posts

geovagriffith,

For the most part, with a little common sense, and awareness of the norms of a cultural there aren't many places you cant visit with an acceptably low risk; or at least within my risk tolerance. Not sure why you would want to "experience" the most extreme cultures no matter what the safety. But each to their own. But people should be aware, even if it means overly cautious. Take this for instance, is it a one-off thing or slightly more common or terribly common? I really don't have the experience or the resources to know so I would say its prudent to to assume "common" and structure your trip and expectations accordingly. https://stepfeed.com/egyptian-teen-kills-attacker-in-act-of-self-defense-but-she-s-still-detained-0354 I was in Istanbul a few years ago, and I was stunned to learn that a country as progressive (for an Islamic country) as Turkey was still had honor killings. The news media at the time was lamenting the most recent one and the statistics they presented were 350 a year in Istanbul alone. That's nearly every day. And the causes for the killings ranged from the most egregious acts to some pretty innocent stuff by Western standards. I don't know the parallel between a man killing his daughter for holding hands with a Christian and that man's same reaction upon seeing a Western girl in a short skirt standing "too close" to an Egyptian man on a street corner.

As for Egypt. I was there in 1979, shortly after the Camp David accords that brought peace between Israel and Egypt. Sadat was/is one of my heroes. The man had vision and was brave, and he paid the price for that bravery. The Egyptian people were amazingly kind to me those few weeks. Its a trip I will never forget. But even at that young age, I knew enough to draw some pretty tight boundaries. I am looking forward to a return trip.

Posted by
86 posts

I was booked to go to Egypt in 2011 and ended up cancelling because the whole Arab Spring broke out. Didn’t think about trying to book again until now. Attacks have happened in a London, Paris, Brussels, Madrid. All places I have been to since. So, I fell something could happen anywhere and the time is right for me.

I’m using Exodus Travels for my trip.

Posted by
7 posts

My sister and I (female) traveled together to Egypt in April 2019. We did a few days in Cairo and then took the night train to and from Luxor and spent two days there. In neither places were we bothered, outside the usual "taxi" "felucca" "caleche" "West Bank? East Bank?" In fact, the person we ended up booking as a driver to explore the east bank in Luxor gave us his price and his phone number and told us to think about it and get in touch with him if the price was right. We said no and "la shukran" quite a bit and you have to, in general, be OK saying no over and over and over again, but really, once we said no thank you, they moved on to the next person. We did quite a bit of walking around both in Cairo and in Luxor and having Uber in Cairo is really nice so that you don't have to haggle if that makes you uncomfortable. I'd be happy to answer any questions that you or anyone else thinking about traveling alone might have.