My husband, myself, and two children (girl 14 and boy 16) are to going to Cairo and Luxor to see the ancient sights at the beginning of July. I am reading so many different view points on traveling to Egypt, I'm not sure what to believe. With that being said, should we plan to visit this region. I would like to know who has been been recently and if it is safe. Will my daughter and I be harassed? (I'm not to worried about myself, I'm 56, but my daughter) Should we book a your person to show us around once we get there. (We are staying at the Hilton World Trade in Cairo and Pavillion Winter Hotel in Luxor). Can the Hotels take care of day guides for us or can we do it independently? Should we eat only at the Hotels? I'm almost to a point of cancelling this particular journey. (We are doing Greece and Italy as well). My husband thinks I'm being insane and that 8 mil. tourists go to Egypt a year and he thinks I'm being paranoid. We are also flying EyptianAir to and from Cairo to Luxor......
OK I went 2010 in January which is perfect weather wise. Coming from a Chicago I can not conceive of going in July,
Our hotel set us up with a trip from Cairo to Luxor to Aswan to Abu Simbel and back. That worked out well.
It is generally cheaper to set that up locally. I traveled with two ladies and they were groped in the crowded subway a couple of times. There is a separate metro car for women who may be alone on the subway but we did not realize that at first.
The two ladies I traveled with attracted a lot of attention on the streets. The little boys are just not use to seeing women in public with their hair uncovered and the form fitting jeans on or legs showing. But this may be different since your daughter is only 14 and will be with your and your husband.
Have you checked the US State Dept site for safety info? It says that "harassment of women remains a serious problem". I don't think I would want to expose a 14 yr old girl to that possibility.
We were there in March of this year with a tour group. I travelled without my husband (although still with some of our group and guide) in Old Cairo. I was not harassed. Nor did I ever feel unsafe. The touts trying to sell you stuff throughout Egypt are super annoying, however. Just say La shokrun (no thank you) and keep walking. My suggestion if you are not with a guide would be to take a taxi to and from the sites in Cairo. I would suggest flying from Cairo to Luxor. It is much quicker. We ate everything including salads in Egypt but only ate at really good hotels and restaurants. We never got sick. Do not drink the water or even brush your teeth with it. Follow the dress code of the locals which is modest. Shoulders and knees covered. Nothing clingy. No cleavage or booty showing. Contact the hotels you are staying at and ask if they can arrange guided tours. If not, I have a friend who has a company called High End Journeys in Egypt who does private tours (It is called “high end” but not that expensive). His name is Ahmed Aziz and he is an absolute love. I am sure if you travel with his company you will be well looked after. You can check out his website and see if you could arrange something with his company for your time in Egypt. As was mentioned above, it is going to be hot in Egypt at that time of year. We loved Egypt and I hope you will, too. I hope this helps.
Thank you for the 3 responses so far.... We live in Southern Calif in the high desert between LA and San Diego. Avg. summer days are 95 to 105. Last year we were at 110-113 for a week. I think we will be okay with tolerating the heat. We have been traveling to Central America for years (Nicaragua and surrounding countries) so we understand 3rd world countries and poverty. (Also eating habits, even though I got Amoebic dysentery last time down there. And I got it from a high end restaurant. I let my guard down and ate ceviche) But that's after 18 yrs traveling down there for 4 to 6 weeks at a time. Our State Dept. Has a level 2 for travel, which is not a scare for us. (Most countries are at that level and I'm sure the United States is too.) I guess I'm more worried about the harassment and personal safety by locals to myself and children. The agressive behavior that people are talking about is very concerning to me. Terrorism is also on my mind (i know that it is worldwide concern now)
Thank you Mary!!! I just saw your post.....
Do a search for other posts here about Egypt. though many responses are not recent. Few have1st hand negative experience. They enjoyed their trips.
It can be very hot. I went May 2011 and though Cairo was comfortable, by the time i got to abu simbel, the day was 50C.....122F You aren't going that far south but it will be hot.
Regardless, how were you thinking to get to Luxor? In Luxor and in Cairo, it wouldn't hurt to hire guides. There is a woman guide in Cairo I used and she may have a connection in Luxor.
Understand that more exposed skin doesn't make you cooler. Practice conservative dress, and (as much as it galls me) a meeker woman's demeanor around men. Sunglasses reduce eye contact. Smiles and open conversation is better left at home....as well as direct gazes. It is less a problem with guides and more from the sellers looking to make a quick buck from some soft hearted tourist.
Cairo has a women's only subway car, but just use taxis as a family, and there is little reason for your daughter to be out on her own. That maybe the more vulnerable time.
Thousands of tourists go every year and are not molested or harassed. Keep as a family. Start off with a guide until you get over the comfort shock and consider the valuable lessons you are offering both your impressionable son and daughter. They will learn that American ways don't rule and adapting to local custom has its place. Also, that despite differences, the world is a wonderful place and every country contributes to that.
Helping your daughter gain experience and empowering an interest goes a long way for preparing her to live as an independent fearless woman. You can set the example of adapting out of respect rather than fear. Perhaps along the way you will overcome your own trepidation. In the meantime you have to walk the walk for your daughter's sake.
I would not cancel the trip.
I'm pleased to see you considering Egypt, and I'm pleased to see others encouraging you to go!
I lived in Egypt as a teenager (I'm male, and from the US, but my parents worked there), graduated from high school there, and loved it so much that after coming to the US for college I simply had to make my way back for a year of college in Cairo. I've traveled back several times since then, though my most recent trip back was several years ago.
As others have mentioned, modest dress is worthwhile. In Egypt, it's common enough for women to leave their hair uncovered, but exposing shoulders or having pants that don't extend below the knees are very uncommon and will attract unwanted attention.
Keep in mind that some of what often leaves Westerners feeling somewhat uncomfortable in Egypt is entirely harmless, and simply comes down to different standards of and views on personal space. People maintain eye contact longer, and it's not uncommon for folks to want to stare at someone. Handshakes last longer, people stand closer during conversation - what some who aren't used to such things might feel is creepy is just entirely benign. Having said that, there's no denying females can occasionally find themselves on the receiving end of unwelcome attention, but I certainly wouldn't say that translates in to rampant catcalls and groping and such. Honestly, even your son will be on the receiving end of stares since he's a western teenager - I was a 16 year old in Egypt once too, and when I'd ride the metro or walk or even skateboard around town I was different enough looking that people would want to stare or even strike up conversations with me because I was a novelty. It would be wise to have your daughter travel around with you (and not head out and about on her own). Honestly, Egyptian respect and regard for family would make it highly unlikely anyone would say or do something inappropriate to someone when they're with family.
I would suggest a guide for lots of things. Occasionally, at various spots around Egypt, signage can be lacking, people will come up looking for bakshish or to sell you things you don't want or need, if you are a family traveling alone you'll have random people offering to come up and be your tour guide, etc. Having a guide will help deal with all of that - they'll be sure others don't bother you or try to aggressively sell you things, know where to go and how to get there most quickly, and you'll have a knowledgeable local to share fascinating insight and information about Egypt and the sights with you.
is someone who I've seen friends from Egypt recommend to others on Facebook, though I can't say I have ever used them personally.
Egypt is an amazing place, packed full of amazing people. Just knowing you're considering going has me excited for you and your family!
Egypt is one place where you should not visit without a guide for added safety, and for the educational value of the history of the places you will visit.
Don’t think for a minute that your experience with 113 degree weather at home will prepare you for the heat in Egypt. It won’t! I’m sure you aren’t outside much in 113 degree weather at home but you will be in Egypt.
Dehydration happens fast and you will need to carry plenty of water.
Street vendors are very aggressive and can follow you for a distance.
I always cringe when a poster touts “never feeling unsafe!” You don’t know what you don’t know!
A good thing to remember when traveling in areas with poor sanitary conditions is to not drink the water and eat or drink anything cooked that isn’t hot. Skip salads and most fruits you don’t peel yourself.
We ate in upscale restaurants and hotels. All meals were provided by the tour and the food was excellent. Everyone got sick but the oldest person (80) and the two twenty somethings.
Have a great trip! It was one of my favorite vacations.
I backpacked Egypt for 2 weeks in nov and stayed in hostels .
I hate the heat so I would melt in july but you all ready know what you are in for
I felt safe but im a 6'2 male but crap happens anywhere at anytime so use common sense no matter what country or city you are in
myself and a 75 year old lady walked from the train station to the main bizarre and just got stared at and few pics taken of us
we also were out on night late and felt ok walking the side streets
I would download the uber app for Egypt (cant remember what it is)
and maps.me so you can navigate offline
I eat street food in every country but take the usual precautions
I took the train from cairo to luxor , nile river cruise from luxor to aswan (cheaper to book there) then Egypt air from aswan to cairo and they were fine and treated ne great when a dust storm caused me to miss my connection
Egypt is much safer since the military kicked out the radical Muslim Brotherhood President. However, the MB terrorists are still active in Egypt. They have targeted tourists. A few weeks ago an IED exploded killing tourists. Your chance of being attacked is still low, but I would advise against going it alone. Tours are inexpensive. Don't just get into any taxi, have your hotel take care of that and they will find a reputable taxi and take down the taxi's registration.
Even in 1983 when I first visited Egypt on my way back to my job in Saudi Arabia, my Egyptian friends warned me about taking a taxi from the airport. They said that taxis were taking people from the airport to the desert, robbing them and other nasty things. Many of these people died. When I flew in to Cairo, the airport security took down the taxi driver's ID, and where I was going to insure that didn't happen to me.
Also, don't even think about dining on street food in Egypt or drinking the tap water. Suggestion is to dine only in a 4 star hotel quality restaurant.
Women should never travel alone, especially on the streets.
I lived in the Middle East for five years and am familiar with the culture and its people. I love the Egyptian people and had several friends from there, but you must take care.
Egypt will be one of the best places you have ever been. When the Romans took over Egypt the civilization was already three thousand years old.
What you mention about how truly ancient many of the monuments and sights in Egypt are can’t be overstated. Think about how many of us have marveled at the monuments of ancient Rome. Well, the ancient Romans marveled at the monuments of Egypt! The pyramids of Giza were more ancient to the builders of the Roman Colosseum than the Colosseum is to us. That’s a truly remarkable thought.
On the food and water front, when I lived in Egypt (and in times I’ve visited since) I’d even brush my teeth with bottled water just to be safe. And in terms of street food and restaurants outside of hotels, while I’m sure there are countless street carts that are perfectly safe, it’s just not a risk worth taking when it comes to the effort and expense of traveling all the way there. As much as I want to say enjoy whatever you want and despite all the delicious street side shawerma to be had in Cairo, I’d hate to have someone lose a few days of their vacation because they’re stuck sick in their hotel room. So best to play it safe. Outside of hotels and not including street food, I don’t doubt your hotel concierge can recommend places that they know are viable options. Cairo is a major, bustling metropolis and talented restauranteurs have set up shop there just like in any other big city.
If you have spent years in southern countries, you are better prepared than many others who go to Egypt. (I was typing my earlier reply as you were posting yours). Your gut may be more acclimated than many, but it is prudent to take precautions. I made the mistake of eating tabulleh at the mall where my guide stopped us for dinner. Yep, Nile Bile as a friend used to call it. I suffered for a while, then met the group tour I had arranged to join. They got the hotel to send out to a pharmacy for some meds and it wonderfully efficient. I carried it every trip with me until it became too out of date. Later ate at a restaurant in a mall across from the hotel. I followed the cook it, peel it or forget it practice and was fine. Otherwise meals were from the hotels or cruise ship.
I spent days before and after the tour on my own in Cairo. I used a private guide to get me to Alexandria and her driver for the Pyramids, but was fine walking the tourist zone on my own.
The sellers are going to be the biggest hassle.....and trying to cross streets. Pedestrians typically do not have right of way 😉
Remember the Boston Marathon? Terrorism can be anywhere. If concerned, use the recommendation of avoiding large crowds of people including malls.
We have been to Egypt 3 times in the last few years, definitely hire a guide and driver for the educational / time value. The driver will get you around much faster in a wild traffic system. If you are going to Karnak and The Valley of the Kings have a few tip coins for each burial vault. There are guides there to assist. We are pondering an additional trip there. Go for it.
My husband and I, both in our 70's, went on a 12 day Trafalgar tour in February. We travel independently in most places, but not where we can't read the language (China, Turkey, African countries). We had a fantastic time, with Spring Tours, the local company Trafalgar uses. We were there during perfect weather time (highs in high 60's, low 70's; lows at night in mid 50's). You will have really hot weather there, but if you are on a Nile cruise part of the time, evenings will be great with a river breeze. We were never harassed and the people were friendly and gracious. Even the beautiful, young single girl in our group was not given any problems. Granted, we were spoiled with a terrific and knowledgable guide who looked after us, but I recommend a trip to Egypt wholeheartedly. As in many countries, there will be souvenir hawkers who will pester you. Just don't make eye contact or speak with them and keep walking. It feels rude to us Americans not to acknowledge someone who speaks to you, but be firm and don't engage, as our Egyptian guide told us. As for sightseeing, I would definitely get a guide who can enhance your experience by explaining the artwork, history and culture of all that you will see. Our guide was a college teacher who led tours every few weeks and brought the country alive for us. In old Cairo, near the Hanging Church, don't miss the Coptic Museum and St. George's church, and Abu Serga, all easily visited in a morning, along with a stroll through the Coptic cemetery. The usual Cairo sights are usual for a reason. They are well worth seeing (Cairo Museum, great pyramids, the Sphinx, the Citadel, the great mosque) If you can, try to see the markets where all sorts of foodstuffs are sold (cabbages the size of large watermelons, the bird market.....!)
If you take a cab somewhere in Cairo, have the hotel get one for you and determine the price ahead of time. When returning, be firm about the price and dropoff point as well. Get advice from the concierge or bell captain at your hotel. We ate at the hotels or on our ship, or where our guide took us. (No, we weren't ripped off and we had good food too!) It behooves the guides to treat their clients well and maintain a good reputation with the tourists.
We got our visas ahead of time from the Egyptian consul in Los Angeles, (a short drive for me) but friends who went there last fall were able to get them at the airport upon arrival. Your passport must have 6 months to go. I don't know about traveling from another country. Check the consul's web site. Also, the exchange rate is the same at the airport, banks and hotels. We got Egyptian pounds from the atm at the hotel, but you may come across a bank with an atm as well. Have a Visa or Mastercard for charges. American Express was not accepted most places. There will be some places that only accept Egyptian pounds currency. We used ours for tips, taxis, souvenirs, some eateries and one museum.
Egypt has always been #1 on my travel bucket list, and our trip was a happy, happy delight! Do enjoy yourselves!
What a good post, Judy! Thank you. I have beautiful memories of Egypt and I thank you for reviving them.
Given the recent events with the tour bus, the U.S. Embassy has issued new travel warnings for Egypt - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Egypt.html#/ . It would be a good idea to re-evaluate the situation shortly before you depart.
Also as the others have mentioned, food borne illness could be a problem so it would be a good idea to visit a travel medicine clinic well in advance of your trip. I normally get Dukoral before trips as that helps with some illnesses. However that may not be available in your area. Check the "Health" section on the government website shown above for recommended vaccinations.