Important Travel Alert!
Owing to the recent political tensions in Egypt, the US Department of State and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have advised all their citizens to avoid traveling to the country, unless absolutely necessary. If you are a citizen of any other nation, inquire whether any such alert has been issued in your country as well.
Towering pyramids, thousands of years of history, cities with soaring minarets, immense expanse of rugged desert landscape, and alluring beaches―Egypt boasts of all this, and more. While the ancient Egyptian civilization still continues to enchant and enthrall, so does the kindness and generosity of Egyptian people. If you are planning a vacation to Egypt in the near future, here are certain things, which you will need to keep in mind while doing so.
Planning an Egyptian Holiday
Sitting on the northeastern corner of Africa, Egypt is huge and diverse. However, owing to the economically priced services, the approachable attitude of people, and the widespread use of English language, it becomes easy to get around the country, even if you are on your own. Generally, tourism in Egypt is centered around a few established tourist centers, such as Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, and so on; however, the country has much more to offer than these typical, clichéd places. Here's how you can plan your visit to this Middle Eastern gem.
◾ Usually, the peak time to visit Egypt is between the months of December and February, whereas the off-season is between those of June and August. However, at a single point of time, the climate of the country seems to vary in different regions, owing to which, the best time to go to Egypt actually depends on your destination(s).
◾ Nevertheless, during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons, the overall weather of the country tends to be more or less pleasant, and hence, if you are planning to travel to various destinations throughout the country, it is best to go during these months.
Note: During important Muslim festivals, such as Ramadan, many restaurants and cafés are closed during the day, making it difficult to find good places for lunching. So, while planning your trip to Egypt, see to it that you have considered this point; otherwise, even your best-laid vacation plans can be disrupted.
◾ The citizens of all countries of Western Europe, the UK, the US, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Korea can obtain the visa on arrival at the airport. This rule also applies to all Arab nationals.
◾ If you are a citizen of any country, other than the ones mentioned above, you will have to get in touch with the Egyptian consulate in your home country, in order to acquire a travel visa.
◾ If you are an overland traveler, going to Egypt via Jordan, you can obtain your visa at the port of Aqaba. On the other hand, if you are going via Israel, you will have to be registered with an Egyptian travel agency, and only after the agency submits documents proving that you are a genuine tourist, will you be allotted a visa.
◾ If the less-trodden paths of the Eastern and the Western Deserts are on your itinerary, you will have to obtain military permits for the same. These are issued by either the Border Police or the Ministry of Interior. However, for this again, you will have to be registered with a local travel agency or safari company.
Note: A single-entry travel visa to Egypt will enable you to stay in the country for a period of not more than three months. However, if you wish to extend your stay, you can apply at the local passport office, and obtain a travel visa extension from six months to one year.
◾ By international standards, Egypt seems to be fairly cheap. However, there is no such hard-and-fast rule.
◾ You can choose your accommodation, depending on how much you are willing to spend. While there are ample choices for a lavish traveler, a budget traveler is also treated well.
◾ Irrespective of what your budget is, your major expenses while in Egypt will be incurred on the entry fees to major tourist sites and guided tours. These are really very expensive for international tourists.
Note: Make sure that you carry some extra cash with you to be given out as tips. The Egyptians are very serious about their baksheesh (tips). Otherwise, you won't have to carry much cash as ATMs are widely available in the country.
◾ First and foremost, make sure that you have taken all the vaccination shots, which are recommended by the WHO for all international tourists, irrespective of your destination. These include the ones for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP), chickenpox, polio, and a yearly shot for influenza.
◾ Make sure that you get these shots at least four to six weeks in advance. Do not forget to carry a documented proof of your vaccinations as you might have to produce it at the airport.
Note: Please consult your local physician regarding the immunizations you will need to get before embarking on your journey. He/she will also be able to tell you if you are allergic to certain vaccines.
◾ Apart from covering for your health, see to it that your insurance also covers trip-cancellation expenses, which may occur on account of reasons such as your ill health, natural calamities, and so on.
◾ When you are flying to Egypt, losing your luggage is not uncommon, although in many cases, you get it back. Therefore, it is always safe to purchase a travel insurance, which will cover for your lost luggage as well.
Note: Though your insurance may cover for all the factors mentioned above, it is always advisable to carry some essentials in your hand luggage so that you at least have your basic essentials with you, in case of loss of luggage. Also, make sure that you carry all your essential medicines, along with your doctor's prescription.
So, pack up and get going to one of the most exotic places on earth! Only, see to it that you respect the dignity of the local Egyptians, and do not say or do things that may not be appropriate according to their etiquette. If you behave in a favorable manner, the Egyptians will surely treat you as one of them.