Egypt, when done right, is a beautiful holiday destination. The country is massively reliant on tourism for its income, and the industry is by far and away the cornerstone of its entire economy. Because the country has had issues in recent years, it’s keen to impress new visitors, and the people who work in the travel business over there will bend over backwards to impress you. They want you to visit the country, fall in love with it, tell all your friends about it, and then come again. Ideally, they want you to bring your friends with you!
It’s also a country that gets subjected to extensive romanticism about its own history. Ancient Egypt is a topic that everybody learns about in school. If you haven’t been, chances are you’ve wondered what it would be like to cruise down the Nile, or stand in the desert of Luxor. You might want to haggle over perfume and precious stones in its bazaars, or climb inside a Pyramid and make a personal connection with the old world.
The symbols of Egypt are peppered throughout popular culture. The Pyramids have been used as the backdrop for several episodes of the BBC’s ‘Doctor Who’. The legendary TV game show ‘The Crystal Maze’ has an Egyptian zone. Pharaohs, Cleopatra, the Eye of Horus and plenty more have been used as the inspiration for many successful free spins no deposit slot games and you know that if the gambling industry thinks something is worth basing a game around, it brings in money. If the Egyptian legends of old can persuade someone to part with money to gamble in an online casino, they’re more than enough to draw the paying public to the country to see the real thing up close. Even just playing the games can create a desire to locate your passport and make a visit; especially if you’re winning!
There’s a hundred things to love about Egypt, and even more reasons to go there. But there are also several things you need to know before you go. Here are the most important of them.
Everyone asks for a tip. This isn’t the Egyptians fault. Like we said, tourism is huge business in Egypt, and everybody who lives there has grown up knowing that tourists have money. Also, because Americans are conditioned to tip everyone for everything, an understanding has developed that you’ll hand over money for the most trivial piece of assistance. If you ask a local to take a picture of you in front of a landmark, they will hold their hand out to you. Anyone who handles your luggage or assists you with travel in any way will do the same. Look closely, and you’ll notice that they don’t do this to other Egyptians, only to you. Similarly, in restaurants, the service charge is usually already added to your bill, you don’t need to tip again. Don’t feel like you have to tip. If you say no, they’ll just move on to the next person.
Don’t get trapped in shops. ‘Browsing’ doesn’t really exist in Egypt; especially in the markets around tourist towns. If you stop in front of a shop and look at something in the window, you’ll find that the owner, or one of the staff, will come out and invite you in. Some of them do it quite insistently! They may even offer you a hot drink and a seat. Once you’re sat down, you’ll be treated to a personal demonstration of everything they have for sale, and at that point it feels quite awkward not to buy anything. Only go in shops if they’re offering something you want to buy. Don’t slow down in front of market stalls you’re not interested in either. Some sellers even grab you to get your attention!
The children are very friendly. If you get surrounded by a swarm of children, you might suspect you’re about to be pickpocketed. Whilst you should always be cautious, don’t panic. The children in Egypt love tourists. They like to take pictures with you, ask you questions and talk to you. It’s a great opportunity for them to practice their English skills. Almost all of them will say hello when you walk past, and some of them will try saying whatever sentence in English they know, even if it makes no sense in terms of what you’re doing. They don’t want anything from you. They’re just excited to see you. Say hello back!
The driving can be a little erratic. Driving regulations are a little more relaxed in Egypt than you might be used to. If you’ve ever played the old video game ‘Crazy Taxi’, you might be better prepared for using a taxi service in Egypt than someone who hasn’t! Everyone who drives a car in Egypt is trying to get to where they’re going as fast as they can, without paying much regard to who’s around them. This means they’re not always guaranteed to slow down if you cross the road in front of them. We’d suggest waiting for a local to cross the road, and then doing exactly what they do, when they do it.
Dress and act respectfully. Egypt, unlike other states in the Middle East, does not insist that women cover their bodies from head to toe. It’s a Muslim country, but one with a fairly relaxed attitude to how people dress. That isn’t a free rein to dress exactly as you would at home, though. You’re a guest in their country, and you should show respect to their way of life. Unless you’re on a beach which you know for certain allows it, don’t wear a bikini or expose a lot of flesh. Don’t walk out around town with a lot of flesh showing. Jeans, or shorts of a reasonable length, and a t-shirt are fine almost everywhere. Similarly, excessive public displays of affection are frowned upon. Nobody’s going to take issue with you walking down the street holding hands, but indulging in overly romantic kissing, or generally being all over each other, is more likely to offend or upset a local. Save it for when you’re back at the hotel!
In general, if it’s your first time in the country, speak to your hotel or travel operator about reputable tour companies, and follow their advice to the letter. Don’t feel pressured into doing anything you don’t want, don’t forget you’re in the middle of a different culture with different rules, and you’ll be fine. Above all else, enjoy it. It’s an amazing place!