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Egypt Flag | Egypt Map | Egypt Practical Information | Egypt General Information

Egypt General information

Take light cotton or linen clothing, a hat, sun cream and sunglasses. Evenings can be cool; it’s a good idea to pack a pullover or cardigan.

The national currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), called Guineh in Arabic. It is divided into 100 piasters (Irsh in Arabic).
You will find ATM machines in large towns and in some hotels.

From itinerant food-sellers to restaurants in luxury hotels, Egypt offers a wide range of options to suit all tastes and all budgets. There is a huge variety of Mezzeh (appetisers), and meat is usually grilled (Kebabs) or minced then grilled (Kofta). Evolved as it has at the crossroads of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Egyptian gastronomy is rich and flavoursome.

You need a visa to enter Egypt, for which a fee is payable.
According to your country of origin, you can obtain your visa either from the embassy or at the airport when you arrive.
Upon arrival, go to the bank (in the Arrivals hall) to obtain stamps for your visa. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after the end of your visit. Customs officials may ask to see your return ticket.

Egypt covers an area of approximately one million square kilometres, consisting very largely of desert (97%).
Consequently 95% of the inhabitants live in just 4% of the country. Egypt is bisected from south to north by the Nile River, and is divided into 26 administrative provinces. The capital is Cairo and the principal cities are Alexandria, Port Said, Sharm El-Sheikh and Aswan.

Egyptian guides may escort you around tourist sites and museums. They all possess qualifications from the Institute of Egyptology.

You will find many cybercafés in most large towns. Charges vary from EGP 5 to 20 per hour.

The official language is Arabic. English and French are widely spoken, especially in tourist towns. German, Italian and Russian are also spoken in many hotels on the Red Sea.

Opening hours
Government and administrative offices are generally open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, except for Fridays and public holidays. Banks are closed on Fridays and Saturdays. Most shops are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Sunday. Please note that all these times may vary during Ramadan.

Credit cards and traveller's checks are accepted in major hotels and large stores. Most tourist shops also allow you to make purchases in foreign currency.

Standard photographic film (100 or 200 ASA) is easy to buy in Egypt. The use of flash is prohibited in museums and tombs in order to protect the exhibits. Many shops will print from digital cameras directly. Video cameras usually incur a surcharge (video tax) and filming is prohibited at the Aswan Dam and in the Valley of the Kings.

The population of Egypt is over 80 million. 45% of the population lives in urban areas. Cairo has over 18 million inhabitants and Alexandria over 5 million.

You can buy stamps at post offices or from your hotel reception desk. A letter usually takes about a week to reach its destination (longer during Ramadan). Post offices are closed on Fridays.

Public holidays
Fixed dates:
1st January: New Year’s Day
7th January: Coptic Christmas Day
19th January: Coptic Epiphany
25th April: Sinai Liberation Day
28th April: Sham el-Nassim (Pharaonic Spring Festival)
1st May: Labor Day
23rd July: Revolution Day (commemorating the abolition of the monarchy in 1952)
6th October: Armed Forces Day
Dates that change according to the Muslim calendar:
Eid al-Fitr: marks the end of Ramadan
Eid al-Adha: Feast of Sacrifice (70 days after the end of Ramadan, commemorating Abraham’s obedience to God)
Ras as-Sana Hijriya: Islamic New Year
Mawlid al-Nabi: Birthday of the Prophet Mohammed

The majority of Egyptians have been Muslim since the 12th/13th century, the remainder of the population being essentially Coptic (Egyptian Christians).

Egypt has a rich culture of arts and crafts. A wide range of local artefacts, including e.g. blown glass, pottery, jewellery, embroidery, papyrus, carpets, leather goods and basketwork, may be found on sale in Souks, shops and galleries.

Coin- or card-operated public telephones can be found all over the country (cards are on sale in small shops, often near the telephone booths). GSM reception (2.5 G) is available in all major cities. Roaming agreements exist with almost all national and international operators.
Useful local dialing codes:
Cairo (+20) 2
Alexandria (+20) 3
Luxor (+20) 95
Sharm El-Sheikh (+20) 69
Aswan (+20) 97
Hurghada (+20) 65

Time difference
Egypt is two hours ahead of GMT. The country usually changes to summer time on the Friday following or preceding 1st May, then back to winter time on the Friday following 30th September.

This is very widespread in Egypt; indeed, baksheesh is a genuine institution. Everyone providing a service, however small, expects a tip in return. It is, for example, customary in restaurants (even when service is included) to leave a little extra, 10% of the bill being a reasonable amount.

The quickest way to reach the main tourist destinations is by air. Travelling by train is cheaper. The easiest way to get around town is by bus or taxi.

Useful phrases
Hello: Salam aleikum (response: aleikum es Salam)
Thank you: shukran
Please: min fadlik (to a woman), min fadlak (to a man)
Yes: aiwa
No: la
Goodbye: ma’as salama
God willing: insha’Allah
Go on!Yalla
It doesn’t matter: maalesh
Excuse me: asif
Good morning: sabah al-kheir
Good evening: misa al-kheir

No vaccinations are compulsory for visitors travelling from Europe. For recommendations, please check with your doctor.

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