Egypt, with its captivating history and unique culture, has long held a prominent place on many travelers’ bucket lists. However, stories of negative experiences, particularly for women, had left me hesitant to explore this incredible country. Yet, I firmly believe that others’ travel experiences do not necessarily predict your own, so I embarked on my first trip to Egypt with an open mind.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to travel, I’ve always believed that some destinations require more thorough research and planning to ensure a safe and enriching experience. Egypt was undoubtedly one of those places. Thankfully, my decision to hire a guide and meticulously plan my itinerary paid off, resulting in a profoundly positive experience filled with friendly encounters and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to witness the wonders of Ancient Egypt.

If you’re ready for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in Egypt, here are ten invaluable tips for your first trip.

1. Visa Requirements for Egypt

For American citizens planning to visit Egypt, obtaining a visa upon arrival is the norm. You’ll need $25 in cash to pay for your visa at a designated window before proceeding through immigration. Alternatively, consider hiring a guide who can assist you in organizing your visa in advance and expedite your entry through a VIP line, bypassing regular immigration queues.

2. Leave Your Drone at Home

Do not bring a drone to Egypt. Flying drones is both illegal and prohibited in the country. Even if your drone remains inside your suitcase, attempting to bring it into Egypt can lead to complications and delays at the airport. I learned this the hard way and was detained for three hours.

3. Familiarize Yourself with Ancient Egyptian History

Prior to your Egypt trip, immerse yourself in the history of Ancient Egypt. Understanding the deeper historical context will significantly enhance your appreciation of the places you visit. While many tour guides provide basic historical information, consider delving deeper by listening to the “History of Egypt” podcast and exploring resources like the library in Alexandria’s website for insights into reading hieroglyphics and understanding ancient Egyptian dynasties.

4. Consider Hiring a Guide

Traveling solo in Egypt may raise concerns about safety. Hiring a knowledgeable guide can enhance your experience, ensuring hassle-free travel and access to expert insights into Egypt’s rich history. With a reputable guide, you’ll likely avoid harassment, discomfort, and navigation issues. If you plan to travel independently, research and find a qualified Egyptologist guide.

5. Explore Group Tour Options

Group tours can offer convenience and camaraderie during your Egypt adventure. Choose a tour company that aligns with your preferences, whether you seek adventure, budget-friendly options, or all-female tours. Group tours provide an opportunity to explore with like-minded travelers and share memorable experiences.

6. Craft an Egypt Itinerary

Egypt offers a wealth of diverse experiences. Craft an itinerary based on your interests and time constraints. Essential sights around Cairo include the Pyramids of Giza, Saqqara Pyramid, Coptic Cairo, Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, Mosque of Muhammad Ali, Alexandria day trip, and Khan el Khalili Souk. For longer stays, consider a Nile cruise or exploring Aswan, Luxor, or the Red Sea for scuba diving.

7. Navigate Cairo’s Traffic

Cairo’s traffic is notoriously congested, with over 15 million residents. Give yourself ample time to travel within the city, and avoid attempting to drive. Instead, opt for a hired driver or ride-sharing services like Uber. Additionally, secure comprehensive travel insurance to ensure peace of mind during your stay.

8. Choose the Right Time to Visit

Egypt experiences scorching temperatures in the summer months, particularly in July and August, making exploration challenging. The ideal time to visit is during the winter season (November to January), with pleasant daytime temperatures around 70°F. Plan your trip well in advance to avoid the seasonal surge in flight prices, tour bookings, and accommodations.

9. Select Must-See Attractions and Avoid Tourist Traps

When exploring Egypt, prioritize must-see attractions while avoiding tourist traps. Skip tours that lead you to shops and showrooms unless you’re genuinely interested in purchasing local products. Consider venturing beyond standard tourist experiences to uncover authentic local cuisine and hidden gems.

10. Visit the New Egyptian Museum

Scheduled to open soon, the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) promises to be the world’s largest archaeological museum. It will house 50,000 artifacts, including King Tutankhamun’s full tomb collection. Until its opening, explore the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Cairo, which offers fascinating insights into ancient Egyptian history. Allocate at least three hours for a comprehensive visit and consider hiring an Egyptologist guide or using audio guides to delve deeper into the rich history of the pharaonic period.

Embarking on your first trip to Egypt is a thrilling and rewarding adventure. By following these ten tips, you can ensure a safe, enriching, and unforgettable experience as you explore the wonders of this ancient and culturally rich country.

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