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Beyond the Pyramids and the Sphinx, which history books have made synonymous with Egypt, there perhaps is no country more diverse than Egypt. The land has faces more unique than you can imagine. The Valley of Kings, the world of Giza, the Western Desert — there are varied dimensions to traveling in Egypt. Perhaps the country has such a rich history that you might find the best itinerary, falling short of including all of the typical hotspots. In this post you can find some tips for solo travel in Egypt.
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To Go Solo or Not To Go Solo? That is the question!
Of late, the sheen of ancient history and monuments has faded thanks to political climes heating up in the country. The revolutionary tinges have only revealed the deep-seated unrest within the country, hidden over the years. This has directly affected tourism in the country. Some tourists have gone on to deem the place unsafe for visiting. Especially alone.
The truth, however, is otherwise. Recently, the revolutionary climate has cooled off. There was a little drop in tourism levels some years ago but traveling Egypt solo is no longer as problematic. While there can be contradictory information on the internet, and you will be beguiled by concerned family or friends, you simply need to take the same precautions you take at home, or in any major city. So, get out of your comfort zone and embark on a solo travel experience in Egypt! I mean, why do we have to wait for friends all of the time, when sometimes people have different schedules or lifestyles.
A great suggestion that I can immediately make, to start your trip on the best footing, is to consider flying with a great airline such as Egyptair, since it offers regular flights to Egyptian hubs on a regular basis. This way you have more options on time and destinations within Egypt. They also fly to different Middle Eastern Destinations. One insider tip is to book via Cleartrip to grab exciting Egypt airfare deals! The following tips for traveling solo in Egypt will hold you in good stead and prepare you for a wonderful experience.
When in Egypt, do as the Egyptians do! In fact, this rule applies to solo traveling across most countries. Make sure you dress modestly. Walk around without doing anything that draws too much attention to yourself. The idea is to not wear anything that exposes too much skin. Remember, you will not just worry less but also be more comfortable when dressing this way. The less skin that’s exposed, the less there is to sunburn; spare yourself the discomfort.
For solo female travelers, it is helpful if you flaunt a wedding ring or even mention you are married. The society in Egypt is such that it might look at you with more respect. Famous solo travelers have often used this trick. It’s important to remember this whenever visiting conservative countries in general.
Do Not Scimp by Saving on Accommodation
While the best travel hacks mention saving on the hotel fare, in Egypt, this hack doesn’t hold ground. It is best to invest money in a good hotel—read, expensive—since this brings you the comfort of good food, consistent service, security and English-speaking hotel staff.
Take Guided Tours
When in Egypt, as a solo traveler, it is best that you go for a full tour package, or just even a day tour. This means you have the comfort of a guide and a driver, at the very least. Hiring a guide gives you insider information about the wonders of this country that you’d hardly get to know otherwise. Plus, they know where to take you and where not to take you, so it definitely keeps you safer, and when to take you (to avoid overcrowding).
When planning a flight to Egypt and then exploring the country solo, you need to dust off your navigation skills. The country is complicated directionally and geographically. Some cities, such as Cairo, have great Metro connectivity, while others, such as Luxor, have better travel via cabs. Do your research and get to understand the ins and outs before you get there. As a solo traveler, you need to understand that you might have a tour agenda that changes like the sand dunes in Egypt. Make sure you truly know what places you want to explore since the destinations and routes are named in Arabic. English is understood in most parts but not to the point that you can be completely at ease or understood (believe it or not, you speak English with an accent, ha). In order to enjoy a solo trip to this country you need to be flexible too. There can be delays or changes at a moment’s notice. You just gotta roll with it and do the best you can to enjoy yourself regardless.
- When all is said and done, it is obvious that a solo Egyptian trip needs a lot of planning and understanding of local routes. However, as you see the sun setting over River Nile, you will know that it was worth the research and pre-planning. Learn some basic local phrases. This especially helps solo travelers sail through a few situations. As a traveler to Egypt, make sure that you think outside the box when it comes to visiting other cities, look outside of Cairo.
- There could be lots of young boys trying to sell you souvenirs as a traveler. It is best to avoid these buys. However, another request you’d be receiving frequently in Egypt is to take a selfie with the small children there. It helps to politely avoid these situations. This is why learning the local phrase for ‘Thank you, no;’ is advised.
- When traveling, avoid eating out at roadside stalls and smaller joints. Watch out for the water too since the local water is highly chlorinated. Invest in buying bottled water. Always. Even use bottled water to brush your teeth. Remember that Egypt will be hot and humid. You have to prepare yourself for this right at the outset (like investing in a good summer hat). The charm of Egypt sure is better than the heat, but you’ve got to be careful, nevertheless.
- Make sure you do not click random photos of locals around. They might hound on you for baksheesh, or some tips. You might find that offering tips for a photo in restricted areas is a good trick but, then again, it is risky too. Use the tipping trick wisely and infrequently. You do not want to be flashing your money around and attracting the wrong kind of attention.
- If you happen to visit souks and local shops to buy something, be sure to bargain and haggle like crazy. No matter what, make sure you do not engage in small talk with local men since they might try to take advantage of your friendliness. I try to be business professional at all times when away from the hotel.
The idea is to be carefree yet careful when in Egypt, or any major city. Do not go overboard. Maintain a low profile, dress modestly and you will be safe as a solo traveler in the Land of the Nile. Enjoy!