Hello good folks, just concluded a week-long marathon trip to Egypt. Here’s some of the things that really boggled my mind:
1) Egypt is still not over the 2011 revolution.
In fact, locals are claiming they’re worse off than before and really fighting their way back to 2011 days. This spells good news and bad news for you (potential tourists that want selfies with pyramids).
Good news: Food and accommodation is CHEAP!
Even cheaper now that the Egyptian pound is no longer pegged to the Dollar. So your buying power is tremendous and you can literally go on Nile cruises with buffets, see the pyramids and get a dope view from the sky on a hot air balloon for less than $100.
Bad news: tourism has TANKED since 2011.
Locals are claiming less than 50%, so there’s a lot of pressure on employees (read: pushy sales folks) either taxi drivers or tour operators who hang around in front of the hotels and popular spots and harass tourists into buying tours.
2) Only about 3.5% of Egypt is actually livable land. I am not kidding.
This spells terrible news since cities like Cairo see heavy traffic (we almost missed our sleeping train because of this). So make sure you plan ahead.
3) Everything is NEGOTIABLE and prices are CHEAP.
Make sure you brush up on your negotiation chops (I’ll be writing a post on negotiating soon). Now they’re not as expert at this as the Thais or the Chinese but as soon as they realize you’re foreign, the price gets hiked up anywhere from 3-5x.
Good news: with a bit of negotiating you can get incredible deals. Especially on papyrus (I brought the price of mine down from 1600 pounds to 500 in 3 minutes of good back and forth).
Bad news: The touristy areas will have people looking to take advantage of this. Everything comes at a price. I tried to use a washroom and the shopkeepers pupils dialated as he declared ‘That will be 5 pounds!’.
Ps. I negotiated it down to 3 pounds after this.
4) Every time you use the toilets/washroom/restroom, expect to pay.
This includes everywhere from government funded ones that are on site at tourist attraction to the ones inside shopping malls and on the streets. The rationale is that this helps them keep the toilets clean.
5) Prices are heavily subsidized for locals.
So if a hotel room costs $30 for the locals, expect to pay about $80 for the same room. Now the good news; you can ask your local tour guide to book the room for you and therefore take advantage of these savings. We stayed at the Steigenberger for $30 because our local guide booked it for us. Bless his soul.
6) Animal cruelty
7) Obsession with the afterlife and attaining infinity
8) It all starts and ends with the Nile
9) East vs West bank