I spent four days in Cairo/Giza, Egypt last week. Not enough time, however, but a good tease trip nonetheless. I have a friend that lives in Cairo so three friends and I decided to go visit him. Ok, ok… the REAL reason we went is to see the Pyramids, ride a camel and see historic artifacts that have been around for more years than I can even say out loud. Regardless of my reasons for visiting, my friend was a great host and I am very thankful for his time and for guiding us around.
Contrary to popular belief, Egypt is back to being safe for foreigners. The revolution is over and the people of Egypt are welcoming foreigners who have the money they need to reboot their crippling economy. Over 90% of the people of Egypt are happy with their new leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The new stable government seems to be doing a good job at keeping the country together and preventing any burst of violence from occurring.
Throughout our time in Egypt, locals would come around and say “Welcome to Egypt!” or “We love Americans!” Everyone was beyond friendly, and unlike Morocco, neither my friends or myself felt unsafe during our stay. Even when we were exploring without my Egyptian friend, who happens to be a judge in Cairo, we always felt safe.
- Giza Pyramids (80 L.E.)
- The Second Pyramid: Khafre Pyramid (40 L.E.)
- The Pharaonic Village (90 L.E.)
- Al-Azhar Park (7 L.E.)
- Egyptian Museum (75 L.E.)
- Citadel (Al-Qalaa)
- Al-Hussein Mosque
- Go shopping at Khan el-Khalili
- Dine on a Nile cruise
- Ride a camel
Where To Eat:
- GAD Restaurant
- The Pharaonic Village (60 L.E.)
- Nile River Cruise
- Pyramid Cafe at the Mercure Cairo Le Sphinx Hotel
Always check your change after each transaction. People like to short change you when you make a purchase, even at official locations like the pyramids and the museum. Women should wear jeans or long skirts while walking through Cairo. This should be done out of respect for the locals not because it is mandatory or required by law. Like I said before, be careful with “unofficial staff” who like to scam tourists and only take the white taxis with the checkered boxes around the exterior.
Upon arrival into CAI, you should proceed to one of the banks and pay $25 USD for an entry stamp. Once the bank gives you the entry stamp add it to your passport and proceed to passport control. If you don’t give the exact amount and require change they may try to get you to accept change in Egyptian pounds, which may not be in your favor. I would recommend getting change in US dollars.
The best way to get around Egypt is to either use a tour guide with transportation or take the white taxis with checkered borders around the vehicles exterior. As always, before you get inside the taxi cab make sure you tell the driver you want the meter running. Don’t ever take a flat rate taxi ride in Egypt. If you have internet data service or WiFi download the app “Easy Taxi” to call a Taxi in Cairo, it’s easy to use and the drivers are quick to respond to your request.
The Pyramids should be seen with a tour guide or a local who you may know. If you try to go on your own as a foreigner a bunch of people will come to you and harass you for every dollar you have. As we entered the Pyramids with my friend two people got on his car to try and make him pay an unofficial entrance fee. My friend didn’t stop and proceeded to the top of the hill to park his car, for free. Upon getting to the top there is a booth where you pay for being on the pyramid grounds and for going inside the pyramids. The only official workers there are the guards and policemen in white with guns. Everyone else is just trying to scam tourists by saying they are official pyramid staff. Don’t believe them and just walk away, they will eventually give up and leave you alone. AVOID the horse and camel rides, they will add on fees before they let you get off. It’s a long walk around the pyramids but better safe than sorry.
The Pharaonic Village is very neat. A boat takes you around different stages that reenact how Egyptians lived back in the day. There are a few museums you can go in through and see replicas of artifacts in Luxor and those found inside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. There is a tour guide who guides you around a bunch of replicated temples and homes. There is also a restaurant in the village that is 60 L.E. for a chicken or kofta lunch, it was pretty good food.
The Egyptian Museum is a must see when in Cairo, just like the pyramids. Don’t be alarmed or scared by the tanks and soldiers on active guard around the museum, they won’t harm tourists. There are a lot of people who will try to get you to pay them to enter the museum, just ignore them. To purchase the tickets go through the gates and you will see a booth to your right past security. No pictures are allowed – but I did sneak a few of my own. I know, bad me.
Riding a camel was a must do for us. We have always wanted to ride a camel around the pyramids. We found F.B. Farouk Breesh Stables online and they treated us great! Karen, one of the owners, took care of scheduling our excursion and of picking us up from our hotel. Karen is British so she is fluent in English and can help you with tips on getting around Cairo. When we were at the stable she was very hospitable, so were all the employees and the other owner. The price for a 1-hour camel ride and transportation to/from the stable was 175 L.E.. This stable does NOT whip their animals like other stables around Egypt do.
If you want to relax and take a walk (or a run) around a park then you should visit Al-Azhar Park. You will be able to see the Citadel from the park. There are many people sitting down and enjoying themselves like those who spend time at Central Park in New York City.
Like I mentioned earlier in this report, you should schedule a Nile River cruise. We used Memphis Tours and paid 250 L.E. for our cruise with a buffet dinner and transportation to/from our hotel in Giza. The food was not the best, but for the price we paid it was well worth it. There are three shows on the cruise, a belly dancer show, oriental show and a western show. The length of the cruise is about 3 hours.
Food throughout Egypt is very inexpensive. For the most part restaurants have at least one staff member who knows English. The food is very good, I’m glad I was only there for four days or I would’ve gained double my current weight.