Egypt Travel Tips | Visiting Egypt? A friendly caution to think twice, based on firsthand experience.
My husband and I just returned from our “once in a lifetime trip” to Egypt and hot damn, do we have a few stories to tell. We spent two weeks visiting Egypt, and towards the tail end felt we couldn’t get out fast enough.
But let’s take a step back because a charged statement like that deserves some explanation.
As a professional travel blogger it’s in my interest to encourage people to travel the world — discomfort be damned. But as a human being, I can’t recommend visiting Egypt with a clear conscience. This is based solely on a handful of concerning things we experienced in Egypt.
We visited Egypt with an open mind but came away sorely disappointed.
My goal with this honest assessment of visiting Egypt is to encourage folks to think twice about traveling to Egypt at this time. Heck, I’d go so far as to encourage you to cancel the trip if you already have it scheduled.
A country that treats both locals and tourists with disdain doesn’t deserve tourism. If you’re stubborn (like yours truly) and plan on visiting Egypt regardless of the experience I share below, give yourself a moment of pause and make a bullet-proof game plan.
Am I qualified to talk about visiting Egypt?
Who the hell knows, but I just returned from visiting Egypt and have stories (and experiences) to share with American travelers. I’m all for honestly and seek to provide sincere reasons I didn’t like visiting Egypt.
In terms of qualifications, I’m an American traveler that spends six months of the year traveling with my husband, Will. We’re strong advocates for slow travel and typically book month-long stays in international cities. We enjoy getting to know the culture of a place rather than checking items off a list.
Egypt was the 13th country we visited together, and we chose to spend a full two weeks exploring the three most popular cities.
We knew that visiting Egypt would be vastly different from our previous travels because it’s not part of the Western world. With that said, nothing prepared us for the gut-wrenching corruption and desperation evoked by palpable poverty.
It starts with an uneasy feeling
Within three days of visiting Egypt I knew something was off. None of the blogs I read beforehand touched on the country I was actually experiencing in real time. By day three, I found myself frustrated by the false narrative being sold.
On the third day of our trip, I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling in my stomach. Something didn’t feel right. I asked my husband for an honest assessment of his experience thus far and he said he had a weird feeling about the trip as well.
From there, we spent hours scouring the internet for honest insights into visiting Egypt from those that came before us. What we found was shocking: thousands of accounts of tourists anxiously awaiting to leave the country as soon as possible and vowing never to return.
My only disappointment was not finding that information sooner because we may have reconsidered out travels. Even still, it’s hard to decipher between exaggeration and fact, but I was surprised by the relatable stories.
With that said, if this one little post on the internet serves to help even one reader reconsider visiting Egypt than it will have been worth it.
At the end of the day, we spent two weeks visiting Egypt and then paid $1,000 to leave 2 days early (we couldn’t get out fast enough). Sounds dramatic, I know, but I’m just being honest here.
Why I Don’t Recommend Visiting Egypt
#1. Visiting Egypt feels like a rite of passage for travelers, but the country is falsely glorified
I’ll be blunt (because no one else seems to be) — I found visiting Egypt to be an overall unfriendly and hostile experience.
Prior to our trip, we pored over books, guides, blogs and videos, yet nothing prepared us for reality in front of us. It seems to me that everyone claims to provide helpful Egypt Travel Tips, but fails to include the honest downsides.
And I can understand that. Since childhood, we’ve been regaled with stories depicting the splendor of the epic pyramids. Riveting stories of hallowed ancient sites that spoke to a great civilization beyond comprehension.
We learned that everyone should strive to visit Egypt to see the glory firsthand. So we never questioned the tourism industry in Egypt, which seemed to be the lifeline of the country.
What a mistake that turned out to be. But I hope my mistakes weren’t made in vain. Read on for a deeper dive into the important history of Egypt. It explains how the country fell into the hands of greedy dictators who drove the country into a poverty so severe it shakes the core of reason.
Let’s discuss why you need to know the (very) important political history and current climate before visiting Egypt.
Enter Player 1: Hosni Mubarak (2011)
In 2011, Egypt was marred by massive revolution that sought to overturn then-sitting President Hosni Mubarak, who was 30-years into his presidency.
Much aligned with all revolutions throughout history, people reached the end of their proverbial ropes and needed a change in leadership to have a chance of survival. Locals were fed up with corruption, low wages, high unemployment rates and general lack of freedom (extreme police brutality, no free speech, etc).
Millions of Egyptians stormed the streets in protest and demanded Mubarak’s immediate removal. They also demanded term limits for presidents.
The protests became violent and, in retaliation, Mubarak ordered police to be replaced with highly trained military personnel. Horrifying chaos ensued — 846 people were killed and more than 6,000 people were injured by brutal force. This is 2011.
Seeking vengeance, the protestors burned more than 90 police stations across Egypt. During the protests, Cairo was described as a “war zone.” After 2 weeks and 3 days, the uprising proved successful and Mubarak stepped down, effectively ending his 30-year regime.
Enter Player 2: Mohamed Morsi (2012 – 2013)
After Mubarak was overthrown, a temporary government was put in place until elections could be held. Ultimately Mohamed Morsi (of the Muslim Brotherhood), was elected in June 2012 and became the first Egyptian President to gain power through election.
However, within months of taking office, Morsi attempted to pass a restrictive constitution against the people’s will. Not one to be easily deterred, Morsi issued himself a presidential decree that raised him above judicial review. This gave him the unchallenged power to authorize his new constitution (and whatever else he fancied).
Morsi had “usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh.”Mohamed ElBaradei
The problem? The people were outraged and even more violent protests ensued. Egyptians died for the smallest semblance of freedom, and Morsi was threatening to take it away. Within a mere year of being elected, a successful coup d’état removed Morsi from power.
Morsi was placed under house arrest and the Muslim Brotherhood was banned from Egypt after being deemed a terrorist organization.
Enter Player 3: Abdel El-Sisi (2014–present)
The coup d’état was led by the minister of defense, Abdel El-Sisi. At this point you can probably guess who the country’s next president will be. Yep, El-Sisi.
Elected in 2014, Sisi is said to rule with an iron fist (influenced by Mubarak’s authoritarian regime) and is described as being more strict than Mubarak.
So, where does this leave Egypt today? Let’s look at the stats.
Worth Knowing: A 24-year old tourist from Lebanon was arrested at the airport in 2018 and sentenced to 8 years in prison because she posted at 10-minute video talking about her poor experience visiting Egypt.
2022 Stats on Visiting Egypt
The tourism industry employs 12% of Egyptians. So it’s safe to say that tourism is one of the lifeline of Egypt’s economy. It’s one of the largest sources of revenue in Egypt (which makes my spiel about not visiting Egypt all the more gut-wrenching, but bear with me).
The best year for tourism in Egypt was 2010 (before the uprising). That year, the country received 14.7 million visitors and received an estimated $12.5 billion in revenue. For perspective, this accounted for more than 11% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
After the 2011 uprising, Egypt’s economy collapsed. The violence, devastation and uncertainty were too great a risk, so tourists steered clear of visiting Egypt. For the next five years, Egypt saw a steady influx of 9-10 million tourists annually before seeing a sharp decrease to in 2016 (only 5.4 million tourist that year for some reason).
From there, tourism has been slowly increasing, but has yet to hit the peak numbers from 2010. What’s worse, COVID struck and that took poverty and desperation to a whole new level.
Egypt’s tourism industry dropped by 70% in 2020. And since so many Egyptian are reliant on tourism (everyone you’ll be meeting and/or hiring while visiting Egypt), they were badly burned, stirring distressing desperation.
Is visiting Egypt safe in 2022? Let’s discuss the biggest events.
Located in Africa, bordering the Middle East, Egypt is no stranger to being labeled “moderate to unsafe” The country is nestled into the confines of a “conflict zone,” and terrorist incidents occur with greater frequency than Western world countries.
I’m not trying to be unkind. I’m trying to be honest to set you up for success. We had an interesting conversation with one of our tour guides because she kept thanking us profusely for visiting Egypt. Perplexed, I asked her about the tourism industry and she explained the numbers were discouraging.
Then she said something that stuck with me. She said, “I could understand it, no one want to die on vacation.”
Again, I don’t mean to alarm you if you’re planning on visiting Egypt, but this are things I wish I knew before going to Egypt for the first time. So I’m sharing my experience.
If helpful, here’s a roundup of the most current terrorist attacks targeted at tourists in Egypt. Why the hell this doesn’t show up on those comprehensive “List of Tips for Visiting Egypt” websites is beyond me. This is information you should know, so be informed.
As you can see, the tourist attacks are far and few between, but still, I can honestly tell you that I personally did not feel safe while visiting Egypt. I was constantly looking over my shoulder, waiting for something to happen. It’s hard to explain the feeling but it’s akin to anticipating bad news, you have to trust your intuition.
So yeah, while visiting Egypt it didn’t take long for it to occur to us that the country is falsely glorified. Having the opportunity to experience the incredible sites will put you through the ringer many times over. But again, I understand and appreciate that the people are hurting and are merely doing anything they can to survive.
Visiting Egypt for the epic sites? A word, please
There’s no denying that nothing comes close to seeing the ruins of Ancient Egypt for yourself. I’ll be the first to admit that! And hell, I’d put up with a lot to see these epic sites for myself, which is why the next statement is particularly heartbreaking.
To be frank, the history of Ancient Egypt isn’t valued by those managing the country. I was shocked to find that everything at the Egyptian Museum was out in the open and folks were allowed to touch whatever they pleased.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. No, what surprised me most was the blatant and unabashed corruption at the ancient sites folks travel thousands of miles to see.
I can’t tell you how many times I watched “guards” pop into thousand year old coffins for tips. I cringed while watching a guard dip into a roped-off thousand year-old sarcophagus for photos and a measly tip of $2.
We were also surprised to learn that there’s certain parts of temples that tour guides are not allowed to enter. We toured several temples with a private guide (booked through our hotel) who mentioned several times at various temples that he wasn’t allowed to accompany us inside certain rooms because they were holy or sacred.
Not a big deal, or so we thought.
Imagine our surprise when we arrived inside those “sacred” rooms to find guards offering to open doors and expose rooms for tips. We’d constantly be told that photos weren’t allowed, only to be met with a hand motioning for money.
Another thing that caught me by surprise was one of the professional tours we took to the Tombs of Nobles. When we arrived to the destination, our guide told us that we needed to bribe the guards at the door if we wanted him to come inside and explain stuff to us.
Perplexed, we weren’t sure why a “guided tour of the Tombs of the Nobles” was included in the package if the guide wasn’t allowed inside without us bribing the guides. Wouldn’t the bribe be included in the exorbitant price of the tour? It was so bizarre, something smelled fishy about that but we obliged (what else could we do?).
#2. Egypt sells itself as a top tourist destination, but it’s really not. Like, at all.
My biggest beef with visiting Egypt is that I assumed it was a tourist destination. As mentioned, every world traveler knows to visit the pyramids — it’s a bucket list destination unlike any other! As such, it’s easy to assume that Egypt is a tourist destination, but it’s not.
To put it bluntly, I felt like a walking ATM while visiting Egypt. It seemed to me that, as a tourist, the main objective was to get as much money from me as possible. The level of tourist exploitation is absolutely next level.
For example, we had dinner at a famous spot where they only serve one dish (koshary). We read online that the price for the dish is 20 Egyptian pounds per person, but we weren’t handed a menu and the waiter gave us a total of 100 Egyptian pounds for two bowls. We couldn’t really say anything and forked over the amount, knowing full well we were charged more than double what the couple next to us paid (because we watched them each pay 20 Egyptian pounds).
Another case in point: We asked our hotel to call a taxi on our behalf and inquired about the price for a ride from the hotel to the train station (10 minutes). The hotel said “no more than 50 Egyptian pounds for the ride.”
When we checked out, we also asked the bag boys to quote a price from the hotel to the train station and they also (confidently) said “50 pounds tops.” So we knew to pay 50 Egyptian pounds.
However, when we got out of the taxi the driver demanded 200 Egyptian pounds (again, for a 10 minute ride) rather than the 50 we were quoted. For reference, the average daily salary in Awsan for a taxi driver is 90-100 EGP, he was trying to get two days worth of waged from a 10 minute ride!
We said the hotel quoted us 50 EGP but he wouldn’t let us go. He said the price was 50 per person, so 100 total plus tip. We were flabbergasted and settled on 100 EGP, even though the price should have been 50+ tip but we didn’t want to miss our train.
Also, as I was getting out of the taxi, I noticed the driver was giving our luggage to a young man who put them on a trolley without our consent and demanded a tip because I took them off. Insane.
The whole situation left such a bad taste in our mouth, we were constantly being exploited! And before the hate mail gets stamped, allow me to say that were very generous with our tips. We understand that the dollar goes very far in Egypt and did our part supporting the locals we were working with (tour guides, hotel staff, etc).
But I will admit, the constant “in your face” deceit and demand for as much money as possible started to get to us because it happened no less than 10 times a day. Eventually we just stopped leaving the hotel.
Bonus: Here’s something no one tells you about visiting Egypt: Cairo looks like this. None of the ads urging tourism seem to feature this reality.
We spent two days exploring Islamic Cairo (popping into mosques) and were so surprised to learn that Cairo actually looks like a city in shambles. Why the heck isn’t anyone talking about this?
We saw families squatting on the ground and eating beans out of fly-infested bowls. We saw half-dead animals laying on the ground next to restaurants, etc. This is the real Cairo (the city you’ll explore if you ever leave your hotel) and yet no one wants to share the photos outside of the famous street market and mosques, go figure.
#3. The police are corrupt and demand bribes
I’m just going to be real here: The biggest reason I never plan on visiting Egypt again is because I felt unsafe. We were approached by official police officers that threatened us for bribes.
Even as I write this I feel so frustrated because almost all blogs I came across claimed that Egypt is safe. I’m calling BS. The ONLY way visiting Egypt will feel safe is if you have a hired tour guide and driver with you at all times. Having a guide with you at all times will provide a sense of safety, for sure, but it’s the most “sanitized” way to visit a place. You’ll never experience the way people in the city live.
If you don’t feel safe walking the streets in broad daylight (which I didn’t) then the city isn’t safe. And I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t feel safe visiting Egypt (even though I was traveling with my husband) and can’t imagine what it would be like to travel as a solo female.
The scariest situation we encountered while visiting Egypt involved an aggressively corrupt police officer that demanded a bribe.
We took the train from Aswan to Luxor (never again) and arrived at the train station by 3pm. As soon as we stepped onto the platform, we were swarmed my various men trying to grab our bags (for a tip) or offer some service we didn’t need. We kept our heads down, avoided eye contact and made a beeline for the exit, even as folks were shouting questions our direction (like “where are you from?”).
We heard one person loudly shout “where are you going” but we knew not to make eye contact and keep moving. His voice got louder and louder before we realized he was chasing after us, but we kept booking it toward the exit because we didn’t need anything and didn’t do anything. As the exit appeared my husband felt a man pull on his shoulder, forcing him to stop.
Surprised (again, we didn’t do anything wrong), we stopped. He angrily shouted at my husband and said “I am a police officer, why didn’t you stop when I told you?” and then motioned for money.
Stunned, we didn’t know what to do. I shouted in Will’s direction and said “our taxi is waiting for us, we need to go!” And we booked it.
The police officer followed us out of the train station but our driver was waiting for us, so we jumped in the car as quickly as we could. I looked back and saw the officer, angry as can be, looking our direction.
It was (honestly) the most terrifying travel experience we have EVER had in our lives.
After our experience with the corrupt officer, we were constantly looking over our shoulders while visiting Egypt. We knew that if something happened to us, we couldn’t rely on the police for help and that was a terrifying feeling we have never experienced before.
At a certain point I was convinced I was being paranoid, but we ran into a handful of other tourists that had very similar experiences. Guards cornering them in famous temples demanding tips, putting a hand on their gun to evoke fear, etc.
We spent an hour chatting with a young couple from England and found that their stories perfectly matched our own, which is when I reached my boiling point (thankfully we were leaving Egypt that day).
I kept asking myself “why the hell did I spend money to come here? I can’t believe I’m paying money to be treated like this.”
Heck, even the police running airport security asked me for money while I was going through the metal detector.
Yeah, don’t really know how to explain this one away. Our flight out of Egypt was scheduled at 5am, so we got to the airport at 3am. Shortly after going through the metal detector the police officer working security tried to grab my bag to put it on the belt and asked me for a tip. I couldn’t fathom why I wouldn’t just put the bag on the belt myself (I mean, I was standing right next to it?).
I was so fed up at that point (visiting Egypt has a way of doing that to you) so I just walked past him without saying a word. But my bags were promptly searched, mind, and I was frisked twice.
His pals at security demanded to know what my foam roller was for (spoiler alert: my leg). The situation served to strengthen my resolve and confirmed that I will never be visiting Egypt again.
#4. There was nothing I could do to stave off unwanted male attention.
Here’s the thing — Like I said before, I approached visiting Egypt with an open mind (not visiting to chance things, visiting to learn things). Well aware of the narrative I’ve been fed about Muslim culture, I wanted to be proven wrong and had a sole objective in mind: observe the culture without judgement.
Well, hot damn. I was not prepared for the constant discomfort of being stared at during my entire time visiting Egypt. Prior to my trip, I read that 95% of Egyptians are Muslim and women cover themselves completely. As such, I made sure to wear loose fitting clothing and did my best not to expose skin (even with temperatures breaching 100 every day of the trip).
I covered my hair while exploring the city yet still (somehow) found myself shifting uncomfortably from wandering eyes. Was I the problem? Should I have covered up more? Is an exposed ankle provocative? By the end of the my trip it became clear to me that there’s nothing I could have done to stave off unwanted male attention. It’s ingrained in the culture and I got used to men looking at me with hatred in their eyes.
#5. The harassment was nonstop
Egypt is an impoverished country, there’s no two ways about it. As such, people will do anything in their power to earn something, anything, and will offer things or services you probably don’t need.
One of the biggest problems with visiting Egypt, for the average tourist, is that no doesn’t mean no. Rather, no is a form of engagement, which means all bets are off.
The aggression with which folks tried to sell stuff and demand payment was next level. For example, we were touring a temple and one man approached us and motioned at a wall we were currently looking at and then demanded a tip. He didn’t say a single word, simply pointed from his eyes to the wall and made the motion for money.
We said no and kept walking and thankfully he didn’t follow us. Although he came back later with a vengeance and demanded a tip because we were using our tripod (which was allowed). Again, we said no and left the temple altogether, half expecting him to demand a tip for departing too.
The harassment we faced while visiting Egypt was nonstop, it’s hard to describe in words. From the second we left the car until we returned to the hotel, we were stopped every five seconds by someone selling something. It doesn’t matter who — taxi drivers, camel riders, folks offering tours, kids selling trinkets, bathroom attendant, etc.
It was unrelenting and we couldn’t even take in the sites, for fear of making eye contact with someone, which we learned was a mistake early on.
Indeed, eye contact and speech (“no, thank you”) was perceived as engagement and we’d be followed several feet, with the demands getting more aggressive with each step. It was a lot to handle and we found ourselves mostly hotel-bound by the third day of our trip.
Take note: If you’re using a public restroom (near popular sites) expect to tip for toilet paper. Most bathrooms don’t stock toilet paper, so you’ll need to tip the attendant and she’ll probably give you three sheets at best. Better yet, carry your own toilet paper while visiting Egypt.
#6. The taxi situation was a nightmare.
We were so grateful for Uber while visiting Cairo, but unfortunately the other cities don’t have Uber. Both Luxor and Aswan have a service called Careem (which is owned by Uber) but after one experience with the app, we refused to use them.
If you’re visiting Egypt, you’ll want to set up car services through your hotel because taxis don’t have set rates. If you use a taxi while visiting Egypt then you will be at the mercy of the taxi driver, who will try to get as much money from you as possible.
Our experience using taxis while visiting Egypt
We flew from Cairo to Aswan and arrived at the airport ready to explore a new city, hopeful that Aswan would be different from Cairo. We opened the Careem app but for some reason a driver wasn’t able to be found. No problem, we’d ask for a ride from the taxi drivers, or so we thought.
The Careem app showed a fare of 130 Egyptian pounds to get from the airport to our hotel. Armed with that knowledge, we requested a quote from the taxi driver and he responded with “450 Egyptian pounds.” We said, no thanks and walked away.
But recall that no doesn’t mean no. So he started following us — not only him but six other taxi drivers. They were all shouting different numbers at us but the lowest one was 350 Egyptian pounds. We said that a fair rate is 130 but we’d pay 150 and they told us that no one would drive to the hotel for that rate.
We said okay and started walking back to the waiting platform. We wanted to re-group and call the hotel for options. The problem? The men followed and encircled us while we started dialing. They demanded to take us but when we kept firmly saying no, one guy aggressively shouted “fine, I’ll take you for 150.”
But I had a gut feeling that he wasn’t going to take us to the hotel without exploiting us for more money before arrival (a tactic we learned about from previous travelers). I was starting to get angry (and nervous) so I firmly said “no, and you need to get away from us” and he got visibly angry before looking at my husband for a decision. I think he HATED the fact that a woman said “no” to him, let alone talked to him.
My husband said “my wife is talking to you” and that was enough for the guy to finally leave us alone (after 10 minutes). We were later approached by one calmer man who said he would take us for 250, we agreed because the hotel couldn’t get someone to us in time. It was such an intense situation and I had a pit in my stomach the entire ride to the hotel.
Our experience using Careem while visiting Egypt
We requested a ride using Careem from the Luxor train station to our hotel. The price was 30 Egyptian pounds and a driver accepted the ride. However, as soon as we got into the car he said he’d rather be paid cash and will cancel the ride so that our card doesn’t get charged.
We were being chased by a corrupt police officer (story I mentioned early), so we agreed. Plus there’s no way we were returning to the chaos on the street. However, within seconds he said “oh, you’re going to THAT hotel? That’s further than I thought so the price is double. Do you agree or do you want to get out of the car?”
We agreed and vowed never to use Careem again.
#7. Even professional tour guides, hired through a hotel, will try to get you to buy overpriced trinkets.
During our first few days of visiting Egypt we realized the importance of a professional guide. It’s worth mentioning that we’ve NEVER hired professional guides during our travels before, but Egypt was a wild card. We were swindled by an “Egyptologist” that approached us on the street near the famous market and started offering his services for free.
This was our first day in Egypt so we didn’t know better (haven’t been burned). At first we enjoyed his knowledge and signed up for the full day tour. We had a great time and hired him for a second day as well and then things started to get weird.
He showed us two cool mosques in the morning and then we hopped in a taxi that took us 40 minutes out of the city center to some chain restaurant (that was also located two blocks from our apartment).
We started to get a weird vibe about the whole situation and requested to return to our hotel after the meal. He got really weird about it and didn’t want to let us go, asking to take us shopping for souvenirs instead. We declined the offer and demanded to be taken back to the hotel.
Needless to say, we learned our lesson and only booked tours through hotels from that point forward. The problem? Every single one of the guides we booked took us to some souvenir shop to show us how “real alabaster” or “real maps” or “real papyrus” was made. It’s a whole production! The shop keep spends 20 minutes pulling out all the stops, which makes leaving empty-handed super awkward and uncomfortable.
We were really surprised by the hard sells, especially from professional tour guides. All told, we felt disappointed by our experience with the tour guides, but at least we got to see some epic temples without being approached by touts.
The biggest advantage of having a guide in Egypt is that other people don’t try to approach you and sell stuff to you. We got to a point where we gladly paid $100 each for half-day tours just to have a driver and guide that would serve as a buffer between us and everyone else. The hassling is so bad in Egypt, we couldn’t travel without guides.
#8. We couldn’t leave the pyramids fast enough
Don’t get me wrong, the Pyramids of Giza are downright epic. A true world wonder, this was the highlight of our trip — or at least we hoped it would be.
What we didn’t realize was the headache that came with the experience. First, we had to purchase the tickets at the booth and then found ourselves demanding proper change (they claimed not to take cards, even though the pricing sheet said cards were accepted).
After that debacle was settled we went into the Giza complex to take in the beauty of the pyramids from the overview. Within seconds we were approached by touts trying to sell tours — offers we firmly declined. We set up our camera to take a few photos (completely allowed) but were soon approached by a man in civilian clothing claiming to be an official.
He said “I believe you are taking videos and I need to see your camera.” We explained that we are taking photos using a timer and handed our camera over for review. He saw that we just had photos and allowed us to go. I found it very strange that the man claimed filming wasn’t allowed at the Pyramids since none of the posted signage alluded to that.
From there, a man approached us and tried to tell us that our photo can be improved if we move our tripod a few inches to one side. We thanked him for the tip and moved along but he started to follow us, offering his touring service. We kept walking as he followed us closely and started talking faster.
However, when we approached the entrance to the base of the pyramids, he became extremely aggressive and clearly agitated.
We declined his services and told him that we needed to get away from the harsh sun. He got very angry with my answer and demanded to know “why I was talking to him like that.” Surprised, I walked away. My husband ran up to me a minute later and said the man dropped his tour price from 800 Egyptian pounds to 200 because I walked off and would wait for us outside.
I said there’s no way in hell I’m doing a tour with that aggressive man and kept walking. What we didn’t realize until later is that the guide wasn’t allowed past the entrance area. He was getting super aggressive and angry with us because we were about to pass the “threshold” that he couldn’t go through.
The encounter shook me up, but we kept walking to see the pyramids. My husband mentioned that he wanted to see the cool vantage point where all 9 pyramids are seen side-by-side but the only way to see that overlook is by taking a camel or horse ride (something neither of us were stoked about, honestly).
We were torn, we didn’t want to ride a camel or a horse, but we were visiting Egypt to see the Pyramids and if that’s the only way to see all 9 pyramids, what choice did we have?
Well, turns out we didn’t have long to think about our decision. Within seconds of passing through the gateway we were approached for camel rides. Ah, yes — now that’s a whole other story.
#9. The camel rides at the Pyramid are downright heartbreaking.
Visiting Egypt without riding a camel is practically unheard of. Our childhoods are peppered with photos of the pyramids while colorfully decked out camels grace the foreground.
We weren’t digging riding camels because we weren’t sure how they were treated. However, at the end of the day we relented — when in Rome, right?
Wrong. Things went south pretty fast.
As soon as we got on the camels, instant regret washed over us. I couldn’t believe the condition of the camels (they had random designs carved into their necks).
Secondly, we agreed to a price of 200 Egyptian pounds per person for a 1-hour trip to the viewpoint but when we got back to the pyramids they demanded 3x more than we agreed on and wouldn’t let us go until we forked over the cash.
It’s easy to say that we should have just walked away, but the men became extremely aggressive and refused to let us go. We said we would pay them 600 Egyptian pounds total (200 for the ride + 100 tip per person) and they demanded more. They claimed they took the long route (which they didn’t, the returned to the pyramids in less than an hour) and said 300 Egyptian pounds per person was “nothing.”
I was so frustrated by the blatant rip off and deceit but my husband just wanted to leave. My husband and I had a brief argument over the sum and he said he just wanted to break free of the scammers. I had to walk away because I was so heated, but within seconds I was swarmed by two other men trying to sell me stuff.
At this point, we’ve been exploring the pyramids for 1.5 hours (we were visiting Egypt because of them!) and made the hard decision to just leave. While departing we were approached by two large groups of children and within minutes we noticed a bunch of adults as well.
They wanted photos with us (and we gladly obliged) only to realize they actually wanted money. As we left, they started running after us trying to sell necklaces and trinkets. We were so over it, we called the Uber and counted down the seconds until we were in our hotel.
#10. Stomach issues are super common while visiting Egypt
Finally, let’s discuss the last reason I won’t be visiting Egypt again. Granted, this is the most inconsequential reason.
First, Egyptian food leaves much to be desired. Folks love to make it seem like Egyptian food is “exotic” and “mind blowing” but in reality, the unofficial national dish of Egypt is a random mish-mash of various noodles topped with a tomato sauce and fried onion. It’s pretty good, but not an earth-shattering foodie moment by any stretch of the imagination.
But the lack of interesting food isn’t the issue, not even close. Rather, it’s the super common stomach issues that travelers develop while visiting Egypt.
A few days into our trip we were both waking up with odd stomach pains, even though we were super vigilant about what we ate. We stuck to beers and hotel food because the conditions of street food were questionable at best.
We had two meals in Cairo and found ourselves swatting flies while stray dogs walking about. After we started waking up with stomach issues we found ourselves on guard and cut back to two light hotel meals a day.
Take note while visiting Egypt: levels of cleanliness are low compared to Western standards. It doesn’t seem that proper cleaning protocols are followed. Heck, I used a restroom in one restaurant and it didn’t have toilet paper at all.
The worst part? The bar of soap was tiny (down to half an inch) and obviously old. The thought of the servers using the bathroom throughout the day made me nauseous.
Why I didn’t like visiting Egypt (Resources)
Here’s the forum I wish I would have found before visiting Egypt because I would have reconsidered the whole trip.
I hope this helps,