Egypt is without a doubt one of the most popular countries to visit in Africa; even after the Egyptian revolution, millions continue to visit every year. However, if you make the journey to this famed land, you need to prepare yourself — the culture is probably much different from your own. Here are 10 mistakes you shouldn’t make when traveling in Egypt, from what not to do when visiting monuments, to taboos you should not violate.
Don’t mess with the ancient stones
When you’re going to the pyramids or other monuments throughout Egypt, you might feel the desire to take a little something back with you. This is something you should definitely not do as it disturbs the integrity of the monument. Besides, many of these monuments have already been looted enough over the centuries. Writing or climbing on the monuments are also a big no no and could put you in even bigger trouble with the authorities. Basically, don’t be this guy.
Don’t get frisky
While not as conservative as it once was, Egypt is still not France. If you’re traveling with a companion, you should avoid any serious public intimacy if you can. Doing so is usually frowned upon and could definitely draw attention. Just save it for when you’re back in the hotel room.
Don’t carry around the travel book
Unless you want to be pegged as a blatant tourist that doesn’t know where they’re going, then proceed to get followed or approached by scammers, put away that thick travel book when you’re walking around. Instead, study it back at your hotel or be discreet about it when looking at it at a cafe. While this applies to many countries, it’s particularly important in Egypt.
Don’t dress like you’re in the movie The Mummy
While you might have got the idea from watching too many movies that you want to dress in all khaki and white with a large hat, please avoid this fashion faux pas. Not only will you stand out like a tourist (see above), nobody has actually dressed like that in decades. Save the Egyptologist look for a photo shoot at J.C. Penney.
Don’t forget the toilet paper
Unfortunately, many of the restrooms won’t have toilet paper or will have some guy standing outside trying to sell you a few pieces to wipe up with. We don’t think either option is ideal. Instead, pack a bit of toilet paper in your bag for safekeeping.
Don’t wear flip flops
It’s the middle of winter and you finally get to a hot country and want to break out the flip flops. That’s okay if you are just hanging out by a pool somewhere, but if you are walking around the streets of Cairo, you’re feet are going to end up really dirty. You also might cut your toes on broken glass somewhere in the streets. While you’re feet might breath a little less, do yourself a favor and just wear some normal shoes.
Don’t trust the “local tour guides”
By local, we don’t mean somebody that you researched on the internet before you came. We mean the people that approach you and offer to give you a tour around. More likely than not, these people aren’t licensed by any tourist agency and will attempt to charge you a rate much higher than what you could have got from a respectable company.
Don’t dress skimpy
You’re on vacation and want to walk around in your shorts and t-shirt. While you could do it, you’re definitely going to be wondering why everybody is looking at you, especially if you’re a woman. Being a Muslim country, Egypt is quite particular about dress, so just save yourself the hassle and cover up.
Don’t forget to haggle, haggle, haggle…then haggle some more
Unlike most Western countries, prices in Egypt are typically never set (unless you are paying admission for a museum or something). For almost every other circumstance, make sure you get a fair price with somebody by haggling for a lower price than what’s initially asked, and always get a price before you take a ride with somebody (whether in a taxi or on a camel).
Don’t forget to see more than the pyramids
You flew halfway around the world to see all the ancient relics of Egypt that you’ve been seeing in history books since you were old enough to read. While going to the pyramids is cool, make sure to take the time to actually explore the cities, eat at exotic restaurants, and talk to some locals before leaving. Otherwise, you might as well just stick to reading your history books.
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