Not many people can say that they’ve never had Egypt on their bucket list. There are only those who’ve already crossed it out, and those who still haven’t had the opportunity of visiting it. The latter has a question for the former: is Egypt cheap to visit?
We’ve all grown up listening to stories about pharaohs of old, ancient legends and even older gods. After that, it’s been a staple of everyone’s education at one point or another, and we’ve all learned to appreciate the historic and cultural value of Egypt. That is why very few people are wondering if they should visit Egypt or not – the real questions are when, and how much.
Take a dive into this article which should inform you about everything you need to know about Egypt that’s cost-related, accompanied by a fact or two that you should definitely know before visiting. After all, you wouldn’t want your journey to this ancient land and its wonders (one of which is the last wonder of the ancient world standing) to be ruined by carelessness and lack of preparation.
Remember this: Egypt, for all its importance and charm, is not a walk in a park. Going in unprepared is a surefire way of getting yourself in a situation that’s destitute, desperate, and disheartening. It can also land you in a lot of trouble.
Best Time to Visit Egypt
A couple of things to consider when picking the date of your visit to Egypt – the first, and the more obvious consideration is the weather.
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Egypt generally has a reputation as being one of the hottest countries to visit. But, most travelers don’t realize what this means until they’re really there. Months from May to July are nightmarish – the blazing sun is relentless, and considering that most of the landmarks you’re going to visit are in the desert and often without a hint of shade nearby, ample sunscreen protection is a must, as well as a cap! Make sure to have a bottle of water with you always!
Another problem is the humidity, which can get to 60% in the months of July and August. That is why the months of May through August are considered low season, and why most people don’t visit at this time. Don’t consider this to be an opportunity to see landmarks without throngs of tourists – take it as a hint to avoid going to Egypt during these months.
High season: October to April
Low season: May to August
September is so-so, it can be nice as the weather is not that hot anymore (but can be), and the tourism is not yet in full swing. It is a good month to visit.
Now, we cannot provide a general, average temperature chart to help you along the way, as Egypt is a pretty big country with different temperature expectations during different months. Know that it will be warm, warmer than any weather forecast will prepare you, so do not forget sunscreen and caps!
Remember this: Political instability is not unheard of in Egypt. Keep track of the current situation in the country and see what travel advisories have to say.
The second important consideration is the month of Ramadan. Egypt is a country where the majority of the population are Muslim, and Ramadan is naturally going to be an important month for the believers.
This should not affect your visit drastically, but there are some changes to be aware of.
In 2020, Ramadan will be observed from April 23 to May 23.
During this period, Muslims fast from dawn until dusk, which could influence the opening and closing hours of certain cafes and restaurants, even in more touristy areas. Alcohol is usually not served during this period, and it would be respectful to avoid eating and drinking in public until dusk. Banks can also be affected by the change in working hours!
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You don’t have to worry about tourist attractions though – you’ll still be able to see the same landmarks during the same hours.
Local Currency in Egypt
The local currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). The symbol used is E£. There are two subdivisions of denominations in Egypt – qirsh and millemes.
1 EGP = 100 quirsh
1 EGP = 1,000 millemes
The exchange rate at the time of writing this article: 1 USD = 16.0505 EGP
Check the current rate on XE Currency Converter.
Cash is the favored mode of payment in Egypt, so make sure to have some on you at all times. Cards may or may not be accepted, and it should not be a gamble you’re willing to take. You can find ATMs in larger places such as Cairo and Alexandria, but you might want to stock up on cash before heading out to smaller, more remote areas. You can convert your currency in banks in Egypt or come prepared. If you opt for the latter, know that you’re not allowed to bring more than 5,000 EGP into the country – but you can have as much as $10,000 on you!
Flying to Egypt
Not lacking in the number of flight paths to it, Egypt is a very popular destination as it is quite easy to reach.
Some of the largest and most frequented airports in Egypt are:
- Cairo International Airport
- Luxor International Airport
- El Nouzha Airport
- Hurghada Airport
- Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport
Most people opt to catch a plane to either Cairo or Luxor and they’re definitely the two busiest airports in the country. They’re also the best-connected airports to the rest of the cities and destinations you might want to visit.
As far as the prices are concerned, expect to dish out no less than $500 for a return ticket to Egypt. You’re probably already aware of this, but flying is the most expensive part of any journey and you should be prepared for it. To make your decision-making as foolproof and efficient as possible, use websites such as Kiwi.com and Skyscanner.com to find the best deal for your journey to Egypt.
You can get a return ticket from Boston (BOS) to Cairo (CAI) for $558 on Kiwi!
Here are a couple of more examples:
- Boston to Hurghada for $512
- New York to Luxor for $542
- New York to Cairo for $572
There are a lot more flights to be found on the aforementioned websites, so find the right time and date for you and do so as soon as possible – the sooner you find your deal, the cheaper it’s going to be.
Traveling to Egypt requires a Visa. Visitors must also have passports that are valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival to Egypt.
There are several ways in which you can obtain a Visa for yourself. The first method is visiting the Egyptian diplomatic mission in your country – for example, the embassy in Washington D.C. It’s also possible to apply for a Visa online on this website here. Following this link, you’ll also find if your country is eligible for an eVisa.
Finally, if you’re from the European Union, the USA, or Canada, you can get a Visa on arrival. For additional information on the Visa policy of Egypt, see this website.
The price of Visa on arrival is $25 on the National Bank of Egypt counters located before immigration.
It’s hard to say what you should expect from bedding in Egypt. Oftentimes, what you get for the money you paid boils down to pure luck, and there’s not much you can do about it.
However, accommodation in Egypt makes up for this randomness in the quality of service with extremely low prices. First, we have to get two things out of the way – camping and B&Bs are not an option. The former is very rarely allowed and the worst ordeal you can put yourself through, while the latter are quite few and far between. Even if you do manage to find one, the quality of a B&B is usually going to match that of low-end hotels.
As you would expect, cities such as Cairo, Luxor, Alexandria, and Aswan have much better choices for you to explore. One more surprise waiting for you in Egypt, especially in larger cities, is a lack of mid-range options. Mid-range hotels are not as readily available in Egypt as you could expect, so it’s either low tier hotels or top-end ones.
What can you expect in terms of prices? For dorms and hostels, you’ll be able to spend the night for as little as $3 (about 50 EGP).
Dorm/Hostel: $3-$9 per night
Low-end hotels: $12 per night (200 EGP).
For mid-tier and the best hotels you can find, the prices spike unbelievably.
Average Daily Cost of Accommodation: $12
Food and Drink
Let’s start off the discussion on food and water with a warning: DO NOT drink the tap water.
Tap water is not safe and far from tested. The same goes for hotels – brush your teeth with bottled water! Stick to the bottled water no matter where you are, and we mean that quite literally since the temperatures can get crazy.
A bottle of water: 2 EGP ($0.12)
1.5-liter bottle of water: 4 EGP ($0.25)
Average daily spending on water: $0.50
Alcohol is not an issue – despite being mostly Muslim, you’ll find that some people like to have local Egyptian beer now and then. It is not imported and there aren’t any heavy taxes imposed on it. Moreover, it’s delicious and simply a must-have.
Bottle of beer: 24 EGP ($1.5)
Remember this: Tipping is very common and Egypt and a cultural thing of theirs. It will also grant you a much better service.
Now, food. Egyptian food has a reputation for being unforgiving to those with a stomach less formidable and unprepared for the richly flavored cuisine. It goes without saying that you should try the local delicacies, but don’t say you weren’t warned. Either way, the local food will cost you far less than any expensive dinners in restaurants or western fast food joints.
The average expense of eating on a budget: $6
Average Daily Cost of Food and Drink: $8
There are many forms of local transportation, and they’re also incredibly cheap.
You can even catch tuk-tuks speeding about, a ride which will cost you no more than a $1 in one direction. Another form of popular local transportation are also minibusses, which cost about the same amount of money as tuk-tuks, can cover greater distances, but don’t go anywhere until they’re full. Get ready for a crowd of people, and watch your pockets!
Average Daily Cost of Transportation: $4
Remember this: Do not rent a car. It is expensive, the traffic is hectic, and there are more risks than advantages involved with driving in Egypt. Also, the quality of roads is not that amazing.
The recommended daily budget for a trip to Egypt is $24 (390 EGP).
However, it’s important to keep several things in mind regarding your trip to this great country. First of all, haggling is a way of life, so you better come prepared (i.e. get some haggling skills). Secondly, the average cost does not include tips, which are very common, if not necessary, and they can add a couple of dollars to your daily expenditures.
Is Egypt cheap? It all depends on who you ask.
On paper, Egypt is incredibly cheap and you can have such an amazing time there with very little money in your wallet. However, visiting Egypt on your own versus traveling with a tour group are two different worlds. If you’re a firm negotiator, an excellent money manager, and an expert tipper, you’ll be able to have such an unforgettable time in Egypt with as little money as possible.
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If not, you might see your cash slowly erode away with purchases you were hassled into making and giving overly-generous tips. Egypt is a dynamic and chaotic place at all times, and if you prefer safer and less crazy journeys, you would do much better by paying for an all-inclusive package and let your guides do the rest.
It is a decision every visitor to Egypt must make, and as we said – do not venture here without good preparation and plenty of planning!