Assalam walaykum, a respectful way to say hello in Arabic. Little did we know that one day we would have to use this word so frequently. This was real common in Egypt as everyone greets you whether you know them or not, politeness and common courtesy is the way of life for Egyptians. That’s one thing I really miss in Indian culture.
So we visited the Arab republic of Egypt for a whopping 11 days. How was it? We had a BLAST (in a non terrorist way). Whoever says Egypt is not safe, it’s risky blah blah can go take a hike. Yes, there are military personnel, tanks, police etc everywhere but that is for our own safety. They are more concerned about the safety of tourists than their own people. We had literally gone to Tahrir Square during a curfew and everything was so peaceful. Riots and protests are very peaceful there unlike India where latthi charge is way of life. Rest assured Egypt is a very safe place if you are a tourist. Absolutely nothing to worry about.
Another great reason to visit Egypt apart from the beautiful history and culture is the level of respect they have for Indians. As SRK said, every Indian in Egypt is Amitabh Bacchan. Egyptians love Indians as we are both culture rich countries and we both are developing countries. Our traditions and hospitality is practically the same. Wherever you go in Egypt be assured of a royal welcome if you are from AL-HIND (India).
One big advantage for us was that we looked exactly like Egyptian due to our height and built plus Colin can speak Arabic and French so that was a great advantage.
We spend about 11 days in Egypt. Before you go, you have to decide on what kind of Egypt you want to see. The first is the Egypt along the Nile which has all the major monuments. Alexandria –Cairo-Aswan-Luxor these four places host a majority of the monuments right from the pyramids to Abu Simble.
The alternate route is a more relaxed diving route along the Sinai Peninsula which consists of Port Said-Dahab-Sharm El Shaikh-Hurghada. The beaches here are breath taking, pristine and have white sand. A divers paradise but no monuments. So if sight seeing is primary then go for route A, if you want a more relaxed and chilled holiday with adventure sports got for Route B. if you have lots of time on your hands go for a mixture of A and B.
We spend about 50000 rupees (fifty thousand). Including air fare, visa, stay, travel etc. we are not lying. Egypt is a pretty affordable country. The conversion is 1 Egyptian Pound(L.E) = 8.5 Indian Rupees. Our airfare cost us 13500 INR return. We took a long route i.e Calicut to Alexandria via Saudi. 6750 one way is a dream come true! So, we didn’t mind the wait or long journey. The total flying time was around 11 hours including transit time. Btw, if you choose to go from Calicut, be prepared for a heavy interrogation. We were officially the first people to go to Egypt from Calicut. They didn’t know where Alexandria was, what an Egyptian visa looked like, they weren’t even sure that we were Indians.
Alternatively, if budget isn’t a problem. You can choose to fly out from Mumbai, there are direct flights to Cairo by Egypt air. A return ticket will cost you 25000 Rs.
Domestic flights in Egypt are expensive hence we chose to travel by train which is very comfortable, has AC and is affordable. Log on to www.enr.gov.eg to book your train tickets with a credit card. Please opt only for AC1 i.e ac first class.
Going to Egypt requires a visa and following is the process to obtain a Egyptian visa.
Egyptian visa process and requirements:
The process is fairly simple and you don’t need to be present in person. We went through Riya travels(above dominoes) as our Classmate Shabeer is working there and he got us a great deal.
You can call Shabeer on +91-8722570303. He is very helpful and gets everything done with ease. You can give our reference.
The visa fees in 2900 inr for single entry and 4000 for multiple entry. Processing time is 10 working days. Following are the documents submitted by us.
Original Passport + Old Passport
Covering Letter Addressed to the Consulate General of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mumbai with Applicant’s Name, designation, Passport details, date of travel, purpose of visit & duration of stay & who will bear the expenses.
Hotel voucher booking (you can make a fake booking from www.booking.com and cancel it once you get the visa)
Personal Bank Statement for last 6 months updated till date & should be in original with Bank Seal & Sign. Minimum balance required for 1st time traveler 80000 INR otherwise 50000 INR. If you have a credit card, attach a signed statement of that too, its very helpful
2 photographs size 35 x 45 mm, white background, matt finish 80% face covered
Once you get your visa don’t be alarmed as the visa looks like 1975 UAE visa. Its original.
Now that you have your visa. Following are some other pre requisites before you go
The best time to go is around November to March as it is winter. Temperatures go as low as 5 degrees. If you want to go to the peninsula side then May to October is ideal as it is summer.
Carry about 100 USD as emergency money to exchange as INR isn’t accepted there. The best option is to use your debit card to withdraw cash at any ATM as you will save instead of converting to USD and then to EGP.
A lot of walking is required so prep up your stamina and carry the most comfortable sport shoes.
If you are with family, we suggest you to go for a package tour. If you are friends, then follow the itinerary we are providing below.
Though Egypt is a liberal place, it is a Muslim country, so women have to be dressed appropriately at all times. No one will stare or attack you. But its our duty to follow their customs as we are in their country, so please avoid shorts or mini skirts. Wear pants and half sleeves wherever you go.
You need lungs of steel in this country. Smoking is a way of life here. We practically couldn’t find anyone who didn’t smoke in Egypt. People smoke everywhere, be it the airport or a mall. You can literally smoke anywhere.
If you are below 26 please make a international youth card. This card costs 600 rs but it saved more than 5000 rs for us. This card gives you a 50% discount at all monument entry fees. Entry fees cost a bomb for tourists and nothing is less than 1000 rs, so please make this card. Use this link isic.co.in you can apply online and they will mail the card to you in 7 days.
Carry a sweater as the weather does get cold.
Don’t be alarmed if someone smiles at you or greets you. Please smile and greet them back.
Learn basic words in Arabic and French before you go. They can be really helpful while communicating with locals.
Do not be scared, nobody will harm you. The crime rate against tourists is practically nil.
Be careful, there are a lot of touts in the tourist areas especially in Giza near the pyramids. Ignore them and just walk, do not speak. They will try to con you. Rest of the monuments aren’t as bad as Giza.
If you travel without a tour package, we suggest you to hire an English speaking guide for every monument you visit as they can explain everything in detail and its worth it. There are plenty of guides who will approach you outside sites. Don’t say ok to the first guy you meet, keep bargaining.
Bargaining is a must in Egypt, as we are tourists they will charge more, we too do the same to tourists in India. Luckily for us Indians, bargaining is in our blood. If they quote 100 rs for example, the real price would be 25 rs. so bargain hard folks. Be it a taxi, tour guide or anything, bargain hard, let the true Indian come out.
You may not like Egyptian food but feel free to try them some must try main course dishes are Koshary, Molokhiya and cold mezze (various dips like tahini, Baba Ganouj and Hommos with Bread). Best desserts include Umm Ali, Roz Laban and Muhallabia.
Snacks in Egypt are a real treat you get amazing Falafel on the streets for 1 L.E and Foul (Rajma) for the same. They have amazing Shawarmas too starting at 5 L.E for small and 15 L.E for big ones the size of your arm. The Arabic Marghertia pizzas are yum too. You get a large pizza for about 25 L.E
Bread is the most respected and subsidized food here. Egyptians are crazy about bread. So bakery items here are mind blowing. Feel free to try them
Have a great time. This trip will be the time of your life so enjoy it. Everything closes late in Egypt at 2am or so. Spend the evenings relaxing at a local coffee shop, enjoy some Shaay (Tea), Lahwa (Turkish Coffee) or smoke a hookah if you wish it costs only 20rs, the most expensive sheesha will cost you 150 rs. spend the evenings socializing and relaxing like a king, the way Egyptians do.
Now that you are all prepared to go to Egypt, here is the tour itinerary we followed, you can do exactly the same.
Cairo (3 days)
Cairo is the capital of Egypt and is similar to any metro city in India, so expect traffic jams and crowd. There are many places to stay in Egypt so you can choose any place which is close to a metro station. Luckily we had a friend who we could stay with.
In case you arrive at Alexandria and you want to go to Cairo or Alexandria city by taxi please call Hassan on +201143294026. People drive like maniacs in Egypt, worse than India. But Hassan drives like a gentleman. You can call him and give our reference. He speaks good English and is helpful, he won’t cheat you either. A taxi to Cairo will cost you 500 L.E and to Alexandria city 150 L.E
We spend 3 days in Cairo, the first day was a protest, so we spend the day exploring food, getting a sim card which is another must. Go for Vodafone as it has the best coverage in Egypt.
Located 30 kms from Cairo, a metro there will cost you one pound, a taxi 100 L.E but most taxis use the meter if you insist on it.
Entry into the pyramid complex will cost you 70 L.E where you have access to the complex with 3 main pyramids and the sphinx. If you wish to go inside the pyramids like deep down you have to pay 100 L.E extra. You can skip going inside because there nothing to see, its deep and dark and all the mummies are shifted to the Egyptian national Museum.
Egyptian National Museum.
This museum is huge and is located in Tharir square (the epicenter of all protests) entry fee is 70 L.E for the main museum. Which is massive. Don’t forget to go for a guide.
There is a separate room to see the royal mummies including King Ramses, Tutankhamon etc which will cost you 125 L.E extra. But its worth and those mummies don’t look as rosy as you imagined.
The city is filled with various beautiful Coptic churches, feel free to get into any and explore. Entry is free.
This is a complex of one of the oldest Mosques in Cairo and of The National Police Museum. The mosque is a class apart and is massive but the museum is boring. The citadel also offers panoramic views of the city. Entry free 80 L.E
Also called old Cairo, navigate your ways through the old streets and meet new people and have some tasty food.
6. Khan al Khalil
Located opposite Azhar park, this is your one stop for souvenirs, they start off expensive but don’t forget to bargain.
With these places we were done in Cairo, there is lot more to explore but these are the must visit places. We had a night train from Ramses station in Cairo to Aswan. The train cost us 105 L.E
Aswan is a beautiful city which can be compared to Mangalore due to its size, located on the bank of the river Nile, it really is beautiful.
Following are the must see places in Aswan.
This was the main reason we were here. You have to arrange a tour with a convoy which leaves at 4am and comes back by 1pm. You get to spend 2 hours to see the two temples at abu simbel which is located near the Sudan border. It takes 3 hours for a one way drive. The temples are truly majestic. They are built by King Ramses 3, cost of travel 120 L.E and entry fee with guide 125 L.E
Another massive temple with breathtaking views of the Aswan Dam. The entry fee is 100 L.E and the return boat ride costs 100. L.E per boat.
A museum depicting Nubian culture and lifestyle. A must go. Entry fee 70 L.E
An island located off the Nile with a beautiful landscape. A return Felluca boat trip will cost you 50 L.E per person.
The Unfinished Obelisk.
This is the remaineder of a huge obelisk which was left uncompleted. Nothing great you can skip this.
Aswan Moon Hotel.
Located on the river Nile, This is a must dine place, it has beautiful views of the Nile and has a great continental fare. Tell the manager that The 3 Hungry Men sent you and be assured of the best food and service. A sumptuous meal for 2 will cost only 100 L.E
There are many more sights to see in Aswan but do not I repeat do not miss Abu Simbel. We took a train to our next stop Luxor which is a 3 hour journey and will cost 43 L.E by AC1
Luxor (3 Days)
Luxor is one of the most loved tourist destinations in Egypt and was also the Old Capital of Egypt. It consists of the west and east bank located on either sides of the Nile river. We recommend you to stay on the west bank as it more peaceful and there are no pesky touts bothering you.
The solution to all your problems will be if you stay at Villa Delita co owned by an Italian Lady Roberta and an Egyptian man Mohammed. Mohammed was a blessing in disguise for us. He is extremely helpful will come and pick you up and take you the villa arrange your tours without any commission. He is there at your beck and call and is a true trustworthy Egyptian .
We stayed in Villa Dellita for 3 days and guess how much was the cost per day? It was a huge apartment with 1000 sq feet space in front of the river Nile with a huge compound, bedroom, bathroom etc. all for 750 rupees a day! Not kidding.
You can contact Mohammed on +201274826839 or +201008600537 . you can give our reference as the first Indian guys who stayed there and he will acknowledge it and treat you like a king.
Following are the list of must visit place in Luxor. You do the west bank on the first day and east bank on the next day or vice versa. You can cross the banks by ferry for 1 L.E or by private boat for 10 L.E
Located on the east bank, this is a breath taking temple and you have to see it at night because it is all lit up, it’s a majestic experience and is massive. Don’t forget to get a guide there. Entry 80 L.E
Temple of Karnak
This is a 2 km square complex of temple of most kings in Egypt with the biggest one being built by Ramses, there is a great hall with 164 massive pillars. Also home to the biggest single stone obelisk at 41 meters high. Entry fee 100 L.E
A well decorated museum having many statues and inscriptions. Entry fee 80 L.E
A museum of various tools and procedures to mummify people. Entry fee 60 L.E you can give this a miss.
Valley of Kings.
Located in the East Bank, this is a home to more than 160 tombs, the more important are 13 tombs of various rulers. You can go deep down into each tomb and see how they were buried. Entry fee 100 L.E, the tombs of Ramses 6 will cost you 60 L.E extra and of Tutankhamon is 80 L.E , the others are included in the general fee.
Another massive temple with lot of descriptions and pillars. Beautiful art work. Entry fee 80 L.E
Two huge statues of Ramses on the road, entry is free, just take a pic and move on.
10. Hot Air Balloon.
The major attraction in Luxor, a hot air balloon ride for 1 hour just for 250 L.E including pick up and drop. Starting at 5.am you get to see the beautiful sun rise and sights from top. The landing is very rough. Recommended for those who have a strong lower body. A strict no for old people. This trip is arranged by Mohammed trough HOD HOD balloon company, the oldest company with the safest track record in Egypt.
If you fancy staying in an apartment here you can contact Mr. Khaled on +201015981685. He has a 2 bedroom apartment facing Maamoura beach on the 12th floor just for 180 L.E a night.
With this we were done. The next day was our flight back home and the Egyptian dream came to an end.
Egypt was a dream come true for us, we couldn’t believe that we had actually gone to Africa and returned. It is definitely a much better choice over Dubai as true Arab culture can only be experienced in Egypt! We recommend this place for everyone. We trust our guide is helpful. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us. Hope to see your updates from Egypt soon! Till our next trip, Masallama!
The 3 Hungry Men is the brainchild of three very hungry men. No, seriously! Almost 7 years into the food and travel reviewing industry and their joint venture has proved to be a huge success with their excellent & honest reviews and media coverage. The 3 Hungry Men now travel the world to follow thier passion. They also organise all kinds of food events with a part of the proceeds going to charity. They also conduct food meets, contests, competitive eating events and of course do what they do best: TRAVEL & EAT!