What you need to know before visiting Egypt on holiday

From the iconic Pyramids to the Valley of the Kings, the beauty of Cairo to a cruise down the Nile, it is little wonder that more than one million Britons head for Egypt every year. For the vast majority, it will be a wonderful experience and you can make sure that this is the case for you if you prepare sensibly for your trip and take some common-sense precautions when you’re there. Here is a useful guide to making sure you have a great trip to Egypt.

Getting in
First of all, if you are a UK passport holder, entering Egypt should not be a problem as long as your passport is valid for at least six months. If you are just planning to visit the South Sinai Red Sea resort area, such as Sharm El Sheikh, you will receive free entry for up to 15 days on arrival. However, if you are planning to travel around the country or stay for longer than 15 days, you will have to apply for a visa. This can be done at an Egyptian consulate prior to your visit or by paying for one upon arrival. If you enter under the free 15-day dispensation, you can always apply for a full visa at Sharm El Sheikh Airport should you wish to stay longer or travel more widely.

When you are in the country, it is advisable to carry photographic identification with you at all times – a photocopy of your passport is usually sufficient for this.

It’s always advisable to have some local currency before visiting a foreign country for smaller purchases but these days a credit card is one of the handiest things you can carry with you, particularly if it is from a globally recognised bank, for example an HSBC credit card. A credit card allows you to make payment easily, more securely and offers you increased protection if something does go wrong. It also allows you to use ATMs in Egypt, pay for larger purchases with more peace of mind and also limits the amount of cash that you will have to carry with you.

The same rules apply in Egypt as they would anywhere else when using a credit card: try to avoid using it at market stalls, smaller restaurants or anywhere that insists on removing your card from view.

In terms of health, make sure you contact your GP a couple of months before your trip to make sure you don’t need any specific vaccinations. In Egypt itself, particularly in Cairo and the popular resorts, healthcare is good. Make sure you have travel insurance before you go to ensure that you are covered in the unlikely event of something going wrong.

Culture and customs
Although a liberal society, be aware that Egypt is primarily an Islamic country and as such you should respect local customs and behave appropriately at all times. You should dress modestly, men ensuring they cover their chests and women their legs and upper arms. Pay special attention to any dress codes at religious sites as these may be very different from those in tourist resorts. You should also refrain from drinking alcohol outside the resorts or licensed bars and restaurants.

Egypt is an amazing mix of modern and ancient and the perfect place for a holiday. Adopt a little common sense and it’ll be a trip you remember forever.

You can find out further details about travelling to Egypt from the UK Government’s foreign travel advice service.

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