I went to Egypt in February and I got lots of questions from friends and family about my trip. One of the biggest questions was Why Egypt? Well, why not? I've been fascinated about Egyptian history and myths ever since I was a little kid, and I always knew that I wanted to see the pyramids. I knew it would happen when it was meant to, so when I found a cheap flight, I hopped on the chance. Everyone was scared of me going alone. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive at first but my worries went away once I arrived. I was determined. Egypt may not be for everyone, but if you like an adventurous side of traveling and to see a place rich in history, read on to hear about my experiences and tips!
How To Get A Visa?: I got a visa on arrival at Cairo airport, for 25$ USD. Make sure you have USD for this exact amount. There are a number of booths that will do this at the airport. Takes only a few minutes.
Giza Daytrip: My highlight of the trip was a day trip to the Giza Pyramid complex, as well as Saqqara pyramid complex, and Memphis. To be honest, I would've skipped the Memphis stop as it's really a small outdoor museum, and stayed longer at Giza if I could've! The trip was organized through my hostel which made it so much easier. Basically you have your own private driver for the day, but not a tour guide(I believe you could probably book this at an extra price). There are additional costs for everything. It was about 80$ equivalent to get a camel and tour guide for the Giza Pyramids, I paid more for the longer tour. This also includes entrance to the pyramid complex. My tour guide was FANTASTIC and basically played the role of "instagram boyfriend" for me and took snaps of me on my phone, camera, even took video clips when I asked him. I never felt like I missed out on a photo op, and as we know traveling solo this can be incredibly hard to capture the memories. It was an hour and a half time for the tour, but I honestly could've spent all day there if they let me. The next stop was the Saqqara pyramid complex, there were some tombs here and it was cool to go inside and see the hieroglyphics. This stop did not include a tour guide and I believe I paid about 20-60 Egyptian pounds for entry here, which is maybe a dollar or two. The one thing about this stop and being a blonde haired petite woman(or any woman here) was that I got hassled. A LOT. It's to be expected. I had one guy want to take photos with me multiple times, he asked if I had a husband and how many camels I wanted for him to be my husband. At first I was trying to chuckle it out, but by the end of the day with similar things happening with different men at the different historical sites, I just learned to ignore them or pretend I didn't speak english. It was annoying, it happened often, but I didn't want it to put a damper on my day or my trip. If you ignore them, they'll stop talking to you eventually, or yell after you as you walk away. Let me be clear, there was no threat of physical danger. I never felt like I would be attacked, robbed or mugged. I felt safe, but uncomfortable by the unwanted attention. It's like dealing with a creepy guy at a bar that won't leave you alone. The other thing with this unwanted attention, is that Egypt has a very big "tipping" culture, or baksheesh. Basically if you have a tour guide, or driver you are expected to tip, even a little bit. When one of these guys comes up to you at the sites and wants to show you something, or even to take a picture of you, he wants a tip for it. That's how they work, they're not trying to rob you or run away with your purse, they're trying to get tips out of you and they will keep talking to you until you give them money essentially. I'm usually a very nice patient calm person but I am on a budget and don't have money to give to these random guys(I did tip my driver and tour guide) so as I said before I walked away or pretended I don't speak English. They get the hint and move on to the next people.
Did You Feel Safe?: As I mentioned before I never felt unsafe. No one threatened me in any way. The most I got on the street was lots and lots of stares, although I expected this. It can be a little off putting to be on your own and be the center of attention, but I think the eye contact was more curious than anything malicious. Wondering why a girl would choose to come here on her own or what she was doing perhaps? The only thing would be to be careful of people taking advantage of your foreignness, for example raising prices for things like taxis or in the markets buying souvenirs. This is to be expected as well, this is fairly common in most places, even SE Asia.
Is It Affordable?: Easily the most affordable place I've ever been to. There are flights to other parts of the country for 50-100$. I got a private room in a hostel for about 8$ an night. I took an uber and got stuck in crazy Cairo traffic for about a little more than an hour and it was still only 4$! Read on and you'll see some of the food I tried, where I spent less than 75 cents for a meal!
Was There Enough To Do?: Yes and yes!! I could've done more trips outside Cairo, but I found even Cairo was a bustling city with enough to explore, the old and new parts were so different and so fascinating!
How Do I Dress?: Egypt is a more conservative culture so as long as you aren't wearing short shorts or crop tops, you're fine. It's more about being respectable. As I went in February, I wore pants and jeans most days because it was actually not very hot and a little chilly wind! I think it is the more bearable time of the year to visit as summer gets scorchingly hot.
How Do You Get Around?: In Cairo, I took Uber everywhere! It's cheap, and you don't have to deal with a language barrier in Arabic when telling your driver where to take you, or have to negotiate a price. You can just plug in the address and go!
Thankful to my new Egyptian friend Maram for taking me to the night market. We got there just around midnight and it was still very lively!! It is a hub for late night tea and hookah, as well as a bit of bartering and shopping! I felt very safe when I was with her and we had a lot of fun exploring.
FOOD: Cause food is everything right? Honestly I had no prior knowledge or expectations of Egyptian food, so arriving and finding vegetarian options were part of a few main meal staples here was very comforting! My favorite new dish I tried(more than once!) was koshary(apparently it is the national dish of Egypt) which consists of lentils, rice, pasta, tomato sauce(it's a little vinegar-y and sometimes a touch spicey) and dried onions to top. There are places that exist that ONLY serve koshari, and you just pick, small medium or large portion. Beware the food coma with this one as it is insanely filling but so deliciously tasty!
Another classic food I ate a lot of was falafel in pita, as well as a new one I tried, foul, which is mashed fava beans(reminded me of the taste and texture of mexican refried beans, yum!). I could get one wrap sandwhich of each of these for a total of about 5 egyptian pounds, something like 25-50 cents. That is the cheapest dinner I've ever had. The restaurant, Gad, is all over Cairo, you order from a guy at a small counter then you take your receipt and hand it over to the guys cooking. I never had to wait longer than a minute for this fast food!
Would I Go Back?: Yes! Egypt was the most eye opening place I've ever been. It's crazy, it's chaos, it's cheap, it's exhilarating. If I went back, I'd go to places other than Cairo-Dahab for example and do some diving in the Red Sea! Egypt is insanely affordable, and if you exercise general precautions as you would while traveling, it is safe! Would you go to Egypt?