It’s one of the most historic and spectacular countries on earth. Egypt: a place of incredible beauty, rich culture and celebrated landmarks. For 4,000 years the grandeur of the ancient pyramids has been the symbol of this majestic country – we’ve all seen the films, read the books and marvelled at the photographs, but what you may not have realised is that this is a country with so much more to offer.
Modern Egypt has and continues to play a key role in Middle Eastern politics. It is the largest Arab nation in the world and its economy is built primarily on tourism and agriculture. In fact, the country saw 51% growth in its tourism, according to recent research by Statista.
The major cities – such as the capital of Cairo – are concentrated along the world-famous Nile river, but the majority of Egypt is made up of desert. But what else should you know about this fabulous country before you go there on holiday? Well, before you book and look for the very best deals on hotels and flights, take a look at our list of some surprising things you perhaps didn’t know about Egypt.
You will need a visa
As with many countries in the region, you will need a visa to gain entry to Egypt. This isn’t something that needs to be arranged in advance, but it is worth having cash with you to buy one as you cross the border. The Egyptian tourist visa is $25, with the US dollar preferred as a currency to the unpredictable Egyptian pound. If you aren’t carrying cash with you, you may need to go to the nearest cash point to withdraw it before you are allowed to enter the country.
Get a guide
The magnificence of the pyramids will be on everyone’s bucket list on a trip to Egypt, but to truly understand the incredible living history you’re looking at we would encourage you to tour with the help of a guide. The local guides are helpful and extremely knowledgeable, and they will help to take your experience to the next level as you look around sites that will leave you awe-struck, even if they seem very familiar.
The kindness of strangers
It is easy and understandable to feel slightly intimidated by the hustle and bustle of Cairo’s incredible street markets. The sights, sounds and smells will be unfamiliar and there is no question that if you haven’t been before you are in for a fantastic culture shock. But although you have to be on your guard for those looking to take advantage of tourists, the vast majority of people in Egypt are delightfully kind and friendly to strangers and tourists.
It was recently ranked as the safest country in Africa, and you may find yourself being asked to pose for pictures with locals if you have blonde hair or very fair skin. There is a genuine intrigue and willingness to learn and understand people from different cultures and countries among the people of Egypt. It is a country where service is done with pride, so in restaurants, hotels, taxis and at sites of historical interest, don’t be afraid if you are approached by the locals who just want to know a bit about you. You never know, you may strike up friendships that last a lifetime. And what better way to understand a place like Egypt, than to immerse yourself in it and learn from the locals.