I'm going to Cairo and Luxor this summer, and need some practical advice from those of you who have actually been there. What is the malaria situation? How long should skirts be when sight-seeing? I'm staying at very nice hotels, with beautiful pools--what is the swimsuit situation for women at such a tourist-heavy place?
Don't worry, frizzyperm, I'm not stressed--except maybe about the smoke :) I'm fairly well-traveled, been to the Soviet Union when it was the Soviet Union, etc. I'm comfortable in various cultures, but one reason for that is that I try to make sure I am not offending local customs; search out acceptable gestures and clothing before I go. I wish more people would!
I was in the Cayman Islands a few years ago, and thought I would not get burned on a cloudy day. This was a big mistake! Please bring sun protection of at least number 35 or stronger. I was so badly burned, I wore a headscarf to protect myself, rather than for religious reasons!!!
I could not go outside for approximately 2 to 3 days. As well, I would advise you to bring light coloured clothing. I was very happy to have white slacks and white shirts. It made a huge difference. Have a great time...
Thank you all so much--I greatly appreciate the input. I'm really just concerned about two things--the heat and the cigarette smoke. I know I won't be able to avoid the smoke, and I am horribly sensitive. Any advice on that aspect?
One extra piece of advice regarding something that we encountered last year at some tourist-heavy sites is that thieves have become even more sophisticated; so you need to be on guard without looking like a tourist. This means that you maintain awarenessthat sometimes a pickpocket will distract with you by trying to sell you something while a child or someone else steals from you--sometimes by quickly cutting the straps on bags, purses etc. So, just use common sense and don't stand around for long periods of time in tourist areas.
If you are going to bring any electrical things such as a hair dryer you may want to bring a converter or you may not be able to use it.
Most importantly, stay safe. Ask the hotel to get you taxi service. They know the reputable ones to use. Also, ask where to dine at, etc.
Also remember to be respectful. Most people in Egypt are Muslim so be conservative. It is disrespectful to kiss in public, etc.
Excellent advice from the above post. Additionally, be prepared to deal with the extreme heat. I visited Morocco several years ago in June, and the temperature hit 112 degrees. Sadly, the modest dress may interfere with keeping cool, so you may want to keep water with you at all times. Headwear (cap, hat, etc.) is a must. I carried a change of T-shirts, but that might not be possible. I know I'd be at that pool when not seeing the sites.
How nice that you are conscientious about the culture and customs of your host country. Obviously you will want to dress “modestly”, but what does that mean? Loose cotton or linen pants, longer skirts, and shirts with ¾ to ½ length sleeves. Cleavage should not be exposed, thighs should not be exposed, and preferably knees and elbows should not be exposed. Shirts should not be see-through even if an underlying garment is worn. If you are going to be visiting places that require more respect such as a temple, or if men are noticing you, it would be a good idea to take a pashmina along.
Dressing in this manner will ensure that you do not offend your host country, and it will also protect you from the strength of the sun which always seems potent.
Your greatest dangers are sun-burn and 'The Pharoah's Revenge' (i.e. stomach infections.)
The heat is dry. It's not sweaty like New Orleans heat.
Ciggy smoke??? Avoding tobacco smoke in Egypt is the same as anywhere else.
Basically, from my experience, in Egypt, new arrivees imagine they have landed in some incredibly foriegn country where one false move will land them in jail or in some massive public mayhem. Well, maybe that is what Fox News wants America to believe, but Egypt is as 'easy' as the Carribean or Greece or Mexico.
Quit stressing. You'll be fine. ;-)
I'm not sure I agree with everything written here. Cairo/Egypt is safer than places like LA or NY. You can stroll the streets in the evening safely. You will not be attacked or robbed. I lived in Cairo for a while. It is the most impressive city in the Arab world. Their crime rates are very very low.
Egypt is a modern Arabic country, you definitely won't need a headscarf (although you may want a wide brimmed hat as it's VERY hot in summer.) You can dress like a civilised Western women. Obviously you will need a head scarf and long sleeves in Cairo's historic Mosques, but outside the mosque, you can dress how you like. You are going to Egypt, not Saudi Arabia. At your hotel you can lie by the pool in your bikini. Do not worry about accidently transgrssing 'over-sensitive Islamic sensibilities.' The Egyptians are perfectly civilised and reasonable people, I promise. Wander through the magnificent bazaar and feel as safe as you would in your local mall.
But, my main advice is, when you visit ancient sites (pyramids etc), don't dress like a "Stupid Rich Tourist" and learn the Arabic for "No, thank you." Because the problem in Egypt is the tourist sellers. Outside all big tourist sites, you must run the gauntlet of the tourist shops. They can be very persistent and irritating and there are lots and lots of them.
Here is how you run the gauntlet of Egyptian tourist-shopkeepers....
1) Dress like a cool experienced international traveller. (I.e. don't wear a T-shirt that says 'I Love Cairo' etc.)
2) Put dark glasses on and don't make eye contact.
3) Stroll confidently with your partner, engaged in conversation. When a shop-keeper politely blocks your path, gesturing you to look at his wares, don't stop. simply ignore him, briefly saying "La, Shukran" (no thanks) like you've said it a million times before. Walk round him, giving gentle 'pushing past' body language, continuing to talk to your partner, as though deep in conversation. Don't look at their products, don't take anything they try to give you to look at (they won't let you give it back), don't shake hands if they offer (they won't let go.)
The seller will not be offended when you ignore him, he knows perfectly well that his behaviour is pushy and unacceptable. He will simply assume you're ignoring him because you have seen his game 1000 times before. YOU are an experienced Egyptian traveller, not some Noob from Wyoming on Day3 of their 14 day holiday and he will realise he has no chance to sell you a crappy plastic muscial revolving Sphinx? He will let you go and look for easier prey.
Easy Peasy, eh? :-)
You will only be pestered for a few minutes a day and apart from these tourists vultures, Egyptians are wonderful, civilised, people.
Enjoy this historic, exotic place. I took my 73 year old mum to Egypt. She ab-so-lute-ly loved it. You will be safe and amazed.