Over ten years of political issues have made it hard for people to visit Egypt. Since the past year, things have finally started to change. Lodges are full and boat trips along the river Nile are getting booked like it used to once upon a time again. The Grand Egyptian Museum has its doors open to visitors and it is quite a treat to experience. While there is nothing like seeing the pyramids for yourself or the other experiences that Egypt offers, the city itself has so many great things to look forward to.
Here are some things to do and tips to keep in mind while in Cairo:
Use the metro:
The metro system in Cairo is very efficient and is by far the easiest and cheapest way to travel across the city. The fares start at around three Egyptian pounds and increase depending on the distance you have travelled upto a maximum of seven pounds. Keeping the city’s traffic in mind, it can be a fairly fast way to travel. Keep in mind that you will be asked to submit your bags to someone who will put it through an x-ray machine for security reasons. The trains also have women-friendly compartments so keep an eye out for them if you’re a female traveller.
The taxi system is great:
All over the world, it is considered normal to heckle with taxi drivers about prices and fares that they charge or sometimes over charge tourists for. In Cairo, this does not happen. Drivers here accept a flat fare. Ensure that you make it clear to the driver that the ride is metered before entering the cab. Another thing to keep in mind is that cabs sometimes pick up multiple people at once, so don’t be discouraged to wave at a cab that already has some passengers. Side note: Cairo has uber.
Spend time in Giza:
A lot of the main attractions in Cairo are in the middle of the city but the pyramids are on the edge of it, about a 20 minute drive away. You can stay at a hotel in Giza instead of central Cairo so you can spend the most time possible at the pyramids. Marriot Mena House is a place that offers balcony side views of the light show that is performed in front of the pyramids.
The Great Pyramid has a tunnel- check it out:
Way back in the day, bribery of the security guards was the only way to get into the Great Pyramid’s burial chambers. Now, things have changed. With a $20 special entry ticket or a $9 general ticket you can get in legally. The tunnel is claustrophobia-inducing so beware. Some portions of the tunnel are very cramped so crouching is going to be something you’ll be doing a lot of. There’s only one tunnel to go both up and down and it’s going to be in close proximity to a lot of strangers. The cramped part of the tunnel doesn’t last too long but the cramped environment mixed with the very humid air can make it feel like a long time. Photos are not allowed in here. The tunnel also closes for an hour everyday to prevent too much moisture building up inside.
Scammers will try some tricks:
A common scam that occurs outside the Egyptian Museum is when a person will approach you and tell you that it is closed for a duration of an hour. Then they will suggest you to head to shops across the street. This is very likely going to be a lie since these shop owners pay these men a commission for purchases you may make at their shops. Wherever you’re planning to visit, check the official opening and closing hours. You also don’t need a guide to enter the museum but you do need to pay extra to be allowed to take pictures inside.
Well there you have it. This has been our short guide to Cairo, Egypt. We hope you enjoy your trip to this beautiful city and travel safely.