|Facts & Useful Informations
|Cairo, which has enfolded various civilizations,
does not concede to mortality which it has overcome.
Cairo, the city where past and present meet, invites you to come and enjoy its beautiful all-year weather, and visit the immortal monuments and relics, especially the ancient pyramids, in Giza.
|Passport / Visa Requirements|
|Passports, visas and proof of onward passage are required of Australian, British, Canadian and U.S. visitors. Reconfirm all documentation requirements with carrier before departure.|
|Language and Currency|
|The country's main language is Arabic -- specifically, a type called Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. English is widely understood at tourist attractions and major hotels. This is not the case in taxi cabs -- the drivers usually speak only Arabic. The currency is the Egyptian pound (ŁE), which is divided into 100 piastres. As we went to press, the exchange rate was ŁE 3.41 to the U.S. dollar, ŁE 2.46 to the Canadian dollar, ŁE 2.67 to the Australian dollar and ŁE 5.48 to the British pound sterling. All prices in this report are in local currency.|
|There are no vaccines required of
visitors arriving from Australia, Europe or North
America, and there are no major diseases that are
commonly transmitted to visitors. Visitors will most
likely encounter a mild case of diarrhea, sometimes
called "mummy's tummy," during the first week,
as the body adjusts to the new environment. The tap water
in Cairo is generally considered safe because it's
heavily chlorinated, but the chlorine can bother your
stomach as your stoamch is not acustomed to this level.
Bottled water or prepackaged or boiled drinks is
recoomended instead. We also advise against eating food
from street stallsand avoiding unwashed or unpeeled
fruits and vegetables.
For more information, call the Centers for Disease Control International Traveler's Hotline (404-332-4559), Canada's Division of Health (613-957-8739), the Australian Traveler's Health Line (06-269-7815) or the U.K.'s Medical Advisory Service (0891-224-100).
|Egypt uses 220 volts (appliances that use 240 volts work on this current as well). The city's outlets require a two-pronged plug, but the prongs are cylindrical, not flat, so a plug adapter may be required for some 220/240 volt appliances. An adapter plug and a standard voltage converter must be used with most North American appliances, which are customarily 110 volt.|
hours vary widely, depending on the type of business.
Banks are open Sunday-Thursday 8:30 am to 2 pm. They are
closed on Friday, which is the Islamic Sabbath, and
usually also on Saturday.
Offices of multinational companies generally operate 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday through Thursday. However, many Egyptian private concerns are open 8:30 or 9 am to 4 pm, Saturday through Thursday.
Most shops and boutiques operate from 10 am to 9 pm in winter, to 10 pm in summer, although large department stores close for a long afternoon siesta throughout the year. Many retail stores also close on Sunday -- not on Friday, as might be expected in a Muslim country.
|Cairo's residents are predominantly Muslim and observe a strict dress code. The rule of thumb is: The less seen, the better. For men: long pants to hide the legs (no shorts, except when participating in sports) and long- or short-sleeved shirts to hide the shoulders (no tank tops). For women: no shorts or uncovered shoulders. Skirts or dresses should cover at least the knees, and as much of the arm as possible should be covered. Although many Westerners breach this rule and are nevertheless well tolerated in the friendly city of Cairo|
|In most of the restaurants
frequented by tourists, a 12% service charge and a 5%
government tax are applied to the bill. However, you're
expected to add a little extra as well: the small change
in a coffee shop, a few ŁE in a top restaurant. In
taxis, there's no hard rule. Basically, bargain.
Tipping in Egypt is called baksheesh. Because wages in Egypt are quite low, baksheesh is a vital supplement to the income of workers. You'll be expected to tip a small amount (between 50 piastres and ŁE 1) for each bag a porter carries, but you're also expected to tip for something as minor as having the door opened for you. You should offer to tip an attendant at a mosque (again, between 50 piastres and ŁE 1 would be appropriate). You may also hear requests for baksheesh from people who have performed no service. They are simply begging, and their requests may be politely turned down.
has two sets of holidays: one based on the Western
calendar (fixed dates) and the other on the Islamic
calendar (holidays move forward by 10 to 11 days each
These are the fixed holidays:
Jan 1, New Year's Day; Jan 7, Coptic Christmas;
Apr 25, Sinai Liberation Day; May 1, Labor Day;
Jun 18, Evacuation Day; Jul 23, Revolution Day;
Jul 26, The King's Exile; Oct 6, National Day;
Dec 25, Western Christmas.
These are the movable ones: Eid el Fitr, marking two days at the end of Ramadan (in 1997, Feb 9 and 10; in 1998, around Jan 30 and 31); Eid el Adha, marking the end of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca (in 1997, around Apr 17; in 1998, around Apr 6); Coptic Orthodox Easter and the Monday following (in 1997, Apr 27-28; in 1998, around Apr 16-17); Islamic New Year (in 1997, around May 8; in 1998, around Apr 27); and Moulid el Nabbi, the Prophet's birthday (in 1997, around Jul 17; in 1998, around Jul 6).
|It's customary when invited to
dinner to take a gift, such as flowers or chocolates.
And, when you give or receive gifts, be sure to use your
right hand or both hands to do so. Do not photograph
anyone without requesting permission. Be aware that it's
considered impolite to eat everything on your plate.
Blowing your nose in a restaurant will bring disparaging
Insha'allah (God willing) is a frequently used expression and is associated with any statement indicating an event (or desired outcome) in the future. Any request for a task to be performed will be met with this response, rather than a definite yes or no.
Remember that alcohol and pork are off limits to strict Muslims. When hosting social or business functions in Egypt, be sure to include nonalcoholic beverages for more religious guests.