I loved Egypt and visited often 30 years ago and wish to visit again soon. What’s the general security situation in Cairo / Giza? What about the Luxor area? Also, what are the top hotels? Any advice appreciated!
My wife and I are considering the same trip. I do know that after a real drop-off, tourism is apparently really picking up again:
Also a recent line from the NYTimes about their annual 52 places list.
Everyone who watches travel is interested in Egypt, where a big new museum complex was supposed to open near the Giza pyramids in 2019. It was on our list until it became clear the museum won’t open until at least 2020.
Seconding this. I have a few friends who were living there when the Arab Spring popped up. They’re now happily returning to visit after voluntarily evacuating seven or so years ago.
I was just in Egypt this past summer for two weeks. I visited Cairo/Giza, Luxor, Sharm El-Sheikh, and Dahab. I used Giza as a home-base of sorts (Hormoheb Hotel off the main drag of Al Haram - it had a security gate and guard at all times to let people in and out and was around $40/night). I had a friend that invited me to stay with her family originally, but that didn’t work out due to another family member being sick. They had a friend that was out of work that showed me around and got me discounted prices on things at the Egyptian rate - they notoriously charge tourists 10x more for everything, including train tickets etc. I took an overnight bus from Giza to Luxor for $15-20 I think, and another overnight bus back from Luxor to Giza. The company I used was Go-Bus. It was good and they had waiting rooms as you wait for the bus and was more affordable and almost as fast as the train in getting there. After getting back to Giza I got pretty sick (don’t drink the roadside tea…) but they have pharmacies everywhere so I was good to go in about 12-18 hours and then I took a sunrise-afternoon (10hr) bus from Giza to Sharm El-Sheikh, stayed one night, and bused from there to Dahab where I stayed for 3 days. Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab were much more tourist-friendly than Cairo/Giza and I assume most of the places you can stay there are good. Took a 12-14 hour bus ride back from Dahab to Giza and flew out the next day.
I would not have been able to do this solo without the help of my friend that was local and was out of work. If you know someone there, they have a rough economy and would be willing to show you around if you pay them decently. I gifted him with $100 or so after the two weeks of him sporadically showing me around, buying me bus tickets and cheaper water/medication etc. and that was enough to pay his rent for like three months so he was stoked.
They are highly encouraging tourism and were very friendly most of the time. I braved it and did a hot air balloon ride in Luxor (for $40… crazy) at sunrise even after what happened in 2018 and it was totally worth it.
Let me know if you have more questions or want more detail.
Egypt is lovely anytime of the year except in the middle of summer. We’ve been at least eight times in the past decade, but because of health issues, I doubt I can do it again. I’d recommend staying on the East Bank of Luxor, as the streets are better kept then the West Bank where the Valley of the Kings & Queens, the various Ramses temples, the Valley of the Workers i.e. “Dier el Medina” and of course the gorgeous temple Medinet Habu (father of Ramses) Don’t miss it! But the streets are not as well kept for walking as the East Bank of the Nile. Easily traversed by ferry across as they run 24/7. The Ferry docks are also better kept then the boat docks. The new government hasn’t been keeping up with the streets, imo. As for safety, probably as safe as anyplace else you’ve visited or even live. Egypt is a huge country. The top hotels on the East Bank are the luxury ones you can look up online. The Steinberger is one of them, The Winter Palace, and a few others.
I have lived and worked in Cairo for about 4 years. The general security situation in Cairo / Giza is fine, as is the Luxor area. I would however recommend visiting sites or shopping or dining or whatever on your own or with just a couple of people during non-busy times anywhere - as I would recommend to you anywhere you are not familiar with and perhaps do not speak the local language, as large groups of people (especially who are perceived as rich/decadent foreigners) can be a target anywhere.
As for the top hotels - well I would also avoid them. They are over-priced and impersonal…I prefer airbnb myself but if you want to stay in a top 5-star hotel then there is of course the Nile Ritz-Carlton in the city centre on the Nile, or the Marriott Cairo & Omar Khayyam Casino in Zamalek (loads of history and character). Next best would be the Hotel Ramses Hilton or the InterContinental Cairo Semiramis. If you want to be closer to the pyramids, then there is the Marriott Mena House. Otherwise there is almost every big brand: Kempinski; Four Seasons; Fairmont; Sofitel; Sonesta; Sheraton; Le Méridien; Conrad; Tolip; InterContinental; etc…so what is your favourite brand? I am sure you will find it on booking.com…
As for what Tyler posted - interesting article. Prices have NOT fallen, in fact they have either remained the same or they have increased. I cannot read the FT article without a subscription but there is a rebuttal to that article here by an Irish expat in Egypt: http://marahouseluxor.com/tourists-return-to-egypt-as-prices-fall-security-improves/
To Schultjh: the Arab Spring was only a dramatic event for about 3-months, so most of the expats I know lived through it and are still here.
To CodyCalifornia - most flats have a doorman and all hotels have security. Yes Egyptians charge tourists more for everything and I am ok with that since those of us who can afford to travel generally make more than $85 USD per month - which is the average wage in Egypt…so they make prices for locals cheaper for things like trains so people can actually afford to visit their families in the country once a year or so while working in the city. The Go-Bus is great. Can’t imagine what is in tea (which is boiled) that would make you sick, unless of course you don’t wash your hands or used the communal spoon to stir in some sugar. The only people who live and work in the Sharm El-Sheikh bubble make their living from Tourism, whereas you have real life in Cairo/Giza, so that is what may have made it more “tourist-friendly” for you. Like everywhere there are crap places and nice places to stay - if you like your 5-star international chain hotels, then you will be fine. Sharm has more of a glitzy US Disney entertainment feel, with over-priced markets, night clubs, restaurants and shows. Dahab has more land and hotels owned by local Bedouins, and is more popular with divers, backpackers and other more laid back travelers who prefer more simple holidays like riding horses on the beach, taking an atm out to the desert, sleeping under the stars, and swimming in the ocean. It is indeed helpful to have the help of someone who can speak Arabic and/or who knows where to go and what to do. He must have a special deal if his rent is paid by $100 for 3-months or live in an inherited family home. Rent is a pretty variable expense in Cairo, depending on size, location, etc like anywhere else but those who make around $85 USD per month end up spending at least 75% of that on rent and the subsidies on fuels and utilities have been removed over the last 2 years so it costs more than ever to make ends meet for the average person who has not seen any pay hike to match inflation. Love Luxor.
To Holisticastrologer - totally agree
Luxor and Aswan are gorgeous and definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in Egyptology. I can recommend a guide, nile cruise, etc if needed anywhere in Egypt.
Hope that helps!
Afwan! (you are welcome)
I love Egypt and am happy to help others have the wonderful experience I have had here so happy to answer any questions or connect you with guides or whatever you need!
Ahlan wa Sahlan! (you are welcome)
Thank you for sharing your itinerary,.