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Visiting Egypt: A Checklist for Travelers

Egypt is considered a transcontinental nation. It is bordered to the Northeast by the Gaza Strip and Israel, by the Gulf of Aqaba to the East, by the Red Sea on the Southeast, Sudan to its South as well as Libya to its West. Egypt has one of the longest histories of any modern state. It is regarded as a cradle of Civilization, accounting for the earliest developments in writing, farming, organized religion, centralized governance amongst other pioneering systems.

Egypt has a population of 92 million people and exercises a significant influence on regional, military and cultural power in North Africa and the Middle East.

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The most compelling narrative of Egypt is her tourism sector. Tourism generated approximately 13 billion USD in 2010, amounting to 11 percent of the nation’s GDP. In that year, Egypt hosted over 14 million visitors. The sector provides employment to a tenth of the total national workforce. Millions still visit Egypt every year. If you plan to go on visiting Egypt yourself, then the following checklist may prove invaluable:

Preparations Before Travel

Entry Requirement: While Egypt is welcoming to diverse nationalities, there are some countries that face steeper entry requirements than others. However, there are standard requirements for entering the country, especially if you are visiting as a tourist. They include the next items below.

Passport and Visa: Entry into the country requires you either obtain a visa from your home country or you apply for one upon arrival. It is important you get relevant visa requirements from your country of origin, as what works for an American might not work for a Chinese. In fact, since May 15, 2015, all foreign nationals are required to apply for visas ahead of their scheduled visits to the country. For most nationals, the passport validity must span over a six-month period.

What To Wear: As a tourist, it is important that you consider some important factors when settling for the clothing you intend to wear in Egypt. One is the weather—Egypt has vast deserts, hence the weather is hot for the greater part of the year, so it is advisable that you have lots of loose, comfortable clothing that will allow you acclimatize to the heat. This clothing stipulation is also intertwined with the fact that Egypt, although kind and accommodating to foreigners, still follow conservative religious practices, especially with regard to women attires.

It advisable to dress moderately and to cover up areas of the body as demanded by culture and religion. For ladies planning a visit, your wardrobe could include the following pieces of clothing: some durable walking shoes, loose-fitting wide-legged ankle long pants/trousers, ankle-length skirts, blouses with wrist length arms, scarfs and scarf pins.

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Egypt comprises a vast desert plateau crossed by the River Nile and its Delta as well as the Sinai Peninsula. Importantly, there are six operative regions in the country:

Lower Egypt: This area encompasses the Northern Nile Delta, the coast overlooking the Mediterranean as well as the two large cities, Cairo and Alexandria.

Middle Egypt: This area covers the Nile and serves as the meeting point between the legendary Upper and Lower kingdoms.

Upper Egypt: This region plays host to a body of spectacular temple towns situated on the southern stretch of the Nile River.

Western Desert: This region is home to the Western Oases, popularly dubbed the five pockets of green, each oasis having its own unique features.

Red Sea Coast: This region is noted for Luxury beach resorts, diving, and exotic marine life.

Sinai: Sinai is the home to the relics of the rugged and fascinating past of the ancient Egyptian empire, high mountains as well as engaging scuba diving.

Cities and Site-seeing

If you want to make the most out of your time as a tourist in Egypt, then visiting the following cities should be at the top of your to-do list:

Cairo: Capital of Egypt and it is her largest city. If you stop in the city, then you should visit the Pyramids of Giza, also referred to as the three pyramid complexes, ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the World still in existence today. Other notable structures you can visit include the Egyptian Museum, the collapsed Pyramid of Meidum, the citadel of Salah El Din as well as the Mosque of Mohamed Ali.

Alexandria: This is the second largest city in Egypt and it plays host to many important historical sites including the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Alexandria is also a pathway for tourists and Egyptians who seek cooler climes.

Ain Soukna: Home to beautiful mountains, pristine beaches and pragmatic hotels/resorts for the average tourist.

Port Said: The location of most of Egypt’s accommodating hotels and resorts for tourists. The city is home to a free-trade zone, hence the influx of foreigners who come for shopping and other transactions.

Luxor: Luxor is home to the famous Temples of Luxor, the Valley of the Kings as well as the Temples of Abu Shimel.

Aswan: This city will leave you in awe with its intricate temples and ancient monuments. You should also be intrigued by the Geziret El Nabatat, otherwise known as the Island of Plants.

Sharm El Sheikh: City of varied activities. Once there, you can choose to go diving, snorkeling or taking in the Safari. You can also go on a tour of the Sinai Peninsula

Other Essentials

While in Egypt, it is important that you have adequate knowledge of the socio-cultural setting of the country. The following tips, which range from expected behavioral patterns to items that should be in your possession, will come handy:

Travel Insurance Papers: It is recommended that you obtain a travel insurance plan from your home country to prepare you for the unforeseen as you tour Egypt. Carry copies of the insurance particulars and always have your emergency phone at hand.

Money: The local currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound. It breaks down to 100 piastres. You should have a mix of funding sources. These sources should encompass possessing physical cash in both local and a major foreign currency as well as local and international ATM cards. You can keep aside smaller denominations of cash in order to give tips at hotels, restaurants and other service points. If in doubt on the amount of money to give as a tip, you could ask for guidance from your tour guide or from the closest law enforcement agent.

Movement: You are open to a number of options with regard to getting from one point to another in the country. There is an extensive train service run by the Egyptian National Railways. Peak demand and fully booked coaches may mean you have to book for train tickets days in advance. It is also important you find out the restrictions on foreigners boarding city trains.

Other transport options include long-distance bus rides, taxi services, and ferries linking cities as well as private car rental services. Ensure you only pay the fair amount for each of the services.