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home  |  Holiday Rentals  |  Tourist Information and Egypt's Facts

Tourist Information and Egypt's Facts

Egypt is a breathtaking country with millennia of history and some of the most outstanding landscapes in the world. The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world's great civilizations. 

Egypt is where East meets West – a country of thousand contradictions where ancient traditions and modern technologies live together. A welcoming, truly tolerant country, where everybody can feel at home.

  • Country name: Arab Republic of Egypt

  • Area: total: 1,001,450 sq km

  • Population: 83,1 million (July 2009 est.)

  • Capital: Cairo

  • South Sinai Governorate Capital: El Tur

  • Red Sea Governorate Capital: Hurghada

  • Total Coastline: 2,450 km

  • Climate: desertic: hot, dry summers with moderate winters

  • Highest peak: Mount Catherine 2,629 m (Sinai)

  • Ethnic groups: Eastern Hamitic stock (Egyptians, Bedouins, and Berbers) 99%, Greek, Nubian, Armenian, other European (primarily Italian and French) 1%

  • Religions: Muslim (mostly Sunni) 94%, Coptic Christian and other 6%

  • Languages: Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes, other European languages widely spoken in the Red Sea Riviera destinations

  • Currency: Egyptian Pound (abbrev. LE = Livre Egyptienne), locally also called “guinea”. 1 LE = 100 piasters.

  • Time: GMT + 2

General Regulations

Non-Egyptian visitors arriving in Egypt are required to be in possession of a minimum 6 months valid passport. Entry visas may be obtained from Egyptian Diplomatic and Consular Missions abroad or from the Entry Visa Department at the Travel Documents, Immigration and Nationality Administration (TDINA). It is, however, possible for most tourists and visitors to obtain an entry visa at any of the major ports of entry. Please check with the nearest Egyptian Consulate for specific details and regulations relevant to your nationality.

There are three types of Egyptian visa:

Sinai Visa: is usually valid for a period of 30 days, only inside Sharm El Sheikh, and can be obtained for free at Sharm El Shiekh airport. If you are planning to travel outside Sharm, you need to buy a normal visa at the airport when you arrive Egypt.

Normal Visa: you have to buy "visa stamps" for the amount of the fee required for your nationality. These fees vary from 15 to 50 US$ and can not be paid in Egyptian pounds. The stamps are stuck in your passport and you can proceed to the customs desk. 

•  Extended Visa: is required for any foreigner arriving in Egypt for purposes other than tourism, (e.g. work, study, etc); the possession of a valid Normal Visa is needed to complete the residence procedure in Egypt.

Passports and Identity Cards: All nationalities, except for Italian and German, need a passport with minimum 6 months validity. Italian and German citizens can enter Egypt with their identity cards; the identity card must be valid for travel abroad and have a minimum validity of at least 3 months from arrival date. In such a case visitors need to have:

- 2 recent pictures
- 1 photocopy of the identity card

Upon arrival (or during the flight) they will be asked to fill in a form that will be handed over in the customs desk.

Children: Children must be in their parents’ passport or being in possession of their own passport or (for Italian and German citizens) identity card valid for travel abroad. If the child is more than 10 years old, a recent picture must be on parents’ passport. Children more than 15 years old cannot be in parent’s passport and need a personal passport.

Nationalities that need pre-arrival-visa: Most European citizens can purchase an entry or tourist visa upon arrival in Egypt. Citizens of the following countries though are required to be in possession of a pre-arrival visa:

All African countries, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chechnya, Croatia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Macau, Macedonia, Moldova, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Serbia and Montenegro, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.


To apply for a visa, please contact the nearest Egyptian consulate. For a list of all diplomatic missions, see the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs' website at Your application requires the following documents:

  • a passport that is valid for at least another six months

  • one passport-sized photograph
    a completed application form

  • The visa fee depends on your nationality. South African and Sudanese citizens pay no fee; others pay between 20 and 60 US$. A tourist visa is valid for three months from the date of issue and allows you to stay in Egypt for 30 days from the date of your arrival

  • Transit Visa

  • Foreigners arriving in Egypt on board cruising ships are granted a permission to visit the port of arrival for 24 hours and catch their ship at the same port. They can also be granted a permission to enter the country for a visit not exceeding a period of 3 days before catching their ship at the port of arrival or at any other port.

  • Air passengers transiting in Egyptian airports are allowed entry for a quick trip not exceeding the period of 24 hours. In the event of emergency landing, passengers are entitled to enter Egypt for a period of:

  • 24 hours in case of poor weather conditions.
    o 48 hours in case of technical faults to the aircraft.

Money Matters

The Egyptian currency is the Egyptian Pound, abbreviated LE = Livre Egyptienne, or EP, and locally called also “guinea”. Banknotes have different nominal values: 200 LE, 100 LE, 50 LE, 20 LE, 10 LE, 5 LE, 1 LE, 50 piasters (don’t mistake it with the 50 LE note!) and 25 piasters. Coins are more and more common.

1 LE = 100 piasters.


Cash machines are quite common in Egypt, especially in the main tourist areas. Most European currencies are exchangeable at banks and exchange offices. Many establishments accept payments in EU, USD and Sterling Pounds. Major Establishments accept credit cards, mostly Visa and Master Card (American Express isn’t readily accepted).

Whatever your budget is, you will find an endless number of beautiful objects to take home or to give as exotic present to friends and family. Colorful carpets in all sizes and prices, including intricate kilims and geometrical El Arish Bedouin mats, which perfectly fit any European home; delicately carved brass plates and coffee tables; skillfully carved wooden boxes with mother-of-pearl inserts; graceful perfume glass bottles; pure cotton garments; fine ethnical or traditional jewellery (gold, silver and semi-precious stones); leather and suede products (bags, jackets and trousers);

Health and safety

For travellers arriving from Europe no vaccinations are required to enter Egypt. Passengers arriving from other countries might be required vaccinations, such as yellow fever; for detailed information please contact the Egyptian Embassy or Consulate in your country or closest to you. We recommend checking with your doctor or the Tropical Institute of your country concerning further suggestions.

One or more hospitals are available in the main tourist cities. Most of the hotels have a doctor on call available, who will treat you on the spot, and will know where to direct you in case you need hospital services.

Pharmacists in Sharm El Sheikh are very knowledgeable and are usually tri-lingual. In most cases, they are familiar with common ailments. We suggest you carry a travel medical and first aid kit with you (including medication against sunburns, insect bites, seasickness and stomach disorder). A travel health insurance which in emergency cases will also repatriate you is highly recommended.

If you have a condition and need to take regular medication, we advise you to carry it in your hand luggage while travelling, and to bring an adequate amount for your trip as not all medicines might be available in Egypt.

Please take the following precautions while travelling in Egypt:

  • Do not spend too much time in the sun, cover your head and wear cotton or linen cloth; it might be advisable to wear a t-shirt while snorkelling. Weather might be pleasantly dry, making you too comfortable in the sun.

  • Use a high factor sun block, sun glasses and drink plenty of water to guard against exposure and dehydration, which can result in some health problems. Dehydration is a common complaint, and the main reason of many sicknesses: always drink lots of water! It is not advisable to drink the tap water in Egypt; bottled water is cheap and readily available.

  • Depending on your travel plans and the season, choose your shoes appropriately; if you are going to the desert, bring tennis shoes or hiking boots.

  • In the winter months, it is cold in the evenings and sometimes chilly during the days, especially if you are coming back from a dive; bring a warm jacket, long pants, long shirts and closed shoes.

  • No matter the season, if you intend to climb Mt. Sinai bring a long shirt, long pants, jacket and hiking boots.

  • Do not ever walk over coral reefs, do not touch corals or put your hands in holes on land or under water. Corals are living organisms and not stones, and on the surfacing reefs you might find almost invisible dangerous marine life as the stonefish.

  • Some travellers may experience some stomach problems or even a cold from drastic change in temperature while drinking a cold drink.


Shopping in one of the characteristic traditional souks or in the modern shopping centres is one of the favourite past-times of all tourists. In addition to finding very good value for money in many cases, shopping here is an experience in itself: a sort of courting ceremony where the shopkeeper attracts the potential buyer into a ritual of hospitality which involves sitting in the shop gently drinking tea or karkade and talking for ages about life and the country of origin of the visitor.

Only after a good deal of talking and exchanging pleasantries, the actual bargaining can start. Yes, because only very few shops here have set prices. All souvenirs, art craft, typical products, are passable of time-consuming haggering rituals. Typically, if you ask the price of that beautiful papyrus or of that well-tailored suede jacket, the shopkeeper will ask in return how much you think you want to pay for it. After a series of rebates, the final price will be settled. The whole affair requires the manoeuvring expertise of experienced merchants.


Whatever your budget is, you will find an endless number of beautiful objects to take home or to give as exotic present to friends and family. Colorful carpets in all sizes and prices, including intricate kilims and geometrical El Arish Bedouin mats, which perfectly fit any European home; delicately carved brass plates and coffee tables; skillfully carved wooden boxes with mother-of-pearl inserts; graceful perfume glass bottles; pure cotton garments; fine ethnical or traditional jewellery (gold, silver and semi-precious stones); leather and suede products (bags, jackets and trousers);


And refuse decidedly to buy any “souvenir” coming from the sea. It is strictly forbidden to take, sell and buy shells, seastars, corals, puffer fish or any other creature dead or alive from the Red Sea. Visitors carrying in their suitcases such “souvenirs” at departure are subject to heavy fines. Please help us protect the invaluable treasures of the sea.

Stay connected:

Internet connections, international calls and tourist mobile phone contracts are widely available.

Basically most areas have internet café and/or the possibility of connecting your laptop from dedicated business centers. In any case you will find internet cafés round every corner, mostly open until late at night.

The local mobile phone companies offer also the opportunity of buying a temporary phone line at very convenient prices, so you don’t need to spend fortunes on your international mobile phone calls.

Also, you can purchase everywhere the local Menanet pre-paid cards to be used at the phone boots in the street or at the Telecom Egypt centrals. With these you can speak to your dear ones at home for as little as 20 LE for a 3 minute conversation.

Useful Arabic


Arabic is the common and official language of around 23 countries, but the spoken dialect of each can vary considerably. Egyptian Arabic is the most widely understood of the Arab world due to the country’s vast film, television and music industry.

However, most Egyptians speak at least one or two foreign languages, and in the Sharm El Sheikh they may speak up to four or five, due to the constant afflux of tourists. It is a kind idea though, and useful too, to learn at least a few words, as Arabic numerals and polite greetings.

Hello (formal) = salama aleikum
Response to Hello = wa-aleikum salam
Good morning = sabah el kheir
Response to Good morning = sabah el noor
How are you? = Izzayek
Response to How are you = Qweis, el hamdulillah
Goodbye = ma’assalama


One = wahed
Two = etneen
Three = teleta
Four = arbaa
Five = hamsa
Six = setta
Seven = Sabaa
Eight = Tamanya
Nine = tessaa
Ten = ashara

Twenty = ashareen
Thirty = teleteen
Forty = arbaeen
Fifty = hamsin
Sixty = setteen
Seventy = sabaeen
Eighty = tamaneen

Ninety = tessaeen

One hundred = miyya


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