Egypt is one of those countries that a lot of people have on their bucket list. After all, Egypt has one of the deepest histories in all of humanity and has some of the oldest monuments known to mankind. From the Sphynx to the pyramids, Egypt is quite a wonder to behold, and the tourism industry is a big one for the country.
Egypt also happens to be one of the 15 largest countries in the world, boasting a population of over 100 million people. It’s also the most visited country in all of Africa with around 13 million international tourists each year, putting it slightly ahead of Morocco and far ahead of South Africa. If you’ve always dreamed about visiting Egypt but have been worried about the costs being too much, here are five essential tips for visiting Egypt on a budget.
Flying Into Egypt
No matter where you’re flying from, there’s going to be one airport that tends to be far cheaper than the others, and that’s Cairo International Airport. Because it’s by far the busiest airport, there are more planes coming in and out each day, which translates into cheaper prices. While Egypt does have several other international options including Luxor International and Aswan International, Cairo is going to be your best bet.
Cairo is also the most conveniently located for all of the more touristy destinations that you’ll want to visit in Egypt. As for the time of year to travel which will save you the most money, it would be between May and September. The reason, of course, is that it gets very hot during the summer months in Egypt so not as many people want to travel. If you’re used to desert climates (think Phoenix or Las Vegas), it shouldn’t be hard for you to handle Egypt.
Because Cairo is one of the most visited places in all of Africa, there are going to be some familiar international dining options. These will often be overpriced compared to what you’re used to, though, as they’re typically tourist traps. Instead, sticking to the local options will be much cheaper than you’re used to. For meals that you can grab on the go, you may be paying as little as $2 or $3 for an entire meal and as low as $5 for local sit-down restaurants.
There are going to be plenty of local Egyptian food options to pick from, too, so you won’t be forced into a higher-priced option. Fans of shawarma, kebabs, koshari, and more are going to be in heaven when they see all of the local restaurants and street vendors. You can also visit the local markets, which leads us to our next point.
Learn How To Bargain
There are certain countries in which the locals can get pretty pushy with tourists, and Egypt is perhaps at the top of that list. While marketplaces aren’t as bad and have the traditional type of haggling that you would see in countries like Mexico or China, there are people known as “touts” that are much more annoying to tourists. They’ll often attempt to get money from tourists by acting as middlemen for shopkeepers who guide you in a direction.
If you don’t speak the language and don’t look like you’re from Egypt, these touts will swarm to you faster than you can believe. You’ll have to learn to be assertive if you want to hold on to your money, and that can include telling them that you don’t have any money. Learning some common Egyptian so that you know how to say “No thank you” will take you a long way so you don’t get conned.
There are some countries where it’s actually cheaper to rent a car than to use public transportation, but Egypt is not one of those. The ride-sharing apps in Egypt are incredibly cheap compared to a lot of other countries, and there are options including buses and trains that will only cost you a few bucks. This includes a train ride that can take you all the way across the country for just $10.
Scooters are also a popular option and are much cheaper than a car if you plan on staying in the heart of Cairo. Most of the transportation options are inexpensive with the exception of taxi cabs and rental cars. If you can avoid these, your budget for getting around will be next to nothing.
Prepay For Passes
Naturally, most of us want to go to Egypt to see all of the historical sites like the Pyramids of Giza. With that said, you’ll want to plan ahead for your visit and prepay for the Cairo Pass or Luxor Pass which are $100, are good for five days, and get you into all of the popular sites.
If you buy the two passes together, you can get them for $150, which is ideal for a five-day vacation. If you have a student ID, things get even better as you’ll get 50 percent off of admission. Some of the tombs will be restricted unless you get the premium pass, which is $200 combined without a student ID.