Egypt: Travel Weekly destination guide

Egypt: Travel Weekly destination guide

EgyptEgypt’s magnificent historical sights have been attracting tourists for over 3,500 years, when the Romans cruised the Nile to visit the pyramids.


In modern times it attracts cultural tourists, beach holidaymakers and watersports fans – it has become a diving hotspot, with Red Sea resorts attracting scuba divers from around the world.


The major resorts have a high standard of accommodation, with mostly 4-5 star hotels that offer everything from watersports to spa facilities. Possible excursions include Nile cruises, jeep safaris, camel rides and hot air balloon trips. 


Just five hours from the UK and increasingly competitive compared to countries in the eurozone, Egypt is likely to remain popular through 2009 and beyond.


On this page you’ll find articles, information and travel tips about Egypt from Travel Weekly and Gazetteers.com, plus links to helpful pages elsewhere on the web.





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Key resorts


This is a brief overview, with links to in-depth details, including reviews from other travel agents, on Gazetteers.com.


To subscribe to Gazetteers.com freephone 0800 731 0163 or +44(0)208 652 4526.


Aswan
Location: Southeast Egypt on the east bank of the Nile, 125 miles south of Luxor.
Market: Egyptologists and the generally curious looking for interesting excursion possibilities. A pleasant place to spend a few days while touring or a good base for a week or two’s winter holiday.


Cairo
Location: Northern Egypt, 140 miles southeast of Alexandria and the Mediterranean.
Market: International history buffs, Egyptologists and the curious. A stopover point for cruise ships and popular with backpackers.


El Gouna
Location: On the east coast, 19 miles north of Hurghada
Market: Beginners. This is a peaceful and high-quality but somewhat standardised resort without much local flavour. Perhaps a place to relax and unwind after a hectic pyramids/cultural tour. Watersports enthusiasts will also find plenty to keep them busy.


Hurghada
Location: On the east coast, 170 miles northeast of Luxor
Market: Coral reefs and relatively warm water in winter make this a specialist scuba-diving destination. Its frequent northwesterly wind also makes it a major resort for windsurfers. There are no antiquities and little to do at night, however. Possibly a relaxing second week for a twin-centre holiday.


Luxor
Location: East-central Egypt, about 110 miles from the Red Sea coast.
Market: Luxor is a must or Egyptologists and those interested in ancient history, monuments and cultures. Also a winter resort with genuine sunbathing weather. The extremely hot summer months constitute low season.


Sharm el Sheik
Location: On the eastern side of the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Hurghada is a 20-min flight southwest across the Gulf of Suez.
Market: The main attraction is scuba diving/snorkelling in the area’s unusually warm waters, full of marine life and coral reefs. Thanks to its virtually guaranteed sun and dry atmosphere, Sharm is increasingly known as a winter-sun beach holiday destination.


Taba
Location: On the east coast of the Sinai peninsula, right on the border with Israel.
Market: Middlemarket couples of all ages seeking tranquillity and guaranteed sunshine. Particularly popular with divers. Suits those seeking sun and sea rather than local culture or amenities outside the hotel.





Best time to go


Egypt is hot, sunny and dry for most of the year. Winter is generally mild, although the evenings can be chilly.



  • For Nile cruises: December – April to make the most of early booking deals.
  • For all-round cultural experience: March – May
  • For safari: September – November
  • For sun: In June – August the temperatures can soar to 40C (104F). Sunbathe early in the morning or late in the day during these summer months.




Video: Dolphins in Sharm el-Sheikh





Video by Explorer Travel





Facts & figures


Where?



  • Location: North Africa
  • Capital: Cairo
  • Time difference: Egypt is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time

Basics



  • Language(s): Arabic, English, French, Spainish
  • Dialling code: 20
  • Driving: Driving is on the left. International driving permit required
  • Electricity: 220V AC 50Hz

Money



  • Currency: Egyptian pound (EGP 1 = 100 Plastres)
  • Notes: EGP: 1, 5,10, 20, 50, 100, 200
  • Coins: Plastres: 5, 10, 20, 25, 100
  • Tipping: Service charges are normally added to restaurant & hotel bills, however additional tips around 5% are customary. Tips for taxis are around 10
  • Credit cards/Travellers cheques: Credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted and ATM’s are common. Exchange of foreign currencies is allowed at banks and exchange offices.

Etiquette and customs


Women should dress conventionally. A headscarf may be useful if visiting a religious or more traditional area. Business is conducted in Arabic, many executives speak English or French. Business cards to have Arabic translation on reverse side.


Islamic conventions apply. At meetings it is polite to drink coffee or tea, when offered. Smoking is becoming unacceptable in government and some private offices. Alcohol is available in most major hotels, cafe-style bars and international restaurants. On social occasions dress as for business meetings unless otherwise indicated.





Video: Egypt Tourism TV advert








Travel agents’ resort reviews


Sharm el-Sheikh


“An excellent place for a relaxing holiday, sporty holiday or even a honeymoon. If you like diving then it’s great or just chill out snorkeling with the fish in the gorgeous red sea. Beware of dodgy dive schools check all your gear before you get on a boat.” 


“I would definitely not recommend it for youngsters looking for a clubbing holiday! There are many cultural and historical tours to choose from and Sharm can be used as an excellent base to see: the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings, Petra and St. Katherine’s monastery to name but a few. All of this and not to mention the most fantastic snorkeling and diving in the world from some of the most fantastic hotels with extremely high service!”


“I never thought the resort would be that modern, I mean there’s a Hard Rock Cafe, Ministry of Sound and Pasha nightclubs.There’s plenty of casinos, restaurants, shops and cafes. It really is superb. The best bar we found was the Buddha Bar, it plays chilled out music, and you can just sit there and relax with one of their cocktails, called little Buddha ice tea.”


Cairo


“Yes it was dirty and very busy but it was full of magic. The pyramids were breathtaking and sitting next to the Sphinx is an experience on its own. Be prepared for the locals to be selling you their wares but a quick ‘no’ and they move onto someone new. I went to Cairo on a pre-booked excursion. It took approx 6 hours to get from Sharm to Cairo.” Thomson, Witney agent, March 2008


El Gouna


“The beaches are lovely and the sea is crystal clear to see the coral not far from the shore. Hidden along the marina is a small quaint pub – ‘the smugglers rest,’ – which is nice to pop into for a refreshing drink. Also there is an amazing seafood restaurant right on the beachfront. You just pop a couple of cushions down, pop yourself on them and be served freshly caught seafood under the stars. Getting around is easy. There is a little taxi bus which does shuttle runs between hotels and downtown areas frequently, and a week’s pass will cost you about one pound.”


Hurghada


“The weather is fanstastic pretty much all year round. The hotels are set in three main areas, all offering similar facilities – restaurants, bars and shopping areas. Take a trip into the old town to barter with the locals and enjoy the markets and stores. Prices are very reasonable, with an average meal out costing approx 10 per person.”



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