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Everything you need to know about Egypt

With our passion for exploration and the desire to discover new places, we decided to embark on a journey to Egypt and share our experiences with you right here on Jenn & Leon Travel Blog at Closer Lives. We are two globetrotters who never say no to a good adventure!

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This trip was special to us as it was our first visit to the continent of Africa. We explored some of our top bucket list destinations at Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, and spent a week in the luxury gated city of El Gouna. It was an incredible experience that we are excited to share with you right here!

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We want to give you an insight into the unique culture, people and the food of this amazing country. We also share our tips on how to make the most of your journey, no matter what your budget is. Join us on this journey of a lifetime!

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Here are a few interesting facts about Egypt Some may just surprise you!

 

โœ“ Egypt is one of the oldest advanced human civilizations and is home to the only remain Ancient Wonder of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza. Built in the 4th century, this magnificent structure still baffles even the greatest of mind's to this day in terms of just how it was constructed. It is also one of the most visited places on Earth, and for good reason too! 

 

โœ“ There are at least 118 pyramids in Egypt. Pyramids were built primarily to house the rulers of ancient Egypt to see them off into the afterlife. They are synonymous with Egypt, although many people do not know that at least 80 of the pyramids still standing today were actually built by the Kingdom of Kush, now located in the country of Sudan.

 

โœ“ Egypt is home to no less than seven of the UNESCO World Heritage sites; Abu Mena, Historic Cairo, Abu Simbel, Saint Catherine, Wadi Al-Hitan, Memphis and its Necropolis, and Ancient Thebes.

 

โœ“ Sandwiched in between Cairo and Israel on the Red sea, the Sinai Peninsula is home to Mount Sinai, where Moses is said to have climbed and received the ten commandments.

 

โœ“ Islam is the dominant religion in Egypt with other 90% of its citizens identifying as Muslims. The other 10% are primarily Christian. The main language is Egyptian Arabic, which differs from Arabic spoken in its neighboring countries.

 

โœ“ Despite being born in Alexandria (named after Greek conqueror Alexander the Great), Cleopatra is actually Greek. One of Egypt's most famous figures, she descended from the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Greek Macedonians. This dynasty ruled Egypt for nearly 300 years. Her name translates to 'Her Father's Name' in Greek.

 

โœ“ Egypt has been conquered several times over the centuries, falling to the Roman Empire, the Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom and the British Empire.

 

โœ“ Egypt's capital city, Cairo, is the largest city in the Middle East with a population just under 10 million.

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โœ“ Many people assume that ancient Egypt was one of the first advanced civilizations. While it was indeed one of them, it was established in 3000 BC, almost 5,000 years after evidence of the first humans in the area. With the incredible discovery of the highly advanced Göbekli Tepe in Turkey dating back to 10,000 BC, our history and understanding of our origins is literally being re-written by the day.

 

โœ“ Make-up was widely popular amongst the men and women alike in Ancient Egypt. It was believed to have healing powers, with the added bonus of protection against the Sun.

 

โœ“ If you go by the ancient Egyptian calendar, it is the year 6265! In fact, the 12-month calendar we use today was invented in Egypt. However the original calendar set the days of the month to a fixed 30 days, which caused the seasons to fall out of synchronization. To counter this, a 5 non-day festival was held at the end of every year to literally 'correct' time.

 

โœ“ The Nile River is the longest river in the world and cuts right through Egypt. In fact 95% of its population lives along the river. With 90% of the country desert, this certainly makes sense!

 

โœ“ Egypt is a land of significant strategic importance as it borders both the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Ships can sail easily between the two via the man-made Suez Canal, a vital trade route between the continents of Asia and Europe.

 

โœ“ 'Upper Egypt' is actually located in the South of the country, with 'Lower Egypt' in the North. This is because of the flow of the River Nile, which goes North to the Mediterranean Sea.

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Things to know when visiting Egypt

Here are a few stats and tips that we picked up in our time here. Let us know if there is anything we should add!

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Total Population: 109.3 million

Capital City: Cairo (9.54million)

Currency: Egyptian Pound (EGP)

Driving: Right Side

Measurement Standard: Metric (km)

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โ€‹โœ“ The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound. Convert your currency here.

 

โœ“ The most common way to greet someone in Egypt is to say 'salamo alaikum' ('peace be with you'), to which one will reply with 'Wa alaikum al-salam' ('peace be with you too'). In some areas, such as El Gouna, 'Sabah el Khair (good morning) and 'Masa el Khair (good evening) are typical greetings.

 

โœ“ Smoking is prohibited at health & education facilities, government venues, sports, social and youth clubs, and on public transport. Most restaurants and hotels offer smoking areas and allow you to smoke at dining tables.

 

โœ“ A new law was introduced in 2022 that prohibits taking or publishing photographs that may damage Egypt's image, offend its citizens or violate public morals. It also prohibits photographing children and photographing and publishing photos of Egyptian citizens without their written consent. Egypt also prohibits the use or sale of drones and you are only allowed to posses / use one with written consent from the Defence Ministry.

 

โœ“ Tap water is generally not drinkable across Egypt, where it is advisable to drink treated or purified bottled water. However in Cairo it is relatively safe as it is heavily chlorinated and treated by various treatment plants around the city.

 

โœ“ The most popular food / grocery delivery apps are Uber Eats, Otlob, Akelni and Elmenus. Most of these also accept cash on delivery so you can check your goods first before paying. Uber is also one of the most popular transport apps.

 

โœ“ There are five main mobile internet providers in Egypt; Vodafone, Etisalat, Orange and WE. You will need your passport to get a pre-paid sim card and the process is super easy and very efficient. The best place to get one is directly from the airport and most plans will give you around 10-15GB of data for $10 USD. 4g internet is pretty spotty in most areas though so be prepared for slower speeds if you are outside WiFi.

 

โœ“ Cash is the most commonly used payment method in Egypt, at a staggering 94%. Card payments are also widely accepted, although in many cases there is no contactless option due to the lack of modern card machines.

 

โœ“ Tipping is a standard practice in Egypt. Generally you should tip between 10 - 15% of the total bill and it is fine to measure that in Egyptian Pounds. If you are not best pleased with your goods or service, tip closer to 10% but try to avoid giving nothing at all.

 

โœ“ One of the best ways to get around in Egypt is to use a tuk-tuk. There are some 3.5 million of them in Egypt and they are extremely affordable, convenient and a lot of fun. According to some estimates just 10% of them carry a licence though, so if that is a concern do check before getting on one.

Things to know when visiting Egypt

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