How to Plan a Smooth and Hassle-free Vacation
Owing to the recent political tensions in Egypt, the US Department of State and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have advised all their citizens to avoid traveling to the country, unless absolutely necessary. If you are a citizen of any other nation, inquire whether any such alert has been issued in your country as well.
Towering pyramids, thousands of years of history, cities with soaring minarets, immense expanse of rugged desert landscape, and alluring beaches―Egypt boasts of all this, and more. While the ancient Egyptian civilization still continues to enchant and enthrall, so does the kindness and generosity of Egyptian people. If you are planning a vacation to Egypt in the near future, here are certain things, which you will need to keep in mind while doing so.
Planning an Egyptian Holiday
Sitting on the northeastern corner of Africa, Egypt is huge and diverse. However, owing to the economically priced services, the approachable attitude of people, and the widespread use of English language, it becomes easy to get around the country, even if you are on your own. Generally, tourism in Egypt is centered around a few established tourist centers, such as Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, and so on; however, the country has much more to offer than these typical, clichéd places. Here’s how you can plan your visit to this Middle Eastern gem.
◾ Egyptian climate is hot and dry, except in the months of December, January, and February. These three are the winter months, and the weather, especially in the north, tends to be really chilly.
◾ Usually, the peak time to visit Egypt is between the months of December and February, whereas the off-season is between those of June and August. However, at a single point of time, the climate of the country seems to vary in different regions, owing to which, the best time to go to Egypt actually depends on your destination(s).
◾ Nevertheless, during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons, the overall weather of the country tends to be more or less pleasant, and hence, if you are planning to travel to various destinations throughout the country, it is best to go during these months.
Note: During important Muslim festivals, such as Ramadan, many restaurants and cafés are closed during the day, making it difficult to find good places for lunching. So, while planning your trip to Egypt, see to it that you have considered this point; otherwise, even your best-laid vacation plans can be disrupted.
◾ Most international tourists have to obtain a valid visa before traveling to Egypt. However, this rule does not apply to the citizens of Hong Kong, Macau, and Guinea.
◾ The citizens of all countries of Western Europe, the UK, the US, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Korea can obtain the visa on arrival at the airport. This rule also applies to all Arab nationals.
◾ If you are a citizen of any country, other than the ones mentioned above, you will have to get in touch with the Egyptian consulate in your home country, in order to acquire a travel visa.
◾ If you are an overland traveler, going to Egypt via Jordan, you can obtain your visa at the port of Aqaba. On the other hand, if you are going via Israel, you will have to be registered with an Egyptian travel agency, and only after the agency submits documents proving that you are a genuine tourist, will you be allotted a visa.
◾ If the less-trodden paths of the Eastern and the Western Deserts are on your itinerary, you will have to obtain military permits for the same. These are issued by either the Border Police or the Ministry of Interior. However, for this again, you will have to be registered with a local travel agency or safari company.
Note: A single-entry travel visa to Egypt will enable you to stay in the country for a period of not more than three months. However, if you wish to extend your stay, you can apply at the local passport office, and obtain a travel visa extension from six months to one year.
◾ By international standards, Egypt seems to be fairly cheap. However, there is no such hard-and-fast rule.
◾ While public transport is cheap, you will have to shell out quite an amount of money for private car rentals or taxis.
◾ Similarly, while many big restaurants are on the expensive side, you can try out some fast food joints for staple snacks, such as falafel or fava beans, which will not only provide delicious food, but will also save you a lot of money.
◾ You can choose your accommodation, depending on how much you are willing to spend. While there are ample choices for a lavish traveler, a budget traveler is also treated well.
◾ Irrespective of what your budget is, your major expenses while in Egypt will be incurred on the entry fees to major tourist sites and guided tours. These are really very expensive for international tourists.