Essential Travel Information for Luxor, Egypt

Here are some hints and tips to make your stay in Egypt hassle-free.

  • What to wear
  • Currency
  • Business
  • Electricity
  • Communications
  • Duty Free
  • Time
  • Language
  • Passports and Visas
  • Moulids
  • Baksheesh
  • Shopping
  • Transport
  • Travel Insurance
  • Flights

If you would like some more in depth information, Jane has the following Egyptian guidebooks and can recommend them:

   

Both the Rough Guide to Egypt and the Lonely Planet recommend Flats in Luxor, the colour Lonely Planet actually quotes Jane Akshar the owner, the last book is a detailed guide of the individual sites in Luxor by the famous archeologist Kent Weeks, with lots of colour photos.

What to Wear

Loose, light cotton clothing is absolutely essential especially if you are travelling in the summer. Buy some clothes while you are there, it is always fun to shop for something practical in the bazaars. It is a good idea to bring a water bottle with you, sunglasses and eyedrops for the dust when visiting the temples.

In the winter evenings, it’s worth bringing an extra layer out with you if you’re going to be outside for a few hours.

Egypt is a Muslim country and unless you are looking to offend, please dress conservatively. When visiting churches and mosques men should not wear shorts and women should not wear shorts, mini-skirts or tank tops. In fact it is inadvisable for women to wear anything short or sleeveless unless on the beach or by a pool. It will save you some unwanted attention. My rule is down to elbows and knees and up to the neck.

Currency

The official currency of Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (guinay in Arabic). 100 piastres ( girsh in Arabic) make 1 pound.

When purchasing currency, you’ll get a better deal if you bring US Dollars or Pounds Sterling, and then change your money into Egyptian Pounds, in Egypt at any bank or hotel. It’s convenient to change your money at the airport, before passport control. Don’t worry if you don’t get an opportunity at the airport, just let us know when we pick you up and we can stop on the way to your flat.

Banks, American Express, and Thomas Cook offices will readily exchange your traveler checks or cash. ATM cards can also be used in major cities, as can Visa and Mastercards. If you plan to travel off the beaten track, always make sure you have enough local currency with you. Nothing worse than spending a precious vacation day searching for a bank when you could be exploring tombs! For current exchange rates use XE.com. The maximum amount of Egyptian currency that can be brought in or taken out of Egypt is 1,000 Egyptian pounds.

Tip: Hold on to your one and five pound notes, they come in handy for tipping which you will be doing a lot of. Baksheesh is a phrase you will come to know well.

Business

Egyptians are friendly and approachable at work, and personal relationships are very important when conducting business. Business is usually conducted formally in Egypt; however meetings may not take place in private and it is normal for them to be interrupted with other matters. Punctuality is important, though don’t be surprised if your contact is late or postpones the meeting. Be patient. Dress should be formal and conservative; suits and ties are standard and women should dress modestly. Women may encounter some sexism in the business world. Most Egyptians are Muslim and therefore one should be mindful of Islamic customs.

English is widely spoken and understood, although attempting to speak some basic Arabic will be highly appreciated. The normal working week runs from Sunday to Thursday. Business hours vary, but in the private sector it is usually 9am to 5pm and in the public sector is it usually 8am to 3pm. Avoid scheduling business trips during the month of Ramadan as working hours are minimised and during the holiday period in August, as many key players will not be available.

Communications

The international access code for Egypt is +20. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa).

There are high surcharges on international calls from hotels; it is cheaper to phone long-distance from the 24-hour Post, Telephone and Telegraph (PTT) offices that are available in the major cities.

For international directory phone enquiries dial 120. The local mobile phone operators use GSM 900 networks and have roaming agreements with all major operators. Internet cafes are available in the main tourist areas. We also provide free wifi access in many of our flats.

Duty Free

Travellers arriving in Egypt do not have to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 200g tobacco; alcoholic beverages up to 1 litre; perfume for personal use and 1 litre of eau de cologne; and goods for consumption to the value of LE 100. Before you exit the airport, you will see a duty free shop. You are allowed to buy up to 4 bottles of spirits per adult and this is the only outlet for imported spirits. So if you want a gin and tonic on the balcony, watching the sunset over the Theban Hills, this is your chance to get the gin.

Time

Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 from last Friday in April to last Friday in August).

Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.

Language

Arabic is the official language although English and French are widely spoken, especially in the tourist areas

Passport & Visa

This maybe changing  I suggest you contact your local embassy for confirmation but it might be worth getting your visa in advance anyway.

Entry requirements for Americans:
US citizens must have a valid passport, and a visa is required. A 30-day visa can be obtained on arrival for US$15, provided the purpose of travel is for tourism. For travellers entering Egypt via South Sinai and remaining in the South Sinai resort area, a free 15-day visa can be obtained on arrival.

Entry requirements for UK nationals:
UK citizens must have a valid passport, and a visa is required. A 30-day visa can be obtained on arrival for US$15 or the equivalent, provided the purpose of travel is for tourism. British travellers entering Egypt via South Sinai and remaining in the South Sinai resort area, a free 15-day visa can be obtained on arrival.

Entry requirements for Canadians:
Canadians must have a valid passport, and a visa is required. A 30-day visa can be obtained on arrival for US$15 or the equivalent, provided the purpose of travel is for tourism. For travellers entering Egypt via South Sinai and remaining in the South Sinai resort area, a free 15-day visa can be obtained on arrival.

Entry requirements for Australians:
Australians must have a valid passport, and a visa is required. A 30-day visa can be obtained on arrival for US$15 or the equivalent, provided the purpose of travel is for tourism. For travellers entering Egypt via South Sinai and remaining in the South Sinai resort area, a free 15-day visa can be obtained on arrival.

Entry requirements for South Africans:
South African nationals require a valid passport, and a visa for travel to Egypt. For travellers entering Egypt via South Sinai and remaining in the South Sinai resort area, a free 15-day visa can be obtained on arrival.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders:
New Zealand citizens must have a valid passport, and a visa is required. A 30-day visa can be obtained on arrival for US$15 or the equivalent, provided the purpose of travel is for tourism. For travellers entering Egypt via South Sinai and remaining in the South Sinai resort area, a free 15-day visa can be obtained on arrival.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals:
Irish nationals must have a valid passport, and a visa is required. A 30-day visa can be obtained on arrival for US$15 or the equivalent, provided the purpose of travel is for tourism. For travellers entering Egypt via South Sinai and remaining in the South Sinai resort area, a free 15-day visa can be obtained on arrival.

Passport/Visa Note: Passports must be valid for six months from the date of issuance of visa. Visa and passport validity requirements change at short notice, so it is best to check with an Egyptian consulate or embassy in your home country or country of residence before departure. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Moulids

Moulids are local celebrations and on this site you can see a photo of the Abu al-Haggag moulid. This is an amazing display of colourful costumes, local music, horse races and much happiness. Although tourists do wander in the crowds I find the best way is to watch it from the safety of a first floor hotel bar with lots of cold beer. 🙂

Baksheesh

OK I admit that the continual demands for money can get a bit irritating but if you remember that for many of these people a small tip can make a huge difference to their lives. It is more than a reward for services (it can also be an acknowledgement of a friendliness, an act of charity or easing the way). In the West we only tip on certain occasions and for certain services. In Egypt you give baksheesh for everything. This is not just the tourists but the locals too. An example my uncle in law took me on a trip and my husband was organising and paying for it. When I got back my husband slipped me some money so I could give the baksheesh to his uncle. Crazy, no Egyptian.

Try and hang on to your small change as a supply of 5 LE notes are invaluable for the small tips. You can also bring cheap biros and boiled sweets from England these are very acceptable to the children and even the grown ups need pens.

Shopping

Haggling is the way of life but it can be a bit overwhelming, if you want help or advice about good shops and the prices you can expect to pay we are happy to oblige. There are many local crafts worth buying apart from the standard tourist fare; a good example is alabaster.

Transport

In Luxor there is every kind of transport available A/C Mini Buses, local taxis, horse carriages, bicycles and even donkeys. Rides can also be made on camels, hot air balloons and horses.

Insurance

We recommend that all visitors have travel insurance, a lot of regular travellers take out annual travel insurance.

Flights

The majority of our guests from the UK come by EgyptAir try SkyScanner for good deals.

 

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