From the heights of Mt Sinai to the depths of the Red Sea, Egypt is a country that has been discovered time and time again yet will never be fully understood due to its historical richness and diversity. Egypt is somewhere to go and indulge in history, myth, fantastical stories and ancient customs.
The Pharaohs of Egypt and their pyramids hold secrets we might never learn and that is the spell of Egypt – it entices and fascinates. When Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, the world became more aware of Egypt than ever before, and so began the influx of tourism that has remained steady ever since.
There are so many great places to see in Egypt, sights that you will have heard so much about before visiting that it can be quite overwhelming. With deserts, a temple to the gods and a river that evokes romanticism, you are never far from something fantastic in Egypt.
Taking a trip down the River Nile on a felucca has to be done while in Egypt as does a visit to Abydos, the supposed burial site of Osiris, god of regeneration, and where there are the best preserved temples in Egypt. Luxor on the Nile holds the secrets to the ancient rulers of Egypt with tombs and temples to explore at your leisure. On the coast of Egypt on the Mediterranean Sea is Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great and where the great queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, made her throne.
The Sinai Peninsula of Egypt contains St Katherine’s Monastery, an ancient place which can trace its founding back to 330AD. Nearby is Mt Sinai, sacred to Christians, Muslims and Jews alike, all of whom believe God delivered his Ten Commandments to Moses at the summit.
For scuba divers, the Red Sea is one of the most amazing places to explore underwater. Even just snorkelling can give you a sense of what is in the depths, with tropical fish and colourful. Formed about 40 millions years ago, this sea in Egypt is almost entirely closed in; no river flows into it and the amount of water from the Indian Ocean is small. This means many of the fish and other marine life are unique to this stretch of water.
Egypt is incredibly hot from June to August so the high season tends to be December to February. The coast is cooler with welcoming breezes but temperatures in the summer can top 40 degrees, especially further south in Egypt.
However Egypt is one of the easier countries in Africa and the Middle East to travel in. Unlike other places in this part of the world, it is taken for granted that you can drink in public and get to know the locals.
Egypt is one of those countries that is unique and once visited, never forgotten. If Egypt sounds like the sort of place you want to go to, then use Vayama for your flights to Egypt. Vayama can source the cheapest deals to Egypt so you can see that you are getting the best possible bargain.
Egypt Etiquette Tips
In many countries, flowers are a popular gift, but in Egypt, giving someone flowers can be a bit of a faux pas! In Egyptian culture, giving flowers is reserved for weddings, funerals, or
for the ill. Sweets, electronic gadgets, and compasses make good gifts, though! Compasses make particularly good gifts for Muslims, because it will allow them to be directed to Mecca.
Egypt is a friendly country with lots to see and do, but there is a lot of etiquette to follow. Egyptians are religious people, and some of their traditions are based off their religion.
Because of this, it is important to learn a bit about Egyptian etiquette. Below are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind for your trip to Egypt.
1. Dress Attire
- DO dress modestly and somewhat formally. Men shouldn't wear tank-tops or shorts, unless they're at the beach. Women should wear either pants or skirts that fall below the knee, and shirts that cover their shoulders.
- DO wear a suit and tie if you are a man at a business function. Men should not wear visible jewelry at business meetings, either.
- DO dress appropriately if visiting a mosque. Women need to cover their hair, and no skin should be exposed besides the hands, face, and feet. And remember to take your shoes off!
- DO feel comfortable dressing less conservatively at resorts, but whenever you leave the resort, go back to wearing more modest attire.
2. Table Manners
- DON'T use your left hand to eat.
- DO ask for seconds. It compliments the chef.
- DON'T put salt on your food. It's considered insulting to the chef.
- DO leave a tiny bit of food on your plate when you are full. This indicates that you are done eating.
- DO tip if you enjoyed the service at a restaurant. There is usually a 10-12% tip included but leaving an additional 5% is common.2. DO tip a taxi driver 10%.
4. Gift Giving and Accepting Gifts
- DON'T give flowers as a gift. In Egyptian culture, flowers are for weddings, funerals, and for the
- DON'T give alcohol unless you are certain that the recipient drinks. Devout Muslims don't drink alcohol.
- DO give children gifts such as candy, toys, or magic markers.
- DO present a gift with your right hand, and not your left.
- DON'T open a gift until later.
- DO give sweets as a gift, such as konafa, baklava, or petit
- DO give electronic gadgets or a nice compass. A compass makes a great gift for a Muslim because it allows them to be directed to Mecca.
5. Body Gestures
- DON'T sit with your legs crossed. Showing the bottoms of your feet is considered rude.
- DO put your right hand over your heart if declining something. It makes your refusal seem much more polite and gracious.
- DON'T make the number five with your hand with the palm facing out, and don't stretch your arm out with your palm in someone's face. A palm indicates warding off evil, so those gestures can be offensive.
- DON'T engage in public displays of affection.
- DON'T stand too close to a member of the opposite sex, though personal space between members of the same sex might be closer than you are used to. Don't move away, though! It could be seen as rude.
- DO shake hands upon meeting. In Egypt, handshakes are often lengthy and a little bit limp, accompanied by eye contact and a smile.
- DO exchange cheek kisses once a relationship is developed. This is only done among people of the same sex.
- DO wait for a woman to offer a handshake first, if you are a man. If she doesn't, bow your head to greet her.
7. Visitors Etiquette
- DO remove your shoes upon entering an Egyptian person's home.
- DO bring a gift to your hosts, such as candy or pastries.
- DO bring a gift for your host's children.
- DO expect to be offered food repeatedly, even if you keep declining.
- DO compliment your host's house.
- DO accept if offered coffee or tea. Even if you don't want it, accept it anyway, and simply don't drink it. If you refuse, your host may feel rejected.
8. Business Meeting
- DO make appointments in advance and confirm a week before.
- DO expect interruptions throughout the meeting. This is common and shouldn't be taken personally.
- DO engage in small talk in the beginning of the meeting.
- DO have materials and business cards translated into Egyptian Arabic.
- DO be patient. Business moves slowly in Egypt.
- DO expect haggling. Egyptians can be tough negotiators.
9. Photo Etiquette
- DON'T take pictures of military buildings.
- DO ask an Egyptian if you can take their picture. They usually won't mind.
The above list of etiquette may seem somewhat overwhelming, but when in doubt, follow the lead of those around you. Respect Egypt's traditions, and you will blend in much better. Have a safe and wonderful trip to Egypt!
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