Advice from Recent Travelers
We just returned from a stay in Cairo (our 11th visit to Egypt). The weather, the people, everything was super.
If we compare the salesmen in Cairo with what we have seen in Luxor, we have to say that those of Cairo are 200% more calm and less aggressive than in Luxor ! The people we met were very friendly and warm, with a warm welcome.
An advice : do not visit the Giza-plateau for the 'new tombs' opened to the public there ... in fact we find that of all the tombs/mastaba West and East of Cheops were closed ! There was not 1 tomb open (not even Meresanh). It is clear that opening those tombs are not the main concern but why make all that noise about new tombs opened to the public if in fact ... there is only 1 tomb (Dua and Re) west of Cheops with an iron plate in front carrying the name of the owner! No signs ... you will need a policeman to guide you to the closed tombs (you can take some photos because there are holes made in iron gate in front of the entrances).
- Buy the photo-permit for Ti's mastaba at the kiosk of Ptahotep.
- If you do not want to pay 5LE(camera)/25LE(video), leave it in the bus/taxi because you will have to leave it at the kiosk were we find our camera left alone in an empty kiosk.
- You can buy the tickets for Dashur/Abu Sir at the kiosk entering Saqqara.
- There is no longer a tent next to the Serapeum but a cafeteria where you can eat/drink (forget the toilet).
- They charge 2 LE extra for the taxi when entering the Saqqara area
Flying with KLM :
- Do not expect to sit next to your wife : ... it seems that they can not manage to book 2 seats next to each other.
- Be prepared to start your trip a day later : a standard procedure for KLM is to overbook the flight to/from Cairo->Amsterdam (250 persons) with 50 ! This is info that the stewards are telling without any problem to anyone who asks it. It seems that a lot of people do not show up for those flights and that there are only real problems every 15th flight or so when all people that have booked actually show up.
Arriving in Cairo (Terminal 2 - Int.) :
- The visa stamps (1 orange + 1 blue) can be bought from the banks just before the passport check (you can stick both stamps on any empty page in your passport ... the immigration officer is not going to do it for you)
- Declare your video camera at the guys with the green vests (custom officers after the visa and passport check / luggage claim) and the same thing when you leave (guy with the green vest just after the luggage scan).
- Although it is marked that the museum closed at 4.45PM (big plate at the gates), different rooms (eg. Tut's room) close at 4.15PM, you are asked to leave the museum at 4.30PM and at 4.40 PM, everyone has to leave the area in from of the museum.
- The ticket for the mummy room have to be bought at the entrance to the room.
- If you carry a camera that you will not be using in the museum, there is a room just to the left when you enter the gates where you can leave it (no charge) since you will be searched for camera's before entering the museum. You will receive a number so there is no mistake on the return of the camera.
- They moved little statue of Cheops to the same room in which you find Rahotep and Nofret (annex Q.Henep-Herres).
- A guide at the Egyptian Museum charges 40LE/hour/group (seems to be a fixed price), using video camera=100LE
- 1 taxi (4persons) leaving from Tahrir-square at 9AM and returning to Tahrir at 5PM, visiting Pyramids + Saqqara = 100LE (same price we paid 4 years ago !). Who was telling stories about prices that went up the last years ?
- A lot of restaurants (Felfella, Le bistro,...) charge 2LE for the metal work + 12% tax+5%tax.Some charge an additional 2.5LE or 3LE if you want french fries/rice with your main dish (eg. Felfella). Other charge nothing extra (french fries/rice included) : eg . Cafe riche (Talab harb-street) Cafe riche Fellella 1/2 chicken 20 17.5, soup 5 3.65, grilled fish 24 24, stella (500ml) 8 9
- Bottle Bakkara water 1.5L (little shops) : 1.5LE.
- There is a minimum charge/person of 20LE at the Nile Hilton's terras (prices : local beer = 12.5LE, 1 tea = 5LE, ... add : 12% services + 5% tax + other tax)
- Pizza-hut (Tahrir square) : a pizza (seafood topping/4 pers.) = 32.5LE, pizza (2pers) = 17-22LE, spaghetti: 7LE/lasagne : 8LE, pepsi : 2-2.5LE, tea : 1.5LE.
- If you want to buy some nuts (delicious!) or spices show a 1LE and look what you get for it (this on not tourist places) you may be surprised !
- There are lots of places where they make you a fresh made fruit juice for 1.5->2LE.
- The price of a taxi from Tahrir square to the airport at 1.15AM (!) / 4persons : 30-40LE (don't be surprised if the driver ask you 3 times if you're sure you want Terminal2 International departures).
- They ask 2LE for a luggage trolley at the airport
- We bought a water-pipe for 25 LE (if you want to smoke it add 7LE for tobacco etc.) in the sharia Muizzin on the way to Bab el Futuh. In the same street on your right-hand you find an oasis of peace entering the Museum of Beit Al Sihaymi (20LE - open to the public! - highly recommended )
- Although some banks show in the front the exchange rates for currencies other the US$, you need to go to their main office to exchange those (or use one of the many exchange offices check the rates)
- It's very easy (and cheap) to make an international phone call : buy a phone card (20-30LE) at a kiosk and use the green&yellow Menatel phones (everywhere in the street) 3 calls to Belgium for 20LE clear connection !
- If you want to know what's happening in Egypt (weather, discoveries,) buy the 'Egyptian Gazette' (daily, 0.5LE)
- If you don't want to risk your life crossing roads at the Tahrir-square, you can use the Metro entrances that connect all main streets with the museum (sometimes you need to follow first To The platform', but then all streets and destinations are clearly marked in English eg. 'Museum', 'American University',)
- The bookshop at the AUC (in front of the Pizza-hut, sometimes they ask an ID) has some very interesting offers :
'Science and technology of ancient Egypt' (Dr.Zaki Iskander - 20LE) : this paper covers Development of civilization/Calendars/Firemaking and lichting/metals&alloys/Building and Building materials/Pottery/faience/glass/ only 63 pages but with such details eg. chemical formulas of the pigments used ! 'Cairo - the Egyptian Museum Pharaonic sites' (Mohamed Saleh-25LE) that gives info on the 50 most important masterpieces of the Museum and in which room to find them. lots of very detailed maps of Cairo + some very technical publications of AUC itself !
- Do not forget to reconfirm your flight !
- The circus of shops etc. at the entrance near the Sphinx is gone !
- If you do not want arguments with your taxi driver, make it clear when you will return and respect those timings.
- There is a new ring road that links the center of Cairo to the Pyramids (looks like an American interstate)
- And from the Tour Egypt Editors, one final bit of advice. We have been told by several women that it is best to carry some tissue with you when away from your hotel, as restrooms (W.C.) may not be adequately supplied.