Budget and Independent Travel in Egypt
Part III, The Rest of Egypt
by Jimmy Dunn
This month we talk about budget travel beyond Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan. But for our readers who missed the first two parts of this article, I should like to point out that they contain considerable information about general budget travel in Egypt. In particular, Part I discusses airfare to Egypt, how to handle money, taxis and local transportation, food, telephones, liquor, tipping and shopping, specifically for Cairo, but applicable to other areas of Egypt. A number of budget hotels were also reviewed. Part II covers considerable information on travel within Egypt by plane, bus and train, as well as specific information and hotel reviews for Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan. For many tourists, the first two parts will be all that is needed, as these areas largely comprise the sight seeing destinations of most average tours.
The remainder of Egypt where tourists are likely to travel consists of the Fayoum and desert oasis, the Red Sea cost and the Sinai. Of these, the Fayoum, which is not really a true oasis, is most likely to interest pharaonic sight seers, but will usually consist of a day trip. Such a tour is likely to be least expensive by arranging a tour from a Cairo hotel, though it is possible to travel there via bus. Unfortunately, the impressive monuments of this district are spread out, so for most, the only practical means of exploring the area will be within a tour. Many companies offer short tours such as this, but Misr Travel, the national travel company of Egypt, is well known for their day and 1/2 day agendas. These tours are normally very reasonable.
One problem with actually staying in the Fayoum and desert oasis is that tourists are a captive audience. A variety of inexpensive restaurants and the scope of nightlife found in many other areas of Egypt do not really exist. Certainly there are a hand full of local eateries in a city such as Medinet El-Fayoum, but for the most part, tourists who stay overnight in these areas must rely on the hotel for both food and entertainment, and while a hotel such as the Auberge du Lac (reviewed this month as a historical hotel) in the Fayoum may have a variety of nightly entertainment, it is probably the only hotel in these areas to do so.
On the other hand, the Fayoum and particularly the desert oasis have not experienced the tourism boom that has driven up hotel prices in the primary tourism cities of Egypt, so prices are usually reasonable, and in some cases, camping is a viable alternative. For the Fayoum and Desert Oasis, we have worked hard just to include a few hotels in our databases, and with the possible exception of the Auberge du Lac, just about all of them would be considered as budget facilities, though some are very nice regardless of their pricing.
The Red Sea and Sinai
For the Red Sea and Sinai, the question of budget travel is usually more a question of where one goes, as opposed to finding budget facilities in all the destinations. For Example, situated within a few miles of each other on the Red Sea mainland coast is El Gouna, Hurghada and Soma Bay. One can pretty much forget budget travel to the expanding resort city of El Gouna north of Hurghada, and to the quieter, limited facilities of Soma Bay. Both areas are well worth a visit, but were not really created with the idea of budget travel in mind.
Hurghada on the other hand seems to have been developed specifically for the budget traveler. People in North America have a tendency to think of Hurghada as a less expensive Red Sea scuba diving headquarters then Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai. But for many Europeans, particularly from countries that lack warm beaches, Hurghada represents the least expensive sun and fun beach and party resort available to them. Whereas in the rest of Egypt, three and four star hotels tend to be older facilities that perhaps once had higher ratings, in Hurghada, new hotels are often specifically built with these rating in mind.
Actually, all along the Red Sea coast, for the most part, room rates for good accommodations are at prices one would often pay for meager accommodations in places like Cairo and Luxor. For example, the Jasmine Village Hotel in Hurghada has its own beach, swimming pool, and many other amenities and for a single room, is under $50.00 USD. Other good hotels less expensive than this include the Three Corner facilities, with pricing for single rooms in the mid $30.00. But there are many good hotels in the $20 to $30 range. These include, but are not limited to, such hotels as the Sea Horse Hotel and Sindbad Inn.
At one point the Sinai was considered to be a fairly exclusive destination, but the popularity of Sharm el-Sheikh and a few other destinations there have inspired a few new hotels that do fall somewhat into the budget category. On the less expensive end is the Pigeon House at Na'ama Bay and the Safety Land Camp, which are both very reasonable for Sharm el-Sheikh with rooms under $20.00 USD. After that, the prices begin to rise rapidly and most other budget facilities or in excess of $30.00. These include hotels such as the Palermo Resort, which has a nice pool and a section of the beach, the Tropicana Inn and the Sandy Hotel, also with a pool and good air conditioning. Also in the area is the Oasis hotel, with good air.
Once outside of either the general area of Hurghada on the Red Sea coast, or Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai, one is likely to run into camps and beach huts that can be very reasonable, but unless one is a diver, there is little else to do in such locals. In addition, a number of hotels are very reasonable. Just to mention several of these, in Dahab in the Sinai, Club Red and the Christina Residence Hotel both have reasonable rooms under $20.00. Around Nuweiba in the Sinai, there is the City Beach Village where you can pitch a tent for less then $5.00 USD, or opt to stay in a comfortable room for under $20.00.
We hope you have enjoyed our series on budget and independent travel to Egypt. Next month we will probably add a small postscript to this series about independent travel, as independent travel is not necessarily budget travel, and there are some good upper end choices for people who wish to travel independently, but are not so limited in the amount they can spend.
Budget and Independent Travel to Egypt - Part III By Jimmy Dunn
Historical Hotels in Egypt - Part III By Jimmy Dunn
Doing Business In Egypt By Jimmy Dunn
The Ancient Egyptian Bride By Ilene Springer
Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn
Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes
Book Reviews Various Editors
Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman
Cooking with Tour Egypt By Mary K Radnich
Hotel Reviews By Juergen Stryjak
Egyptian Exhibitions By deTraci Regula
Nightlife Various Editors
Restaurant Reviews Various Editors
Shopping Around By Juergen Stryjak
Egyptian View-Point By Adel Murad
Medical Advice in Egypt By Omar Ragab.
Web Reviews By Siri Bezdicek
Last Updated: June 22nd, 2011