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January 2023


It's Safe!


One of the most frequent questions asked about travel in Egypt, is whether it’s safe for female travellers. Especially solo travellers. During each of my three trips to the country, I’ve only ever had one scare and that was in a place that was most unlikely to be dangerous - in a big fancy hotel full of tourists! But that’s a story for another time.


Travelling around Egypt, I had no issues, and I’m happy to say that I felt fairly safe most of the time. Here’s some tips for travelling around Egypt safely.


Beware of new friends


Mainly in old town Cairo, you will encounter people in the streets who seem friendly, and make you believe that they want to practise their English, and just be friends. However, a few minutes later, they’ll be walking you down the road to show you their art gallery i.e. souvenir shop.


This is exactly what happened to me in Cairo. I, later, saw posters in my hostel warning me of such schemes. The guys I spoke to were not dangerous. However, I didn’t want to buy anything from their shop and it was time consuming trying to get out of there. If you don’t want your time wasted, and don’t want to buy anything, it’s best to keep walking when someone tries to talk to you in the street!



Are the streets safe? Are there pickpockets?


I had no issues with pickpockets in Egypt.

Egyptians, in general, didn’t physically get close to me at all, and I can only assume it’s due to their culture. You just don't see people walking or being close to another person in general.

Always be careful with your belongings, as you can never be too sure. However, I felt that Egyptians only ever tried to rob me by trying to sell me things I didn’t want, or pricing products too high!



Travelling Safely


by car


When arriving in a new city, especially by plane, I’d recommend booking hotel/hostel transfers in advance with your accommodation. It is less stressful than worrying about being scammed by taxi services at the airport, and wondering whether you’re being taken to the correct place or not.


Once in the city, whether it’s Dahab or Cairo, Uber works very well. It’s cheap, reliable, and it allows you to pay by card. Uber also works well if you need to travel to the airport. However, I've heard of some issues when arriving at the airport, where Uber drivers only accept cash. Another reason to pre-book a transfer with your accommodation.


by train


For longer distances, trains are a good, and safe way to travel.

Between Cairo and Luxor/Aswan, there are night sleeper trains. It’s a great experience, and tickets include dinner and breakfast. However, it’s not cheap. Tickets are 84 USD for a single bunk bed, or 120 USD for 2 people/the entire cabin.


If you’re a single traveller, they will place you in a cabin with another tourist (i.e. non-Egyptian passenger) of the same gender. For female travellers, it may make you feel safer when taking a sleeper train!

To book tickets, go to the Watania Sleeping Trains website.

Top bunk in a sleeper train from Cairo to Aswan


There are also regular trains between the big cities, but be aware that if you’re taking a regular train from a smaller place like Kom Ombo, the ticket sales are… interesting!


They wouldn’t sell me a ticket at the Kom Ombo train station, and told me to buy a ticket on the train. Once on the train, I had to walk down several carriages (with a big backpack, it’s not easy!) to find someone of authority. Finally, I found a small bar area where locals were chatting and smoking. Luckily, one of them spoke good English and translated for me so I could buy a ticket from the officials. He even gave me a discount! Was it really a discount? I’ll never know. And this is what my ticket looked like. As if I can even read it!



Apart from this interesting event, train journeys alone were reassuringly uneventful!


by bus


Night buses are a good, cheap alternative way of getting from city to city without wasting days, whilst saving on accommodation fees. Look for routes, and buy tickets on Go Bus.


GoBus arriving at Cairo bus station from Luxor


I took a night bus from Luxor to Cairo, opting for business class - the most expensive ticket at 450 EGP (13 USD / 11 GBP) for maximum comfort! The bus left at 10:35pm and arrived in Cairo at 6:35am. It was fairly comfortable, seats reclined, and I slept most of the way!


You can reserve seats when booking (and there are single seats for solo travellers who do not wish to sit next to anyone!), and for an extra small fee, they load your big backpack/luggage into the storage area on the bus.


 

In general, travelling around Egypt was safe, and therefore enjoyable! I didn’t have any issues during any of my three visits to the country (except the one in a hotel, but that’s another story for another time).


However, no matter where you are, it's always wise to stay vigilant with your belongings and your surroundings at all times to avoid any opportunists taking advantage.



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