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Know Before You Go
- "Bachtsiss" is the Egyptian version of tipping. It's the amount of money expected by people who provide you with a service. But it differs from a Western tip as there is a minimum amount expected. Ask your tour agency or guide about this to make sure you have enough cash on you.
- The water in Cairo is not safe to drink. Rather buy bottles of sealed water and avoid fresh, raw and uncooked vegetables if you don't want an upset stomach.
- When getting change in Cairo make sure you are given Egyptian Pounds and not Piaster. Piaster is an old currency no longer in use.
- If you are planning a visit to the pyramids and sphinx, ignore the locals telling you it's a 5-mile walk from the taxi entrance. It's a 5-minute walk between sites, and you'll save yourself money and an uncomfortable camel ride by going there yourself.
- Restaurants and hotels add a service charge between 10%-15% on top of value-added tax and other municipal taxes. So keep that in mind, as the price you see on a menu can be 25% higher once the bill comes.
Getting Around Cairo
- The fastest way to around Cairo is to avoid the traffic by taking the metro. The subway system in the city is clean, affordable and efficient with cars reserved for women passengers only. The trains run every day from 5 am to 1 am, and a one-way ticket will cost you LE 1.
- Taxis are another convenient way to get around the city if you don't mind the longer travel time. The yellow or white cabs use meters and have a base fare of LE 3.50. The older black and white cabs don't use meters, and you'll need to negotiate the price with the driver before setting out. Or if you would rather pass on regular taxis, Cairo also has ride-sharing services like Uber.
- For adventurous travellers, you can also get around Cairo with the city's bus system. Destinations are not usually marked, and overcrowding is common, but it is the cheapest mode of transportation. Rides range between LE 1 to 2, and you pay the driver after taking your seat.
- If you have a bit more money to spend on transportation, consider choosing a guided tour with bus transfers. You'll be able to avoid haggling with taxi drivers and get pickup at your hotel. The bus tour prices average around LE 1,800 but include attraction fees to the Pyramids of Giza and other popular sights.
- It's not advisable to rent a car while in Cairo. Parking is hard to find, and the locals are notorious for being aggressive drivers. Egypt also has the highest rates of road fatalities in the world, so it's best to avoid driving around if you can.
When is The Best Time to Visit Cairo?
The best time to visit Cairo is during its two shoulder seasons. From March to April and October to November the city sees cooler temperatures, fewer crowds and cheap hotel rates. However, if you want to nab a deal, it's best to book your accommodation a month in advance to make sure you find something reasonable.
The most popular time to visit Cairo is during its winter months. Day temperatures are warm and evenings are cool, but you'll have to deal with long lines at the city's main attractions. Hotel rates are also at their highest during this time, so book at least a month in advance to lock in prices and ensure availability.
Cairo's low season is during its summer months from May to September. Temperatures average around 32°C during the day, making outdoor excursions hot and exhausting. But if you don't mind packing on extra sunscreen, you'll find fantastic hotel deals. Just plan your travel dates around Ramadan. Hotel rates increase during this holiday, and it's an expensive time to visit if you are sticking to a tight budget.
Airports in Cairo
Cairo International Airport
Cairo International is Africa's second busiest airport and the main air transport for Egypt's capital city. It flies passengers to over 150 destinations around the world and serves as a hub for EgyptAir, EgyptAir Express and Nile Air.
Getting To and From Cairo International
The cheapest way to get from the airport into the city centre is with the Airport Bus Service. The bus stops at Tahrir Square, Mohandeseen and along the Pyramids Road in Giza. It runs every 30 minutes and costs LE 2 for a one-way ticket.
There is a shared shuttle service that runs from the airport every 30 minutes. It costs LE 25 one-way, and the driver will drop you off at your hotel. It's the best option if you have a lot of luggage and want to avoid negotiating with taxi drivers.
If you do decide to take a taxi, you'll find the cabs waiting outside the Arrival terminal. The average fare from the airport should cost you LE 80, and it takes 30 to 60 minutes to get into central Cairo depending on traffic.
Many hotels in the city also over private transfers for their guests.