Preparing for your trip
|Package:||A Taste of Egypt, 2023/2024|
Print this page and refer to it as you prepare for your trip!
Printed Jun 3, 2023. Please visit http://static.friendlyplanet.com/before-you-go/?tourId=1763 for the latest updates.
|☐||Ensure you have a current passport valid for at least six months after your return date.||ASAP|
|☐||Complete your registration. You'll receive a link to the registration form after you complete your booking.||Within 5 days of booking|
|☐||Make your final payment, if any balance is due.||See your invoice|
|☐||Book connecting flights to your departure city, if necessary. (Please confirm your international flight schedule first!)||After receiving your e‑tickets|
|☐||Make advance seat reservations for your international flight, if you have a preference.||After receiving your e‑tickets|
|☐||Request any additions or changes you may still want to make to your trip.||by final payment due date|
|☐||Obtain required travel visas and review any requirements for entry.||See below|
|☐||Print your itinerary and other final documents, which we will send you via email by 14 days prior to travel.||Prior to travel|
|☐||Print your policy documents, if you purchased travel insurance, and carry them with you.||Prior to travel|
|☐||Enroll in The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), if you're a U.S. citizen or national, so the State Dept. can locate and assist you in case of an emergency.||Prior to travel|
|☐||Confirm your flight times and any special meal requests with the airline, and print and carry a copy of your e-ticket.||72 hours prior to travel|
|☐||Check in for your flights online and download/print your boarding passes (if available).||24 hours prior to travel|
|☐||Arrive at the airport, ready for the trip of a lifetime!||3½ hours prior to departure|
Documents & Entry Requirements
Entry requirements are provided for your convenience. However, unless otherwise stated, it is your responsibility to determine the requirements that apply to you and your trip and to comply with them, including obtaining any necessary visas or other travel documents by the required deadlines and carrying them with you. Especially with COVID-19, requirements are subject to change, so check back for the latest before you depart.
U.S. passport holders must have a visa for entry into Egypt.
Egypt Entry Requirements
Advice from our partner Sherpa
General Requirements & Guidelines
- In general, you must have a passport to travel abroad, which should be valid for at least six months after your return date. Passports expiring before then should be renewed as soon as possible. Passports contain at least 2 blank pages for each country visited. If your passport does not have this many pages, obtain a new passport as soon as possible.
- if your passport and visa are not in order, airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding, countries may deny entry, and your trip may be disrupted. Travel insurance may not cover such losses.
- Any changes in names or passport information should be reported to us immediately. Airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding if the name on your passport does not match your tickets.
- Minors (age 17 or younger) departing and/or returning to the U.S. without parents or with only one parent may be required by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to present a notarized parental consent letter and/or unabridged birth certificate (more information). Many other countries have similar entry requirements, especially for minors traveling with a parent/guardian with a different surname; check with the consulates of all countries you'll be visiting to learn more.
Your final travel documents will be sent to you via email by 14 days prior to departure. These will include your daily itinerary, hotel and emergency contact information, and other relevant information. Please print your documents and take them with you. If you're departing in less than a week and haven't received your documents, let us know immediately!
Travel Insurance Documents
If you purchased travel insurance, please print and carry your policy documents, including contact information for emergency travel assistance and instructions on how to make a claim. If you purchased the travel protection plan we offer, we recommend you print the full policy.
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
We encourage all U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service allows you to receive important updates about safety and security issues in your destination, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy, as well as family & friends, to contact you in case of an emergency. To enroll or get more information, please visit the STEP website or any U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Flights, Transfers & Arrival
Questions about your flights before you depart? Read the information below first. If you still have questions, contact our air specialists at
Flights & Tickets
For this package, we generally book your flights and issue tickets after your final payment due date.
Once we have issued your tickets, we'll send you an "e-ticket receipt" which contains all of your flight information, including times, carriers, an airline booking reference number, and an e-ticket number. If you have not received this, or have questions about the flights we booked for you, please contact our air department. You will not receive paper tickets. We recommend you print and carry a copy of your flight details, including the airline booking reference number and e-ticket number, as some airports require this to enter the terminal. You do not need to reconfirm your flights with the airline prior to your departure, as we will handle this for you.
Egypt Air will allow advanced seat selection for a fee after tickets are issued. You may contact our air department via email, for your preferred seating once you receive your electronic tickets, and no later than 48 hours prior departure. Otherwise, seats will be assigned at the airport when you check-in.
Please Note: Egypt Air is a dry airline; they do not serve alcoholic beverages on their flights.
That depends on the airline. You can usually request a window or aisle seat, and sometimes specific seat numbers (but not exit row and bulkhead seats) ahead of time. Many airlines now charge a fee for this, and such fees are not included in your package price. If you have a seat preference, let us know when you book, in the special requests section, or email us at [email protected] after you book. Then:
If your airline does not charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll happily pass along your seat request to the airline and confirm they received it (though we cannot guarantee it will be honored).
If your airline does charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll let you know. You'll need to contact the airline directly to request your seats after we have issued your flight tickets, and fees are payable directly to the airline.
If you do not request specific seats: The airline typically assigns them within 24 hours of departure. If you do not like your assigned seats, you may be able to change them, subject to availability, when you check in online or at the counter. Learn more about Advance Seat Reservations.
You can enter special meal requests when you book with an agent or complete your online registration, shortly after booking. We will relay your requests to the airlines and our representatives abroad, but we cannot guarantee they will be honored. Please double check meal requests with your airline 72 hours before departure, and with our representatives upon arrival.
You may be able to earn frequent flyer points for your flights. Contact the airline directly once you receive your tickets to enter your frequent flyer number in your flight record, or enter it when you check in. As you travel, check your tickets or ask the check-in or gate agent prior to boarding each flight to ensure the number has been entered properly. And just to be safe, keep your boarding passes and passenger receipt as proof that you have actually flown the miles you want credited to your account.
Cabin upgrades may be available on your flights. Ask us about price and availability when you book online, in the special requests section, or contact our air department after you book. Please note that our special contracted airfare rates generally do not permit upgrading with frequent flyer points, and that upgrade requests may incur change fees if tickets have already been issued.
You may review the sample flight schedule(s) below. This information is for general planning puposes. You will receive your actual flight schedule by email once we issue your tickets.
Airlines may change schedules at any time, even after flights have been confirmed, and we are not responsible for such changes. Please check for updates to your flight schedule prior to booking any connecting flights and again 72 hours prior to departure.
EgyptAir's (MS) toll-free number is (800) 334-6787.
Sample Flight Schedule for Main Tour
|MS 986||New York (JFK)||Cairo (CAI)||12:00 PM||4:30 AM (next day)||10.35 hrs|
|MS 985||CAI||JFK||03:20 AM||09:00AM||11.40 hrs|
If you plan to purchase connecting flights to your departure city, we strongly suggest waiting until after your final payment due date and after you receive the e-tickets for your international flights, to reduce the chances that that your departure might be cancelled or rescheduled or that your international flight times might change. Before purchasing connecting flights, verify the times for your international flights. Leave at least 3½ hours connecting time between flights, and if you're traveling within a few weeks of Daylight Savings Time changes (in March and November, when flight schedules may change even more dramatically), allow 5–5½ hours between flights. Nobody likes waiting around the airport, but missing your flight is far worse!
Scheduled group airport arrival and departure transfers are included with this package. When you exit customs, please look for our representative holding a Friendly Planet sign, who will cheerfully escort you to your transfer vehicle and assist with your luggage.
We make every effort to ensure our tours run smoothly and trouble-free. We don't expect any problems, and nor should you. But when things don't go as planned, here's what to do:
- You miss your flights, or your flights are cancelled: Please call us immediately. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox, with a phone number at which to reach you, and we'll get right back to you.
- Your flights are delayed and you're worried about missing your included transfers: Please contact us to let us know about the delay, and we will notify our partners in destination. They will be tracking your arrival and will plan accordingly.
- Your package includes transfers, but you can't find our representative at your destination: Don't panic—they may have been unexpectedly delayed. Wait up to 30 minutes. Then contact our local partners in destination, listed on the emergency contact page of your final documents. If you can't reach them, call us. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox. If all else fails, make your own way to the starting hotel (or cruise port), and we'll refund you the cost of your transfer.
Packing & Luggage
Baggage allowance: Your checked-in luggage should weigh no more than 50 pounds, and each piece may not exceed 62 inches as a sum of all three dimensions (length, height and width). Your carry-on luggage should fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment. Medications and other essentials should be packed in your carry-on luggage. Porterage during your tour is covered for only one checked bag per person.
Learn more about Baggage Allowances on your international flights. Note that our baggage allowances may be less than those for your international flights. If you exceed the baggage limits, you may be subject to excess baggage charges levied by the airlines and/or by Friendly Planet.
Regardless of the limits—we recommend a smaller size and weight for both your checked and carry-on bags. It's so much easier and faster for you to get around when you have fewer, lighter bags! For your carry-on, consider a soft-sided bag such as a duffel rather than a hard clamshell-type case, which may not fit as easily into overhead compartments or under your seat, especially on buses. For your protection, we suggest your checked luggage have a TSA-approved lock.
Luggage tags: For your safety, we are no longer mailing Friendly Planet luggage tags to you. We encourage you to use your own. Fill in the luggage tags with your name and contact information and attach to each bag, including carry-ons and camera cases, so that your luggage can be identified should it get misplaced during your trip.
What to pack: Check out our list of top 10 must-haves for international travel, as well as what not to pack. Pack smart: put your travel documents, medications, one change of clothing, and other essentials in your carry-on, in case your checked baggage is misplaced. And pack light, for your own comfort and convenience. For clothing, we suggest packing a variety of separates with climate and comfort in mind.
What not to pack: U.S. law forbids you to carry hazardous materials aboard aircraft in your checked or carry-on baggage or on your person, including explosives, compressed gases, flammable liquids & solids, loaded firearms, poisons, corrosives and radioactive materials. Common examples include paints, lighter fluid, fireworks, mace/tear gas and oxygen bottles. Restricted materials may vary by airline and destination. Some items, in quantities of no more than 70 ounces total, may be carried within baggage, including medicinal or toilet articles such as hairspray, perfume and certain medicines that are necessary during your journey. Please check with the airline and/or visit the FAA website prior to travel if you have any questions.
While on Tour
What to Expect
This fast-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness. Expect early wake up times and very long days in order to fit in all included visits. The Nile cruise portion of this tour can total up to 100 passengers.
Your Schedule: On several days during your trip, a very early departure time is required to accommodate flight schedules and to avoid touring during the hottest part of the day. Your patience and understanding is appreciated.
Customs & Culture: Since Egypt is primarily a Muslim country, customs will be different from the USA. Be sensitive and respectful of local customs and traditions. For example, it is customary to only use your right hand to eat or hand things to others. The left hand is considered unclean, as it is used for hygiene. Locals are very appreciative of tourists who show respect for their customs and culture.
Bargaining: Bargaining is a way of life in Egypt, especially at markets or souks. Once you ask “bi-kam da?” (How much is it?) be prepared to bargain hard or walk away. A good bargaining policy is to start negotiating by offering half of the asking price. Don’t be afraid to walk away if you think the price you’re being quoted is too high. Generally, vendors will come after you and offer a lower price. Negotiations should be done in a respectful manner.
Photography: Expect to pay a small fee to bring your camera inside the monuments, temples, tombs and museums. Once inside, flash photography is generally forbidden. Be sure to ask permission before taking pictures of people or animals. It is not unusual for a camel’s owner to ask for a small fee if he sees you taking a picture of his camel.
Remember that you're a guest in someone else's homeland, and that you're traveling to experience their country and culture. Be sensitive to local customs and manners, as many things may be done differently than what you're used to. And while we have made every effort to secure modern and comfortable accommodations and transportation, please note that the standards in other countries may be different from those you are accustomed to at home. Overall, you will find a polite, positive, patient, and open-minded approach generally yields the best travel experience!
Please keep in mind that you'll be traveling with a group. Sharing your explorations with like-minded folks can often be a source of joy, and some of our travelers become lifelong friends. But traveling with strangers can also sometimes be challenging, especially in a foreign country. We ask that you be patient and respectful with your fellow travelers, including their needs and preferences. Also remember that you have responsibilities to the group—please be prompt for group activities so you don't keep everyone else waiting. Lastly, please defer to your tour leader, guide or manager. They are there for your safety and wellbeing, and to ensure the journey goes smoothly for everyone. If you have a problem with one of our tour guides or managers, please let us know, either while you're on tour or after you return, and we'll make sure your concerns are addressed.
Our hotels are all western style and your room will have a private bathroom. You will be sailing the on the recently refurbished MS Tulip, with contemporary-styled staterooms featuring a panoramic window and ensuite bathroom. Facilities on board include a fitness center and spa, swimming pool, and a lounge bar. The main dining room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring a variety of local and international cuisine.
Eating & Drinking
The meals included with your package are listed in the itinerary.
Egyptian cuisine can be described as a fusion of the best features of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African cooking. Your Cairo hotel on tour has several dining choices, from coffee shops, bar or lounge to specialty restaurants. A number of cafes and restaurants offering variety of cuisines are also located within few miles from your hotel in Cairo. The welcome dinner in Cairo includes a glass of local wine or local beer, a bottle of water and coffee or tea. Drinks on other meals are not included and will be charged separately.
Non-included Meals: Average cost for lunch (not including drinks) in the cafes will be about $15 - $20 per person per meal, while the average dinner costs around $30-40 per person per meal, excluding drinks. Major restaurants and cafes accept credit card payments for not-included meals.
Please be aware that the water in the hotel tap system is not potable. Hotels will normally provide bottled water at a small fee. On occasion, a first bottle will be in your room upon check in. If not, you will have plenty of opportunities to purchase bottled water in and around the hotel. Any water that you consume from the hotel mini-bar will be charged to your room, and you will be responsible for payment. As a reminder, only drink water and other beverages from sealed bottles or cans. The rule for water also pertains to ice, as it is commonly made from unfiltered, tap water. At included meals, you may enjoy the cooked fruits and vegetables, but stay away from raw items unless you can peel them. We are not accustomed to the micro-organisms in the raw foods and water of many other countries, including Egypt. If you exercise caution, you will avoid spoiling your trip by getting sick.
Please see above for special meal requests.
You will be traveling through Egypt in the company of a professionals who are very committed to making your tour the dream vacation you are counting on. These people feel great pride in being given a chance to show foreign visitors their country. If your guide, driver and others with whom you are traveling are doing a good job, please take our suggestions for tipping seriously. Naturally, tipping is personal and voluntary, and if you have not received good service, your tip should reflect this fact.
The recommended amounts are as follows:
- Tour Manager*: $5 per person per day
- Local guide in Cairo: $2 per person per day
- Transfer/Tour driver: $3 per person per day
- Egyptologist: $4 per person per day
- Restaurant staff: $1-2 per person per meal
- Hotel porters: $1-2 per bag upon arrival and departure
- Housekeeping: $1-2 per person per day
- Cruise portion tip: total of $15 per person per day allocated to the following:
- Cruise ship staff - $7 per person per day
- Tour guide: $4 per person per day
- Driver: $2 per person per day
- Tour manager in Luxor and Aswan: $2 per person per day
There are no vouchers needed for the prepaid optional excursions. The guide will have a list of passengers who prepaid the optional excursions. If you did not prepay the optional excursions and prefer to purchase them locally, space will be subject to availability, and the local selling price may be higher. Payment must be made by cash or by credit cards, Visa or MasterCard only. American express and Discover are not widely accepted in Egypt.
Abu Simbel Excursion: This excursion requires flight arrangements and should always be purchased in advance. Space is always limited, and if you have not purchased this popular tour in advance, it is highly likely you will not be able to visit.
Your hotel in Cairo is located near some of the city’s famous sites, museums, gardens and specialty shops. Spend your free time visiting some of the museums and cultural landmarks or shop for arts and unique crafts in the many gift shops.
You can also leave the group and explore on your own at any time; however, should the group have planned activities for that day, please make sure to inform your tour guide in advance. There is NO refund for unused group arrangements. We recommend that you ask the front desk for a business card of the hotel with the address and local phone number in both local script and English. Or take the name of the hotel and phone number - written in the local language and in English - with you so that you can communicate with taxi drivers. The hotel staff will gladly assist you with these translations.
Special Needs & Requests
Please see above for special meal requests and seat requests. If you have any other special requests, including wheelchair or electric cart assistance, please mention your request when you book with an agent, or in the special requests section when you book online. We will do our best to accommodate them!
Egypt Fast Facts
|Health Precautions & Vaccinations||
According to the Center for Disease Control, “A limited risk of malaria exists in parts of Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco. Taking an antimalarial drug is not recommended as the risk for travelers is considered to be extremely low. However, travelers should use insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.”
Do not swim in fresh water or ocean water, as parasites are prevalent. Skin infections are common; even the smallest wound should be disinfected and covered with a bandage.
Egypt generally has a warm and hot weather with cooler nights. The two seasons in Egypt are winter, from November to April and summer, from May to October. Average temperatures during winter range from 60’s to 80’s while in summer, average temperatures range from 80’s to 90’s. During the months of March & April, there will be periods of sandstorms blowing in different places due to the Khamsin.
|What to wear||
Egypt is generally a conservative country and has a very warm climate. Dressing for modesty and comfort is encouraged, especially in big cities like Cairo and the city centers in Luxor and Aswan. Although the dress code at tourist sites tends to be relaxed, we recommend that women avoid revealing clothes such as short shorts and short skirts to avoid attracting unwanted attention or offending the locals. It is best to wear short sleeved t-shirts, capri pants or skirts that cover the knee. We suggest bringing clothes made of cotton, a wide brimmed hat to cover your face and back of your neck. Sunglasses and a light shawl or scarf are also valuable accessories for your trip. If you have two pairs of comfortable (broken in, not brand new) walking shoes, take both pairs. We also suggest bringing a pair of swim shoes, a swimsuit, cover-up, and at least one smart casual outfit for dinners and evening outings. Packing to dress in layers is another way to prepare for a variety of weather conditions. Finally, remember that the countries visited on this tour are casual, and comfort should dictate your wardrobe for the tour.
We highly suggest that you bring travel-sized personal toiletries as those available locally may not be the brands you prefer. Be sure to bring insect repellant, high SPF sunscreen, after sun lotion, common drugs and vitamins you normally take as well as extra batteries and chargers for your electronic devices as these may not be readily available in the places visited on this tour. We also suggest bringing close-toed shoes as the streets are dusty and to protect your toes from the hot sand on the sites along the Nile. Small packs of tissues or wipes will also come in handy at rest stops, as toilet paper is not always available. Remember to pack medications in your carry-on bag.
You will be traveling through Egypt in the company of professionals who are very committed to making your tour the dream vacation you are counting on. These people feel great pride in having a chance to show foreign visitors their country. If your guide, driver, and others with whom you are traveling are doing a good job, please take our suggestions for tipping seriously. Naturally, tipping is personal and voluntary, and if you have not received good service, your tip should reflect this fact.
|Money & Credit Cards||
The official currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound. Hotels and some stores accept credit cards (Visa or MasterCard only). However, for “street shopping” you will need local currency or U.S. Dollars. Hotels, banks and foreign exchange bureaus will be able to exchange cash to local currency. We highly recommend that you bring along crisp, new bills. Old, torn, crumpled bills may not be accepted. Be sure to call your credit card providers to let them know you will be traveling abroad, the places you’ll be visiting and the dates of your trip. This is important for your own protection. For small purchases, we recommend that you use the ATM machines to get cash in local currency so that you can avoid using your credit card in unknown shops where there is a higher risk of having your credit card numbers “borrowed” for unauthorized purchases. Traveler’s checks are no longer widely accepted, so there is no need to bring them with you.
Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.
You will have ample opportunity during your visit to Egypt to shop for souvenirs, including artwork, handicrafts and even jewelry. If you purchase such items, do so with the understanding that these items may not have the same high value you were led to believe. A good rule of thumb when shopping abroad is to choose items that you love and that will remind you of the destination. If you want to shop for high value items, better do so from a trusted merchant at home unless the pleasure of the happy memory of your trip will keep you from regretting your purchase.
While we take great care in arranging the components of your tour, we have no relationship with the shopping venues you’ll encounter, and we cannot be liable for any purchases you make. Your guides will no doubt have some favorite shopping places, where the vendors are known, provide good quality merchandise and probably pay some sort of commission from sales to the guide. This should not surprise or offend you, as this is how business is done throughout the Middle East and other regions around the world. Please keep in mind that many, if not most stores outside the U.S., will not allow exchanges or refunds for your purchased items.
Tips for Bargaining: Bargaining is a way of life in the Middle East. If you want to purchase something, whether in a shop or a souk (or bazaar) and you think the price you’ve been quoted is too high, thank the vendor and walk away. Generally, he/she will come after you with a lower price. It is usually considered good bargaining policy to offer half the asking price, and negotiate from there. Negotiations should be done in a respectful way.
|Electricity & Power Adapters|| |
220 volts. Plug C. You will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.
Learn more about electrical standards around the world.
|Cell Phones & Internet||
Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? Read up on using your cell phone abroad and the 5 ways to get Internet abroad.
Cameras and video recorders are permitted, and photography is generally permitted everywhere except at airports and military installations. Memory cards for digital cameras will be available in major cities.
|Did you know?||
Terms & Conditions: Please review our terms & conditions for this package.
Cancellations: If something comes up and you need to cancel your trip, please let us know as soon as possible. All cancellations must be made in writing. Cancellation fees vary by package; please see the cancellation fees for this package.