Saturday, February 23, 2013

Budget and Safety tips on Solo Self-guided Traveling Egypt

fearless 4.5 days DIY eid season solo trip to Egypt
october 25-29, 2012 thursday to monday

Walked like Egyptian probably was the most challenging and rewarding travel in 15 countries I have visited so far. Before I give some insights regarding this trip, let me show-off first my condition before and during the travel period. 

1. I almost considered this trip as cancelled due to my work as it is hard to file an exit permit as an expat government employee though it is holiday on the entire trip duration. This is the main reason why I did not somehow research for the missing links and just booked the plane tickets at most 3 weeks before the departure and walk-in train seats.

2. The entire travel period (Oct. 25-29, 2012) is a holiday celebration for a Muslim country, thus, a very very peak season.  Plane ticket price is almost thrice the regular, a really expensive trip.

3. My outbound flight fare is a gamble due to the risk it had. I have to wait at least 30 minutes before the departing time to make sure I have a sure seat.

4. Egypt just recently experienced revolution for ousting Mubarak and had the national election this year. Thus, peace and order is somehow at stake.

budget and itinerary print-outs

adventure biking in the luxor wesk bank (only 15 EGP for 3 hrs)

The following is purely based on my experience and observation. As far as I'm concern, it's up to you how to deal things around just in case same things happened.

1. Do not travel on Muslim holidays as the roundtrip ticket price will boost more than you expected. This will take most of the budget to account for. In my case, I spent a huge 71.5% of my saved money just only to have a roundtrip ticket.

2. I highly recommend getting a travel & tour service rather than do-it-yourself. This tip is between budget and safety, think carefully about what is your priority. In my case, adventure is part of my backpacking and budget has to be highly prioritized. As long as I believe I will always be fine and can surpassed all obstacles, there is nothing to worry about. And its not my thing to avail this kind of service.

3. If still going on DIY budget trip, I strongly suggest to perform a detailed itinerary research. In my case, my itinerary is dependent to my open gamble departure date & time so everything is 100% to be changed upon my arrival there.

4. No offense but among the touts (Filipino, Indian, Lebanese, Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese) I have encountered on my entire backpacking adventure, Egyptian touts are the most aggressive and annoying of them all. They have to scam and cheat just to sell something which is not worthy of stuff. Based on my research, these are their practice way before the revolution. Here are some examples I have encountered.

Egyptian tout: Hello sir, where you from?
Me: la Shukran (no thanks) then continue walking
Egyptian tout: I will give you this as a souvenir of your kindness
Me: Wow, ok thanks... (moments later...)
Egyptian tout: Hey, give me money, you should pay for that (shouting)...
Me: What the .... ( I gave him again the item then turn my back, grrr!)
(this tactic was occurred in Pyramids of Giza and Luxor)

If this happens to you, the following are my suggestions depending how forceful the touts and vigilant you are...
* just say "La Shukran" then continue walking and ignoring
* just say "No Arabic, No English" then continue walking and ignoring
* just say "tagalog po ang wika ko" then continue ignoring due most of them are multi-lingual. In my case, this is the most effective one because they don't even think this language existed, they assume you are chinese, hehehe !!
* just keep silent, don't look at them, continue walking

ferry trip from east bank to west bank (2 EGP roundtrip)

lunch meal for only 25 EGP infront of luxor temple

walking alone inside Valley of the Queens

5. Do not wear or show something that will look you have more money, this will get a huge attention especially to the shababs (young ones), I mean it. In my case, I always wear black fedora hat everytime I travel. Guess what, in Cairo, it was grabbed twice (Tahrir Square & Giza metro station). When I was in train and just sitting at the corner, someone just suddenly asked me to give him some money since I was keep ignoring him, I was the only foreign tourist on that area.

6. All major spots that seems to be picturesque have respective locals guarding which if you make shot they will asked "money, money". Even in all toilet, WC (water closet), or just asking for some assistance.

7. Do not talk about POLITICS and RELIGION in public and to a person you just know especially locals unless you trust them to state your opinion. If they are still persistent to that topic, just be silent as a polite manner to ignore. If you want to have peace, walk like an Egyptian :)

8. Book train ticket in advance, a really important one for safety. Booking is open only at most 2 weeks before the travel date.

9. For souvenirs, try to canvass the price first before buying. In Luxor, it is much cheaper to buy in Egyptian market (beside the Luxor governorate), rather than in El Souk.

10. It is much cheaper, more exciting and more satisfying to do DIY in Cairo (Pyramids of Giza, Cairo tower, Egyptian museum) and Luxor (East and West Bank). In my case, the hostel I have stayed offered some tours for Luxor and Aswan. Curious to know, I listened to him and asked in detailed manner without noticing that I'm not interested. I just found out it was NOT worthy the price and time, I simply declined him eventhough my itinerary that time was still totally blurred in my mind.

microbus (van) going to abu simbel

inside aircon train couch

egypt cheap souvenirs total of 114 EGP only

11. Do not pay a huge bill in buying souvenirs and transportation. They will pretend they don't have smaller bill and will try to buy you time to be annoyed. In my case, I always pay huge bills only when I eat in a fast food and train fares.

12. Bus and trains have ABSOLUTE ARABIC CHARACTERS ( even the numbers), no translation in english. In my case, since I am not into memorizing arabics to numerics, I simply asked reliable locals who can help me without handling any cents to them.

13. Student ID caters 50% discount on all entrance fees. So it is really a must to have it brought in museums, temples and other famous landmarks.

14. Learn how to manipulate sudden situation in which quick decision making is concern. In my case, I have experienced harassment for more than 5 times but still my itinerary is perfect as I planned. Even my budget was miscalculated during my preparation, still I managed to compress everything without the used of credit and ATM card.

Hope this helps...


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