You are currently viewing Looking for a destination to explore in 2021? Add Egypt into your list.

Looking for a destination to explore in 2021? Add Egypt into your list.

Table of Contents

Add Egypt into your 2021 destination!

Egypt is open since July 2021

After 2020 being a year full of lockdowns, is perfectly understandable that people are looking for destination to explore in 2021 and so continue their travels that might have been quite trapped due to the pandemic. For these reason, I recommend you to add Egypt into your 2021 destination. 

Egypt is already open, I believe since July 2020, the only requirement for you to get into the country is to take a PCR with negative result. That’s all, once done you are good to go.ūüėä

How did I decide to come to Egypt?

Honestly, life has recently been a rollercoaster, with so many changes, and spontaneous last minute decisions. My decision of traveling for a week to Dubai with the idea to disconnect from the pandemic and its endless lockdowns, end up in for now, three months of travels, experiences, professional opportunities, and more.

In any case, it was long time ago since I wanted to visit this country. 

First of all, because since I was in Israel I had that country in the border, and many backpackers I met in Tel Aviv were visiting Egypt as well. During the summer 2019, I traveled to Eilat, an amazing sea destination in the southern most part of Israel. Eilat is in the border with Egypt, that’s why we even thought with my friend to cross. But at the end we didn’t because we didn’t have time.¬†

And also, Egypt is so touristically globally known for its ancient civilisation, its outstanding pyramids, the history of the pharaohs, the temples and much more.

Being in Dubai, I had the chance to met my first ever egyptian friends. ¬†I was already placed in the UAE, (the Middle East) and so very close to Egypt which had its borders open. So I felt in that moment, that was the time for me to finally visit the country!. ūü§ó

My arrival to Cairo

The city of chaos

If you decide to add Egypt into your 2021 destination, then for sure you’ll visit the city of Cairo. Most of you will be mentally linking the city of Cairo with the outstanding Giza Pyramids. And what to say about them, they are as great or more than you ever imagined while seeing them on tv. But the city of Cairo, I must say, it is much more than ‘just’ the Pyramids. Cairo is pure chaos. The biggest chaos I have ever experienced in my life.

I have been in already around +60 cities in my life, but none as crazy, with less rules, and more shocking things happening at the same time as Cairo. 

At the beginning you will feel overwhelmed and¬†cultural shocked.¬†You will see cars don’t drive in between the road lines, people just cross between the traffic without any pedestrian space to use. Also people¬†go on motorcycle without using helmet and a whole family goes all together.

The things of CAIRO that will shock/surprise you the most as a foreigner

1.The chaotic traffic

As I already mentioned, one of the most shocking things travellers agreed to encounter once they arrive in the city of Cairo, is the crazy simply out of control traffic.

2. People crossing in the middle of the roads through the cars

People here cross all times through the cars circulating, even in high speed roads. It feels like they’re risking their lives yet they look so casual and relaxed while doing so.

3. The ultra cheap prices

 If that can be considered a shock, in this case very positive for your wallet, Egypt turns to be one of the cheapest if not the cheapest where I ever been. Here you can take 30 mins ride Uber by paying maximum 3‚ā¨. Buy food for 20 cents. Eat in fancy restos for 5-6‚ā¨.

4. The oldness of the place

.The city itself is super old. Majority of buildings in Cairo they’re about to fall, actually it happen once. One building in the area where my Egyptian friend live, turned out to just fall. They’re really ruined. Also the roads are quite ruined. Everything looks very old including the cars.

5. The Egyptian friendly way of being

. This is so taken into the next level, that they feel close to Spanish in terms of character. Really. I feel one of the reasons I could connect so good with Egyptians was because of how much their culture and character resemble to the ‘latino style’.

6. How little Egyptians speak English

 Yes, I was expecting a bit more of understanding of the language. Specially considering the dimensions of the city of Cairo and the amounts of tourism this city receives. But no way. Not even the taxi drivers understand a small piece of english here.

7. The amount of children and people in general asking for money in the streets

A lot of people are economically suffering in Cairo. Corona has affected to the tourism industry, one many¬†Egyptians depended on. Also the government doesn’t help the people. So the last option they have, is to ask in the street. Very sad.

8. How even the guy of the supermarket will try to rip you off

A lot of people are economically suffering in Cairo. Corona has affected to the tourism industry, one many¬†Egyptians depended on. Also the government doesn’t help the people. So the last option they have, is to ask in the street. Very sad.

9. The general lack of rules of the city of Cairo and the country itself

That I think includes pretty much all the above shocking points. But it is really a fact how here in Cairo everyone does whatever they please all the time.

10. People riding horses through the city

That I think includes pretty much all the above shocking points. But it is really a fact how here in Cairo everyone does whatever they please all the time.

And I think, that will be all. Pretty much the most shocking things you’ll find around this place as a foreigner, but I must warn you that you’ll 100% get used to all of them after some days around the place.
 
Also about the economical situation of Egypt, I must add that many egyptians told me nothing has ever been the ‘same’ since the 2011 revolution. From that historical event, tourism in Egypt decreased exponentially and never recovered as in pre-revolution times. Obviously corona has only worsened that situation.
Khan Al-Khalili Market, Cairo
Zamalek Mosque, Cairo

So far my favourites places in Cairo for the day :

1.Giza Pyramids Inn Hotel

That’s a really recommendable place for all those seeking an incredible view towards the Pyramids while grabbing a cup of turkish coffee, or smoking some pleasant shehsa.

The hotel is placed literally in front of the Pyramids, it has a nice roof with incredible views. 

If you plan to go there better doing so under reservation otherwise you’re risking lacking a spot!.

The prices are really competitive for the place you are going to be at.

2. Zamalek Neighbourhood

Zamalek is a neighbourhood in the middle of the busy city of Cairo, placed in an Island (so it’s surrounded by the Nile, basically). The neighbourhood was built in the 19th century, and it used to be, and still is, the place where the social and political elites live.¬†The quarter is filled with Embassies, but there’s a charming energy going on. It is in Zamalek where I found more at home around the cultural shocking city of Cairo. Because let’s be honest, unless you have lived before in India or in a very messy place alike, Cairo will totally shock you at first. And I believe it won’t be a small shock, but a deep one that will make you feel totally overwhelmed, lost and out of place around the city.

In Zamalek, you can walk around without being stalked or followed by random people, normally men, none will push you to buy anything. That’s why here I felt I am more in Europe that in Egypt. Also, the area nearby the Nile, is nice for having a coffee and even eat some good food. Check in Biota. Biota is an area of three different restaurants, all of them with nice food quality and service, placed by the Nile’s riverside.

 

3. Al Khalil Market.

Arab lights in Al Khalil market, February 2021

What to say about Al Khalil Market? Almost every Cairo’s guide will include this place, so I couldn’t forget to mention it here. Anyways, it is important that I add updated information of this place. It turns out that Al Khalil Market used to be a very touristic bazar placed in the area of Al Hassan, in Cairo.

But things have drastically changed in that area now. Why? Try to guess. The current global outbreak it has not only completely changed all the rules referring to travel and international tourism. But it also had a big impact on all those local business that were completely dependant on that influx. That was the case of this bazar. Now that due to the current global situation there’s almost no tourist around the area. Many egyptians have lost their businesses and the area has become a really bad place to walk around. You’ll mostly find are homeless people, sometimes even aggressive, pushing you to give them money.

So it won’t be my personal recommendation to visit there under the current circumstance unless you do with a group of locals, like I did. Because I went there with my Egyptian friends so I felt safer, otherwise, If I was alone I wouldn’t feel good at all in that area.

 

If you find some locals to go with, just to see the place, seat in the main Al Hussain square to drink typical Shalab. It is similar of milk, but hot, and served with nuts and coco on the top. The drink is not made with milk though, but with another ingredient. But the taste is similar to milk.

Another interesting thing you can do while in that market is to get a Henna tattoo. That’s really typical in Egypt and looks very nice. The ink of that tattoo come from the Henna tree, and it last around 1 week and a half. The price is as low as 30 pounds (1.5‚ā¨) and normally you get it over you hands.

That's me showing in one hand my recently done Henna tattoo and my Shalab drink.

4. Baron Empain Palace

That's how the palace looks like from outside

Is is also known as ‘Palais Hindou’, due to its Indian architecture. It was built in 1907, constructed by the architect Alexandre Marcel , a Belgian architect. The decoration though it was made by Georges-Louis Claude, he was inspired by Hindu Temples of South India. That is why is so cool to visit, because even if you are still in Cairo, you’ll feel for some minutes you’ve suddenly transported yourself to Asia.

The entrance is 100 pounds (5‚ā¨) for no Egyptians (yes, in Egypt everything has two prices, one for Egyptians the other for non- Egyptians), to enter and visit inside, though if you wanna go to the roof to see the view from the top of the palace, the will cost you some extra 50 pounds I think (2.5‚ā¨).

5. Old Cairo area & the hanging Church

.Old Cairo is been categorised as  a ‘World Heritage Site’ , and it’s must to visit whenever you are in Cairo. It is, as the name refers to, the historical area of Cairo, and there you’ll find many Churches to visit all of them for free. But the one that outstays from all of them is the ‘Hanging Church’, called like this because is placed over the Romanic fortress in Coptic Cairo. 

It also turns to be one of the oldest churches in all Cairo as it dates from as long ago as the 3rd century.

6. The food markets everywhere around Cairo

Picture of one of the street markets in Shobra, Cairo 2021

I personally find them very authentic, integrated in the Egyptian culture. People that sell in those markets as the ones that buy, are really authentic, no luxury superficial things, just human exchanging good quality food for really low prices. I also find a deep Egyptian vibe around those markets, I recommend you for that reason to go an have the experience.

My favourite places in Cairo for the Nightlife

1. Mezcal Cairo

I already talked about the area of Zamalek in Cairo. Well, in this area we can find very nice well decorated restaurants with DJ playing live, like the case of Mezcal Cairo.

The place is a bit expensive as everything in this area, but the sushi is really good there, and they also serve Sangria (that would be for the spanish people visiting there). 

The range of prices are around 300 pounds per person which will be 15‚ā¨. Compared to European average prices is still quite cheap, but when I say expensive I am referring to the cost of living in Egypt, which compared to ‚ā¨ or $ currencies, is really low.

2. Tap Madi Pub.

One area in Cairo a part from Zamalek, that I recommend you to visit is Maadi. It turns to be a suburban district in the South of Cairo, with plenty of nice dinning venues, bars and even pubs. Many egyptians like to hang out there. One nice spot to check it the “Tap Madi Pub”, of course placed in the Madi area, perfect spot for watching football matches (trust me Egyptians love football, it remains to me quite to the Spanish vibe when an important match is going on).

Plus the place serves alcohol (that is important to highlight this matter as in Arab countries like Egypt or the UAE, you can not find alcohol in every bar or restaurant, just in very specific venues, but a Pub of course should serve). After the football ends, they put good music and people dance. Keep in mind, that Egyptians as latinos, do love partying and dancing. Having fun whenever you are around them is a sure thing.

Special recommendation, if you are going to order beer in Egypt, try ‘Meister’. It is 8% alcohol (quite strong, trust my criteria because I lived 1 year in Belgium, the Beer Land, for my Erasmus and I got quite expert on the beers field) but perfect for getting a bit dizzy to dance and have even more fun.

3. Alibaba Bar & Restaurant

Inside of Imperial Boat, by the Nile River, in an area in between Cairo’s tower and the entrance to Zamalek neighbourhood, there’s this amazing bar, with parties during the week that I 100% recommend to you.

By the way, now that I am talking about parties you may think : “What? Parties? Isn’t corona time?” Well, you are actually quite right, but not in Egypt. Here there is no corona, if we can tell there’s anywhere. What we meant by corona or not corona, is the only real circumstance we all been living for a while, that is called “restrictions”. Here there’s almost none. Almost none and almost nowhere wears masks in Egypt, and parties are quite allowed in here. Actually, in this place I lived my first party since March 2020.


 The hits were all Arabic / Egyptian (one of the music styles I like the most). I had the chance to attend the party with Egyptians, had a lot of fun and we drunk quite a lot also. The entrance is quite expensive (500 pounds-25‚ā¨) but the place was worth every cent. Also, the price includes the drinks, and the party is inside of a boat by the Nile river, very fancy and cool at the same time.

4. Club Jazz Cairo

To end up with the nightlife in Cairo, we can include this really nice place in which you’ll have every night live music concerts. The place is so cool, the vibe very nice, all friendly young people, dancing and having lot of fun. Again, that is during corona time, here in Egypt, I insist with the point, parties are allowed during these times also.

As a plus in this post, I would like to talk about...

The Arab culture and how people think in Egypt

That’s is a very complex and long matter, I could be writing for ages, but I will just sum up the most shocking parts of this country as it follows the Islamic rules and culture in very strict and unexpected ways.

Even if it’s true that compared to other Arab countries in the Middle East like Arabia Saudi, or Oman, Egypt will still be quite ‘open minded’ or let’s better say ‘flexible‘ to what comes to the way people live and follow the religious rules. Egypt is still quite far to be as ‘flexible’ or ‘open minded’ as occidental countries and states. Even if we compare with its beloved neighbour, Israel, in Egypt the religion has even a bigger impact in society than it has in the Jewish state.¬†

The most shocking part of Israel, is that even if it has cities that are super free and secular like Tel Aviv, the State still is very closed to what it refers to immigration options, reserving that right exclusively to Jews. But for the rest, I will say the impact of religion in Israel is much more soft than in the Arab cultures or countries like the case of Egypt. The main religious rules from Islam that are still having a huge impact on the Egyptian society, which means most of  the people (even Christians) follow when they live in the country are:

1) Women should arrive virgin to the marriage

And they even prove that during the ceremony of the marriage.

2) LGTB communities are totally forbidden and invisible in Egypt

Still nowadays, the word ‘gay’ is used for insulting, without any kind of tolerance towards any other sexual orientation that differs from the heterosexual.

3) Arab guys look always for foreigner girls to have fun with

Because as I mentioned before, egyptian girls are not supposed to have any kind of sexual relationship before marriage, and if they have, egyptian guys will call them as of “bitches”.

4) Women are not recommended to wear short clothes

 Still nowadays, wearing showing the belly, arms, or legs around Egypt (in exception for some areas more tourists and nearby the beach, like would be the case of Dahab) is not a good idea, as literally all men will not only stare at you, but following you in a very disgusting ways.

5) When it comes to money and businesses trying to rip off the tourist is the general norm here

From the taxi driver to the owner of a small market, they will all try to sell you everything at least twice the price they will do to Egyptians. So be very aware and careful. Better ask some Egyptian you trust about the prices of something before you buy. Be also very careful whenever visiting the most touristic spots like the Giza Pyramids, because even for camel rides they will try to sell you overpriced.

6) Nothing seems to be for free in Egypt

Is quite shocking , maybe its because the people in Egypt are really struggling economically here, and they have the image that the foreigner is ‘rich’ compared to them. Which is understandable as Egypt turns to be one of this very very low cost destinations for anyone coming from the euro or dollar zone. But, that doesn’t justify that even for taking you a picture they should ask you for money. Be careful whenever someone approach you out of nowhere trying to be nice and make you some favour, because at the end he will ask for money. If it happens to you, just know you have all the right int he world to say ‘No’. And leave. But if you feel very pushed just given 10 or 20 pounds that is 1‚ā¨ so they leave you alone.

7) Apparently, 'freedom of expression' doesn't exist in Egypt

Taking on account the fact that, Egypt is a military dictatorship, is quite understandable, but for an occidental minded, still very shocking. Therefore, talking about politics is not really allowed here. No one will really talk about this, as is a very delicate matter.

8) Everyone judges everyone and everything in the Egyptian society

In general, whatever you do in Egypt, from the way you dress, the people you talk with, etc you’ll feel¬†there’s judgement everywhere, and so many things that are not allowed and people respect and not do or just hide them if they do them. It is for this reason that to sum up, I found the Egyptian society still a very religious influenced society, in which individual freedoms don’t really exist, even less for women, and in which everything has do’s and don’ts.¬†

If you have enjoyed this post...

If you have enjoyed this post, I encourage you to visit my social media accounts, specially my Instagram in which I publish extra travel content, and share stories daily!

This Post Has One Comment

Leave a Reply