When I booked my plane tickets to Egypt from our home in Canada, I was met with scepticism and dismay from many family members, who’s first question was “Is Egypt safe to travel to?” and “but you are leaving the kids at home right?” How I could consider a visit to what they considered a dangerous country was at the top of their minds. But having visited Jordan the spring before, and how my mind had been changed about the Middle East in general, I did not let their disapproval or concerns affect my decision to take my boys to Egypt!
Before I get into more about the pertinent question, “Is Egypt Safe?” I did have some supporters who were insanely jealous that I was going to the Pyramids of Giza and to tour Luxor and see the history that most of them had only seen in guidebooks! They wished me well and wanted to hear EVERYTHING about it. Personally before we booked our tickets, I did read a LOT of other blogs on those who had recently visited Egypt and asked their opinions on how safe is Egypt, and ALL of them told me to GO! Yesterday! They had a fabulous experience and Egypt needs more visitors!
This positive encouragement only excited me more as I put together an itinerary of visiting Jordan and then Egypt, including the best Hurghada excursions, and then from Egypt back to Jordan by boat. It came together quite quickly and as much as my mother-in-law was going crazy that I did not have our internal flights in Egypt nor our Cairo hotel booked a week before departure, I was happy with a bit of flexibility in our itinerary! There is nothing I hate more than having to leave somewhere we are loving because we have a hotel booked elsewhere! SO with a little context of our visit, here we go, Is Egypt safe to travel to?
Is Egypt Safe to Travel to?
The short answer is, yes, despite the turmoil in some areas of Egypt and the economy at this time, Egypt is safe for tourists to visit. What makes me qualified to say this? Well I went there, with my mother-in-law and my two children, who are 7 and 5! If you want to read my OMG welcome to Egypt post, you might laugh about my first feelings in the country! But they will likely be the same concerns that one would have going into any country. Hoping your luggage arrives and getting to your hotel without being scammed is something you think about in any country!
If you just read the post, you will see my comment about “where are the security forces?” as I expected a military presence or some kind of security force. We drove to our hotel without incident and did find gated security to get into our hotel as well as security at the front door scanning our luggage. They wanted to take away my swiss army knife (this guy had a gun on his hip, what problem would a tiny swiss army knife cause – I carry it to cut up fruits and veggies for my kids usually) but then decided that I did not look threatening and let me keep it.
If you are planning your own trip to Egypt, check out this Egypt Itinerary for ideas for trips up to 3 weeks long!
The sun was setting as we checked in and I wanted to get out on the Nile to see it for myself! My first Egyptian sunset! There was hotel security on the beach and a bunch of felluca’s on the shore. One of the men on the beach beckoned to me to take a ride, I must have looked like fresh meat to him! When he told me the price for an hour sunset cruise I was flabergasted and said OK! I asked three times, “EGP60 for ALL of us, for an hour?”
and “it will not get too dark too fast?”
I grabbed my kids and onto the felluca we went! The security guard asked me my room number, another thing making me feel better about this!
We rode without incident, I checked for lifejackets first, and while my kids were scared (I tipped them in a Kayak in the summer and they will never let me forget it!), they warmed up to the calm waters and Mattias was thrilled to steer the boat!
We arrived back to the hotel without incident, and then went to sort out dinner! I happily paid EGP60 and a EGP10 tip to our boat captain and said I might see him tomorrow for that hot air balloon ride he wanted to sell me! (I did ride a hot air balloon, but not from him. You can read about it here: Luxor Hot Air Balloons)
So Day 1, no scams, no rip offs, the typical “over-helping” for baksheesh where ever we went. But I was told Luxor was the hassle capital of the world, and so far, we were faring ok. I never once felt unsafe and the landscape on the Nile was breathtaking!
We had answered our own question on is Egypt safe to visit and felt pretty good the whole rest of the trip. Cairo was the worst for hassles at the Giza Pyramids. Luxor we hired a tour guide for the day and that might have helped, although it meant we also visited the overpriced shopping markets as well.
Because of this, I wrote a post about Tips for the Giza Pyramids and I would encourage you to have a read! I also wrote this post about Things to know about visiting Egypt to give you some context on what to expect the first time you visit Egypt. It touches on what to wear and what to expect and should help to answer is travel to Egypt safe, for those who are considering visiting.
I also enlisted the help of other bloggers who have recently visited Egypt and have compiled their experiences at the bottom of this post
Travel as a Woman in Egypt
I was not personally hassled or bothered on the street in Egypt. I never once covered my hair, as non-muslims living in Egypt do not, nor is it a requirement. I did always wear long pants and long sleeves out of respect of their conservative dress. I would suggest the same.
When men want to chat with women in Egypt, they do not ALWAYS want something, but use your head. I was invited out for dinner from our Taxi driver after chatting with him about what the heck I was doing there as a Canadian, which I declined. I probably would have been just fine. But I had been told that eye contact and making conversation with men in Middle Eastern countries is often considered flirting. Something for you to keep in mind as you visit Egypt.
I have a post on What to Wear in Jordan that actually has a few photos from my time in Egypt in it, and everything in it also applies to Egypt. You can read it here: What to Pack for Jordan.
Get used to the Baksheesh
Asking for tips constantly is really annoying. For anyone. But it has become a cultural norm in Egypt due to their severely poor economy. People are doing anything to feed and clothe their families. Taking that into context, I tried not to get annoyed at it. It was only at the pyramids where it really got to me. I was having a bad day. But it never made me feel unsafe.
Safety in Egypt with Kids
My boys always get a lot of positive adult attention when we travel in the Middle East. They are very social kids (I am lucky) and adapt quickly to men wanting to shake their hands. I would not take any other precautions other than the same that I would traveling as a woman. I did lose Mattias in a Cairo mall, if you want a laugh (or a cry, I know you have felt how I felt), have a read here.
Personally the biggest threat to their safety in Egypt would be a car accident. We teach street smarts in parking lots and on busy streets and so far have fared just fine.
But if your children are not super social, let them know that they may find adults (mostly men) who want to say hi, shake their hands, and perhaps offer a candy to them. You know your own kids best, but I would not hesitate to take my children to Egypt again and they are already asking when we can go back!
Looking for a winter break holiday? Have a read of this post if you have ever wondered what it is like to travel to Egypt at Christmas.
Is Egypt Safe in 2019? Recent Testimonials
As I mentioned above, I asked other travelers about their experiences on safety in Egypt in 2018 and here are their responses.
Kate from Our Escape Clause on Egypt Safety during her layover
“We weren’t sure what to expect when visiting Cairo on a one day layover earlier this year, but we walked away incredibly excited about Egypt and happy to consider planning a longer trip!
Traveling as a couple, we felt very safe in Cairo. Though we were only there for one day, we managed to cover many of the tourist highlights: the ancient city of Giza, the Egyptian Museum, and a beautiful bazaar.
Because we were on a time crunch, we hired a tour guide for the day, and she made our trip incredibly easy. I am certain that without her presence the touts (at the pyramids and bazaar especially) would have been much more aggressive, but both places were populated enough that we would not have feared for our physical safety if alone.
During the independent portion of our travels–getting to and from the airport (including in the middle of the night), checking into our hotel, etc, we felt similarly safe.
Egypt is a beautiful country, and though you will need a thick skin and to practice saying “Lo, shokran” (No thank you in Arabic) a few hundred times if you’re traveling without a guide, I wouldn’t consider letting a dream destination pass us by just for that.”
Liliane Fawzy from My Toronto My World on Travel to Egypt, Is it Safe?
While travelling in Egypt for 10 days earlier this year I was happy to see that the country is quite different from what it’s perceived to be. Me and my husband did our own independent travel of Egypt visiting areas like Sharm El Sheikh, Luxor, Cairo, Alexandria and even visiting St. Catharines Monastery in Mt. Sinai. While I had no fears going into the trip I was a little bit worried about being without a large tour group, but since that is not my style of travel we went ahead with all our plans anyways. Surprisingly, we were left alone most of the time. Yes you will be hassled in the sense that everyone will try to sell you something and everyone will want to give you a ride in either their taxi or on their horse but all you have to do is say NO. Once you grasp the fact that these people are really only trying to make a living you realize there’s absolutely nothing to be scared of. We were out in the streets until 10 pm or so at night and we had no issues what so ever. Fair warning, every child you meet will ask you for selfies. It’s up to you on how to handle it but why ruin their perceptions of foreigners?
Carly Heyward from Flight of the Educator on Egypt, Is it safe to Travel to:
I took a tour in Egypt in June mostly because I was worried about safety and also partially because my mother was. Now that I’ve gone, I can say that on the whole, I’m glad I took the tour instead of striking out on my own as I often do.
The most I was every hassled was by vendors. My guide advised us not to make eye contact with the men, and especially, we were to avoid looking at any wares or entering shops. He said once they see even the slightest bit of interest, they’ll be all over you. On the tour, he’d take us to a few shops or vendors (which I’m sure he got a kickback from), but at least those vendors let us peruse at our leisure, and we didn’t feel so pressured. Overall, it was way more comfortable.
Some people also worry about sexual harassment in foreign countries, and I’ve heard about it from Egypt as well. While I did have many men catcall me, it was more to tell me I was beautiful, and it was always in passing. I never had a man follow me or follow up. It was always just him wanting me to know that’s what he thought, so I didn’t feel threatened. What was very unsettling at first (but my tour guide later said it was common), was for people (generally men) to take a picture with me. My guide said it’s almost a compliment because they want to show off the exciting foreigner they met. It’s possible because I have green eyes and red hair. What’s interesting is even a little boy took my picture, although he did it and ran off.
The last place I felt a little spooked was in certain temples. My guide called them “ghosts,” and they were men who hung around in the temples. They weren’t there for nefarious reasons, but they mostly just hung around in order to “sneak” you behind ropes or show you cool spots. All they wanted was money though.
Esther Namugerwa from The Adventurous Feet on Is Egypt Safe for Tourists
When Lindsay asked me to comment on “Is Egypt Safe” for this post, I was happy to compare what my experience in Egypt was to what I read on the internet, I get to wonder whether we are talking about the same country but then again everyone gets a different experience in a certain place. So this is mine.
Did I feel safe in Egypt? Absolutely. The locals were very friendly to me and my friends and being a woman of color, almost everyone wanted to take photos with me regardless of age and gender. And since they were asking nicely and in excitement, I obliged and took like literally a million photos. So if you see my face in random photos, yes that me. However, sometimes the friendly gesture can sometimes seem overly done which makes you question the real intentions but they seemed really genuine.
Prior to traveling to Egypt, I read a lot of blogs about what to expect and how to navigate around the country. So by the time I traveled I had familiarized myself with most of the details and since I had already designed my travel itinerary I didn’t need a tour guide. What I did is to download all the necessary applications like Google maps, metro system app and Google translator to help us have a great trip.
Overall, I can say is that I had a fantastic trip to Egypt and never felt any kind of threat from the locals.
Patrick Muntzinger from the German Backpacker on Is Travel in Egypt Safe?
While Egypt was an extremely popular tourist destination a few years ago, visitors dropped rapidly after the Arab spring as well as several terror attacks in the last years. Nevertheless, I was backpacking in Egypt with a friend and travelled overland from Cairo along the Nile to Luxor, Aswan and further into Sudan in 2018.
While the media might give us the impression that Egypt would be very unsafe due to terrorism, I never experienced any dangerous situation. While there are still terror attacks happening throughout the country every now and then, the risk to be actually affected by it is extremely low – changes are much higher to get hurt in a car accident at home. Generally, traveling along the Nile is considered to be safe – however, you should avoid the Sahara close to the border of Libya. Additionally, it’s also not recommended to travel overland around the Sinai Peninsula due to an increased risk of terrorism and violence against foreigners.
That being said, I experienced some serious hassle during my Egypt trip. After traveling solo around Southeast Asia, India and South America I’m very much used to the typical tourist scams and rip-offs, however, Egypt was next level even for a very experienced traveller. I’m very sorry to say that I never experienced local touts as exhausting, tiring, aggressive and rude as in Egypt. Every day, there were several occasions where people tried to rip me off and scam me and after some time, I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone anymore. Be prepared that some touts might become aggressive and intimidating in certain situations. I don’t think anyone would actually harm you – however, you will certainly need to show strengths and confidence at times to stand up for yourself.
Summing it up, I’d say that Egypt is safe when it comes to direct threat of terrorism – however, take good care of your belongings and be prepared for many exhausting and annoying moments during your trip.
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Lindsay is the founder and editor of Carpe Diem OUR Way. She is passionate about sharing her experiences of traveling with children on adventurous family holidays around the world! She resides in the suburbs of Vancouver when not jet setting abroad.