Is Egypt safe? This is a good question and one we receive a lot when talking about our travels. While some people just shake their heads, trying to figure out why we would ever want to set foot in Egypt with the current ‘situation’, others are genuinely curious about the state of travel in this historical country.
Egypt has been dealt one of the biggest blows due to the recent terrorist situation, having gone from an insanely booming tourist economy that just disappeared shortly after the uprising that circled around the Arab spring a few years back.
The country was deemed unstable, the tourists stopped coming, ISIL took up a stronghold in the Sinai Peninsula causing the country to take up residence on the FCO red list and today you have a country deprived of the once-lucrative tourist dollar.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Egypt (Travel Guide)
Is Egypt Safe?
As you can imagine, this has changed the face of tourism in Egypt. We don’t know what it was like to travel in Egypt before all this happened, although we have had heard many stories about the difficulty involved, our month in Egypt was surprisingly wonderful.
With so much to offer a traveler, I can’t imagine why so many people are holding back from visiting the country right now. The numbers are at an all-time low and security is more stringent than it ever was in the past.
The best part of travel to Egypt right now? The sites are virtually empty. Temples that once saw thousands of people in a day are now lucky to reach 100 visitors in a day.
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Is Egypt Safe for Westerners?
Based on our recent travels in Egypt, the short answer is yes. Egypt is desperate for tourist dollars and has changed the tune in which they address westerners. Our time in Egypt was split between being part of an organized trip, with our overland truck and traveling independently.
Of course, group travel offers more securities for a traveler but we found traveling around and arranging things on our own incredibly easy. The Egyptians were helpful, friendly and eager to help. Yes, you need to watch out for scams but that can really be said for just about anywhere you travel to, not just Egypt.
At one point, we were shopping in Hurghada one night and wandered into a small trinket shop where we engaged with a friendly local. Curious about where we were from, he assumed we were British.
When I told him we were American, first he didn’t believe me, then he became overwhelmed with gratitude. He had tears in his eyes as he knelt to the ground a professed his love for the USA and welcomed us to his shop.
I was a bit shocked, to be honest, but it was a crude reality for me of the impact the Middle East situation is having on the everyday lives of the locals.
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What are the Local People Like in Egypt?
Welcome to Alaska! Not something you would expect to hear in the Middle East, but the most common greeting among the older locals upon greeting you.
The general scene involved older men sitting around a storefront, smoking shisha pipes, eating Falafel and shouting ‘Welcome to Alaska’ at the passing tourists. I cracked a smile every single time.
The number of times curious locals stepped in to help us when we encountered language barriers or wanted to try local cuisine on the streets was countless, each time brimming with a smile. Neither of us can really say anything bad about our encounters with the locals.
Check out this book: Cultural: The World of the Pharaohs
One thing to note is that random people will come to talk to you on the streets. I think most of the time it is out of blatant curiosity. However, be warned that they likely will know someone from your state (if our American) and maybe even your hometown. It is a tactic used to make you feel more comfortable.
These people are harmless, however, don’t oblige if they try to take you somewhere for a good deal or authentic something or other. They may even try to hard-sell you a tour. Just say no, while they are nice, you’ll likely end up paying really high prices.
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Will I Be Harassed While Traveling in Egypt?
To be on the safe side, I am going to say yes, unfortunately. However, I will follow that up with the fact that we dealt with little to none of it during our month traveling in Egypt. I think a lot of it comes down to how you dress and present yourself.
Before traveling to Egypt, I read horror stories upon horror stories about harassment of fellow travelers during their travels in Egypt. Granted, most of these stories were pre-revolution and personally, the tourist culture in Egypt has been dramatically altered since that event.
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Edfu temple felt a strong sense of appreciation and respect coming from the locals that we encountered. While there was some sleaze still wandering the streets, we never had a bad encounter.
Nobody tried to touch me, talk dirty to me or scream catcalls in the streets. I even had men step out of my way and graciously let me pass them on the streets. This was not behavior I was prepared for.
Did I get stared at? Sure I did. Did young men wink at me? Of course, they did. Did it bother me? No. It was extremely tame compared to my experiences in India and Morocco. To be honest, I spent a lot of our time in Egypt quite shocked at how little I was noticed and bothered.
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Tips for Dressing Appropriately in Egypt
Egypt is a very conservative, Muslim country. Most of the things you hear about come down to the way people are presenting themselves and dressing when they visit.
This is not the first world. This is not the west. I don’t care who you are or what your views are on religion. If you are going to travel to a Muslim country, show some respect.
Women, I know Egypt is a hot country, but you have to put some clothes on. No shorts, no tanks, and no tight-fitting clothes. I always made sure I had my hair tied back and contained so it wasn’t flowing in the wind.
Sometimes I even covered my head with a scarf, not because I was told to but because I wanted to get out of the sun and be respectful.
Sticking to these clothing rules saved me from awkward moments and harassment. While I can’t guarantee you won’t get attention, some people are very enamored by western women, dressing correctly will go a long ways toward having an enjoyable time in Egypt.
Don’t leave home without Lonely Planet Egypt (Travel Guide)
Is Egypt Safe Amid all the stereotypes of the Middle East?
Absolutely and now is the time to go. We walked up to the Abu Simbel temple at sunrise and the place looked deserted. One of the most iconic and well-preserved temples in the world used to see thousands of visitors every day. The day before we visited they saw a whopping 70 people.
There were times we showed up at famous, well-known temples and had the place to ourselves for hours. Leaving each temple you were shuffled to what we deemed the gauntlet, the row of shops with over eager, aggressive and desperate shop owners.
My heart went out to them, as they stood a few men among a shocking number of shops that have been abandoned and closed down due to the lack of tourism.
Check out this book: Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids
Egypt is desperate for tourism right now. I won’t deny that it is part of the high-risk areas and there is a small, very small chance that you might get wrapped up in something unfortunate.
However, I can tell you that the military presence is obnoxiously strong and they are everywhere; on every street corner, at every temple, and alongside every highway. They are monitoring movement and keeping the country stable.
We took a bus from Cairo to Dahab, despite everything online saying we shouldn’t. The military checkpoints were many, sometimes we even got off the bus and unloaded our luggage so bomb dogs could sniff it.
I am not saying the state of Egypt isn’t serious, but I am saying it shouldn’t deter you from traveling to this amazing country.
The day after we arrived in Dahab, we woke up in our hotel room to the news about the Russian airliner that was bombed after flying from Sharm el Sheik. We flew out of that airport 5 days later. Did that scare us? Sure it did, but it doesn’t affect how we feel about Egypt.
Is Egypt Safe?
Let’s be realistic, the chances of you going to Egypt and getting wrapped up in any of the media bred fear events are slim to none. Could it happen? Sure, it could.
Will it happen while you are enjoying the wonders of Egypt? You have a better chance of getting hit by a bus in your hometown. Seriously. Don’t let fear dictate how you live your life.
If you want to see Egypt, go! See Egypt, it has so many wonders to show you. We wandered around the sites in awe at the history on display. We rode camels in the desert around the Great Pyramids of Giza.
We climbed inside tombs at the Valley of the Kings. We sailed on the Nile River and shopped in the busy souks of Aswan. We visited the Luxor temple at night and got lost in the National Museum in Cairo. We went scuba diving in the Red Sea and touched the walls of Abu Simbel.
Despite the negative press, we’d hop on a plane tomorrow and return to Egypt. It’s that good.
|Best of Egypt|
Cairo to Cairo
Trip Type: Small Group
Cairo to Cairo
Trip Type: Small Group
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More on Egypt:
- The Best Places to Visit in Egypt
- Hot Air Balloon Ride over the Valley of the Kings in Luxor
- Multi-Day Nile River Feluca Trip
- The pyramids of Egypt: Giza, Saqqara, and Dahshur
25 thoughts on “Is Egypt Safe to Visit?”
I prefer greenery, Egypt is too dry, just a desert really. I don’t care about pyramids. Nothing to see there.
Everyone has their own interests! Egypt is not for everyone but if you love history, it’s pretty unbeatable. 🙂
You realize that’s ridiculous, yes? The Nile valley is extraordinarily green, not “just a desert, really.” The desert is where the pyramids are, but they border rich soil. You don’t need to care about Egypt, but you need to be accurate.
So happy I stumbled upon your blog! My husband and I have been putting off visiting Jordan/Egypt for so many years, but we are strongly considering going next May 2018 (hopefully good weather-wise). I know this post is from 2016, but today, would you still feel the same about visiting these 2 destinations? Kindest regards!
ABSOLUTELY!!! We recommend Egypt regularly, it’s an incredible place to experience and explore, wouldn’t hesitate to return right now. Jordan will surprise you in so many ways, it has so much to offer. Go, see, enjoy the lack of mass tourism. You won’t regret it! PS: Hoping to revisit both ourselves in 2018. 🙂
A great article! We just finished visiting Israel, Egypt and Jordon by cruise ship. This was a taste test for us to see how comfortable we felt travelling in these countries. As you have noted, the police and military presence is high but that provided a sense of security rather than fear. We would definitely go back. Cairo and scuba diving in the Red Sea again are now definitely higher on our “list”. Now if we can make it past the Somali pirates and Yemen terrorists, it will be clear sailing to Dubai 🙂
Thanks for the insight on your recent travels in the area. We found Egypt so incredibly fascinating and I guess lucky to have it all to ourselves. Agree with you, wouldn’t hesitate to return. Yes, the diving in the Red Sea is unreal! Best of luck on the rest of your travels in the Middle East, such a fascinating area of the World!
I love this, and I can truly appreciate the fact that you are not only highlighting a spot of such history and beauty, but are using your own experience to encourage others to take a leap of faith and go for explore for themselves. Egypt is high on our bucket list, and fear is number one in our list of reasoning. It’s articles like this that remind us we easily gather our fears from unreliable or uninformed sources. Great post.
Great photos. Its great to watch pyramids.
Your photos brought back great memories of my 2004 adventure to Egypt. That was shortly after the time some tourists had been ambushed and killed, so there was lots of press about not traveling there, and tourism was suffering. Like you, I found the country to be safe, and I traveled alone and in a group. If someone asked me today if they should travel to Egypt, I’d say yes. Take your common sense with you, and have the adventure of a lifetime!
Great post and gorgeous photos! We’re currently living in Australia so Egypt isn’t on our travel radar, but definitely some day! Also, I couldn’t agree with you more that bad things can and do happen everywhere. We lived in Istanbul from 2010-2013 and moved on right before the Gezi protests against the gov’t. We loved Turkey and would go back there in a heartbeat. Plus, we have plenty of friends that call Istanbul home, so I don’t think travellers need to be so worried. The Turks are generally such warm and welcoming people, and I miss that attitude elsewhere we have visited.
Hi, I am an American living over here in Egypt — have been for 12 years and I love it. ‘Course I am an archaeologist so I have extra reason to love it. And hey — in the past 5 years, I’ve been through five presidents! Never thought I would be living thru a revolution, much less two!
That was a great article. Everything you said is exactly how I feel. Having worked in the temples where they were bursting with tourists (pre 2011), now I really appreciate the feeling of being in them without so many bodies. I get a real feel for them and I like to imagine what they were like when ‘working’ in ancient times.
Great comment and thanks for stopping by! People will believe anything if it’s on TV and sadly, they never actually have the real story. Sensationalized media at it’s finest. Egypt is a beautiful country with so much to offer visitors. Can’t imagine what it was like to be there during the revolution.
I am still in Egypt after 5 months and perfectly happy. There are so few tourists around that terrorists would struggle to find more than two in the same place at once, so it’s hard to imagine they’d bother doing anything
Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree with you on this. Egypt also has a good handle on the situation with insanely tight security and a strong military presence. For anyone to say that visiting Egypt will result in being bombed by a terrorist is a bit extreme. Hello, look at Paris. You can’t plan for these types of things, they just happen, all over the World. Glad you are enjoying Egypt still after 5 months. Cheers!
Thank you for the information about Egypt I have always wanted to see the one of the seven wonders of the world but I have to admit I am caucus of traveling to Egypt. I am more at ease now reading about your experiences and will keep my options open. I usually travel to the Caribbean on most vacations but would like to more of the world.
We spent a month traveling around Egypt, mostly independently and we loved it. Wouldn’t hesitate to return again.
Egypt? No, thanks. After what happened to the italian Giulio Regeni and the feedbacks from many travelers having been there I would avoid this country for a while.
We just spent a month traveling around Egypt in October. Bad things happen no matter where you are in the World, it is not just one country but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel. I don’t know where you are from because you have made yourself anonymous, but I know mu chances of running into problems in Egypt are no higher than visiting New York City. It is important to be realistic about things when you travel, not just believe everything you hear on the TV.
Thanks for this wonderful article Lina. I was wondering what the situation is in Egypt for independant travellers. Good to hear a visit is still possible!
Hi Danielle, Yes we spent a month there traveling mostly independent and had a wonderful time. People often forget about humanity when they get sucked into mainstream media. They forget real people live there and are living real lives. We wouldn’t hesitate to return to Egypt in the near future.
As an Egyptian who lives in Cairo I absolutely loved reading your post and hearing your experience in Cairo. I used to live in Saudi Arabia,, Riyadh and my school was all foreigners so I’ve been subject to different diverse types of people in my life and it has caused quite an open minded view. When I came back to my hometown 3 years ago, it was weird for me, an Egyptian, to be immersed into this lifestyle. I had nothing but my immediate family in Riyadh but suddenly cousins and distant relatives were kissing my cheeks and family was such an important thing in my life. I also got to differentiate between the foreigners I lived with in Saudi and this place where I’m only interacting with Egyptians and barely ever any outsiders. This allowed me to take an outside look on the stares given to any who looks slightly different. It gave me an insight on the closed views some Egyptians have. But honestly, you can’t really blame them, the middle east is a fairly closed off world. A foreigner wouldn’t understand our world and an Egyptian wouldn’t understand a foreigners world. However, with the internet and the western influence and the revolution, Egypt has changed. The people have changed. And with all my heart I can say Cairo is safe. I’m just a 16 year old yet I’m left to move around in taxis all over the place and yes, I’ve been subjected to many different situations that weren’t too nice, it isn’t anything out of the ordinary. I don’t know how I light skinned women would fair, but my school is an international one with international teachers and everyone is living happily. I’m glad your post wasn’t biased and really really portrayed your experience. I really hope you enjoyed Cairo and glad you could have come and visited one of the closest places to my heart.
Thank you for your comment Salma. People often forget to humanize the situation and will believe everything they are spoon fed in the media. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Cheers!
I have two ways of thinking about this.
On the one hand I agree with you, chances are higher you’ll be hit by a bus on the street in Prague or Paris than caught in the middle of a terrorist act in the Middle East/North Africa. And we’ve gone to plenty of destinations not considered safe to travel independently (Colombia, Dominican Republic, Brazil, South Africa).
On the other hand, we’ve also written off the Middle East/North Africa for the time being precisely because terrorists have been targeting foreign tourists, which is not the case with any of the examples above. We actually had planned to visit Turkey a few months ago and decided against it. And I’m glad – although the chances are low that we would have been among the tourists killed in those explosions in Istanbul, I would never forgive myself for willingly putting ourselves in danger in a place where you know you might be intentionally targeted.
Really that’s the deciding factor for me ie. am I putting myself or my wife in risk by going to a place where I know I may be intentionally targeted? For us the answer was no. Which is why we decided to go to South Africa instead of Turkey (which statistics would suggest is a stupid move 🙂 ).
Thanks for stopping in Frank! I understand your position, but really, we’ve been in places that are far more dangerous to the every day traveler than Egypt. 2 days before our overland truck left Cape Town, South Africa our tour leader was robbed at gun point in the ‘safe’ district. He was targeted for being western and presumably rich- as told by his assailant. Which is funny as you chose South Africa as the safer option to Turkey! We never felt unsafe in Egypt like we have in a few other destinations around the globe. As stated above, there are so few tourists in Egypt right now, it would hardly be worth there time to target a temple with say 10 people visiting it. I do understand the need to manage your own risk and the decisions that come with that. But honestly, for us, we have a greater chance of being in a plane crash than being in a terrorist situation, even with our travels in the Middle East. Visiting Egypt is not like visiting say, Syria or Afghanistan. Not all countries in the Middle East are created equal at the moment. I’m not knocking anyone that doesn’t want to travel in the Middle East, each to their own, but it isn’t because it isn’t a safe place to visit (at least compared to many other popular travel destinations worldwide!). Cheers! 🙂