Regarding Visas

This is the first concern for all travelers arriving in Egypt , especially if it is his/her first time.  Getting a visa is actually very simple for the majority of nationalities (meaning all Europeans, North Americans and Australians, most South Americans, and the majority of those from Asian countries) as you can buy it at the airport upon arrival.

In September 2011, the government of Egypt has frozen a decision requiring tourists from the United States, Europe, Australia, Gulf countries, Africa, Latin America and Asia to apply for visas before arrival in the country. Tourists can still obtain a visa at the airport upon arrival.

Please note that for some Asian nationalities like south Asians (as Thailand, Philippine, Malaysia, India, and so on) they should much better obtain visa from the Egyptian consulate in their own countries before arrival.

In the arrival hall, head to any bank (you will find at least 3) and buy a visa from the bank clerk.  The visa used to be 2 stamps (like postage stamps) one blue and one orange.  Recently, they replaced them with a single colored sticker.  However, it is possible that they may return to using the 2 stamps.

Travel agents AND officials in the airport in Hurghada will guide you to the line where you pay the travel agent (costs more) for a visa. They take advantage of the fact that you do not know where to queue. Even the bank clerk pretends to have nothing to do with selling a visa and sends you to that queue, even when he sees the exact amount of money ready in your hand. Be sure to insist at the bank (there is more than one window), then you proceed to the line (far end) with the Egyptian official in the little window box. When you want to buy the visa yourself you NEVER stand in the queue (usually the longest) with a western person taking the money and handing over a stamp.

Take your visa from the bank clerk and stick it on the first empty page in your passport.  Now, fill your arrival card.  You should have received this from a flight attendant prior to landing.  If you did not get one, don’t worry, you can find one in the arrival hall.  You must ensure that you complete all fields on the arrival card IN CAPITAL LETTERS.  Now you can join the queue for passport control.  If you are arriving in a group of 2 or more, it is a good idea for one person to buy the visas for everyone, while the others hold his or her place in the passport control queue.

Cost: $25 or the equivalent in € (Euros) or £ (Pounds Sterling). Increased from 1st May 2014.
The $25 Visa

 Duration: A tourist visa is valid for up to 3 months.

Multiple Entry Visa: These must be obtained in your home country prior to arrival.

Please note that this information applies to all Egyptian airports, like Cairo International airport, Luxor Airport, Aswan Airport and so on, except that in Sharm El Sheikh International airport you may not need to get a visa ONLY if you are staying just in Sharm or the cost of Aqaba gulf , but getting out of these areas will require that you should get a visa, this is in case if you may like to go to Cairo or any other place in Egypt or Sinai 

Regarding Money and Currency Exchange

All major international currencies such as Euros, Pounds Sterling, US dollars, Canadian Dollars, Australian Dollars, etc. are recognized here.  You may have some difficulty exchanging minor currencies.  For instance, there have been reports of difficulty exchanging Scottish or Northern Ireland notes.

It is recommended that you exchange money as you need it. This will help you control your expenses and not leave you stuck with excess Egyptian currency at the end of your trip. Having excess Egyptian money at the end of you trip is undesirable because you will have to pay another exchange commission when you convert it back to your native currency.

For example, if you are staying a week to 10 days, change approx US $200 worth (€150 or £100) upon arrival.  After that, when you are running low on Egyptian Pounds, change your currency in $40-$50 increments.

Strongly recommended to always ask bank clerk to give you small denominations of Egyptian pounds, they always will try to give you big notes of 200 or 100 pounds, smaller notes will help you a lot all over your stay

Please be aware that while you are in any archaeological sites, you will find some street vendors coming to you with a bunch of euro coins asking you to convert them to Euro paper notes, if you accept to help them (as here banks do NOT accept to change any coins of any currency) so please double check them well , as now in Egypt the new Egyptian One pound is a coin and it look some how similar to a one euro coin, so please make sure to double check it well before helping these people.

Regarding Tipping

This is something very common here in Egypt, Egyptians always tip everywhere, in restaurants, shops, coffee shops, bars, even in gas stations and so on, that is because a lot of people  count on their living from the tips, especially people who work in such places as well as in hotels and cruise boats.

Tips here are as a personal appreciation, so usually it is left to your own gesture to thank someone who offered you a nice service in a hotel or restaurant and so on, but there are some guide lines.

here are some examples of MINIMUM amount of tipping according to what people used to pay

For example in a restaurant, usually do not count with the amount of the bill , but as minimum can leave  5 Egyptian pounds per person, so if you are 2 people eating in a restaurant or coffee shop , then you can leave from 10 pounds tips for staff, if you enjoyed service and food was good, then it is recommended to leave more up to your own choice

For bellman in hotel, you can simply count something like 5 Egyptian pounds per piece of luggage can be OK as a minimum.

For people cleaning your room in the hotel - house keeping, if you want to give them something, and you are staying for a week for example, then in the 2nd day give them at least 10 or 20 pounds, then after another 2 days give another similar amount

For the Nile cruises tips, this is different, as in the Nile cruise there are SO MANY people who are serving you, but you only see very few, there are lots of more people you will never see, like sailors, the captain, the people in the kitchen, people at engine room or maintenance, and so so many others, so in order for you to be fare and tip them all, usually at the moment when you are paying your drinks and bills before the check out, you will find envelops and a box at the reception, just take one and put the tip inside it, seal the envelope and write your name and cabin number on it, so they will know it is from you, Tips will be collected that way and divided between every one who works on the Nile cruise, from the smallest little beach boy till the boat manager, all will have a part of it and all remain so happy.

The amount of tip in that case to put in your envelope in the Nile cruise, the MINIMUM is 20 Egyptian pounds per person per night, so for example if you are a couple together, and you been in a Nile cruise for the short cruise of 03nights/04 days, then the minimum amount of tips to put in the envelop is 2 persons  X  20 Egyptian pounds X 3 nights = 120 Egyptian pounds.

If you are in a luxurious Nile cruise, this amount will not be a proper one as people will feel that you under estimated them so it is recommended to increase it a bit more.

Tip for drivers, this is up to you, but for a full day tour, not less than 5 to 10 Egyptian pounds per person at least can be good, this is if you are many people or  travelling in a group, but in case if you are traveling individually, for example if you are a couple , and you made a day tour in Cairo for Pyramids of Giza, Sakkara and Memphis, a minimum tip to the driver can be around 30 to 40 Egyptian pounds for both of you together. 

In case if long drive like driving you from one city to another , like from Cairo to Alexandria or from Hurgada to Cairo and so on, tip is recommended to be increased a bit than above mentioned guide lines

If you are in a felucca for about one hour, good  tip is 30 to max 40 Egyptian pounds for the WHOLE felucca for the trip , not per person

Examples of how much to pay are only EGYPTIAN  POUNDS, that the best tipping for you so you do not pay too much and also for the person tipped is to do it in Egyptian pounds.

NOTE: Also you must be aware of people who appear out of nowhere and do something so little then stretch out their hand to ask for tips, this is what is called "a tip for nothing" in this case simply say you do not pay as you did not ask for such a service.

Tipping is not obligatory matter, and also not to be forced to do, so it is up to your own choice, problem is that some people in the country try to embarrass  tourists, just doing something for them, even if they do not need it, then ask for a tip, just apologize and go.

In the case in airports, all over Egypt, the trolleys are for free to load your luggage, but if you want assistance , the official price for that help is just 5 LE, not more, and not less, it is up to you to get it or not, also it is not obligatory to tip any one else in the airport, either near the X-ray machine or anywhere else.

Tipping is a custom in Egypt, it is nice to follow but do not make some bad people force you to do what you do not want or do not feel like.

Always keep with you small changes in LE , lots of 1 , some 5 LE' are good, you can get that change from any bank or exchange office, also whenever you buy any water or soft drink or any thing from any shop in the street,  always hand to seller big notes so you will always have small change for such occasions of tipping.

During your visits in most of the archaeological sites, in case if you need to use toilet, that may cost you from 1 to max 2 Egyptian pounds, so it will be good to keep some small denominations with you. 

It  must be YOU who keeps control of the situation and not be embarrassed by some bad people who try to force you to tip them, even though they may ask you for it.

In hotels Bellmen are obliged by the hotel manager to be the ones to carry the luggage from reception to the bus, if client carry it by himself the bill-man can be punished by the manager, it is not obligatory to tip him for that in case you do not want, at all, but if you will hand 1 or 2 LE it can be enough just to carry the luggage from reception to your bus, or else you must indicate personally in reception that you want to carry your own luggage by yourself.