Is it safe to travel to Cairo in 2017? That is the question that is on your mind. We plan on helping you understand what Cairo is like to help you understand whether it is safe or not.
Landing in Cairo
Landing in Cairo, Egypt for the first time is a crazy experience. The entire city glows with rows and rows of flashing billboards that you see right from your plane’s windows. At first glance you can’t make out the flickering. Are those fires? Then comes the massive pollution cloud hovering over head – isn’t a very pretty site. This sets in the worst possible expectation you can have when first landing. You hope that you can breath when you get out of the airport.
When you get out of the plane you are greeted by the statue of the scribe holding papyrus that you will later see in the Egyptian museum in downtown Cairo. This is one of the statues from the old kingdom and it is also on the 200 Egyptian pound note. Next you have to clear passport control which was not very straightforward. See 5 Easy Steps to Navigating Egypt Cairo Airport. The visa costs $25 and has to be bought at a bank teller window in the airport before customs. They don’t tell you which bank to choose. Passport control just sends you to a bank of different windows. It doesn’t matter which one you choose as long as they all offer the Egyptian visa. It does matter which one you choose if you will be converting US dollars or other currency. Make sure to check which bank has the best rates.
As of the writing of this article there was also a black market for Egyptian pounds. Sounds scary but it really isn’t. With the Egyptian pound in such a flux these days, everyone on the street wants US Dollars. Simply walking on the streets of downtown, people will offer you much more than what you can convert at the bank. We did not participate with street exchange and do not suggest it. Our money already goes such a long way in Egypt, why not help the economy and their banks?
Leaving the Cairo Airport
Leaving the airport is a pretty dramatic experience as well. You will first be greeted by an entire floor of taxi cab drivers who want to sell you a “great deal” on a taxi cab ride. They can get you to Giza for 300 pounds or downtown for 200 pounds aka they are ripping you off. They all have press badges and laminated price sheets to make themselves seem official. You will later learn that this is a common scheme in Egypt. Egyptians will say this is the government price or that they work for the government. They say things like, “This is the price that the government lets us sell at.” Don’t listen to anyone that tells you it is a government price. You can always bargain in Egypt.
Related: Bargaining In A Foreign Country
For downtown Cairo you should not pay more than 100 Egyptian Pounds or the equivalent of $5 USD. For Giza you should not pay more than 160 Egyptian Pounds or $8 USD. Those are reasonable prices and you could of course always bargain lower if you are willing to.
One last thing about leaving the airport. As you leave the terminal, there will be at least 200 people crowded around the door outside waiting for their relatives. This is because they are not allowed to enter the terminal even if they wanted to. Don’t get too scared, the people don’t bother you too much. The only people that will bother you outside are more taxi cab drivers.
To catch uber from the airport, you will have to cross over the airport bridge to the Le Meridien hotel (Sheraton). In order to cross over, you will also have to pass through another simple security checkpoint. Once in the Meridien take the elevator to the lobby and wait outside for the uber.
In The Cab On The Way To Cairo
The cab through Cairo is where everything is going to hit you really hard. The masses of people, the smells, and the dust will require you to max out all of your senses. It’s similar to India but different in many ways too. The one thing that is unique about Cairo is the billboards on the side of the highways. It’s not what is on the billboards that will surprise you but the sheer quantity of them. There are zillions of billboards all along the highways stacked on top of each other. Sometimes there are 3 billboards stacked on top of each other right next to another set of billboards. This is obviously a result of all of the traffic in Cairo. If you spend so much time in traffic, why not pile tons of billboards on the side of the highway to take advantage of all the eyeballs.
Cairo City of Flashing Billboards
Is It Safe To Travel To Cairo, Egypt In 2017
I would say yes it is safe to travel to Cairo and Egypt in 2017. I am a little bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to massive amounts of people around me. I am also an introvert which makes it even harder. Despite these two things, I still felt safe in Cairo. Just make sure to pay attention to your feelings and your body to make sure that you don’t get to overwhelmed.
Getting out of the touristy areas for a while also helps. The people that are going to bother you the most stay in the tourist areas. They are trained in bothering tourists. They practice all kind of new phrases and techniques. Especially after you spend a couple of days walking around, you will get the hang of things. I would recommend sitting down somewhere and smoking shisha where you can watch all the people passing by. Obviously make sure to negotiate the price before you sit down, but relax and take in the sites. That way you can see how the masses of people operate in this huge city. Yes there will be people hassling you for tourist things. They will even tell you they aren’t going to hassle you.
If you are going to downtown Cairo, you will feel a part of a vibrant metropolis. You will have access to everything you need in a big city. Shops to buy water, shops to buy clothes, McDonald’s, KFC and other restaurants are all accessible in downtown. Downtown Cairo is close to the Nile, the Egyptian museum and Tahrir square among other attractions. You will also have easier access to taxis in downtown Cairo. All the major hotel chains are in downtown Cairo close to the Nile.
The City Of Giza
Giza is a long trek from the airport. Depending on traffic it could be around a 2 hour drive. Lots of congestion, lots of cars and lots of people walking in the middle of the road. People cross and walk everywhere – even on the major freeways. On your way to Giza, you will be able to get a preview of a lot of Cairo’s sites. You will see the Nile, Cairo Tower, a few of the big squares and other sites along the way.
Is going to Cairo a crazy experience – Yes
Does it seem unsafe because of all the bad press – Yes
Do I still recommend going – Yes
Is it a great experience – Yes!!!!!
Do I think Cairo and Egypt are safe in 2017 – Yes