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Is Egypt Safe to Visit?

 

Egypt has been rocked by political and economic turbulence in the past three years...but that doesn't mean its not safe to visit.

Egypt has been rocked by political and economic turbulence in the past three years…but that doesn’t mean its not safe to visit.

Through the past three years, Egypt has witnessed a turbulent economic and political atmosphere. From the Port Said Stadium Massacre to frequent unrest at Tahrir Square and the recent toppling of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, tourists often start to think that Egypt has become unsafe. This has resulted in very low hotel occupancy rates – with only 30% occupancy during peak times – and has severely impacted Egypt’s tourism sector, leading to higher unemployment and the closure of several businesses.

However, despite the lack of law and order, very little of Egypt’s instability actually impacts the tourists. All major tourist attractions are well-guarded and locals are more than glad to be receiving foreigners (you are their business!).

Going to the Citadel in Cairo – for example – you cannot enter with a vehicle unless you are part of a tour group (or are a government official). Upon entering the Citadel, you then have to go through a security check (normally metal detectors) and most Egyptians are asked to show their ID cards. The same rules apply almost everywhere – with some obvious exceptions – throughout Egypt: from Luxor and Aswan, to the historic Hanging Church and the Jewish Quarter in Cairo.

Yet, the heightened security is not limited to tourist attractions. All shopping centres, hotels, compounds, government buildings, hospitals, and banks have extensive security checks.

However, do not expect to be able to waltz around Tahrir Square or Rabaa Al-Adaweya in the middle of the afternoon and expect to be safe. Security at Tahrir Square and at other public areas (outdoor cafes, streets, parks) is largely dependent on the locals. Moreover, Egypt’s squares have been the focus of recent pro- and anti-Morsi which have witnessed clashes, sexual violence, robbery and more amid on-going rivalry between the two strongholds.

Despite this,  several tour groups are often witnessed visiting Tahrir Square, normally following a visit to Egypt’s National Museum next-door. Although these tour groups are often hassled by merchants (“Buy this Gold souvenir of Tutankhamun!”), the locals are always welcoming of the curious onlookers and often even pose for photographs.

Nevertheless, news of violence across Egypt has made headlines across the world: people have been killed outside the Republican Guard’s Headquarters in Cairo last following Morsi’s toppling, the Intercontinental Semiramis Hotel on the Nile was stormed following many days of clashes right outside the hotel in January, and the burning of several buildings occurred across Egypt.

Yet, what the media tends to forget is that the majority of violence in Egypt is centred around certain locations and does not extend for more than a few kilometres. Although the storming of the Semiramis in January was unusual, it was expected considering the violence that had been raging for days just meters outside the hotel.

Most trusted and well-known travel companies will put your security above any other aspect, and are likely to choose hotels and tourist attractions that do not put your life in danger. If you’re travelling with a major tour group, it is also likely that the Interior Ministry or the Tourism Ministry will provide you with a convoy and armed security guards to accompany you. It is therefore imperative that you travel to Egypt with a trusted or well-known travel company/guide – do not hire a local guide unless you know for certain that you can trust him.

If you’re not even visiting Cairo (perhaps going to the Red Sea or taking the Nile Cruise to Luxor and Aswan) then there is very little to worry. Cities other than Cairo are much safer and the locals there are very hospitable – besides, most of Egypt’s beauty lies outside the capital city.

However, you should be aware of using public transport – such as local taxis and micro buses – outside Cairo where roads are not as well-developed and traffic is less, as the drivers tend to speed, thus putting your life in danger. It is therefore best to rely on the Hotel’s transportation, a private company, or on your travel company.

Overall, you should be able to witness all of Egypt’s treasures amid no security concerns at all. Tourists are always welcome in Egypt despite the turbulent changes that the country may be undergoing.

If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment or contact me on https://www.facebook.com/EgyptianStreets or by email at egyptianstreets@gmail.com

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24 Comments on Is Egypt Safe to Visit?

  1. dont be stupid, dont travel to egypt
    ill give you some reasons why not:

    1. my niece has just got back and said she was scared , confined to the resorts, rude security staff and several times ushered back to the “enhanced security” zones; in particular dont go to cairo, hurgada and sharm el sheikh or anywhere near the sea

    2. your freedom of speech will be restricted if you go, not that you will get into politics, but srveral foreign journalists are in prison just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time

    3. many of the resorts are owned by the military so the money rarely gets to the poor , so your only propping up undemocratic military junta opressing its own people

    4. a bus load of south korean tourists were bombed ; now its not the fact thats its sinai , its just because they were holiday makers; south koreans have no real political influence in egypt ; imagine if your from europe whose governments do support the military and police ; your bound to be a target

    DO NOT RISK your lives just to sit on a resort and get a tan ; you only live once, tunisia is safer opten

    Like

  2. I would love to visit Egypt, but I think I’ll wait until things calm down in the Middle East. Living in New Zealand which has only had humans on it for a few hundred years, the concept of such a rich history is fascinating. Appreciate the information:)

    Like

    • I think you have to consider “NOT TO TRAVEL ” to Egypt soon . I just come from Sharm El Sheik which supposed to be the safest city there . I was stolen in the mid of the day …my girlfriend was nearly raped in Dahb which is a city nearby .

      Like

  3. Overall a good assessment of the situation, however, events in recent weeks have escalated and as a visitor to Egypt for the past 20 years I would recommend caution and travel with a group in most circumstances. One major point which the article did not mention…while most of the ‘negative’ events appear to be centered around Cairo and Alexander, there are still the occasional flare ups in many other parts of Upper Egypt for example. Also, while it may be considered relatively ‘safe’ to visit the tourist sites, please bear in mind that security may not always be available resulting in the shutting down of a site – Abu simbel was a case in point not too long ago. So yes please visit Egypt but bear in mind that you may not always have the opportunity to see what you went there for and there is always that possibility you may be stuck in your hotel grounds or cruise ship for many days – frustrating I know, but for your security – If you are ‘happy’ to understand that, then Egypt is still a great place to visit!
    I hope events sort themselves out soon Insha’Allah..

    Like

  4. Excellent article. Having travelled much in Egypt with a few basic rules that you would apply in the Uk your visit will be safe and enjoyable. Things are not how they were just be sensible.

    Like

  5. Reblogged this on Ned Hamson Second Line View of the News and commented:
    The sad thing is that this has to be written – hope that Egypt finds way to reconciliation, democracy and respect for all faiths and peoples that make up the best of Egypt!

    Like

  6. Living and working and traveling in Egypt for almost 10 years, I agree with your assessment for the traveler/tourist. The Egyptian people who work in the industry have been suffering for many months due to the internationally reported unrest. May I give the name, email, and phone number of a driver/guide whom I have used (and known personally) who is, first of all, trustworthy, and honest, reliable, and English speaking? His base is Heliopolis close to the airport, but knows all areas of Cairo: Mr. Khaled Ibrahim; khaled_mido1966@hotmail.com; mobile 01003437981. Mr. Khaled has a recommendation from Lonely Planet guidebooks too. Please give him a “shout out” if you are coming to Cairo.

    Like

  7. Egypt might be safe as long as you don’t tell them you’re Christian. They’re being persecuted and killed at the moment.

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    • are you out of your mind? after the 30/6 revolution we have all been hand in hand. it’s very obvious that it was the extremist politicians that organized the 5 incidents that happened in the past 20 years!!!

      Like

    • no no sir you are wrong egypt respest all kinds of realigions , they love christians and the proove is that all egyptions protect each other they dont care who is christian or not bec they are all egyptions they wont kill any one the reall egypt people wont hurt any one and if any one get hurt he or she is not or NEVER will be egyption he will be a terrorist and that what we are trying to fight for bec we hate them egypt will stay wonderfull and always great and perfect place to vist 🙂

      Like

  8. I would like to hear from all the victims of street crime and stolen handbags, including violence and sexual attacks against women, who visit Egypt. That is an issue to be addressed to have Tourists returning to Egypt. Yes and I have visited the country for the last 18 years and have seen the change. Lets update the truths to deal with it and to improve the situation.

    Like

  9. South Sinai have been always safe, you only needs snorkeling shoes and sun cream to protect yourself. In Dahab, Nuweiba Is stress free zone for all the holiday makers.

    Like

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  12. I’m wondering if between February and June there might be anything you would like to add?

    Like

    • I’ve lived here six years and for five of them I would largely concur with what you have written. However, particularly this past year, the climate has changed and while one can still move about with relative security, there is a lot to be said for being cautious and aware of your surroundings. And always have a back-up plan and/or a buddy. Venturing alone can be, well, adventurous, but maybe not the best move. A pal can hold your shopping bags while you snap photos. 🙂

      Like

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  17. As a brit having just returned from Cairo and the Western Desert I agree with this article – I felt very safe. I would even say its an advantage to see sights such as the Pyramids and Old Cairo with less tourists. Happy Travels

    Like

  18. I’m guessing it’s also fine if you just arrange a guide/driver through the hotel you’re staying at?

    Like

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