November brought the good news that travel restrictions placed upon Cairo in recent months have been relaxed. This means that holidays to Egypt are once again on the increase and business trips are back on track. Will you be heading to Cairo on business in 2014? If so, here are some travel tips to help ensure that your trip runs smoothly.
Getting In and Around
There are regular direct flights from London to Cairo and indirect flights from all other major UK airports. The direct trip takes five hours and with many people looking for last minute holidays to Egypt to take advantages of the low prices, a bit of search and compare should find you a good deal on your Egypt travel.
Be prepared for the hustlers and touts at the airport. By booking a hotel and transport in advance you can avoid scams or arguments over costs.
When travelling around Cairo agree to a taxi price before you get into the car. Get the right money ready to avoid misunderstandings over change.
Climate and Dress
If your trip falls within spring or autumn then you’ve got the best weather, as temperatures are warm without being stifling. Loose clothes made of natural fabric are a good choice when it comes to packing as temperatures rise during the middle of the day.
July to September is incredibly hot so book an air conditioned hotel room and be prepared to sweat when you’re out and about. Loose clothing made of natural fabrics is recommended.
Winter can be surprisingly cold, particularly in the evening so pack with this in mind.
During time off be aware that shorts and miniskirts are not culturally acceptable and that women are expected to dress modestly.
If you are invited into somebody’s home during your trip then it is polite to take your shoes off before you enter. A small gift is also a good idea – sweet pastries or other consumables will go down well.
Always use the right hand to shake hands with your associates in Egypt, and to eat with. The left hand is considered to be the one used for ‘unclean’ tasks such as taking off shoes.
Tips are expected at restaurants and a small amount should even be given at juice bars and food stalls. Likewise, when you visit attractions during time off be prepared to offer a small tip to members of staff who do you favours such as open doors or show you around. It is worth investigating the Egyptian system of ‘baksheesh’, as it’s slightly different and encompasses more than the Western version of tipping.
Many of the chain hotels overlook the Nile in central Cairo can be good places to stay for those who have meetings and want to know what to expect. The city can be noisy so take earplugs for a good night’s sleep before your business meetings.
The best thing about doing business in Cairo has to be free time when you can visit the pyramids of Giza and the Egyptian museums as well as relax in the atmospheric tearooms in the centre. It is always worth checking the UK government’s foreign travel advice before you travel to Egypt in case of change, but as things stand there’s no reason why your trip to Cairo can’t be thoroughly enjoyable.
Images by Tim & Annette Gulick and David Stanley, used under Creative Comms license