Turquoise waters. Splendid corals. Tropical sea creatures. Child-friendly seaside resorts. In recent years, Egypt has become Africa's answer to the Caribbean. Families - from budget conscious to luxury travelers - are flocking here. And while it may be tempting to spend a week or more building sandcastles and snorkeling, mummies, pharaohs and camel treks are equally exciting. Even for children! Cruise the Nile from Luxor to Aswan or sail upriver on a felucca. Explore the ancient settlement of Edfu. Visit the Temple of Horus. Tour the Valley of the Kings. Take a day trip to Abu Simbel and marvel at the Great Temple of Ramses II. Travel to Cairo and experience ancient and modern Egypt. Explore the Pyramids of Giza inside and out. Ogle at King Tut's tomb. Stroll the narrow streets of Khan al-Khalili, an age-old bazaar. Head west over land and discover the eastern reaches of the Sahara. Take a camel trek in the White Desert and see, firsthand, the effects of weathering and erosion on the shape of the land. Follow the Great Caravan Route and tour living as well as abandoned desert oases. Make your way to Siwa and, in addition to learning the secrets of Shali, explore the Great Sand Sea. Yet as with any family vacation too much of a good thing can quickly become boring. Alternate history and culture with adventure and movement and get the kids involved in planning a family holiday to Egypt. What better place than Egypt, a cornerstone of most elementary curriculums, for kids to play travel guide and even teach mom and dad?
Travel to Egypt will, for most, be by air. The international airports located in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh, and Marsa Alam provide quick and easy access to Egypt's principle tourist attractions. European low cost airlines, such as easyJet and transavia.com, offer service from Amsterdam, Paris and London to Hurghada but do not yet offer service to Cairo or elsewhere. Charter companies are a valid alternative from select European cities.
Travel in Egypt is both cheap and easy. Egypt Air connects Cairo with the country's principal tourist destinations including Alexandria, Aswan, Hurghada, Luxor and Sharm el-Sheikh and provides direct service between the principal beach resorts and cultural destinations. Families traveling between Cairo and Luxor or Aswan, Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh, Port Said and Suez may want to consider the train. The sleeper service is operated by Abela Egypt. Buses are an alternative means of transport and may be the only choice for families traveling between Marsa Alam and Aswan or Luxor. Ferries connect Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh three times a week.
Passports must be valid 6 months beyond the return travel date. A tourist visa is required for most foreign nationals including UK, EU and US citizens. Tourist visas can be obtained upon arrival at most ports of entry or in advance from the nearest Egyptian Embassy or Consulate. A pre-arrival visa is required for some foreign nationals.
The best time of year for an Egypt vacation is late fall (October-November) and early spring (February-March). December and January, characterized by warm days and cool nights, are ideal months for touring Luxor and Aswan but often too cold for all but shore-based activities along the Red Sea and Mediterranean. From June to August the average daytime high exceeds 40°C (104°F) making desert expeditions and cultural touring all but unbearable.
Traveler's diarrhea is the most common aliment afflicting tourists in Egypt. Egypt boasts a low rate of crime but warrants caution like most everywhere. Drink bottled water. Don't eat uncooked vegetables or unpeeled fruit. Avoid unpasteurized milk. Safeguard valuables including passports and money. Keep a firm grip on daypacks and handbags. Don't leave valuables lying about the hotel room. Keep an eye, if not a hand, on the kids. Check government sources for travel advisories before booking a trip.
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound. U.S. dollars and Euros are widely accepted at hotels and shops but are not accepted at government run museums and cultural sights. Credit cards are grudgingly accepted at tourist shops in large hotels but rarely accepted elsewhere. At all but the largest hotels, a credit card fee will most likely be added to all credit card transactions. ATM cash machines are found throughout the country. Usage of cash cards abroad is governed by your local bank; inquire before you depart.
The price of nearly everything is negotiable and hustlers are part and parcel of travel to Egypt. Be wary of individuals offering advice as well as those offering to broker services for a taxi, tour or hotel. But don't be rude just say, 'No thank you.' Most goods, including diapers and baby food, are readily available in local stores. Some tourist necessities, such as high factor sunscreen and foreign language guidebooks, cost significantly more in Egypt than at home.
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