Hot, dry summers with mild, dry winters and cold nights. Rainfall is negligible except on the coast. In April, the hot, dusty Khamsin wind blows from the Sahara. Lightweight cottons and linens are recommended during summer, with warmer clothes for winter and cooler evenings.
The most prominent religious festivals which tourists experience in Egypt are the 'mouleds', which are incredibly lively processions that take to the streets of Cairo on various saints' birthdays, between the beginning of July and end of August. The mouleds generally take place in summer, and blend religion with folklore, usually taking the form of wild dancing accompanied by music, chanting and fireworks. For more information phone +20 (0)2 285 4509.
Coptic Christmas Day
Islamic New Year
Birth of the Prophet
Sham el-Nassim (Coptic Easter)*
Sinai Liberation Day (Sinai only)
Coptic New Year*
Bairam Feast (End of Ramadan)
Oct Armed Forces Day
27-28 Nov Grand Feast
Note: *These holidays are not official, although Coptic Christians may observe them.
Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon and the dates given above are approximations. During the lunar month of Ramadan that precedes the Bairam Feast, Muslims fast during the day and feast at night and normal business patterns may be interrupted. Some restaurants are closed during the day but most tourist attractions and hotels are not affected. Some disruption may continue into the three-day Grand Feast itself.
Egypt is a conservative society and visitors should respect local customs and sensitivities. Homosexuality is solemnly frowned upon and homosexual acts are illegal. Religious customs should be recognise, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours is forbidden in the Muslim culture. Travellers should be discreet or choose to partake in the custom themselves. Travellers to Egypt should dress modestly. Photography of military institutions is prohibited.
In Egypt tipping is called baksheesh. In hotels and restaurants a gratuity of between 10% and 15% is the acceptable norm. However, baksheesh is expected for every service. Attendants at Cairo's historical buildings, footwear supervisors in mosques, taxi and camel drivers, baggage handlers and tour assistants will all ask for something extra from those who can afford it. Low wages necessitate this requirement and the working people of Egypt rely on the generosity of visitors. The equivalent of between USD 1.00 and USD 2.00 is an appropriate amount each time.
Public hospitals are open to tourists. Health insurance is strongly advised.
Note: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over one year of age coming from infected areas. Those arriving in transit from such areas without a certificate will be detained at the airport until their onward flight departs.
There is a high threat from terrorism in Egypt. Attacks can be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
Since 2004 there have been three separate bomb attacks in the Sinai Peninsula. These attacks have killed and injured a number of foreign nationals. The most recent incident was on 24 April 2006 when there were explosions at three separate locations in the resort town of Dahab, in which 23 people were killed and more than 60 injured.
Developments in the region may trigger public unrest. Travellers should take care to avoid demonstrations, which can turn hostile, and be particularly vigilant in public places.Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Egypt have resulted in twelve human fatalities. As a precaution, travellers should avoid live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where contact with domestic, caged or wild birds is possible; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
The crime rate in Egypt is low but visitors should safeguard valuables including passport and money. Egyptian society is conservative and women should dress modestly. Travellers should carry some form of photographic ID at all times. A copy of your passport is sufficient.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organisations for the latest travel advice:
British Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Tel: 0845 850 2829.
US Department of State
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