Cairo: Itinerary, Expenses and Things To Know Before You Go | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Jul 1, 2018

Cairo: Itinerary, Expenses and Things To Know Before You Go


Late 2017, during a long weekend, Ed and I flew to North Africa to visit an ancient wonder! Egypt has been on our travel plans for so long... way before we created our 20 before 2020 list. So, yes, we were beyond thrilled to make that trip happen!

While sharing snippets of our #SweetEscapesinEgypt on Insta, I came to know that it is not only us who have this lifelong dream of seeing the pyramids. I have received lots of inquiries from fellow Dubai expats and travelers since our trip, so this travel guide is better late than never! :) 

Cairo Travel Guide


Here are the things to know before you go to Cairo:


Visa
Philippine passport holders need to apply for a tourist visa before traveling to Egypt. Since we are based in Dubai, we went to the Consulate General of Egypt in Umm Hurair 1 a month before our scheduled departure. Visa processing was smooth. After four working days, we got our passports; each stamped with a tourist visa valid for 30 days. 



Money
Egypt currency is called Egyptian Pound. The exchange rate is 1 AED to 4.86 EGP at the time of writing. We opted to have our money changed inside Cairo International Airport as we arrived late in the evening. Some establishments (our hotel in Giza and restaurants in Cairo) also accept UAE Dirhams and credit card payments. 


Language
While Arabic is Egypt's official language, people who work in the hospitality industry can communicate well in English.  


Weather
The weather in Egypt is typically warm and sunny. The temperature cools down and tourism peaks up during the mild winter months. We visited Cairo in late November and the climate was perfect. It was chilly early in the morning and at night, but pleasant for sightseeing at midday.

Lady and Ed at the pyramids of Giza
One sunny November day in Egypt


What To Pack
Ladies, it is important to wear modest clothes while traveling in Cairo; especially if you intend to visit religious sites. Pack clothes you can layer when visiting during winter as the temperature can drop to 10 deg Celcius in the evening. 

what to wear in Egypt
Be culturally sensitive! Do not wear clothes showing off too much skin in Cairo!


Transportation
From the airport: Our hostel offered free pick up from Cairo International Airport. Taxis are also available outside the arrival hall, but you have to negotiate the price or trust the meter. 

Getting around Cairo and beyond: On the first half of our trip, we explored Giza and Cairo with a tour guide. Having a private car is convenient, especially if you want to see the attractions located on the outskirts. But on the second half, we pretty much relied on Uber. We booked rides through the app and visited the sites not included in our guided tour. It's actually fun (and liberating) to see a new city on your own! And having the chance to chitchat with the local drivers add up to the experience!

Tip: Plate numbers are in Arabic. So have a crash course in Arabic numerals (or better google it and screenshot) to easily identify your Uber car!   

statue in Cairo International Airport
This golden statue welcomed us to Cairo!


Where We Stayed
While most tourists prefer to stay in Cairo, we chose to stay in Giza. The neighborhood is heavily-populated and dotted with tourist traps, but we want nothing but to wake up to the sight of the Ancient Wonder in the morning. Because, hey, that's what we came for! Hence, we booked a reasonably-priced hotel right across the gates of the Pyramids Sound and Light Show.

We stayed at the Great Pyramid Inn. It is a humble hotel surrounded by a local community. The vibe is homey. Breakfast is traditional. View is ahhh-mazing! We don't have to purchase tickets for the Sound and Light Show as it can be viewed on the hotel terrace for free!   

Our room in Great Pyramid Inn
Our room in Great Pyramid Inn

breakfast in great pyramid inn
Breakfast with a view!

Top Sights to Visit

  • Pyramids of Giza: the only surviving Ancient Wonder of the World
  • Sphinx: A human-headed lion seemingly guarding the tombs and temples in the Giza Plateau
  • Saqqara: where the Step Pyramid, the oldest pyramid in Egypt, is located
  • Egyptian Museum: Important Egyptian antiquities are kept here. Tombs! Gold Masks! Mummies!
  • Cairo Citadel: Located on Mokkatam Hill, this medieval fortification has historic mosques and museums.
  • Cairo Tower: The tallest building in Cairo offers great views of the metropolis from the observation deck.
  • Khan El Khalili: a traditional open-air market in Cairo where you can buy souvenir items

Giza Plateau
Giza Plateau can be very crowded. So take care of your belongings. Listen to your tour guide. And as much as possible, refuse photo requests from the locals. It's harmless, but if you say yes to one then a crowd will follow! 

Food To Try

  • Falafel: patty made of ground chickpeas and spices (We had the best one in Felfela restaurant in Downtown Cairo.)
  • Koshari: a crazy mix but delicious bowl of lentil, macaroni, rice, and tomato sauce
  • Kofta: ground beef or lamb shaped like a sausage, skewered and grilled 
  • Fattah: layers of fried bread, rice, and meat
  • Ful: mashed fava beans
  • Umm Ali: super moist and creamy bread pudding

Lady having some tea in Cairo
I fell in love with Egyptian food! I wouldn't get tired of falafel and hibiscus tea! 

Our Itinerary and Expenses
Tours and transportation which are pre-booked and paid in advance are in AED and USD. Expenses during the trip (food and souvenirs) are in EGP. All prices stated in this blog post are of November 2017.


Day 0: Hello, Cairo!
Time
Activity
Expenses
20:50
Flight to Cairo via Emirates

1,000 AED roundtrip per person (ID50 air tickets)
          Regular Rate of other airlines ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 AED per person.

23:05
Arrival in Cairo International Airport
Complimentary pick up

Past midnight
Check-in at Great Pyramid Inn
450 AED for 3 nights
Booked 1 month before our travel date.



Day 1: The Ancient Wonder Upclose
Time
Activity
Expenses
7:30
Breakfast in Great Pyramid Inn
Complimentary

8:30 to 17:30
Day tour to Giza Pyramids, Memphis, Sakkara and Dahshur Pyramids with lunch





Add-on expenses:
Tour fee: 93.5 USD / 381 AED for 2 people
Booked through Emo Tours website. Paid in advance.



Tripod Fee in Giza Plateau: 20 EGP

Camel Ride to the spot where we can view the 9 pyramids: 350 EGP per person

Lunch drinks: 60 EGP

Souvenirs (Papyrus and Perfume): 1700 EGP


 20:00
Dinner in Great Pyramid Inn while viewing the Pyramids Light and Sound Show for free

170 EGP


Watch Cairo Travel Vlog #1: The Pyramids! Finally!


The Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza

Lady at the pyramids
See how huge the pyramid bricks are!

Add-on to the trip expenses, but the best decision we've made: Camel ride to this breathtaking spot! 

Ed and Lady at the Sphinx
And so, the Sphinx has witnessed our #HighFiveJump! Hahah! :) 

Step Pyramid in Sakkara
Step Pyramid in Sakkara

Bent Pyramid in Dahshur
Bent Pyramid in Dahshur

tour to Memphis in Egypt
At Memphis; the ancient capital of Egypt



Day 2: Islamic and Christian Sites in Cairo
Time
Activity
Expenses
 7:30
Breakfast in Great Pyramid Inn
Complimentary

8:30 to 14:00
Day tour to Christian and Islamic Cairo with lunch 






Add-on expenses:

Tour fee: 76.50 USD / 312 AED for 2 people
Booked through Emo Tours website. Paid in advance.



Souvenirs (Magnets and Keychains): 200 EGP

Chai in Khan El Khalili: 55 EGP

Lunch drinks: 90 EGP


16:00
Uber from the hotel to Cairo Tower 

70 EGP
17:00
Cairo Tower

We queued for 2 hours and missed the sunset! If I could re-do the experience, I would skip the line and head to the restaurant, which is 1 floor below the observation deck, instead.


150 EGP each
 20:00
Uber to the hotel in Giza

70 EGP
 21:00
Dinner in Abou Sakra restaurant in Giza
330 EGP for 2



Watch Cairo Travel Vlog #2: Coptic and Islamic Cairo Tour


Christian Coptic Cairo
Christian Coptic Cairo

The Hanging Church
The Hanging Church

Inside Madrassa El Sultan Hassan
Inside Madrassa El Sultan Hassan

Wandering in Khan El Khalili
Wandering in Khan El Khalili

Ed in Khan El Khalili
Tea time while people-watching in the souk

floating restaurant in Nile River
We had lunch (part of the tour package) in this floating restaurant in Nile River. 

Cairo Tower.
You can view the whole metropolis and even the pyramids of Giza on good weather condition.


Day 3: Cairo Do-It-Yourself Tour
Time
Activity
Expenses
 7:30
Breakfast in Great Pyramid Inn
Complimentary

 10:00
Check out and leave luggage in the hotel



Uber to Egyptian Museum

70 EGP
 11:00
Egyptian Museum

Add-on expenses:

120 EGP each

Photography fee: 50 EGP

 12:00
Stroll in Downtown Cairo


 12:30
Lunch in Felfela

500 EGP

Uber to Cairo Citadel

30 EGP
 15:00
Cairo Citadel

100 EGP each

Uber to the hotel in Giza

70 EGP
 20:00
Pick up luggage and drop off at Cairo International Airport

25 USD
 00:45
Flight to Dubai




Watch Cairo Travel Vlog #3: Cairo DIY Tour

Egyptian Museum
Egyptian Museum

Egyptian antiquities inside the museum
Egyptian antiquities inside the museum

Downtown Cairo
Downtown Cairo

Alabaster Mosque in Cairo Citadel
Alabaster Mosque in Cairo Citadel. See a resemblance with Istanbul's Blue Mosque?

Cairo Alabaster Mosque
Inside the mosque. 

selfie with Egyptian kids
We gave in to a few photo requests on our last day.
The local kids love to take selfies with tourists! I guess they find us exotic! :)

Sunset in Nile River
Sunset in Nile River.
What a way to end our holiday in Egypt!


Estimated Budget for this 3-day Itinerary

Details

Expenses
Tourist Visa

140 AED/person
Flight
Dubai-Cairo

1,000 AED/person
Accommodation
3 nights in a budget hotel in Giza, based on two people sharing

225 AED/person

Guided Tours, based on two people sharing
Pyramids of Giza, Sakkara, Dahshur, and Memphis
Coptic and Islamic Cairo Tour


190 AED/person

155 AED/person
Add-on Activities
Camel ride, Entrance fees, Souvenir shopping, Uber rides


580 AED/person
Food and Drinks
1 lunch and 2 dinners in good restaurants, and drinks during the guided tour


150 AED/person

Total

Around 2,500 AED or 680+ USD/person

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