An extension of the Sahara Desert, Egypt is hot and dry and receives very little rainfall. The average temperature during the summer ranges from 80°F to 95°F, and during winter from 55°F to 70°F, making the best time to visit Egypt around November through March.
The Mediterranean coast sees a steady wind which helps keep the temperature lower; however, the Red Sea coast can see temperatures upwards of 110°F.
From March through May (though usually arriving in April), the “khamsin,” a hot and dusty local wind, blows sporadically from the South, carrying with it large quantities of sand and dust from the deserts. These winds, with a speed of up to 85 miles per hour, can raise the temperature by as much as 20°F in a couple of hours.
Arabic is the official language in Egypt, with many spoken variations such as Egyptian Arabic and Sa’idi Arabic. As a former British colony, most locals have learned English in school.
National Holidays and Festivals
January 7 – Eastern Orthodox Christmas
January 25 – Egypt Police Day
12 Rabul Awal (Feb/Mar) – Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday
April 25 – Sinai Liberation Day
May 1 – Labour Day
July 23 – Revolution Day
1 Ramadan (Aug/Sep) – Ramadan
October 6 – Armed Forces Day
1 Muharram (Nov/Dec) – Muslim New Year’s Day
1 Shawwal (Sep/Oct) – Eid Al-fitr (End of Ramadan)
10 Zulhajja (Nov/Dec) – Eid Al-adha (Feast of Sacrifice)
The official currency is the Egyptian pound. The subdivision is the piastres (at 100 piastres per pound). The exchange rate as of May 2010 is £5.6 Egyptian pounds to US$1.
Only bigger hotels and restaurants will accept credit cards so make sure you have cash on hand. Counterfeit and obsolete notes are usually not a problem.
Rates for exchanging Egyptian pounds are usually best at ATMs that can be found throughout the major cities.
Make sure you haggle when purchasing at markets and street vendors.
Carry small denominations of cash with you wherever you go as tipping (baksheesh) is an integral part of the culture. You will be expected to tip for all sorts of services, such as bathroom attendants and even hotel doormen if they do a service such as flag you a taxi.
220V/50Hz; two round-pinned plugs