2002 - I
was so excited and little bit nervous when my father revealed his travel
plans for us during school summer vacation that we will spend this summer in
Egypt. I was
excited because I always wanted to see those Pyramids, Museum and travel in
the river Nile
(the longest river of the world) and of course the main source of Egypt’s
agriculture and water retirements. I was also nervous when I knew that my
father was planning to go by Ferry from Jeddah so that we can see the Suez
Canal. But later the plans changed and we traveled by air.
Instead of going to too
many details, I will give you some important information if any one of you
is planning to visit
Egypt. Following is the
summary of important items:
There is no need to
get visa for Egypt as the visitor’s visa is available at the airport at
the cost of $15. The same amount is charged at Egyptian Embassy in Riyadh
(SR60) if you are close to Riyadh area, otherwise airport visa is enough.
Taxis are available at
reasonable rates, but you will be asked more if the taxi driver knows that
you are Saudi, Kuwaiti or Expats coming from the Gulf. It’s a good idea
to ask any local person for the trip price and bargain with the driver.
trip by boat is available at 1 or 2 pounds for a half hour tour in taxi
boat. Special private boats are available at 30 to 35 pounds an hour.
Tickets for entry to
Pyramids and Museum are 20 pounds per person. But if you have student ID
its half the price for school going children. To see the real mummies
inside the Museum the ticket is 40 pounds per person (all ages).
Hotels are easily
available with 3-stars at 200 to 300 pounds and 5-stars at 400 to 500
pounds per day. If you are looking for furnished apartment in Cairo you
have to first see an estate agent or ask taxi driver and it’s very
difficult to deal with local agents for apartment.
The best areas for
apartment are Zamalek and Muhandassin which are five minutes drive to
To visit Pyramids,
please plan to reach Pyramids at 8:00 AM to spend a good time in the cool
temperature as they close Pyramids entrance at the sunset. Also, there is
one Sphinx (lion shaped stone structure) and Sound and Light show which
starts at night and tickets are expensive.
The places for
visit in Cairo are : Pyramids, Museum, Nile Cruise by Ferry
(expensive) or private boats (cheap), Salahuddin Citadel, Old Cairo,
Husseini Mosque, Agricultural Museum, Delta Barrage (Nile), Kanatheer
Khairiya (Nile), Snow City and Amusement Park.
Other places far from
Cairo are Alexandria (2.5 hours by bus or train), Port Suez and Ismailia
(to see the Suez Canal). There are other far away places like Sharm
Al-Sheikh, Ghardhaga, Aswan, etc. but travel time is too long for these
three areas and the weather in summer is very hot.
In the Pyramids area
there are three big Pyramids and six small. Entry to Biggest Pyramid is
40 pounds but they are all the same and my advice is to visit the second
Pyramid. There is nothing inside except two chambers where King’s and
Queen’s mummies (dead bodies) were kept some 5000 years ago.
If you are interested to
read more about Egypt, following is the detailed information by area:
Pyramids (located at end of Cairo – 6 to 8 kilometers from down town) make
sure that you have enough drinking water and if you have children’s take
their school ID cards.
Visit the second
(middle) Pyramid as it is easy to go down and inside of all Pyramids are
the same. The ticket for second Pyramid is 20 pounds for adults and 10
pounds for students. Eight years and below are free.
Do not ask for any
guide as it will cost you extra money with no advantage at all. Also, do
not buy any items or perfume from the market at the Pyramids as the prices
are 200 to 300 percent higher than the down town markets.
It is really a wonder
as to how people built those Pyramids 5000 years ago with 2 to 3 tons of
stones each and there are millions of stones which were brought from Aswan
to Cairo. It took thirty years to bring the stones and ten years to build
You can go any time to
Cairo Museum but morning at 8:00 AM is a good time to visit. Guides are
available but it is good if you get some other groups together and hire
one guide for the group to save money.
Do not miss to visit
the real mummies which are kept in a separate AC room (eleven mummies are
on display) You will wonder how 5000 years old bodies are still intact.
You can see their eyes, hair, teeth and looks like they are dead few
It is very enjoyable
to visit Nile couple of times while you are in Cairo. The good times is
afternoon after 4:00 PM and hire a private boat at 30 to 40 pounds for an
The best tour I liked
is Kanatheer Khairiya where you can go by a taxi (30 pounds return) and
then hire a boat at 150 to 200 pounds for two hours ride to villages on
the banks or river Nile, where you can see banana and other plantation,
see President’s palace and take a horse ride in the garden. You can also
visit the honey bee garden and buy original honey from the garden.
Alexandria is a
wonderful place to visit. It is on the Mediterranean coast and it is a
live city 24-hour a day. Hotels and apartments are available on the
coastal area at bargain price. You will see people on the beach all day
and night long during summer vacation.
While in Alexandria
you can visit the Palace, Bab Muntaza, and Mamoora where there is a big
Amusement Park for the children with all rides.
You do not need an AC
or even a fan if you are living in a multi-storey apartment building
facing the Mediterranean Sea at there is cool breeze 24-hours a day.
You may travel from
Cairo to Alexandria by AC bus (20 pounds) or second class AC train (25
pounds). It is nice to travel by train at least once to enjoy the ride.
You can hire a private
AC taxi from Cairo to visit Suez Canal. The prevailing taxi fare for the
whole trip is 300 pounds. You can start 8:00 AM in the morning going
straight to Suez city, see Suez Port and if it is allowed, you may travel
parallel to Suez Canal going straight to Ismailia. Sometimes due to
security reason the road parallel to Suez Canal is close but you can still
see the canal from a safe distance.
In Ismailia, you can
visit the beach and enjoy the boat ride.
TRAVEL TO EGYPT BY SEA
If you like the travel
by sea, it is a good idea to travel by Ferry between Jeddah and Cairo. The
tickets are cheap and other main advantage is that you can see the Suez
Canal all the way from the Ferry.
Pictures of my Trip