Egypt – Visiting Cairo,
The Valley of the Kings and
Cruising the Nile
Another great trip!
My hubby shopped around (TravelZoo, etc.) and we found the best package deal through Ask Aladdin. This company focused exclusively on various types of Egypt tours. Click on the link above to learn more about Ask Aladdin and their tour options.
Keep reading below to learn about our day-by-day adventures and our Pro Tips to help make your trip to Egypt extra smooth and with no surprises! Check back later to watch a YouTube video of our trip we are working on.
Happy Travels to Egypt!
Google Map of our Hotels & Key Sights
Here are our recommendations for best sights in Egypt. Use the + or – button to scroll through our recommendations.
First things First … Getting Your Visa in Egypt
Make sure to bring $25 USD per person (exact change in USD) for your visa processing fee.
If you forget to bring USD you can always go to the bank (at the airport) – but this takes another line and more wasted time. The lines are long for everything at the airport…
Once processed, you will get a visa sticker in your passport and they will stamp it upon entry and exit.
Day 1 & 2 …. Exploring Cairo
Key Points & Tips…
From the airport to downtown Cairo is ~45min. Try to hire a company in advance to pick you up at the airport. It will make your transit a lot less stressful as they will meet you before immigration and help get you through the visa and immigration process smoothly. Remember, the airport is congested with tons of tourists, long lines, and people who don’t speak great English.
We booked our package through Ask Aladdin which included airport pick-up and drop off. When we arrived, Islam (yes, his name) met us with a sign with our name on it. He helped expedite our visa process and our driver was waiting in an air conditioned van as soon as we were done.
Interesting point: There are NO street lights at any intersections in Egypt. Many intersections are round-abouts. Just getting through these intersections takes a bit or courage!
Primary Sights to See & Things to Do…
- Islamic Mosques – there are numerous mosques in Cairo. We toured the most significant one called Muhammad Ali Mosque.
- Egyptian Bazars – Be sure to visit somewhere along your trip. There is at least one in every town. In Cairo, the most famous is Khan Al-Khalili Night Market. If you go in the evening the colors of the market really come out. Also do not miss out on a local food known as Falafel- a finger food made of deep fried beans and vegetables. That may not sound very delicious but its quite good.
Hiring a Private Guide?
Yes, so you can do all the research on your own. But honestly all of our trips we are able to download maps and history of some of the places we visit. In Egypt its a little different, you should spend the money and hire a private guide to get a better understanding of the history of Egypt. Also we think its better to have a private guide then going with a larger group because you are able to spend a little more time at a particular destination and get more detailed information from someone who lives in Egypt.
Meet Nader, our personal guide for our trip to Egypt, please contact me for further information if you are interested in booking a vacation and are looking for a fabulous tour guide.
Day 3… Egyptian Museum, Giza
Pyramids & Great Sphinx
Tipping is very big in Egypt. Seems like everyone expects a little something. It is a little bit annoying at first but just think of it as their local custom (which it is). The tips don’t have to be much – just 0.50 or $1.0 in most cases.
Our recommendation is to exchange money for smaller denominations of USD in advance of your trip and change a bit of USD into smaller demonization Egyptian pounds at your hotel – less than <$1 increments.
The average tip is relatively small – perhaps 0.50 or $1.0 for most littler things and maybe 5% for the larger situations.
Bathrooms – make sure to have Egyptian pounds in your pocket, our cost was about 5 Egyptian pounds to use the bathroom. 5 Egyptian pounds works out to about 30 cents.
Key Points & Tips…
Allow plenty of time to tour the Egyptian Museum – so many things to see there. Pro Tip: We recommend not spending money to see the mummy room – really not worth it and there are mummies in other parts of the museum to see for free!
Primary Sights To See & Things to Do:
- Egyptian Museum & House of Antiquities, you can hire a private tour guide for ~$15. Well worth the money, as there is so much history and background to understand. Included in the museum are artifacts found in King Tut’s tomb.
- Pyramids of Giza, this is an absolute must, to see the large stones it took to build the pyramid is quite impressive, grab your camera. You can go inside one of the pyramids but there are no carvings or colors and it is quite cramped and hot. Best to save your money for the Valley of the Kings.
- Its amazing to think when they found the The Great Sphinx, the sand covered everything but the head! You can imagine their amazement as they kept digging and digging to see more of the Sphinx. It stands 66′ tall and 240′ long.
- Camel ride, yep, just do it! Pay the $20 USD for a camel ride – a once in a lifetime opportunity. The camels are down a road behind the pyramids about 1 mile away. If you are with a guide they know exactly where to go.
Day 4-8…. Cruising
Get thereKeep in mind to get to your cruise boat you have to take a flight (or a very long bus ride) to either Luxor or Aswan – be sure to fly.
We chose The Farah as our boat for the Nile Cruise. This is one of the newer boats on the river. There are many options for river boats on the Nile and most are old and outdated. Be careful even if they say you’ll have a ‘5 star’ or ‘superior’ boat. We were very glad we chose The Farah. Check this link to find out more about cruising the Nile River. Farah River Cruise on the Nile River
Primary Sights To See & Things To Do along the Nile River:
- Luxor – There are 2 temples in Luxor that should not be missed – Karnak and Luxor. Karnak Temple was built over 2,000 years ago, with beautiful large columns with beautiful inscriptions on them. Luxor Temple is the other temple that is quite incredible, make sure to check out the row of Sphinxes as well as try to go at dusk and watch the temple light up.
- Valley of the Kings– honestly my favorite attraction!!!! Here you can purchase a ticket for $11.75 which includes three tombs of your choice. They are all incredible. You may want to do some research before you go to choose your favorite tombs to see. Pro Tip: There is an extra cost to see King Tuts tomb. You may think that it will be special but is it quite small and minimally decorated as he died young and they did not have long to prepare. The fee is $14.70/pp. Skip it. Pro Tip 2: Take a fan or something to keep you cool because there is little air flow in the tombs and its very hot and humid.
- Valley of the Queens, this is certainly not as spectacular as the Valley of the Kings tombs but the most famous tomb of Nefertari is there. We were told it was beautiful but it is also very expensive – like $60/pp!. Otherwise, the general entrance fee to see all of the tombs (but Nefertari’s) is $5. We opted out of visiting Nefertari’s tomb but if you are there and money is cheap for you, you might want to check it out. We were told its like being in an art gallery…
- Temple of Horus at Edfu this is a temple along the Nile River. If you are doing a Nile cruise they will almost definitely stop here. It is unique because they pick you up by horse & buggy and you ride to the temple. Pro Tip: get there early as it is quite busy and with all the horse&buggies it is a mess. This temple was started in 237 BC and it is believed this temple is where the famous battle between Horus and Seth took place. Lots of interesting carvings on the walls and again great place to see history.
- Temple of Kom Ombo was dedicated by the Egyptians to the God Sobek, which is the Crocodile God. The Egyptians believed so much in these crocodiles, that they had them mummified. There is a museum next to the Temple with some of them but its not that impressive. Pro Tip: Ask your guide to show you one of the first calendars of ancient Egypt. I think it is the only one in all of the temples you will see. A picture of it is to the left.
HOW LARGE IS THE NILE RIVER?
The nile river is over 4000 miles long stretching from Uganda to the Mediterranean Sea. Before the dam was built outside of Aswan, the Nile River would flood around mid July, this made it possible for the farmers in Egypt to prosper with the agriculture.
Points & Tips….
Make sure to check out the ‘locals areas’ of this little city. They won’t normally take you here unless you ask. Tour the local market which had some beautiful little spice stores and local food stalls. Maybe even try some Shi Sha and hang with the locals… 🙂
Primary Sights To See & Things To Do:
- Aswan Local Market – get out and explore Aswans Local Market. This is a great market to get fresh dates and fresh spices. You can smell the wonderful spices in the air. This market is very LOCAL, if fact you will find very few tourists in the market.
- Try some Shisha in Aswan, even more fun when you do it with your favorite tour guide. Nadar is a great tour guide, showing us the real Aswan as if we were a local. So fun!!!!!
- Temple of Philae This temple is on an island and you can hire a boat to take you there. The views are great and the cost is minimal. If you hire a private guide than the cost is included in the price. Remember to tip your guides as well as the captains of boats and drivers. They definitly appreciate it.
Websites used for
MUST HAVE TRAVEL essentials for
Read more about some of my favorite accessories under my travel tips.
This portable fan is approved from The Scottsdale Travel Chick. Make sure to purchase a portable fan for your trip, its very hot and sticky and especially when visiting the Valley of the Gods- just not a lot of airflow and you will be very thankful to have this fan when touring Egypt.
Make sure you have a good sun hat for your trip, this has an adjustable strap as well as good ventilation so your head can breathe a little in the hot sun.
Eddie Bauer Travel Pants
These are great pants not only to travel with on the plane- I like to use the side pocket to store my passport. These pants were great for our Egypt trip because they were lightweight and they can easily fit into your suitcase. Also if you visit a mosque you will need to have either some pants or long skirt to cover your legs.
We use this backpack on all of our trips. This one folds flat and easily can fit into your suitcase. It has 3 compartments and one side can hold a large water bottle. This is a great backpack to take if you are walking around the city or taking a bike ride through the countryside.
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