Traveling Egypt as a girl alone is another country you get raised eyebrows for.
I’ll admit, there is some merit to that at times.
I wouldn’t recommend it to a first time solo traveler. However, I fell in love with Egypt. It is one of my all-time favorite places.
Unfortunately, I was here about 5 days but I could’ve stayed for a month.
The people were very kind and endearing. I really felt welcomed and I truly enjoyed the people I met.
The wonders of ancient Egypt are also some of the few that were actually more incredible and more humbling than they get credit for.
That being said, you need to be prepared for pushy markets, a different way of life and a country that has just undergone a revolution.
Mentally prepare yourself and then jump in.
Egypt has recently gone through a revolution, and that has really hurt their tourism industry. Because of that, many businesses are struggling and you’ll find that shop owners are very pushy salesmen.
If you’ve traveled to Vietnam, China, Morocco, or similar countries, this won’t be a shock to you.
If you haven’t, be prepared to say no firmly but kindly.
Be sensitive to what the people of Egypt have been through and don't take their way of marketing as an offense, it isn't meant that way.
Don’t make eye contact with everyone in shops as you walk down the street, and don’t start haggling if you’re not fairly serious about buying.
Next, know that you are going into a country that is much more conservative than where you’re from. Dress to respect that. You shouldn’t wear shorts, tank tops or show cleavage. You will get unwanted attention if you do.
However, you will see other tourists doing this.
What I would say to that is, it’s safer to dress more provocatively when you’re in a group. Traveling Egypt as a woman alone, it’s better to be more sensitive to the culture.
And as a traveler in general, it’s better if you respect the values of the country you’re in.
Lastly, going out alone is okay, but not after dark.
I spent quite a bit of time walking around on my own in Luxor where I was in a very touristy part of the city and had no problems.
However, in Cairo, the people at my hostel insisted I have someone accompany me to get dinner on my own. I wasn’t in a tourist part of the city and so this was what seemed best.
Be aware of your surrounding and how you’re presenting yourself.
Egypt is warm and friendly and I can’t say enough good about the people that I had contact with, however, it’s important to be careful since this is a very different culture from our own.
Egypt is different in that the entire tourism industry is really is set up for packaged tours where you have your whole trip planned out for you upon arrival.
You definitely don’t have to go this way, but it’ll be assumed by tour groups and hostel managers that you’ll want your next 5 steps planned for you. If you don’t, be firm but friendly. Egyptians are extremely helpful.
Even though I booked just one thing at a time through my hostel, they kept trying to combine everything into one long excursion, which was fine. If I had it to do over, I would have just let my hostel or a tour company book it all because I was short on time.
Usually, that’s not the type of thing I’d recommend but it just makes sense in Egypt. That’s how they’re used to doing things. If you have a month, that’s different, but otherwise, go with the flow.
The most amazing thing to me, is that I arrived in Egypt around 1:00 AM, got my visa stamped and a few hours of sleep at a hostel and then woke up this morning to go to the pyramids.
Most of ancient Egypt’s cities are still the major cities and so the main attractions like the Great Pyramids are just outside of town.
In fact, the rumors are true, you can see the pyramids from a Pizza Hut, but of course, the only fun way to see them would be by camel.
The Sphinx is right there too. You actually see both within about 10 minutes.
It’s crazy, and it’s also what you can get use to with most sites in Egypt, they’re near modern cities.
I always thought that if you went to the pyramids, the only way to get in would be to do a big group tour. It wasn’t like that today.
This was the one weird part about traveling Egypt as a girl alone.
I was given full on permission to go in alone. It was pretty creepy.
So this is the Dashur Pyramid just outside of Cairo. When I got here, there were a few other cars but it was quiet. I climbed to the entrance where two men in robes and turbans were selling tickets and eating lunch.
I paid a few dollars and looked through the entry. To get into the chambers you go down a long, steep ramp to the bottom.
No other tourists were in there.
It was completely silent.
I wondered if this was normal? Should I be down there alone? Why wasn’t anyone else here?
I started to leave and the man at the door asked me why, I didn’t know what to say so I said I didn’t want to go in alone.
He said he was sorry but he couldn’t go in with me because he had bad knees! I tried to think of this poor old man, offering to go into a pyramid with me to keep me from being scared and felt dumb.
I turned around and tried it again. It was still creepy but everything seemed okay. The 40 thrives did not pop out of the walls.
I stood in the second chamber, staring at the walls and trying to appreciate the experience but the hairs on my neck were standing up. Everything was silent in the heat. Thousands of years of quiet seemed to hover in the chamber. I wondered how long they would let me stay down there before someone came looking.
You know, just out of curiosity…
I took an overnight train to Luxor.
Did you know the overnight trains get very cold? Bring a blanket if you’re taking an overnight train!
It was an interesting experience shivering in Egypt overnight.
Who would have thought?
If you are going to Egypt, don’t skip Luxor! It’s got the most mind-blowing grandeur I’ve ever seen.
It’s one of those places that makes you want to go home and watch a month of documentaries and then come back and do it all over again.
I’m not sure there’s anything I’ve seen that comes close to comparing to this. The ancient Egyptians were incredible. It’s one of the places that’s bigger and better than what you’ve imagined.
This is the incredible Temple of Hatshepsut, the only female pharaoh of ancient Egypt. Her tomb is inside the mountain. Since she was a woman they wouldn’t burry her in the Valley of the Kings on the other side of the mountain. So she dug a tunnel though until her tomb would be in the same area as the men’s.
Like a boss.
Like a lady boss.
I absolutely love the markets in Egypt. If you like boho style, woolen rugs and beautiful textiles, you’ll love it too.
It’s markets are similar to Morocco’s in a a lot of ways.
It’s a good thing I’m leaving soon because it’ll prevent me from spending too much on wool scarves, Turkish rugs, alabaster and lanterns.
The way they haggle here is new to me though. It’s much more fun and playful than say, China or Bolivia. It’s almost flirtatious.
“Where you get your eyes lady, your mother? your father? I give you discount for your eyes.
I was trying not to buy a rug today but the man showed me one with a woven picture of a stout woman carrying a jug on her head. It was so cute that I laughed when I saw it. Then the shop owner smiled because he knew he had me and I knew I’d have to buy it. I’m a good haggler by now but sometimes the charm of the Egyptians makes it hard for me to be as ruthless as I usually am.
As my flight to Tanzania gets close I’m wishing I had a bit more time in Egypt. I’d take a cruise down the Nile for a few days just to see the sand from the water. But, a dinner cruise on the Nile will have to do for now.
What do you think? What have your experiences traveling Egypt as a girl alone been like?