Safety

DESTINATIONS egypt safety-29

TRAVEL TIPS

Safety

Egypt has suffered a number of terrorist attacks in the past two decades; a spate of attacks in Luxor and Cairo in the mid-1990s, as well as bombings in the Sinai and in Cairo in 2004 and 2005. These attacks appear to have been undertaken by domestic terrorists whose purpose is to unsettle the government by hitting the tourist market (the country's biggest money earner) rather than part of a wider terrorist network.

The U.S. State Department advisory on Egypt gives clear advice on travel to these regions.

Security measures are in place to protect foreign travelers in Egypt. These include providing armed officers to travel with tourists, arranging visitors traveling by road into convoys, and ensuring that all hotels have guards and X-ray machines to check all incoming bags.

That said, the atmosphere in the streets and at attractions, cafés, and hotels is generally relaxed, with no threatening overtones. Most Egyptians are very welcoming of foreign visitors, and if you get a chance to chat with any Egyptians, they are usually very interested in finding out about you.

Violent crime against tourists in Egypt is very rare and even petty theft is at a low level compared to other international destinations. While robbery is unlikely, you are more likely to be ripped off by a taxi driver or a vendor who makes easy money from tourists who are poor hagglers. However, in Red Sea and Sinai resort areas where there are a lot of tourists, crime (particularly theft) is rising, and you should exhibit the same caution you would in any unfamiliar destination. Never leave items on the beach when you go for a swim. If you have a safe in your hotel room, use it.

You'll be approached for baksheesh (tip money) for almost anything . Young kids will feel happy to say hello as you pass, then as you reply immediately open their hands for money. At major attractions, men may engage you in conversation as you cross a road then stop the traffic to ease your crossing—then demand a cash reward. One should always be mindful of the poverty of many households, but on the other hand, should you pay out for services that you did not specifically demand or even want? Don't feel obliged to hand over money if you don't feel that it has been earned.

Beware a young Egyptian male who attaches himself to your party as you explore the markets. He'll notice your interest and produce samples of bread or dates for you to try, then eventually will ask for "guiding" money. Another scam is to encourage you into a local shop in the pretence that it's only for tea and a chat, only to press a sale once you're seated and relaxed. But, remember too that these individuals are mixed in with hundreds of very genuine Egyptians who are willing to help for no reward except a chance to chat with a visitor and practice their English, so don't treat everyone with suspicion, just be aware that these approaches do happen.

Women may find themselves on the receiving end of attention from teenage boys and men. This attention is mainly blatant staring and some kind of opening gambit to engage you in conversation, but it can also include very inappropriate comments. This sort of behavior is best ignored. Assault is not common, but occasionally men will attempt to touch women. If this happens to you, do not stay silent. Shout, "Leave me alone" or "Stop that" loudly, and this should result in a chastened offender. Make it very clear you find this behavior offensive.

Advisories

U.S. Department of State. travel.state.gov.

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