What’s the number 1 thing the people we met in Egypt said to me when they learned I was a travel writer? “Please tell them it’s safe!” So, I have news for you: Egypt is a safe place to visit.
The people telling you Egypt is unsafe are the people who have never been. It’s true! Honestly, you’re as safe in Egypt as you would be in Europe or Australia or the United States—and in some ways, maybe even safer. Here are the best (possibly most surprising) reasons why you’ll be safe traveling in Egypt—even as a woman, even solo, even if you don’t believe me!
Because the Tourism Police are Looking Out for You (and they will send a search party!)
Yes! Egypt has its own tourism police to protect tourists. It’s true that Egypt has had major scam and safety issues in the past, but over the last decades, that has improved by leaps and bounds, for several reasons. One big reason is the dedicated tourism police. So, what is the Tourism Police, and what do they do?
First of all, any police presence will scare off scammers and anyone looking to pick your pockets. They patrol around the main tourist sites and popular areas to just keep an eye on things. They’re mostly there for your benefit, but just so you know, they’ll also get onto you if they catch you climbing on the pyramids or taking a “souvenir” from any ancient sites!
More importantly, they have your itinerary, courtesy of the tour company you’re traveling with. They know where you’re supposed to be, and if you don’t show up, they will call the last place they know you visited and start figuring out where you may have gotten lost along the way. And I have it on good authority that they will literally launch a search party if they think you’re in trouble!
Keep reading: 7 Reasons Every Traveler Needs to Visit Egypt
Because There is State Security for Large Groups
In addition to the Tourism Police, Egypt also employs State Security. If you’re visiting Egypt with a large group, a plain-clothes State Security Officer will accompany the group throughout the trip. They can flash their badge and get groups through checkpoints quickly, making group travel easier and more efficient. The locals know that large groups or smaller groups of VIP guests travel with State Security, so any would-be ne’er-do-wells know to steer clear.
More here: Tips for Visiting the Pyramids
Because Egypt is a Military Dictatorship that Favors Tourists
When Americans hear the term “Military Dictatorship,” we kind of balk, right? We think it’s kind of scary, and definitely not something we want for ourselves. The reality in Egypt, however, is that the government favors tourists, so in a counter-intuitive way, this is actually good for foreign tourists in Egypt.
Egypt’s economy depends on tourism in a huge way, so it makes sense that the government—the Military Dictatorship—would want to protect tourists and major tourism sites. They want you to have a good experience, and they know that their country has a past reputation of unrest and harassing tourists. So, they are doing everything they can to help tourists feel safe. And in my experience, they’re doing a good job of it. I never felt unsafe while I was there!
Read next: Fun Facts You Never Knew About Ancient Egypt
Because You’ll Have a Permit for Every Place on Your Itinerary
This is another one that seems a little on the “Big Brother” side of things, but the permit policies are there to keep you safe. Forty-eight hours before you visit any tourist site, the company you’re touring with will have to apply for a permit for every site you plan to visit. Your group will check in with the Tourist Police at each site when you arrive, and again when you depart.
Why twice? To keep you safe. If you check in with the Tourist Police when you leave a site, but don’t arrive within a reasonable time at your next stop, they will literally send a search party to go find you! If you’ve had an accident, gotten lost, or otherwise need help, they will be able to help you.
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Egypt
Because You’re Not Going to Go to Places on the No-Go List
You can get a permit to go to any of the major tourist sites—Pyramids, Abu Simbel, Valley of the Kings, etc. But there are some other places, such as the White Desert, Sinai Peninsula, or Middle Egypt (part of the area between Cairo and Luxor) where you cannot get a permit. Don’t try to go around the proper channels, don’t hire a shady guide who says they can get you into the White Desert for the right price. There are reasons why these places are off-limits.
There is plenty to see in Egypt that does not require going to the places you’re not allowed to go. I know, whatever someone tells us NOT to do is exactly what we all WANT to do, but those places are off-limits for a reason—and that reason is to keep you safe! That said, I did meet some new friends during our time in Egypt who camped for a night in the White Desert. They did not know it was illegal at the time!
One place you can go: The Ultimate Guide to Your Day Trip to Abu Simbel
Because You’re Going to Dress Appropriately
Good news! This one is entirely within your control, and there are approximately 10.678 million posts out there with packing lists for you to emulate, including mine! And while Egypt is one of the more “liberal” primarily Islamic countries (meaning if you slip up, you won’t get in trouble or anything), it is still a conservative country. Women and men should plan to cover up and wear loose clothing.
So, even though this isn’t so much a safety concern from a punishment standpoint, you will definitely feel more comfortable by not sticking out, since you’re going to dress respectfully as a guest in Egypt. And honestly, you’ll be thankful for the extra coverage as protection from the sun!
Get a little inspiration: The Ladies’ Ultimate Carry-on Packing Guide for Two Weeks in Egypt
Special thanks to John Nicholson of Egypt Elite for taking the time to explain the finer points of travel safety in Egypt! Check out his Egypt Travel Blog, Egypt Travel Podcast, and his travel company, Egypt Elite to help plan your trip. Read more about our experience with the company here!
For more about the Arab Spring and the media’s role in Western perception, read this article by John of Egypt Travel Blog.
Want more? Get everything you need to plan your epic trip on my dedicated Egypt Page!
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