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7 Tourist Traps to Be Aware of in Egypt

Egypt will be one of the best travel experiences of your life, if you don't allow these scams to spoil it!

We all know Egypt is a wonderful place to visit, and if you’re thinking of exploring the cradle of civilisation, we seriously urge you to be wary of these very common scams tourists easily fall victim to.

Tour Guides at the Pyramids

No visit to Cairo is complete without a day visit to the Giza Pyramids. Nevertheless, going to the pyramids isn’t always as straightforward as walking up to the gates and simply buying a ticket to go in. As you approach the entrance to the Giza Plateau, even while in a taxi, you will see no end of people offering to escort you in and around the pyramids. Some will go as far as to tell you that you can’t even go in through the main gates and that you must take a side door on horseback! You will of course be forced to pay an extortionate price if you choose this route. Don’t believe it. You can enter the complex just fine through the official entrance either with a car or on foot. Despite what the tour guides will tell you, having them show you around is not obligatory. You’re more than free to stroll around on your own unassisted and unaccompanied. Either respectfully refuse or just ignore them on the way and while you’re inside. Be aware that they can be quite persistent so stand your ground and don’t give in. 

Being Charged for Taking Pictures

You may be told that you have to pay to have a picture taken with a local or an employee at an ancient site or tourist attraction. In principle, there’s nothing wrong with that, except that you will be told to pay only after taking the picture, even it was shot with your own camera. Don’t believe a word of it. If you would like to take a picture with someone, ask if they will charge you for it first. There are no official guidelines, it is an entirely informal hustle.

Inflated Prices

Strolling through Egypt’s numerous historical bazaars, you will most likely stumble upon a few beautifully handcrafted items you would like to buy. Unless the price is explicitly written, always assume the price you are quoted is several times more than it should actually be. Always haggle and be a tough negotiator. Start off by stating you want it for a quarter of the price and work your way up from there. Ask if they were handmade in Egypt and carefully study the items as well, as there are many cheap Chinese mimics.

Paying in a Foreign Currency

During your trip, you may be asked to pay in the currency of your country (especially if it's USD, GBP, or EUR) for a good or service. Know that without a doubt, this is not necessary. Egyptian pounds are good enough to pay for everything unless clearly stated in writing.

Taxi Fares

If you choose to hail a cab on the street, always ask if the meter is working before entering. In Cairo, all white cabs are fitted with meters and are required to use them by law. A minority of taxis have meters that have been tampered with, so keep an eye out for ones that are going up just a little too fast. However, many still choose to switch them off in hopes of charging higher fares. Some will charge tourists very high prices and wait until the end of the journey to quote you their price. In Cairo, the older black and white taxis are fitted with meters that don’t work and you’ll have to negotiate the trip fare with them. Agree on a price before your journey starts to avoid expensive surprises. Use Uber’s fare estimates to get the best idea possible of how much a given journey should cost.

Fake Taxis

Photo by Reuters

There have been several fake taxis driving around Cairo recently. They are very easy to spot. They’ll be all white just like the licensed cabs however their license plates will be blue, and they won’t be fitted with meters at all. All licensed taxis across Egypt have orange license plates. Any other colour is not a cab. 

Insincere Hospitality

Egyptians are well known worldwide for their friendliness and hospitality, and, for the most part, it is genuine and sincere. However, there are still a minority who will exploit this reputation, especially young Egyptian men trying to acquaint themselves with foreign women. If you are a woman, especially if you are travelling alone or in a group of other women, you may come across young men in Egypt trying to invite you along to an 'event' or 'party', and it may just be at their house. It is extremely likely that there is an ulterior motive behind these overly generous offers. Sexual assault and violence against women is a worldwide phenomenon and Egypt is no stranger to it. We are not saying to be completely untrustworthy or to always assume the worst, but just don’t take the risk and stick with locals that you trust.