Who doesn’t for once in their lives wish they could visit the desert? You’re probably tired of your friends’ pictures in front of Eiffel tower and Rome’s Colosseum. You want to see diversity, and other destinations people wouldn’t dare visit.
If you’re someone who enjoys hot climate, you might consider a trip to Egypt. However, is Egypt safe to visit? People keep talking about terrorists in the area, so how safe is Egypt for tourists when it comes to terrorism?
Before thinking about visiting Egypt and already imagining yourself crossing the desert on a camel, it’s better to be well-informed. You’re going there for a vacation, not to have a tragedy happen. This Egypt safety guide is meant to provide you with the information you need.
Here is what you need to know.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Egypt
Overall Risks in Egypt: MEDIUM to HIGH
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is taking all measures in advising foreigners about the dangers of Egypt.
There are a lot of terrorist attacks on security forces that have turned out bad, and even resulted in deaths.
There is very likely for a terrorist attack to take place in Egypt at anytime. The internet was used to spread various threats to western businesses and nationals. Extremist groups linked to Daesh-Sinai are especially targeting foreigners.
Aviation is also at high risk or terrorist attacks, and security measures had to be put into place. Most airlines don’t allow the carrying of large electronic devices.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Egypt: MEDIUM
Although the crime rate hasn’t been high, there have been recorded some number of muggings and robberies.
Some armed robberies have taken place sometimes. Additionally, there is a risk of taxi muggings. Whereas this may happen to anyone, tourists might be especially at risk, because it is obvious when they barely know the place.
Bag snatchers and pickpockets could also make sure they exist, and you certainly don’t want to end up chasing the thief like a cop in an action movie.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Egypt?
To avoid being a theft victim, there are some things you could do to prevent it from happening.
If someone holds you at gunpoint, don’t try to resist them and fight, as it may end up very tragic. Report it to the local authorities as soon as you’re safe.
Be wary of taxi drivers. They may take advantage of the fact that you’re foreign and disoriented and rob you of your valuables. If you decide to use public transport, make sure that you’re not the only person left in the bus. Take care of your valuables and never let your guard down. You need to pay attention to everything and everyone who surrounds you.
Take care in crowded areas, especially tourist favorites, as they may be the operating place of pickpockets. Always take care of passports, money, mobile phone or any valuable item you have in your pockets.
If you have a bag, hold it in front of you, so you’re not at risk of someone taking your belongings from it. Also, you’re at lower risk of having it snatched this way.
Scam Risk in Egypt: MEDIUM
The scam risk is not absent either. Just like in any place, there are a number of people who want to do bad things and target perplexed tourists.
You might encounter people pretending to be government officials, when the reality is different. They offer you free services, or services in return of a certain amount of money. However, you never end up seeing their services, and it turns out to be a scam.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Egypt?
To avoid any unwanted scenario, make sure that the person who offers you any service can be trusted. Don’t easily trust anyone, and be suspicious of anything that includes free services.
The best and safest way to avoid getting scammed is by simply ignoring any strangers that approach you, especially if they don't tell you what they want straight away. Some may want something as simple as a photo and request it immediately, while some may develop a story which, in the end, will turn into a donation request. If someone approaches you with an unclear purpose, just politely refuse them and walk away. The same applies to street vendors of food and souvenirs. If they try too hard to sell you their products, they might be overpriced.
When it comes to buying things abroad and avoid scams, keep in mind that vendors with high-quality, good products will never have try too hard to make you buy their products.
Kidnapping Risk in Egypt: MEDIUM to HIGH
The kidnapping threat is also there. It usually depends on the area, as some areas are at a higher risk than others. For instance, in remoter areas of the Western Desert and in the Sinai Peninsula, there’s a higher threat.
However, that doesn’t mean that kidnappings shouldn’t be expected anywhere else in Egypt. Although anyone could be a target, Westerners could be especially targeted. Apparently, a Croatian national was kidnapped in July 2015, in Cairo’s west. He was later killed for an extremist propaganda video.
Kidnapping is a threat by groups who operate from North Africa. Usually, the groups like Al Qaeda, Daesh-affiliated groups or Islamic Maghreb pose threats. They may cross the border and do their thing. Therefore, there is a very high level of kidnappings in areas of North Africa. Cases when government officials, civilians and foreigners have been kidnapped are known. They have been taken for political leverage and financial gain.
- How to avoid being kidnapped in Egypt?
If you can, never walk alone in quiet areas, especially at night. Always be careful what area you’re going through.
There’s a higher vulnerability on emptier roads between cities, so make sure you don’t travel on them.
As a rule of thumb, never walk after dark while in a foreign country. You may even get lost and, if you ask someone for directions, they may not be the best person to rely on. If they have malicious intents and notice that you are lost, they may follow and rob you - or even worse. Always keep yourself under the sun, so to speak, and on relatively crowded streets. Avoid remote areas at all costs, even if you are traveling with a group. it is better to be safe within the big city than sorry in a village where authorities cannot get easily.
Terrorism Risk in Egypt: HIGH
This is probably one of the most talked about threats when it comes to Egypt. Many people know about the terrorist threat in the country.
Whereas most of the attacks take place in Northern Sinai, the risk is everywhere, so don’t expect to be fully safe if you’re in a different area.
During times of heightened tensions or things like religious festivals, it’s better to avoid any crowded places. These moments may seem like a perfect opportunity for terrorists. Terrorist attacks can happen during holiday seasons as well, as terrorists don’t care if you finally made it to your holiday after years of waiting.
If you have a travel company, follow their advice. If not, just make sure to follow the advice of the Egyptian authorities so your safety has a higher level.
Many attacks have happened during holiday seasons. For instance, 3 terrorist attacks took place on tourist locations during recent years. In June 2015 in Luxor, and January 2016 in Hurghada, there were attacks, but thankfully nobody has died.
On July 2017, there was a knife attack in Hurghada at the beach resorts, where 3 foreign tourists have lost their lives.
The most active terrorist group in Egypt is Daesh-Sinai, and they had pledged allegiance to Daesh. They usually attack security forces, Coptic Christians and government officials, but foreigners might also be on their list. Whereas they usually operate in Sinai, they apparently attacked other areas as well. Some of these are Cairo, South Sinai, Nile delta cities and the western desert.
North Sinai is an area where terrorist attacks are very frequent. The attacks are mostly against military installations, Egyptian government and personnel. Still, attacks against civilians suspected of being allies with the authorities took place. Local religious minority groups have also been victims of such incidents.
There are reports of attacks in North Sinai almost daily. Most of them take place in the northeast corner of the governorate between the border with Gaza and Al-Arish. However, the whole area is at risk.
In North Sinai, there has been declared a state of emergency, and a curfew between 7pm and 6am. It extends around 40km inland along the coast between Rafah and Al-Arish. The Egyptian security forces have launched “Operation Sinai 2018” in February. The operation is ongoing, and it resulted in intensification of military activity.
- How to avoid terrorism in Egypt?
So, some safety Egypt travel tips would be to be especially careful at where in Egypt you’re going. You want to have a good time, not have it end in a tragedy. Choose your destination wisely, and don’t go to religious festivals.
Naturally, religious manifestations - so to call them - should be the main events to avoid when you are in a foreign country that comes with a risk of terrorism. Besides that, you should also limit the time you spend in overcrowded places, malls, shopping centers, official buildings, and so on. It is better if you stick to medium touristic attractions and don't visit places that can get crowded quickly, as they are susceptible to terrorist attacks.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, you should flee and contact the authorities. Don't try to play the hero card, so to speak, as it might get you into much more dangerous situations.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Egypt: MEDIUM
You are not wrong to ask yourself “Is Egypt safe for solo women travelers?”, as this question may pop up in your mind whenever wanting to travel alone. Just like any foreign country, there are risks to traveling alone as a woman.
Whereas the threat is not absent, there have been a number of solo women travelers visiting the country. Still, you should avoid certain areas, especially at night.
It may be easy to draw attention to yourself, as you may look different than the typical Egyptian woman. This is why it’s better not to be dressed too sophistic and look as normal as possible.
If you’re alone, you may be more prone to theft as well, especially in quiet areas. Being alone and having nobody to protect you seems a great bait to thieves who are waiting from the shadows.
Although you shouldn’t stay scared, you should always pay attention to your surroundings.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Egypt?
If you are a solo woman traveler, it goes without saying that you have to really take care of yourself, especially when it comes to visiting areas that are far away from any major towns. For example, you should not walk alone during the night, no matter the circumstances. If something happens to you, keep in mind that foreigners may not jump to your aid and simply ignore what's happening.
On top of that, you should also stay away from remote areas, such as villages, and the outskirts of the city. Depending on where you are accommodated, you may want to stay within a safe area surrounding your hotel, for increased safety. It is also very helpful that you know the local authorities' contact number, as well as the location of the police station or any other places you may use as refuge in case something happens.
Always be aware of your surroundings and don't let your guard down - these should be the two main things to stick to when you are a woman and travel alone.
Rape Risk in Egypt: MEDIUM to HIGH
This is why you should be especially careful if you’re a woman. Rape crimes are probably one of the most common crimes in Egypt.
Even though rape happens a lot to Egyptian women as well, you could be at higher risk, especially since you’re a foreigner. As mentioned, you probably look totally different compared to Egyptian women. This can be very tempting to unscrupulous people, and take advantage of you.
For example, there have been 8 cases of rape and sexual assault on British women responded by British Embassy, in 2017.
- How to avoid getting raped in Egypt?
You may still ask yourself “Is Egypt safe for solo women travelers?” and wonder what you can do to prevent any incident.
Although this is common knowledge, you need to make sure you don’t walk alone in quiet areas, or you’re not left alone anywhere. Be wary of everything that is around you. Moreover, ensure that you don’t draw attention to yourself. Try to look as common as possible. People are usually drawn to what’s uncommon, so it’s a better idea not to dress like you’re going to a ball.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Egypt: MEDIUM
Even though children are not exposed to the same risks adults are, it is still important that we consider their safety when traveling - more than most people do. For starters, it is important to make sure that they stay healthy throughout the trip. If there's any medicine that they should take, you must bring a decent supply with you. On top of that, it is also recommended that you have basic medicine with you as well.
The only thing that children could do is run away and get lost - in short, put themselves in some dangerous situations. This is why keeping an eye on them is very important.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
If you plan on traveling with children, you should not be the only one taking care of them. An extra pair of hands is also welcomed, especially if you have more than one child. For example, you may want to stop for souvenirs or for general shopping. If you cannot watch them while shopping as well, consider bringing a relative or friend with you which can. You have to make sure that they can't run away or simply get lost while you are asking for directions, for example.
Another important aspect is, as mentioned, their health. You have to inform yourself about every health risk that you expose you and your children to and take the required measures. Have a generous supply of medicine and/ or ailments that your family may need.
Natural Disasters Risks in Egypt: LOW to MEDIUM
If you have a question like “How safe is Egypt for tourists?” when it comes to natural disasters, you’re about to find out.
Egypt is not totally safe when it comes to natural disasters. The risk is there, as there have been earthquakes here and there. However, they have not been as dangerous compared to other earthquake active area.
There is also a risk of costal and river floods, as well as sand storms, rockslides, and water scarcity.
About 1,500 people have been killed by natural hazards over the course of the last 20 years. The damages were estimated of about $346.7 million. Rockslides are also dangerous, as one buried an informal settlement in Cairo’s south in 2009. Consequently, dozens of people have lost their lives and the infrastructure has suffered significant damage.
In 2010, over 4,000 houses were damaged or destroyed by heavy flooding, displacing thousands of people.
There is the possibility of natural hazards increasing in potential because of climate change. Egypt is more vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise, as this could cause saltwater intrusion and flooding. This is because most of the country’s infrastructure and population are concentrated along the Mediterranean coast and in the Nile Delta.
Transportation Risks in Egypt: MEDIUM
Statistics show that, when it comes to transportation and road travel, accidents are common in Egypt. This is mainly due to dangerous and reckless driving, poor road conditions, as well as to the non-enforcement of traffic laws. Because of this, people advise travelers to pay attention to the speed limits and to avoid traveling independently on the road when outside the main cities and resorts - especially during the night.
Naturally, adequate insurance is more than just recommended. Make sure that your vehicle is insured, besides you having proper travel health insurance.
Keep in mind that both the driver and the front seat passenger must wear their seat belts at all times - as required by law. If you are planning an off-road trip, it is highly recommended that you hire a qualified local guide, as well as obtain the required permits from Egypt's Ministry of Interior.
If you travel to Egypt with your own vehicle, it should be temporarily imported via a valid "carnet de passage", which is available from the Automobile Association, depending on your country of origin.
Be extremely careful when traveling around or in buses, as there have been a number of crashes with large numbers of fatalities reported in recent years. When using local transportation, make sure that the vehicle you get it respects all safety regulations - the driver should do so as well.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Egypt: LOW to MEDIUM
There are little to no reported incidents in pubs, night-clubs, and bars. However, one should not assume that they do not happen. For example, foreign visitors are known to be susceptible to armed robberies, sexual assaults, muggings, as well as break-ins to cars and accommodation. Even though the rates for such crimes are low, it is better to be cautious and aware of your surroundings.
For example, when you travel to such locations - pubs, night-clubs, and bars - make sure that you do so during the day and via transportation. Naturally, you should not walk to and from a night-club on foot, especially if you are alone.
If you are worried about the taxi that you will use when you have to return to your accommodation, you can ask the hotel staff to recommend you a trusted and reliable taxi company. They may even have hotel cars that can bring you back to your accommodation if needed. When traveling on a microbus, avoid being the last person left, as this comes with an increased risk of robbery and sexual assault, according to statistics.
Last but not least, avoid anyone approaching you while you are in a night-club, pub, or bar, especially if they seem intoxicated. Keep a close eye on your drinks and do not accept any from strangers. Overall, it is best if you travel within a group - or friends or tourists - and don't stay inside such locations for too long.
Health Risks in Egypt
Reportedly, Egypt does not come with serious health risks/ concerns, as well as with no certain diseases, viruses that could affect your trip. However, you have to pay attention as to what medicine you bring in the country. As with any other foreign territory, the legal regulation and status of certain medicine purchased or prescribed in other countries can be different in Egypt. It is recommended that you know exactly what you can bring in the country without getting yourself into trouble.
On top of that, it is known that some hotel doctors engage in the practice of overcharging foreign nationals for medicine and treatment. If you, by chance, require the services of such doctors, it is highly recommended that you carefully examine your bill and point out any excessive charges.
If you need certain medication, keep in mind that pharmacies located outside of hotels usually sell medicine at lower prices.
Naturally, the most important part when traveling abroad is to have proper travel health insurance, as well as enough funds/ money to cover the expenses of any treatment or medicine that you may require. Depending on what treatment you need, you may have to be transferred into another country - take this cost into account as well when planning the health-related finances of your trip.
List of Vaccines You Need in Egypt
When wondering “Is Egypt safe to visit?”, it’s important to take vaccines into consideration as well.
As it’s essential to be well-informed, here is the list of vaccines you may need before visiting pyramids and mummies. Make sure you consult with your doctor weeks before leaving though, so he can control you and tell you if you need any vaccine.
Vaccines you may need are:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow Fever
Most Dangerous Areas in Egypt
- Governorate of South Sinai
- Sharm el Maya, Naama Bay, Hadaba
- The west area of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta
Concluding Remarks: Is Egypt safe to visit?
Wherever you decide to go, there is always going to be some kind of risk. Egypt has its own risks that you need to take into consideration. However, is Egyptian gods, mummies and pyramids are your passion, then you shouldn’t hesitate to go. Still, it’s important to take safety measures and not carelessly dive in. Hopefully, this Egypt safety guide was helpful in providing you with information about Egypt.