Travel tips: Cairo

Visiting pyramids

If you are interested in history, you should reserve most part of the day to visit the pyramids. You must visit all the three pyramids and climb the hill giving a view of the pyramids: those of Mykerinos, Chefren and Cheops.

At the entrance you may be offered to hire a camel or a horse to have a ride over the huge territory of Giza. But you shouldn’t do it even if you have appropriate clothing and shoes. You'd better go to the Pyramid of Mykerinos on foot, and then you can hire a cart to come back to the entrance. Don’t forget to take enough water.

Souvenirs

Be careful when buying souvenirs as almost all of them are made of common plastic! So, if you are offered to buy some black or green sculptures allegedly made of basalt, don’t believe it. This also applies to “false” wooden figures. They will tell you about mahogany but they are also made of plastic. And you can easily check it.

You need to suggest the tradesman to test the figure with fire. And if it is really made of basalt or granite fire will do no harm to it. Plastic sculptures are probably made in China and cost almost nothing. But if you don’t want to pay about one thousand pounds for genuine basalt, you can get a middle-sized souvenir for 30-50 pounds, and some small figure you can buy even for 3-10 pounds.

The most costly sculptures are made of granite as it is difficult to process it. Basalt is also a very strong stone. Alabaster is softer but you also need specialized equipment to process it. As a rule, big souvenirs are made of true granite or basalt, and their price may start from 1500-2000 pounds. You can buy them for 700-900 pounds. Granite souvenirs you can get for as much as 1500-2000 pounds (but they are very heavy).

Renting a car

Though there are a lot of car rentals in Cairo as well in all other cities, you shouldn’t hire a car to go over the city and the country. To drive a car in Egypt you must have steel nerves. And you'll have to get accustomed to the driving style of a vast majority of Egyptian and especially Cairo drivers. They wouldn’t ever make way for the other car or pedestrians.

And besides, you may have serious problems with indemnification in case of accidents (even if you originally bargained for full kasko).

Moreover, you may have problems with finding your way in the villages as English signboards are only the main highways.

When taking a taxi in Cairo you'd better observe the following three rules:

1. Always take a licensed taxi (white cars with checkered pattern). Unlike most private taxicabs, they are comfortable cars equipped with taximeters. And the cars of private cabman are often nothing more but a heap of scrap. But the main thing is taximeter. It can significantly reduce the cost of your trips.

2. Never ask cabmen to wait for you somewhere and then get you back home. For example, if you go from the center of the city to, say, the Pyramids of Giza, it will generally cost you at most 20-30 pounds, but if the same cabman will take you back to your hotel, he may demand up to 100-120 pounds.

3. Make it clear for cabman that you don’t want to visit bazaars or shops on the way to your destination.

If you don’t want to spend 20-30 pounds for taxi, you may take a bus to get to the pyramids. The fare is only 1 pound, but you may have some trouble finding the appropriate bus as all signs are in Arabic. So, the best variant is Cairo tube. The price of the ticket is less than a pound and it can take you to any place except the pyramids, but you can easily get there from Giza Suburban (though at this last stage of your trip cabmen may try and make a full profit on you).

Be careful with banknotes, as there are also paper piastres. So, when getting your change, especially in taxi, don’t confuse pounds with piastres which are very alike.

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TOP - 3 Sights Egypt

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