print logo

Egyptian Budget Travel Guide: Cost of Traveling to Egypt

Egypt is a fascinating country to explore with depths of history and culture.
Mark Wiens | 24.08.2011

In comparison to Europe or North America, everyday expenses in Egypt are low.

From SE Asia, prices are quite similar with regards to food, accommodation and living expenses.

Vegetarian meals can be eaten for less than $1 per meal and beds can be bought for around $4 a night.

Egypt is blessed with an abundance of magnificent ancient historical sites – but almost all charge entrance fees. The normal fees for each site range from about 30 LE – 80 LE ($5.20-$13.85)(1/2 price for students), which seems like quite a bit when thinking in Egyptian terms, but is really quite reasonable considering the significance.

Egypt was a little bit of a different story from my usual traveling habits. My budget was a little higher than usual, aiming to see first hand the ancient sites that I had dreamed about.

At the end of my stay, I managed to see almost everything I wanted to see, eat my fill of Egyptian street food and kept a reasonable budget.
Egyptian Visa

Upon arrival for American citizens: $15 USD, payable at a bank (in the airport) before going through customs at Cairo International Airport.
18 Days Cost of Traveling to Egypt:

(What I spent)

$394 + $15 Visa = $409 USD (2362 LE)

Average per day = $22.72 USD (131 LE)

NOTE: I will use 1 Egyptian Pound (LE) = $5.77 USD

Main Places I Went in Egypt:

* Cairo – A lot of wandering around and exploring Cairo, Coptic Cairo, Islamic Cairo, a lot of street food, shopping at Attaba markets and souks, Muhammad Ali Mosque and Citadel, Pyramids.

* Luxor – There are many things to do in Luxor – Temple of Karnak, Temple of Luxor, Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Deir el-Bahari (Temple of Hatshepsut), Colossi of Memnon.

* Kom Ombo – Temple of Edfu.

* Aswan – Trip to Abu Simbel, Temple of Philae.

* 2 Night, 3 Day felucca (Egyptian sailboat) trip on the Nile.

* Alexandria – Only for ½ day, walked around and waited for a night but to Siwa Oasis.

* Siwa Oasis – Ancient sites around the oasis, fresh water springs.

What I spent most of my money on:

* Ancient Egyptian Sites – 630 LE ($109.18).

* Food – 507 LE ($87.87).

* Transportation – 486 LE ($84.23).

* Accommodation – 119 LE ($20.62)(I used couchsurfing and spent nights in transit).

Baksheesh

The first word I learned in Egypt was baksheesh. The most common form of baksheesh revolving around tourists is a combination of tipping and permission for favors (in monetary form).

The tourism industry in Egypt is run on baksheesh, from paying a Pound to use the bathroom to a random guy or giving a guard 5 LE to show you some hieroglyphics.

It will be a part of your budget in Egypt if you like it or not.
Ancient Egyptian Historical Sites – 630 LE ($109.18)

(About 35 LE / day – but I didn’t go everyday)

* 1 day, 1 night desert safari near Siwa.

My biggest cost of traveling to Egypt was entrance fees to historical sites which I had planned for and was not going to miss. If you are not so much into history, your budget can be greatly reduced in this area.

If you are going to Egypt and want to see the ancient sites, entrance fees are inevitable. Student prices are almost always ½ the price of normal adult tickets. I attempted to use my over-due student card and received moderate success, depending on the ticket vendor (always worth a try).

ISIC Student cards are preferred and accepted at all the sites – very beneficial if you have it.

Food – 507 LE ($87.87)

(About 28.2 LE / day)

Exploring culinary traditional food from around the world is where my passion lays.

Egypt was no different and I ate a lot of local Egyptian street food and at the occasional sit down restaurant. Within this budget I also drank plenty of fresh fruit juices and fruit concoctions.

Tip: Vegetarian food throughout Egypt can be eaten for less than $1 / meal. Meat on the other hand can easily cost 3-5 times more.

* 1.5 L bottle of Water: 2-3 LE ($0.35 – $0.52).

* Cup of sugar cane juice: 1 LE ($0.17).

* Bread: bread stores offer all kinds of baked goods for 1-2 LE ($0.17 – $0.35).

* Ful beans: healthy staple beans (similar to Mexican re-fried beans), not a day went by without me indulging in some ful! To avoid getting less than what you paid for, act like you know how much it costs and hand the attendant 3-5 LE ($0.52 – $0.87), saying you want a bag of that amount. 5 LE ($0.87) will get you a big bag of beans!

* Sandwich wrapped in pita bread: small sandwich stores throughout Egypt will cost you 1 – 3 LE ($0.17 – $0.52) per sandwich

* Kofta meal: 14–25 LE ($2.43 – $4.33)

* Meat meal at a nicer restaurant with meat: 30 – 50 LE ($5.20 – $8.67)

Drinking

As usual, alcohol becomes quite an expense if you drink habitually.

Bars in Egypt are secluded into indoor areas with blocked windows. Beers usually run 15 – 30 LE ($2.60 – $5.20) per large bottle. Since drinking is not a part of many Egyptians, I steered mostly clear of alcoholic beverages and focused on historical sites and food.

Transportation in Egypt – 486 LE ($84.23)

Taxi: If you need to take a taxi, locate a white taxi, as they use the fare meter. A 30 minute ride will probably cost about 15 – 20 LE, quite affordable. Avoid the black taxis as you will probably be overcharged!

Cairo Metro: 1 LE for a ride

Microbus: Egyptians are very friendly and will attempt to point you in the right direction and show you which bus to take (may not always be right!). Need to have extra time and be flexible!

Distance Train: The train can be a little confusing and never completely made sense to me. I heard all kinds of stories about tourist’s only being allowed to purchase sleeper bed cars.

We arrived at Ramses Railway Station in Cairo to attempt to buy a 2nd class ticket to Luxor. The ticket vendor seemed to be sleeping or non-alert as the train arrived. We decided to just get on the train without a ticket and get charged on the train itself. We sat in 1st class seats.

It proved to be very comfortable and although we got moved once, we had great seats. 2nd class with 4 seats across is also very sufficient with loads of leg space.

Tip: You can always talk to a train attendant to see if he has open seats somewhere, if he directs you to a better seat, a little tip (baksheesh) is necessary.

Check out Seat 61 for the best information on trains.

Accommodation – 119 LE / 5 Nights ($20.62)

(About 23.8 / night)

Here’s where I slept:

* 6 Night’s Couchsurfing (http://www.couchsurfing.org/)
* 5 Night’s Hostel
* 2 Night’s Felucca Sailboat
* 2 Night’s Train
* 1 Night Bus

There is a wide range of accommodation is Egypt. I did a combination of couchsurfing, staying at hostels, sleeping on a felucca sailboat and taking overnight transportation.

It is possible to find decent guest houses and hotels for 20–30 LE ($3.47 – $5.20) per night. Some places are better than others and some offer dorm rooms or rooms with 2-4 beds.
2 Night, 3 Day Felucca (Egyptian Sailboat) Trip

From Aswan, it is possible to take a felucca sailboat trip and end up back in Luxor. Most hotels / guest houses in Aswan offer a package deal, but it’s good to ask around to compare prices.

We began our Nile felucca sailing trip in the afternoon, stopped for dinner and the night, waited around in the morning, sailed in the afternoon again, stopped to eat and sleep, got dropped off on the bank of the Nile in the morning, got picked up by a tour van, drove to Kom Ombo to stop at the temple, drove to Edfu to stop at temple, and finally arrived in Luxor at 2 pm the 3rd day. All food and lodging was provided.

I booked through the Noorhan Hotel, paying a very low (haggled) 115 LE ($19.93) for the entire trip package.

Shopping / Souvenirs

There is an over abundance of tourist shopping in Egypt. Usually souvenirs at sites of interest are over priced, though with a fair amount of chitchat, there are deals to be made. The Aswan market souk is a great place to buy things to take home from Egypt.

I purchased my awesome Jellabiya for 65 LE ($11.40).
Conclusion:

Egypt is a fascinating country to explore with depths of history and culture.

While most tourists tend to book pre-packaged trips directly out of the airport into their air conditioned buses, it’s rewarding to be your own tour guide and accumulate your own information. The cost of traveling to Egypt in my opinion is quite low for what you can do and see.