Egypt safety tips – is it safe to travel in 2020?

Egypt is one of the best places in the world if it comes to snorkeling and diving, but it is a frequently asked question if it is safe to travel there. We visit this wonderful country nearly every year so by now we have an idea of what situations can turn dangerous and what things you shouldn’t be worried about. To help you make your holiday comfortable and carefree, now we explain everything you need to know before visiting this wonderful country and sharing some useful Egypt safety tips.

Is it safe to travel to Egypt?

Tell your friends that you are traveling to Egypt, and they will tell you that you are crazy, Egypt is dangerous! Is this situation familiar to you? For us – who go regularly on Egypt holidays- this reaction is not a surprise anymore.

It is normal that you have concerns about the safety level because the media enjoy generating hysteria instead of sharing real facts. We recommend collecting information from reliable sources. The best is talking to travelers who visited the country lately, so they can inform you about the current situation. Of course, we know that some areas in the Sinai Peninsula have increased risk, but we never felt that Egypt is dangerous and never experienced any problem in the tourist areas.

The biggest tourist cities on the Red Sea coast like Hurghada, Marsa Alam, Sharm el-sheik and Dahab are all considered safe-to-travel. The secret is just to use your common sense and follow some Egypt safety tips! If you decide to visit this ancient country for a beach holiday, read our Where to snorkel in Egypt guide!

How does Egypt protect tourists?

The security check is very strict at the airport! We think it is stricter than at most European airports. Don’t get upset if you will be double-checked or the security personnel asks you to open your luggage. They do it because that is their job and for your safety.

There are several checkpoints along the main roads between and within the cities too. If you would like to participate in excursions like visiting the Pyramids of Giza, you have to provide your passport details prior to the trip and you might be investigated one-by-one at the checkpoints too.

All the hotels have their own security team that works 24-7. When entering the hotel, you need to walk through the security gate and the guard might ask you to present your “hotel bracelet” (if it is not visible) and scan your bag.

What to do/not to do in Egypt as a tourist?

  • remember cultural differences and respect local habits
  • dress up appropriately, cover the shoulders and knees
  • don’t walk alone at night
  • book excursions via licensed agencies
  • if you need a taxi, use the hotel’s service or official cabs

Egypt safety tips for a safe and enjoyable holiday

When in Egypt, we are never worrying about general safety rather than getting The Pharaoh’s Revenge or being injured in the sea. I remember, when we went to Egypt for the first time, we had no idea what type of health threats we may face. But slowly we learned that by preparing your body and taking some precautions, it is easy to minimize the risk of getting sick. Here is our list of the most important Egypt safety tips that we learned in the last 10 years.

Egypt safe holiday

The Pharaoh’s Revenge – Egyptian tummy bug

We think that “Pharaoh’s Revenge is one of the most common things that can ruin your holiday. It is absolutely not fun spending your vacation in the bathroom, or in worst cases in the hospital instead of at the beach! So avoiding the Egyptian tummy bug (or treating it appropriately if you got it) is one of the most important Egypt safety tips and we always prepare ourselves for this situation. The Egyptian tummy bug is a sickness caused by the local bacteria that are present in the water. Since they are unknown to your immune system, your body tries to get rid of them as soon as possible resulting in very intense reactions.

Main symptoms

  • lack of energy, general weakness
  • upset stomach
  • hot/cold sweating
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

How to avoid Pharaoh’s Revenge?

The main source of the bacteria is water and food. Moreover, you can get it from things many people touch like door handles, rails, light switches, and of course, money. 

To minimize the risk of getting the tummy bug, follow these tips:

  • Use hand sanitizer spray before you eat and clean the door handles, toilet flush and light switches in your hotel room with disinfection wipes
  • If it comes to food, eat at reliable places only and book good rated hotels in Egypt! Read the reviews, if you see many comments on the Pharaoh’s Revenge lately, it is a bad sign so don’t stay there.
  • Don’t drink the tap water! It is recommended to use bottled water even for brushing your teeth.
  • Don’t take ice cubes if you are not sure what water they use for making them (normally they should use bottled water everywhere for everything, but you never know)
  • Drink a few sips of alcohol before and after meals to sterilize the stomach. For kids, you might give probiotics.
  • Also, learn to make a difference between the tummy bug and overeating! You might think you got sick but in reality, maybe your tummy became upset because you were eating too much. See our all-inclusive Egypt holidays advice below to avoid overeating.

What to do if you got tummy bug in Egypt

Don’t start taking your usual stomach medicines, those are not designed to combat the local bacteria. Go to a local pharmacy and buy Antinal! This drug is an oral nitrofuran antibiotic that is the best for bacterial infections and treats colitis and diarrhea. If you have a chance, try to buy it a big pharmacy since they sell it at the official price. Last time, we bought a big packet of Antinal with 24 capsules for 20 Egyptian pounds which is a bit more than 1 USD. Hotel clinics can charge crazy amounts, sometimes 10-20 USD for 12 capsules!

In the original Antinal box, you always find English information and dosage instruction too. If your symptoms are serious and Antinal didn’t help, visit the hotel’s clinic or go to the hospital immediately (never travel without insurance). This is a routine treatment in Egypt, the doctor will give you the right type of antibiotic and you will be better in a few hours.

Antinal Egypt for diarrhea

All-inclusive overeating

All-inclusive Egypt holidays are very popular and common, around 80% of the tourist stay in hotels where all food and drinks are included in their package. Yes, I admit, it is such a good feeling that you only need to walk into the restaurant and put on your plate whatever your tummy wants, but it is easy to eat yourself to death.

Most tourists who stay in All-inclusive get sick not from the quantity of the food and not from the quality. It is absolutely OK to loosen a bit on your daily routine and try local cuisine but to avoid tummy problems, follow your normal eating habits. Don’t pile up food just because your eyes wish for it, start with small portions, you can always return for more if you are still hungry or something tasted really good.

And also, don’t waste the food. Of course, if there is anything that doesn’t taste good don’t eat it, but think about wasting and don’t leave full plates on the table.

Egypt all inclusive resturant

Sunburn

I think we don’t need to explain how important is to protect your skin while snorkeling. The sun is extremely strong in Egypt and the UV index is very high, therefore never forget about sun protection! Don’t ruin your holiday because of a painful sunburn! Cover your body and head with light clothes even when you just go out walking. At the beach, the best is wearing UV Shirt. Make sure that you use coral safe sunscreen that doesn’t marine life.

UV-shirt for snorkeling

Ear infections

Since our main reason when traveling to Egypt is snorkeling, so we spend long hours in the sea. Sadly, saltwater can cause ear pain even infections if your ears are sensitive. Snorkelers and divers often suffer from ear pain during their holiday that can cause dangerous complications if you don’t treat it.

Our advice is always clean your ears after swimming in the sea and remove salt. Protect your ears from strong wind, cover your head with sport headband ! This was one of the most useful Egypt safety tips that I learned from divers.

Furthermore, take ear drops from home or buy them locally. We like to buy the local Viotic antifungal, antibacterial ear drops because it is cheap and always helps! It was only 8 Egyptian pounds (0.5 USD) and lasted for the whole 10 days trip!

Eardrops for diving snorkeling egypt

Coral cuts and jellyfish stings

It is a basic rule for snorkelers and divers, don’t touch corals or any creatures in the sea! We assume you always act accordingly so there is no need to remind you. But we know that sometimes accidents can happen and you might get stung by corals or run into jellyfish.

How to treat fire coral cuts?

Fire coral cuts are very frequent, this can easily happen when people swim too close to the reef, or sometimes unexpected waves pushing them towards corals.

First, you may not realize you have been stung because the skin starts burning 5-30 minutes later only. Normally, the cut becomes painful and you will notice red, itchy rash around it. To treat the cut, rinse it with seawater first, than with vinegar or isopropyl alcohol. If you have tentacles in, remove them with tweezers and apply a cream for itching (doctors usually give hydrocortisone). If you don’t experience any allergic reaction, the only thing you can do is to wait until the pain and rash disappear. But in case of developing any allergic reactions like shortness of breath or swelling in the tongue, seek immediate medical care!

Note: Taking corals or shells home is a big NO! Not only because responsible snorkelers are not touching corals but also you will get high a fine at the airport.

How to treat firecoral cut

What to do if you get stung by jellyfish?

We prefer prevention!  We always wear a long-sleeved UV shirt and pants while snorkeling that gives protection not only against the sun but also jellyfish! The most common jellyfish in the Red Sea are not dangerous (like Moon Jellyfish), their stings cause discomfort but are not fatal to humans. Of course, if you experience severe reaction visit a clinic immediately! For rash and skin irritation you will get antihistamines or steroid creams in addition to oral medicines.

purple moon jellyfish red sea

Hydration

It can be extremely hot in Egypt so keeping your body hydrated is essential. Dehydration can cause headache and disorientation, not to mention that it makes you tired and sleepy. Sugary juices, bubbly and caffeinated drinks don’t replace the fluids you are losing while sweating, therefore you need to drink more water than normally!

Usually, hotels provide purified water from dispensers. If you love and respect the ocean, you probably don’t want to increase the plastic pollution, so think about the environment too and use a refillable water bottle.

Avoid drinking alcohol during the day! As we mentioned it when talking about the tummy bug, it is OK for adults to drink a few sips of alcohol before/after meals to prevent you from getting sick, but know your limits. Keep in mind that the body reacts to alcohol significantly stronger in the heat. I know how tempting is sipping Pina Coladas in the pool bar but leave the cocktails for the evenings!

Summary

Last but not least, the most important of our Egypt safety tips is, don’t worry! Do we think that Egypt is dangerous? Not! Would we recommend traveling to Egypt? Yes! This travel advice list seems long, but just because we wanted to give you a full guide of the potential hazards and a detailed description of how to avoid them in order to have an enjoyable holiday in Egypt. With the local medicine in your bag, and with these travel tips in your mind there is nothing to worry about! Have a great holiday!

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Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

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