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Red Sea & Sinai Practical info

Red Sea & Sinai Practical info
Red Sea, turtle
A valid passport is required to enter the country and a visa is often required. This may be obtained in advance in your home country, or purchased for a nominal sum at your entry airport. If you are staying in the main South Sinai region during your stay, a visa will not be required. If you are aiming to visit the Gulf of Aqaba or St Catherine’s by entering overland, you will be granted a 14 days residency permit so will not require a visa.
Egypt Air, the national Carrier, has very effective international and domestic flights network, and links Egypt with most countries and most of the tourist cities in Egypt. Wherever your home base is, you will find many airline operators offering services to the tourist airports of Red Sea and Sinai.

Taxis are plentiful in the area and are very good value. Air conditioned buses and coaches offer a good way to enjoy the scenery while travelling. It is possible to hire a car with valid driving licence documentation.
The best news is that the region really is a year round destination with sunshine always there to enjoy. Daytime temperatures will range from low 20°C in January to around 37°C in the summer months. It is not a humid heat, and the gentle sea breezes from the Red Sea are one of the many attractions. Rainfall is unusual, although you may see a little in January and February.
Arabic is the main language, but English and other major world languages are commonly spoken in tourist areas.
You won’t need specific vaccination requirements to visit the area, although if you come from a high risk area, the usual certificates will be required. 
Doctors and hospitals are of a high standard, and the pharmacies (often open long hours) are valuable. Egyptian pharmacists are qualified to high medical standards and are able to give advice as well as prescribe medication.
In the tourist areas of the Red Sea and Sinai, you’ll find a very wide selection of international restaurants and cafes. Be adventurous though and enjoy a taste of Egypt. Local dishes make excellent use of spices and make great use of local fresh fish, meat and vegetables.

Try great Egyptian dishes like falafel and koshari (lentils, rice and tomato sauce). Then there’s ful madammas (a dried fava bean stew) and ta’amiyya (mashed broad beans and spices). A particular favourite is koshary – a mouth-watering blend of pasta, fried onions, lentils, chick peas, chilli and garlic!

And don’t miss a real Arabic coffee – it’s a million miles from the weak instant substitute you might get at home!
Remember the heat, though, and drink plenty of bottled water.
Taking photos or video of tourist locations is fine, but you will sometimes see signs in holy places or near military bases advising against it.

Some museums bar photography too, so watch for the signs or just ask to be added here.
You’ll find some very good value in the shops and markets – especially in cotton, leather, spices and local handicrafts.
Diving and water activities are the big draw, but there’s plenty more to do in the region. As you’ll have seen in the guide, there is a very wide range, including high quality golf courses, riding and tennis to name a few.
It’s very easy to keep in touch in the region – but remember to switch your phone off and enjoy where you are! 
Mobile reception is good in main tourist areas and hotels or call boxes will provide good service if you haven’t brought your own phone.

Internet facilities are very common with many hotels now providing high quality connections in guest rooms.
Alternatively, hotel kiosks or cyber cafes are plentiful to let you keep in touch with home – and make the office jealous! There is now very good wi-fi provision in Sharm el-Sheikh).

You can buy stamps and send your mail at post offices – remember that, like most public buildings, they will be closed on fridays.
Most hotel receptions will also sell stamps and send off your mail.
The national currency is the Egyptian Pound – often shown on price lists as LE., divided into 100 piasters.

ATMs are easily available at banks or in many larger hotels. Banks and bureaux de change are readily available for changing currency.
Shops, hotels and restaurants readily accept the usual credit cards and travellers’ cheques, although cash payments are usual in markets and smaller establishments.

There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency you can take in or out of Egypt.
Egyptian people place a high value on family life, and you will find that children are given a particularly warm welcome.

As you will have seen in this guide, many hotels and resorts pride themselves on having top class children’s facilities and attractions.

Youngsters love the freedom to enjoy the sunshine and water but, even on holiday, remember to keep your children safe just as you would at home.
Egypt is GMT + 2 hours (3 in summer time). Voltage is usually 220 volts with adapters readily available if you’ve forgotten yours.
Banks and government offices are usually open from 9 am to 2 pm except for fridays, saturdays and public holidays.

Shops usually open from about 10am till 10pm. Most people enjoy the sun and water during the day and go shopping after sunset.

Main (fixed) public holidays – January 7 (Coptic Christmas Day); April 25 (Sinai Liberation Day); May 1 (Labour Day); July 23 (Revolution Day, marking the start of the Arab Republic of Egypt); October 6 (Armed Forces Day).

There are also some variable dates which change each year because of the Muslim calendar and the phases of the moon.
Check current information for dates of Ramadan (when Muslims fast during daylight hours) and Eid – the big family party and feast when Ramadan ends.

Check our Egypt Tours befoe travelling to the regoin!

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