Egyptian Pound - Travel Money Saving Tips
Arabic is the official language. Most people, though, also understand English. It is easy to get by with English, but it is recommended to learn a few Arabic words. It acts as an ice-breaker & does elicit a smile from most Egyptians. You can carry very little cash. It is sufficient to carry some Dollars/ Euros / Pounds to use at the airports during your flight to Egypt. Keep some more of these currencies as an emergency, to use when ATMs are not working. Do not drink water from anywhere. Stick to bottled water. Do not eat raw food, be careful where you eat salads or drink fresh juice & as a rule, eat food that’s piping hot.
What currency is used in Egypt?
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound (LE). All major international currencies such as Euros, Pounds Sterling, US dollars, Canadian Dollars, Australian Dollars, etc. are recognized here to be exchanged for local currency. You may have some difficulty exchanging minor currencies. Strongly recommended to always ask bank clerk to give you small denominations of Egyptian pounds, they always will try to give you big notes of 200 or 100 pounds, smaller notes will help you a lot all over your stay.
In Egypt, most of the banks are open from Sunday to Thursday; working hours being 0830 to 1400, though banks at the airports and the major entry ports are open 24 hours daily. Most of the major credit/debit cards, such as American Express, MasterCard, Visa, all Euro cards and JCB, are widely accepted in various hotels and shops. If you want to use an ATM machine, they mostly accept Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus cards. If you can't find an ATM machine in your vicinity, you can still obtain cash if you go to any of the Misr Bank branches.
How do I get around in Egypt?
Travelling across Egypt can be tricky without proper planning. Distances by road are long & it is important to choose the right mode of transport to get to a place, if you want to avoid tiring out. All flights are mostly on time & your luggage reaches you, more often than not. At the airports, make sure you are alert…..flight boarding announcements are poor and often announced by the ground staff, without any public announcement system. Pick up a local SIM card for your mobile as soon as you reach Egypt…..it helps to make calls to your hotel / guide, as there are no coin operated public phones available.
In places along the Nile, you have plenty of options to travel back & forth from the east to west banks……feluccas, motorboats, the public ferry (baladi). Haggle hard for felucca & motor-boat prices. On road, you can use taxis or a Caleche (horse carriage). Both require haggling for prices. Obviously, locals pay considerably less than you do. Ask for what you feel is a fare price. If it does not work for them, they will refuse. You can always try the next cab. You can ask your hotel staff before leaving each morning, for approximate costs between some places......bargain based on that.
Also see our full Foreign Exchange Guide to Egypt for more money saving tools and information on Egyptian Pound Transfers and Travel Money.