16 hours in Egypt - what to do ?

Jan 17th, 2005, 10:38 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,556
16 hours in Egypt - what to do ?

I have always been fascinated with Egypt and have planned someday within the next 2 years to do a leisurely 2 week trip there.

However on my upcoming trip to Jordan, my agent tells me that I will have a 16 hour layover in Cairo. I will arrive at 12.30 on a sunday afternoon in early May and leave at 4.00am the next morning to Budapest.

Any suggestions on what the best way to pass the afternoon and evening would be in this wonderful country ? Do you think there's a chance for a short excursion to the pyramids in this limited time ? Or an evening pyramid show ? What would you suggest ? Any recommendations for a reasonable hotel close to the airport to freshen up after ?

Your suggestions are most appreciated. Thanks.
Mathieu is offline  
Jan 17th, 2005, 10:45 AM
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I would head to the Museum for a whirlwind run by the antiquities and then make the trip out to see the pyramids. You will not likely be able to go inside since they sell out those tickets early each AM. It is about 20 minutes from downtown to Giza for pyramids.

Hopefully someone else will have an evening idea.

You will also have to deal with luggage issue - I don't have a suggestion for that, but you won't be able to lug it into the Museum.
gail is offline  
Jan 17th, 2005, 11:23 AM
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Agree with Gail... go to the Museum and then the Pyramids/Sphinx. It should be lovely in Giza later in the afternoon, less tourists and before sunset. For the evening you can always head to the Khan el Khalili Bazaar. I'm certain quite a number of shops will be open, but there are also a few interesting restaurants (sorry I can't recall names).

You can easily leave your luggage at the airport as it will probably be tagged for your ongoing flight to Budapest and should be on that flight with you. A taxi to the Museum will probably cost about 20EL (EgyptianPounds). You can get some local currency at the airport exchange window or an ATM to carry you thru for the few hours. Though USD are readily accepted in Cairo, you'll need local currency for the fee into museum. And a taxi can as easily get you to the Pyramids across the Nile in Giza... you can have the driver wait to go to the Bazaar. And there are taxis at the Bazaar that can take you back to the airport. Most taxis have meters - some work, others don't, so definitely confirm the price before you enter the vehicle. Be certain to leave sufficient time to return to the airport and for security check-in.

Have fun. And I'm sure with this little taste, you'll want to return for a longer stay.
Jan 17th, 2005, 12:55 PM
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Posts: 2,556

Thank you Gail and Sandi; much appreciate your suggestions. When you both say 'the museum' which museum do you mean ? I'm assuming there are several, Egypt being what it is.

I'm glad to know that getting to see the pyramids and the sphinx should be possible but I'm afraid that the more detailed and prolonged visit into the archaeological areas - which really interests me - will have to wait for another time. And there will be another time.

The bazaar also sounds like a great idea. Do you know or think that the sunday afternoon will be a problem as far as things being open ? And I shall certainly stop there for dinner. Thanks for all the money and cost tips.

One last question; any recomendation for a reasonable hotel that is suitably located for access to these sites and the airport ? I think I might check in there from the airport, dump the luggage - if I haven't been able to check it through to Budapest which I plan to do (but may not be able to since I'm changing airlines from Royal Jordanian to Malev) and head out to explore from there.

Yours, as well as all other suggestions are most appreciated as always.
Mathieu is offline  
Jan 17th, 2005, 01:45 PM
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While don't know specifically about bazaar on Sunday, Muslim religion does not have Sunday as their holy day - so that should not be a problem.

When you get in a taxi, make sure you agree on price before hand. When you get out, you will need to "remind" the driver that you agreed on a price, since he will undoubtedly quote a much higher price when you get out. He will give you all sorts of creative reasons why the price went up - its part of Egyptian culture - and then you will agree on something close to the original price. He will act like he is doing you a great favor and everyone smiles and goes on their way.

Riding in an Egyptian taxi is not for the faint of heart - but it is safer than trying to cross the street in Cairo! It appears that traffic lights, street markings and traffic signs are purely for decorative purposes in Egypt, since no one pays any attention to them. Also, no one uses headlights at night - someone told us it was considered "wimpy" or unmanly to use headlights. Another explanation is that the cars are so beat up from crazy drivers that the headlights do not work.

Enjoy your 16 hours.
gail is offline  
Jan 17th, 2005, 01:46 PM
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The Museum is "the Museum" - the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities (I believe that's the name). Yes, most all of what you want to visit should be opened. Even the Bazaar, though when we jump into a taxi on a Sunday morning and asked to be taken to the Bazaar, the taxi driver said it was closed. I never laughed so hard, and told him, "take us anyways." And of course it was open. Some of the shops, mostly jewelry, were closed, but everything else was humming along.

As to hotels - I know there are hotels right near the airport which might work for you (believe the area is called Heliopolis)... as to a hotel directly in Cairo, I'm sure you can do a "search" on one of the hotel sites and see if any hotel (at whatever price you want to spend - I'm sure inexpensive, but clean) have special reduced rates. However, even a so-called "day room" (or half-day) specials require vacating by 6pm. Though some hotels may have a deal for visitors departing in the middle of the night. Let us know what success you have with this.
Jan 18th, 2005, 12:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2
I am an expatriate living in Cairo. I would agree with the previous poster that BY FAR the easiest and safest way to get around is by pre-arranged ride. There are quite a few services offered by Cairo based travel agencies and individual companies. Emai me for more details in two weeks, as I am going on a trip. I have one tour guide whom I have used everytime I have guests, and she really knows her stuff. I pay my favorite driver 30LE (about $5 an hour, gas included) for him to take me where I want to go and wait for me. If you decide to take a taxi, I negotiate what I know to be a fair price, then tell them that I will give them an extra 10-20LE to drive safely. You need a driver who can speak enough English to make sure he understands. I figure that it is a very cheap insurance policy because the driving here is crazy/stupid and the mortality/injury rates appalling.

I do not go to the Khan on Sundays as I usually go to very specific shops that treat the expats well and don't make us haggle too much. Most of those are closed on Sunday, but enough are open to make it worth your time. Eat carefully as many restaurants have dubious hygiene at best.

I hadn't heard that they are limiting the tickets to the pyramids, but others do seem to know. If you do make it out there and can get in to see the, "Solar Barque" in its own special building, it is very impressive.

The Egyptian Museum still gives me goosebumps, especially the King Tut displays. Well worth your time, although because of travel time, I wouldn't try to do it and the Pyramids as well.


PamelaP is offline  
Jan 18th, 2005, 03:41 AM
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Dds71 - Debbie, thanks for popping in here with good information for Mathieu.

Mathieu - contact Debbie and she will handle whatever interests you for your time in Cairo.
Jan 18th, 2005, 07:40 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 300
Mathieu: I also have an excellent guide that I used on my recent (Nov) trip to Egypt and he's based in Cairo. I know you've already received lots to suggestions but if you are interested, just email me @ [email protected]. After 16 hours, you'll definitely be hooked and start planning your return trip! Enjoy!
travelgirl_67 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2005, 09:15 AM
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Thank you Gail, Sandi, PamelaP, Debbie and Travelgirl67 - wow, you've all been fantastic !

You know what you've all done now, don't you ? Made me wish that I could be in Egypt for longer, but unfortunately I can't this time around.
I've always wanted to do a seperate trip to Egypt because of my keen interest in Egyptology - and I will - but it was just chance that I have to layover in Cairo this time between Jordan and Budapest which are the main destinations of this vacation. (I was in Budapest last October for 2.5 days and was so fascinated by that wonderful city that I'm going back for 5 days to finish off what I couldn't get done the first time around. Jordan, however, is a 'first timer' for me and I'm very much looking forward to it).

Luggage will be minimal, I am fluent in French (re the S&L show) and I love adventure and experiences off the beaten track. Not looking for a fancy hotel (for the couple of hours I'll be spending in it) but just something clean and comfortable to grab a shower and a few hours sleep before heading out to the airport.

I'm just in the final stages of confirming flights and dates and once that's done I will definitely get in touch with Debbie, Pam and travGirl as you've suggested. Thank you for your kind offers.

Very much appreciate all the useful tips and encouragement and am extremely excited now. Thanks again, and if you think of any other interesting stuff that the limited time might permit, let me know.

Mathieu is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2005, 01:20 PM
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Posts: 207
We were also in Cairo in Nov. With limited time, would recommend a prearranged car. The price is very reasonable and will avoid haggling. The pyramids offer 150 tickets in the morning and at noon. The nile dinner cruise is a fantastic way to spend a few hours. It was one of the highlights of our trip.
The company we used was Egypt Highlights - the rep was Walaa. She was very good at planning the exact itinerary we wanted.
If you have an opportunity to do anything other than the S&L show - do it. It was cheesy at best. With limited time - try to visit something else!
JackieSun is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2005, 04:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2
hi... pamela .. wondering if you had thoughts on safety of living in cairo for an american for a few months? thanks!
pjean is offline  

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