What currency to take to Egypt?

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Jan 30th, 2004, 09:04 AM
  #1
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What currency to take to Egypt?

I am a Canadian, travelling to Egypt in March. Was planning to bring all spending money in US currency and change it into EGP as I go at hotels and on the Nile cruise. Now I'm wondering if there is even any point in first changing it to USD, then to EGP (would the relatively weak US dollar make any difference?). So I'm wondering whether it would still be a good idea to bring our cash in US currency or does it not matter? What about for tips?

Any advice greatly appreciated!
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Jan 30th, 2004, 02:08 PM
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We were in Egypt 2 years ago. We got, from a Boston bank, a small amount of Egyptian pounds before we went - we like to have enough money for immediate expenses when we travel.

We found hawkers on the street and at historic sites were willing to take almost any currency, but preferred US and Egyptian. It is a good idea to try to get in change a number of 1 pound Egyptian notes/coins as these are useful for tips that seem to be "required" for almost everything. However, at the time one pound was about 25 cents US, so it did not make a huge dent in our finances. People were more than willing to take US dollar bills.

We brought a few travelers checks and exchanged them at a bank or on the cruise. Also used our ATM card several times but made sure we had 2 different ATM cards in case one got eaten by the machine (it did not). Credit cards were eagerly accepted at any gift shop, on cruise, etc. Since we were on a tour, the amount of cash we actually needed was not great - a few lunches, much bottled water, some street shopping.

I know that does not answer the basic question of US versus Canadian, but hope some of the info was useful.

Have a great trip. March should be a great time to go. I wish I was going back.
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Jan 30th, 2004, 06:38 PM
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The Egyptian Pound is not tied to the USD. Since it's easy enough to obtain Egyptian Pounds at ATMs and hotels (the rate is fixed by the govt so the rate should be the same at both), you can probably use Canadian currency. But if you're traveling through a tour operator, why not ask them if it's easy enough to convert Canadian currency vs USD. They should know.

As Americans we converted little USD to EP, maybe $200 worth, upon arrival at the airport and maybe another $50 at Cairo hotel.

The rest of the time we used Credit Cards for restaurant or hotel extra bills or large purchases (there weren't any). We also had lots of USD $1s and $5s. We used USD in Cairo and Luxor, but not in Aswan and along the Nile, as the merchants don't have easy access to banks or money exchanges to convert to EP. We also tipped the boat crew in USD.
 
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Jan 30th, 2004, 06:44 PM
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From my experience (been to Egypt 6 times, my dad's family is from Alexandria), it is best to take USD. Since they are the most frequently used, even the smaller Exchange Bureau will take it. Also, if you can find an English speaking taxi driver, give them a little money, and they will take you to the office with the best exchange rate. We had one driver even go in and change the money for us, because they will often rip off tourists, especially when you can't speak the language. Finally, if you are not confortable with handing over your money - the safest thing you could to is to go to an office with the rate posted on the door. You will find that with USD or travellers checks from well known sources, like American Express, would be the easiest! Good luck and have fun!
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Feb 3rd, 2004, 06:24 AM
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In January 2004 I took $309US and came back with $150US. I exchanged US dollars for Egyptian pounds. $1US ws 6.20LE. I only exchanged about $40US and it was plenty.
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Feb 5th, 2004, 02:26 AM
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There are three currencies wich are accepted in Egypt.
- Egyptian Pound.
- US Dollar.
- Euro.

The purchases in markets can be done in any one of those currencies, but many restaurants, hotels..., only take pounds.

It is very important to take enough amount of 1 pound or 1/2 pound, even piastries (for instance, to get into a WC) bills.

Be very carefull with the exchange rate, even in hotels. And as someone said above, do not get to much pounds, it is better to come back to an exchange office and not get pounds back to home.
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Feb 11th, 2004, 09:24 PM
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As the writer above said - Egyptian Pounds, USD, and Euros are the most readily accepted currencies.

Coming from Canada, I would suggest bringing USD. I would also recommend bringing a nice stash of $1 (USD) bills. The current exchange rate fluctuates between 6.1 and 6.2 LE (Egyptian pounds) per $1 USD.

Although some people feel 6 LE is a bit generous for a tip, it isn't extreme. So - the $1 bills would be very easy to hand out as tips while you are in Cairo. Many Egyptians will be happy to get the USD. - you will probably be asked for them around the pyramids!

Outside of Cairo, tips should probably be in LE, as the opportunities for Egyptians to exchange the dollars is more limited. With that in mind, try to get a bunch of 1 LE and 5 LE notes to use as tips.

Egyptians are by nature very service-oriented people, but, like many places, there is definitely a correlation between nice tips and extra service (especially on the Nile cruises, where the staff has several days to get to know you). Most cruise ships have a tip jar of some sort that you can contribute to at the end of the cruise, but I would also reward anyone who has done anything special. For example, 15-20 LE per day (about $2-3 USD) for the room stewards would be acceptable, but if there is someone who went out of their way for you, I would tip them personally.

Have fun!


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