Safety in Cairo - How Safe is Cairo for Travel? Useful Tips

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Cairo is one of the most attractive destinations that offer a lot, be it amusement or shopping. The crime rate is generally low, but violent crime rates aren’t so high as compared to other western nations. There is, however, still a risk of terrorism, pickpoketing, scamming and mugging. The risk, especially at tourist places is high, where you can face financial scams. Therefore, you need to take the necessary precautions all the time while travelling.

Scams in Cairo

Security guards scam- A common kind of scam is the one done by security guards. You will find guards at the archaeological sites roaming around or at the entrance. Although their real work is to protect the ruins and enforce the camera rules, they also take photos for the people, give guidance, sneak the people into the restricted areas and then ask for tips.

Camel scam-
One of the most famous scams is that the camel owners will tell you a very cheap price for the ride, but it is actually the price to get on, which means that there will be an added price to get off, which is going to be massive.

Ticket checker scam-
This scam is where people pretend to be official staff and ask you to show your ticket. When you show the ticket, they will say that you have the wrong ticket and will then fine you.

1 dollar scam-
The souvenir shops employ this ploy to attract tourists, but nothing is actually for a dollar.

Locals taking photograph scam and showing a shortcut scam-
If you ask a local to take your photo, then they might even ask you for money or run away with it. People showing you a shortcut to any place will ask for tips too.

Tips

  • Have a local guide- If you have a local guide, then he/she knows better how to avoid getting scammed, and they will also give you a heads up beforehand to be prepared for any kind of situation.
  • Say no and walk away- If anyone offers to show you around or click photos, say no or “shukran” and walk away.  
  • Pre-book camels- To avoid camel scammers, book in advance. Approximate Cost: EGP 50 – EGP 100 (depending on your negotiation skills).
  • Prefer Ubers which are registered taxis. They are cheap, safe, and reliable. 

Safety in Cairo During the Day

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Cairo is generally safe during the daytime, and you can explore many places. Gezira is a pretty safe area in Cairo. Some other safe neighbourhoods in Cairo are:
  • Maadi
  • Zamalek
  • Agouza
  • Garden City
  • Mohandessin
  • Heliopolis
  • 5th settlement or Tagamoa Khames

Traffic in Cairo

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There is too much traffic in Cairo because of the fuel subsidies offered, which make diesel and gasoline really cheap and thus encourage more private cars. So, it is better to look carefully before crossing the road. Avoid jaywalking. Some of the crowded streets in Cairo are:
  • 6th. Of October bridge.
  • Salah Salem street.
  • The autostrad.
  • Sudan street.
  • El Ahram street.
  • Hassan Sabry street at Zamalek Island.

Health Standards in Cairo

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Infectious Diseases- Some of the common infectious diseases are lymphatic filariasis, malaria, schistosomiasis, and traveller’s diarrhoea.

Water and Sanitation- You can use tap water to brush, but avoiding drinking is better. A lot of the people in Egypt drink bottled water now. Water treatment plants chlorinate the water and make it safe to drink, but chlorine will give an unsavoury taste and can even upset your stomach. Also, some pipes are way too old, and many of the water tanks in buildings are not properly maintained. However, you can use the water for cooking because it will eventually get boiled. It is better to avoid ice because it is made of tap water generally in restaurants.

Food Safety- The vegetables are safe to buy. If you buy from supermarkets, they will be a bit more expensive, but they are better. Do wash them with a lot of water before using them. Cooked and heated food is safe. Avoid raw foods or wash the greens and fruits yourself. It is better not to consume raw fish or meat. Avoid food that looks old or uncooked. Canned food like chocolate, chips, etc., is perfectly safe, and you can find it everywhere. It is advised to go to well-known restaurants to eat. Milk products that are sold in grocery stores are safe to consume. Do not drink unpasteurized milk.

Pollution- Cairo has poor air and water quality, traffic, and waste management issues, so it has been ranked as one of the world's most polluted cities. The common source of pollution is automobile traffic, manufacturing, homes, and power plants. Another cause of air pollution is sand or desert dust.

Drinking Rules in Cairo

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The sale and consumption of alcohol are prohibited in public places or shops in Cairo. However, the hotels and the tourist facilities that are approved by the Minister of Tourism can sell. So yes, you can drink alcohol in Cairo in restaurants and bars, but it is unacceptable if you are drinking on the streets.

Drug Laws in Cairo

The drug laws are strict in Cairo. If you are found to be possessing or trafficking illegal drugs, you can face a prison sentence of 25 years or more and even the death penalty.

Littering Laws in Cairo

The fine for littering in Cairo is EGP 500 – EGP 1500.

Is Cairo safe for Solo Female Travelers?

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Cairo is completely safe for solo female travellers. Egyptians are known to be very welcoming and friendly, but they adhere to their local customs. There is no compulsory dress code to be worn by women, but it is advised to dress properly and keep the shoulders and knees covered. You should avoid wearing miniskirts, shorts, or tank tops. Wear shirts that cover your shoulders properly. A t-shirt is fine too. You can cover your legs with jeans or a long skirt. 
Solo travellers can receive unwanted attention. Here are some tips for female solo travellers:
  • Avoid going out alone or, if you want, go out with a guide at night.
  • Wear sunglasses to avoid eye contact with men on the street. 
  •  Pack plenty of sanitary products because pads are widely accessible, but tampons are not easy to find. 
  •  Do your research before only so that you can plan in a better way which districts are safe.
  • You can travel in a group or with a buddy.
  • Join an organized tour.
  • Ignore cat calls completely. 
  • You can use Harass Map, which is a tool where travellers mark the areas where they experienced harassment.
Do enjoy your stay in Cairo but be alert and take precautions.

Is Transport Safe in Cairo?

The traffic in Cairo is crazy, and the streets are choked with traffic. You can get around by taking a taxi which is a safe option. There is an affordable subway system that is absolutely safe. But avoid pickpockets and keep your belongings close to you. You can also choose female-only carriages.
  • Cairo also has a huge network of buses and micro-buses which are cheap, but they can be less safe, especially at night, as there might be thieves waiting to prey on travellers.
  • To call a cab, use a verified company and go around with it. Also, check the registration number before getting in. Uber is a pretty good option.
  • The approximate cost of transportation around the city will be a maximum of EGP 50 to EGP 80. You can find three kinds of taxis which are available in Cairo – Black Taxis, Yellow Taxis, and White Taxis. The white taxis are a better option if you want affordable wants and also it is easy to bargain with them.

Is Cairo LGBTQ+ Friendly? 

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Cairo is not a safe place for LGBTQ+ travellers. Although homosexuality is not outlawed still, transgender and gay men have been given prison sentences and prosecuted for using debauchery. Since society is conservative, so the public attitude is generally hostile too. Avoid displaying affection on the streets.

Emergency Services and Medical Care in Cairo

Cairo has great hospitals and fast ambulance services. The medical care offered here is highly pluralistic, comprising many public and private providers that offer relatively higher standards of medical care than in the rest of Egypt. Here are some of the emergency numbers to keep in mind-
Ambulance service: 123.
Civil defense and firefighting: 125.
Police: 122.
Road emergencies: +20 122 111 0000.
The current civil defense: 180
If you get sick or need to consult a doctor, go for the main hospitals with good doctors and 24- hour clinics for emergencies. Some good hospitals are:
  •  El Salam Hospital
  •  Dar El Fouad
  •  New Kasr El Eini

General Safety Tips

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  • Do not disrespect the religious practices or the local culture (dressing conservatively, travel with a guide, do not carry valuables).
  • Do not take photos or videos of random people in the markets. Only take it if you have asked for permission before. 
  • It is better to avoid taking videos or photographs of military installations and government buildings.
  • Keep copies of your identity card in case you lose your passport.
  • Do not attend special religious celebrations where there is a large gathering, as it is generally the target for terrorists.
  • LGBTQ travellers should be careful and discrete.
  • Avoid public displays of affection.
  • Have lots of water and sunscreen wherever you go. You can even bring mosquito repellent.
  • Do not bring a drone. It is banned without special permission.
  •  Do not drink alcohol on the street. 
  • It is also recommended to also always take care of your belongings while you travel by bus as the bus driver will not be responsible in case anything happens. It is better to have travel insurance in case anything goes wrong.
Cairo is one of the most beautiful places to visit, but you must also be extremely vigilant as you explore all the corners. It is recommended to follow all the safety precautions to have an amazing experience in the Egyptian Capital.

This post was published by Aayushi Shukla

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