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Facts about Sinai

 

 
bus

From and to Sinai:
There are basically 2 companies that offer trips from and to Sinai, which is East Delta and the faster SuperJet. They both go to Cairo and Alexandria. East Delta also offers trips to Nuweiba, Dahab and Taba. SuperJet is faster than East Delta, but it is not covering all stops. Here's the time tables that apply to the departures. They are approximate times and it is useful to book in advance plus to be in time. These times are subject of possible change and should be re-confirmed with your hotel or directly at the bus station.

Super Jet
Sharm El Sheikh
01 p.m.
03 p.m.
23 p.m.
Al Masr (Cairo)
06 p.m.
08 p.m.
04 a.m.
Tahrir (Cairo downtown)
07 p.m.
09 p.m.
05 a.m.
Alexandria
-
12 p.m.
07 a.m.
East Delta
Sharm El Sheikh      
Al Masr (Cairo)      
Tahrir (Cairo downtown)      
Alexandria      

Within Sharm:
There are local bus services, rather private small VW buses, that are running up and down the coast (Peace Road) from Sharm El Sheikh - Naama Bay - Airport and further a few km, depending on the mood of the driver and the willingness to pay of the passengers. Basically, you just need to stand on the road (anywhere), and they will slow down to ask you for the destination. The fare is quite reasonable, the whole distance e.g. Sharm - Airport costs about 2 L.E.. However, the price might slightly go up if you have a special wish and the driver needs to go further. Be aware, that most tourists don't use these buses, so prices should not be "over payed". This prevents the drivers from cheating the next tourists.

clothing

In Sinai normal clothing is shorts and T-shirts during summer or any style of loose cotton. Most kind of light clothing will be ok. With the number of shops here that sell T-shirts you don't need to bring much luggage. In winter wear layers that can be taken off during the heat of the day and put back on for cool evenings. A hat or cloth for the head can avoid a heat stroke. In The winter months on a boat the wind can be quite cold, so a wind jacket for protection is advisable.

car hire

Avis Morgana Mall, Naama Bay, South Sinai, Tel.: 069.602400, email: ruavis@rusys.eg.net
CRC Soliman Plaza Mall, Naama Bay, Sharm El Sheikh, Tel: 069.601297, mobile: 010.1811035, email: silimansharm@hotmail.com
J. Car Plaza Mall, Naama Bay, South Sinai, Tel.: 010.1542608, email: hawad_ssh@hotmail.com
     
  booking from Germany, you can use these links:
 

 

casino

In Sharm you'll find quite some casinos for spending (or winning) money. Here's a selection of the existing ones:

Name Phone Games
Casino Royale Movenpick Hotel Jolie Ville 62601731 / 062601732 Carribean Stud Poker, Baccarat, Mini Baccarat, Blackjack, American Roulette
Sharm el-Sheikh Intercontinental Resort 62601111 Stud Poker, American Roulette, Punto Banco, Blackjack
Movenpick Hotel Jolie Ville 62600100 Poker, Blackjack, Roulette
Taba Hilton & Casino 62530300 / 62530301 Slots, Video Poker, Carribean Stud Poker, Blackjack, American Roulette

currency

The official currency is the Egyptian pound (L.E. or ) consisting of 100 Piaster. Notes are available in 10, 25 and 50 Piaster, and E£1, E£5, E£10, E£20, E£50, E£100, and E£200 Pound. In 2003 the exchange rate has dramatically changed in favour of foreign currency such like the Euro. One of the reasons was that the Egyptian government wanted to kill the black market for money. It raised the exchange rate, so tourists and locals would now go to banks to change money.
Prices are sometimes as well written without decimal points, such like 233 in stead of E£2.33. For tipping it is usefull to always keep enough small money.

customs

On arrival to Egypt there is a duty-free limit of 1L of alcohol, 1L of perfume, 200 cigarettes and 25 cigars. Additionally, after arrival you are allowed to buy another 3L of alcohol plus a wide range of duty-free articles in any of the duty-free shops that are mostly in the airport. Arriving to Egypt you have a period of 1-2 days to still buy articles in the duty free shops. Please refer to the customs to have the latest period information.

Tourists and travelers crossing Egypt may bring along all articles that are for personal use, such like clothes, shoes, WC-articles etc. Furthermore 1 photo camera, 1 film camera, films, 1 video camera, 1 laptop, 1 radio, 1 walkman, 1 music instrument, 1 disc player, 1 binocular. Sport articles should be written into the passport and removing from there again once leaving the country.

diving

Diving is one of the most exciting sports to do in South Sinai. We have created special pages to show more about the exciting diving sites in Sinai. Please check also our list of diving centers and other diving links for Sinai.

driving

Officially, for driving a car in Egypt you need an international driving permission. You should get this permission from your local automobile association before leaving home in case you would like to drive in Egypt. However, in Sinai this permission is hardly asked for, and in only very rare cases this leads to problems.

embassies & consulates

Most of the consulates are to be found in Cairo, the main capital of Egypt. However, there are some embassies to be found in Sharm el Sheikh. For all countries please find a separate site here.

 

emergency numbers
police:
ambulance:
fire:
122
123
125

holidays

Febr. 23rd 2002 Eid al-Adha, March 16th islamic New Year, April 25th Sinai Liberation Festival, May 1st day of labor, May 6th Sham El Nessin (Osterfest), Mai 25th Moloud (birthday of the prophet), June 18th Liberation Festival, Juli 23rd Revolution Day, Okt. 6th Day of Armed Forces, Dec. 6-8th Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan). Dec. 23rd Day of Victory.

Please be aware that these dates are subject of change each year since they are mostly calculated from the moon calendar.

Internet

You find internet cafe's in all bigger cities like Sharm El Sheikh or Dahab etc. Lots of the hotels are offering internet services to their guests as well. Main suppliers are Internet Egypt (internet: www.internetegypt.com), EUN, Rite und Ritesec.

Islam

Egypt is mainly an islamic country. It is a matter of interest for those travelling here to live some more of this religion and to get more and a deeper understanding about the islam. We will soon give an introduction to the islam on these sites. Until then please have a read at: www.islam-guide.com.

language

The official language in Egypt is Arabic. But most people - especially in touristical areas - do speak English, some French or German. However, if you go to some deeper into Sinai's desert, you might find Beduines, and they usually do not speak English. In these cases it is recomendable to have a local guide with you.

luggage

Normally airlines allow approx. 20 kg plus 5-8 kg hand luggage. If you are carrying diving equipment, you should check with your airline, since some give additional 10-30kg for dive gear. Most hotels have a possibility to weight the luggage, just ask at the front desk for help.

mail

Important documents should not be sent via the official mail service in Egypt. Although in touristical areas like Sharm El Sheikh the mail service is much better than in the rest of the country, it still might take from 3 days to one or two months or more until the letter arrives in Europe. Other countries possibly longer. Postcards and standard letters to Europe cost 90 LE.

measures

Egypt has a metric measuring system. Distances are measures in centimetters (cm) meters (m) and kilometers (km), weights in grams (g) and kilograms (kg), temperatures in Celsius (C°) and volumes in liters (l). For distances in Egypt often the word "kilo" is used.

newspapers

Egyptian Gazette: english-language Egyptian newspaper, daily
Al-Ahram Weekly
: english-language Egyptian newspaper, every Thursday
Middle East Times: english-language Egyptian newspaper, every Thursday
Egypt Today: english-language Egyptian newspaper, monthly
Cairo Times: english-language Egyptian newspaper

Besides these you find many newspapers in the bigger hotels coming from different countries like French, Britain, German, or Russian papers. They are mostly a day oldor two, but some even get their papers right from the aircrafts coming early in the morning.

Passport

The passport must valid for at least 6 months after end of your stay in Egypt. It is advisable to keep a copy of your passport in a seperate place. This will make things much easier in case you loose the original.
If you travel within Sinai, make sure you always have your passport with you. Since the peninsular is devided up in 3 different military zones, passport checks are very frequent. If you don't have it on you - e.g. on your way to St. Catherine - you will not be able to pass and might even face problems.

phone / fax

In Egypt you find public phones in the streets where you need to buy cards for. These cards are available in most of the boots that sell drinks or papers.
In case you have a mobile phone, you should consider taking it with you since for international calls it might be much cheaper. The local companies in Egypt are Mobinil, Click and ..., and you should find out with your phone company which one is the cheapest to use.
Country code for Egypt: +20.
Area code for Sharm El Sheikh and Na'ama Bay: 062

photography

There is hardly a country in this world that gives any better conditions for photo taking than Egypt, especially Sinai. Because of the near desert and the perfect weather conditions, the light is so intense and bright that even unmotivated people will enjoy taking pictures. Best pictures will always turn out when takes in the early morning or before sunset.
Film materials should be bought outside Egypt, since it is expensive and often not well stored (heat...). Military areas, railway and airports may not be photographed.

Politics

Once in Egypt, you might like to get to know locals and might like to discuss politics. It is always interesting to get to know opinions of people of other countries. However, if you do come from a western country or a non-arabic country, we would recommend to not discuss political issues unless you are prepared for it. People here are sensitive for topics that concern Israel and any conflict that concerns the arab world. You will notice 2 things: first is that Egypt has a press census, which prevents certain things to be published. This might be bad, or in some cases be good. However, it brings ideas up in peoples minds that might differ very much from what you might know from your home country. Second is that travellers from western countries will notice that many things are not shown in their country, things that are existent, but not dealt with in the news. These factors forcefully lead to the fact, that often very different ideas about politics are present if visitors meet locals. Our recommendation is: be open to learn new things, observe and listen. Discussions can help to open the world, but as long as press is forming peoples minds throughout the whole world the truth will never be able to come out in a discussion like this.

population

Basically, Sinai is devided into three kind of population types: the Beduines (approx. 80.000 in Sinai), people working in the tourist sector, and army people (approx. 40.000). Last but not least, the tourists itself should be mentioned, that are forming the biggest portion. Even if they are not habitants itself, they are the ones that make Sinai so important as it is today.

power supply

Power supply is about 220 volt/50hz. The plugs are two pin round fittings. If you are not sure about the size, you should consult a shop where they sell adapters.

radio

 

religion

The majority of the people in Egypt are Moslems, probably more than 80% of the population. Another approx. 10% are Coptic and there are other minorities like Christians etc. These numbers are estimations, that vary with the institution given. However, official numbers are given by the Egyptian government and other international organizations.

restrictions:

The following things are forbidden in Egypt and tourists should be aware of following these rules: Counterfeit money, drugs or narcotics - even in smallest quantity, any weapon and or ammunition, pornographic materials, taking out fish, coral or protected features of nature (any kind). To be found with any of these things in her/his possession is liable to arrest, investigation, trial and heavy sentences. Also, to be in prison is not a funny matter in Egypt.

taxi

To take a taxi, in Sharm El Sheikh for example, is quite different than e.g. in Cairo. Prices are much higher and it is difficult to bargain a price that applies to locals. However, it is always recoommendable to deal with them. Ask at the reception for the normal price to a destination and use this as a base for bargaining with the cab driver. Night fares are slightly higher. A day trip from Naama Bay to Sharm El Sheikh should not cost more than 30 L.E., rather less or much even less. Most tourists will, however, pay about 40 L.E.
A good alternative to the cabs is the local small busses. They are only running on the ring street (Peace Road) and are very cheap. Here, a trip from Naama Bay to Sharm would hardly cost 1,5 L.E.. The best is to have a look where locals are standing and waiting for a bus and ask them to help you. Normally they are very friendly and will explain the procedure.

tip

Tips are usual and part of the income for many people. It should be given, but with care and not too high. Occasions are taxis, waiters, the concierge etc. 5-10% are normal. Also, it should be considered, that some people are not earning money form the organization they are working for, because - from the organizational point of view - they are believed to earn enough money by receiving tips.

time

The time in Egypt is the Middle European Time (MET) + 1 hour, Mai to September MET + 2 hours. For detailed information please have a look at www.worldtime.org.

tv

In the past years there has been a boom of new channels in Egypt, while most of them can also be seen in Sinai. Egypt is actually the country for film industry for most of the other Arab countries, while most headquaters of the Egyptian chennels are based in Cairo.
Some channels like Nile-TV are having international news in English of French, mostly starting in the later evening. However, most of the TV channels are purely in Arabic, so in case you do not speak this language, you'd probably stick to the international channels that most hotels offer via satellite. There you find a broad selection of mostly European channels, French, Italian, English, Russian or German spoken.

visa

The visa for foreigners (exept for Malta, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Arab countries) have to obtain a visa from the Egyptian consulate or on arrival at the airport. It normally is cheaper to get the visa locally on arrival, where it costs 15 USD. A photo is not required, but you will have to fill out a form, buy the visa stamp (15 USD) and get registered.
The validity of the single-entry visa is 3 months, while the visitor may stay for one month only. A multy-entry visa (max 3 visits) is valid for 6 months, but also the visitor may not stay in the country for more that one month in total. However, it is possible to extend the visa for a period of 12 months.

Take care if you travel with agencies and they are asking you to pay the visa at the airport: they might ask you to pay 25 USD mentioning that it would be more expensive than in the rest of Egypt (Neckermann at Sharm El Sheikh Airport did so). This information is untrue and you should proceed to the official stamp counter. We have written to Neckermann about this instance in August 2002 but have not received any reply up to today. Other companies as e.g. 1-2fly are recommending to buy the visa with them. However, you will normally pay more money than necessary, will generally stand in a long row and finally not have any better visa than the official one. We recommend again to buy the visa at the normal official stamp counter, which is right at the arrival hall before immigration checks.

water

Try to avoid drinking local water from the tub if you are not used to living in Egypt. In most shops there are bottles with mineral water available in big quantities and it pretends you from having stomack problems that were not intented.

weather

please see our chapter for the Sinai weather.

women travelling There are hardly restrictions for foreign women in Egypt. Even, to travel alone is generally safe, but it will be noticed. One is better off in not being too open and to not being offended about private questions. It is natural curiosity and one should tell them politely that it is none of their business. They will not stop, but be quiet for some time. Even if not married, one shouldn't hesitate to invent a husband. However, if problems do occur, don't hesitate to seek help from the police or any shop or person nearby. Egyptians judge very strongly on improper behaviour and will be on your side. Especially the last years have tremendously improved the womens rights in Egypt, some to this extend that women are joking about the "rightless men" in papers or on TV. In this aspect, Egypt is definitely an extraordinary exception among the arab countries.

Egypt is a Muslim country and some women wear the veil demonstrating modesty or Muslim piety. This also tends to discourage male advances, physical or verbal.
As a rule, the less a woman wears, the more looks and comments she will get. This should be considered especially, when in streets. Topless or nude bathing is forbidden, even at hotel resorts.

At last it should be mentioned that reactions on women in Egypt do depend very much on the level of society.

 


 

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