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Xinyi Z

Travelled to 10 countries / regions

Written 6 briefs
Visited Cairo in May 2018 for 3 days

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Africa > Egypt > Cairo > Trip Briefs
Submitted on Sep 17, 2018 Trip Brief

What to do in Cairo for 3 days

  • Went to Egypt earlier this year on a spur of the moment trip. Was in the country for a total of a week, did Cairo, Luxor, Nile, and Aswan
  • Cairo is a big, dirty, chaotic, but also supremely charming city. Everywhere I went I can sense just how much history there was. It helped that it was also a cheap city to travel in. I stayed at a top luxury hotel for only around $120US per night. A mid-range hotel in the city centre averaged less than $50
  • I wouldn't recommend it to novice travellers, especially female travellers. Even as a guy I felt uneasy on certain streets in the middle of the day (the area around the Giza train station)
  • My top tips for Cairo:
  • Arrange a private airport transfer before you go. The arrival area was chaotic and individual taxi drivers were aggressively trying to get me to take their taxis. I used Viator for my car it was $20US (plus 30LE in tips, about $2US)
  • Have cash everywhere you go. Credit cards were not widely accepted at all outside of international hotels. Most tourist attractions I went to didn't accepted credit card either. I brought a bunch of USD with me to convert, and took out some money from the ATMs there (I only used ATMs at bank branches and my hotel, I didn't trust any other ATM)
  • Uber is by far the best way to get around Cairo. It's incredibly cheap. The 10km trip from my hotel to the Salah El Din Citadel on Uber Select (the upscale version of Uber, I got a Volvo and a Mercedes while there) was less than $5US
  • Get a SIM card for your phone at the airport. I went with Orange, they had this option for 12GB of data for 24LE (=$15US)
  • Cover up. Don't wear anything sleeveless (guys and girls). Don't wear anything too short. Don't wear shorts if you want to go into any of the mosques
  • Weekend is Friday and Saturday in Egypt. Work week is Sunday-Thursday
  • You need to tip. Tipping was very much expected. The amount is more or less fixed in terms of LE (egyptian pounds) rather than as % of the bill. Here's how much I tipped on my trip:
  • Sit down restaurants: 10LE per person per meal
  • Housekeeping: 10LE per night
  • Tour guides: 100LE per full day
  • Drivers: 50LE per full day


Hotel I stayed at:

  • Conrad Cairo. $121US a night
  • Really nice hotel. The furnishing was dated (the place looked like something from the 80s) but quality of the hardware was superb
  • It's located by the Nile river right across from Zamalek, the upscale island enclave where rich Cairo locals live. The area around the hotel felt very safe and wasn't crazy busy at all
  • Nice pool with a good view of the Nile
  • But not really close to anything (didn't really matter to me since Uber was so cheap to get around with)


Things to do in Cairo (in the order of how I did them):

  • Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx - day 1: need no introduction. Must do. I went with a guided tour as I wanted to get a good education on the history. Two cool facts I learned were 1) there's more time between when these pyramids were built and Cleopatra than between Cleopatra and today and 2) at one point the pyramids were coated with a shiny reflective limestone, so they were actually pretty blindingly bright during the day

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo


  • The Grand Egyptian Museum - day 1: the top museum in Egypt with a large collection of antiques from all eras of its history. You can easily spend a whole day here

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo


  • Salah El Din Citadel (aka The Citadel) - day 2: a big fortress towering over the city with historical significance and containing some pretty impressive architecture. I got a Uber Select there from my hotel for less than $5
  • Muhammed Ali Mosque: built during the Ottoman times on the grounds of the Citadel and modeled after the Blue Mosque in Instanbul

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo


  • Islamic Cairo - day 2: a part of the old city where all the Islamic life, institutions, and culture are concentrated. It's quite a large area actually
  • Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan: a beautiful mosque and madrassa (traditional islamic school) not far from the Citadel. No shorts allowed inside
  • Khan el Khalili Souk: the biggest souk (i.e. market) in Egypt. Thousands of vendors selling everything from cheap souvenirs to pretty nice handicrafts.
  • Al Azhar Mosque: another beautiful mosque. No shorts allowed inside


User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo


  • Coptic Cairo - day 3: the part of Cairo that's the centre of the Christian life. It's been around since the Roman times. I Ubered to the Hanging Church and started exploring the area from there
  • The Hanging Church: one of the oldest churches in Cairo built in year 690
  • Fortress of Babylon: ruins of a Roman fortress that was built on the site of an even earlier fortress

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo


  • Zamalek - day 3: the neighbourhood on the Gezira island in the Nile River smack in the middle of Cairo, where apparently middle class and upper middle class residents in Cairo live. It's got lots upscale restaurants, cafes, and trees. Very much an oasis in the midst of a chaotic city

User submitted photo of Cairo

User submitted photo of Cairo