Tipping in Sharm
There is one word that sums up tipping in Egypt "Baksheesh"!!! Don't leave your hotel without some small change to leave as a tip. If you use porters, parking attendants, the doorman hails you a taxi, use a public toilet you will want to have some small bills as tipping is customary in Egypt.
Tipping is at your discretion but the Ultimate Sharm Guide (available for sale at various locations for around 40LE) suggests the following tips:
Parking Attendant LE1-2
Bathroom Attendans LE1-2
The minimum tip if given is at least 1LE. Anything below that is a bit of an insult.
Remember tipping tour guides is at your discretion but if you have a good tour guide it is worth it to give a small tip!
in eygpt it would be ideal to learn some basoc arabic just to get you by as sometimes you need to get rid of pushy salesmen etc. here is some to get you started:
Hello = Ahalan
Thank you = shokran
Please = Min Fadilak
Excuse me = Ann Eazinak
Good = Taib/ Bikair
Bad = Saia/ Mosh Bikair
Do you speak English?= tatakalam Inglesi?
How much is this? = bikam hatha?
It is too expensive = ghalia katheer
these are some usefull phrases that should get you well one your way :D
~ The Arabic Language...Some Useful Phrases ~
Although English, French, Spanish and German is widely spoken in Egypt it is still beneficial to learn some of the language. The language in Egypt is Arabic. I have got a couple of books on Egypt which have helped me with the pronunciation of the words... as they can be abit of a mouthful. I have got the Lonely Planet guide to Egypt & also the Eyewitness guide to Egypt. Both books have been fantastic.
Hello= As-salama alaykum
Hello (to respond)= Wa alaykum salam
Goodbye (person leaving)= Ma' al salama
Goodbye (person responding)= Alla salkmak (to a man), Alla ysalmich (to a lady), Alla ysalimkum (to a group of people)
Good morning= Sabah al-kheir
Good afternoon/evening= Masa' al-kheir
Good afternoon/evening (to respond)= Masa' an-nur
Goodnight= Tisbah ala'kheir (to a man), Tisbihin ala-kheir (to a lady)
Pleased to meet you= Fursa sa' ida
Please= Min fadlik (to a man) Min fadlich (to a lady)
How are you?= Kef Halak?
And one of my favourite Arabic words is "No Problem" which is "Mish Mushkila"
Everything in Egypt is Mish Mushkila even the language.... Its very easy to learn once you've learnt a few basic words.
Its very common and normal to see Egyptian guys holding hands, sometimes they hug and give each other a kiss too, in fact muh more so than a man and a woman. This is a sign of friendship, Do not make the mistake of thinking they are gay, as they will take great offence at this! If you have kids, it may be wise to mention this to them before they see them in the street and comment very loudly! hehe!
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Family Travel
~ $$ Money $$ Ching $$ Ching $$ Baksheesh $$ ~
Make sure you have got plenty of change for when you go to Sharm, tips are expected everywhere in Sharm also known as "BAKSHEESH" in Arabic.
The rule is only give a tip if you feel the service has been good and they are nice. I had a nasty lady when i used the toilet at a restaurant, she was like "Money, ching, ching" and snatched 1 Egyptian pound off me so i could go to the toilet, she didnt even give me any toilet tissue where as most public toilets expect a tip but they do at least give you a little bit of toilet paper! Another tip is take your own packets of tissue and hand sanitiser because some public toilets are unbelievable.
I always take plenty of Egyptian pound notes to tip waiters, room maids and those guys at the airport that grab your suitcases.
Bargain, Bargain, Bargain!
Bargaining is an artform alive and well in Egypt. Rarely will you find prices marked on items in a store, besides perhaps the supermarket :) Some of the shopkeepers could win Oscars for the stellar performances they give in groaning, moaning, and playacting as you bargain with them.
Normally the first price given in a lot of shops is astronomical compared to the correct "real" price of the item. Keep in mind that the prices can be inflated 30-500% depending on the shopowner. However with that said, you don't have to unmercilessly haggle a poor shopkeeper down to a ridiculously low price. When you show interest in an item, you should already have an idea of what price you want to pay.
One thing that you should never do is haggle a shopkeeper down to a price that you offered and then walk away. Don't engage in bargaining unless you are really intending to purchase an item!
But if a shopkeeper won't come down to the price you want and know is fair, walk away. Most times as you are hitting the door, the shopkeeper will call you back and playacting again grudgingly agree to your price probably mumbling about how you are going to bankrupt him ;) If you don't get called back, take your business elsewhere where they are willing to give you a fair deal...but if you are again refused your price, maybe your idea of the worth of the item needs to be adjusted.
Bargaining is meant to be enjoyable so you should never get angry. Keep a smile on your face and remember, this is fun!
~ Buying Alcohol ~
When i was in Egypt i asked what the legal age was to drink over there. All the locals told me that there was not really a set legal age, just as long as you were not a child you could get alcohol at restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and bars.
I never had a problem getting a drink anywhere but let me warn you that in the airport at Sharm El Sheikh i wanted to buy some Smirnoff Vodka and some Egyptian Beer to take home and i never realised but you have to be 21 Years old to buy it in there. I showed them my passport and at the time i was only 20 so they refused to sell it to me. So i just apoligised and said thanks anyway. I thought i would let you know as there were no signs to say Identification was needed or what the age was to buy it.
Try the shisha experience. People relax and smoke their shisha (traditional water pipe) while chatting about the experiences of the day. Tobacco for the shisha exists in various flavours, such like apple, strawberry, vanilla... which give a fruity smell and taste. Just smoke it...
- Arts and Culture
tip tip tip
it is customary here to tip for EVERYTHING, you tip your waiters, your cleaners, your tour guides, anyone that offers you a service expects a tip. Be careful at the airport though as they just grab your suitcase off the baggge reclaim belt and expect tipping for it, there sometimes you have to be strict and say no.
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Family Travel
Ladies, What to Wear?
One of the common questions I see is what should ladies wear in Sharm el Sheikh? Honestly, from the times I have been in Sharm el Sheikh I've seen all kinds of clothing frombarely-there miniskirts and tube tops to full burka.
The local population is fairly conservative but after many years of catering to tourists, I think they have gotten used to the fact that not everyone is sensitive to their way of life. Women who do dress provacatively do naturally get called out...and not just by the local men. There are plently of tourists who will get randy when they see a good looking girl dressed up to go out...and even more so after a couple drinks.
Unlike Cairo, women do not need to worry about covering their arms and legs but I would recommend dressing more conservatively than miniskirts unless you want to call attention to yourself. Basically, if you don't want to be hassled by guys, dress conservatively with resort casual clothing, shorts, and t-shirts. I normally run around in shorts, t-shirt, and sandals and the guys never bother me when I'm walking around other than to get me to their stores (another topic all-together!)
Out on the beach and dive boats, bikinis are fine. Topless bathing is not recommended and it's not just the local guys that will stare/drool. Even my European friends were whispering behind their hands about girls on another boat who were sans-tops (just like high school!) But to be respectful to the local culture, ladies please keep your tops on!
- Women's Travel
It is a local custom to bargain for everything in Egypt, from taxi drive to buying water. But I have noticed that in Naama Bay people are different, they don't bargain, the sellers offer usually only one discount cof about 10% and the buyers agree thinking they have made a good deal. For much lower prices and real bargaining go to the Old Market.
- Budget Travel
Being a Muslim country, 5 times a day they will be called for prayer, the call to prayer is heard at dawn, at the midday, about the middle of the afternoon, just after sunset, and at night fall about two hours after sunset. You will see Muslims stop what they are doing to pray on the streets, in the Airports, shops so be polite and respectful to not disturb or walk past being loud and ignorrant. It is common courtesy to respect another persons religion.
We were a little worried about dress code etc, but sharm el sheikh is just like any other european holiday resort. If you are a young girl you will get attention whatever way you dress, so we just dressed normally, but didnt walk around in bikini tops in town like you could do in spain.
going to cairo we dressed conservatively, but even then we were pointed at and stared at. if you get any hastle just ignore, if they are looking for money say 'mafeesh fluss', or if they are persistent a good *** off will do (utrukni wa schani)
if shaking hands shake with the right. the left is unclean, ame goes for eating in traditional retaurants.
women do not normally shake hands with men, and tis could cause offence. however, in sharm they are a lot more relaxed.
Keep yourself covered!
At the Hyatt, there was no topless sunbathing allowed by the pools. It was, however, apparently allowed on the beaches, even though I didn't actually see anyone doing it. It seems it was a respectful crowd while we were there.
I really wish the hotel would just ban topless sunbathing full stop and not have to bow down to the tourists. Is someone really not going to visit Sharm El Sheikh because they can't get their boobs out??!! If so, it could do without people like that anyway!
And while we are on the subject, some male tourists in Naama Bay walked round without their shirts on in the evenings. This isn't the Costas for goodness sake! Have some damn pride and respect!
Okay, I'll climb off my soap box!
At the end of the day, Egypt is a Muslim country, and topless sunbathing is therefore offensive.
Please have some respect for the country and it's people, and keep your bikinis on.
It's A Cover Up!
If you are fortunate enough to take a trip to Cairo, its worth remebering to take a long sleeved top/jacket with you if you plan to visit a Mosque. You will be required to cover your shoulders and your legs girls! They dont apply the same rules to the men by the way!
Don't worry too much if you forget the appropriate clothing as they will provide you with a long robe. Be warned though they are thick and heavy and Egypt, especially Cairo is HOT! I didn't have to wear one but a few in our party did.
- Family Travel
- Religious Travel