Hawkers and hassle, Cairo
Be very careful of beggars around the pyramids at Giza,they are very persistent and you must completely ignore them.if you make the mistake of buying anything from them they will hound you! do not accept any offer of your picture taken or any of the things they have to sell.
As you wonder around the pyramids, some "security" people may stop you, talking in an angry manner and shouting, demanding you to show them your passport or other documents.
It appears that they are just shouting to get you surprised and then they ask for money to give you your papers back.
DO NOT give them anything until they give you a proof (id or other) that they actually are guards. Don't even settle for them "waving" some kind of paper - ask them to give it to you for you to check. A real guard will not have a problem about it. The false ones will probably just go - "ours" did, saying "wait here", leaving us there wondering what happened.
Thank god I had read about this possibility, so when it really happened to us we were not taken by surprise.
Cairo is a bigger city than most so you must be very cautious in crowded places such as Khalili Souq or on the main subway as this is an excellent way for thiefs and young folks to snag some valuables off you, be especially careful in the souq and on the subway from 5pm to 7pm as rush hour poses problems due to a crushing amount of people.
Children's of Cairo may look innocent, but please save your wallet or put down you purse, giving or contributing money to one child, you be responsible for the rest of the children who already waiting from far.
'You give it to one, the rest will come to you and you cant runaway'
I warned you guys, especially the ladies, dont ever walk alone even is daytime or even you are backpacker expert otherwise the Basksheeh people will keep pastering you and follow you until you buy an item from them. The worst part, once you bought one item they will push you for more money.
Everytime you buy something and the place has a cash register cash a large bill. As the small bills can be scarce and you will need loads of pound notes for everyone who thinks they are doing a service. Although I don't believe pointing out the obivious sunset to me warrants a tip. But the person at the tourist site will think so. If you are traveling alone as in just hailing a taxi to go to Giza be prepared for the onslaught of handouts. Be aware of taking a photo of a camel as they will insist on money. Do not let your camera out of your hands as someone will not give it back until they are satisfied with the amount of baksheesh. Won't let you out of a tomb until they are satisfied ect. All this can be a little daunting esp when they are wearing cop/ military uniforms weilding a semi automatic. I suggest getting Giza out of the way first as it is the worst and everyplace will actually seem better after that. Or take an organized tour to shield you from the nonsense. One of the top reasons people go to Cairo is to see Giza and it winds up being a fight and hassle the whole way. Something should be done about it. You feel like your walking naked through the place with one hundred dollar bills taped all over your body. Its actually funny now that it over and I'm rehashing it in my mind.
when we were at the spinx were were, as usual, followed by a crowd of children and actually a few freaky men. thats to be expected, but as we walked back to the bus a lot of them continued to follow us, grabbing at our things. a few were even on horses and that was quite scary. really, dont give anything to these children because you cant give it to everyone and thats just mean. they will fight and follow you even more. better to give to a charity or school or something.
At one of the main tourists sites, a really big one, I had to pay 70 pounds for the two tickets. I asked for two tickets and gave a 100 pounds note. I have these in a special section. With a flick of the hand, the 100 pounds note was changed into one of 50 pounds, that was placed on the teller as if I had given 50. I was amazed at the speed. The cashier gave me the tickets, said '70 pounds please' and waited for me to add 20 pounds. I said nothing, still wondering about the amazing speed the biljets were interchanged and looked the guy in the eye. Without blinking he asked me 'do you want your change?' 'Yes please' and I got my 30 pounds. But be aware!
probabely you'd meet with very handsome egyptian guys,those will be waiting for you at the historic&touristic sites..they'll try to approach you,''oh god u look different,i want to be yourfriend,i want to take a photo of you to show it to my family.blablabla''''..
well..,if u wrote me now i'd tell you about all the tricks ,we can be friends u know,, do you wanna see the pyramids with me?..special prices because you are my friend...do you like my smile..don't you?..hehehe..i know you do..my sunglasses is 'police' by the way..it costed me 50$ but since we are friends now ,you can only pay 60$ ,:))))
While we're walking in the city a few guys approached us asking us where we from and etc... he started to talk about the best things in our country and about all the best in Egypt... after a while he was offering (very effusive) to go to a "special place" to buy souvenirs.
We heard wierd stories about people showing guns and pushing you if you refuse to buy what they want you to buy.
Just be careful, watch your feet, specially if you are a woman and travelling alone!
The brother of a friend of mine went to the Pyramids last year. He had a camel ride to and around the pyramids, then his camel guide offered to take him a bit further in to the desert, which Phil thought was great so he readily agreed.
After a while the guide said he wanted money, Phil rightly refused, so the guide refused to stop the camel & carried on walking, eventually Phil had to give the guide money so the guide would take him back to Giza!
I really do not have a problem with paying tips or baksheesh, when it is warranted, or even sometimes when it is not.
What does get to me, is when it is forced out of you.
We were visiting the Citadel & there are old cells up there you can visit ( I think it may be part of the Police Museum.)
Helen was not interested in having a look so I went in on my own. I came to the last cell & the man who had been showing me around, pushed me back in to the cell as I tried to leave, locked the door & would not let me out until I had given him some money!!
I was not impressed, but there was no one else around to help so I gave in. I could not believe it!!
The antiquities, the Nile, the many people who are NOT trying to serarate you from your wallet, guides like Zenab, even the junk shops are fun..........
But, take earplugs when hawkers are near. Just point at the plugs and shrug your shoulders. These people are like pit bulls. Why do you think the gov't has a special security force for tourists? They'll block your path and grab your arms.
Be ready for horrendous air. The traffic is thick with Mexico's rejected cabs and cars. And 90 % of the men are nicotene addicts. You will find clean air in the desert. That's it.
And beware of inflated Tour claims. We were told by Delta Tours that the Europa Hotel in Giza was 4-Stars. (Maybe 1 dim star.) Dirty and rundown. Avoid Delta Tours AND the Europa unless you are comfortable with old dirt.
But the Egyptian people and the security are wonderful. Their undestroyed antiquities are powerful!
Be careful in crowded areas, little kids, women and men sometimes pickpocket as a profession (some are millionaires as a result)
Keep your mind open, hold on tight to your valueables. Try to not carry too much cash on you.
For many people planning to visit Cairo a trip to the Pyramids at Giza is a high spot on their itinerary. There is no reason why this shouldn?t be so, however, it?s worth preparing yourself before you go, as it can also be a tricky experience.
Hawkers and touts will approach you and their attentions can be persistent. My advice is be courteous whatever your answer. If you are interested in a camel ride or in buying something then negotiate what you feel is a reasonable price. If not politely say no and walk away. That is, however, much easier said than done as no is not always immediately taken as an answer. The first time we visited the Great Pyramid I opted to walk round the exterior while my husband went inside. Within a few steps someone had placed a turban on my head and was trying to lead me towards a camel, offering a free ride. It took me two or three minutes of refusing until I was able to walk away. I did feel awkward but it also made me realise that, sadly, a polite but short ?No thank you? may avoid the difficulties that a longer conversation may draw you into.
If someone tries to give you something or put something into your hands try not to take it, once you are holding an object it is quite difficult to give it back and you may be manoeuvred into handing over money for something you don?t really want. This almost happened to my husband and I on our second trip to Cairo, when I considered us to be fairly experienced with such situations. I had an armful of trinkets and my husband was tying to negotiate the return of ?20.00 that had been taken out of his hand. It was a very unpleasant situation and one that left me feeling guilty at not handling it better. If things do start to get out of hand then there are often tourist police nearby who you may be able to call upon if you don?t feel able to manage the situation your self.
Above all be firm in saying no but try not to be discourteous or rude. And don?t let it get in the way of enjoying your visit.