Traffic is really a mess in Cairo and it is like this from sunrise till after sunset.
I had no idea that 23 milions of people lived in Cairo during the day, but you really notice each of them when you breath.
The first morning I opened the window in my room to change air, gave a breath and decided it was better to leave it closed.Most taxi drivers will keep the window opened and smoke inside the car which for me wasn’t a problem.
So my suggestion is, if you want to move a lot around the city by car, do that on Friday when streets are almost empty.
There's Three kinds of cabs in Cairo:
The Black and Whites are usually Fiat Lada's, they have black doors and white Fenders. They don't have air conditioning, and they don't have meters. If you're not prepared to haggle out pricing, don't bother.
The White Cabs are usually newer model cars. They have white bodies with a black and white checkered stripe down the side. These have air conditioning and Meters. The Meter spares you the trouble of negotiating and arguing out ricing, and the meters are fair. They calculate based on both time and distance. You usually have to ask the driver to turn on the AC (Takeef), and if it is a short trip they might decline. But for a longer trip or in the heat of the day, they'll usually roll up the windows and be accomodating. You ARE paying after all.
Yellow Cabs are called cabs. You call for them to pick you up. They have AC and Meters and you call a phone number to have one dispatched to where you are. These tend to be more expensive, but in a situation like getting to Ramses Station or the Airport with your luggage, they're pretty handy.
There's a new thing called the London Taxi. They only operate on a call basis, will pick you up at your hotel and will only take you to the airport. These are more like limos, larger cars, with lots of options. The pricing is pre-set.
If your driver's done a good job? Say they got you where you were going quickly? Tipping is appropriate. We had a guy get us from Mohandeseen to Houssein, and the meter stopped at 17LE. I had expected him to take the October bridge and was planning for closer to 30 LE. I was so impressed I handed him 20 and said my Chukran and left the car. Was worth it to me that he saved me both time and money.
Crossing roads in Cairo can be a serious threat to your health! The best advice I can offer is follow locals and cross when they cross, act confident, and above all, once you've started, don't stop! On the bigger roads and intersections there are sometimes traffic police - if there are, wait for them to stop the traffic, they do at intervals to let the crowds cross.
If you're trying to navigate your way about Cairo with the aid of a map you need to be both wary and imaginative. Apart from the fact that the street could very well have been renamed since you map was compiled and that streets are by no means always signed, there is the problem of transliteration. There is no generally accepted convention for transliteration between the Roman and Arabic scripts, so there is likely to be some discrepancy here, and as the photo shows there is not even any consistency from one street sign to the next. Add a map and a guide book to the equation and the confusion multiplies. And that's without even trying to make out the Arabic script. (Note the quasi-legible treatment of the word sharia (street) in the older of the two signs)
Well, parking space will not be a problem if you are not driving by yourself in Cairo which of course I cannot recommend you do drive.
This warning applies to any foreigner or tourist who have the guts to drive in this crazy road of Cairo. Though it looks normal to locals, but to a tourist, you will be shocked. If you survive the road, then the more you can survive parking.
A day before my trip to Alexandria, I requested my hired driver to help me get train tickets for next morning departure. When we arrived at the Ramses train station in Cairo and after passing thru a very narrow space between cars, we lined up in a queau of cars waiting for a space in the parking lot. It was full, and it was at nightfall. It was not a problem though as my driver is an Egyptian. He asked the dispatcher to ask the car driver in front of us to give a bit of space and so he did. It took us more than 15 minutes to get the train ticket in the station and then went back to the parking area. Our car was still there and nobody touch or move it, lol. Now I realize what a local can do!
I guess I have said a lot about the roads, the local drivers, traffic signs, and now the traffic itself. You have to be warned especially if it is your first time in Egypt, especially in Cairo. This is about the traffic congestion.
There is a possibility that you miss your flight if you are flying out of Cairo or your train departure if you have a reserved seat going elsewhere. Although I did not miss my departure time which is 6:30AM from Cairo to Alexandria, I can figure out it would happen if my departure is later in the morning. There is too much traffic, I am telling you. Leave early from your hotel. Give ample time as allowance for the traffic. I do not want you to miss anything and spoil your holidays.
Pictures will be posted at a later date. Unable to upload.
Should you be walking through Khan el-Khalili, and hear a hissing sound behind you, you might want to move as far out of the way as you can - it'll be a heavily laden man, cart, or donkey wanting to get past, most probably at high speed! Watch your toes!
Don`t ever ride a taxi that parked infront of your hotel, this taxi will not move unless you pay big money,instead walk a couple of meters and other taxies will take you for less than half price!
becareful,,some drivers will say that they know the place & address that yo need to visit but then you will find yourself going in circles!
Cairo holds a population on 16.000.000 maybe more as we`re speaking,so you have to imagine the amount of cars all over the street and,yes,unfortunately parked on the side walks.
So if you are planning on walking,take care,because there are not many sidewalks,and if there were they are not in their perfect condition,so it maybe a hassle to walk with high heels and almost impossible with a baby`s stroller,specially in old Cairo area.
In order to understand Cairo traffic, you have to see it. Cairo traffic is never-ending! It can last all day and into the early hours of the morning. You will see the roads shared with cars, tour buses, taxicabs, mopeds or motorbikes, bicycles, local public transportation (VW Vans), and an occasional donkey and cart. Stop lights are rare so procede with caution!
If you must cross the street, do not expect the driver to stop for you. Instead, wait until the car has almost past you and proceed, DO NOT walk into oncoming traffic! Many streets in Cairo have no sidewalks, so you wiil have to walk on the shoulder of the road. When doing this, walk facing the traffic as often as possible, not with your back to it. It is best to watch oncoming traffic. Be Safe!
The city does cater to 18 million people after all and the infrastructure has not developed to the same level as the population. Taxis are everywhere and very cheap but I suggest to agree on the price before getting into the cab to avoid any disappointments. Every taxi seems to be battered (almost like dodgem cars) so sit in the middle in the back :o) Its not quite that bad but little bumps happen regularly. Get used to the sound of the car horn because they beep the horn to say hello, get out of my way, I am going first or let me through. After the first couple of days I actually started to enjoy it.
Obviously from news reports over the last year there seems to be a problem with tour buses travelling on the country roads. I would suggest engaging a local whom you can pre test their car with and also their driving capability/style.
The traffic never stops in cairo, so if you plan on getting anywhere by foot, be brave, and find gaps in traffic anywhere. Be advised the ghetto taxis probably dont have the strongest or functional brakes for that matter... Just do it!
One of the unique features to Cairo is the taxi system. basically there isnt one. It is in disarray, chaotic without a meter in place. It may foil your plans for relaxation, stresses over it. Here are some steps to ensure you are doing the proper thing
1. Hold you hand pointed downward towards the road to hail a taxi.
2. Upon a slowed taxi, tell the driver, weather or not he is driving on a very busy road, your desired destination, and he will agree or disagree.
Now here is a divergence in opinion if you should agree on a price beforehand. I say not. Locals enter the taxi, females in the back for modesty purposes, regardless.
3. Once you have arrived, and be sure it is the right place because they could care less, exit the taxi. Have plenty of 1 dollar notes on you, and give him around what is typical shown below. Definately tip something, since as tourist they may be upsetted that you give what locals give. But the fares shown below are a great starting point.
4. Hand him the money, and walk away briskly. He will be sure to dissent, and may even yell, but as long as he doesnt get out of his car, he will accept it. I had a driver follow me once, and gave him 5 extra pounds so he would leave me alone. the shop owner sided with me, because the taxi driver was being unfair, trying to rip me off 50 egyptian pounds for the pyramids! Please dont ever pay 50 egyptian pounds for anywhere!
* Tahrir Square to the Citadel - 7 to 10 LE
* Citadel to the Khan el-Khalili - 4 to 5 LE
* Tahrir Square to Al-Hussein (Khan al-Khalili) - 4 to 5 LE
* Tahrir Square to Mohandiseen - 5 to 7 LE
* Tahrir Square to Ramses Station - 4 to 7 LE
* Tahrir Square to Maadi (Grand Mall) - 12 to 15 LE
* Tahrir Square to Giza Pyramids - 12 to 20 LE
* Tahrir Square to Old (Coptic) Cairo) - 10 to 12 LE
* Tahrir Square to Zamalek - 4 to 5 LE
* Tahrir Square to Heliopolis - 12 to 15 LE
* Tahrir Square to Airport with bag handling - 25 LE
* Dokki to Zamalek - 3 to 5 LE
* Dokki to Manyal Palace - 3 to 5 LE
* Ramses Station to Nasr City (Ginena Mall) - 12 to 15 LE
* Ramses Station to Heliopolis (Horreya Mall) - 10 to 12 LE
* Garden City to Giza Zoo - 3 to 5 LE
* Garden City to Zamalek - 4 to 6 LE
Don't even consider driving in Cairo (unless you have nerves of steel).
There are road rules (apparently), but few people seem to keep to them..........mostly, they just hoot as they drive past, to warn the car in front. There's no car insurance either (so our guide told us) so no worries about losing one's no-claims-bonus. The vast majority of cars I saw were scratched and dented; I imagine it would be very difficult indeed to keep one's car pristine for any length of time.
Driving must be one constant adrenalin-rush (even if the driver isn't texting/one the phone at the time) and, if you're not a local, I fail to see how anyone could possibly cope without mishap.
The upside (sort of) is that Cairo is so incredibly congested (don't forget the horse and donkey-carts, and the pedestrians who merrily walk in the road/wander across the traffic at will) that speeds are fairly low. That does mean, however, that when the chance arises to put one's foot down drivers most definitely do so.
Get a private driver, or a taxi!
the Cairo air quality is one of the worst in the world. Traffic congestion and no emissions rules from either the vehicles or factories are the sources. The visibility over the city is terrible -- especially in the morning. But, in the late afternoon a breeze clears up the sky somewhat. We visited the Giza pyramids in the early morning and you could not even see them unless you stood right beside them.
The pyramids are undoubtedly amazing to view (if you can see them thru the haze) but the people who manage this site are totally incompetent.
1) They charge thousands of tourists money to enter the site but we cannot determine what they are doing with it. The amount of garbage on the site is incredible. I dont think any garbage has ever been picked up -- maybe they expect the wind to blow it away.
2) They have built building close to the pyramids for some reason. So, you have to be at certain angles to photograph the pyramids without these unknown structures in the photos.
3) The city of Giza is encroaching on the site. Homes and businesses are within a few metres of the Sphynx.