|Photo isn't mine|
When travelling to Egypt, it’s important to avoid taking along some preconceived myths about what being in the country involves; these myths include perceptions about the danger of visiting the country, as well as the average weather conditions that Egypt has through the year. Many people also have the idea that Egypt just means Cairo and the Pyramids, as well as that Egyptians are all Muslim, and that Egypt is a very conservative country where your behavior on the street will lead to criticism.
1 - Danger
Although it has had some recent troubles, Egypt is not necessarily a dangerous country - you should follow general rules for travelling, from being careful about busy areas in large cities, to exercising caution when picking taxi drivers and long distance transport - get your hotel to organize things if you’re unsure. Don’t make a show of valuables, and be wary if you’re alone and moving through crowds.
2 - Egypt is Hot All the Time
The popular image of Egypt is that it’s a hot and dusty country with a lot of desert; while this is technically true, Egypt’s weather is actually more varied than many people expect - you get rain showers during the winter, as well as a lot of reasonably cool weather from about December to February.
3 - Egypt is Just Cairo and the Pyramids
Some people have a fairly narrow perspective on what makes up Egypt’s main sights, with Cairo and the Pyramids being high on that list - in fact, Egypt has a diverse range of different places to see and experience, which includes the Sharm el Sheikh resort on the Sinai Peninsula - this area features luxury resorts like the coral sea water world, shopping centres, diving, and tours of the Ras Muhammad National Park and conservation area.
4 - Everyone is Muslim
Although a large proportion of people in Egypt are Muslim, that doesn't mean that the country is strictly religious, or that there aren't other faiths in the country; there is a population of Coptic Christians and Jewish people in Egypt, and a generally welcoming approach to tourists from different countries and backgrounds.
5 - Egypt is a Conservative Religious Country
As noted above, assuming that Egypt is a conservative religious country is to overlook the younger generations that make up the majority of contemporary Egypt - there’s a general acceptance of tourism as important to the future of the country, and a growing progressive element within the country.
6 - Street Hassle
One myth about Egypt is that you’re always going to be pressurized into buying something on the street; this is common in larger cities, but in smaller towns and villages you’re more likely to be left on your own without receiving hassle.
7 - Most Egyptians are Rich
This myth probably relates to the perception of Arabs as having a lot of money, but doesn't accurately represent the significant amount of poverty and inequality within Egypt, which is apparent to any visitor to the country.
8 - The Egyptian Diet is Limited
Yes, you’ll find that the Egyptian diet might not be as varied as some other countries, and that you’ll see a lot of koshary and ful medammes on menus - however, Egypt’s diet varies by region, and is particularly cosmopolitan in large cities and in resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh
9 - Egyptians are Rude in Public
Depending where you go, you’ll likely experience the same occasional rudeness as you would in any other country - Egyptian people are neither any more than less rude than other countries, and you shouldn't assume that you’re going to be hassled.
10 - Women Have to Wear Veils
Again, this myth ties into the perception of all Egyptians as strict Muslims; many women do wear the veil and hijabs, but this isn’t compulsory, and you’ll likely find a lot of other Western styles of dress.
Sebastian Cowie is a travel enthusiast and has frequented Egypt 5 times so far. If all goes well, he's looking to move to Sharm el-Sheikh within the next few years.