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Egyptian Customs That Every Traveler Should Know

If you are traveling to Egypt for the first time, it is important that you should know about the do's and don'ts in the country. The Egyptian custom is different than your home country and to make the best of your trip, tries not to be rude to someone or be aggressive in refusing. Dress modestly and make sure to respect the monuments that you are visiting.

Egypt is a country with too many tourists and you might come across the local people who will serve as your guide or your cab driver. This is why it is important that you know about the culture shock in Egypt and the etiquette in Egyptian custom so that it does not feel too alien.

Basic Etiquettes in Egyptian Custom You Should Maintain

•  Do not point at someone's heel or toe.
•  Make sure to dress modestly as presentation is extremely valuable in their culture.
•  If you are joining a group, make sure to greet everyone.
•  Show gratitude when someone compliments you.
•  There is no strict punctuality and maintaining a relaxed attitude is expected.
•  Remove shoes before visiting a mosque or someone's home.
•  When invited to a local Egyptian family, carrying chocolates or sweets is a token of gratitude.
•  Wait for the host to take you to the seat if they have invited you for a dinner party.
•  The host will serve food rather than the guests taking it themselves. See Famous Egypt Food
•  Taking second helpings is considered as a compliment.
•  Even after finishing, make sure to leave a small amount of food representing the abundance.
•  Eating with your left hand is commonly avoided unless you are a lefty.
•  Alcohol is not offered usually neither it is consumed with dinner or lunch.
•  Drinking a taboo here. Not all restaurants serve alcohol.
•  Offering pork to Muslims is considered offensive.
•  If you are receiving or giving gifts, do it either with your right hand or with both your hands.
•  Do not open the gift once received.
•  Avoid giving flowers as it is symbolic of wedding on mourning.

Travel Tips

Make sure to carry some Egyptian coins wherever you are going during the trip. This is because in many places in the country there is not much use of the credit card and it is easier to pay them in cash.

Learning some Arabic phrases during the trip to Egypt will help you communicate with the locals more easily. Some common ones are-

See Language in Egypt

•  Hello: as-salām ‘alaykum
•  Have a nice day: atmna lk ywma tyba
•  I’m hungry/thirsty: Ana jae’/ ana ‘atshaan
•  Please: mīn fāḍlīkā
•  What’s your name?: Male – mā ismak? Female – mā ismik?
•  My name is…: …mā ismik?
•  How much is this?: Kam howa thamanoh? (th like in bath)
•  Where is the bathroom: ayn al-ḥammām?
•  Me/You/Him/Her: Ana/ anta/ anti (you female). Houwa/ Hiya
•  My Arabic is bad: Lughati al arabic laisat kama yajib

It is very important that you respect the Egyptian monuments and temples while visiting the tombs. You might be asked not to take photos inside any of them. However if the instagrammer inside you wakes up and you fail to follow the rules and regulations, it is nothing but sheer disrespect to the local culture.

Showing respect to Egyptian custom, history and cultural heritage will help you gain respect. Also, you should praise the virtues and the strength of the Egyptians by giving them compliments generously.

It is important that you dress modestly because most of the population is not very rich and elite and dressing differently might be a cultural shock for the local people. It’s alright to be relaxed or informal however you should remember that your presence must not be a discomfort for the other tourists.

Make sure to speak about certain subjects such as Israeli a lesbian relationship or any Islamic concept very diplomatically. Always remember that an Egyptian person might not always identify himself as an Arab. Egyptian and Arab at two distinctive ethnicities and have different cultures and they are definitely not synonyms.

See also Facts about People & Culture in Egypt

While traveling, it is not very wise to follow someone blindly who is trying to help you.

Tipping or Baksheesh

Tipping or baksheesh is a very prevalent Egyptian custom here. You have to be a liberal tourist and there are generally three main types of tipping. A small reward can work for any small service; for instance, a waiter unlocking a museum room or tomb for you. People here mostly live for less than 75 dollars a month so you should not get upset about trifling sums of money. Typically that it's can be anything between 3-4 dollars for a person who is looking after your shoes in a mosque or likewise. But in a restaurant you have to tip close to 10 to 15 dollars or 30 to 50 dollars depending on the establishment. For a more expensive baksheesh, the amount can go higher and this is typically seen in cases when the people in charge bend the rules for you. For instance, getting inside an archaeological site after the visiting hours or letting you see restricted area would include higher demand. This is not exactly bribery which is a more serious concern but can be practiced in some places.

Alms giving is the last type of baksheesh where you give the poor money and goods depending on their requirement.


This is actually a profession for millions of local Egyptians. So as a tourist you might find yourself being latched upon by them. Be the airport or near your hotel, you might be hassled. Make sure to keep your cool and do not be rude to them.

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