February is here and many of us are already thinking about trips and vacations in this year. Some of you may prefer traveling to cities around the world, some of you prefer mountains and nature and some of you prefer sea & sun. And thinking about golden beaches, sun and crystal clear water, maybe you’ll think about visiting Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. And I assume that you will have a lot questions inside your head.
Is Egypt safe? Is Sharm el Sheikh worth visiting? How is it like to go there as a solo female traveler? What to do there? What to see? Here you’ll find some useful tips about Egypt in general and my opinion about spending holidays in Sharm el Sheikh. I want you to know that this article is based on my personal experience and opinion. I want to be completely honest with you and I don’t want to write how perfect is everywhere I go. There is something good and beautiful in every country or city, but there is also something bad.
Let me answer your question first. Is Sharm el Sheikh worth visiting? The answer is not black or white, it is something in between. There is something good and something bad. It depens on what you’re looking for.
If you are a coral reef lover the answer is absolutely yes. Sharm el Sheikh is definitely worth visiting if you want to see the beautiful coral reefs.
If you don’t care if there is a gorgeous coral reef, maybe Sharm el Sheikh is not so worth visiting it. It is a bit overrated. Many people will say that Sharm is a great resort and that there is a lot to see and do. Many people talk about paradise but I can’t find any connection with paradise. I am a huge lover of the Old Towns and I think that they have a special charm. But the Old Town in Sharm el Sheikh really didn’t impress me. Oh, this is not 100% true. One thing left me speechless – El Sahaba Mosque.
I am not sure that I’ll ever return to Egypt. I was disappointed. Maybe I was expecting too much based on everything I’ve heard about Egypt. Many people fall in love with this country. I didn’t. Pushy vendors, disrespectful men around the city & tasteless food are not my thing.
You may not be comfortable there as a solo female traveler. I’m not saying that Egypt isn’t safe and I believe that people in general are nice and friendly, but sometimes you’ll find yourself uncomfortable. In the hotels you’re completely safe. Some guys will talk to you and want to hang out with you, but they are completely harmless. But on the streets the story is a little bit different.
So, let’s take a step by step.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT RESORT
If you are planing a vacation in Sharm el Sheikh, be sure that you choose the right resort. There are many fairytale hotels and resorts, so this is not going to be a tough job. Of course, it depends on your needs and tastes. I was in The Grand Hotel Sharm el Sheikh which is a 5* hotel and I can’t imagine how it would look like if the hotel was under 5*. Can’t complain about the hotel or about the room. I mean… look at this view. I’ve booked a junior suite and I didn’t regret this decision. First row, almost private pool, the view, friendly staff, comfortable and clean room. 10/10.
Sadly, the food wasn’t that good. It wasn’t good at all. Luckily, there are international restaurants inside the resort and this is included in all-inclusive, so you can make a reservation and eat in one of these restaurant. You can choose between thai, fusion, italian, indian and lebanese restaurant. It has saved my life. I think I would die from starving.
We were so desperate that we went to McDonalds. What could possibly go wrong? And you know what? Even this food didn’t taste good. Mc”something” I’ve had was so disgusting that even the dog, which was obviously starving and prepared to eat whatever, didn’t want to eat this s*it. I was so happy when I got back. I was finally able to eat delicious food again.
SAFETY IN EGYPT
During the Arab Spring we could read stories about revolutions and uprisings. And because of that Egypt didn’t seem like a safe place to travel. Not many people were going there from 2012-2015. In 2015 there was also a plane crash and that’s why many people didn’t want to go there. Now we’re into 2020 and things are slowly changing.
Egypt is not as dangerous as you may think it is. Obviously, Egypt isn’t one of the safest places to travel but on the other side, it isn’t more dangerous than Europe or US. There’s a strong military presence – guards, metal detectors and bag checks, but that’s okay with me. I didn’t find myself uncomfortable with this.
There are places in Egypt that are no-go at the moment but the tour operators make sure that they aren’t taking anyone there.
Yes, there have been terror attacks in Egypt and they have claimed lives – but they can happen everywhere. Not just that they can. They do. Egypt is not 100% safe – but is there any country that is 100% safe? Even if there is a country that is safe, there is always a safety concern – you can be a victim of a natural disaster, traffic accident or something similar. So why worry about possible terror attack?
SOLO FEMALE SAFETY
If you are a solo female in Egypt men will stare. If you are white, they will stare. People are saying that they will stare if you are blonde, but the truth is they will stare if you are blonde, brunette, red or black. Hair colour doesn’t matter. Some of them will only stare while you may find someone who is going to call you names, stalk you or even try to touch you.
I’m not saying that every Egyptian man is the same, but I’ve had a few bad experiences. Maybe I have overreacted, maybe they were just curious, but I was really scared. One time there was a guy following us all the time – even when we crossed the street. He was following us until we got to the hotel. And there was another one who was driving behind us – how creepy is this? When we were in the Old Town, someone even called me a whore, because I was ignoring him from the beggining. They don’t really respect woman. Try to ignore someone who is being rude – he will get bored and he will stop if you ignore him.
But I don’t travel to spend my time inside the resort. I want to see the city and experience the culture. But if I’m honest, I don’t want to do that if I don’t feel safe at all. Many females experience the same thing when they travel solo and I guess that you can’t do anything about it.
My tips on safety
- Dress respectfully and cover your body. This is the best way to prevent harrasment. Don’t wear tight clothes, short skirts and dresses. It is hot, but you’re not doing any favor to yourself if you dress like this.
EGYPT IS NOT THE WESTERN WORLD
Egypt is not a Western country and this is obvious. Many Western tourists visit Egypt, but keep in mind that you’ll face a different world. Egypt is a part of the Middle East and North Africa.
You should know that 5* accomodation isn’t like 5* accomodation in Europe. If you want to stay in a decent hotel, book a 5-star hotel. Everything less than that isn’t really decent for someone who is used to stay in a 4 or 5-star hotels in Europe. Everything will be done slower and you will be confronted with poverty, dirty streets with garbage and animal abuse. Think twice before riding a camel.
Vendors will hassle you at all the major tourist sites. Do you think that you can take a look in peace? You’re wrong. You often have to say no multiple times and just keep walking. But even this isn’t enough. They will follow you and they will try to sell you something. If you are not interested in buying – don’t think twice. Say no and keep walking. Many people say that they have the same experience from Turkey or Tunisia, but I haven’t had such a bad experience till Egypt.
I’m not saying this to scare you and this isn’t the reason why you shouldn’t visit Egypt. I just want you to know what you should expect so you can prepare yourself a little bit. You can’t travel to Egypt expecting to be like a trip to Europe. Egypt is unique. If you don’t want to deal with this you should rather choose other destination.
WHAT TO DO IN SHARM EL SHEIKH?
Sharm el Sheikh is a wonderful place to enjoy the beach and sun. The sea provides very good snorkeling options. If you are a lover of snorkeling you shouldn’t miss a snorkeling trip to Tiran island as it is one of the better snorkeling spots. You can also take a trip to the Ras Mohammed National Park – Egypt’s underwater paradise.
There is a wide variety of trips – such as a trip to Tiran, Ras Mohammed, quad biking safari, trip to Mount Sinai & St. Catherine Monastery, day trip to Cairo or Luxor, etc. I was in Sharm for two weeks and I’ve decided to take two trips but I wasn’t satisfied with what I’ve paid. The snorkeling trip to Ras Mohammed was a total waste of money. There are to many boats and you could barely notice any fish. They were at the hotel beach – and it was completely free.
The city of Sharm el Sheikh let me down completely. There is nothing to see and nothing to do. Yes, there are some casinos, bars and restaurant, but I wasn’t impressed. The Old Town and Naama Bay are totally overrated. The only thing worth visiting it is El Sahaba Mosque. This one is pretty amazing.
To make a conclusion, there is not much to do beside the beach.
The underwater world here is EVERYTHING. It is so incredible beautiful and you’ll spot amazing sea creatures. I can still remember the colours and fishes that take your breath away as soon as you see them. Sharm el Sheikh hasn’t had a lot of tourists in the past years and the underwater world had time to recover. Corals gained back their colour and they are very much alive. You will be surrounded by colours – yellow, blue, red, green, white.. all colours you can imagine.
WHEN TO VISIT
Sharm el Sheikh can be visited all year round. The best time to visit is from April to October, but I would advise you not to go there in July and August, because it gets really hot. I was there in September and the weather was still hot as hell. That means around 40°C. And when it gets so hot it is even hard to breath. I was sure that I can handle the heat very well… and then I came to Egypt. I can guarantee you nice and hot weather.
Is Sharm el Sheikh worth visiting? Decide on your own. You know what you love and what can make or break your vacation. Maybe I’ll give it another shot some day but I am 100% sure that 2 weeks are way to much.
Have you been to Egypt already? How do you feel about this country? Let me know 🙂