If you head to Egypt to see the Sphinx, the Pyramids and the other sights there, you will use the Egyptian pound. You might be familiar with the British pound but as you would expect this one is slightly different.
There are two subunits to bear in mind here. It is decimalised so it is divided into 100 piastre. However it also has another subunit, because each pound can be divided into 1,000 millime. In practice though you won’t see the millime mentioned or referred to in the daily coinage you will use when you are there.
There are just three coins in use for this currency – the 25 and 50 piestre coins and the one pound coin. However the Egyptian pound is not often represented by the pound sign - £. Instead you will usually see it depicted as LE. This is because the Egyptian pound is spoken as livre egyptienne in French, hence the LE.
There are a number of banknotes you will come into contact with on your travels through the country as well. These are the 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 notes.
Egypt has an incredibly long history, as most people are aware. The Egyptian pound was introduced in the 1830s and it was originally valued according to the Gold Standard. This lasted until the beginning of the First World War. At this point the currency was pegged to the value of the British pound. This lasted for almost fifty years until 1962 when it was pegged to the US dollar instead. As you can see this is one currency that has a long-lasting history.
Egypt is a popular country that many tourists go to. Hence it is rather easy to get hold of the Egyptian pound whenever the need arises. You will certainly find it quite simple to get some of the currency before you go on holiday if you use a bureau de change. Make sure you can exchange it back quite easily when you return too, in case you have any money left.
Some people like to wait until they get to Egypt to get their cash though. You can do this if you wish – you will be able to exchange your own currency for the Egyptian pound as soon as you get to the arrivals hall. If you do this you should always make sure you take good quality currency that is in good condition. You might find this odd since many of the Egyptian banknotes are in poor condition, but they don’t seem to like accepting British notes that are torn or crumpled! To be on the safe side take ones in excellent condition and ideally ones of larger value too.
Many of the tourist spots have cash machines so you shouldn’t have any difficulty in finding somewhere to get more cash as and when you need it. You may actually find some of the hotels will accept your own currency if you take either British pound or US dollars. However this is not the case right across the country so it is always best to have some Egyptian pounds with you at all times.
A similar situation is in place with regard to card payments. In tourist areas this shouldn’t be an issue, but it may be very different in other areas of Egypt. Finally make sure you don’t get tempted to change your cash with a so-called street exchanger. This is undoubtedly a bad move as you can be duped into buying fake currency or be diddled out of a good exchange rate. Steer clear and head for the banks instead.
This is easy to do on any website that has a currency converter tool on offer. You might also find an app for your phone or tablet that provides the same service. You can get an exact exchange rate that is up to date when you use this tool, but it won’t be the same as the exchange rate you are charged to exchange your currency. In this situation there is likely to be a commission involved that will pay for the service you receive.
Finding out more official information about Egypt is easier than you might think. The Consulate General of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the UK is a long name but it is located in London. Fortunately you don’t actually have to travel there. Instead you can go to their website which can be found at http://www.egyptianconsulate.co.uk/ for more information.
It is always good to get the latest information about any country you are intending to visit. Things can change from time to time depending on a variety of factors. For example there are parts of Egypt that the UK government advises you to steer clear of. The North Sinai area is off limits according to their information but you should check this prior to going to Egypt. Other areas are to be avoided too, but in reality none of these areas are anywhere near the tourist areas people tend to visit.
Crime is relatively low in this country but there have been demonstrations in recent years that can turn nasty. Keep an eye on where demonstrations are occurring and steer well clear. If you have a tourist guide do take advice from them.
It is wise not to carry too many valuables around with you because this can put you at higher risk of being mugged. Muggings have taken place in the country and they’ve been more prevalent in recent years. Pickpockets also operate in many areas and they will pick on tourists if they think they see an easy mark. Make sure you split any money you are carrying between pockets and try to ensure your valuables are not on show. The less you can wear in terms of jewellery and so on, the safer you will be. Watch your bag too and sling it over the opposite shoulder to keep it safer from those looking for an easy opportunity to snatch it.
Egypt sits on the border where Africa and Asia meet. Its northern border faces the Mediterranean Sea, while to the north-east it borders Israel. The remainder of the eastern side of the country faces the Red Sea. To the south you will find Sudan and to the west is Libya.
The capital of Egypt is Cairo and this dates back many hundreds of years. Old Cairo is particularly interesting as it plays host to many ancient buildings dating from Roman times and other points in history. Look out for the Coptic Museum and also the Babylon Fortress among others.
Of course the main attractions in Egypt are the sights you will see in Giza. The Giza Necropolis includes the six famous pyramids that form part of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Great Sphinx is also here, which is known in Arabic as Abu al-Haul. This rather disturbingly translates into The Terrifying One. It is thought the face of the Sphinx is meant to represent the Pharaoh Khafre. One of the great pyramids here is also dedicated to this Pharaoh.
If you do visit Cairo you should definitely pay a visit to the Egyptian Museum. This gives you a chance to discover more about the history of the country. There are many ancient antiquities here that reveal more about the lives of those who have lived in the country. Look out for mummies, Egyptian kings and many other stunning exhibits.
Another promising location for tourists is the Valley of the Kings. Dozens of tombs have been discovered here and there is every chance there are plenty more underneath the sand. Some famous kings such as Ramesses VII still remain undiscovered, so who knows what else could be lying unknown beneath the feet of those who visit the area?
There is also the Luxor Temple which is in Luxor. This was once called Thebes when it was an ancient city. The name of this temple is actually a bit misleading because it refers to a series of temples rather than just the one. The whole site has been rightly recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, since there are no other places quite like it in the world – although Egypt clearly has other similar locations dotted around!
Egypt could easily be regarded as one of those locations many people would like to visit in their lifetime. It is the type of place that has given rise to the idea of ‘living history’. Seeing the likes of the pyramids and similar structures up close is an amazing experience and one you will definitely enjoy.
Will you book a break to Egypt soon and spend some of their pounds while you are there?