Invariably, most students do get at least some stomach problems at some
point during their time in Egypt. If you do, we advise you to eat light
food until you get better, like rice and yogurt, and be more careful
about your food.
Good nutrition can also help in protecting against other health
problems, like fatigue and colds. Take your vitamins and drink plenty
Be careful. Try to avoid drinking tap water. Bottled water is
ubiquitous and cheap. Eat in clean looking restaurants or at home.
Produce is very cheap (outside of super markets). Make sure to scrub
fruits and vegetables before eating them, peeling them if possible, and
soaking them in some water with vinegar to kill the bacteria. Be very
careful and accustom your stomach to Egypt gradually.
Avoid juice places (especially sugar cane juice) during the first few
weeks as well as many stomach problems often originate here.
Delivery and fast food are so convenient and relatively inexpensive
that many students depend on them heavily. However it is advisable to
avoid too much fast food, for obvious health reasons.
Most people in Cairo do a lot of walking. This is the best form of
exercise. If you would like to do more, there are several gyms
(including separate gyms for women). Many of the men-s gyms also offer
martial arts classes.
Dental Work and Optometry
Dental work is safe, good, and inexpensive in Cairo, as are eye exams
and glasses. If you need a procedure done, you can feel safe having it
done here. Sometimes your embassy can make some recommendations for
doctors. (A list is available at the American Embassy.)
There are hospitals mentioned in this guide with good doctors. If you
need a special doctor, see if you embassy has any recommendations. All
doctors speak English.
If you have a computer with a modem at home, you can set up
internet at home very easily. For Windows XP (other operating systems
should be similar), follow these instructions:
1. Go to Control Panel
2. Network and Internet Connections
3. -Set up for change your Internet
5. Dial to private network
6. (Phone number: 07770777)
7. (Name; ex: Egypt Connection)
Plug the phone line into your modem, dial the connection, and thats
it! There are a lot of phone numbers that you can use. One example is
given, but there are many others with the same form (07770xxx). Look
around on the street; you will often see advertisements for them. Some
non profit numbers include: 07779001, 07775757, 07075757.
There is no cost for this, except for regular local phone line usage.
(Be careful, this adds up quickly!) Also, keep in mind that by doing
this, you can not use your phone while on the net and others can-t
At Internet Cafe:
There are also internet cafes all over the place. They
are relatively cheap. Some also offer other computer and media
services, like printing, faxing, and web cam.
Most apartments come with a phone line. Dialing directly is best
for local calls.
To call internationally, you have a few choices:
This is a calling card that you can get at cell phone
places. Use this to call internationally or for good rates to cell
phones and other non-local numbers.
You will find many local stores which
offer local, long distance, and international calling.
You can use online services to call internationally through
the net. Some internet cafes offer this service. The connections at
caf-s are often better, and this method is extremely cheap. This is a
good option if you don-t mind the lack of privacy.
You may be able to use your cell phone from back home
depending on what type of phone it is (tri-band). You can also buy a
cell phone here (new or used) at cell phone stores or in Ataba. You
have to buy the SIM card, which costs around 200 LE. Then you buy
-charge cards- (25 LE, 50 LE, 100 LE) to put credit on your phone.
Rates for calls average around 0.02 LE per second. You can also get a
-line- on your cell phone. Check cell phone stores for details. (Cell
phone stores usually have the ( orange ) Mobinil, ( red ) Vodafone or (
green ) Etisalat signs all over their windows- they are hard to miss.)
It is a good idea to purchase a -Minatel- card. These cards
can be used any of the many green and yellow Minatel phone booths to
make local or long distance calls. This is very convenient in case you
are somewhere without access to a home or cell phone. The cards can be
purchased at cell phone stores and many little grocery and stationary
stores. Look for the green and yellow Minatel sign.
Mail in Egypt is very slow, and not always reliable. The best is to
deal with e-mail and fax, but if you must mail something (it always
feels nice to get a real, handwritten, paper letter!) there are post
offices and mail boxes around Garden City.
Citibank has four or five branches throughout Cairo and one in
Alexandria. You can open a dollar account there for a cost of $6 every
three months. You can write checks to yourself to deposit money in this
account from your American (or other foreign) account, or have money
wired in. This way you can withdraw dollars and convert them for a
better rate than the bank rate. Note: If you have an American Citibank
account, this really means nothing in Citibank Egypt. They are
completely separate. You can also get a dollar account at some other
Visit the branches and speak to the representative there to get more
The easiest way to exchange money is either at banks or money
exchangers. Money exchangers typically give better rate, but at the
time of writing this, all rates (banks, exchangers, other markets) are
about the same.
You can also of course just use a bank ATM and get the regular bank
rate. This is could also be very useful in situations in which you need
money and can-t get to the bank. Make sure you know what fees are
involved for using your ATM card in ATMs in Egypt.
There is a Western Union branch in Cornish street near Al Diwan garden
City. Call to ask for rates and details. (see the directory)
You can exchange these at Thomas Cook or Barclay-s for a 1% charge, $10
charge minimum. Citibank will not exchange the traveler-s checks, even
Citibank issued checks. These fees are subject to change. You may want
to ask around at different places before exchanging.
Types of Visas
There are several types of visas with several lengths of duration.
There are student, work, and tourist visas. Tourist visas are typically
the easiest to deal with and obtain. The others require proof and
It is very easy to renew your visa in Egypt. You can even get a tourist
visa for up to five years if you are planning to stay a while. One
thing to keep in mind is that every time you leave Egypt, your visa is
cancelled; meaning to come back in, you will need a new visa. You can
avoid this problem by getting a Multiple Entry Visa. Also, make sure
your visa is valid for longer than you actual stay. If you are leaving
Egypt and they see that your visa has expired, this could cause
Many students come to Egypt with a one-month visa with a three-month
validity. This means that the visa is valid for any time during those
three months, but only for a month once you enter Egypt. Do not mistake
this for a three month visa.
There is a two week grace period after the expiration of your visa if
you go to get it renewed. However, after this period there is a fee.
Keep track of your visa expiration date so that you don-t have to
unnecessarily pay this fee.
In all cases, contact the Egyptian embassy in your home country about
procedures concerning obtaining visas, as these procedures are subject
Also, please be very patient when dealing with any governmental office,
as things tend to get done slowly and without a clear system in many
instances. It-s all part of your -Egyptian experience!-
How to Renew
Visas are issued at the -Mugamma- in downtown Cairo in Tahrir Square.
It is a huge concrete monster of a building- hard to miss. The visas
are issued on the second floor. Ask around to make your way through the
maze of people and hallways to the window for renewing visas for
foreigners. Go early in the morning as well for the quickest service.
Take a couple passport pictures with you, a photocopy of the first page
of your passport (with the vital info), a photocopy of the old visa,
enough money (depending on the visa length), and a lot of patience!
The Mugamma is open everyday except Friday and Saturday.
[Note: Information on this
does not constitute any legal or official advice, rather, it is written
from old students' experience, and might have been changed. You have to
consult the official immigration office or website]