Cairo: How to Avoid being ripped off

Κάιρο Αίγυπτος

Cairo is a lively, cosmopolitan capital, that not only offers countless sights, but also constitutes the entrance key to the enchanting Eastern world, at the heart of Egypt. Surely, no one would want to spoil their exotic journey, by falling a victim of fraud.

Egypt is not considered a dangerous country to travel around, but certainly, if the locals perceive that you are tourists, the most possible scenario is that they will try to score off you the biggest amount of money they can. In fact, some of them are so skilled at fraud, that they could very well have a degree on it!

All of us could at some point find ourselves in the unpleasant situation of being victims of fraud. Because I have personally fallen into every possible big trap, I am the most suitable example of things to avoid. So I am offering some sound advice and information on the types of swindlers that could very well be straight out of a Hollywood script.

1. Don’t stare at the things they try to sell you

If you look straight in their eyes or their merchandise, they will come directly to you and they won’t stop annoying you. They will constantly make you offers for things that you don’t want to buy.

2. Tell them “sukran”

Sukran” means “thank you” in Arabic. In this way, they will understand that you are not interested. Say no and indicate it with your body language, otherwise, they will not hesitate to bother you by non-stop talking until you buy what they wish to sell you.

3. Don’t trust the people carrying labels at tourist sights

They pretend to be tour guides or ticket issuers, by adopting suitable clothing. They even stop taxis claiming they are in charge. Furthermore, they will make efforts to sell you anything they can or charge you for things that you haven’t asked for. And this leads us to the next piece of advice…

4. Always agree on a price, before you do anything else

Differently, you may find yourselves on a camel, from which they won’t let you come down until you accept one of their prices. Bear in mind that camels are taller than they seem. The same advice applies also to taxis and all kinds of service.

5. Don’t trust neither the policemen at tourist sights, nor those who are close to them

Usually, some of them cooperate with the swindlers. But even they can also ask you for money after they have given you some kind of “help”. An extreme incident happened to me at the pyramids of Giza. The sun was setting and I was on a tall sand dune, outside the archeological site. Then, a policeman appeared on a camel. I didn’t have to think much. I just took out my purse and he showed me the amount of money he wanted.

6. Nothing is for free

Even a little help, such as information on whether you have to turn right or left might cost you.

Other possible scenarios include:

  • Help at the airport (from the people in charge)
  • Taking a photo with a cell-phone/camera
  • Opening of a “secret” wing, in archeological sites, which was never actually closed

7. Prefer uber to taxis

There are three different categories of Uber. You can check the marking and choose the appropriate automobile. If on the contrary you choose a taxi, it is very important not to give any personal information to the driver. Yet, be prepared for an additional charge.

Not having the intention to put you off travelling to Egypt, remember that it is a beautiful country and there will always be good and friendly locals to provide you help if you need it. Don’t worry!

Article by Titina Stamou

Translated by Konstantinos Kapoutsis

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