Middle East - 36 hours in Cairo
We land in CAI at 9:15am in 2 weeks. I plan to take my boys to visit Cairo Museum and explore the city on the first day. Have mix feeling about Giza Pyramid Laser night show, but that maybe fun for the boys…..
Next day our flight leaves CAI at 21:15, so I was thinking about hiring a car and driver to explore Giza. How much does car/driver for 12 hours cost? No need to be in a fancy German car. We would like to get back to the airport by 19:00 and it seems Giza can be done in half day. What other ancient sites should we ask our driver to take us to maximize our Cairo visit?
Perhaps we should join group tour…… any other recommendations?
Mar 15, 12, 8:38 am
I went to Cairo last year and the Giza pyramid is a must and you will need about half a day to explore all 3 pyramids and the SPinx you can hire a car with driver for one day for about $ 100-120 usd
The kids will love the museum
Mar 16, 12, 12:59 pm
Outside the pyramids and the sphinx, which were amazing, I wasn't too impressed with Cairo. 36 hours should be plenty.
Mar 20, 12, 7:58 am
I actually like Cairo a lot. We were last there in mid December, and stayed at the Le Meridien Pyramids. The hotel was fine, and a great deal (whether with points or cash) -- like everyone in the tourist industry, they've been hard hit, and are offering discounts in one way or another. The location (for access to the pyramids & sphinx) was great.
We didn't see go to the museum because of the protest activity happening at the time in and around Tahrir Square and central Cairo.
Depending on the age of the OP's kids, I would also recommend going to Al Azhar Park. Lots of great play areas for little kids (mine are both small), decent eating options, great views.
So this is what we end up doing….
After a mob approached us at arrival hall, I thought we were going with official taxi service but end up with some guy’s old civic for 75 EGP to Hilton Ramses. We booked a club room and chatted with lounge staff while waiting for our room. As it turns out, he has a “tour company” and we felt comfortable with him so agreed to use his tour service.
We left hotel at 1pm (he gets off work at 12:30) and drove to Giza and Sphinx. We didn’t want to do a long camel ride for US$50 per person, so opted with just 2 camels for photo ops for 50EGP. There was not enough time to go inside of Pyramid and we heard it is hot and stinky, so we didn’t go inside.
We really wanted to see Step Pyramid, so around 5pm when Giza was closing, we drove there which was about an hour away. When we got there, the gate was still open and we drove in while we see the guard came out of his room in our rear mirror. We had a great visit and photo-ops with no one around us. As we were leaving , now the gate is closed and they exchange some words with the guard. Our driver told him that he should have told us that the park is closed (we knew....) while the security is telling him “that is what I was trying to tell you!” and slowly opened the gate to let us out. Not sure if this place cost any money, but we didn’t pay.
As cheesy as the night show at Giza, we decided to go check it out. First 3 rows of seats are expensive, so buy the cheapest seat and 4th row is equally good. Thinking at the end of the show, they will have all the lights on, but they didn’t. So, if you want to do night shot mode with pyramid in the back ground and family in the pic, be sure to take those photos during the show.
With traffic, it was another hour back to the hotel (9pm) and total driver/car cost was 350EGP and I gave him additional 50 for tip. Having our driver distance us away from sales people is worth every cent.
Next day after breakfast, we walked to Egyptian Museum. One can’t take picture inside, but lots of people were using their cell phone to capture King Tut’s mask. Royal Mummies cost additional admission, pricy, but we can’t come this far and not spend the dough. We planned 3 hours here, 1.5 is all we need with kids age 8 and 12.
Our driver picked us up at 2pm from the museum and we visited Citadel. On our way back to the hotel, we were caught in a demonstration. Apparently this is what they still do every Friday and the driver was freaking out…..not sure if it is due to having foreigners in his car and cameras hanging around my neck like a journalist or the color of his license plate (business plate). He begged me not to take any picture as he found a side street to exit out of the crowd. We were just being a tourist and he was really shaken up.
We made it back to Hilton by 5:30pm and then he drove us to the airport at 6pm. We arrived airport by 7pm and judging traffic, he probably won’t get back in town until 8:30pm. Cost for today was 300EGP and we tipped more today than yesterday for the excitement.
Agreed that 36 hours is all you need for Cairo.
Apr 6, 12, 1:28 am
There is usually a cost for the step pyramid entry fees, like all other National Tourist sights.
I found the evening light show a little cheesy. I did not go on my second visit to Cairo.
In May 2011, when times were tough, we had 20 minute camel rides for $15 USD per person, from the entry gate, via the Sphinx to the smaller pyramids in the back...
Planned demonstrations are usually on Fridays. Most of them seem centered around the downtown core and some suburbs of Cairo. Unfortunately, unless you have good command of Arabic, it is difficult to predict where this will happen once you are on the ground in the country.
All day taxi for 350 EGP is good value, considering the taxi ride from downtown to the airport and vice versa is usually 80 EGP...
Sounds like you had a great trip!!
Jun 11, 12, 11:24 pm
350 is a bit much, actually. You can go from downtown to the airport for about 50 pounds. When I was there a few years ago the rate from downtown to the pyramids was 12 is you negotiated well. Saqarra is maybe three more. This was a while back, so even if you double it, you will see 350 is too much. You need to find out the rate and pay them accordingly. If they want more, pay them and walk against traffic.