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HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



I know there was a thread a while back that's now in archives, but I have a few questions if anyone's been recently.

How many tourists are there around? I've seen everything from "everything will be packed with tourists" to "barely saw any". I'll be going in mid/late May.

How does this look as an itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive Cairo, try not to die of jet lag.
Day 2: Pyramids, obviously. Private tour to do Saqqara and Dashur as well
Day 3: Egyptian Museum
Day 4: Fly to Abu Simbel. See the temples, fly back to Aswan. Afternoon spent in the bazaar/hanging out.
Day 5: Fly to Luxor
Day 6: Luxor
Day 7: Luxor
Day 8: Go to Sharm-El-Sheik
Day 9: Go diving
Day 10: Diving
Day 11: Hang out (no diving though)
Day 12: Fly to Jordan

(note: I'm changing this itinerary as I plan just to make it easier for me to find it)

Does this sound like a reasonable plan? Should we spend an extra couple of days and do a Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor instead of the flight? My husband and I are both very into history/Egyptology and that would be the main focus of this trip.

Are there better spots than Hurghada to dive? Neither one of us are PADI certified and just do intro dives wherever we go. I've heard it's a good place, and not as busy as Sharm El Sheik. But very open to suggestions there, obviously.

Thanks!!


edit: If that schedule works I might throw in a side-trip to visit Petra for 2-3 days as well.

HookShot fucked around with this message at Oct 19, 2018 around 16:08

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Ramms+ein
Nov 10, 2003
Henshin-a-go-go, baby!

HookShot posted:

I know there was a thread a while back that's now in archives, but I have a few questions if anyone's been recently.

How many tourists are there around? I've seen everything from "everything will be packed with tourists" to "barely saw any". I'll be going in mid/late May.

How does this look as an itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive Cairo, try not to die of jet lag.
Day 2: Pyramids, obviously. Private tour to do Saqqara and Dashur as well
Day 3: Egyptian Museum
Day 4: Fly to Abu Simel. See the temples, fly back to Aswan. Afternoon spent in the bazaar/hanging out.
Day 5: Fly to Luxor
Day 6: Stuff in Luxor
Day 7: Stuff in Luxor
Day 8: Go to Hurghada
Day 9: Go diving
Day 10: Hang out (no diving though)
Day 11: Fly home

Does this sound like a reasonable plan? Should we spend an extra couple of days and do a Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor instead of the flight? My husband and I are both very into history/Egyptology and that would be the main focus of this trip.

Are there better spots than Hurghada to dive? Neither one of us are PADI certified and just do intro dives wherever we go. I've heard it's a good place, and not as busy as Sharm El Sheik. But very open to suggestions there, obviously.

Thanks!!


edit: If that schedule works I might throw in a side-trip to visit Petra for 2-3 days as well.

I was just there in August and lived there for a year in 2008, the Pyramids had so few tourists it was basically as if you had the place to yourself compared to when I was there in 2008. Do you have a private car to show you around the whole time? If not, you can metro to Giza and then take an Uber to the Pyramids, quicker than taking a taxi from downtown. Traffic is horrendously awful, sometimes it's faster to just metro. Uber is incredibly cheap compared to taking taxis but if you don't see any ubers around, I would get a base fare and then negotiate off of that. It would be like 20-40 pounds higher but that's like 2 plus dollars. You might have time to squeeze in Abusir on your way back from Saqqara. When I took a taxi down to Saqqara and Dahshur, I paid 100 pounds an hour which seems like a reasonable price. They initially wanted 300. The Egyptian Museum won't take all day, it's poorly labeled but maybe you'll enjoy it as Egyptologists. I would go to Islamic Cairo, I can recommend some places if you are interested.

Two days in Luxor is good. In Aswan I would skip the bazaar, you could have a better experience in Khan el Khalili in Cairo and buy the same stuff, instead go to Elephantine Island. You can also go to the Aswan Dam which was interesting too. There is a cool Egypt - Soviet Friendship memorial there. I did a cruise from Aswan to Luxor, it was really awesome. We stopped along the way at Esna and Edfu which I think you would appreciate, incredible temples.

Not a diver so can't help you there but I know Dahab was a really popular dive spot. I dunno what the security situation is currently in the Sinai though.

Are you a woman? Unfortunately sexual harassment is a problem so be prepared for some catcalling, although having your husband there will help.

Hope this helps, if you have any other questions or want food/bar recommendations or anything, feel free to ask.

Petra is incredible, definitely worth a side trip, would it cut into your egypt time?

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



Ramms+ein posted:

I was just there in August and lived there for a year in 2008, the Pyramids had so few tourists it was basically as if you had the place to yourself compared to when I was there in 2008. Do you have a private car to show you around the whole time? If not, you can metro to Giza and then take an Uber to the Pyramids, quicker than taking a taxi from downtown. Traffic is horrendously awful, sometimes it's faster to just metro. Uber is incredibly cheap compared to taking taxis but if you don't see any ubers around, I would get a base fare and then negotiate off of that. It would be like 20-40 pounds higher but that's like 2 plus dollars. You might have time to squeeze in Abusir on your way back from Saqqara. When I took a taxi down to Saqqara and Dahshur, I paid 100 pounds an hour which seems like a reasonable price. They initially wanted 300. The Egyptian Museum won't take all day, it's poorly labeled but maybe you'll enjoy it as Egyptologists. I would go to Islamic Cairo, I can recommend some places if you are interested.

Two days in Luxor is good. In Aswan I would skip the bazaar, you could have a better experience in Khan el Khalili in Cairo and buy the same stuff, instead go to Elephantine Island. You can also go to the Aswan Dam which was interesting too. There is a cool Egypt - Soviet Friendship memorial there. I did a cruise from Aswan to Luxor, it was really awesome. We stopped along the way at Esna and Edfu which I think you would appreciate, incredible temples.

Not a diver so can't help you there but I know Dahab was a really popular dive spot. I dunno what the security situation is currently in the Sinai though.

Are you a woman? Unfortunately sexual harassment is a problem so be prepared for some catcalling, although having your husband there will help.

Hope this helps, if you have any other questions or want food/bar recommendations or anything, feel free to ask.

Petra is incredible, definitely worth a side trip, would it cut into your egypt time?

Thank you so much for all the advice!!

For the Pyramids, I was going to do an all-day tour, simply because I figured the guides could give a lot more information than doing it ourselves would. Do you think that's accurate, or not worth it at all and just taking Uber would be better?

And cool, I'll add the Nile Cruise into our schedule as well, thanks!. Petra would be on top of Egypt, I haven't booked anything at all yet so I won't be trying to shove too much into a set time period. I figure I probably won't be in that area again anytime soon so may as well go see as much awesome as I can at once. If it takes 16 days instead of 13, then that's what it takes.

I am a woman, so yeah, I figure the catcalling is to be expected. If that's as bad as it gets, well, I've certainly dealt with worse.

As I get closer to the dates I may hit you up for more specific recommendations

Ramms+ein
Nov 10, 2003
Henshin-a-go-go, baby!

Thank you so much for all the advice!!

For the Pyramids, I was going to do an all-day tour, simply because I figured the guides could give a lot more information than doing it ourselves would. Do you think that's accurate, or not worth it at all and just taking Uber would be better?

And cool, I'll add the Nile Cruise into our schedule as well, thanks!. Petra would be on top of Egypt, I haven't booked anything at all yet so I won't be trying to shove too much into a set time period. I figure I probably won't be in that area again anytime soon so may as well go see as much awesome as I can at once. If it takes 16 days instead of 13, then that's what it takes.

I am a woman, so yeah, I figure the catcalling is to be expected. If that's as bad as it gets, well, I've certainly dealt with worse.

As I get closer to the dates I may hit you up for more specific recommendations

So would your all-day pyramid tour include a guide to give you information? At the Giza pyramids you can easily hire a guide but they don't really exist at the other sites if you are not bringing your own as part of a packaged tour. You couldn't uber to Saqqara, it only works within Cairo.

Petra is incredible and definitely worth going to. If you do go to Petra, I assume you'll fly into Amman and drive a car down? Definitely take the King's Highway down and not the Desert Highway, you go through Jordan's Grand Canyon.

Feel free to email me when it gets closer if I don't check the thread norman.brightiii@gmail.com I'd be happy to help, spent a fair amount of time in Jordan as well

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



Ramms+ein posted:

So would your all-day pyramid tour include a guide to give you information? At the Giza pyramids you can easily hire a guide but they don't really exist at the other sites if you are not bringing your own as part of a packaged tour. You couldn't uber to Saqqara, it only works within Cairo.

Petra is incredible and definitely worth going to. If you do go to Petra, I assume you'll fly into Amman and drive a car down? Definitely take the King's Highway down and not the Desert Highway, you go through Jordan's Grand Canyon.

Feel free to email me when it gets closer if I don't check the thread norman.brightiii@gmail.com I'd be happy to help, spent a fair amount of time in Jordan as well
Yeah, sorry, I didn't really write that clearly. I found a number of private guides that do the pyramids, then drive you to Saqqara and Dashur and guide you there as well.

And yes, I was going to fly to Amman and drive down. That's awesome to know, thank you!!

And thanks for the contact info as well, I appreciate it

asur
Dec 28, 2012


I felt like Petra was pretty disappointing after Egypt. The temples in Egypt are in good condition while Petra has been worn down due to it being sandstone. This isn't to say don't go to Petra, but I would go to Jordan for Mt. Nebo, Dead Sea and Wadi Rum in addition to Petra. We did all that in five days, counting flying in one afternoon and leaving in the morning.

I'd check out Marsa Alam for diving. The house reef at Marsa Shagra Village is pretty good and there's a cool reef with a ridiculous amount of dolphins nearby. I've also dove in Sharm and thought the house reefs were better at Marsa, but that the day trips were better at Sharm. One thing to note is that if you fly, I think you have to transit Cairo from Luxor for all three I believe.

asur fucked around with this message at Oct 18, 2018 around 23:00

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



asur posted:

I felt like Petra was pretty disappointing after Egypt. The temples in Egypt are in good condition while Petra has been worn down due to it being sandstone. This isn't to say don't go to Petra, but I would go to Jordan for Mt. Nebo, Dead Sea and Wadi Rum in addition to Petra. We did all that in five days, counting flying in one afternoon and leaving in the morning.

I'd check out Marsa Alam for diving. The house reef at Marsa Shagra Village is pretty good and there's a cool reef with a ridiculous amount of dolphins nearby. I've also dove in Sharm and thought the house reefs were better at Marsa, but that the day trips were better at Sharm. One thing to note is that if you fly, I think you have to transit Cairo from Luxor for all three I believe.

Thanks for this! I've been rethinking the diving part of it. We're not PADI qualified, but I found a place in Sharm that lets you do the classroom stuff at home ahead of time and just do three days for certification, of which two days is open water dives, and I was considering doing that. Any thoughts? We've done intro dives three different times, of which one was literally us and a couple that were open water certified and I'm pretty sure the operator just went "gently caress it" and did a regular open water dive with all of us because there was literally no difference between what my husband and I did and what the actually qualified divers did. I went down to 15 meters a few times and the guy did not care.

I was thinking of doing more day trips than house reefs, but looking up Marsa Alam looks interesting.

And yeah, transit through Cairo kind of sucks, but what can you do? That was another reason I was thinking maybe Sharm though, since it's less flying time overall than a resort further south.

asur
Dec 28, 2012


HookShot posted:

Thanks for this! I've been rethinking the diving part of it. We're not PADI qualified, but I found a place in Sharm that lets you do the classroom stuff at home ahead of time and just do three days for certification, of which two days is open water dives, and I was considering doing that. Any thoughts? We've done intro dives three different times, of which one was literally us and a couple that were open water certified and I'm pretty sure the operator just went "gently caress it" and did a regular open water dive with all of us because there was literally no difference between what my husband and I did and what the actually qualified divers did. I went down to 15 meters a few times and the guy did not care.

I was thinking of doing more day trips than house reefs, but looking up Marsa Alam looks interesting.

And yeah, transit through Cairo kind of sucks, but what can you do? That was another reason I was thinking maybe Sharm though, since it's less flying time overall than a resort further south.

I would highly recommend doing the classroom stuff at home, I assume online. I believe they'll optimize so you can do it at night if you're there, but it's still overhead you can get out of the way earlier. You can also do the pool dives at home and then just do OW there, which sounds like it would save a day but that usually ends up being more expensive since you pay a local diveshop as well. I would recommend that as well if you have time and the money isn't a big deal as generally instruction quality is higher in the US and isn't rushed as it's normally two days in the pool.

If you want a recommendation, about four years ago I did AOW and dove for a week with Red Sea Diving College.

If you want to do day trips I highly recommend Sharm, but as an option you can in theory drive from Luxor to either Marsa Alam or Hurghada or Aswan to Marsa Alam. We didn't do this and I'm not definitively reccomending it as I don't know if Google Maps times are accurate and how safe it is. We did drive Aswan to Abu Simbel and south of Marsa Alam with no issues for reference.

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



asur posted:

I would highly recommend doing the classroom stuff at home, I assume online. I believe they'll optimize so you can do it at night if you're there, but it's still overhead you can get out of the way earlier. You can also do the pool dives at home and then just do OW there, which sounds like it would save a day but that usually ends up being more expensive since you pay a local diveshop as well. I would recommend that as well if you have time and the money isn't a big deal as generally instruction quality is higher in the US and isn't rushed as it's normally two days in the pool.

If you want a recommendation, about four years ago I did AOW and dove for a week with Red Sea Diving College.

If you want to do day trips I highly recommend Sharm, but as an option you can in theory drive from Luxor to either Marsa Alam or Hurghada or Aswan to Marsa Alam. We didn't do this and I'm not definitively reccomending it as I don't know if Google Maps times are accurate and how safe it is. We did drive Aswan to Abu Simbel and south of Marsa Alam with no issues for reference.

Sweet, thanks! I live about a 90 minute drive away from the nearest place where I could do the pool dives, so doing those here would probably be somewhat inconvenient, but might still be better than spending time doing it over there.

Thanks for the recommendation, as well! Good to know


Also, I've realized that the dates I'm planning on fall right in the middle of Ramadan. I realize that it means somewhat following the fast, earlier closing times for attractions, etc, but there wouldn't really be any extra security precautions to worry about or anything, would there?

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


That was probably my thread you came across in the archive. I've been there for about a year now, off and on for myself, but my wife is in Cairo mostly full time.

I never went pre-revolution and still haven't been to Giza, but the Egyptian museum still has a fair number of tourists. Saqqara and Dashur are totally empty and you will have the place almost to yourself. Going inside the pyramid at Dashur (Red?) was awesome as there's no queue no fee and you can just hang out. Well there's the park fee, but nothing special to enter it, and the park fee is like $6 or something trivial to someone who can afford tickets to Egypt.

I essentially never see any tourists in the country except in the Egyptian Museum and at the Red Sea resorts. If you walk around Khan el Khalili you probably won't see a single other obvious-foreigner even if you spend like an hour there. Even sites like the citadel or Ibn Tulun mosque you're likely to see any tourists besides a handful of Arab-country tourists and a handful of Asian tourists. I went to the white desert about a month ago and literally 100% of other tourists were Korean/Japanese/Chinese, same thing when I went to the Cairo citadel and Cairo tower — only locals and Asians. I guess Europeans are still terrified of the terririsrtstm.

It doesn't really make sense to fly from Abu Simbel to Aswan, it'll probably take you longer and certainly be more expensive and IMO hassle than just getting a transfer like from Egyptian Sidekick ( http://www.egyptiansidekick.com/pro...bu-simbel-tour/ ). Also there are no direct flights from Cairo to Abu Sim anyway so you'd have to go through Aswan, not sure if it's the same plane and a stop or if you have to change planes too. E: It looks like all flights to Abu Simbel touch down in Aswan and it's the same plane. EgyptAir's website doesn't seem to sell these tickets, but the flights are tracked on FlightRadar24 so it must exist somehow.

Aswan to Luxor is also only like 4 hours, so flying between there doesn't really come out ahead vs. a private car transfer. It could make sense to fly from Cairo to Abu Simbel and then work your way north, but it doesn't save much if any time to fly between Aswan and Abu Simbel or from Aswan to Luxor. Abu Simbel to Luxor would require transferring planes so that's not really worth a flight either even if you wanted to skip Aswan completely.

Ramadan won't really affect anything, except that there's absolutely no reason to go to Khan el Khalili or anywhere where a normal Egyptian would go unless you do it after sundown. Any bazaar will be 99% devoid of people during the day, if it's even open. At nighttime it will be way more interesting than it would be at any other point in the year, Khan el Khalili really comes alive then. I don't think it's really anything to worry about though, sundown is pretty early in Egypt, like 6pm, so restaurants will be open like normal except for lunch. Working hours for tourist sites do not change during Ramadan as far as I remember except maybe in places like Al Azhar.

Jordan is super easy to drive in FWIW, I'd suggest renting your own car there and DIY'ing. Amman is fine if you've ever driven in any middle-income country before like Italy or Greece, and anyway you'd probably get your car at the airport and never even pass by Amman. Dead Sea is definitely 100% worth spending a day at if you go to Jordan if you've never been on the Israeli side. You would want to stay in one of the resorts along the lake, it's day-trip-able but ehh... day access is like $50 or something insane anyway, and you'll 10000% want a shower after getting in so it's not something you can just dip in at the beach on your own.

I'm finally going to go to Giza next week when my parents are in town, so I'll see how that compares to Saqqara/Dashur. The trip down there was so awesome that I could only ever assume that Giza would be a letdown of touts and assholes. Luxor is also miserable for touts and assholes. Cairo is pretty fine in general, and the metro is far and away the cleanest thing in the entire country, and it's easy to use since it only has two lines. Catcalling is actually pretty rare. Egypt is AWFUL for women's rights but to your benefit, almost all of those issues only concern Egyptian women. Men will leer the poo poo out of you, even while navigating dangerous Cairene traffic, but they won't say anything. My wife has so far caused one motorcycle crash by existing and wearing a dress. Cars honking at you 99% of the time means they're a taxi and they're looking for clients. IMO don't ever take a normal taxi, only take Uber, unless you don't mind being ripped off and paying 4x the Uber rate for a shittier car and a guy you have to use sign language and gestures to communicate with.

Only diving I've done is in the Red Sea is at Taba, which is pretty lousy diving. I imagine everywhere else is better and have heard great things about Hurghada, Dahab, and Sharm. You also might want to rent a car if you want to go out and do anything, but it depends on where your hotel is located. Marsa Alam for instance is a spread out mess that would be at home in the sprawl of some major US city. Ain Soukhna is also notorious for requiring a car. Same for Hurghada if you're located in El Gouna and not actually Hurghada. Egypt is very much car-oriented, far more than anywhere else I've seen in Mediterranean countries, and Uber/Careem only work in Cairo and Alex.

Saladman fucked around with this message at Oct 24, 2018 around 11:56

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



Saladman posted:

That was probably my thread you came across in the archive. I've been there for about a year now, off and on for myself, but my wife is in Cairo mostly full time.

I never went pre-revolution and still haven't been to Giza, but the Egyptian museum still has a fair number of tourists. Saqqara and Dashur are totally empty and you will have the place almost to yourself. Going inside the pyramid at Dashur (Red?) was awesome as there's no queue no fee and you can just hang out. Well there's the park fee, but nothing special to enter it, and the park fee is like $6 or something trivial to someone who can afford tickets to Egypt.

I essentially never see any tourists in the country except in the Egyptian Museum and at the Red Sea resorts. If you walk around Khan el Khalili you probably won't see a single other obvious-foreigner even if you spend like an hour there. Even sites like the citadel or Ibn Tulun mosque you're likely to see any tourists besides a handful of Arab-country tourists and a handful of Asian tourists. I went to the white desert about a month ago and literally 100% of other tourists were Korean/Japanese/Chinese, same thing when I went to the Cairo citadel and Cairo tower — only locals and Asians. I guess Europeans are still terrified of the terririsrtstm.

It doesn't really make sense to fly from Abu Simbel to Aswan, it'll probably take you longer and certainly be more expensive and IMO hassle than just getting a transfer like from Egyptian Sidekick ( http://www.egyptiansidekick.com/pro...bu-simbel-tour/ ). Also there are no direct flights from Cairo to Abu Sim anyway so you'd have to go through Aswan, not sure if it's the same plane and a stop or if you have to change planes too. E: It looks like all flights to Abu Simbel touch down in Aswan and it's the same plane. EgyptAir's website doesn't seem to sell these tickets, but the flights are tracked on FlightRadar24 so it must exist somehow.

Aswan to Luxor is also only like 4 hours, so flying between there doesn't really come out ahead vs. a private car transfer. It could make sense to fly from Cairo to Abu Simbel and then work your way north, but it doesn't save much if any time to fly between Aswan and Abu Simbel or from Aswan to Luxor. Abu Simbel to Luxor would require transferring planes so that's not really worth a flight either even if you wanted to skip Aswan completely.

Ramadan won't really affect anything, except that there's absolutely no reason to go to Khan el Khalili or anywhere where a normal Egyptian would go unless you do it after sundown. Any bazaar will be 99% devoid of people during the day, if it's even open. At nighttime it will be way more interesting than it would be at any other point in the year, Khan el Khalili really comes alive then. I don't think it's really anything to worry about though, sundown is pretty early in Egypt, like 6pm, so restaurants will be open like normal except for lunch. Working hours for tourist sites do not change during Ramadan as far as I remember except maybe in places like Al Azhar.

Jordan is super easy to drive in FWIW, I'd suggest renting your own car there and DIY'ing. Amman is fine if you've ever driven in any middle-income country before like Italy or Greece, and anyway you'd probably get your car at the airport and never even pass by Amman. Dead Sea is definitely 100% worth spending a day at if you go to Jordan if you've never been on the Israeli side. You would want to stay in one of the resorts along the lake, it's day-trip-able but ehh... day access is like $50 or something insane anyway, and you'll 10000% want a shower after getting in so it's not something you can just dip in at the beach on your own.

I'm finally going to go to Giza next week when my parents are in town, so I'll see how that compares to Saqqara/Dashur. The trip down there was so awesome that I could only ever assume that Giza would be a letdown of touts and assholes. Luxor is also miserable for touts and assholes. Cairo is pretty fine in general, and the metro is far and away the cleanest thing in the entire country, and it's easy to use since it only has two lines. Catcalling is actually pretty rare. Egypt is AWFUL for women's rights but to your benefit, almost all of those issues only concern Egyptian women. Men will leer the poo poo out of you, even while navigating dangerous Cairene traffic, but they won't say anything. My wife has so far caused one motorcycle crash by existing and wearing a dress. Cars honking at you 99% of the time means they're a taxi and they're looking for clients. IMO don't ever take a normal taxi, only take Uber, unless you don't mind being ripped off and paying 4x the Uber rate for a shittier car and a guy you have to use sign language and gestures to communicate with.

Only diving I've done is in the Red Sea is at Taba, which is pretty lousy diving. I imagine everywhere else is better and have heard great things about Hurghada, Dahab, and Sharm. You also might want to rent a car if you want to go out and do anything, but it depends on where your hotel is located. Marsa Alam for instance is a spread out mess that would be at home in the sprawl of some major US city. Ain Soukhna is also notorious for requiring a car. Same for Hurghada if you're located in El Gouna and not actually Hurghada. Egypt is very much car-oriented, far more than anywhere else I've seen in Mediterranean countries, and Uber/Careem only work in Cairo and Alex.

Thank you so much for this!

I can find the tickets to Abu Simbel up until April, they seem to sell out super early though. From what I can find online, the plane takes off in Cairo, refuels in Aswan, continues on to Abu Simbel, and sits on the runway until the return flight six hours later. Apparently it's to the point where you can just leave your luggage sitting in the plane if you don't want to bother taking it with you.

I think we've decided to do a Nile cruise between Aswan and Luxor, for a few reasons. For one, it's freaking cruising on the Nile, you have to do it, especially since we're not super pressed for time. For two, I'm a cozy mystery author in real life, and Death on the Nile is such an absolute classic book that it would definitely be pretty cool for me to do simply from that perspective.

That's good to know about Ramadan. My husband and I generally don't eat lunch while on holiday; we tend to just eat a big breakfast and sightsee until dinner time, so we're not too worried. We'll be subtle about drinking water/any snacks we want during the day.

And sweet, good to know we're all good if we want to drive ourselves in Jordan. Thanks again for all the awesome advice, much appreciated!

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Yeah, actually thinking about it the flight all the way to Abu Simbel and then return dropoff in Aswan definitely makes sense for your dates. I think the Aswan-Luxor cruise is always 3 days/3 nights but there might be a little variability in it. I also liked the idea of a Nile cruise and Death on the Nile was the first Agatha Christie I read, but I really can't handle tourism in groups of > ±10 people at all, so I opted for renting a car and DIY. Also in any case car rental would not work at all for your timeline since you have to pick up and drop off in the same place, i.e. there's no standard way to pick up in Aswan and drop off in Luxor.

Depending on how any temples you can stand, visiting the Dendera and Abydos temples is a full day trip from Luxor and would be the other main highlights in that part of Egypt that wouldn't be covered by the cruise and Abu Simbel.

The Egyptian Museum will not take a full day even if you're really into Egypt I can't imagine spending more than 3 hours in there. Also a warning, by May they'll likely have moved even more of the collection out, and I'm pretty sure the new Grand Egyptian Museum won't be soft-open by then (their announcement in June said Q1 2019, which probably means Q3 or Q4 2019). They've already moved a lot, like the Egyptian military museum in the citadel is now completely closed (it had some of King Tut's chariots), and the upper floor of the main downtown museum has a whole bunch of empty rooms too, but they're actively moving stuff every day so it might be pretty empty by May if it's even still open. I was there a couple weeks ago and it's still fine although noticeably emptied out, so it's hard to predict what will happen. I'd recommend Coptic Cairo as the "+1" addition to the Egyptian museum now, in particular the Coptic Museum has a really good and unique collection. It'll probably also take like 2 hours to do everything in Coptic Cairo, then you could go to Zamalek or Maadi or wherever for dinner after. If you've never been to any large Muslim cities before, then the mosque in the citadel or Ibn Tulun, Al Azhar, or Sultan Hassan are all pretty impressive/interesting. I do not know what visiting will be like during Ramadan, maybe Al Azhar will be closed to tourists, but at least the two citadel mosques will be open.

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



Yeah, to be honest, I put that there as a full day, but really as a "well this is the only thing I want to have fully planned during that day, but I know it won't take all of it, I'll just explore the rest of the day" sort of thing.

Honestly, my husband is definitely more into the museum than I am. I very much prefer seeing the open-air stuff that's still around and discovering new cultures when I travel, but he's the one who wants to really see the museum. Whatever, I also know that he'll survive without it; we already saw all of King Tut's stuff when it went on a worldwide tour about six or seven years ago, in Melbourne.

I was thinking we might even just leave the cruise early once we get to Luxor so we don't have to do any of the cruise-related tours once we get in. I don't mind eating the cost if it means we have a lot more flexibility when it comes to seeing the Luxor temple and that sort of thing. Dendera and Abydos are definitely things we want to do, Abydos especially looks amazing!

Thanks for all the recommendations for free days in Cairo! We'll definitely go to Coptic Cairo for sure, it sounds super interesting. The only muslim city I've ever been to has been Mostar, so I'm looking forward to it for sure, since Mostar isn't exactly large by any definition.

Looking around, I've also decided that instead of going to the red sea, we're going to go back to Cairo and stay at one of the hotels by the pyramids instead for a few days. Neither me nor my husband has ever really been the "sit on the beach" type, so if we're going to have a few slower days (which I think I will need - I'm a ski racer, and this trip will start literally the day after I stop skiing for the season, and I know from experience that I will be wrecked after over six months of skiing almost every day) instead of it being on a beach which I can do anywhere, I'd rather sit around a hotel room/gardens where I have a view of the mother loving pyramids.

So that said, this is the new tenative schedule:

May 12: Land, don't die of jet lag
May 13: Egyptian Museum? Other stuff!
May 14: Fly to Abu Simbel, fly to Aswan
May 15: Aswan
May 16: Get on cruise to Luxor
May 17: Cruise
May 18: Luxor, night on cruise ship
May 19: Luxor
May 20: Luxor
May 21: Luxor
May 22: Fly to Cairo, get to Giza
May 23: Pyramids
May 24: Pyramids
May 25: Pyramids
May 26: Fly to Jordan
May 27: Petra
May 28: Petra
May 29: Go home

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


That's probably one more day in Luxor than you need—the "essentials" visit is normally 1 day west bank (valley of the kings/queens/hepshetsut), 1 day Karnak/Luxor, and 1 day Dendera-Abydos. So either you could take it easier and keep that extra day, or you could take it out and put it in Jordan to do the Dead Sea if you've never been there, or Wadi Rum which is only like a 90 minute drive from Petra (and is better to overnight in as bedouin camping the night is like half of the appeal of Wadi Rum). 2 days is nice for Petra; it's huge and the entrance fee is like $50 for one day or $55 for two.

The Giza-Saqqara-Dashur Pyramids can be done in one day but it would be a long day, so 2 days for that is solid if you don't want to be walking around the entire day in the baking sun. Cairo will be quite hot in late May, but with a lot of variability—it might be 33, but it might be 43 too.

April-May is sandstorm season, so you'll maybe get a day or so of that although you're at the tail-end of the season. They're not super common, but in two weeks it's likely enough to get one at that time of year, which can be cool in some sense, but it will also eliminate any motivation you have to do anything that requires being outside for any length of time. It's not dangerous or anything (aside from the terrible driving conditions) but it will be hot, windy, and it will sting your eyes, especially if either of you wear contacts. If you're lucky you'll see the incoming front of the sandstorm which looks incredible, like the end of the world (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwNfVLAQKxg). Once you're in the storm it's kind of anticlimactic, as it's basically just a windy red fog, and not Mad Max: Fury Road.

Saladman fucked around with this message at Oct 28, 2018 around 16:38

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



Thanks, yeah, we'll be doing more in Luxor than the essentials though, hence the extra day. I can definitely see Mr. Hookshot wanting to go to the valley of the kings/queens more than once, I wouldn't mind spending a day discovering the town, and basically it's the sort of place where I'd rather have one day too many than going "oh poo poo gotta get everything done" and finding ourselves in a rush.

That's good to know about Jordan, too. Maybe I'll throw in an extra night to do Wadi Rum and then fly out on the like 2am flight to get back to Europe in time for the transat. None of the flights are booked yet, so I can still very easily shift things around like that. Thanks so much for the advice!

underage at the vape shop
May 11, 2011


Sorry to hijack, but how expensive did you find Jordan? I'm interested in Petra/Jerash/Ajlun and I'm reading about Wadi Rum and Amman. Doable cheap? How's the hostel situation.

I'm used to mid 30 degree days living in Australia, I live near the coast. I'm expecting that wadi rum and petra will be hot as hell when I'd be able to visit (probably in June). Looking at google the averages are 32/18 in June in Wadi Rum, 34/17 in Petra. Brisbanes averages are 30/22 in January and we frequently get days in the high 30s, it was 36 a few weeks ago in the middle of spring. I'm expecting it will be drier than what I'm used to, being a desert, which I've been able to deal with when I go inland in Australia. I've never been to the Australian desert though. Am I being dumb and underestimating it? I feel like I am.

My plan would be to cross into Jordan from Isreal. I want to see Masada. Have you been to Masada? Would wadi rum be worth it if I've already been to Masada if my main goal of visiting Wadi rum is to look at the desert.

underage at the vape shop fucked around with this message at Nov 1, 2018 around 11:16

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


I've only been to Jordan once, about 5 years ago, and on a 2 week roadtrip all around the south and up towards and around the Amman area in mid-July, so I'm by no means an expert. The Syrian civil war was just starting to go in full swing so we didn't go north of Amman like to Jerash or Aljoun. We spent 3 days in Aqaba diving (not that great), 3 days at a spa near the Dead Sea (awesome), and the rest of the time like 1 or 2 days at each notable location elsewhere in central and southern Jordan, so it was a more laid-back trip than it was nonstop sight-seeing.

I found the temperature to be fine. I mean it's hot during the day but like 40 and super dry. I found Houston in the summer at its typical 38° and 150% humidity to be several orders of magnitude more miserable than 40° in Jordan, which was pretty much at the limit of bearability. Just always carry a small backpack with water and depending on your ethnicity/tan and how much hair you have, wear a hat and/or sunscreen.

No idea how the hostel situation is since you can stay in a Hilton for like $80 a night and enjoy a swimming pool and etc, I didn't really have any motivation to stay in some borderline-acceptable hostel to save what works out to be the cost of a sandwich and a coffee where I lived the rest of the year. There are plenty of 2* hotels for like $20-$30/night (we stayed in a place like that in Petra) which seems infinitely better than staying in a hostel, if those even exist. I just checked the prices and everything looks like double what I remember paying, but we also went in July and when the Syrian civil war just started getting bad, so there were like five other tourists in the entire country, even Petra was basically just us and the Bedouin who live in its ruins.

I haven't been to Masada but I've been around most of the Negev and found it to be quite distinct... but I also really like deserts and one of my favorite things in traveling is to rent an SUV and drive for days through any desert. I think even generally the appeal is different, with Masada more for the ruins and the view whereas Wadi Rum is a more a naturalist environment, Bedouin camping, and you're IN the desert rather than ABOVE the desert. I think the Bedouin camps are like $50-$60/night (all meals included) and it is not worth going to Wadi Rum if you don't camp at least one night there and if you don't have the money to do a tour of the area—maybe $50? can't remember. A lot of my friends growing up did birthright trips which always go to Masada and it didn't really seem like they saw the desert, they just got bussed to Masada, then bussed to the Dead Sea, and the only desert they saw was out a bus window. If you do an organized tour I bet it will be like this too, so a trip to Masada doesn't really mean a trip to the Negev. I'm not 100% on that though! I also hate organized tours so even if I'm trying to be honest my prejudice may work its way through into my recommendations.

Amman is nice enough. If you've never been to a large middle-income country city before then it might be fun to see how chaotic it is, but also how normal it is. If you've been to Jakarta or Hanoi or wherever it'll probably be less interesting. If you've never been to any Roman cities before then the ruins will be cool. If you've been to Italy then you're probably pretty over amphitheaters and columns. If you haven't been to many major ancient Mediterranean cities or modern Arab cities it's definitely worth 2 or 3 days.



underage at the vape shop posted:

Sorry to hijack, but how expensive did you find Jordan? I'm interested in Petra/Jerash/Ajlun and I'm reading about Wadi Rum and Amman. Doable cheap? How's the hostel situation.

I'm used to mid 30 degree days living in Australia, I live near the coast. I'm expecting that wadi rum and petra will be hot as hell when I'd be able to visit (probably in June). Looking at google the averages are 32/18 in June in Wadi Rum, 34/17 in Petra. Brisbanes averages are 30/22 in January and we frequently get days in the high 30s, it was 36 a few weeks ago in the middle of spring. I'm expecting it will be drier than what I'm used to, being a desert, which I've been able to deal with when I go inland in Australia. I've never been to the Australian desert though. Am I being dumb and underestimating it? I feel like I am.

My plan would be to cross into Jordan from Isreal. I want to see Masada. Have you been to Masada? Would wadi rum be worth it if I've already been to Masada if my main goal of visiting Wadi rum is to look at the desert.

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



Yeah, I booked a hotel in Petra already since it's refundable. It's the one RIGHT by the entrace gate and pretty fancy looking. 390 dinar for 3 nights, or like $700 Canadian, in the last week of May. There were tons of way cheaper options, but this was definitely the fanciest/coolest looking so I just went with it.

asur
Dec 28, 2012


If you are trying to cross the Jordan Isreali border make sure you do your research. I don't believe Jordan issues visas at the King Hussein crossing and I found conflicting information on the Yitzhak Rabin terminal.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


asur posted:

If you are trying to cross the Jordan Isreali border make sure you do your research. I don't believe Jordan issues visas at the King Hussein crossing and I found conflicting information on the Yitzhak Rabin terminal.

Oh yeah, good call! I had a couple friends screw themselves over by trying this. Yeah it is not possible* to cross into Jordan from the West Bank using the KING Hussein crossing ("Allenby Bridge"). Be careful when reading info because the SHEIK Hussein bridge does allow crossing from Israel into Jordan but it's like 150 km north of King Hussein. Since you wanted to go to Aljoun and Jerash the Sheik Hussein crossing could work out fine for you. Also the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge crossing is a shitshow since it's the only crossing that Palestinians can use. On the way back, it is allowed to cross from Jordan into Israel using that crossing, just budget a couple hours minimum for it.

The Yitzhak Rabin (Aqaba-Eilat) terminal is very easy to cross and won't take more than 5 minutes and doesn't require anything prepared in advance. I crossed that border twice in each direction because I hosed up my rental car planning, but it was super easy. It's just a bit annoying because it's far enough out of Aqaba and Eilat that you have to take a taxi and they'll charge you like $10-$15 for the 5 minute drive because what else are you going to do, walk 3 km in the heat with all your luggage?

*with a pre-arranged visa you can do it IIRC, but yeah they do not issue visas at the crossing.

underage at the vape shop
May 11, 2011


Yeah I'm going to be getting my visa aranged beforehand. What I'm actually worried about is entering Israel, I've heard they like to just turn people away for no reason, and my government even warns of this. I'm a nobody whiteboy from Australia with no strong opinions about Israel so I doubt it's likely but man, not sure what I'd do if they did turn me away.

All of that adivce was really helpful, thank you. I'll definitely make a night in Wadi Rum work

underage at the vape shop fucked around with this message at Nov 5, 2018 around 16:55

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


I'm at the end of our 8 day trip through southern Egypt so I guess I can give my experiences for here. I'd estimate that 95%+ of people here are on large guided tour groups, it is extremely rare to see other DIY tourists, and the only people I've seen the entire trip with their own vehicle were two French motorcyclists that we stayed with in Abu Simbel. I'm SO glad we're not on a tour group, I'd have jumped into the Nile and prayed for a crocodile to put me out of my misery if I was stuck with 50 other elderly people taking flash photos on their 2005-era point-and-shoot photos at every hieroglyphic they saw. So I hope that when you do the cruise you're not stuck going on large group tours with other people, absolutely do not do it. Except for Spanish tourists, the average tourist age here is about 65-70. For some reason the Spanish tourists are all like 30-50. In May you might have everything to yourself since no one wants to be in Egypt in May let alone during Ramadan. Still, it's pretty quiet here and at some point I'll post a couple photos comparing shots from pre-2011 compared to shots I took, and it's amazing to see how crowded most sites were then, like Disneyland on a holiday weekend.

Luxor: the modern city is not nice and almost everyone is an rear end in a top hat, BUT the sites are amazing. The souq is hands down the cleanest souq I've seen in any city in MENA and easily on-par with clean European cities, but GOD the hassle is through the roof. The caleche (horse carriage) drivers are the worst harassing us for a ride (and following us) even when you saw I just got out of my own goddamn car and obviously don't need a ride around town. Even Egyptians hate Luxor for the hassle. That said Karnak, Luxor Temple, and Valley of the Kings are incredible. Valley of the Queens is "eh" (and 2 of the 3 regular tombs are for princes anyway, and the other tomb, for Nefertari, is 1200 EGP lol). Also: ONLY EGYPTIAN POUNDS ARE ACCEPTED. No credit card, no USD, no Euro. So if you do want to go to Seti II (1000 EGP/ea) or Nefertari (1200 egp/ea) bring a poo poo ton of cash, which is annoying as the withdrawal limit in Egypt is almost always 3000 EGP/day, at least for a given bank. Not sure if you can use your same card on multiple banks in a single day. King Tut's tomb (250 EGP/ea) is, interestingly, by far the worst tomb in Valley of the Kings. It's tiny and the art is noticeably worse than everywhere else. It's just painted on and of low quality (and his tomb is TINY, did I mention?). In all other tombs they first did embossing or engraving and then painted, so his art is very 2D. Also note: VotK has something like 6 tombs open at any time, but your regular entry (200 EGP/ea) only allows you to enter 3 at the same day. It might be worth it to go to the farthest tombs open first, as these ones will be empty, and all the tour groups will just dogpile into the ones closest to the entrance. VotK is also very small, it's maybe a 20 minute walk tops from the entrance to the furthest one. There's a little shuttle that will take you from the ticket office to the walking entrance which is funny because it's only about 200m, but in hot-as-poo poo May you might appreciate it and anyway it's only 4 EGP/ea for a roundtrip ticket and they depart constantly.

Aswan: the city is in a gorgeous setting with all these little islands that exist nowhere else in the Nile in Egypt and you really see (a) why there were waterfalls here but nowhere further north, and (b) how they would figure out that the rock here is 100x more durable than anything else and why they'd ship rock from here like 1000 km downstream. The souq is laid back and mostly for locals but if you want a djellaba or whatever you can get a good one here. Egyptians often come to Aswan just to hang out, it's a gorgeous setting. We skipped Philae temple although we drove by and it looked awesome from the Aswan low dam viewpoint. Aswan high dam is not very interesting, but we were driving that way anyway so we stopped. I would not go out of my way for it and it's 90 EGP/ea if you stop at the one stopping point in the middle, but ymmv. I'm glad we stopped but it's definitely not worth a trip.

Dendera (in Qena) is an incredible temple, with far and away the best paint left in any of the upper Egypt temples. Abydos is a long extra way and it makes a long day and TBH I'm not sure it's worth it, but your husband might love it since it was the first capital of united Egypt and, even though nothing really exists originally from back then, the setting is interesting. The Abydos temple is "eh" although I know it's very important for Egyptologists. I'd like to stress again how awesome Dendera temple is and 10000% would not miss it, to the extent I've even suggested my wife train up to Qena for a weekend to visit it, since she joined us the day after and missed our Dendera-Abydos visit.

Abu Simbel: For us it really wasn't worth the effort but I guess for you it won't be nearly as much effort as it took us (7 hours of driving roundtrip from Aswan). It is by far the most crowded site I've been to in Egypt, and I've been basically everywhere touristic now except for the beach-and-sun resorts and Siwa. We were able to 'wait it out' as the tour groups come at very specific times: 5am-7am (for overnight stays), then ±10-1pm (for daytrippers from Aswan), then again in the evening (4-7pm) for overnighters who do the evening show, which sucks, but the sunset is nice. Since you're flying in I guess it will be kind of crowded, but since it's the first temple you'll hit I'm sure you'll love it. We were pretty templed out by then.

I'm headed to Kom Ombo in a couple hours but if it was more than 5 minutes out of the way I'd probably keep driving. That said I was super in awe at the first few temples, and there's definitely nothing like this anywhere else in Egypt... or the world. Petra is cool and quite different, or at least it is when the visits are 5 years apart.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Also you both probably know this already but for the love of god do not ever:

(a) accept anything from anyone ever unless you are willing to pay them for their services
(b) buy anything at a market anywhere close to a tourist site

Also as close as possible try to know the prices of things before you try to buy them even for regular markets. Also try to have small change on you at all times, which is very hard to do.

Also all bathrooms in Egypt they will want money even in tourist sites that you've already paid to enter and even sometimes inside cafes where you are drinking or eating. It's not necessarily required to give it to them but it is expected, and 1 EGP is normal. 10 or 20 is insanely way too much to give but I doubt they'll give you any change.

Same thing for tipping, $1 is a huge tip. It might feel nice to spread around money to people who can really use it, but also keep in mind that you're loving up the local economy if you start distorting things by being too generous with tips. Don't tip assholes who try to be your "guide" at tourist sites if you do end up DIYing.

This advice is mostly for Egypt. In Jordan it's really much less of an issue, even in Petra, although there's a bit of it there. IIRC bathrooms in Jordan were always free.

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



Thank you so much for that amazing post!

Yeah, the large guided group tour vibe is definitely something we want to avoid. We're leaning towards doing the three night nile cruise but just disembarking as soon as we get to Luxor and just eating the cost of an extra night at the hotel because yeah, the tour atmosphere combined with the demographic of the average tour-goer just does not appeal to either one of us.

Good to know about everywhere, thanks! I've ended up throwing an additional day in at Aswan, and it sounds like that's a good call.

I'll definitely add Dendera to the list. I'll let my husband know what you said about Abydos and we'll see if he's still keen to go all the way up there.

Thanks also for the info about paying for things. I've read a lot about baksheesh and how everyone wants to be tipped for everything. I would have definitely overpaid for bathrooms if you hadn't mentioned it haha, I'm too used to Europe where it's 50c.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


We finally went to the Giza pyramids yesterday, almost 10 months after moving to Cairo, and there was super little hassle, the only hasslers were one guy who really wanted me to take a photo with a keffiyeh on, and one guy who wanted to be our guide*. A good 95% of tourists there were local children, and holy poo poo I've never been so photographed in my life, I can see why celebrities go out with huge sunglasses and hoodies, because every ten meters an entire school class would want to take photos with me, one by one on every kid's cellphone, then after 30 photos I'd have peace again for 5 minutes until the next class of 30 kids noticed me and rinse repeat "Hello, what is your name? Can we take a photo? Welcome to Egypt!" and occasionally a kid who actually knew more English than those rote phrases like "I love your hair" and "you look just like Ibrahimović" which I heard twice yesterday despite me being blond, having much shorter hair, and just in general looking absolutely nothing like him except that I have a soccer player's body build/frame. One other time a few months ago a kid mentioned a soccer player who I actually do look very similar to, so I don't know if I get exceptionally mobbed or if it will affect every white-looking person.

Anyway the kids are enthusiastic so I can't help but smile but good god, no joke I must have been in 400-500 selfies yesterday. On the plus side, with SO MANY KIDS everywhere, we were able to climb the pyramids up several levels for fun photos because the cops completely gave up when there are like 200 kids running up the pyramid and over the "DO NOT CLIMB" signs. I tried climbing another one without 200 kids around later and a cop yelled at me to get down to no higher than the first level. YMMV. Don't go higher than the kids obviously, I'm sure at some point of climbing the cops would actually get pissed off and make an example of someone.

Also if you want to go in the pyramids I still recommend only going in the Red Pyramid and skipping the Giza ones, unless you don't plan on going as far as Dahshur, in which case I guess you've gotta go in one pyramid.

E: Speaking of cops, neither my wife nor I have ever had any issues with police or have found them to be anything other than polite or, at worst, bureaucratic-but-honest, here, and I haven't even heard a secondhand story of cops demanding bribes for arbitrary infractions decided on the spot... at least, towards foreigners. I've heard a number of stories of hassle from Egyptians, but at least as someone who looks like a tourist it doesn't seem like there's any reason to be wary around police or military.



*by the way lots of people will want to be your guide, unsolicited, and usually with either terrible English, terrible information, or, more likely, both. Just say "no guide thanks" if they keep trying to show you stuff. There are good guides but they're not going to be the ones randomly picking up tourists.

Saladman fucked around with this message at Nov 14, 2018 around 13:18

Smashurbanipal
Sep 12, 2009
ASK ME ABOUT BEING A SHITTY POSTER


underage at the vape shop posted:

Yeah I'm going to be getting my visa aranged beforehand. What I'm actually worried about is entering Israel, I've heard they like to just turn people away for no reason, and my government even warns of this. I'm a nobody whiteboy from Australia with no strong opinions about Israel so I doubt it's likely but man, not sure what I'd do if they did turn me away.

All of that adivce was really helpful, thank you. I'll definitely make a night in Wadi Rum work

I went to the Sinai this July from the Taba crossing. No problems crossing with an American passport, and we (mixed group of 6, Americans, Australians and one Serb) arranged for a van to drop us off at St Catherine’s. Security wise it was totally fine, at some checkpoints they would have us wait and send a pickup with a few AK toting cops in the bed ahead of us for a while. This was only heading into the interior desert, along the coastal highway where the resorts are there was none of this.
St Catherine’s is fascinating, especially as we got to stay in the actual monastery guesthouse and so had slightly more access than people coming in daily from outside. They recently (2017 I think) updated the library museum, and while the number of documents and icons on display is slightly smaller than it used to be, you can actually see things now, as it’s not perpetual twilight anymore. Hiking up Mt. Sinai at night is pretty great for the sunrise. The local Bedouin aren’t too pushy and it was nice to stop and grab a tea on the way down. Crossing back into Israel wasn’t too bad.

I then ended up having to go up to SHEIK Hussein to enter Jordan due to not doing my visa homework. Beit Shean is a really boring place, other than being on the site of Scythopolis, one of the cities of the Decapolis. The kicker is that you’re then on the Jordanian side of the border, but it’s not even a town, just a duty free and the border guard barracks. Oh, be aware that if you spend less than 3 nights in Jordan, the visa fee jumps to 40 from 10JD. Two taxi stands both charging 50JD to Amman or 45 to Irbid. A little wheedling can get you to Amman for 40JD. From Amman to Petra the JETT buses are frequent and inexpensive.

Petra is totally worth it for 2 days. Really cool architectural style. Some great trails to wander on, take LOTS of water, from outside the park obviously much cheaper. In July there weren’t too many tourists, but the Treasury was still obviously mobbed.

Going back to Israel by means of the Allenby bridge was a just a lot of hurry up and wait. Biggest hassle I had was flying out of Ben Gurion. Single male traveling alone, Egyptian and Jordanian stamps in my passport got me pulled out of line and chat with some folks for about an hour about where I had been. Lots of the same question asked different ways.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Smashurbanipal posted:

I then ended up having to go up to SHEIK Hussein to enter Jordan due to not doing my visa homework. Beit Shean is a really boring place, other than being on the site of Scythopolis, one of the cities of the Decapolis. The kicker is that you’re then on the Jordanian side of the border, but it’s not even a town, just a duty free and the border guard barracks. Oh, be aware that if you spend less than 3 nights in Jordan, the visa fee jumps to 40 from 10JD. Two taxi stands both charging 50JD to Amman or 45 to Irbid. A little wheedling can get you to Amman for 40JD. From Amman to Petra the JETT buses are frequent and inexpensive.

Petra is totally worth it for 2 days. Really cool architectural style. Some great trails to wander on, take LOTS of water, from outside the park obviously much cheaper. In July there weren’t too many tourists, but the Treasury was still obviously mobbed.

Going back to Israel by means of the Allenby bridge was a just a lot of hurry up and wait. Biggest hassle I had was flying out of Ben Gurion. Single male traveling alone, Egyptian and Jordanian stamps in my passport got me pulled out of line and chat with some folks for about an hour about where I had been. Lots of the same question asked different ways.

Yeah border taxis are absurdly expensive in Jordan even if you speak Arabic. 45 JD for the 45 minute drive from the border to Irbid, lol. That's more expensive than NYC. 50 JD for the 2 hour drive to Amman is still pretty crazy, that's like 5x what you'd pay in Egypt for the same distance. The border taxi to Aqaba from the Eilat border is 10 JD for like a 5 minute drive. And that was haggled down from 15 when we started loving walking to town even in midday in August (1.5 hrs?) because no way am I paying $150/hr to a taxi driver in any country.

Kind of surprised that you had any issues with an American passport, even as a single male traveling alone. I found showing the American passport to be like a golden ticket and was immediately waved through whenever I showed it at the Israeli border (5-6x? including 2x as single male but it's not like I have that much firsthand experience). My Arab-name non-Arab-passport wife then got stopped and grilled every time, including by what I am 99.99% sure was an undercover agent at the Allenby Bridge crossing*. I always showed my passport first when we crossed together but that didn't seem to improve things much.


*when crossing into Israel at Allenby Bridge, I showed my passport, guy looked at me for 1 nanosecond and waved me through. Wife shows her passport, he takes her passport and points to her to sit down in the holding pen. I asked if I could sit with her, he said sure. We wait for 20-ish minutes, then some 30-something Arab-looking guy with great English starts talking to us, says "Yeah, you got stuck too? I'm Gazan and get stopped every time I cross, sometimes for hours. Any idea why they stopped you? Did you say you're planning to go to Jericho or you had a pro-Palestine badge on your luggage or something?" We talked to him for probably 5 minutes, then a border guard waved at him and called him up and he said "oh great guess they finally cleared me through." Did not realize at all at the time that he was almost certainly interrogating my wife, who was visibly irritated that she was stopped and I wasn't, but who fortunately didn't say anything political. She also got grilled when entering and exiting the country in Ben Gurion, but then by a uniformed person.

Saladman fucked around with this message at Dec 28, 2018 around 12:53

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



So I'm updating this with my finalized schedule, not really for any reason other than I want to update this thread when I actually go for the sake of anyone else reading it, and I don't want it to get archived before that.

Day 1: Land in Cairo at 5am. Try not to die of jet lag. Probably start with Coptic Cairo or maybe the Egyptian Museum for the first day, taking it real slow.
Day 2: Check out more of Cairo. Visit Khan Al Khalili, Al-Muizz street, view from the Saladin Citadel, Mohammed Ali Mosque, etc.
Day 3: Fly to Aswan in the afternoon, check out the souq after sunset
Day 4: Aswan - Check out the city, Nubian museum, go across and visit one of the Nubian villages
Day 5: Drive to Abu Simbel, fly back in the afternoon.
Day 6: Board nile cruise
Day 7: Nile cruise
day 8: Nile cruise arrives at Luxor, disembark.
Day 9: Luxor: Hot air balloon flight, half of the west bank sites, back at the hotel by 2pm. Check out Luxor Temple at night.
Day 10: Luxor: Other half of the west bank sites, check out Karnak temple at night.
Day 11: Luxor: Abydos and Dendara tour.
Day 12: Check out Karnak temple in the morning, fly back to Cairo, this time stay at Mariott Mena House in a pyramids view room.
Day 13: Pyramids
Day 14: Hang out and do nothing/go into Cairo/whatever
Day 15: same as above
Day 16: fly to Amman, drive to Petra, spend the afternoon in Petra
Day 17: Petra
Day 18: Bus to Wadi Rum, do 9 hour jeep tour
Day 19: Drive to Aqaba, fly to Amman, drive to Dead Sea, spend a couple hours in there, possibly do Wadi Al Mujib canyon walk.
Day 20: Fly out of Amman at 3am to go home

We were torn as to whether or not we wanted to do the Dead Sea in Amman or the Red Sea in Aqaba on that last day, but the Dead Sea really is so cool and unique that it won out. Plus, personally, I'd rather be closer to the airport we're flying out of straight away.

The schedule is complete but also relatively easy to change things up depending on how we feel. The plan is to get really early starts, be going by 6am every day, then stop around maybe 12-2pm, then head back to the hotel and have a nap/swim before Iftar at sunset, then go back out after dark for some Ramadan fun.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


HookShot posted:

Day 16: fly to Amman, drive to Petra, spend the afternoon in Petra
Day 17: Petra
Day 18: Bus to Wadi Rum, do 9 hour jeep tour
Day 19: Drive to Aqaba, fly to Amman, drive to Dead Sea, spend a couple hours in there, possibly do Wadi Al Mujib canyon walk.
Day 20: Fly out of Amman at 3am to go home

Looks fun! One note: on Day 19 it doesn't make sense to drive from Wadi Rum to Aqaba Airport to fly to Amman and drive to the Red Sea. It will be waaay faster, cheaper, and easier to just drive from Wadi Rum to the Dead Sea.

I would also recommend renting a car for day 16-20 if I didn't already in this thread, it's cheap and driving is easy especially since Queen Alia Airport is on the side of Amman that you want to be on. Having a car at the Dead Sea is also nice as the hotels charge absurd fees for driving you anywhere. I bet an airport transfer from the Kempinski to Queen Alia is minimum $100 for the two of you.

Also where do you spend the night of the 19th? You will 10000000% need a shower after getting in the dead sea, and the little beachside showers at the resorts won't be enough at all. Not to mention that day sounds pretty exhausting even if you didn't have a 3am flight home. Make sure to pay for a hotel room in which you won't actually spend the night, otherwise that sounds super hellish.

HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



Saladman posted:

Looks fun! One note: on Day 19 it doesn't make sense to drive from Wadi Rum to Aqaba Airport to fly to Amman and drive to the Red Sea. It will be waaay faster, cheaper, and easier to just drive from Wadi Rum to the Dead Sea.

I would also recommend renting a car for day 16-20 if I didn't already in this thread, it's cheap and driving is easy especially since Queen Alia Airport is on the side of Amman that you want to be on. Having a car at the Dead Sea is also nice as the hotels charge absurd fees for driving you anywhere. I bet an airport transfer from the Kempinski to Queen Alia is minimum $100 for the two of you.

Also where do you spend the night of the 19th? You will 10000000% need a shower after getting in the dead sea, and the little beachside showers at the resorts won't be enough at all. Not to mention that day sounds pretty exhausting even if you didn't have a 3am flight home. Make sure to pay for a hotel room in which you won't actually spend the night, otherwise that sounds super hellish.

It's an hour long flight or a five hour long drive, though? We want to get there early enough to be able to swim in the dead sea THEN go to the canyon, since getting scrapes and bruises in the canyon is to be expected. By taking the flight we can be back in Amman by 10, whereas taking the bus back wouldn't get us there until 1-2 at the earliest.

We considered renting a car, but in the end I think we're going to pass. Neither one of us really wants to drive in Jordan, and we'd rather just pay a bit of extra to get driven places. In Amman we're just going to use Uber or Kareem instead of taxis, which should be a bit cheaper.

The night of the 19th we booked a room in one of the dead sea hotels (Movenpick) so even though we're going to only stay until around 11pm, yeah, after sunset we can hang out there and relax and shower and stuff before the flight. Because yeah I had the same thought, it definitely would be completely hellish otherwise.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


HookShot posted:

It's an hour long flight or a five hour long drive, though? We want to get there early enough to be able to swim in the dead sea THEN go to the canyon, since getting scrapes and bruises in the canyon is to be expected. By taking the flight we can be back in Amman by 10, whereas taking the bus back wouldn't get us there until 1-2 at the earliest.

I definitely wouldn't take a tour bus, I'd ask your operator in Wadi Rum if they could arrange a direct private transfer (since you're not driving) to the Dead Sea. It will certainly be cheaper than the flight to Amman and the two other transfers you'd need. I'd be really surprised if it was more than 100 JD.

Then you can get a car that picks you up at like 8:30 after breakfast, or just after sunrise if you want, and you're at the Dead Sea 4-5 hours later.

Flying will take at least the same amount of time, given that it's:

Wadi Rum to Aqaba Airport: ±1 hour
Security and waiting around in Aqaba Airport for Flight w/ some time to spare: ~1-1.5 hours
Aqaba–Amman Flight: ±1 hour
Amman–Dead Sea: ~1.5 hours
Time spent finding your pre-arranged transfer and/or haggling with rear end in a top hat taxi drivers: ±30-60 minutes

So it's in the same ballpark but at least with a car you don't have to do like 4 different transfers of vehicle, which are not only a minor hassle but each have their own possibility of delays that will then mess up the entire rest of the schedule, and you can also pick exactly when you want to leave instead of being fixed to the airline's timeline. Plus it'll be cheaper.


Roads in Jordan are of good quality so it's a nice enough drive.

Saladman fucked around with this message at Mar 13, 2019 around 09:54

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HookShot
Dec 26, 2005



Saladman posted:

I definitely wouldn't take a tour bus, I'd ask your operator in Wadi Rum if they could arrange a direct private transfer (since you're not driving) to the Dead Sea. It will certainly be cheaper than the flight to Amman and the two other transfers you'd need. I'd be really surprised if it was more than 100 JD.

Then you can get a car that picks you up at like 8:30 after breakfast, or just after sunrise if you want, and you're at the Dead Sea 4-5 hours later.

Flying will take at least the same amount of time, given that it's:

Wadi Rum to Aqaba Airport: ±1 hour
Security and waiting around in Aqaba Airport for Flight w/ some time to spare: ~1-1.5 hours
Aqaba–Amman Flight: ±1 hour
Amman–Dead Sea: ~1.5 hours
Time spent finding your pre-arranged transfer and/or haggling with rear end in a top hat taxi drivers: ±30-60 minutes

So it's in the same ballpark but at least with a car you don't have to do like 4 different transfers of vehicle, which are not only a minor hassle but each have their own possibility of delays that will then mess up the entire rest of the schedule, and you can also pick exactly when you want to leave instead of being fixed to the airline's timeline. Plus it'll be cheaper.


Roads in Jordan are of good quality so it's a nice enough drive.
Yeah, that's a good point, maybe we'll just do that instead. Thanks!

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