Egypt is one of the greatest places to visit in the world. With the Pyramids, the Sphinxes and everything in between there is so much to see and the whole place is brimming with history and exotic charm. But Egypt is not Manhattan and there are some rules that it’s best to follow to keep yourself healthy on your trip.
The public hospitals can be used by tourists. They are absolutely fine in Cairo and Alexandria, but in other parts of the country, the standard may not be quite what you are used to. Make sure your insurance covers you in private hospitals in Egypt, and remember, the further you go from the big cities, the less medical provision there is likely to be. And try to avoid having dental treatment for the same reasons.
Polio and Other Vaccinations
Although it’s been virtually eradicated in the West, polio persists in Egypt, so check that you have been vaccinated and that it is up to date (the last time I checked, a booster was recommended every ten years, but your health care provider is the one to listen to about that). There are other diseases that are endemic in Egypt, so go with the advice of your health care professional and make sure that you have whatever vaccinations he or she recommends.
It’s Hot in Egypt
Prepare for the heat – take a good, high sun protection factor cream, and drink plenty of bottled water. Don’t venture out in the hottest part of the day and, even with your sun block, cover your arms and legs when walking around during the day, but wear loose, cotton clothes. It’s probably a good idea to wear a hat too. (I’m fair haired and fair skinned, and I get sun burned on my scalp, so if you don’t wear a hat, put sun cream on your head. Sounds funny I know, but it kind of doubles as a conditioner.)
Go Steady on the Beer
The beer in Egypt is not like the beer at home, it contains lots of preservatives because of the heat. For those of us not used to them, they may act as a laxative. Plus it’s never a good idea to drink alcohol during the day in very hot countries as you just get more dehydrated. By the way, imported drinks are more expensive but they may be worth the extra cost when you think about the above.
It’s not often that I say this, but stay away from all dairy products in Egypt unless you know that they have been pasteurised. Only eat in decent restaurants – no street food and nowhere that looks even slightly unclean. Wash your hands frequently (I always carry the alcohol gel hand wash and use it every time I handle money). Only drink bottled water. That includes not eating anything uncooked that is washed in water. I usually advise taking your own medical kit with you, including Imodium (everyone I know who travels to Egypt gets an upset stomach at some point in time).
Follow these tips and you will have wonderful, hospital free vacation. Have a great time!