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Cairo
40

mymymymymysharona · 31/01/2020 13:45

Can anyone recommend a spa resort / hotel very near the pyramids?

Due to work and life commitments, the only times we can go are end of June or Dec/Jan and we can only go for a week. Which date would you go for and why? We love hot weather so the soaring temps wouldn't be much of a problem for us. Seems the Dec/Jan prices are much higher because its over NYE I guess?

Any thoughts on travelling from London to Cairo would be really helpful.

TIA

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handbagsatdawn33 · 31/01/2020 14:31

We stayed at the Mena House hotel, but would NOT recommend it.
We arrived about 22.00, our room was not ready! After an hour, we were taken by golf buggy to our room, but it was another 30 minutes before our luggage arrived.
Checking out was just as bad, our driver had a shouting match with the receptionist as we risked missing our plane.
We travelled Egypt Air; OK , but it's dry.

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DazedandConcerned · 31/01/2020 15:50

@mymymymymysharona Avoid Mena House like the plague. They are disorganised, the food is lousy, and they host all night weddings which keep everyone up.

If you want to stay in Giza I'd recommend the Great Pyramid Inn. It has a rooftop terrace to eat on and it will be a good way to see some of the pyramids sound and light show. It isn't worth paying for and is the worst sound and light show in Egypt. (Order from best to worst: Abu Simnel, Karnak, Philae, then Pyramids.)

Why do you want to stay out at Giza? If you intend to see many sites in Cairo you will end up spending hours stuck in traffic going back and forth. GEM is not yet open, so the only real site out there are the Sphinx and Pyramids. Museum is in Tahrir Square.

You may want to consider staying in Cairo itself. I'd recommend the Kempinski Nile if it is within your budget. Very safe. In the embassy district.

Oh and in Cairo remember to go to Abu Tarek and sample Koshari. You will not regret it.

Any questions about Egypt just ask. I'm old hat.

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DazedandConcerned · 31/01/2020 15:58

Oh didn't read the rest of your post. Doh!

Last time I went was in June/July it was hot. Humid in Cairo but less so in Luxor and Aswan where it was more dry.

June is also low season for tourism so it is much cheaper. If you have a week I'd recommend 3 days in Cairo, sleeper train to Luxor, Nile cruise to Aswan (4 nights) and fly back to Cairo from Aswan and onward to the UK.

3 full days in Cairo I'd recommend -

Day 1: Pyramids, Sphinx and Museum
Day 2: Dahshur, Memphis and Saqqara
Day 3: Islamic and Coptic Cairo and fortress. Also Khan Al Khalili. Then over night train to Luxor.

This would then be an itinerary where staying near the pyramids makes sense.

Day 4 - 7 Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan. You'll get to see:

Luxor and Karnak temples
Valley of the Kings
Collossi of Memnon
Medinat Habu
Ramusseum
Temple at Edfu (reached by horse and carriage)
Temple at Kom Ombo
Temple of Philae
Unfinished obelisk
Aswan high dam
Felucca ride
Optional tour to Abu Simbel (which I recommend)

Then fly back to Cairo and home from Aswan. We flew British Airways on the new dreamliner last time we went. Flights are getting a bit harder to come by from the UK and are quite expensive. For our flight in may to Hurghada we are flying Manchester to Rome, Naples to Hurghada. It was less than half than going Manchester to Hurghada with one stop.

If you have any questions ask! I'd love to help you enjoy Egypt as it's meant to be enjoyed.

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mymymymymysharona · 01/02/2020 09:03

Wow thank you so much for these replies, so so helpful! I love the idea of going up to Luxor too.

I am half Egyptian and I haven't been to Cairo since I was 11. My (now all deceased or moved away) family lived in Al Helmaia el Gadida... I would like to visit this place too... And there was a square nearby, not sure if it was Tahir Square I suspect not... They had music at night and people sat around smoking shisha and eating. Wonderful memories that I'd like to relive.

My little one is awake now so I can't really reply properly but I will be back

Thanks so much

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DazedandConcerned · 01/02/2020 10:25

@mymymymymysharona will this be a one time trip do you think or is it somewhere you'd like to return to repeatedly?

I ask because there is so much to see in Luxor that leaving out the cruise and Aswan may be to your benefit. It very much depends. I can recommend a good tour guide if you want one though it's possible to do it yourself with a driver depending on how much historical context you want.

If you do the cruise (which I did on the MS Nile Premium) watch out what boat you book. I'm familiar with most of the ones currently on the water and I wouldn't touch many with a barge pole. If you get the name of a boat let me know and I'll let you know if it's a semi-floating disaster.

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mymymymymysharona · 02/02/2020 07:39

Hi Dazed

I very much doubt this will be a one off trip, although I guess it depends how successful a holiday this one is?? We would like to bring our kids there too one day (we love ancient Egyptian history and then there's the heritage too)

My husband found this hotel near the pyramids www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-s1-g294202-d299636-Reviews-Mercure_Cairo_Le_Sphinx-Giza_Giza_Governorate.html hope the link works. It looks lush but again, I don't really have a clue. Could you take a look and let me know your thoughts please?

We are seriously thinking of doing the bile cruise to Luxor. Its hard to research this at the weekend what with kids and visitors and being shattered by the end of the day, so I will take a look at tours and flights etc when I get into work tomorrow.

Could you give a ball park figure on costings at all? Are there any websites that can put a package for us, so we can pay in installments? Also would it be worth our while flying into Cairo and flying home from Luxor? Sorry for all the questions and honestly thank you so much. Its massively appreciated CakeFlowers

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mymymymymysharona · 02/02/2020 07:43

Juts re reading the posts and can see you recommended Cairo to luxor and then onto aswan. Would flying back to London from aswan an option?

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mymymymymysharona · 02/02/2020 07:44

Also the pyramid Inn looks great, very cheap too. Not sure if we want to go for something a little more luxurious as its our honeymoon (see the spa hotel I posted up thread)

Also can you recommend about spending money?

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mymymymymysharona · 02/02/2020 07:48

Sorry for all the questions!!

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DazedandConcerned · 02/02/2020 08:43

Hiya!

No worries about the questions I'll answer them as I can below.

Regarding the Mercure Cairo Le Sphinx, it looks alright from the photos but it's all very relative in Egypt. I've always heard that none of the large chains near Giza are really worth staying in. They do up a few rooms for promotional purposes - photograph them and then post all those photos everywhere haha! The reviews on TripAdvisor seem alright at 4.0/5 so it may be fine. Keep in mind that there is NOTHING around there other than a KFC near the Sphinx and papyrus factories.

We stayed last time at the Kempinski Nile Cairo, it is an amazing hotel with rooftop bar and pool. I've attached a photo of my beer in that bar.

www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g294201-d1597516-Reviews-Kempinski_Nile_Hotel_Cairo-Cairo_Cairo_Governorate.html

That's the TripAdvisor page for the hotel. It's in garden city so very local to restaurants you can walk to or pick up a felucca nearby for a sunset trip on the Nile.

Just to clarify some things:

  1. The Nile cruise goes from Luxor to Aswan

2. To get to Luxor to pick up the ship I'd recommend the sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor

The Nile cruise is around $500 USD each. This includes all your meals, but not any drinks. You can upgrade to all inclusive for something like £125pp which isn't worth it. Buy your beer/wine on board with dinner or a drink in the bar etc.. I'd recommend just asking your guide to grab some soft drinks/water at a shop before going back to the ship.

Regarding tour guides I recommend Mike Samir over at Go Luxor Tours

goluxortours.com/

Mike did our 2018 month long Egyptian extravaganza. He takes about 25% upfront and you pay the rest when you get to Luxor. His guide in Cairo, Nader, is spectacular. I really do recommend them.

Regarding flying back from Aswan to the UK. It is 100% possible but will involve a stop over in Cairo. You'll fly Aswan - Cairo - UK.

If you have any other questions ask! Especially regarding things like baksheesh/bribery Wink
Cairo
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handbagsatdawn33 · 02/02/2020 17:51

We used Orbital Travel for a tailor-made package, & everything went very smoothly - all transfers, excursions, etc.
Cairo for a few days, flight to Luxor, Nile cruise, then week in Luxor as we wanted a direct flight to LHR. (Cairo to Aswan cruise wasn't available when we did the trip.)
The only thing wrong was the Mena House hotel as I mentioned earlier, but that was our choice !

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DazedandConcerned · 02/02/2020 18:19

Only issue with Orbital and other UK based agents is that everything comes at a massive premium.

I just tried to book 2 weeks in Egypt thorough them all and it's extortionate. We ended up doing everything ourselves.

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handbagsatdawn33 · 02/02/2020 19:31

When we went, I had costed just the flights, hotels & Nile cruise.

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handbagsatdawn33 · 02/02/2020 19:34

posted too soon.

O.T. provided all transfers, + drinks on the boat.

It was a bargain, but perhaps they have changed.

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DazedandConcerned · 03/02/2020 09:34

Unfortunately, OT is now not all Inc and charges £££ for it.

A few other decent operators are the following:

Lady Egypt
Memphis Tours
Emo Tours

If you have some extra money to burn and really want to take your trip to a more romantic place you could consider a Dahabiya. It is a sailing ship that goes to some smaller sites on the Nile as well as the bigger ones. More intimate experience with a max 6-8 cabins.

Try:
Djed Travel (they also own the Sofra restaurant in Luxor)
Nour el Nil

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mymymymymysharona · 03/02/2020 09:57

Thank you both, a lot of info to process and to research etc. Very grateful.

What worries me is the money really. I am not sure we will be able to afford the cruise and the sleeper train :(

Flights are around £300 each, is that right? I got that info from Skyscanner.

We were hoping to budget it to around £1,200 for flights and hotels etc (not spending money)

Are we being unrealistic?

I am now desperate to go to Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. Perhaps we should postpone it until next year so we can do it properly (although we were hoping to do it this year and concentrate on TTC next year)

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DazedandConcerned · 03/02/2020 10:19

£1200 each or all together?

Give me some dates I'm signed off work and I'll see what I can wrangle. I just managed to book 2 weeks in Egypt for £1400 with flights.

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mymymymymysharona · 03/02/2020 10:27

All together Blush

I get the feeling we are not being realistic :(

You are a shining star. We were looking at 25th June to 1st July or 28th December to 2nd Jan

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mymymymymysharona · 03/02/2020 10:28

Flying from any London airport

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DazedandConcerned · 03/02/2020 10:33

You open to non-direct flights?

My two weeks broke down as the following:

£300 flights
£700 1 week all Inc at an amazing resort
£400 8 nights at the Winter Pavilion in Luxor.

Let's see what I can rustle up

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mymymymymysharona · 03/02/2020 10:43

Yes open to non-direct flights, although not ideal at all (I hate flying!) I understand this may be the way to go if we want to do this

Thanks again

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DazedandConcerned · 03/02/2020 11:04

@mymymymymysharona 2 options! One is a bit over your budget and I'll need to figure out timings, second is in your budget depending on hotel you pick.

Option 1:
Airfare - £281 each
Cairo Hotel either Mercure le Sphinx or Pyramids Inn - 42 or 37 per night
Sleeper train - 160 USD
Cruise - £369 each Luxor to Aswan including all tours and guide

= £1400 give it take a few depending on hotel you take

Option 2: a bit more do it yourself

Airfare - £281 each
Cairo hotels as above - 42 or 37 £ for 2 nights
Sleeper train - 160 USD
Winter Palace (£288) or Winter Pavilion (£155) or Jolie Ville (£264) for 3 nights
Cairo Pass for all sites - £153
Luxor Pass for all sites £75 (half price if you purchase Cairo pass)

This works out at £1292 with winter Palace or under budget with the winter pavilion (where I'm staying in may shares grounds/pool/restaurants with the palace)

You'd need to get cabs etc to get places but Uber is cheap and accessible. You can also cut down your cab fares in Luxor by taking the local ferry across the Nile to the western side for valley of the Kings, queens, temples, etc...

This is 6 nights but if you have a full 7 I'd just add on a night in Cairo. It wasn't completely clear from your dates.

IF you can get an extra day or two you could fly into Hurghada take buses to/from (GoBus) and have 2 nights in Hurghada for the same price. It's funny how that works out!

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mymymymymysharona · 03/02/2020 11:17

Oh wow this is great, I can actually picture in my mind what we can do now. It was all a bit jumbled before, honestly thanks so much.

Need to think on it. But it is totally doable (both options) although I am still not sure if we will need to wait until next year. I panic about money!! We also have a family holiday booked to this year on August, which we need to have paid off by May...

Can I ask - the Cairo Pass and Luxor pass - what exactly is this and how do we get it?

The flights we will have to pay upfront, but the hotels / cruise / sleeper train - do we book this in advance? And how do we book the cruise and sleeper? Can we wait until we get there?

So many questions...you my dear deserve a medal

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DazedandConcerned · 03/02/2020 11:40

Don't panic about money too much. Uber for Cairo is dirt cheap I've had rides turn up as 87p for looooog rides. Plus it's very safe. Additionally, food is dirt cheap.

www.sofra.com.eg/menu_choice_5.html

That is the menu for Sofra in Luxor. The 'expensive' mains cost about £5. Remember £1=22LE so your money goes a long way.

For taxis in Luxor if you stay at the Winter Palace or Pavilion the corniche is right in front of the hotel. Tons of taxi drivers will vie for your business. Haggle hard, don't like the price just walk away. They'll probably start chasing after you as soon as you do! Full day taxi in Luxor should run about 25 USD. IF you hire on the west bank after taking the 1LE local ferry you can get it much cheaper. To get to the west bank you need to leave Luxor to take a bridge far away so it adds time and fuel for them.

Cairo pass can be bought at Egyptian Museum, Pyramids or Citadel of Saladin.

Luxor pass can be bought at Karnak or near Luxor Temple (which if you pick one of the winter Hotels is next door effectively!)

Regarding paying upfront, you'd need to pay for flights and sleeper train. But you can leave the train until 2 weeks before departure. Hotels are payable on arrival. Regarding the cruise you'd need to pay a small deposit to the tour company you used, usually about 25% and rest on arrival.

To book the sleeper go to:
wataniasleepingtrains.com/ticket/index.html

I can help you figure out the site when you need to book.

Now, regarding photos. If you intend to bring a handheld camera you need to pay for a photo pass. However, mobile phone pictures are now free!

Let me know what other questions you have. Egypt is a wonderful country, sadly though if a mouse shits there the world hears about it and scaremongers. I feel safer there than in Manchester and London so I love helping people get to experience how wonderful it is. Especially before the tourist numbers really start to pick up. Now is a great time to visit it won't be this cheap forever there has already been a massive price hike since 2018.

Cairo
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DazedandConcerned · 03/02/2020 11:40

Oh the photo above was from our room at the Winter Palace. The price I quoted was Nile View Wink

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