Sharm el Sheikh Life and Visitor Travel Tips

(Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt)

View of camel trekkingA holiday in Sharm el Sheikh is likely to be one that you will remember for years, for the hot weather, superb coastal attractions and Egyptian locals. Life in Sharm el Sheikh is very different to traditional Western cultures and tourists tend to stand out in the crowds. Locals in Egypt are not used to seeing flesh, so unless you want to draw attention to yourself, it is sensible to cover up with lightweight fabrics, rather than wearing skimpy outfits when you walk around the city.

Haggling for goods in Sharm el Sheikh is an important part of life and the locals here will expect you to try and reduce the prices of most goods, ranging from bottled water to traditional souvenirs. Prices are often slightly inflated with this in mind.

If you are planning to book up on a day trip where snorkelling is on offer, consider bringing your own gear, since the snorkelling equipment available for rental is often poor quality and rather pricey. Alternatively, head to Na'ama Bay, where snorkelling gear is more reasonably priced than most other areas. Here are some helpful travel tips about life in Sharm el Sheikh.

Picture of thatched parasols on the beach

Useful Contact Details

Keeping abreast of the news is easy in Sharm el Sheikh, and whilst various foreign newspapers are often for sale around the beaches, these are usually several days old and out of date. It is simplest to look on the web, with numerous Internet cafes scattered around the city. Internet access is especially cheap in the downtown district.

Naama Internet Cafe
Address: Na'ama Centre, Na'ama Bay, Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, EG
Speednet Internet Cafe
Address: Sharm Na'ama Bay Road, Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, EG
Yes Business Centre
Address: Na'ama Bay, Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, EG

Here are some other useful contact details.

Tourist Police
Tel: +20 069 366 0311 (Na'ama Bay)
Tel: +20 069 360 0554 (next to the Marina Sharm Hotel)

Sharm Medical Centre
Address: Sharm Na'ama Bay Road (next to the bus station), Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 069 366 1744
Open hours: daily - 24 hours

Main Post Office
Address: Bank Street, Hadaba, Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, EG
Open hours: Saturday to Thursday - 08:30 to 14:30

Photo showing camel on the beachfront

Visa Information

The majority of foreigners arriving in Egypt to visit Sharm el Sheikh will require a visa. This can either be obtained prior to travel from your local consulate or Egyptian embassy, or for some nationalities, at the actual airport. Processing times and the related costs vary from country to country, although most are processed in around 48 hours or sooner in some cases.

Drinking Tap Water

One of the quickest ways to spoil a perfectly good trip to Sharm el Sheikh is to drink the tap water here. As with the rest of Egypt, tap water in Sharm el Sheikh is known to be contaminated with various harmful bacteria, which will most likely cause varying degrees of diarrhoea, sickness and vomiting. This unpleasant side effect can be avoided by sticking to bottled water only, and steering clear of any uncooked fruit and vegetables, as there is a good likelihood that they may have been washed with tap water.

Language and Dialect

Arabic is the spoken language of Egyptians and can be a difficult language to both learn and understand. The pronunciation of many Arabic words is enough to make even the most able linguist a little tongue-tied. However, most locals in Sharm el Sheikh will be delighted if you make even the smallest effort to learn their language and a basic set of phrases and common words. Here are some useful phrases to start you off.

Address: 'sa-lam a-lay-kum'
Does anyone here speak English?
Address: 'fee Hadd bi-yit-yal-lim in-glee-zee?'
Where is...?
Address: 'fayn...?'
Go away!
Address: 'im-shee!' (only ever say this to children)
How much is it?
Address: 'bi-kam?'

Tourist Traps and Scams

When visiting Sharm el Sheikh, you should expect some of the locals to try a few scams during your stay. There are a number of favourites that many hotels touts try, including telling you that your hotel is flooded and that they will take you to their friend's hotel, who will give you a good deal, whilst they take a large commission for their efforts, something that you will end up paying for yourself. It is simplest not to enter into conversations with locals. When saying 'no thanks', always be polite and firm - they will soon get the message and move onto to a more naive tourist.

Other scams in Sharm el Sheikh include the actual hotels themselves, who will try and organise tours and excursions on your behalf. Regardless of the quality of the hotel, they are all out to make money and charging extortionate prices for this service is commonplace. It is easy to broker these yourself, something that will save you a hefty chunk of money.

Finally, when shopping in Sharm el Sheikh, avoid helping the local shopkeepers, who will try virtually anything to charm you into their shop, such as making you a cup of green tea, or asking you for help reading an English letter. When inside, the pressure to buy something can create a rather awkward situation which can so easily be avoided.