What you wear in Egypt defines you in the eyes of Egyptians maybe more than it does anywhere in the world. Instant conclusions are drawn as to whether you are rich, poor, good (modest) or bad (promiscuous).
HOW HOT IS HOT? You wonder ‘how will I cope with the hot dry heat in Egypt – will it be too hot?’ I bought a few special products on Amazon to make coping with the heat easier. Top of my list is the Mission Enduracool Cooling Performance Hat which looks like a regular sports cap. I wet it before going out and it really helps cool me down in the heat.
Next I have the Ergodyne Chill-Its 6602 Evaporative Cooling Towel, Blue which is wider than the Chill-Its 6603 Evaporative Cooling Band, Blue In Egypt I really need the Towel whereas when I visit the US in summer or even in Ireland on a really hot day I find the smaller Band less conspicious and equally helpful. My son and grandson joke with me about looking like I am wearing a J-Cloth around my neck – but they haven’t tried these and have no idea how important they are to me now so I will put up with their laughter 🙂 I bought the Cooling Towel for my guide in Luxor and he sent me a photo of it in June with the comment “this thing saved my life today”. I use a set of cooling wrist bands which are lovely cos they just look like regular sports wear for the wrists. I have sampled other cooling neck ties but their effectiveness is nowhere near that of the ones I recommend above.
Over the years it appears to be more acceptable for female tourists to wear skimpy or revealing clothing – short strappy tops or shorts in the streets but women travellers should be aware that showing your cleavage, legs and even upper arms gives the local population the impression that you are promiscuous and in all probability…looking for a man and/or sex.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR IN EGYPT – on the streets
- skimpy, strappy tops revealing your shoulders or belly-button
- shorts or short skirts
Don’t bring jewellery such as rings that you value or prize highly if you think your fingers will swell in the heat as you may end up leaving them in hotels when you leave.
What clothing should I bring to Egypt?
- Lightweight clothing that you can layer is best…then you can dress up or down according to the weather. Due to the heat most tourists dress casually day and night time.
- Lightweight 100% cotton pants and long skirts – even as little as 10% polyester or nylon will make the clothing sticky and uncomfortable.
- Tops and/or blouses that cover your shoulders and do not show cleavage. Exposing upper and lower arms is fine unless you are visiting a mosque.
- Comfortable shoes for walking – The Valley of the Kings and some of the Temples have uneven ground and sometimes you have to walk over sand – hot grains of sand in your sandals is not nice!
- Good sunglasses.
- Non-slip flip-flops for wearing in the bathrooms and wet-rooms is a good idea for safety and hygiene reasons.
- Wide-brimmed hat and a sweat band would not go amiss to keep sweat out of your eyes, especially in the tombs, which are very hot and humid.
- Bikinis and skimpy summer wear for pool side and beach, but not on the street, dining room or otherwise in public.
- Between November and March the nights can be chilly so bring warm pyjamas (many places do not have heating as it is only cold at night) and pullover or jacket to wear when going out.
- Your “Go-Everywhere With Me, Bag” This is the bag that goes out with you every day and night.
What do Egyptian women wear?
While a percentage of the population, especially in Cairo are wearing modern, western-style clothing, more Egyptian women are wearing the Hijab (veil/headscarf) and the Niqab (covered head to toe, except for eyes) than ever before because it is being promoted as the way a “good woman” dresses.
Strangely enough, the clothing problem appears to be a “skin thing” as wearing body-hugging clothes is quite acceptable and many girls wearing the Hijab (scarf) wear tight clothing but they wear bodysuit type tops under the different layers Some years ago there was a problem about the belly dancers showing skin so they had to sew flesh coloured material between the bra top and skirt……………
I advise packing a max of three changes of clothes. There are excellent 2 day laundry facilities on the ships and hotels and it is most likely you will be surprised at the bargains in everything (even western fashion if you are going to Cairo), to be found in Egypt. Most people end up having to buy extra bags to take their bargains home! So save your space for your bargain buys and an extra fold-up bag would not go amiss. Neither would a water bottle holder with shoulder or hand strap (and if it can keep water cool – even better!)
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