Wondering how to dress for weather and cultural conditions in Egypt?
What you wear in Egypt defines you in the eyes of Egyptians maybe more than it does in some other parts of the world. Instant conclusions are drawn as to whether you are rich, poor, good (modest) or bad (promiscuous).
Over the years it appears to be more acceptable for female tourists to wear skimpy or revealing clothing – off the shoulder tops, T-shirts revealing your tummy or shorts in the streets. However, women travelers should be aware that showing your cleavage and lots of leg can give the local population the impression that you are promiscuous. Sorry to have to say this but it is because revealing clothing worn by tourists is in such stark contrast to what the locals are wearing themselves.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR IN EGYPT – on the streets if you don’t want to be stared at.
- skimpy tops revealing your shoulders or belly-button
- shorts or short skirts
Consider leaving valuable jewelry, like cherished rings, at home if you anticipate your fingers swelling due to the heat. This precaution can help prevent accidentally leaving them behind in hotels upon departure.
What clothing should I bring to Egypt for comfortable wear?
- For men and women 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 pants and long skirts for ladies – try to avoid clothing that will make you feel sticky and uncomfortable. Jeans can become very hot and sweaty.
- 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 are accepted for hotel pool side and beach, but not on the street, dining room or otherwise in public.
- Between late 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.
Apart from my tips above on what to wear you might like to read my packing checklist and what you should take to Egypt for a comfortable trip.
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. Tourists are NOT expected to wear a headscarf or cover their heads like Egyptian women except if visiting a mosque.
If you intend visiting the famous Muhammad Ali Mosque in the Citadel in Cairo women cannot enter unless their heads, arms and legs are covered. If they are not, you will be required to wear one of the head-to-toe robes provided before being allowed to enter.
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.
How hot is it in Egypt?
“Curious about the heat in Egypt? You might be wondering how you’ll handle the hot dry weather, especially if, like me, you’ve never been too comfortable in high temperatures, and age adds to the challenge. To keep cool, my go-to choice is the ‘Cooling Hat,’ which resembles a typical sports cap. I simply soak it in water and wring most of the water out of it before heading out, and it works wonders in helping me stay comfortable in the heat.
I also bought a “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 have sampled other cooling neck ties but their effectiveness is nowhere near that of the one which I recommend above and it has also stood the test of time. I also use a set of “cooling wrist bands” which are lovely cos they just look like regular sports wear for the wrists.
Best Advice – Travel Light
If you want to travel light you could get away with a max of three changes of clothes. There are excellent same day laundry facilities on the ships and hotels, You may be surprised at the low prices for some clothing (even western fashion), to be found in Egypt. Many people end up buying extra bags to take their bargains home. So save some 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!)
- What to take to Egypt
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