There are 26 Airports in Egypt and Cairo Airport is the biggest and most frequently used for travelers overseas. There are a number of things you need to know before you arrive at Cairo Airport. Besides Cairo Airport, another airport travelers may use is the Aswan International Airport, that one is so much smaller.
There are in total 3 terminals in Cairo Airport, Terminals T1 & T2/T3 are 3 km apart. In addition to these three terminals, there is also another one called the new Seasonal/Hajj Terminal, the purpose is to ease operations during pilgrim seasons. It can cater to handle 3.5 million passengers accommodates all of Egypt Air’s seasonal and Jeddah / Medinah flights. The terminal can handle 1,200 passengers an hour and offers over 1,000 seats in the gate areas.
When your flight approaches Cairo, you should take a good look at the landscape of Egypt. Most of the land are covered by sand and it feels very dusty down there. Can you believe that 95% of the lands are desert and only 5% can be used for crops? It is certainly a harsh environment to survive as resources are also scarce.
Getting your visa
The number one thing to make sure is to check if you need a visa. I know for a Malaysian passport, a visa is not needed. For Singaporean, American, British, Canadian, Australian visitors, you do need a visa. The good thing is you can get it on the spot at the airport before you go through the customs check. This is a 30-day single entry visa on arrival. You also need to pay for USD 25 for each visa. They called it “Visa on Arrival”. Alternatively, you can also get your visa beforehand, that is to apply from your home country. I find it is quite troublesome as you have to wait for at least 7 working days for the visa to get approved. Some people prefer to get the visa before they fly here because that way they can be sure everything is in order.
Where to buy your visa in Cairo Airport?
There is a little bank kiosk before the immigration counters, just go to the counter and tell how many visas you need and pay in cash (USD) only. The staff did not even check and flip our passports and passed us 3 visa stickers.
Peel the stickers and stick to an empty page of your passport before you proceed to the immigration.
Customs Regulation on how much money you can carry
There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency carried upon arrival in Egypt subject to disclosure of the amount of (10) ten thousand dollars or the equivalent of other foreign currencies and may be carrying the amount of local currency up to (5) five thousand Egyptian pounds.
Where to change your money?
My advice to you is to change the local currency in Cairo Airport, there is a bank near the baggage claim area. Head to the counter and tell them how much money you need to change. Three is no need to change too much as most places receive USD dollar. You can change about USD 50 for about 10 days trip. To be honest, most places prefer tor receive in dollar or pound or Euro.
200 Egyptian pounds in a single note is about USD 12.00. When you purchase little things that cost only a few dollars, many sellers will not return you the change when you give them 200 Egyptian pounds. They usually ask you to take more items from them rather than giving you back the changes. Many sellers are reluctant to break the 200 notes for you. You need some small notes for toilet access and tipping.
Departure can be a little tricky so be there early is the key. The chaos on departure should be a norm here, be mentally prepared.
Be wary of aggressive porters or self-alleged “airport employees” who promise to expedite you to the “first class line” for a fee. They will ask for your passport and appear to hold it hostage until you pay them for their services. If you are running out of time, just seek this type of porter service as it may help you out.
If you need to layover in Cairo airport and want to find some hotel to stay, Meridien seems to be a good choice. Novotel Cairo Airport is also nearby.