What to wear in Egypt as a tourist?

Before thinking if we could walk inside the Pyramids, I wondered what to wear in Egypt! The metres together steep steps of the Pyramids demand you to wear comfortable clothes. So, the closet preparation matters most, especially when you plan to climb some dunes and run on lime-stone hills.

So here is a complete guide to what to wear in Egypt as a tourist & what to pack.

Index

What do locals wear in Egypt?

Sepia mode in the background of Old Cairo street with girls wearing Hijab, pants and tops in Egypt

OLD CAIRO– The usual day of Local Egyptians hanging out just before a bad sandstorm.

There is no dress code in particular for tourists as such in Egypt. Hijab is not compulsory for women. You find Egyptian ladies in Burqas in smaller towns like Bawiti near Bahariya Oasis. But not everywhere. Few women wear “Jalebiyas” – a long straight kurta kind of a thing. Sometimes it is colourful, like in Nubian villages or solid plain ones in the cities. Most women wear modern clothes like pants and waist-length tops and a scarf on their heads. Makeup is not banned, but Egyptian women are not fond of Makeup as much as Iran or Turkey women.

Is there a dress code to enter Egypt Pyramids?

Indian wpman wearing in leggings, tshirt and a shrug in Egypt's Saaqra palace complex

Windy, chilly sunny mornings at Saqqara

Dressing up as per local tradition is one thing. But is there a dress code to enter pyramids not to make dead pharaohs angry? No, there is no such thing.

What to wear to visit the pyramids in Egypt?

Walking down/up inside the pyramid isn’t easy. If you are claustrophobic like me, it gets even more challenging if you carry too many things while walking inside the pyramids.
On that cold January morning, that saviour, warm and thick jacket of mine, became a burden while walking down the pyramids ducking. It is warm inside the pyramids but super cold outside during winter. Wear layers so that you can remove them before entering.

Why is it important to understand another culture when travelling?

Highrise apartments of Giza and girls wearing Hijab on the streets .

Early mornings in Giza

Egypt is more conservative than I thought. For your safety& to respect their beliefs. Egypt receives the second-highest number of tourists in Africa. So many locations receive global travellers from various cultures. But it is better not to follow “My body, My rules. I flaunt it because I got it”.

I witnessed a troubling incident that happened to a lady traveller near Giza Pyramids.

On a cold chilling afternoon, we saw strange behaviour among many tourists in front of the Giza Pyramids. It was so cold that I thought of putting on my thickest jacket. But few travellers wanted to pose sexy in front of the pyramids. One beautiful girl removed the long coat she was wearing on her long gown. She was ready to shiver for a sexy picture revealing her legs and waist in the cold weather. Her body, her choice. Pyramids are sexy, and we all are sexy, too- Correct?

But it caught the attention of local Egyptians, selling souvenirs and camel rides.

She was continuously followed by local teenage boys trying to crack a conversation with her. The annoyed girl wore the jacket back & kept walking with her mate without responding. Later both of them said, “Please leave us alone.”

Our guide Ibrahim went behind those boys, scolding them severely in Arabic and chased them away!

Nubians in cairo wearing Jalebiya at Old Cairo street in Egypt
An afternoon at Old Cairo – When most locals are dressed like this, we, as tourists, get noticed easily if we dress up in total contrast to their tradition.

When we asked Ibrahim, he said –

 “I don’t want to tell the exact words those boys used to call her. It is inappropriate to use those words. I said I would hand them over to the Police if they behaved that way. Unfortunately, neither Egyptian men are changing, nor tourists understand this issue. Egyptians are still conservative. We try to tell tourists not to wear revealing clothes while in Egypt. Meanwhile, we try to catch hold of this kind of pervert too. I hope this kind of thing stops soon in Egypt.” 

As a traveller, we have to be in our safe zone. Unfortunately, some stupid humans still think revealing clothes are “asking for it.” Wearing whatever we want is our birthright. But as a traveller in a foreign country, safety is most important. Travelling in Egypt for 15 days or more, we can’t change what people think there. Plus, you may hurt their religious sentiments by wearing something that the locals don’t prefer. Wearing revealing clothes is not the only sign of progressive minds; respecting others’ way of life while you are on their land is.

What do men in Egypt wear?

Egyptian tall columns with flower nud capital and men in Jalebiya

Edfu temple caretakers in traditional outfit

Ironically in most parts of the world, the dress codes are usually for women! But in Egypt, traditional men’s clothing isn’t considered “On special Occasions Only” but daily also.

Can men wear shorts in Egypt?

You won’t see Egyptian men in shorts outside their houses. But a few tourists wear shorts. If you don’t want to be highlighted as a tourist but want to merge among the locals, stick to pants.

What is traditional Egyptian clothing?

Traditional Men’s attire in Egypt is Jalebiya with a white turban! Jalebiya is unisex. Just the colour and the pattern differs for men and women. Men wear loose, solid-coloured Jalebiya.

The most common colours we saw were Greyish Blue, Brown, and Khakee. We saw very few men in Jalebiyas in Cairo but many in Luxor, Aswan and Bawiti. I don’t know the reason, but Nubians wear only white Jalebiyas. There are plenty of shops in Luxor, Aswan and Nubian villages for you to buy these Jalebiyas. They are comfortably loose and airy. Ashrith did try on one, and he looked funny! He has strictly instructed me not to post his picture in Jalebiya here.

Packing various seasons in Egypt

Tourists standing next to Egyptian god Horus - the falcon god giant statue

Carry only full-length thicker clothes. Long skirts with thermal wear beneath might also be a good idea. Full-sleeve tops or overcoats on short sleeves are enough while out in the afternoon, but evenings can get as cold as 5*C. Hand gloves become essential if you are camping in the desert in winter. So carry enough warm clothing for the desert night camp.

I love getting clicked wearing a saree wherever I go. The plan was to imitate Kajol from Suraj Hua Madham song at the white desert. Forget changing into a saree; I shivered in the cold without my hand gloves for 5 minutes. The temperature was around 5*C to 6*C, so I had to settle for a picture wearing a Poncho.

Indian traveller wearing a poncho and posing btween two giant lime formations on abrown desert in Egypt

Close enough?

What to wear in Egypt summer?

Though I visited in winter, mid-afternoons gave me a hint of the scorching heat of summer. I have read so many travellers’ experiences of getting sunstroke in Egypt. So the only thing that saves you is either a hat or a scarf. The sweat and sand are the worst combos. So Carry cotton or linen loose clothing as much as possible. I wouldn’t carry even one pair of denim pants. Knee-length shorts sound airy enough, but the beaming sun burns your skin like an oven.

It is better to wear thin & loose cotton fabric dresses and pants. Make sure they are not transparent. Loose cotton gowns and maxis are perfect for summer.

Egyptian men siting weing Jalebiya

CARETAKERS AT MEDINET HABU – SUMMER OR WINTER, THEY LOVE JALEBIYAS

How to face and stay safe during Egypt’s Sandstorm?

90% of Egypt is desert. So sandstorms are common. We did get stuck in Cairo for a few hours at Cairo in a sandstorm. The entire city turned into Sepia mode within a few minutes. A wave of sand grains flew in the air continuously. I wore a scarf that day and had a spare one in my bag for Ashrith to cover his face. We would have gotten an eye infection if we didn’t wear the scarf! I was wearing a jacket that covered my hands thoroughly. The only part which got exposed to the sandstorm was the ankles. I had such lousy itching and scratches later. I wish I had worn full socks or pants that covered my ankles that day.

Top Egypt Packing List Items

Indian traveller in long skirt and whit coton top standing in frot of king tut's tomb entrance
  • Scarfs – irrespective of the season, they save you.
  • Shoes – wear the ones that carry your feet wholly. I suggest avoiding sandals and flip-flops totally.
  • Long skirts or Wraparounds to wear on pants to enter religious places
  • Don’t carry sling bags; stick to a backpack.
  • In winter -Full sleeves, thick tops, Denim pants, hand gloves, warm woollen socks, heavy jackets, beanies or jackets with hoodies.
  • In summer – Loose cotton pants and shirts and shrug.
  • Sunscreen, cold cream, moisturisers and lip balms.
  • Sunglasses
  • Personal medicines. – Many suggested Anti Diarrheal is a must; fortunately, nothing happened to us, but it is better to carry it to be safer.
  • Rehydration salts help you even in winter.
  • Essential documents like your passport
  • A travel adapter for sockets
  • Power bank, phone and camera chargers.

Did we help you wear the right things in Egypt? Let us know in the comment section below.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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