Indian Family's Luxury Egypt visit On A medium Budget

Monday, July 23, 2018

We are Indian family living in Kuwait. When we decided to go a trip in Egypt, we were determined to have a luxurious vacation on this historical land. But we were decided to do it on a low cost as possible too. As we began planning a week Egypt itinerary and estimating prices, we understand that there was only a negligible difference in price between quite luxurious vacation in Egypt and on a low budget trip.

Family of four, including 2 kids needs lots of detailing in searching prices. Kids more than 12 years is considered as an adult as per travel documents. In my case my daughter is just crossed 12. But still we managed to get good deals. We began discovering some great deals, which would allow for an incredible trip to Egypt on a budget. Kuwait dinar is fairly strong and is respected. A devaluation of the Egyptian Pound only further helped to make the country a fantastic value. Before in 2014, a Kuwaiti dinar is equal to about 20 EP, Now it’s about 60 EP.

Start with Sky scanner

We started our search with sky scanner, it’s a great website. But we never booked from that site. Reason, got lower prices at the last moment.

I got a return ticket for 60 KWD (around 12200 RS) From India less than 20 thousand Rupees is possible if you search a lot. From Kuwait I got attractive deal while searching in sky scanner. A total 240 KD for a family of 4. This airfare included one domestic flight plus two international flights. I will reveal the tips to reduce the costs.

If you are staying in any western country and returning to India, you can opt a 24 hr stop over without any extra cost of accommodation or food. Egypt air will provide this and you will be free for that much time which is quite enough for a visit to the great pyramids and Museums.

Timing: Avoid hot summer. In Egypt its scorching hot and long holidays for schools, so ticket rate will be very high. Avoid Christmas vacation and January. Cold and holidays make high tourist influx. Rates are too high again. Airfare and hotel rates will be better from February. February to early March is ideal as weather changes into a small spring season with good pleasant atmosphere. But I could not select that time because my kids having exam in early March. But, still 2nd half of March providing a small 2-week vacation for schools in Kuwait.

Egypt Budget Week Itinerary

We managed to plan a luxury Egypt week itinerary for a budget of about 150 KD (30 Thousand INR) per person. This budget includes all expenses, accounting for everything from bottled waters and tipping the bathroom attendant, to an entire luxury Nile River cruise, 5-star hotel in Luxor, and 3 star Cairo. It’s pretty incredible how far your money can stretch in Egypt!

This article is based on some observations of John Widmer who is a backpacker roaming around the world. We got great tips from his travelogues.

We now want to share all of our tips and strategies to show exactly how you can afford these luxuries in Egypt on a small budget

Here’s Why Indians Consider Combining low budget trip to Egypt with a pinch of Luxury

Everybody asked me before and after our trip some universal questions. How much it costs? Was it any kind of package? How about travel planning, pick up from airport or separate tours to the sites? Is it safe for kids? What in the case of emergency? Who will take care about our trips? I Can’t answer all these questions now, but as you read on, you will understand it. Although relatively inexpensive, Egypt can be a notoriously difficult country to travel in, particularly during summer months. You will encounter extreme heat, some of the most persistent touts we’ve encountered, and the need to haggle hard over just about everything. It’s unlike anywhere else in the Middle East we’ve traveled to and it can all become exhausting!

Prices in Egypt are such that it can be very affordable to make yourself much more comfortable than in this land. So we strongly urge you to do just that. We found that stepping up your comfort level and doing a little planning can often make the difference between an enjoyable trip to Egypt and a miserable one.

If you are single male, you can choose a backpacking trip. Backpacker accommodation in Egypt can be pretty good throughout the country. Lots of Westerners doing it. If I were alone or without my kids, I will add a trip to a sea side resort. It was absolutely heavenly to be able to unwind in such a relaxed environment as a Red Sea resort, snorkeling by day and sipping beers by night. For family, things are little different, but when you can stay at a 4-star resort at prices that are less than the cost of a hostel bed in many places around the world, Egypt is lucrative, (starting at KD 12 per person per night), and includes all of your meals and even sometimes unlimited alcoholic drinks. Beer seems very cheaper there.

Do it yourself

Best way I found is combining two styles of travelling. Most people’s travel style seems to be firmly planted as either backpacking independent travelers or those who prefer packaged tours with luxury. But it doesn’t have to be one or the other. We’ve found that Egypt can actually be a perfect place to combine these two mindsets together for a fantastic semi-DIY trip to Egypt, incorporating the best of both worlds and maximizing value!

Add on for bachelors.

A week of touring around ancient Egypt’s many sites and the sheer craziness of Cairo, you may add some spice in your tour. Visit a resort in Redsea is the best idea. Our tour was great and it is filled with touring all of those famous pyramids, temples, and museums, you may grow exhausted. Especially for children. So we recommend trading in those ancient sites to instead explore some of Egypt’s natural wonders in the underwater world. for that you have to travel to Hughada or Sharm al sheikh. The Red Sea beaches provide a wonderful contrast to the first week’s intensive touring. We avoided Alexandria,because of some obvious reasons.

Right now is truly a special time to travel to Egypt. The Jasmin revolution and unrest subsided. Tourism industry is waking up. Not only are the prices low, but so are the tourist crowds that once swarmed the county’s most notable sites. Today you can visit the Great Pyramids and have them nearly all to yourself to enjoy. It’s absolutely incredible!

So come take an in-depth look to see how to have a little luxury while travelling Egypt on a budget of KD 150 (INR 32000) per person during one-week itinerary in Egypt. A two-week extension will cost only near 50 KD in additional.

Sample Egypt Itinerary

For One week

This Egypt itinerary is almost exactly what we followed ourselves. we did maximum time conservation. The only difference between our exact trip and our recommendation here, is that we advise traveling to and unwind at Hurghada Red Sea resort.

Day 1: Arrive into Luxor in the early morning.
Our tour operator sent a guide and Minivan for first day adventures in the west bank of Luxor. then before lunch begin embark Nile Cruise. Afternoon and night- relax. overnight in Cruise
Day 2: Nile Cruise, Edfu and Kom Ombo (overnight in Cruise)
Day 3: Nile Cruise to Aswan-early morning drop to Abu Simbel. Afternoon trip to Philae temple. (overnight in Cruise)
Day 4: Book train ticket to Luxor. Reach Luxor by 11 am. Check in your Hotel. If interested, sightseeing around Luxor and Karnak temple.
Day 5: Relax in hotel, using swimming pool. Evening visit to Luxor temple and Karnak temple
Day 5: Morning Fly to Cairo, visit Egyptian museum on the way to Hotel at Giza. Check in and Tour Pyramids of Giza. Spend time to watch the Evening Light and sound show at 7 pm. Do shopping.
Day 6: Take wonderful photos in early morning at Pyramids, Check out Depart Egypt
A few minor tweaks to this two week Egypt itinerary that you may want to consider incorporating are:

*Add an extra day in Aswan to make the journey to Abu Simbel (which tends to be a highlight of Egypt for many).

*Add an extra day in Giza/Cairo to explore additional sites such as the pyramids around Saqqara.

*Consider extra day in Luxor to explore more in this ancient city.
*Do it in reverse! If so, we’d recommend a reverse tour after considering the availability of flights and its lowest prices.

Extension of tour (total 2 weeks)

* 1 week at Redsea resort, travel to Hughada or Sharm al sheikh.

How to cut cost in air ticket?

Most of the people think Cairo is the main point of entry and easy to explore from there. But if you want to cut cost, divide your trip and consider Luxor as starting point and Cairo is the finishing point. Use
multi city booking instead of two way tickets. This option is easily searched from the site Skyscanner. Try different forms of timings and combination of flights. In my case I got a very low priced ticket from Kuwait to Luxor and Luxor to Kuwait. I went for the extreme, that our return flight has a special feature. I selected a flight with long stopover at Cairo, more than 24 hours. Like this, if you choose one, in this 24 hours you will get sufficient time to explore Cairo.

Bear in mind that dates of your cruise trip should be coincided with the flights timings. After identifying suitable flights in sky scanner you can try in different websites for further bargaining on flight booking. In our case Egypt Air provided the best timings as well as cost. A 3-way ticket from Kuwait cost only 56 KD (12500 INR) per person.

Luxor to Aswan 4-Day cruise and costs

Best option to book a cruise by a great website called Viator, a subsidiary by TripAdvisor. If you book, they will take care about the cruise and individual tour operators. Actually Viator integrates many tour companies and cruises. We don’t need any other to select a best cruise or best rate. All they will decide in reasonable rate.

If you attempt to bargain separate tour companies, time and phone call will make a miserable feeling. If one boat is not available, they will take care to accommodate in any other boat. So first 4 days are booked for US dollar 250 per person for entire 4-day trip including cruise, food and tours. Once you booked, Viator will give our names to some tour company and they will contact you by mail and phone calls. In our case it was Middle East tour company. If you have some guts, you may further try an independent bargaining with other tour companies.

Once you get on board your Nile cruise, travel will become much easier, as the next several days are completely planned out for you, so you won’t have to worry about a thing. Just get on the ship and enjoy!

Day 1: Our flight from Kuwait was at 4:05 Am and arrived on correct time at Luxor airport at 5.50 Am. We had a good breakfast on flight. We used airport washroom to freshen up. Our tour company guide and driver were awaiting to take us to the West bank, to start early as possible. We got a small problem of Egyptian Money as there is no money exchange opened at Luxor Airport.

The private exchanges in town will be open before 8 am. So our guide helped us and gave a loan of EP 1000. I agreed to return the money after our visits and when banks are open. We crossed a bridge across the Nile river and driver stopped near to a village to buy some sandwich for himself. Our guide took us to the valley of Kings, and the Colossi Memnon and Temple of Queens. He stopped in between to some kind of a factory of stoneware making.

The factory owner gave generous amount of black tea/ fruit juice and that was enjoyed by kids. But we were not in a mood of shopping and after 15 minutes, we said goodbye to the shop keeper. Temple of Hatshput was a magnificent sight. First incidence of cheating happened here. We bought a half liter of drinking water at a shop inside temple of Queen's compound. Spent 20 EP for that. Later we found that the same amount is enough for 4 one liter big bottles in Luxor town.

If you attempt like us, no need to worry about the luggage while visiting the temples. It will be safe in your van. My advice is just click a photo of driver or registration Number of your van. This will be helpful to find the van later. Before embarking the cruise, we visited Luxor town and to a bank for money exchange and bought some water bottles. Bid farewell to guide and driver with some tips for the services. We got checked in to our Nile River cruise about 12 Its a five star cruise but a different having a name (M/s Gezelle) than we got informed. Its a 5 star cruise with 5 star facilities. Had wonderful lunch and settle into our room. Ship began its sailing about 1.30 when we were busy with eating our luxurious Lunch. Full afternoon is ours for relaxation.

We got two adjacent rooms at 2nd floor, each for kids and Parents. Kids were happy to see the TV with their favorite channels. After a good nap we went to upper deck to watch for a Nile sunset. Then attended dinner at basement floor (Below water level) and dancing at banquet hall and bar at ground level We passed Esna on a full moon day. Super feeling to watch the lock crossing from the upper deck. We spent some time in the deck lying on the chairs only to stare at stars and moon. No other sounds...

Day 2 : Slept neatly. Day break was wonderful and delighted to watch it from our bed. If you open the windows you can smell fresh air with cool breeze. We found that ship is docked at Edfu and after breakfast at 7 am our tour guide took take us to Edfu temple. It was not like all the people will go with one guide as we thought. In the same ship, there were more than 100 people staying but they all belong to different tour companies. Each guide will come and they will pick their respective tourists.

Our group included we four, and one lone lady from Mexico. After breakfast on the ship, our new guide took us to a horse carriage and ride to tour the Horus Temple in Edfu. The horse driver will be very friendly and allow us to hold the harness and he will assist to take Photos. All this understandable. When leaving, he will ask a tip.

We had a Egyptian massage session on the spa in ship. It last for one hour. As sun get hotter we went to swimming pool and kids enjoyed. Before Lunch, we sat at main reception area to send some photos in social media. Wifi is available but not in inside the room. We took a nice lunch and relaxed in the rooms. A more relaxing visit and walk at evening followed, when we visited Kom Ombu temple and Crocodile museum. A shopping at small shops along the bank is also recommended here as we found the cost is less than other places. At Night dinner and dancing party. Slept nicely with while our ship sailing towards Aswan.

Day 3: You will be amazed when you are reach Aswan in early morning. You may think, this will be your destination, oh so early. But two more days here. Relax. If you booked to visit Abu Simbel, your tour guide would have arrived at around 4 AM at ship's reception. Your breakfast is packed and given as a box to have it on the way or during the trip. A luxury Minivan will be ready to take you with some persons from another boat. Long journey will follow in the desert and you can sleep a little. Abu Simbel trip is a must but can be omitted if your kids will say, "too much History".

Even one of the parents can stay in hotel room for relaxed morning. After breakfast, alternately you can have a felluca ride in Nile to the nearest islands. Lot of locals will come and offer if you dare to explore. The above two activities are not belonging to the package and you have to do it your risk and cost. Have lunch on board and visit the Aswan Dam, the unfinished obelisk, and then the Philae temple. On your return, your minivan will definitely stop at some so called Perfume factory. Very concentrated perfume oils available and it is nice idea to entice friends and relatives to gift some small bottles of such oils.

Evening will be free and you can wander in the streets of Aswan. Remember, you should book your train ticket for next day's travel.
I booked the ticket to Luxor for the 7.30 am train towards Cairo. If you have enough time you can book at 3 pm train. Beware, no trains in between. Beer can be bought at some a shop near to the railway station and it is very cheap.

The night is so special as there is a grand dinner and following entertainments in the middle deck. Belly dance performer will be there to entice along with her crews. Soofi dance performed before the Belly dance. Belly dance is enjoyable to the entire family and its not a taboo to participate and dance with here. In our cruise some of the Muslim ladies and kids danced with belly dancer.

Slept nicely. Kids watched movies in the TV till late night.

Day 4: After a sound sleep on the ship, we checked out at 7 am. While check out, the receptionist gave an envelope to put our tips to the crews. Here in this ship you need not give your gratitude for each services individually. As a rule, 3 US dollars per person per day is normal tip. So we have to give 16 USD per day. Its not compulsory, you may not put anything in the envelop. We put a total of 50 USD. Our lunch boxes are handed over and we hurried to railway station. We have only 10 minutes to the scheduled train departure, we thought it will be a good idea to travel in a horse carriage w for 10 EGP, but it turned to be a time waste as our old horse is simply walking not more than we could. It s about 500 meters distance only and we regret. Our train was ready on time and we got our seats near to a windows. Ticket examiner came and checked the ticket. One good thing is you can board the train without a ticket and you can buy it from train conductor with a small increment of ticket price but according to availability. There is pantry service in the train. Our train was an express train towards Cairo and having 3-4 stops only between Aswan and Luxor. We reached on time at 10 Am. Outside the railway station, its tough time to bargain to taxi and touts. A 25 EGP is all required to our hotel by taxi. After check in the room we relaxed a little till lunch .

We stepped down in the afternoon adventures. By this time our tour guide tried contacted us and given a message to hotel that he will come at 3 pm instead of 12 pm, as agreed earlier. But we missed the message and so our guide. We went our own to visit Karnak temple. Luckily we saw our guide there with a British family. After visiting Karnak Temple, our guide brought us to a so called Papyrus Museum. We bought some mementos from there, and proceed to Luxor temple. We didint give any tip to the guide as he not arrived at time, and it seems he didn't expect that. We visited Luxor market for tourists for some shopping. Our hotel is very near to Luxor temple and Mummification Museum, We walked on streets in the early nightfall and visited Mummification museum on way back. This night we wanted to try something different for dinner as five star food on previous days made carving for local tastes. After reaching hotel, I alone went to the streets again to buy sandwiches and shawarma. Later in Night, we visited the Bar in the hotel from where you can have ice creams, sandwiches and beer. Wonderful day, finished with a good sleep.

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