This year or next might be the perfect time to visit Egypt: A reopening guide

Sep 12, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

Egypt has been a mythical destination for millennia. Prominently featured in some of history’s earliest stories, this mighty nation lives on today in modern culture as one of the most exciting countries to explore worldwide

Related: It could be time to add Egypt back to the bucket list

TPG former staffer Carissa Rawson once spent an entire semester abroad living in a Hilton hotel in Cairo, and TPG founder Brian Kelly has fond memories of exploring Egypt and Jordan together with his dad, the original Points Guy.

(Photo courtesy Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)

Unfortunately, most U.S. travelers haven’t been able to replicate Brian’s epic father/son trip or Carissa’s amazing hotel redemption for most of this year, since the country closed its borders to international tourists in March. The situation has hurt the country too: Tourism accounts for five to 15 percent of the country’s GDP between indirect and direct business. 

Sign up for TPG’s daily newsletter

Fortunately, Egypt reopened on July 1, including to U.S. travelers. Here’s what you should know before you visit.

Related: Dreaming of visiting Egypt

In This Post

Before Departure

First things first: Egypt is currently under a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory from the U.S. State Department, and a Level 3 Travel Health Notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of Sept. 8, there have been just over 100,000 cases of COVID-19 throughout Egypt, with 5,500 deaths. (For context, the U.S. has had 6.3 million cases and more than 191,000 deaths.)

Related: Guide to world landmarks reopening

That being said, the country of 98 million people has been very cautious about arrival protocols for incoming tourists. Before you arrive, you’ll need to take note of the following requirements.

U.S. travelers need tourist visas to enter Egypt. Single-entry tourist visas for 30 days can be obtained upon arrival at Egyptian airports for $25, unless you are arriving from the Taba point on the Israel border. A multiple-entry visa is available for $60. E-visas are available online through this link.

There is no mandatory quarantine upon arrival, but all arriving international travelers, including Egyptian citizens, must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test dated within 72 hours of arrival time. (Another website states that the tests must be dated within 48 hours of arrival time, which pretty much requires an overnight test result.) PCR test certificates must be presented in physical form; digital copies will not be accepted. Results must be either in English or Arabic.

If you can’t get a PCR test in time before departure, tests are available upon arrival for $30 at the Hurghada (HRG), Sharm El Sheikh (SSH), Marsa Alam (RMF) and Taba (TCP) airports.

Related: Reader hall of fame: Qsuites and Cairo

Travelers also need to show proof of travel insurance covering COVID, as well as proof of health insurance.

Once you arrive

All tourist sites and locations, such as the Nile Valley, Cairo, the Red Sea and South Sinai are open. The government has also halved entrance fees for all museums and archeological sites.

The U.S. Embassy website for Egypt states that restaurants, cafes, sports clubs and movie theaters currently operate at 50 percent capacity. Restaurants and cafes must close by midnight, while other businesses, including grocery stores, are required to close by 10 p.m.

Public parks and beaches remain closed, although resorts with private beaches are allowed to open them to visitors at their own discretion. Face masks are required in all public settings, including on public transportation.

Flights and hotels

Flights into Cairo are reasonably plentiful on multiple airlines.

You can fly from Los Angeles to Cairo this fall for around $700 round trip on all three major airline alliances: $669 on Turkish Airlines, $753 on Delta/Alitalia in October, or $727 on Royal Air Maroc in November. 

For award flights, economy routes are 94,000 miles and $89 on United, 75,000 miles and $153 on Delta or 80,000 miles and $137 on American Airlines.

Hotels are equally accessible, with more than 450 properties available in October on

Cairo offers some of the world’s best values for cash rates and award redemptions alike, with king bedrooms at the newly-open St. Regis in Cairo available for just 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or just $215 per night in February. (Just in case one St. Regis isn’t enough for you, you’ll be able to pick between two come January 2021 when the St. Regis Almasa Hotel opens.)

Rates are similarly competitive at Hilton properties ranging from 20,000 at a number of properties, up to the Conrad Hilton, which goes for 24,000 Hilton Honors points per night. Is this a good deal, you ask? For context, a Hilton property in small-town College Station, Texas, costs 19,000 points on a weeknight.

Hyatt fans will be sad to see that the Hyatt Regency Cairo West is closed until January 2021. But rates are great in February when the property reopens, with prices beginning at $94 per night.

Bottom line

2020 and its accompanying disruption may not be how you anticipated seeing the Great Pyramids or exploring the ancient historical sites of Egypt. But current price points and the country’s eagerness to attract new tourists may be just the nudge you need to take the plunge this year. After all, the visa requirements will always be a factor to contend with — but you might never get to visit with so few fellow tourists again.

Featured image of Luxor, Egypt, by Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.