General Information About Marsa Alam
About 220 km south of Hurghada lies Marsa Alam; a tropical paradise boasting rich blue sea with coral reef barriers, paradisiacal beaches and palm trees. It’s among the fastest growing holiday resorts on the Red Sea Riviera, and is popular with windsurfers, scuba divers, snorkelers and sun worshipers fortunate enough to have already discovered the resort’s remote tranquility.
For diving enthusiasts, Marsa Alam’s diving sites are considered to be a glorious treasure waiting to be discovered, boasting beautiful coral reefs and an abundance of magnificently colored sea life where spinner dolphins and sea turtles swim freely.
Adventure seekers have plenty of attractions to discover in the deserts near Marsa Alam. Visitors can go on quad bikes or jeep safaris off-road into the desert, and combine it with a visit to a Bedouin village, marking an unforgettable and adventurous experience. A mouthwatering barbecue dinner and a camel ride cannot be missed while visiting a Bedouin village.
If history is what you’re after, then this is the right city. It is believed that the Pharaohs mined brilliant green emeralds in the mountainous areas of the Eastern Desert southwest of Marsa Alam. The Cleopatra Mines or Mons Smaragdus became the most famous mining complex in the ancient world, and at various times the mines at Wadi Gemal , Wadi Nuqrus and Gebel Zabara were in use during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. If you are interested in tracing back the Roman glory, the Roman Settlement of Myos Hormos is not far from Marsa Alam.
Being a relatively remote location that enjoys a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, Marsa Alam is considered the ideal destination for honeymooners. As the night falls, the stars light up the sky and Marsa Alam is magically transformed into a romantic getaway. Cuddling up on the beach or in one of the many cozy cafes along the water and watching the countless shooting stars, while drinking freshly brewed tea definitely qualifies as a perfect end to the day.
With crystal blue waters, tranquil sandy beaches, and the mysterious touch of the desert, Marsa Alam is the ideal gateway from a mundane life and conventional vacation spots.
Marsa Alam hotels have their own private beaches exclusively available to hotel guests. Long stretches of natural white sand beaches and a year-round dry and temperate climate make this area an ideal destination for sun seekers and water sports enthusiasts. The waters of the Red Sea are clear and calm for most of the year and are popular for watersports such as scuba-diving and snorkelling, windsurfing, sailing and deep-sea fishing.
Other water sports including water skiing, pedalo hire are available on the doorstep and you can also learn to surf and windsurf. Marsa Alam is reasonably close to the popular Red Sea destinations of Hurghada and Dahab where many international wind and kite surfing competitions are held. Marsa Alam’s hotels can also offer a large choice of other more relaxed and fun water sports, from banana rides to parasailing.
POPULAR EXCURSIONS IN MARSA ALAM
HALF-DAY AND FULL-DAY EXCURSIONS
The following excursions are just a few of the many available at your resort, please check with your resorts travel desk for complete details including rates as prices vary per excursion.
DO'S AND DON'TS WHEN TRAVELING TO egypt
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Egyptians are known for their great sense of humour, kindness and hospitality. It is always a fruitful cultural exchange so don’t miss out on that.
This will not only help you get around more easily, but locals will also appreciate your effort. Here are some common colloquial Arabic phrases that will come in handy during your time in Egypt:
Good morning / evening
Sabah el foll / masaa el foll
What’s your name?
(Male) Ismak aih? (Female) Esmik aih?
My name is…
Have a nice day
Atmana lak youm saeed
Where is the bathroom?
Fain el hammam?
(Male) Enta, (Female) Enti
Me / Him / Her
Ana / Howa / Heyya
(Male) Men fudluk, (Female) Men fudlik
How much is this?
I’m hungry / thirsty
Ana awez akol, ana awez ashrab
My Arabic is poor
Ana mesh bafham Arabi kwayyes
If you’re not sure what something means, just ask. Most Egyptians will be happy to assist you.
There are delicious dishes to throughout Egypt, and you should try it all! No matter if it is from a street stall or at a formal restaurant, you’ll find scrumptious food cooked fresh and served with plenty of the renowned Egyptian hospitality.
- Mahshi: stuffed vine leaves, cabbage, aubergine, sweet peppers and zucchini
- Fiteer Baladi: Egyptian filo pastry with sweet and savoury dips
- Hawawshi: baked minced beef sandwich
- Shawerma: shaved meat with garlic sauce
- Koshary: a rice and pasta mix with spicy red sauce (popular with vegans)
- Falafel: Egyptian ones are very green and crunchy (best falafel you’ll ever taste!)
- Foule: Fava beans with vegetables, cumin and oil
- Roz bel Laban: Cream Egyptian rice pudding (try it with ice-cream or fresh cream)
- Om Ali: Egyptian bread pudding with nuts and raisins
Most first time visitors to Cairo usually pick hotels near the Pyramids. That is fine if you don’t plan to visit any other district in Cairo, but the area around the Pyramids is pretty far from everything. Ideally, you should pick a more central location like Tahrir or Zamalek for better access to the rest of the city.
Egypt is mostly an Islamic country, and even though they are quite tolerant, you will get looked at, etc. which is not very pleasant. When entering religious sites, you may be required to cover your knees and shoulders. It’s a good idea for women to keep a scarf with them when visiting such places. If you are going out at night to one of the posh places you can wear whatever you feel like without a worry.
That is looked down upon. Couples kissing on the street, even a kiss on the cheek might be unacceptable in some areas in Egypt. Handholding and shaking hands is ok in general, but strict Muslims don’t shake hands with people of the opposite sex to avoid any physical contact.
(to be sure you have the right information). Sometimes people will give you directions even if they don’t know the place.
Unless you’re very confident, in such situations wait for someone to cross with you, or ask someone to help you. Most Egyptians will be happy to oblige. This doesn’t apply for all streets, of course, but in cities like Cairo and Alexandria where traffic is congested and traffic signs may be hard to locate, cars won’t stop to let you cross, and you have to find a way between them. To foreigners, Egyptian drivers are suicidal. To Egyptians, leaving more than a few centimetres between cars is wasted space.
Especially for women, if you have to travel by public transit, always try to sit next to other women. You can avoid unwanted attention if you, for example, take the first car on the underground train.
Agree with the taxi driver on the fare before getting in. In Cairo they have the metered (“white taxi”), but always check the meter is working. Otherwise leave the taxi and take another. You can leave a three-pound tip at the end of your ride. It is preferable to use Uber or Careem and they are available in most cities in Egypt.
Unless you are travelling with a guide or someone who knows the area, you should not be there.
Many places you’ll visit or want to buy something from don’t take credit cards. It is advisable to have exact change, especially when you’re in a market or buying street food but don’t carry a lot of money.
Keep in mind that the Egyptian culture revolves around tipping. People will request a tip for simple tasks like holding a door or giving directions. This is expected for both visitors, and locals as well. Sometimes people won’t take tips, but usually, they will, as they have small salaries.
Within reasonable limits, bargaining in souvenir markets is expected and is a good way of starting a conversation.
When both signs and personnel indicate that photos are not allowed PLEASE just follow the rules and don’t take photos in such places. Paintings on the walls of temples, tombs, and statues of Egypt are delicate and taking photos of them, especially using a flashbulb dulls the colours on the paintings, damaging artefacts that are over 5,000 years old.
Egypt is unlike any other country, in Arabic, it is called “Om el Donia” which means “the Mother of the World”
You will need an international driving license and nerves of steel! Taking a bus or a taxi will give you the luxury of enjoying the chaos from the safety of your passenger seat.
People in Egypt are quite laid back, so sometimes people will be late or delayed because of traffic and you will have to get used to it during your stay.
For men it’s ok, but its preferable to wear tshirts instead. Egypt is a predominately Muslim country and even non-Muslims there are quite conservative. Therefore generally revealing clothing are not recommended. This does not apply if you are visiting Red Sea towns like Sharm-El-Sheikh, Dahab, Marsa Alam and Hurghada. In these coastal resorts, wearing this type of clothing is acceptable.
offering services like city tours, special visits to tombs, sites or shops…etc. It’s always safer to use registered tour operators and agents.
Egyptians are kind people and most of them are truly helpful. However, at some tourist areas, some people might tell you they’re going to show you or bring you into select areas of the attraction. These people tend to allow tourists into areas that are off-limits to get tips and sometimes to rob them.
This is good advice where you’re travelling. Go out and buy bottled water or carry your own reusable bottle, which is better for the environment.
Make sure you are at a designated bar, disco or at a private residence. Unless you are in a tourist place where this is common it’s not socially acceptable, and in some areas, it’s forbidden by law but in some eateries, drinking is allowed. If you do drink, you should not do so in excess and avoid drinking brands of hard liquor you are not familiar with. While you may just trying to be friendly, it is considered rude to offer alcohol to someone who is Muslim.
When strolling through markets and tourist attractions you will meet vendors everywhere. It can get a bit overwhelming as they will all be trying to sell you something. However, there is no need to feel intimidated. If you are not interested in what they’re peddling, firmly tell them no thank you, and continue walking. In Arabic, no thank you is: “la, shukrun.”
That is a big no-no wherever you’re travelling. While people in certain parts of Egypt may dress differently than Westerners that doesn’t mean it is ok to take their photos without permission. Keep in mind you may have to give a tip for taking a photo. Even more importantly, taking photos of military or police personnel, buildings and vehicles is strictly forbidden in Egypt.
Unless you are a Muslim and are going to pray, wait until the prayer is over before venturing inside. Men and women pray in separate quarters in mosques and when entering, women must cover their heads, arms and legs and make sure you take off your shoes.
Women, too, can hold hands or link arms. It doesn’t mean they are gay, it’s just part of the culture.
This behaviour is not acceptable and might offend the people around you.
(unless you have all your vaccines and you’re not afraid of being bitten or scratched).
Flying drones is not allowed anywhere in the country of Egypt. According to the Egyptian Aviation Act under Article 46, sentence 8: “No unmanned aircraft is allowed to fly or to work in the territory of the State unless by permission of the Civil Aviation Authority. In all cases, using unmanned aircrafts is prohibited as per the rules of the Air and Air Traffic outlined in this respect.”