Difference between revisions of "Hurghada"
Revision as of 09:52, 6 October 2013
Hurghada was once a fairly small and unimposing fishing village, located next to the Red Sea and boasting a number of superb beaches. Today, the resort of Hurghada is almost unrecognizable from its past life and has grown to become the most visited tourist destination in the whole of Egypt, with more than 100 different hotels, many of which line the shoreline. Famous for its superb diving opportunities, Hurghada is especially appealing to those with little experience of scuba diving, who come to marvel at the underwater reefs and awesome marine life. Tourism is now a huge part of Hurghada and each year, many tourists choose to combine their holiday here with visits to other prominent locations along the Nile Valley, including the relatively nearby city of Luxor.
Most major airlines in Europe and the Middle East can fly you straight to Hurghada International Airport (IATA: HRG) without having to stop in Cairo. Prices depend on the time of the booking and the airline. As you enter the airport building, you will see a big sign saying "Visa 15USD". You will be ushered towards a stand where you must buy the visa for 25 Euro (over 30USD). You can easily avoid this by going to the 'National Bank Of Egypt' stand in the same hall and presenting your passport, along with exactly 15 US dollars, to the attendant. He will give you the visa and you will be done in half the time, for half the price.
If you are in Cairo, you can also fly to Hurghada on Egypt Air Express, a subsidiary of Egypt Air, the national airline of the country, which is now servicing domestic locations in Egypt. Prices vary: 400-900 Egyptian pounds depending on the season and how early you book your tickets.
From Sharm el-Sheikh you can fly with Egypt Air for about 450-550 LE (the trip takes about 1 hour).
From Cairo: trip takes about 7 hours, depending on the operator. Good operators are Super Jet and Go Bus; avoid MCV Co. Prices range from 50 to 150LE for a one way ticket and buses will leave about every hour. (Feb 2012)
From Alexandria: 2 daily buses. One is operated by Upper Egypt and leaves at 18:30, arriving in Hurghada around 4:30 the next morning. This is not ideal as you will find the city asleep and it is very hard to get a taxi this early. The second bus, operated by Super Jet, will leave around 20:30 and arrive around 6:30 in the morning. Prices are around 90-100LE for a one way trip. (Feb 2012)
From Luxor: about 4-5h by Super Jet bus or longer by Upper Egypt. Super Jet runs twice daily and Upper Egypt has more frequent buses.
FromAswan: 2 daily buses, both operated by Upper Egypt. The first one leaves at 15:30, the second leaves at 17:30. The trip takes at least 8 hours, meaning you will arrive in Hurghada after midnight. Prices are around 50-55LE. (Feb 2012)
There is no normal public transport in Hurghada. White mini vans (Toyota Hiace) called micro bus have established routes. Locals are the main users, but it is quite easy to use them. It costs about 1-2 Egyptian pounds, and they stop wherever needed and go wherever you want expect 1-2 neighbourhoods. Ask the driver for destination before getting in.
Taxi drivers in Hurghada have astonishing talent for spotting tourists from far, far away; look at the approaching car and it will stop for you - at a price.
Before stepping in, find out if driver speaks any English, and show the wanted destination on the map. There are only few streets with names, so the destination is specified with nearby places, a hotel for example. Discuss and agree the total price (not per person) with the driver: remember the price varies from 10 to 25 Egyptian pounds. Do not travel with the meter on, drivers can control it. After the driver agrees on a price, jump in. Get out in front of the hotel.
The method to avoiding confrontation with the drivers is to have correct amount of money you agreed at first. Pass the money on at the destination, get out and walk away; avoid arguing with drivers. Most taxi drivers are honest people trying to make a living by getting tourists and locals from one place to another. Very few are thieves, targeting tourists to steal money.
If you have only a 50LE or 100LE note, mention this to the driver before you get in. Ask him if he has change, then ask him again. He might have to stop somewhere at a shop to have the note changed. As you hand him the note, say for example 'I give you 100 pound, you give me 80 pound.' This will prevent the taxi driver from quickly changing the note and accusing you of giving him only 10LE. If this should happen, weigh your chances. You are unlikely to get your money back, and when surrounded by many taxi drivers, you might get yourself into more trouble. Cut your losses and take another taxi.
Hurghada has a variety of activities for those who enjoy the sea and the beach. Activities include scuba-diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, parasailing, and jetskis. You can also ride a glass boat (a boat with a glass bottom) where you can see the amazing coral reefs and underwater scenery.
The main reason to visit Hurghada is the Red Sea, which is excellent for diving or snorkeling. See incredible coral reefs and hundreds of varieties of tropical fish just 10 m from the beach. Again, either your hotel will have dive escorts on site, or it can arrange a scuba diving expedition with guides. Scuba diving (2 dives) cost between 50-65 USD. The divers are locals and are excellent in handling beginners.
In late March, the water may be a bit cold, so a wetsuit might be necessary. It might also be windy in late March (and just as likely may not be). You may want to check if your resort hotel provides windscreens on the beach.
For a desert adventure, you can also ride motorbikes or beach buggies into the desert.
Hurghada offers many activities not to be found anywhere else on Earth: quad-biking hundreds of miles into the Sahara desert for tea with a Bedoin tribe, then camel-riding across Biblical plains to see remote and ancient wonders; diving and snorkeling around a vibrant and colourful coral reef; boat trips to the unpopulated Big and Little Gifton islands; swimming in the warm sea; good shopping; excellent and varied cuisine from across the world, etc. If you were to choose to stay in your hotel complex for the duration of your break, you would miss out on much more than you bargained for.
Those new to Egypt will find karkaday (a drink made from an infusion of hibiscus, served hot or cold and reputed to have many health benefits) and chi (local version of tea, usually served in a glass) offered everywhere. Both are delicious and will usually come replete with a smoke on a "sheesha" pipe, known in the West as a hookah. Sheeshas are used for smoking molasses tobacco in various flavours, with the smoke passing through water before inhalation through a long tube attached to the bowl. Although they may resemble a device used to smoke illicit substances in the west (a bong), sheesha is completely legal.
Cruise across the Red Sea to the uninhabited island of Giftun surrounded by magical coral gardens. Enjoy a lazy day on the white sand or swim amongst the coral reefs. This great day trip is hard to skip when you are in Hurghada.
In the evening, you can go for a walk in the promenade area for some traditional cafes, shopping, or dining. There is a bowling and family entertainment centre close by as well as a few malls and restaurants. Night life usually begins quite late, and you can find some clubs in close proximity to the promenade.
You can buy many souvenirs from the shops that are spread inside the main town (Sekalla high street) and along the beach areas. Also the old down town (el Dahar) has a wide selection of bazaars with cheaper prices than Sekalla.
First, remember to haggle, haggle and haggle everywhere except in restaurants and drugstores. You should be able to get 75% off from the price that seller asks at first. This might vary with different products, so remember to check a few shops for appropriate prices. There are souvenir shops that have fixed prices, mostly in the New Hurghada area. There is no reason to be happy with the fixed price, since some times it's more expensive than in other shops. At famous stores like 'Cleopatra' you can find souvenirs, shirts, woodwork, and silver.
For brand-names and higher-quality products, head down to 'New Marina' and Sheraton Road where you can find Adidas, Timberland, Dockers and Levi's as well as a traditional bazaar (Souq in Arabic). Often the clothes are counterfeit knockoffs; though you will notice that any shop may post famous trademarks on its banner and yet sell fake clothes.
In perfumes, most are oil-based and rarely can you find natural or organic perfumes. Be wary when the sellers attempt to entice you into the shop, for they will often invite you to drink something like tea, or, if they feel you are rich, they will offer Cola for while they are demonstrating perfumes. One should politely refuse the refreshments because, if you drink, you have to buy from them.
Hurghada offers a variety of cuisine, including fast food, western restaurants, oriental food, and many others.
You can find KFC, McDonald's, and the local fast food chain GAD.
Where Sherry Street branches from Sheraton Street, you can get chicken meal in "Brost eldik" for 14LE, popular among backpackers and young people.
Right across from Princess Palace Hotel, near Hard Rock Cafe, you will find the bar/restaurant Triple X. Though the name may sound a little strange, the atmosphere in this place is very friendly. It is a family-run place and often will you find more staff than clients. But delicious (and cheap) food, cold beers (served in clean, cold glasses) and helpful, multilingual staff make this place the perfect hangout for many loyal customers. 50cl of Stella costs 10LE; chicken sandwich with fries costs 25LE. Also, they have free WiFi for their customers-- just ask for the password (it changes 2 or 3 times every day).
Alcoholic drinks can usually be found in bars or hotels. Hurghada has a very western atmosphere so it is much easier to drink than in other areas of Egypt. Nonalcoholic drinks include conventional drinks like canned drinks, sodas, or juice, as well famous Egyptian drinks such as sahlab, karkadeh, mirinda, yansoon, gansabeel, irfa, and many others.
Over the years, Hurghada has developed a bubbling reputation for its cosmopolitan nightlife scene, alongside the many bars within the new Hurghada Marina , Papas Bar  has two venues (one inside the marina, the other next-door to the Shedwan Hotel in downtown Dahr). The world-renown Hed Kandi Beach Bar ; still the world's first and only Kandi beach bar.
There are many bars, nightclubs and discos in Hurghada. Almost every hotel comes equip with its own disco, and then you can find the only beachside Ministry of Sound venue, coupled with the world's first Hed Kandi Beach Bar, other nightlife leaders in the city include Hard Rock Cafe, Little Budha, Calypso Disco, the new R&B Club, and throughout the summer months you can find the popular Voodoo parties (every Wednesday) within the Grand Hotel Resorts.
Global leaders in dance music, Ministry of Sound Beach Club,  operate a varied daily schedule ranging from disco grooves, through to R&B/hiphop and house/techno. There are also many other discos and late-night bars dotted around the city, generally speaking ask your guest relations or tour guide to recommend you a venue suited best to you.
There's famous Czech pub "PRAHA" at the end of Sheraton St.
A general rule when taking a taxi at a night club is to agree on a price before you even touch the car and give the correct amount. Taxi drivers will try to steal money from you and you will not be able to retrieve it once it is in their hands.
The Oberoi  in Hurghada is 5-star deluxe hotel.
Hurghada Clinic . Medical clinic with doctors who can speak English and Polish. International travel insurances are accepted.
Senzo Mall is a new shopping mall, about a 10 minute taxi ride from town, on the airport road. It has a large Spinneys Hypermarket and many other shops, fast-food outlets and a 5-screen cinema as well as a moderate-sized kids' play area.
You can take a bus to El Gouna which departs every 15 minutes from El Dahar Square opposite the Egypt Telecom building. A 45-minute ride costs 5LE for one way.
Buses leave for many destinations from the Old Town bus station. Eighty percent of them run on schedule; the others may face many hours' delays. Be there at least one hour before the scheduled departure. Having a local fix your ticket might be a good way to avoid a lot of frustration, whilst saving money. Buses leave for Marsa Alam (3 times a day), Luxor (every hour), Cairo, Quseer, Sharm El Sheikh and other cities.
There are long-distance taxis leaving from the station in El Hegaz Street. Just contact the people standing at the entrance who ask for your destination. The taxis are used a lot by the locals and are quite cheap. One can reach most bigger cities in Egypt from this station.
To get to the station, take the bus 4 or 7 to "El Hegaz Bus Station".