Difference between revisions of "Hurghada"
Revision as of 12:11, 27 December 2011
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 in excess of 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.
Hurghada is one of the main tourism attractions on the Red Sea in Egypt. Because of that, it can be reached from major airports in Europe and the Middle East. Prices depend on the time of the booking and the airline. Most major airlines in Europe and the Middle East can fly you straight to Hurghada without having to stop in Cairo. If you are in Cairo, you can also fly to Hurghada on Egypt Air Express, which is the national airline of the country and a subsidiary of Egypt Air, which is now servicing domestic locations in Egypt. Prices vary from around 400 Egyptian Pounds to as high as 900 Egyptian Pounds depending on the seaon and depending on how early you book your tickets. The earlier you book your ticket ahead of your intended date of travel, the cheaper the price. The Egyptian Pound is rated at a $1=5.43EGP
International Fast Ferries  runs fast boats to Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai peninsula, currently running four times weekly. The ride takes 1.5 hours and costs 250/450 LE one-way/return for foreigners. Warning: this ride is notoriously bumpy and prone to cancellations. As of 24th October 2010 it is not clear if the ferry runs at all - various locals describe it as either "broken" or "not running this week due to bad weather", but it's not clear if it runs at all any more.
You can reach Hurghada by bus from Cairo. The trip usually takes approximately 7 hours depending on the operator. Known operators include the Super Jet. There are a number of Stations which include one in Medan El Giza in northwestern Cairo, Ramsis Station in downtown Cairo, or Almaza Station in the Heliopolis district in northeastern Cairo. Your hotel or a travel agency associated with your hotel will be able to arrange excursions to nearby attractions, including Luxor. Luxor is about 4 to 5 hours by bus, and your tour operator will be required to leave and return at designated times in order to travel in a police escorted convoy (of approximately 150 other tour buses.) The Company 'Upper Egypt Bus" runs between Hurghada, Safagah, Luxor and Aswan. The Ticket from Hurghada to Aswan is 50 Pounds but the collector will ask for 55 Pounds. Hurghada - Aswan takes about 11 hours by bus.
Long- distance taxis
There are long-distance taxis, leaving from the station in "El Hegaz" street. Just contact the people standing at the entrance, asking for your destination. The taxis are frequently used by locals and quite cheap. You could reach the most bigger cities in egypt from this station. To get to the station, take the bus-lines 4 or 7 (see "public transportation) with destination "El Hegaz- Bus station".
Taxi drivers in Hurghada have astounishing talent on spotting tourists far far away, you only need to look at the apporoaching car and they'll stop for you. So it's easy to get a taxi from anywhere at any time, but getting to the right place with the right price might not be so easy at first.
Before stepping in, find out if driver speaks any english, and show the wanted destination from the map. There are only few streets with names, so destination is specified with nearby places, a hotel for example. It's always safe to get out in front of the hotel. Discuss and agree the total price (not per person) with the driver - do remember to haggle it down to something like 5-10LE when travelling inside the same part of the town and 20LE when travelling from downtown to Sekalla for example. It's not recommended travelling with the meter on, becouse there might be some tourist-extra. After the driver agrees on a price, jump in.
The method to avoiding the confrontation with the drivers is to have correct amount of money you agreed at first, pass the money on at destination, get out and walk away.. don't waste your time arguing with drivers as it only causes distress; usually you paid more for the same ride than a local person would have.
Another thing to note, if you pay with a 5LE (5 Egyptian pound note) they can and do try to switch it for a 50 peasters (the lessor denominator) and then they request the original 5le you have already paid. Piaster notes are smaller than pounds.
There is no normal public transport in Hurghada, instead there are lot's of mini vans (Toyota Hiace) called jalla jalla's with static routes. There are 8 fixed routes. Descriptions are found at the van's side as well as on signs standing on the road. Mostly locals are using them, but once getting on with the system, it's quite easy to use them. It costs between 25 Piaster and 1LE to get around and they stop wherever needed.
Of course, the main reason to visit Hurghada is for the beautiful Red Sea, which is excellent for diving or snorkeling. If you aren't licenced to dive, it is often possible to snorkel and see incredible coral reefs and hundreds of varieties of tropical fish just 10 meters from the beach. Again, either your hotel will have dive escorts on site, or they can arrange a scuba diving expedition with guides. Scuba diving (2 dives) cost between US$50-65. The divers are locals and are excellent in handling beginners. You need not know swimming to Scuba. In late March, the water may be a bit cold (21 Celsius), so a wet suit might be necessary. It might also be windy in late March (or not). You may want to check if your beach resort hotel provides wind screens on the Beach. Hurghada has a variety of activities for those who enjoy the sea and the beach. Activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, para sailing, 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. For those of you who want to have 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... if you were to choose to stay in your hotel complex for the duration of your break, you'd miss out on so 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, (i.e, a bong), sheesha contains nothing illegal.
Visits to Cairo and Luxor, and indeed multi-stop breaks, are popular from Hurghada. Sharm-El-Sheikh and the Sinai peninsula (containing two of the oldest Christian temples in the world, St Catherine's and St Anthony's) is but a short hop away.
You can buy many souvenirs from the shops that are spread inside the main town (Sekalla high street) and along the beach areas, also downtown (el Dahar) has a wide selection of bazaars with cheaper prices than Sekalla.
First, remember to haggle, haggle and haggle, everywhere else than in restaurants and in 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 few shops for correct prices. There are souvenir shops that have fixed prices, mostly in New Hurghada area.
For brand-names and higher quality products head down to 'New Marina' where you can find Nike, Adidas, Timberland, Dockers and Levi's as well as a traditional bazaar (Souk in arabic).
Hurghada offers a huge variety of cuisine, including fast food, western restaurants, oriental food, and many others. Just recently opened is the beautiful surroundings of the all-new Hurghada Marina Boulevard - set upon a picturesque backdrop of the majestic Red Sea, here you can find up to 15 different high-class restaurants, ranging from Sushi to Fish & Chips, Continental to Thai and much, much more.
There are various things to drink including both alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. The alcoholic drinks can mostly be found in bars and inside hotels. Hurghada has a very western atmosphere so it is much easier to drink than in other areas of Egypt. Non alcoholic 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, is located on Sheraton Road at present, with a scheduled move to the marina around the middle of August 2008.
Global leader's in dance music Ministry of Sound Beach Club  operate a varied 7-nights-a-week schedule, ranging from disco grooves, through to R&B/hip-hop 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.
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.
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. There is a new shopping mall now open about a 10 minute faxi ride from town, on the airport road called Senzo Mall. 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.