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I recently went on my honeymoon to Cairo, Egypt, and was mindful of the fact that it is a country with different views on what is considered appropriate to wear, especially for women. Whilst these may not be views that I can relate to, I wanted to be respectful to their views while I was visiting but still be comfortable in the heat.
Doing the Research
There are a fair few blogs and websites out there that list some of the "rules" of what you should wear as a female tourist in Egypt, some of which can be conflicting but the general consensus seemed to be: cover up as much as possible; if you wear skinny jeans/trousers, then you need to wear a long top; don’t show your shoulders, etc… This seemed much of what I had expected and seemed simple but I found picking my outfits not so straightforward.
I did read that you may get asked how many camels it will be to buy you, which actually happened once (very jokingly!).
Deciding What to Wear
I had an idea of the kinds of things that I needed to buy for this trip; loose linen trousers, maxi skirts, t-shirts, and so on. It is worth mentioning that I went in November when the weather was a bit more like the British summer time; however, it is a lot hotter in the height of summer and so it may require even more thoughtful planning. If you are going in the later months when it is cooler, I would recommend shopping for anything that you may need in the summer months as the kinds of things that you need will be a lot easier to find!
Being Out and About
We found the people of Cairo to be very friendly and I had expected to feel quite self-conscious but was not made to feel this way at all. The outfits that I wore during my week there made sure that my legs were mostly or all covered and at minimum my shoulders were covered. We did visit some historic Mosques during our stay but if your clothing is not quite acceptable, then they have robes that you can pay a very small amount to borrow for when you are inside. In the evenings, I wore knee length dresses with a long-sleeved cardigan and again felt that this was acceptable.
I would certainly not be concerned about wearing skinny jeans or trousers as a lot of the local younger women wear them with long sleeve tops.
Most tourists seemed to be making the same effort as me to be covered up; however, we did spot the odd few wearing short shorts and vest tops which—while I can appreciate why—did stand out a lot and were very noticeable.
Walking around my hotel, however, and getting to and from the pool, it was absolutely fine to walk around in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. The hotel staff seemed quite used to it and not particularly concerned.
Our experience of Cairo and its people was very pleasant. It can be a bit daunting especially if you are normally a bit self-conscious but once I was there, I barely even thought about it. You may encounter the odd look from locals but I was never made to feel uncomfortable.
For the most part, I felt that people there understand that there is a culture difference and appreciate it if you make the effort to be respectful, which is easy to do with a little bit of forward planning. I would thoroughly recommend Cairo as a destination for both male and female travellers, honeymoon or not!