Bam, we’re in Egypt. We’re certainly not in Kansas anymore and Cairo hits you around the head like a sock full of sand. It’s big, it’s busy, it’s crazy, it’s dirty and it’s freaking amazing!
We arrived late at night, around 1 am at Cairo airport and were very glad we had a pick up arranged with our hotel to deter the taxi drivers who started hassling us before we’d even collected our baggage.
We’re also very glad we booked the hotel we did. It’s nothing fancy but we’d read good things about it. More on where to stay in Cairo further down the page. The chief selling point, what made us choose this hotel ( guest house) rather than a thousand others, was the best view in Cairo.
We were visiting the pyramids, sleeping next to the pyramids, looking at the pyramids and the sphinx every walking second. We loved our location!
So after our late arrival, we just crashed last night, sleeping well without air-con ( there was a mix up with Hostel Bookers, now fixed). In April it’s really not too hot, no air-con needed. But we booked a room with a view of the pyramids and that view, which we now have, comes with air-con and fan. So how are we coping with day 1 in Egypt?
According to everything we’d read online this guest house is a winner. A super-helpful family who have lived on this spot since the days of excavations, with stories of the old days and modern know how to help us not get ripped off too badly.
We will be ripped off, we already know that, but so long as everyone comes out smiling at the end of the day, everyone wins.
Our guest house owner organised us a minder for the day. Abdul picked us up, found us a cash point that worked, took us to a pharmacy, helped us buy admission tickets and hired us 4 camels.
I like this area, camels, horse carts and donkeys line the streets below our window, we’re right in the thick of the Giza action.
The famous shot of the sphinx with the logo from the Pizza Hut window can be taken a few doors up, but it’s not like a modern city just stops at the base of the pyramids. The area has old-world charm and is, in fact, a village.
It’s terribly dirty, I’ve never seen so much litter and crap anywhere in the world, but I’ll forgive Cairo that for being so overall incredible. All of Cairo was strewn with rubbish as we drove through last night, it’s not just this area.
We opted for the longer camel ride, which took off to the left, to give us the view below.
Chef and I have been here before, but never imagined you could stay somewhere with a view like this and we’re thrilled. Even the kids are wowed by this experience and I’ve never seen them so engaged in any of our destinations over the last 4 years.
As we’ve been before I didn’t buy an $11 extra ticket to go inside the Great Pyramid, below. I had 20 minutes to sit outside and chat to Abdul, our minder.
He was a good guy, but of course, out to get as much money from us as possible. Who can blame him?
Pyramid and Sphinx Admissions at the Time of Our Visit.
These may have changed, of course, please check for yourself.
Sphinx and pyramids complex admission 80LE / adult, kids half price. ( Approx $4.50/ $2.25)
Entering the Great Pyramid 200LE/ adult, kids half price. ( Approx $11.50/ $6)
Visiting the Royal Boat of Cheops 60LE/ adult, kids half price (Approx $3.30/$2)
Entering one of the 3 Queens’ Pyramids. FREE!
Compare those admission fees to those in Sri Lanka and you’ll see why we think Sigiriya is so crazy expensive. This is the Great Pyramid, (allegedly) the only remaining wonder of the 7 Wonders, they could charge the Earth. As we’ve seen what’s left of a few of the 7 Wonders, we dispute that claim to uniqueness.
Cost of Camel Hire at the Pyramids
Official rate 100LE/ half hour/ camel ( approx $5.50) at the time of our visit.
What Was Security Like at the Pyramids?
There were a lot of roadblocks and checkpoints with armed guards in the area. Visitors passed through an airport-style metal detector to enter the complex. Chef and I had our day packs searched. Once we were inside there was no further security. We felt safe.
Are There Many Tourists at The Pyramids?
There were a lot more than we expected and roughly 98% of them were Egyptian. We saw maybe 20 westerners all morning along with a few Chinese, Indian and Korean visitors. It wasn’t quiet, but it wasn’t packed.
I thought crowds were about the same as when we visited back in 2000, Chef thought it was quieter. The photo below shows the extent of crowds at The Sphinx on our first day. It was an Egyptian holiday, we’re told that it will be much quieter at other times.
Some Historical Information on The Pyramids for Kids
We always think it’s a good idea to learn about the places you’ll be visiting before you arrive. Kids are much more interested then. If your kids are learning about the pyramids and Ancient Egypt, we found this introduction for you.
Where to Stay in Cairo For a View of The Pyramids
Well obviously, we think anywhere with the view we are enjoying is the best place. There are a few small hotels and guest houses in Giza and also, further away, some large hotels with acres of pools with pyramid views. Our Guest House is so close that we watched the nightly sound and light show over a rooftop dinner every night. It was magical and never got old.
Budget Hotel, Amazing Location, Sound and Light Every Night
If you’d like to book the exact guest house we used, details are here. This place is not luxury, but by Egyptian standards it’s not budget either. It’s great value, you have that incredible view and the owner, Gouda, will organise everything for you. The wifi works well, breakfast is decent and there are plenty of eating options nearby featuring both Egyptian food and western. Information here reflects our stay, of course, things may have changed.
It cost us around $35/ night for a family of 4, including breakfast and pyramid view room. Gouda arranged an airport pick up for us, found us guides and drivers and even sent a chap out to buy us beers. His daughter, Jasmine provided dinner on the roof for 4 ( 2 kids), for 200 LE. It was good value. We payed around 50LE per head for meals here generally.
Watch out for staff begging for tips at the end of your stay, they can be very annoying. Even after you’ve already tipped them at the moment of providing whatever service, they still try it on. Don’t feel bad about ignoring them. Gouda doesn’t encourage tipping, if he fixes a price for you, it includes tips.
We ended up staying here maybe 5 nights at the beginning and end of our trip. Every night we’d watch the sound and light show either from our bedroom window or from the rooftop. It’s haunting, incredible, magical. And free if you stay here.
Gouda is very proud of the fact that Shirley MacLaine once stayed here.
Check The Sphinx Guest House, our budget hotel option right outside the pyramids here.
Luxury Hotels With Views of The Pyramids
These luxury hotels aren’t in the same area as our guest house above, they are not right outside this entrance to the pyramids complex and are not in this village, these are large, sprawling resort hotels but you can, absolutely, see the pyramids. You won’t be able to watch the sound and light at the sphinx every night from your rooftop.
AirBnb Also Worked Well in Egypt For Us
AirBnb seems to work really well for Egypt, we’ll be using them later in our trip ( see Luxor, a fantastic apartment!). If you’re not yet a member, joining AirBnb via our link HERE ( which is free) gives you a special credit to use against your first stay.
We’re glad you’re interested in our Egypt content, it’s an incredible country but one that gets a lot of bad press. We’d like to see more tourists returning. So, day 1 went well. We have many more to go. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on this one, it could be a bumpy ride. Leave us a comment, would you consider visiting the pyramids and Egypt right now? Please use the red buttond or hover and click to share to Pinterest. Thanks.
You can return to our main Egypt Travel Blog & Guide page here or see our other recent Egypt blog content below. We loved visiting the pyramids, so much so that we concluded our trip by coming back to this same hotel or guest house and exploring the Giza plateau, sphinx and pyramids again. It was an incredible month in Egypt and we took so many fascinating day trips from Cairo to sites many visitors never see, including the step pyramid and ancient Memphis. We also travelled from here into Cairo for all of the city’s attractions. Enjoy Egypt!
Visitors Egypt Tours
Tuesday 18th of May 2021
Visitors Egypt Tours is an online-booking based travel agency located in Egypt that arrange both budget and luxurious Egypt holiday packages, one-day trips, Nile Cruises, hotel accommodation, domestic flights, airport transfers and meet & great services.
Wednesday 6th of February 2019
What is the name of the guesthouse you stayed at in Giza? Thanks!!
Thursday 7th of February 2019
Ot's in the post Angiw
Thursday 13th of December 2018
Thanks for this! Such great information! Can you speak about safety? Any concerns traveling as an American? I still hear a lot of "it's unsafe there" "don't travel there". Did you find this not to be the case?
Thursday 13th of December 2018
We felt completely safe at all times Jess. The media likes to stir up this rubbish. Yes, there have been some violent incidents, we were there a couple of days after a Coptic Church was bombed. We still visited Coptic Cairo and felt completely safe. There was also a random nutter in Hurghada just after we were there. There will always be nutters, everywhere. That runaway truck almost hitting us scared me though, I didn't feel too good on the roads after that. But I doubt there are nearly as many gun related or violent incidents as there are in the US, although I haven't checked the stats. Security at the airport, leaving Cairo, was superb. Every bag was hand searched. I explored as a woman alone, wandering the back streets of Luxor and was welcomed with smiles. I felt no threat at all. But it is a different culture and you need to dress and behave appropriately. Our guide told us the Egyptians like US, UK, European tourists, we send more money and are more polite.
Monday 8th of October 2018
Look forward to reading the rest of this series. We are heading to Egypt on November 1 and am learning lots of great information!
Kasuni H Christian
Friday 13th of July 2018
How many days do I need in Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, and Alexandria? I thought 3 days in Cairo, 1 in Aswan, 1 in Luxor, and 1 in Alexandria. I am planning to leave New York on August 3 2018 and arrive early morning on August 4 in Cairo. And planning to return home on August 10 2018. I know it is tight but we can't stay longer. We just want to see the major sights. Also, do we need to cover up? Or can we wear short clothing for example shorts, short sleeve shirts, and dresses for me? And as a female do I need to cover my hair?
Alyson Long for World Travel Family
Friday 13th of July 2018
I think you need to skip Alexandria and certainly have more time in Luxor. Possibly cut Cairo down to 2 days. But it depends what you want to see there, you could easily stay busy for a week. There's no way you can see everything in Luxor in just one day, you won't be sight seeing in the heat of mid day, it's all early starts, dawn at the valley of the Kings, Karnak etc. Last time we were there in May and even then, just going outside during the day was like stepping into an oven, the heat on my head ( we went out for lunch one day...mistake) around noon, it was instantly debilitating. In August it will be horrendously hot. I'm used to the heat, we've spent years in the tropics, Egyptian heat is off the scale. Alexandria isn't very interesting unless there is something there you particularly want to see. That's a very tight schedule and hard to do in the heat. Yes, you should be dressed appropriately. Short skirts and shorts are inappropriate as are bare shoulders and cleavage. You'll want to cover as much as possible to keep the sun off. If you don't wear a hat or scarf on your head you're likely to get sun stroke. It's not required, unless you're entering a mosque or church, but just good sense.