Egypt is the land of the Pharaohs and of course the Pyramids, Nile and Red Sea (and scuba diving the Thistlegorm wreck is just awesome). The country has not only a lot of culture to offer, but is also a holiday paradise for many western countries.
Those who have once visited the National Museum of Egypt in Cairo will probably not get out of amazement. There is so much to see and so little time. You can easily spend the whole day in the museum and you will not get tired of it. The famous mask of Tutankhamen is of course a must and if you are there you have to visit the Pyramids as well. But in the digital age you should not travel to Egypt without the right VPN. I use the VPNs in this article myself and explain why you should use a Virtual Private Network in Egypt.
Tip: The obfuscated VPN servers of NordVPN (big discounts NOW!)* work in Egypt very well! With this provider you can use up to 6 devices at the same time and NordVPN is perfect for beginners and professionals alike. The applications and apps for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android are very user-friendly and there is even a client for Linux. Not so many VPN providers have that in their portfolio.
Sometimes the websites of the VPN providers are not accessible. Therefore, it is a very good idea to get a VPN before you start your journey to Egypt. Better safe than sorry!
30 day money-back guarantee!
There is no risk in testing this provider because it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. You could even get the service just for the holiday and then … well … 😉
Thanks to the already mentioned 30-day money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose. Below I will tell you some more providers and methods that work, but the most convenient for Egypt really is NordVPN. The provider’s stealth mode bypasses the VPN blocks and you also get CyberSec for all applications and apps. This feature protects your device from malware, tracker and phishing. It also blocks annoying ads.
Be smart as a tourist!
Here is an additional tip: If you spend several days in Cairo and want to see the mask of Tutankhamen relatively undisturbed, you should try it at noon. Often tourists visit the Pyramids and the museum on the same day. In the morning one thing and in the afternoon the other. Therefore, it is often relatively quiet at noon when the hordes are moving from A to B. I got the tip from a friend who lived in Cairo for quite a while.
Bathing, snorkeling, scuba diving, sunbathing
For sun lovers Egypt has a lot to offer. It rains actually hardly in the country especially on the Red Sea and you can spend your vacation any time of the year there. The heat in summer is however extreme and the months of June, July and August are not suitable for people who don’t like it that hot.
If you want to escape the wet and cold autumn and the grey and dark winter in Europe, you can get plenty of sunshine in Egypt. October, November and December are actually the best time to travel. In those months, the water is still quite warm because the summer heated it up. But in the evening it cools down enough that sitting outside is quite comfortable. I would recommend these months.
Spring is not bad either, although the water is a bit colder, but still over 20 degrees. In any case Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh or also Dahab are definitely known to the sun lovers from Europe. It is only a few hours flight to escape the wet, dark and grey season. The Red Sea is also famous for its fauna and flora.
Under water as its best
If you like snorkeling, you can enjoy great coral reefs and colorful fish. The biodiversity is not quite as high as in some areas of Indonesia, but the Red Sea is one of the best diving areas in the world. You can just look at fish, but also dive the most famous wreck in the world. Of course I am talking about the Thistlegorm, which was sunk by the Germans during the Second World War. In the Red Sea you can find turtles as well.
Free Wi-Fi is basically available everywhere
You don’t have to worry about general internet access. Actually, every hotel, café, bar, restaurant and so on offers free Wi-Fi. The first coworking cafés and coworking spaces are already opening and as a digital nomad you should always have a VPN in your luggage anyway. The internet is not as fast as in Europe, but it has become much better in the last years. 16 to 21 Mbps is more and more common and in some areas there is 4G available for those who prefer a mobile Internet connection.
SIM cards for tourists are actually available at the airport, and a data volume of 40 GB currently cost just over 25 Euro. If you only need 8 GB on your mobile device, it will only cost about 5 Euro. However, Skype or Viber quite often does not work with mobile data packages and other VoIP services are a bit bumpy. The VoIP services via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram or Threema usually work, but not all the time. To be honest, it’s hard to say where the problem lies.
But I can confirm that calling home with a VPN works much better. For example, I had the problem that Skype always ended the call after exactly 30 seconds. With VPN, a call of over an hour was possible without any problems. With WhatsApp and Telegram there were also strange dropouts and malfunctions, but via Virtual Private Network it is much more stable.
PayPal and streaming in Egypt
You may be on vacation, but with VPN it’s still possible to watch some live TV from your country. That’s allowed even when you’re on vacation, isn’t it?
By the way, if you want to use PayPal in Egypt, you also need a VPN. I can only log into PayPal if I am using a server in Europe. It is very possible that other western countries work as well, but from a network with Egyptian IP address PayPal does not work.
The Egyptian government blocks VPNs
The use of a VPN in Egypt is not so simple. Presumably the government started censoring the Internet on May 24, 2017. Presumably? Yes, there is somehow no official statement until today. Of course, many people immediately switched to proxies, VPNs, and Tor (The Onion Router), and that’s why all popular VPN providers and Tor have been blocked.
However, there is every indication that the OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, and IPSec VPN protocols are blocked. Whoever is responsible for blocking seems to be monitoring which protocols are running and then blocking them accordingly. But I know that VPNs with obfuscation techniques are not blocked.
If you use stealth technology, NordVPN (big discounts NOW!)* and AirVPN (starting at €2)* work fine. In this case OpenVPN traffic will be made unrecognizable looks like normal web traffic. For example, AirVPN offers OpenVPN over SSH, OpenVPN over SSL, and OpenVPN over Tor. NordVPN calls the servers to circumvent censorship obfuscated. With those methods you can get around the VPN blocks!
I can also tell you that SSTP via port 443 still works. For example PureVPN (provides SSTP)* offers SSTP as protocol. By the way, Tor also works if you use bridges. However, Tor is not as fast as a VPN. With a free VPN you probably won’t get far in Egypt. They usually only offer standard OpenVPN connections, and those are blocked.
By the way, WireGuard works quite good. NordVPN offers WireGuard in their Linux client. They call the technology NordLynx and it is faster than OpenVPN.
CyberSec from NordVPN is great!
Do not underestimate CyberSec by NordVPN. It is included in all applications and apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS and also Linux. Especially in foreign countries and foreign networks you may need any additional protection! CyberSec protects your devices against malware, tracker and phishing. It is also an ad blocker and guarantees uninterrupted browsing.
Why should I use a VPN in Egypt?
Egypt censors more or less. This applies to both websites and VPN services. The AFTE provides further information on this topic. As part of the fight against terrorism, laws have also been passed to control the media and the Internet. What does this mean? Well it’s basically monitoring and censorship of the Internet!
New anti-cyber crime law in Egypt
Heads up! In August 2018, the above-mentioned Anti-Cybercrime Law was passed. The government reserves the right to block websites that distribute fake news and the like. The use of a VPN to access such websites is illegal, as they underpin national security. This is punishable by up to 1 year in prison or a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds.
The law is probably deliberately worded a bit woolly, but you should know it. It doesn’t say anything about avoiding geoblocking for example. Nevertheless, you should be careful and only use high quality VPNs, which also safely protect your anonymity.
I have already mentioned two more reasons to use a VPN. These are VoIP services and public Wi-Fi. In an open Wi-Fi you should always use a VPN. It doesn’t matter if you are in Airbnb or on a plane. You never know who is running the network and who is trying to access your data.
With a VPN, your data is transported via an encrypted tunnel and the operator of the Wi-Fi cannot even see what websites you are using. If a government blocks VPNs, you can strongly assume that the Internet is monitored. Now you could say that you have nothing to hide anyway. However, I don’t like people snooping on me. It’s nobodies business what websites I am visiting. I don’t care it the prying eyes are from a government, an ISP (Internet Service Provider) or any agency.
Egypt is most likely monitoring the Internet
If the traffic between you and the website is encrypted (HTTPS), the parties mentioned above cannot actually read your data. However, they know which websites you are visiting, which DNS queries your device makes and all unencrypted traffic is basically open.
Another reason for using a VPN while on vacation is if you don’t want to miss TV from home. For example Zattoo or BBC iPlayer work great with a VPN, even abroad, as long as your IP address is not blocked. If you want to use streaming in Egypt, you need an IP address from the country what content you want to watch.
If the content provider uses geoblocking technology, you need a VPN that can go around those restrictions. One of the best VPNs for streaming is NordVPN. Most of the times the provider is one step ahead of geoblocking. BBC iPlayer works great and also Netflix US and other libraries are no problem.
NordVPN is really great for setting up your own VPN router on a Raspberry Pi by the way. The device is so small that you could take it on vacation. Take your Chromecast as well and you can watch TV from home on the TV of the hotel.