The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

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Cairo to Sharm El Sheikh: A Veteran’s Guide

Cairo to Sharm El Sheikh: A Veteran’s Guide
reviewed by
Daryl Kane
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Sharm El Sheikh has become
the premier tourist resort destination in Egypt. Located on the very southern
tip of the Sinai Peninsula, tourists are drawn to the resort town because of
its many beaches, the sunny Sinai climate and the propensity of hotels,
restaurants and nightclubs dotted around.

How to Get There: An EgyptAir flight from Cairo takes 45 minutes, with the average flight priced at 1000LE
for a round-trip plus an additional 50LE for a taxi to your hotel. A bus can
take seven hours and costs 70LE to100LE, while driving your own car will take
around five hours.

Where to Stay: The
resort hotels lining Sharm El Sheikh’s shoreline are landscaped with green grass, palm
trees, and colourful flowers, all giving the area a tasteful, tropical feel. Located
near the airport, Ras Nusrani is best known for Sharks’ Bay and SOHO Square.
The hotels in the area offer all inclusive rates, private beaches with calm
waters, and in this reviewer’s opinion, the most awesome snorkelling in Sharm. Hotel beaches can sometimes be crowded; so Sharks’ Bay also offers
a fantastic public beach with sun beds, descent food and a beverage bar.
Admission to the public beach costs 25LE per person.

What To Do: SOHO Square is a
more modern, upscale area of Sharm. There is plenty of shopping to be had and a
wide variety of restaurants to indulge in. At the end of SOHO Square is the
Queen Vic, a nice bar to enjoy a drink or two in. Next door to the bar is a
small bowling alley, where three games will cost 100LE per person and include
the very stylish bowling shoes. Maybe you’d like to go ice skating at SOHO’s
indoor Ice Rink.

One of SOHO’s most unique
attractions is the ICE Bar: a bar made entirely out of ice; so your drink is
sure to be cold. Just try not to catch frostbite while enjoying it. Upstairs
from the ICE Bar is SOHO’s premier nightclub: Pangea
has a large dance floor and a bar that extends the entire length of the place. A
taxi to SOHO should not cost more than 40LE.

Naama Bay is the heart and soul of Sharm El
Sheikh. This picturesque bay is home to the most popular restaurants,
bars/nightclubs, and activities. Along the bay the beach is lined with sun beds
and offers beach activities like windsurfing and waterskiing. Dive clubs
include Camel Dive Club, Ocean College, Emperor Divers, and many others. Naama
Bay really comes to life in the evening with shisha bars. You might enjoy a
cold beverage at the Camel Bar or one of the many smaller bars along the bay.

After-hours parties are aplenty
at the famous Pacha. The Buddha Bar and Hard Rock Café also turn into
nightclubs with DJs playing music until the wee hours of the morning. The Hard
Rock Café has a special on Wednesday nights: for 200LE, a wrist band will give
you drinks all night long.

Continuing south along the
coastline is Om Sid and Hadaba, providing great views of the Red Sea and Tiran. Il Mercato
is a modern shopping centre with outlets like Starbucks, Cilantro and a few
international restaurants.

Down the street is Alf Leila,
a large Egyptian bazaar selling various goods and plenty of shisha bars. Alf
Leila also has Fantasia, which offers an evening show of belly dancing, whirling
dervishes, and a man that plays with cobras. The show starts at 11PM and
tickets cost 25LE. The Old Sharm Market is a 10LE-taxi ride from Om Sid and has
a more laidback atmosphere, selling typical tourist goods, but also nice fruit
stands and local food such as koshary and shawerma.

Where to Eat: The Buddha
Bar serves up good sushi and other Asian-inspired cuisine, but if you feel like
a burger it is best to head to the Hard Rock Café. Fayrouz is on the second
floor of the central mall and serves pretty good Lebanese cuisine. After dinner,
save room for dessert; the Vanilla Pastry Shop is to die for.

Sites Worth Seeing: The most
famous part of Sharm El Sheikh is Ras Mohamed, located at the southern tip of
the Peninsula. Ras Mohamed covers 480 square kilometres
and is one of Egypt’s National Marine Sanctuaries. The entry fee into Ras
Mohamed park is 5 Euros (40LE). If you are a little adventurous, you might
enjoy renting a motorcycle to get there for 300LE a day. Follow the road until
it turns to dirt; then signs to either Yolanda or Sharks Observatory will take
you to spectacular beaches. It is best to pack a lunch and have a picnic on the
beach, and you will need to bring your own chairs, towels and snorkelling gear.

For a taste of something a
little different, take a 2.5 hour drive to Mount Sinai. The Cathedral of Saint
Catharine protects the legendary burning bush. To climb Mount Sinai (2285
meters), you can either go on foot or take a camel; but be aware that the camel
ride will only take you to the beginning of the stairs, the rest is up to you.

From Ras Nusrani to Ras
Mohamed and from the top of Mount Sinai to the bottom of the Red Sea, Sharm El
Sheikh has it all. With all the natural beauty surrounding the area and the variety of activities, it is sure to become a favourite destination.

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