Hurghada, Egypt

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Sorry but have to put my negative comments. was there some years ago in january with ex girlfriend on a package deal. hotel 4 star but more like a one star. full of russians who are worse then germans on holiday . Forget the town , just full of crap shops , nothing interesting to see.Did not do any coach trips but took the local bus to cairo and stayed there for a few days ( could'nt stand the hotel any more) this was the best part of the holiday. Ok the diving was quite good shop around for the best price . we were unlucky with the weather with strong winds , could'nt sun bath too cold to swim in the sea.If someone offered me a free holiday in hurghada i would turn it down

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Should be a bit nicer in late Feb or March though in comparison to January.. I've never been to Hurghada but I've been to Sharm. There is really no cultural type things to see at these places, but if you travel a bit there is. Otherwise, if you just want sun and good diving for cheap, there is no place like it.

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I did Hurgada last year in December...all inclusive..weather was only around 20c and I did the trip to Cairo and Pyramids..brutal...they say 6hrs , turned out to be 8hrs each way..ie...leave at 2am get there at 10am then do Pyramids and then bus back...long day...pyramids great but you can now see a KFC in the distance, soon the hell they call Cairo will eat Pyramids...still Egypt top place and the sevrice very friendly...(overly friendly).

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Otherwise, if you just want sun and good diving for cheap, there is no place like it.

Yup, that's pretty much all we want. I'm not terribly concerned about not having anything around to see, we mostly just want to relax and escape the gray European winter for a few days. So perhaps we'll skip the tours and just enjoy being lazy; the pyramids aren't going anywhere anytime soon, so we could always do a trip to Cairo/Luxor another time. We'll see how motivated we are to leave Hurghada.

 

Normally I am wary if not violently opposed to package holidays, but the place we're staying in is five-star (yes I know Egyptian five-star is different from a European five-star), and based on the various travel review sites I've visited, the resort has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from both German and British visitors (at least, it got good reviews from those Brits whose opinions of the resort did not hinge on the availability of 'proper pub grub'). I feel very comfortable with our choice of accommodation and I think it'll be fun.

 

Thanks for all the input! Of course I'll report back and share what we learned.

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My friend also stayed at a 5 star hotel down there and wasn't expecting a true 5 star, and when he got back he said it was much better than his expectations. I stayed in the Four Seasons in Sharm and it was probably the best hotel I've ever been in.

 

Some hotels down there will be dodgy, but there are certainly some excellent ones as well. If you've checked it out beforehand there shouldn't be any issues.

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I spent 10 days in the Grand Resort in Hurghada last October and would give the holiday a mixed review. It could certainly make for an excellent, great value holiday as long as you know what to expect, which it seems you do. As others have said, if you are looking to just relax and enjoy the sea, it's pretty ideal. If you're looking for interesting sights, day trips, nightlife, peace and quiet without being harrassed it gets trickier.

My summary:

- We booked a day trip to Giftun Island via the hotel; We paid I think €28 for a half day (seemed longer, in a good way!) including lunch, 3 snorkelling stops and a stop on Giftun island. It was the highlight of the trip for me. Everyone on the boat was great, the guys running it were so nice and relaxed. Having spent a fortune for a similar trip on the Great Barrier Reef I would say this was better as it was a smaller group, a more personal experience and they weren't really slaves to the schedule. The reefs were amazing, the water was warm, the sun was beating down. We looked at the price lists in a few hotels nearby and it was pretty much the same - we weren't arsed going into the city to bargain hunt as it seemed a good price.

 

- I got food poisoning on Day 2 which scuppered our planned day-trip to Luxor. I followed all the rules - didn't eat any meat, fish, fruit, salad, raw food or drink any non-bottled water but I still got it. We met quite a few people with similar stories, both in our hotel and in other hotels. The pharmacies are used to this and freely serve some magic drugs over the counter that do stop the puking quite quickly so you can at least get some enjoyment out of the rest of your stay but you won't be top-fit. Everyone we spoke to who had gone to Luxor said it is a great place to visit but that it really shouldn't be a day trip and the journey is gruelling, without exception they all said they wouldn't have done it had they known.

 

- My mobile was stolen from the hotel room - I had taken it out of the safe and thrown it on the bed meaning to put it in my bag before we headed out. The hotel's reaction showed that although the place looked fab, it was not the kind of 5 star customer experience you'd expect, they really didn't give a shit.

 

- Everyone was constantly trying to get money out of us and it got reallllllllllly annoying. We ended up giving money to and buying from the people who harrassed us the least. I went to use the cash machine and was pleased to see a policeman standing watch beside it. Before I had a chance to even take my card out he jumped over and helpfully said 'card go here' with a big smile. I said thanks and carried on. When I took my money out he put his hand out and said 'Tip, yes?'. Got sick of people looking for tips for unsolicited and unneccessary 'help' and advice.

 

- Hurghada centre is an eye-sore. We went once, planned on staying for dinner but weren't arsed - it's handy to pick up souvenirs (as it is basically just a strip of endless souvenir shops). If you go off the beaten track, as we did in search of some kind of old town, you just find dusty, empty, dark, dirty little streets. The mental taxi drive there and a really really nice, interesting guy we spent a couple of hours chatting to about Egypt in his papyrus store made the trip worthwhile though!! We did meet some lovely, warm, friendly, interesting people who made up for all the annoying, money-grabbing, leering creeps who I guess tourist traps inevitably attract.

 

- The return flight was delayed 5 hours but we were still herded out of the hotel 3 hours before check in. The airport is a kip, the toilets were beyond vile and there is very little in the line of food. We looked into this afterwards and it seems flights are regularly delayed, so make sure you have tissues, plenty to drink, a full stomach, something warm as it feels damn cold in there in the middle of the night after sitting on hard plastic seats for 7 hours!

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mehithabel, you're a star! Thanks for taking the time to write that, the information is very useful. My boyfriend thanks you as well, as this means he is now totally off the hook from doing any shopping or sightseeing, both of which he abhors. We will definitely do the Giftun Island trip, though, and I reckon perhaps a diving excursion as well.

 

Regarding the stomach sickness: I hear this is indeed a common complaint, and on one site someone claimed it's due less to the food or water and more to handling dirty money. I'm not sure how true that it, but I'm a serial handwasher anyway so hopefully that will help.

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- I got food poisoning on Day 2 which scuppered our planned day-trip to Luxor. I followed all the rules - didn't eat any meat, fish, fruit, salad, raw food or drink any non-bottled water but I still got it.

I had exactly the same experience. I only ate at the hotels we stayed in (all nice 5 star hotels) and drank bottled water and still got the shits. Like you mention though, they're used to it, and you can get stuff from the Pharmacy that sorts it out pretty good.

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Regarding the stomach sickness: I hear this is indeed a common complaint, and on one site someone claimed it's due less to the food or water and more to handling dirty money. I'm not sure how true that it, but I'm a serial handwasher anyway so hopefully that will help.

A bottle of antiseptic hand lotion is your friend here. Always had some on me in Cambodia where was told there was the same problem and after handling money, washing hands in some public tiolets etc and before eating used it and was fine.

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Didn't help me I'm afraid - I always had a bottle of that quick-dry antiseptic gel stuff with me. I really think it came from the food as I felt sick right after dinner. It was a buffet though under a canopy in an outdoor restaurant (still in the 5 star hotel though!) so maybe the food had been lying around too long or nasty stuff made it's way into it from outdoors.

 

No problem Georgiagirl, glad to have someone benefit from my misadventures - it's one of those places where knowing a few ground rules and having good luck on known nasties can be the difference between a great holiday and one to forget!

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One of the things I noticed on my trips to egypt, people don't use rehydration salts... I always throw them into a bottle of water a few times a day... never had any issues (I used to spend a lot of time out there diving, and not just in the tourist parts...). Mind, I might just have a cast iron stomach lol (my cooking can be a bit weird)

 

I'd recommend heading to somewhere like Soma Bay (to chill out, or play golf), or further down past Marsa Alam for diving... Hurgada / Sharm / dahab etc... are all past their prime unfortuantely (although still worth a quick trip if you dive).

 

If you don't dive, go check out Oman... Was there in 2006 and I have to say, simply stunning country, hardly any western influences, and really worth going to.

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just buy water in bottles at your hotel or dive centre...

food is great,people are fab, but ladies: don't go out at night and expect not to be hassled - even if you're with someone.

blondes are particularly likely to gain attention - and it won't be all good... sadly!

but Egypt is fab, love it and try and go at least once a year!

 

mark

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We're thinking about going to Hurghada in April/May. Last time I stayed in Sharm el Sheikh and it was freaking excellent. What I really enjoyed the most was that the hotel was on the beach and had a jetty that went out to where the reef starts, so you could just go snorkling any time you wanted. I'd really like to find a hotel in Hurghada that has this same thing as well. I'm talking about something like this:

 

post-16-1201251082.jpg

 

Also, does anyone have a recommendation for a non skanky hotel? I've looked at some brochures, and even some of the 4/5 star ones look a bit dodgy. They are almost always all inclusive that worries me a bit too. I can imagine just having a week full of buffets with crappy food, and loud brits getting rotten drunk all day on the free booze. I've never done an all inclusive before, so maybe I have the wrong idea.

 

Non family oriented hotel suggestions would be good too. We want to minimize the amount of screaming kids in our vicinity.

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The problem with Hurghada is that the reefs don't start until farther out, so you don't have direct access to reefs and snorkeling from the hotel. Maybe the new resorts farther south do, but I'm not sure. There are some islands a short boat ride away, which are amazing for snorkeling and diving (I remember snorkeling right beside dolphins when I was there), although they were getting littered up alot in the past few years.

 

I stayed at the Aladdin when I was there. Pretty good place all-inclusive. But I imagine some of the newer hotels trump that by alot now.

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Hutcho, I will definitely give you the full report when we return from Hurghada in early March! According to TripAdvisor, the top three Hurghada hotels are the Hurghada Marriott Beach Resort, Siva Grand Beach Hotel and the Red Sea Grand Resort.

 

We're planning to stay at the Siva and do the all-inclusive thing, which I was wary about too, but frankly I'm just lazy and it's the easiest option. The reviews I've read of the food at Siva are mixed, but primarily good. As for snorkeling right off the beach at the hotel, I'm not entirely sure; some reviews seemed to indicate that it was possible and there were fish/reefs to see, but others said you really needed to hop a boat and go further out.

 

post-3697-1201251145.jpg

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Would be great to hear a report when you get back..

 

If the reefs are further out at Hurghada maybe I should just consider going back to Sharm. Having the reef right there was one of the things that made the holiday so good.

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I had always heard that snorkeling is better and easier in Sharm. Here's a pretty comprehensive review of Sharm vs. Hurghada and which is better for diving and snorkeling: Divemagazine.co.uk - Sharm vs. Hurghada

 

 

Both destinations offer spectacular diving at a reasonable price. Sharm has Ras Mohammed and the Thistlegorm, but suffers from high-season crowding. Hurghada, on the other hand, has more medium to high-quality reefs and less crowding, but no sites that can quite match Ras Mohammed. It's personal taste, but for me the wrecks of Abu Nuhas are more interesting than the Thistlegorm and the Dunraven. Finally, I think I prefer eating out in Hurghada, and particularly mooching around the old town. It's close - and I can't quite believe I'm saying this - but as things stand I prefer Hurghada.

 

SHARM EL SHEIKH 71 out of 100

HURGHADA 73 out of 100

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I can imagine just having a week full of buffets with crappy food, and loud brits getting rotten drunk all day on the free booze. I've never done an all inclusive before, so maybe I have the wrong idea.

Forget the Brits - more like Ukrainians...the hotel we stayed in in Hurghada last Jan. was full of them...even most of the staff were Ukrainian! They were the talk of the town (well, amongst the non-Ukrainian guests). Their behaviour was atrocious..bottles of vodka at the breakfast table, pissed by lunch time and in the evenings having to be "escorted" to their room because they couldn't walk! Some of them even vandalised the hotel and were thrown out. I would avoid all inclusive if you possibly can - never done it before myself and not inclined to do it again after that experience. I mean the hotel itself was well kept, in lovely grounds and directly at the beach etc but it was kind of ruined with the antics of the Ukrainians

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We’ve returned from our week-long holiday in Hurghada, so as promised here is my review.

 

Overall I’d rate it as one of my best holidays ever. We didn’t experience a lot of the problems that I’d heard or read about; namely, we weren’t overly hassled by shop keepers or service people asking for tips, we didn’t get sick, and never felt unsafe or leered at by any of the natives.

 

ETI (Express Tours International) is the tour company that operates the majority of the Egyptian holiday packages from Germany, and overall I was satisfied with the quality of the package they provided. We did end up staying at the Grand Resort rather than the Siva, and it is really a beautiful place. I could find very little fault with it, though as expected, the food was only mediocre. The grounds are gorgeous, well-kept and spotlessly clean, and the service is friendly if a bit on the slow side. We never felt obligated or pressured to tip, though we did little and often as we’d been recommended.

 

ETI’s main problem is that the process of getting through the airport and to the resort, as well as getting to/through the airport again on the way back, was an absolute nightmare. The whole thing is like a horrible cattle herd, completely disorganised and chaotic. Nobody, not even the ‘Reiseleiter’, seemed to have a clue about what was going on. On our return trip, we waited in line at the airport for over an hour just to get checked in. It was a pity that we had to end the trip on such a negative note.

 

I did the day trip to Luxor, and it’s a long day but I’d say it was well worth it just to get a feel for the country outside of the tourist environment. You drive several hours inland, and it’s a great opportunity to see the landscape and how the Egyptians live from day to day. In Luxor, you will get hassled by people begging and trying to sell you stuff, but the fact is that Egypt is a third-world country and that’s unfortunately just par for the course and I’ve experienced it elsewhere.

 

We also did the snorkelling excursion to the Giftun Island and a Jeep safari into the desert to meet some Bedouin folk; both were really enjoyable and I highly recommend them. While I was in Luxor, my boyfriend (not keen on spending eight hours on the bus or sightseeing in 40+ heat) took a day trip to Sharm el Naga where he said the snorkelling was fantastic and even better than on the Giftun day tour.

 

Pros

• Unbeatable value for money

• Weather that cannot be found anyplace in Europe during the winter/spring

• Friendly people

• A good variety of excursions (snorkelling, diving, desert safari, day trips to Cairo/Luxor)

• Gorgeous beaches

 

Cons

• Horribly disorganised arrival/departure at airport -- a hell not even Dante could have conceived of

• Mediocre food

• Excursions are heavily geared towards Germans; expect not to have or to pay a bit extra for English-speaking tour guides

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