Egypt is an Arab country and although much less observant in Muslim traditions of dress than some of the other Arab states, visitors should try to respect their customs. Many Egyptian women no longer abide by the Islamic custom of wearing a veil to cover their hair, especially in the larger cities. In recent years Western dress has become very fashionable for both men and women in most parts of Egypt, although an increasing number of younger women are once again taking to wearing the hijab (headscarf) as a decalration of their faith.
In country areas however, the traditional form of galabeya or long flowing robe, will still be worn by many men who find it cool, comfortable and practical in the heat, together with a thickly wound scarf worn on the head. Women also wear a kind of galabeya with an outer garment over the top when away from the home and a scarf to cover the head. It is considered improper to show bare arms, shoulders and legs, and some people may find this a little shocking. At the very least, women out in the streets wearing skimpy tops and revealing shorts may be leered at. Modest shorts have become more acceptable for men, but many cruise boats and hotels will insist on long trousers in the dining room. Topless sunbathing or swimming is forbidden practacally everywhere in Egypt.
In the hotter months loose cotton clothing is the most comfortable thing to wear for both men and women. If you burn easily it is wise to cover all exposed skin when out in the sun. A hat or scarf to cover your head is essential to protect you from the fierce heat in order to avoid sunstroke. A good pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the glare and it is usually a good idea to have a spare pair because these are easily lost. Comfortable shoes are also a must. A robust pair of sandals and a pair of enclosed flat shoes are ideal. Trying to walk in high heels on Egyptian pavements is definitely an art!
In winter, especially in Lower Egypt, the evenings get suddenly very cold in comparison to the warm days. It is advisable to take warm outer clothing to wear in the evening between October and March, and perhaps even light rainwear for Cairo and the north. In summer you should not need these. In the desert areas the nights can become very cold at any time of the year.
In Cairo you can buy anything you may have forgotten to take with you. In Upper Egypt it may be a little more difficult to get exactly what you need, so try to pack a good basic wardrobe which will see you through your holiday. Most hotels and cruises operate an excellent laundry service for guests.