Can I Wear Capris in Egypt? (Or a Complete Egypt Packing Guide for Women)

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When I was preparing for my tour in Egypt, I had so many questions about what to pack.

This was going to be my first time in the Middle-East region (2 days in Istanbul back in 2012 doesn't really count), and I knew I would need to be more conscious about dressing conservatively than on most other trips I'd taken. But, as a non-Muslim woman, just how conservative did I need to be?

Did I need to cover my hair?

Were long sleeves required, or would t-shirts be acceptable in hotter cities?

Could I wear capris?

Did all my clothing have to be super baggy?

Would a cross-body purse accentuate my boobs too much?

It was easy to find the answers to some of these questions online, while other searches brought up nothing useful. So I decided to write my own guide to packing for a trip to Egypt as a woman.

The Great Temple of Abu Simbel
My favorite outfit at Abu Simbel

(And yes, I'm aware that some women might feel perfectly comfortable NOT dressing conservatively in Egypt, and I don't particularly like policing women's bodies or clothing. BUT, when visiting a place with different cultural norms, I generally find it makes for a more enjoyable travel experience if you do your best to respect those cultural differences.)

First, let's address those questions about what to pack for a trip to Egypt! (Unless you just want to skip ahead to my full packing list – if so, just scroll down!)

Questions about what to wear in Egypt for women

As a non-Muslim woman, do I need to cover my hair in Egypt?

In short, no. As a tourist you aren't expected to wear a hijab or any other hair or facial covering in Egypt. The only exception to this is if you're visiting a mosque – in that case, you do indeed need to respect the fact that you're entering a religious building and cover up. Usually just using a regular scarf to cover your hair will do.

Some women choose to cover their hair at all times in Egypt, though, especially if they're traveling independently. This is definitely not necessary – but it's based on what you feel comfortable with!

Do I have to wear long sleeves all the time?

Again, no. Tank tops and strapless tops are generally frowned upon, as are tops that reveal too much cleavage. But as for arm coverage, the general rule is to make sure your shoulders are covered.

Covering your elbows is polite, but you won't get too much unwanted attention if you go out in a normal t-shirt. I mostly wore tops with 3/4-length sleeves.

Some of the other outfits I wore in Egypt: Left, my go-to outfit for dinner and other stuff at night; Center, an outfit I wore to a couple temples (sometimes paired with a lightweight scarf); Right, what I wore to the Valley of the Kings!

Can I wear capris in Egypt?

Yes! Just like you don't always need to wear long sleeves, you don't always need to wear long pants in Egypt. Capris are acceptable for women as long as they cover your knees. (For men, longer shorts are fine, but I personally wouldn't wear shorts as a woman outside of beach resorts.)

Does all my clothing have to be super baggy?

While skin-tight clothing isn't always considered modest, you don't have to pack baggy, shapeless clothes as a woman in Egypt.

Obviously the more you emphasize your curves, the more attention you might receive, but I know from experience that it's sometimes impossible to find clothing that will “hide” big boobs and a backside without making you look like you're wearing a sack. (And I don't know about you, but I wanted to look at least mildly cute in my Pyramid selfies!)

Pyramid selfie
Pyramid selfie!

The good news is that most local Egyptian women dress quite modern – you'll see skinny jeans everywhere! I tried to make sure that if I had on slightly more form-fitting bottoms that I wore a looser, more flowing top. I didn't have any issues.

Can I wear a cross-body purse in Egypt?

Any woman with a larger chest will know that you can't wear a cross-body hand bag without the strap strongly emphasizing The Girls. It doesn't matter how heavy the bag is; if you have boobs, they're going to stand out when wearing a cross-body purse.

My go-to travel bag is, of course, usually a cross-body one (they're much more secure, as they're more difficult to steal while you're wearing them), but I wasn't sure I would feel comfortable wearing one in Egypt. I opted for a pickpocket-proof backpack instead, which made me feel more comfortable when out sightseeing.

I did bring a small cross-body bag with me, though, for going out to dinner or for instances where I didn't need to carry my camera or water bottle or other heavy things. I didn't experience any harassment wearing this bag, though I did often wear it paired up with a jacket or scarf.

What to wear in Egypt
Capris AND a cross-body bag in Cairo

I don't have a definitive answer on this one, but I would say that if you're worried about it, go with a theft-proof backpack instead. (Or maybe a cute sling/waist bag since these are back in-style now?)

Is there any time I can just wear what I want?

Generally speaking, I always try to adhere to local customs when I travel. It's just respectful, and also makes your travel experience more positive. This isn't to say that I didn't see tourists wearing tank tops or short shorts in Egypt – I did. I even saw one woman at a temple in a short, strapless romper!

But I wouldn't recommend wearing your normal American or European summer clothing in Egypt. It's just kind of rude.

The one exception to this is if you go on a Nile river cruise, or if you're planning to spend time at any of Egypt's seaside resorts.

Things are generally more relaxed on cruise ships and at resorts since you're surrounded by other tourists (you can, for example, wear your bathing suit on the sun deck and in the pool). BUT, remember on cruises especially that the crew will be all Egyptian, and that there may be Egyptian or other Muslim families on the boat, too. I found the topless sunbathing on my cruise boat to be a bit insensitive.

Hypostyle Hall at Karnak Temple
Me wearing a t-shirt over a long dress at Karnak

Interested in booking a tour in Egypt?

These are the two tours I recommend:

Or you can combine Egypt and Jordan in this 15-day trip.

(Read my full review of the Egypt tour I took here.)


Egypt packing list (for women)

Now that we've covered the packing FAQs, here's what I actually packed in my bag for my 12-day trip to Egypt.

I visited in November/December, which is “winter” in Egypt. Temperatures were mild (even cool in the evenings), but I would probably have packed similar things for a trip during the warmer months, since you can't really wear less clothing in such a conservative country!

My bag

My bag for this trip was a hard-sided, carry-on size spinner from Delsey, with an expandable zipper and TSA-friendly locks. Yes, this is a small bag, but I really didn't need anything bigger since I was mixing and matching my clothing and wearing things more than once!

For longer trips (or if you're just not a carry-on-only type of traveler), I'm a fan of Osprey's rolling bags. I've had an Osprey convertible bag for about 7 years now, and it's traveled to 4 different continents with me! This Osprey Fairview 65 is a good option (and will last you years and years!).

Clothing

  • 2 dresses (midi/maxi – I LOVE this maxi dress, which has pockets!)
  • 1 maxi skirt (if you like the flowy type of skirt, this one is an affordable option – I have it in blue and wine)
  • 2 pairs of capris (like these or these)
  • 1 pair of jeans for evenings
  • 2 pairs of leggings, one long and one cropped
  • 1 tunic top
  • 2 long tops with 3/4-length sleeves
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 1 tank top
  • 2 long-sleeved jersey wrap tops
  • 2 bras
  • Breathable underwear (these ExOfficio ones are my favorite)
  • 1 light jacket (I took a denim jacket)
  • 1 pair of sneakers (I love my SUAVS, which are lightweight and breathable – save 15% on your own pair using code DB15)
  • 1 pair of walking sandals (I swear by these!)
  • 2 scarves (one a hidden pocket travel scarf)
  • 1 packable sun hat (I like this one and this one)

And if you're looking at this list and thinking it doesn't seem like very much clothing for an almost 2-week trip, don't worry: laundry facilities and services are in fact available in Egypt! I sent laundry out once during this trip, allowing me to pack lighter.

Toiletries / first aid

  • Lifestraw water bottle (which makes most tap water safe to drink)
  • Travel toilet paper rolls (they take up even less room than tissues, and you'll often need your own TP in public bathrooms)
  • Hand sanitizer (crucial for bathrooms in Egypt)
  • Toiletries like sunscreen, contact solution, and moisturizer (OMG bring a good moisturizer or lotion – it is SO DRY in Egypt!)
  • Solid shampoo/conditioner – I like the solid bars by Ethique; you don't have to worry about liquid rules, AND they won't explode in your suitcase (plus, eco-friendly!)
  • First aid kit with Band-Aids, motion sickness pills, pain killers, Imodium, and rehydration salts (and I sadly needed some of this – our group passed around a stomach bug!). You also may want to consider taking a probiotic in Egypt to help ward off any tummy troubles; I've used Travelan on other trips, and it does seem to work!

Carry-on

Portable wifi

If you don't want to rely on patchy hotel wifi, you might want to look into traveling with a portable wifi hotspot like a Solis wifi hotspot. Solis works by connecting you to a local mobile network – but no SIM cards are required.

You can buy a device at home, and then purchase day passes or a monthly data plan for your Solis. (I like the day passes, since then you only pay for what you use.) You can connect up to 10 devices to a Solis, which is perfect if you're traveling as a couple or a family. Learn more about Solis here.

Insurance

I also highly recommend purchasing travel insurance for the entirety of your trip in Egypt. Travel insurance usually covers things like medical emergencies, but can also compensate you for things like travel delays and lost luggage. I recommend buying coverage through World Nomads. They offer the most affordable basic travel insurance out there.

(Most tour companies will require you to have travel insurance in Egypt.)

Free printable packing list

What if I'm going to Egypt in summer?

If you're traveling to Egypt during the summer months (which can be extremely hot), you'll still want to cover up – so make sure to pack light, breathable fabrics, and some extra pieces in case you need to change outfits during the day.

For ladies like me who have never known what a thigh gap is, I recommend trying the following if you'll be wearing skirts or dresses to combat chafing:

  • Jockeys Skimmies – These moisture-wicking slipshorts are perfect for under just about anything; I wear them constantly in the summer! (Recently I've also been liking these yoga shorts by Baleaf – they don't ride up at all AND have pockets, but are heavier than the Skimmies.)
  • Gold Bond Friction Defense Stick – Don't want to add an extra layer? Then pick up one of these “friction defense sticks,” which really do work wonders to combat chafing!

What were my Egypt packing must-haves?

I packed pretty well for this trip – I wore everything that I brought for Egypt and don't feel like I took anything unnecessary. That being said, I was happy to have a few specific things:

Hidden pocket scarf

I got two new hidden pocket travel scarves from Speakeasy Travel Supply, and took one of them to Egypt with me. I LOVE these scarves for travel – the pockets are large enough for your passport and money, making them excellent to wear on travel days.

And they make them in all sorts of materials, too, including a lightweight rayon, which doesn't make you super hot.

Amanda at Philae Temple
At Philae Temple with my hidden pocket scarf

I also used my scarf at temples when I needed a pocket (sadly not all women's clothing comes with pockets!). You'll want pockets in Egypt since nearly every temple, tomb, or other historic site you visit will give you a paper ticket that you may have to show more than once.

I also tucked my phone into my scarf once or twice when I was lacking a pocket but didn't want to have to keep digging in my backpack in order to do an Instagram Story.

Good shoes

I take my Teva Verra sandals with me almost everywhere as long as the weather isn't supposed to be cold. Not only are these sandals comfortable and supportive for walking, but they're also perfect for a destination like Egypt. Why? Because everything in Egypt is DUSTY (it is mostly a desert, after all), and unlike my sneakers I could easily rinse these sandals off in the shower every night. (Plus, even though they're technically “hiking sandals,” I don't think they're hideous!)

If you prefer covered shoes, check out the Zilker Knit shoe by SUAVS. I love these shoes because they're light and super easy to pack, AND they're machine washable, meaning you can easily wash all the dirt and sand off when you get home. 

(And, as a reader of A Dangerous Business, you can save 15% off a pair of SUAVS! Use the code DB15 at checkout.)

Pacsafe backpack

Lastly, taking my Pacsafe theft-proof backpack on this trip was a great idea. I didn't have to worry about the cross-body strap of a purse accentuating things I didn't want to accentuate, and I could fit everything I'd need for a day inside it (including my camera, wallet, sunscreen, hat, water bottle, and scarf), and I always had extra room for a souvenir or two.

The bonus of taking a Pacsafe bag is that you don't have to stress about pickpockets since all the zippers are lockable and the material is slash-proof. Even when we were in areas where our guide told us to keep an eye on our bags, I wasn't worried about anyone getting into mine.

I usually travel with a camera-specific Pacsafe backpack, but the following ones are great too:

(And yes, I'm a crazy Pacsafe fangirl and do actually personally own all of these backpacks, so I can vouch for them being great; I've not had to replace one yet!)

And if you want to keep your things *even safer* (or, if like me you usually travel with a laptop and expensive camera that don't fit into hotel safes)? Consider taking a packable, portable safe with you, so you can lock things up in your hotel room.

PS – Don't forget to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when you're traveling, too. It helps keep your private details (like passwords and other sensitive data) safe when you're using public wifi networks. I use Express VPN, which is easy to install and use.

RELATED: How to Keep Your Money and Valuables Safe on Your Travels


Interested in visiting Egypt for yourself? Check out these posts about my trip there:


Have you ever been to Egypt? If not, do you have questions about traveling there? Feel free to ask me in the comments below!

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Egypt packing list for women

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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145 Comments on “Can I Wear Capris in Egypt? (Or a Complete Egypt Packing Guide for Women)

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  1. I curious about the VPN and solis…going in 2 weeks…do I really need the traveling WiFi? How do I get help establishing the VPN?
    I’ve looked at the express VPN site still isn’t clear to me …
    And lastly do we really need toilet paper…we r staying at the rItz in Cairo? And on the Nile for 4 nights
    Thanks have enjoyed reading your advise.
    Linda Stern

      You don’t NEED any of those things, but sometimes they are nice to have if you’re going to be traveling around a lot and don’t want to only rely on hotel wifi. A VPN is something that works independently from the wifi device; it’s something you’d install on your laptop or as an app on your phone, and then turn on before doing any web browsing. (You turn it on usually just by opening the application and clicking a “connect” button.) But it’s not necessary to use. As for the toilet paper, I would definitely have some (or tissues) with you whenever you leave your hotel. Any toilets you use when out sightseeing may not have paper.

    Amanda- you are an amazing blogger! My husband and I are heading to Egypt. As we will also spend a few days in Jordan and the flights have more restriction on baggage than we are use to flying from Canada, I now realize we can pack a 21” suitcase and have everything we need. Thank you for your detailed list of musts especially toilet paper rolls! How important that will be!

    I have what might seam like a funny ? .
    I am going to be 55, finally empty nested and been invited to go on a group tour to Egypt and Jeruselum. I am not super anxious about being there but I am worried about the flight.
    Our guide and agent (one in the same) has been on this particular tour several times, so that has helpped.
    What are you suggestions for the flight? I normally go to the bar for a drink of courage before any flight but this would be a much longer flight and over water. LOL sorry sounds dumb i’m sure. 🙁

      Flight anxiety is totally normal – I even have travel blogger friends who suffer from it! That liquid courage can always help, but don’t be afraid to let a flight attendant know if you’re a bit anxious; most of them are super sweet and will try to look out for you. I guess my biggest advice is to pack things to help you stay comfortable on a longer flight (neck pillow, eye mask, nice hand lotion, etc.), and just remember that planes have excellent safety records! You’re much safer in the air than driving around in your car!

    Thank you-planning for an Egypt trip end of September and thought I had better shop before summer weight clothing is gone!

      Yes, definitely easier to shop now while summer stuff is in stock!

    Amanda, thank you so much for your thoughtful article about modest clothing for tourists in Egypt! I wish more people would read this and follow your advice! I lived in Egypt and am married to an Egyptian, and believe me, dressing conservatively makes 100% difference for a woman visitor in Egypt. Sure, people will say that “wearing anything is fine for a tourist,” because all the Egyptians are accustomed to seeing Western tourists and their more revealing styles. But I guarantee that the local Egyptians will view you, talk to you, and respect you on a completely different level if you take the time and thought to dress in a conservative, modest way.

      Thank you for sharing this! Yes, I definitely hear the “you can wear whatever you want” line, but in my experience I’ve always felt more comfortable when trying to dress more like a local.

    I’ll be headed to Egypt this summer and I have two full tattoo sleeves. I am planning to keep them covered to protect them from the sun, but I was wondering how hidden they need to be? I have some long sleeve shirts that hide them entirely, but I also have a set of cooling sleeves to wear with a short sleeved shirt that are slightly see-through when you look close. Would that work, or should I look for some darker sleeves that hide them 100%?

      That’s a great question! Honestly, it’s going to be very hot in the summer, so wearing long sleeves all the time may not be practical. As a tourist (and believe me, everyone will know you’re a tourist!), I think tattoos are probably less “taboo.” I have a couple tattoos on my arms that I did not cover while in Egypt, and had no issues. Granted, I don’t have full sleeves, but no one said anything about the ones I do have. I would say plan to cover them if you’re visiting any religious sites, but otherwise it probably won’t be an issue.

    I’m taking a trip to Egypt with my friend in March and I really planned on wearing shorts, dresses and tank tops my body doesn’t do well covered with hot weather but after reading this I guess I won’t because I don’t wanna disrespect anyone. Thanks for the info.

      I think you can still wear some of those things. Most dresses are probably fine, and longer shorts with a tshirt, or a tank top with maybe a light scarf that you could throw around your shoulders in certain places would be okay. Most Egyptian women usually cover their shoulders and knees at minimum, but you don’t have to be covered head to toe.

    I toured Nov 2021. Fantastic experience. I bought several very light-weight long-sleeved shirts and pants beforehand because the company I booked with recommended – unnecessary. While many tourist and local women were conservatively dressed, many were not. Local guide in Aswan (woman who was wearing a tee shirt and capris) asked why I was wearing long-sleeved shirt and pants! I had read women should wear sunglasses because eye contact with men was considering flirting – not an issue she said. I did not need to wear a scarf in any of the temples visited. Bug spray was recommended since we were spending time on the Nile River – not necessary. I recommend bringing lots of dollar bills as tipping is expected everywhere, including in restrooms. $1 is a good tip. In some tombs and temples there is a charge to use a camera (as much as $20) but not yet a cell phone (may change), so if you are thinking about getting a cell phone with a better camera, do it! I wish I had.

      Capris and t-shirts are definitely fine – but I think dressing to the level of “conservative” that local women do is still the most respectful way to go. Just because some tourists wear short shorts and bralettes doesn’t mean it’s what I’d recommend. As for the sunglasses tip – I personally use that one sometimes when I’m traveling solo! But it’s more to avoid being heckled when walking through markets that I don’t intend to shop at. Haha.

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