What to Wear in Egypt as a Woman (+ Helpful Egypt Packing Tips!)

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

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 dress in Egypt?

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, based on my own personal experience there.

Amanda from A Dangerous Business in front of 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. These tips are based on what I felt and witnessed while traveling to Egypt as a woman.)

First, let's address those questions about how to dress in Egypt as a woman! (Unless you just want to skip ahead to my full packing list – if so, just scroll down.)

RELATED: 7 Things That Surprised Me About Traveling in Egypt

Questions about what to wear in Egypt for women

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

In short, no, you don't need to cover your hair as a female traveler in Egypt. 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 female tourists 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!

2. Do I have to wear long sleeves all the time?

Again, no, you don't have to cover your arms as a woman in Egypt. 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 just 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, but would have felt fine in short sleeves, too.

Amanda from A Dangerous Business showcasing different outfits for Egypt
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!

3. Can I wear capris in Egypt?

Yes, you can wear capris in Egypt! 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.)

4. 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 by Amanda
Pyramid selfie!

The good news is that most local Egyptian women dress quite modern – I saw 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, but that's personal preference.

5. 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, too, 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.

Amanda in Egypt | 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/hip bag since these are back in-style now?)

6. 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:

  • Egypt Adventure – An 8-day, budget-friendly tour of Egypt
  • Egypt Experience – A 12-day, slightly more upscale tour of Egypt (this is the one I did!)

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

(And you can read my full review of the Egypt tour I took.)

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 for Egypt

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!), or they make a larger 80L version, too.

And I always swear by packing cubes to help keep my luggage organized! (These compression packing cubes are so handy.)

*Note that you'll want to check carry-on luggage size requirements for the airline you're flying. The Delsey bag I use is slightly too large for some international carriers.

Feluccas on the Nile in Aswan
Feluccas on the Nile in Aswan

RELATED: 10 Tips for How to Pack Carry On Only for Your Next Trip

Clothing for Egypt

Note: This list is good for a 10-15 day trip, though I personally had laundry done once about halfway through my trip.

On top

  • 1-2 tunic tops
  • 1 long top with 3/4-length sleeves
  • 3 t-shirts (including at least one merino t-shirt, which you barely need to wash)
  • 1 tank top for layering
  • 1 flowy short-sleeved top for layering (the one I currently like is this one from Amazon)
  • 1 long-sleeved jersey wrap top (or a cardigan, depending on season)
  • 2-3 dresses (midi/maxi – I love this maxi dress with pockets, and this one which is very light)

On the bottom

  • 1-2 pair of thin flowy pants (I like these ones, which are super light, and these heavier, dressier-looking ones that come in lots of colors)
  • 1 pair of capris (like these or these)
  • 2 pairs of leggings, one long and one cropped
  • OPTIONAL: 1 pair of jeans for evenings (especially in winter)
  • OPTIONAL: 1 maxi skirt (if you like the flowy type of skirt, this one is an affordable option, though is very full; this one is shorter but will still cover your knees)
  • OPTIONAL: 1 flowy jumpsuit (I am currently obsessed with this soft jumpsuit. You do need to wear a t-shirt under it, but it's so comfy.)
Amanda at the Great Pyramid in Egypt
Yay pyramids!

Under things

  • 2 regular bras
  • 1 comfy sports bra
  • Breathable underwear (these ExOfficio ones are my favorite)
  • 1-2 pairs of Jockey Skimmies for wearing under dresses (my fellow curvy ladies will understand the need for these in warmer weather!)
  • 1 swimsuit (especially if visiting the Red Sea)


Shoes for Egypt

  • 1 pair of sneakers (I love my SUAVS, which are lightweight, breathable, AND washable; save 15% using the code DB15)
  • 1 pair of walking sandals or hiking sandals
  • OPTIONAL: A pair of flats or flip-flops

I also highly recommend packing a pair of light slippers for Egypt. Something like these will do the trick for cold hotel room floors.

Toiletries / first aid

This travel toiletry bag is currently my pick for what to use to pack this all!

  • Travel toilet paper rolls (they take up even less room than tissues, and you'll often need your own TP in public bathrooms) and perhaps some individual wipes
  • Hand sanitizer (crucial for bathrooms in Egypt)
  • Toiletries like sunscreen, contact solution, toothpaste, 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, and this shampoo bar by Garnier; they're eco-friendly, you don't have to worry about liquid rules, AND they won't explode in your suitcase (and I'm in love with these tiny waterproof soap bags)
  • Any skin care products you usually travel with
  • 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 in the past and it seems to work!

Tech to pack

Need a good tech bag to help you organize all your cords, charger blocks, and adapters? I like this one! And inside it you'll want:

Portable wifi or eSIM

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.

Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor, Egypt
Lots of sites in Egypt are in full sun – pack accordingly!

The other option is to get an eSIM for your phone so you can easily use it abroad. (This is a better option if you're not traveling with any other devices.) Basically you purchase an eSIM before your trip with a certain amount of data allotted, and then you simply switch over to it when you arrive in Egypt. My go-to for eSIMs is Airalo, and they do offer options in Egypt!

Misc other things


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.

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

Free printable packing list for Egypt

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 slip shorts 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.)
  • Megababe Thigh Rescue Anti-Chafe Stick Don't want to add an extra layer? Then pick up one of these anti-chafe 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:

1. 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.

2. 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 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!)

(I also love the Teva Hurricane XLT2 sandals – they have even more cushion and grip than the Verras.)

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.)

3. 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:

I hope this has answered some questions for you about how to dress in Egypt, and what to wear in Egypt as a woman!

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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149 Comments on “What to Wear in Egypt as a Woman (+ Helpful Egypt Packing Tips!)

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  1. Amanda, I’m a 72 year old American woman & consider myself an experienced international traveler. Making my first visit to Egypt next month and, lucky me, I just found your blog. Thank you for a GREAT article – some stuff I’d never thought of (like the pocket scarf) – and all the photos that you generously share. You’ve been so helpful

      Happy to be able to help, Judy – this is why I write this blog! This time of year is a great time to visit Egypt, and I hope you have a great time!

      Wikipedia and some of the other geographic sites says otherwise. It is also acknowledged that Egypt is located within the N. African continent but is considered one of the 17 middle eastern countries.

    Thank you for your help! Question, what kind of bathing suit should I bring with me? I suppose it depends on where I will be, but assuming that I will be in an area with western tourists, what type of bathing attire is acceptable? Thank you so much. B.K.

      Assuming you’re visiting a place where wearing a bathing suit is acceptable (like at a tourist resort), I don’t think it matters. I usually travel with a one-piece, but that’s personal preference.

    Really useful article Amanda. But I do have a question. Articles I read recommend all sorts of vaccinations including but not limited polio, typhoid, hepatitis A, diptheria, rabies! Did you have vaccinations for your trip and if so which ones did you have. We are going to Egypt for 2 weeks and Jordan for 1 week.

      I’ve had some vaccinations for previous trips, but I did not get anything special for Egypt. Nothing is required for Egypt or Jordan, so any vaccines you might get are at your discretion!

    I use Facebook and Viber when in Egypt a couple months ago. I had problems with Wi-Fi on some areas. Also had problem with my cell provider so end up buying cheat cell at old market that put simm card in it. I was there for 2 weeks so it came in handy to keep in contact with my family in the U.S.. Only regret was at that time buying cell was ask if I want egyptian phone number and I said no.

    I am going to Egypt as well, and I have the same questions as you did. But I am not so worried about my outfit. I am more concerned with the internet connection. I am using NordVPN for a while, I know that it is necessary to use it with public wifi networks, but how about Facebook and Instagram? Are they blocked in Egypt or not?

      I had no issues accessing Facebook or Instagram or any other website in Egypt.

    Thank you! Thank you! and Thank you!

    I am traveling to Egypt and have been “worried” about what to wear. Your information was so helpful and it was great to hear about it from another curvy girl. I am going shopping now and have a better idea of what to look for. Thank you again!!!

      So happy to be able to help!

        Thanks for all your detailed information. I am travelling to Cairo and then onto Luxor for a cruise to Aswan in November. Your list is really useful. Thank you

          Happy to be able to help, April! I visited in November/December, and think it’s one of the best times to go to Egypt!

    Thank you so much for this article, and for your article about traveling with Intrepid. I booked a trip to Egypt & Jordan with them back in August for this coming December, and even though I had researched them thoroughly, I was nervous about going with a company I didn’t know much about. But your articles really put me at ease and I’m so excited for the trip! And your packing list is PERFECT and answers all of the questions I had. Thank you! I can’t wait!

    Hi Amanda!

    I’m late to the party but this blog was super helpful! Planning a 14 day thing to Egypt and then Jordan and am a tiny bit stressy about clothing.

    Thanks for sharing all the info!

    Thanks for sharing this info. I’m going in February with a tour group. I’m wondering if I will need money to tip public bathroom attendants. Should I get some Egyptian coins? It looks like I’ll be able to use American $ for tipping and credit cards in restaurants. Thanks so much for your help. 🙂

      Yes, in most places you won’t be able to use the restroom or get toilet paper without tipping a bathroom attendant. I got a little bit of Egyptian currency out of an ATM at the airport and used it so I could have some coins on me. Otherwise fresh $1 USD bills work, too, though that’s more than a bathroom attendant would normally get.

        Thanks for responding. I’ll bring singles but still get some coins at the airport currency exchange. How much Egyptian money did you get? Did you get bills as well as coins. Thanks again.

          I took money out of an ATM – probably around the equivalent of $100 USD, but I don’t remember the exact amount. If you change money at the airport, they likely will give you mostly bills. But you can always go buy something at a shop to get some coins.

            Thanks again. I have never used an ATM (I know that’s strange) I use credit cards or cash. I didn’t know ATMs give out coins. I know I’ll buy bottled water so I imagine I’ll get coins back in change. Wish I had a currency converter to take. Doubt I’ll have WiFi. Another question, is it safe to eat salads? I’ll be staying at the Cairo Marriott and then on a cruise. We will eat out occasionally for dinner and most lunches will be out. I don’t know that they serve salads or raw vegetables. Cooked dishes should be safe although I don’t plan on food from street vendors. I want to be able to really enjoy this trip and food is an important part of traveling.

              ATMs don’t give out coins – but again, it’s easy enough to get coins by spending some money and getting change. 🙂 As for salads, you will find them in Egypt, but whether they’re safe to eat or not is something you’ll want to ask your guide. In my experience, your guide will know the best places for non-Egyptians to eat. Some restaurants will use bottled water to prepare dishes, while others will not. But in Egypt, it’s not a bad idea to travel with some Imodium just in case!

    what to pack in December especially when temperatures are low?

      I visited Egypt in December, so this list covers what you’ll need!

    Hi Amanda!

    Thanks for such an informative post, I’ll be in Egypt the middle of December and I was concerned about it being cold. Were the temps pretty mild when you visited? BTW your Instagram page is so inspiring!

      I was there in late November/early December last year, and yes, temps were pretty mild. Up north it got cooler at night (like down into the 50s/60s F), but down south in Luxor it was actually bordering on hot during the day! I would just make sure to bring a sweater or jacket for the evenings, and you should be fine!

    I don’t think you passed around a stomach bug, you got Egyptian food disease! I go to Egypt 3-4 times a year for the last 7 years and there isn’t one time I haven’t gotten at least a mild case of food poisoning. You’d think I would have built up an immunity by now! I recommend people take antinal which is available over the counter there. Get a stash to carry around with you and take at the first sign of distress!

      I definitely thought it was food poisoning at first, but every single person in our group got it – but not at the same time. And our guide got it, too, and he’s a local Egyptian! So I’m not really sure what it was! Immodium was definitely my friend for a couple of days.

    Yes, I could Google this question which I probably will, but I wanted to ask you anyway: what is your best recommendation for dealing with jet lag?

      I don’t have any secrets, I’m afraid! I try to drink lots of water on travel days, and try not to give in to the urge to nap when I arrive somewhere; try to stay up as late as possible on that first day, and it’ll make the jetlag easier.

    Hi Amanda, I have another question for you! Did you pack everything in your Kelty? Or did you have another larger suitcase? How many pieces of baggage did you actually take on the airplane? Did you check your baggage or was it all carry-on ? Again thank you for answering all my questions. You are a real lifesaver! I’ve got two months to get ready for my trip to Egypt and with your help I think I’ll be ready.

      I only took a carry-on suitcase on this trip (the one I took is linked in the post; it’s a Delsey suitcase). So on the plane I had my small suitcase and my Pacsafe backpack, and that’s it. Depending on what airline you fly, you might have to check the larger bag (for example, I flew Emirates, and they have a 1-carry-on-only policy, so I did have to check my smaller bag on one flight).

        Admit it, you are a magician. How did you fit all that stuff in a small suitcase? I think you should make a video for YouTube! You probably didn’t plan on buying a lot of souvenirs or gifts for people so you didn’t need the extra room, is that right? You are so amazing!

          Haha, not a magician – just have lots of practice! I also don’t bring more than I need, and plan to wear a lot of things more than once so everything takes up less room! And no, I don’t really buy gifts anymore since I travel so much, and only brought home small souvenirs.

    Amanda, this has been an extremely helpful blog and list. Many thanks for posting.. We are going the middle of next month, November, on a cruise up the Nile then a few days in Cairo. Will we need insect repellent ?
    Also, you suggest the Lifestraw Waterbottle. My doctor friend who is traveling with me, thinks it won’t be enough protection from tap water. Did you use it in places other than your hotel? In other words, out and about while sightseeing? Thanks.

      I traveled in November/December last year and did not use any insect repellent. As for the Lifestraw, I only filled mine up in hotel rooms, but they claim you can drink water from anywhere safely in it!

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