While not ready to sell out completely and forget its hippy roots, Dahab is growing up fast. If the town were a person he would be thinking about cutting his hair and getting his first job in an effort to impress the hotel heiress that’s been making googoo eyes at him.
Things to do
Dahab is a major dive centre and there are several popular spots in and around the town. Snorkelling often requires no more preparation than hiring a mask and some flippers and walking into the sea from the beach. Horse riding, quad biking and jeep safaris into the desert and climbing Mount Sinai are popular day trips.
I can’t swim, hate horses and don’t like tours. Is there anything else to do?
Doing is perhaps not the right word but whiling away the time sitting on cushions by the sea, eating, drinking and puffing on a sheesha in the company of half a dozen cats is a popular past time. A significant part of each day is spent looking at menus and listening to the same spiel over and over again.
My blog is looking neglected and I really need good WiFi to do something about it. Any chance of that?
Ask everywhere you eat, drink or sleep in the town for the passwords and soon you won’t be able to find a spot where you can’t get WiFi.
Feed me, I’m hungry
The setting is often better than the food at many of the beach front restaurants and, depending on the time of year, competition is such that umming and ahhing for a bit can result in up to a 30 per cent reduction in price, free starters, dessert, bedouin tea and possibly a free sheesha.
Expats and locals
No one nationality dominates the expat crowd most of whom are there for the diving. The locals are Egyptians from villages around the country and the Bedouin.
Cost of living
Beer – E£7 (shop), E£10 to E£15 (bar/restaurant).
Meals – from E£5 for koshary or falafel to over E£100 for a three course meal.
Accommodation – From E£60 for basic double room to staying in the Hilton. In between a clean and simple en suite room in a hotel with a pool can cost around E£130 before haggling.
Water – E£2 (1 1/2ltr)
Chances of work?
Plenty of foreigners have found their niche in bars and dive centres, teaching yoga.
Stay a while?
Many do. Getting a visa renewed for up to a year at Al-Tor is regarded as a quick and relatively painless process.
* Visas: a 2 week Sinai only visa is free on arrival but if you plan to head into the rest of Egypt a one month visa will set you back between £10 and £15 depending on your nationality.
* Getting there: we got to Dahab by flying into Sharm el-Sheikh, walking out of the airport and standing by the road until an empty enough microbus (E£5) stopped and took us close to the bus station behind the Mobil Station between Sharm and Na’ama Bay.
The Lonely Planet Middle East gives the impression that the bus station is just behind the Mobil Station. It’s not. It is a considerable walk which we avoided by hopping in the back of a pick up truck. I’ve no idea where this guy came from and don’t even remember asking for a lift. He just told us to get in and took us to the bus station and didn’t ask for a piastre.
From there we hung around the bus station waving away the touts until the bus arrived. In a strong bargaining position we took up an offer from the most persistent tout to take us to Dahab for E£20 each. The bus would have costed slightly less but this way took us straight to where we wanted to stay..
In our taxi was a girl who paid E£90 for the same journey and a couple who paid E£250 each from the airport. A private taxi should cost at least half that. At the end of the journey our tout/driver suggested that, because he’d ripped everyone else off, we should pay more too. We told him to piss off.
* Getting around: you might want to get to and from the bus station by taxi but otherwise there will be little need for transportation in Dahab other than walking.
* Saving money: haggle for everything. Water, accommodation, meals, everything.