Traveller Hangouts: Dahab, Egypt

Traveller Hangouts: Dahab, Egypt

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.

Beer and Cats. Dahab

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.

The details

* 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.

Map of Dahab, Sinai, Egypt

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Amer

    Dahab was a big surprise to me. I think it has a really beautiful coast with far less tourist unlike Sharm El-Sheikh. I like the effortless transition between the mountains and the sea. Its a stunning view. We stayed at a cheap hotel and I remembered the bathing water was very salty. We ate at this seafood restaurant where the prices are ok, though quite expensive for Egypt standard. Though you were right about the competition and how they’re willing to give you extras. I was lucky since I’ve travelled with an expat who spoke perfect arabic and has been living there for 7 years.

  2. It is a lovely place. Dahab is the first place we’ve returned to and, though it has changed in five years, I wouldn’t be surprised if we visit again in the fututre. I bet travelling with an Arabic speaking expat opened many extra doors for you too.

  3. Have always wanted to visit Dahab. Hanging out with a bunch of cats, eating and drinking? Heard awesome, awesome things about the diving there — definitely hope I’ll get my PADI cert before we get to Egypt on our RTW trip.

    1. I’m still happy pootling about with a mask and snorkel on the surface so can’t vouch for the diving but everyone does say great things about it. Watch those cats though – they’re sneaky buggers.

  4. Marmoura

    Hi All, I’m an Egyptian girl and would like to live in Dahab is it possible? is it safe for a girl to live alone there? are men there real ones? would they treat me and protect me like a sister? i’m suffering of an unbalanced situation and don’t want to make it worst by facing any more issues i want to live in a place such DAHAB to relax and clear my mind and try to sort out my issues, please your clear serious advise is highly appreciated!

    Thank you so much in advance!!

    1. Shane

      Hi Marmoura, I see no reason why you cannot live in Dahab but as a male western tourist that spent no more than a couple of months there I don’t feel qualified to offer the insight you need. Instead I recommend you head over to the blog of Mrs Mahmoud, who we interviewed at She is married to a local man and has roots within the community in Dahab, so perhaps she can answer your questions.

      1. Marmoura

        Hi Shane, Many thanks for the clear honest advise, i will try to be in touch with Mrs. Mahmoud.

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