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A few weeks ago, I got back from an epic trip around the world trip with my son. We used Air Canada Aeroplan miles to book a trip that featured about 40 hours of business class flights. And while we stopped in a few different places (you can read the table of contents of our trip report at the bottom of this page), two of our major destinations were Egypt and Japan. These two countries were very different in a variety of ways, but perhaps none more than their overall cost. I expected

A Cheap Hotel

First off was our hotel. We stayed at the Staybridge Suites Cairo Citystars (read our review). This hotel wasn’t AMAZINGLY cheap, but at only 30,000 IHG points for a hotel in a pretty upscale area, it was a pretty good deal.

(SEE ALSO: How hotels categorize themselves (the difference between upscale and “upper upscale”))

And of course, since it was a non-US hotel, the breakfast and hotel dinner (evening reception) were way better than you would expect in a North American Staybridge Suites.


The Big Mac Index

You might be familiar with the “Big Mac Index“, which attempts to compare cost of living in various countries by determining how much a Big Mac costs in that country. The theory is that McDonalds is tied into the overall economics and supply chain of the locations where they operate, so you can get at least a rough idea of cost of living by seeing how much a Big Mac costs.

a group of people standing in front of a fast food restaurant

I didn’t have a Big Mac, but our combo meal cost about 80 Egyptian Pounds, which is less than USD$3. That’s about half of what a corresponding meal would cost in the U.S.

Ubering For Nothing

But nowhere was the cost difference as dramatic as the cost of taking an Uber. When we went from our hotel to the airport, we called an Uber. The car took me to the airport (about an 8 mile / 20 minute drive). I was blown away when I saw the quote from Uber

a screenshot of a phone

Even after I gave a nearly 50% tip, it was EGP124. That is like $4 USD! After this ride, I joked to my wife that I couldn’t even get an Uber to my next door neighbors’ house for $4!

a man standing in a desert with a pyramids in the background

The Bottom Line

I suppose I probably shouldn’t have been surprised at how cheap everything was in Egypt, but I was. I was definitely not expecting it to have the same cost of living as the U.S. or Europe, but I was surprised at HOW much cheaper everything was in Egypt. The downside was that you pretty much had to pay off the police for doing just about anything, including when my Uber driver arrived to the airport complex, or when we wanted to take pictures at the Sphinx.

Have you been to Egypt? Where do you think it lands on the list of the cheapest countries?

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