MARSA ALAM TOWN – INFORMATION AND SHOPPING
To book an excursion to visit the town email Steven@marsaalam.com or contact Steven via WhatsApp on +20 1284332337.
Fewer than one in a hundred tourists coming to the Marsa Alam area ever venture into the town itself. And for the few who do, there seems little reason, at first glance, to linger.
The wide wind swept main street is virtually empty during the day, the architecture is uninspiring and much of the town is little more than a giant building site. However it is gradually starting to feel more inviting as it grows.
Already you will find several small grocers and souvenir bazaars, a hardware shop, an electircal outlet, at least two pharmacies, a bureau de change and even a tiny bank. So it’s a great oasis for those essential purchases.
But don’t rush off once you’ve filled your shopping bag. If you look beyond the visible you will soon discover that the town does have an upside. The people here are among the most hospitable and affable in Egypt.
When I stroll round this small town in the evening, chatting to the residents, I feel strangely attracted to the place. Everyone has a boundless optimism.
“Hurghada was just like this twenty five years ago,” says a man who has just sunk his life savings into buying a tiny souvenir bazar. “But in ten years this place will be bigger than Hurghada or Sharm. Buy property here. You can’t loose.”
The hotel workers, who live here, sit in groups in one of the various small cafeteria or in The Father of the Crazy Ones pizzeria. They play draughts and dominoes, smoke shisha, or watch football on an outdoor television. There’s always much laughter.
If you are looking just for tourist sites you may wish to forget this town and head instead for El Quseir, the Wadi El Gamal National Park or Luxor (see also our Where to go page ?) However if you need to buy a few provisions or wish to make some new friends then Marsa Alam town, despite its’ rough and ready appearance, is the perfect place.
PLACES TO STAY IN TOWN
If you prefer to stay in or close to the town you can usually few apartments and small hotels mostly located only a short walk away from the town centre. As of 11 February 2022 there were several places listed to stay on on Airbnb (not all were located in the town) including a small flat at £14 a night which was reasonably highly rated at an average of 4.78 stars based on 19 reviews (though I’m sure about its location) and apartments of varying size within a house near the beach (but please also check its location before booking), also with an average of exactly 4.78 stars based on 18 reviews.
As of September, there were also a few listings on Booking.com (Make sure to search for “Marsa Alam City”) – As of September 2020 the two best rated were Ambassador House (9.2 on 26 reviews) with a choice of two of four bedroom self catering accommodation with own washing machine, satellite TV etc. Located just a few minutes from a natural lagoon on the southern edge of town. Also The Lighthouse (9.7 but on just 3 reviews) with one or two bedroom apartments, again offering satellite TV, washing machine, kitchen, bathroom etc.
If you are staying in accommodation without a washing machine, you can find a cheap laundry in a narrow walkway just off the souk where you can get a small bag of clothes laundered and ironed for around 50 LE. There are also two internet cafes on the main street that are currently charging just a few Egyptian pounds an hour and a bargain compared with the rates which some of the nearby hotels charge.
GETTING HERE AND LEAVING
BY BUS – The GoBus Company usually runs two buses a day in the afternoon every day of the week at 2.30 pm and 4.30 pm from Marsa Alam’s town centre (usually opposite the mosque) to Cairo for around 275 LE one way (as of early September 2020), returning from Cairo (Tahrir) late in the evening – around 11.45 pm or in the early hours of the morning – 1.05 am.
If you are using the Tahrir terminal in Cairo it is located not far from Ramses Hitlon. There is also a terminal in Nasr City. However please ensure you check all the details with their website where you should also be able to make bookings.
The journey time is about eleven hours over a distance of 790 km and takes you along a coastal route via Hurghada, Safaga and El Quseir. Disembark early at El Quseir and take a servees (minibus) taxi if your destination is north of Marsa Alam airport. The servees should cost you around 50 to 100 LE depending on distance.
Please see our flights page.
FROM MARSA ALAM
TO HURGHADA AND CAIRO
You can travel to Hurghada in two or three stages by service taxi (minibus) stopping first at El Quseir and then possibly at Safaga. Marsa Alam’s mowqef or minibus station is just on the northern edge of the town. It should cost you from around 60 LE per person total.
However if going on to Cairo, you’ll need to go to one of the major bus stations in Hurghada. El Gouna is probably the best with buses for Cairo leaving every couple of hours and taking around 7 hours and the price varying between 100 and 250 LE one way.
Last time we checked (as of summer 2019) there seemed to be three. One leaving for Hurghada at about 6 pm (and returning the following morning at about 8 am) and the other two, operated by Go Bus, which will usually stop at Hurghada (if requested) on route to Cairo, which both leave twice daily at 2.30 and 4.30 pm. However, please check with the GoBus website to confirm all the details.
You might be able to buy bus tickets at an office in Marsa Alam close to the mosque.
A taxi from Marsa Alam to Hurghada should cost you around 76 euro one way as of September 2020. However you’ll need all your bargaining skills. Try to make sure he’s properly licensed for the journey to prevent problems later on at the police check points. Also find out whether he wants you to change to another taxi in El Quseir as this could delay your journey.
We would strongly advise you contact Steven’s limousine by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone Steven directly on +20 1284 332 337 (WhatsApp) – for more information and price quotes see the taxi page.
Please see our flights page. The airport is about 65 km north of the city. A licensed taxi to the airport should cost you around 28 euro. Again we would strongly advise contacting Steven’s limousine by email at email@example.com or telephone Steven directly on +20 1284 332 337 (WhatsApp). See also the taxi page.
TRAVEL BETWEEN MARSA ALAM AND THE NILE VALLEY
You should always check on current regulations but as of the time of writing you can travel directly from Marsa Alam to the Nile Valley either by licensed taxi or with your tour operator if they provide excursion by bus packages. You might also be allowed to travel in your own vehicle although you will probably need official permission and you might not be allowed to travel at night. Expect to have to stop at several check points on route.
Although there are regular bus services connecting Marsa Alam with Edfu, Aswan and Luxor, you might not be allowed to use them on this route, although you probably have a better chance via Safaga or Hurghada, where you should hopefully be able to book via GoBus to Luxor. However please do check with the company regarding the latest regulations, prices and schedules.
Currently (as of early September 2020) you can travel daily by GoBus from Marsa Alam to Safaga (for onward travel to the Nile Valley) by booking the 2.30 pm or 4.30 pm bus. You would need to have overnight accommodation booked at Safaga and then take the 4.25 pm bus the following day.
The tickets currently cost 140 or 150 LE one way from Marsa Alam to Safaga and 95 LE one way from Safaga to Luxor (their website sometimes carries a promotional discount voucher code ) and you would need to add on the cost of one night’s accommodation at Safaga. There is a small chance if you take the earlier 2.30 pm bus you might be able to reach Safaga just in time for the 4.25 departure, but you would need to check that with the company first.