Sunday, December 6, 2020

Ain Sokhna Egypt - Cairo's Closest Red Sea Beach Resort

Most people go to Egypt for either one of two things. 

•Many people visit for the antiquities:  The pyramids, Valley of the Kings, tombs, and ancient relics.  

•Others go for the beaches:  The Red Sea resorts of Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, or Dahab.  Yet, there are some other beaches that are less explored.  One of those places is Ain Sokhna.

After a short bus ride from Almaza bus station in Cairo, we turned south towards Porto Sokhna.  I wondered, "why are we going south?"  I knew that the resort of Ain Sokhna was north, towards Suez, but I figured the bus would likely turn around.  It didn't.  About half an hour later, we were in Porto Sokhna.  I suppose we should have asked to get off at the junction where we turned, but I did not know.  Now I did.  

After contacting our hotel and looking for a taxi, I realized that we were out of luck.  We needed to go north.  After talking to some people, we were told that there was a van/bus that went north and down along the Red Sea highway.  We waited with a group of locals who were very helpful in getting the right bus for us.  After a very cramped ride, we arrived in front of our hotel.  

After checking in, we enjoyed a nice dinner, a large room with a view of the water, and a private beach to relax under the stars.  The next two days were perfectly relaxing.  A perfect quick getaway from Cairo.  It wasn't anything super special, but as for a place to relax, it was just perfect and super easy.


What Makes Ain Sokhna special?



Ain Sokhna has something that makes it stand out:  A rather short distance from Cairo.  Ain Sokhna is one of the closest resorts for those who live in Egypt's largest city.  Going to Sharm El-Sheikh takes almost a half day (7+ hours) by bus.  Dahab takes a couple of hours longer than going to Dahab (closer to 9 hours).  If you want to go to Nuweiba, you are going to have to add about two more hours to Dahab's distance (11 hours or more!).  If you want to go to Hurghada, you have at least a 5-hour ride by bus.  Of course, you could fly, but after waiting to go through security and board your plane, you are going to have to add at least an hour and a half to your flight time.  

Ain Sokhna can be reached from Cairo in as little as just over an hour by taxi.  It's just south of Suez.  By bus, it's only a couple of hours away from one of Cairo's bus stations.  By the time you get comfortable on the bus, you will be close to the beach and ready to relax.  To make things even more interesting, you won't be surrounded by thousands of tourists.  The beaches here are pretty chill, yet the sea here is still a wonderful place for a swim.


What does Ain Sokhna lack?

Ain Sokhna may be great for a relaxing trip to the beach, but it lacks a few of the things that make Hurghada, Dahab, and Sharm El-Sheikh resorts famous.  First, Ain Sokhna does not have the same opportunities to dive or snorkel that the other resorts have.  Ain Sokhna is also a bit more dated and does not have the same variety of international-level amenities that the big resorts of Egypt have.  

Being that Ain Sokhna is not an international beach resort, you may find that most of the local people speak Egyptian Arabic instead of English, Russian, French, or your local language.  Lastly, There's not a lot of places to go out and walk.  You are kind of limited to the resort that you are staying at.  

Sunsets are beautiful on the Red Sea
Ain Sokhna is a fun place for little ones.

Why Go to Ain Sokhna?

Ain-Sokhna is a great place for the long-term traveler who is in Cairo and wants to get away for a quick weekend or someone who wants to see the Red Sea but does not have time to go further out.  It's a great place for a person who wants to enjoy a relaxing weekend at a low-cost all-inclusive hotel with a family. I don't recommend it as a replacement to Dahab or Sharm El-Sheikh (I've never been to Hurghada, but have heard that it's comparable to Sharm El-Sheikh).  There are reasons why the big resorts of Egypt are famous.  They are literally gorgeous.  Ain Sokhna isn't quite at the same level.  It's pretty.  But it's not drop-dead fantastic nor does it have the world-class diving that the other locations are famous for. 

Ain-Sokhna also lacks the surroundings that make the other three places rightfully famous.  It lacks Dahab's Bedouin culture, Three Pools, and famous Blue Hole.  It also doesn't have anything like Sharm El-Sheikh's Ras Mohmmad National Park and nearby Sinai attractions.  But, if you are looking for a quick and easy getaway, Ain Sokhna is a great place to unwind for a while.

There are many good, inexpensive all-inclusive hotels with tons of things to keep you or a family busy for an enjoyable weekend.  Some of these places include delicious local food, fun games and activities, comfortable rooms, and soft sandy beaches.  There are good deals to be found on sites like Booking.  Most of the clientele are local Egyptians, as tourists generally opt for the bigger resorts.  In fact, I would say that this only adds to the charm of Ain Sokhna.   It's quiet and peaceful, and that makes it a good place to check out.

How To Get to Ain Sokhna

•You can go from one of Cairo's many bus stations to Ain Sokhna (it's about two hours.  Some buses go to Porto Sokhna.  If you arrive in Porto Sokhna, you will have to catch a taxi bus north, which is about 30 minutes away).  

•Take a taxi from Cairo.  The drive is a little over an hour and a half.  Some of the taxi drivers try to make it take about an hour.  Scary!

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