Always try to book your train at least 24 hours before travel. If you wait until just before you are due to travel you may find the seats are sold out, or you may be told you have to get the sleeper service. When purchasing your tickets, always ensure you ask for the first class, air-conditioned, carriages, and not the cheaper second class ones. Your journey will be more pleasant.
Register with Egyptian National Railways (https://enr.gov.eg/ticketing/public/login.jsf) for purchasing your tickets. This will allow you to choose from a larger schedule, including trains that run through the day. Tourists will find it almost impossible to purchase tickets from the ticket offices, except for the trains which run through the night, and will often be directed towards purchasing tickets on the Watania sleeper service. This is especially true when trying to purchase tickets from Luxor or Aswan back to Cairo, where you are normally told that you can only use the sleeper trains. ENR do have the facility, online, to purchase a return ticket, something you will find almost impossible to do at a ticket office.
If you do not wish to register with ENR, your hotel may often be able to get a ticket for you, but please beware that this is getting harder to do now due to restrictions applied by the ticket offices (especially in Luxor and Aswan).
It is also possible to just board a train, paying for your ticket when the inspector does his rounds. This will mean you paying a little extra, usually just a few Egyptian Pounds, but it also means that you are not allocated a seat, so be prepared for having to change seats when a valid ticket holder asks you to move.
Please be aware that it is normally cheaper to purchase a round trip flight (Cairo to Luxor or Aswan and Aswan or Luxor to Cairo) than it is to purchase a one-way Watania sleeper train ticket, so make sure you compare the costs first (including an extra night or two in a hotel if you do opt for the flight).
Although there is a facility for purchasing drinks and snacks on the express trains, someone regularly goes up and down the aisle with a trolley, it is always best if you take some drinks and snacks with you. You should ensure you have plenty of water as the air-conditioning does tend to make you thirsty.
Trains are non-smoking, but you may often find that you can have a cigarette in the areas set aside for luggage at the ends of the carriages.
Though the bus service between Cairo and Luxor/Aswan is cheaper than the train, some things must be considered before committing to this form of transport.
The bus only stops once on its journey, at the half-way point near to Sohag, allowing you to stretch your limbs, have a cup of tea and some food and a smoke (buses are no-smoking).
Seating in a lot more cramped, than in a train, and you do not have the option of being able to walk up and down the aisle.
There is no food service so make sure you take snacks and drink with you.
These are very convenient for getting around the various cities, but be warned that the vast majority of the drivers only speak Arabic, so it is often difficult to communicate with them about where you are going and where you wish to get off.
This is a cheap and convenient method of transport, but be aware that the carriages are normally full to over capacity and that everyone gets on and off at the same time, using the same doors, which is pure mayhem if you are not used to it. Also not all the carriages have route maps, so if you use the Metro, plan your journey in advance, ensuring that you know the names of the stations en route.
For UK and Japanese visitors, Egypt’s traffic drives on the right, so please be especially careful due to your countries driving on the left. However, all visitors should be very careful as Egypt’s traffic is very dense and drivers have a disregard for pedestrians (this is very true when the driver is preoccupied by the conversation he/she is having on their mobile phone). Crossing roads is an easily learned art form, but always remember that whilst the cars are all coming from one direction, you will find motorbikes, pushbikes, and the occasional idiotic car driver going against the flow! Always look BOTH ways!
Egypt has one of the worst record for road safety in the world, so be extremely vigilant when travelling around.
Before leaving your hotel, ask at the reception desk if they can get you a taxi. Many hotels deal with the same taxis, which ensures that their customers are treated fairly and not overcharged. This especially applies if you are wishing to hire a taxi for a full days touring as the hotel will negotiate a good rate for you on your behalf.
When out and about, try to avoid using the older “black and white” taxis as these do tend to overcharge tourists and you never find this out until you reach your destination (surcharges for something or other tend to be the most common occurrence). Many of the newer white taxis have meters; some even work, but always ensure you have negotiated the price, and currency, before getting in.