The 2010s witnessed a huge boom in Egypt’s local tourism, as Egyptians started to discover that there’s so much to Om El Donya than Ain Sokhna and The North Coast. Egyptians now flock towards different tourist destinations all year long; from Luxor, Siwa, Ras Sudr, to Marsa Allam and Sahl Hasheesh. Every year — especially during the Easter break and two Feasts — it gets harder to book or reserve spots, whether it being hotels, restaurants and everything in between.
However, the two following destinations have accumulated a dedicated cult-like fan base; those places are El Gouna and Dahab.
The most common occurrence that you’ll witness from these fans is that #TeamGouna does not enjoy Dahab, and #TeamDahab does not do Gouna. As a person who loves both of these beautiful locations, I’ll try to delve deeper into this so-called rivalry and understand the key differences that make both cities unique in their own way.
A huge portion of young Egyptians dream to escape the crowded capital and live in Gouna or Dahab instead; consequently, some do take the step and move to live and work there. There are several key differences between moving to Gouna and Dahab.
Realistically, Gouna is a much harder city to move to and work in as it is very expensive. However, I shall be tackling the pros and cons of each city based on my experience with them.
When it comes to expenses, Dahab hands down wins this argument. Gouna is just very expensive; everything from accommodation to outings and food is way more costly than Dahab. Believe it or not, you can actually plan a trip to Dahab with a three-digit budget, but you can’t do the same in Gouna.
Accommodation in Dahab is very budget friendly, and there are so many options to choose from; from simple tents, air-conditioned huts, apartments, villas, motels, diving centers and hotels. While in Gouna, you’d only have to choose between luxury four\five-star hotels, or luxurious apartments and villas.
Dahab is just a big no here. An average trip to Gouna would take you four hours in a car, while the average trip to Dahab would take you (at least) 6 hours — not to mention the countless hours you’ll spend stuck in the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel during high season. To top it off, the number of police checkpoints that you’ll bump into on your way to Dahab is more than double the number of checkpoints that you’ll bump into on your way to Gouna.
If you resort to flying, the Hurghada Airport is still closer to Gouna than the Sharm El Sheikh airport is closer to Dahab. Also, flying to Dahab takes away from the whole Dahab being a budget-friendly destination.
Another point for Gouna! The non-existing nightlife scene in Dahab cannot be compared with Gouna. Most Egyptian party animals are #TeamGouna; thus, there is no surprise in having parties, after parties, and after afters during weekends of the high season in Gouna. However, this point immensely contributes to the budget point; as from what you can already predict, outings in Gouna are very costly.
The two of them are just very different. People are even expected to dress differently when going to either. You’re expected to wear something simple when in Dahab, while dressing up in a more voguish manner when in Gouna.
Dahab is much more chillaxing than Gouna. People who’d enjoy sitting by the beach to have a deep conversation, read a book, listen to music alone with their headphones or gather around a bonfire with friends would rather do it in Dahab; while beaches in Gouna are more party-oriented with loud music.
Activities in Dahab are more related to nature and how simple everything is, while Gouna’s are more luxurious and modern. Water activities are common between the two, but renting yachts or a catamaran boat are obviously more common in Gouna. You’ll find that Dahab includes more adventurous activities, such as hiking, safari rides and group Bedouin dinners in the mountains. Speaking of dinner, restaurants in Gouna are so lush that I actually stumbled upon a restaurant that serves burgers with edible gold and silver.
No matter what your preferences are, there is no doubt that both of these cities are beautiful in every way possible. And even if you belong to either of the teams, you should at least visit the other side once.