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Shopping in Cairo: Khan Khalili Bazaar

I fell in love with bazaars and night markets on my trip to Southeast Asia last year so I absolutely had to pay attention to the Cairo Bazaar so compare. This one works like any market and it is a great place to get a few souvenirs before leaving Cairo or Egypt in general. I will say that if you have been to an Asian market, I don’t think that the Egyptian ones hold a candle to them but I still enjoyed walking through the extensive and diverse shops. You can find just a bit of everything while walking through; from bags to hookahs to spices to oils, etc. It’s a fun little trip through the world of Egyptian hagglers! The amount of shops and alleys open is dependent upon the day of week for volume of business. Based on the set up, it is a little easy to get lost so try to remember landmarks with unique places or items so that you can find your way back to your taxi or guide if you are shopping alone. When finished with your browsing, definitely stop and have a bite to eat at one of the cafes near the mosque by the main entryway of the mosque. While sitting out there, you will most likely hear the call to prayer which adds to the overall ambiance of your shopping experience.

Travel Notes to Shopping at the Bazaar:

  • When Shopping-

  1. Go into your shopping experience with the understanding that the Egyptians are aggressive in their selling tactics. Do not be alarmed. Just go in prepared and educated on conversions.

  2. Only make eye contact if you intend on negotiating on an item.

  3. Don’t buy crap you don’t need just because you feel bad or pressured.

  4. Keep valuables like wallets, purses and valuables in front of you where you can see them.

  5. Haggle by starting with half of what you are willing to pay for the item. They will tell you if something is “insulting”.

  6. Try to only negotiate in one monetary value. If I started in US dollar then I stuck with it. I tried to use Egyptian Pound as much as possible in the markets however.

  7. BE PREPARED TO WALK AWAY. It’s okay to leave a negotiation if you are uncomfortable or you want to compare prices. More than likely if you still want the item and come back, they will honor the price you are seeking or your last negotiated amount.

  8. If buying items of expensive nature (like alabaster) then check the bottom to make sure it was not actually made somewhere else….like China! Also check for defects.

  9. When purchasing, always watch them place the items in the bag for you so that you are getting what you purchased. If your item is fragile and needs to be wrapped, make sure the wrapping is included in price and WATCH THEM package the item fully. The last thing you want is to get all the way back home and then discover that you have been screwed over with another item!

  10. If you choose to eat in one of the restaurants or get coffee at one of the cafes, verify the price for what you order BEFORE they place it. If not then you might end up with a surprise on your bill


Shopping in Cairo

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