Shopping for souvenirs, gifts, scarves, clothing, ceramics, leatehr stuff, spices, vegetables, fruits --- anything, the Souk of Luxor offers not only items, but the most exciting atmosphere of an araabian market.
What to buy: Almost anything...
What to pay: Just haggle...bargain hard....
Our guide also took us to this shop for shopping of Egyptian cotton. The shop is full of various aparel made of Egyptian cotton and are of very good quality. We too bought a few but I found that the prices in India are much cheaper than this shop.
What to buy: Cotton aparel made of Egyptian cotton.
The use of alabaster in Egypt dates well back into the Pharaonic period of Egyptian history, and this is very evident when one visits the temples, tombs and museums in Egypt. New pieces of alabaster from ancient Egypt seem to turn up constantly.
The ancient pharaohs used this wonderful material for many purposes, including household items, ritual objects, and for a number of different funerary purposes such as sarcophaguses and canopic equipment. Some of the finest ancient artifacts made from alabaster can be found in the Tutankhamun collection of the Egyptian museum, where we find a variety of different items made from this material.
Alabaster is a fine-grained, massive, translucent variety of gypsum, a hydrous calcium sulphate. It is pure white or streaked with reddish brown. Like all other forms of gypsum, alabaster forms by the evaporation of bedded deposits that are precipitated mainly from evaporating seawater. It is soft enough to be scratched with a fingernail and hence it is easily broken, soiled, and weathered. Because of its softness, alabaster is often carved for statuary and other decorative purposes. The often-used term "Oriental Alabaster" is a misnomer and actually refers to marble, a calcium carbonate, whereas gypsum is a calcium sulphate.
Secret of the Desert, Queen Nefertiti and King Ramses II are some of the alluring essential blends offered by Egyptian perfume. But they are not letting in on a secret – Egypt’s sensuous history still shows through its perfume.
Perfume is the powerful aphrodisiac that can lift one’s spirits in an instant. The movie Perfume: A Story of a Murderer, adapted from Patrick Süskind’s book, shows the unexplainable force of nature that is smell. Visitors to Egypt who have arranged an Egyptian guide will be invited to a perfume factory, where they can experience olfactory experiences like never before.
First upon entering an Egyptian perfumery, the guest will be handed a shopping list. This is common practice in Egypt, and makes it easier to take down notes while the guide in the perfumery explains their wares. Then the guest is offered a drink. It is good to accept the offer graciously, and choose from Egyptian favourite teas like mint tea, hibiscus tea (kerkadeh) and aniseed tea (anis).
What to buy: We bought a set of 6 perfumes all in 250ml bottle, Queen Nefertiti, Secret of Desert, King Ramses II, Tut an Khamen,, Five Secrets, Lotus Flower, Flower of Sakkara etc. All are good and the total deal came for EGP 1400. I am personally using some of them and they are very good.
Please pick your choice from the bottle you are shown and tasted.
In Egypt and not buying any Egyptian Perfume? That is just not possible, even for a ruthless heart. But you need to go to the right place for perfume otherwise there is a 500% chance that you pay in foreign currency and back home you find that you have been thoroughly cheated. For this you need to depend on your guide, you may pay a little more but when you are spending in hundreds of dollars, it's better to pay a little more than get cheated.
Yes, there are hundred places in whole of Luxor or other parts of Egypt, who will cheat you just like that.
What to buy: Egyptian Perfume of flowers.
What to pay: Around 1000 EGP or USD$200 for a couple of bottles of 250ML pure perfume.
Books are about the only thing worth shopping for in Luxor. Books have the (in context) charming attribute of having their price marked on them. And you can even get remainders at half price or less.
There are several large bookshops , all pretty near each other. Gaddis is probably the poshest, sited slapbang next to the Winter Palace hotel, and also the oldest, the business having been founded in 1907.
What to buy: Books.
You can buy fantastic gifts and souvenirs in Luxor and it's not expensive. Mainly due to the heat and partly due to the nice shops at the Sheraton I bought all my souvenirs at my hotel. I didn't feel like bartering or trapsing round the shops of Luxor but I'm more than happy with what I bought and how much I paid.
What to buy: I bought a set of 10 large David Roberts art prints, a rather garish but handsome canopic jar, a piece of carved stone that looked liked it could have come from Karnak (but didn't I hasten to add), a book about the Pharaohs, some silver jewellry and a few little pottery items.
What to pay: The whole lot came to around £60 and the book was the most expensive item.
In England a single David Roberts print would cost you £40 alone and I got 10. Just remember before you start bartering the prices down just how much you are saving to begin with.
I didn't need to barter anyway, everytime I hesitated the price dropped.
If you're planning a self-catering holiday, visit Umar's in Medina Street - a good quality supermarket where you can choose to buy Egyptian food or English and everyone, Egyptian or tourist, pays the same price, the goods are price marked. Opposite Umar's there is a fruit and veg stall where you can choose to buy a kilo or a single item at prices that will make you wish you could buy a stock to take home,
For gifts to take home, don't forget to take a look in the hotel shops, yes some of them are a bit pricey but most are realistic - try the shops at the Isis - and enjoy the garden while you're there - Imaan has some beautiful cotton goods and Mohammed has some lovely gifts.
They have 2 product for body massage. One general and the special for warming up.
This last products is only for one few drops and that 3 times.
I will order that again and need A mail adres or faxnummer
Our tour leader took us to this shop in central Luxor to buy cartouches, which started at 70LE for silver ones.
I wrote my name on a piece of paper and this was translated into hieroglyphics. It was delivered to our Nile boat the day after.
What to buy: Cartouches, other silver and gold jewellery
What to pay: From 70LE for a silver cartouche
If you need good quality perfumes (essences) for honest prices, don't forget to visit Fikry perfume (and souvenirs) shop which is ca. 200 m from the railway station (Abd el Maniem el Addissy Street, El Mansheiea). Mansour will help you in his shop. Try Secret of the Desert (perfume for ladies) which is really beautiful.
Soliman's in Karnak is maybe the best place to go for essential oils - the oils are pure. Any Taxi driver will take you there....just make sure it say's "Soliman's" ourside the door before you go in. It is what they call a Perfume Palace and they have all the oils there that are available in Egypt.
The Souk is a long street lined by stores that sells all sorts of souvenirs and handicrafts. The place is a lot smaller but cleaner than the Khan Al-Kalili of Cairo. Be sure not to stray out into the small side streets (which are marked with barriers) as those are not patrolled by the tourist police so you might get into trouble unnecessarily.
What to buy: In Cairo, the main buys are essences and papyrus. In Luxor, the primary products are alabaster vases, busts, figurines or anything that can be carved/sculpted from the stone.
What to pay: Except in stores with signs "no hassle", always haggle for bargains. They won't agree, walk away. They'll call you if they suddenly change their mind but be sure to pay what you bargained for.
Twinkies sell all those sticky sweet things. The real joy of the whole experience is the packaging: select the appropriate size little gold cardboard tray, get it loaded by the assistant with whatever takes your fancy, another little gold tray placed on top, it's weighed and you're given a ticket to take to the cashier. No funny business here, I'm happy to say. Then your package is placed in slushily romantic pink carrier bag (think Barbie style) & off you go.
What to buy: I ended up spending quite a lot of money at Twinkies. The packaging may be a s camp as the proverbial row of frilly pink tents, but the goods are.....serious.
Bringing home a nice alabaster vase is probably one of the best souvenirs available in Luxor. The irredescent stone makes a great conversation piece when placed on a lighted base. At the alabaster factory, workers lazily appear to be making new jars, grinding them from a single piece of stone as has been done since antiquity. The visitor can try the grinding equipment and appear like one of the workers in a photo as shown below. I wouldn't be surprised though if the actual production facility actually uses power grinders rather than the hand tools seen at the "factory". But, then again, I really don't know. Labor is surprisingly cheap in Egypt. There is plenty of stock available for purchase, and the prices really are on the cheap side by American-European standards.
What to buy: When purchasing a vase, make sure that the stone is not too flawed with cracks. A thin wall is nice, but only to the extent that the vessel is structurally sound. After the vase is shaped, it is steeped in a hot wax solution and then polished. The wax tends to fill voids and cracks in the stone, and helps to bring out the natural beauty of the stone pattern in a permanent "wet look". Avoid appearing too interested in any particular vase, and bargain for several before selecting the one you want. Prices obviously vary by size and natural beauty of the stone and workmanship. It's extremely important to pack the vase in plenty of soft material. A broken alabaster vase is worthless. I believe that we carried ours in hand onto the airplane, and it sits now on a special base which I made from some hardwood and a flourescent lamp bulb.
What to pay: Bargain, bargain, bargain. The Egyptians will always go lower, and most of the time they will get the better of you. On the other hand, consider the value of what such art means in your home. The effort to make a good alabaster vase