In our way back from the Valley of Kings, we stopped in a stone factory with some appealing statues in its front, where we bought a wonderful head in lapis-lazuli (not cheap). As a reward, the owner offered my kids two neckless of small beads, also in lapis-lazuli - he said and... it seemed.
They had it on when diving in the pool, back to the hotel, and, suddenly... the miracle! The lapis-lazuli beads where gone, the kids had only the string on their necks. Of course, the beautiful beads where... plaster.
A few people in my hotel had this happen to them so I was aware of it when the same thing was tried on me.
In a shop, cafe, taxi etc you pull out a 50 pound note to pay for something and the person takes it off you and turns back with a 50 piaster note and says you have made a mistake. 50 piaster is almost worthless whereas 50 pounds is worth about 5 Euros.
The notes are not even similar (one is red the other green).
If this happens don't waste time arguing just say you are calling the police and they back down straight away.
It's a sad fact that they think tourists are fair game and stupid enough to fall for it but alas it happens.
Unique Suggestions: If the threat of calling the police fails, threaten to punch their lights out - I did and it worked!!
Fun Alternatives: It can happen anywhere. It happened to me at a shop inside Karnak temple so just be prepared. They are scared stiff of the police and they know the police will back the tourists so stand your ground.
Watch out for a man named Sayed Sesy proud owner of Sisi Boat tours, Tel:: 002/0127638651 - 095/2389102 and usually waiting outside the Mercure Hotel, downtown Luxor, overlooking the Nile.... He will tell you that he is a tour guide and will claim to show you all the hiden sights of Luxor for a discounted rate. However, after taking your money (cash only), you will get only a fraction of what you paid for but the real catch will be the shopping trip afterwards in the so called "Government store" very cheap and lots souvenirs for a "fraction" of the price of your hotel... Beware this is where the scam starts he will tell you how the goverment shop is genuine and hassle free .... a few minutes later as he takes you down these alley ways with beggars and locals staring.... you finally enter the shop where you are immediately bombarded by 2 shopkeppers who keep saying they are hassle free and but won't leave you alone for a minute.... then a third man will follow you around and pick up anything that you are looking at and when you ask them how much they say they will tell you later...... For example, in my case, for a toy camel, a basalt scarab beetle stone, a sheesha pipe, a head scarf would cost me a mere £245 which nearly knocked me off my stool!!! I was so shocked that I wanted to leave but our deliberatly missing "tour guide" had made himself scarce and alone I managed to bring the price down to about £50 so that I could leave... of course I didn't have that amount of cash on me to which they very gladly accepted my switch card which didn't swipe and so against my better judgement I let them submit a manual paper charge which has only just recently been posted to my account (my holiday to Egypt was back in April) at the value of £59.... not from the Government Store but from "Zachary Store" which I can't locate the address in Luxor!!!! My gripe is simply being taken for a very expensive "ride" by this fool .... When I got back to our hotel, I found that the scarf was missing, the toy camel and scarab stone were there but the sheesha pipe pieces were missing and what was there didn't fit toguether! I immediately rang Mr Sayed Sesy who told me that he would take me back to the shop on the Monday morning (the day of our departure) because they were closed on Saturday and Sunday for religious reasons... which I later found out Friday is the day of Worship in Egypt not Saturday and Sunday like he told me... Needless to say he didn't turn up at the time that we agreed and when I tried to ring him the phone was switched off !! I packed the goods which weren't the goods that I had agreed to buy in the first place and on top of that ridiculously inflated in value (when I priced them at the hotel I could have bought the whole lot for about £10!) and left them at the Hotel reception for his collection!!!!! I am now almost £60 worse off and don't have anything to show for it!!! Not a good leaving memory of Egypt ... which otherwise was an amazing corner of the World to visit....
Unique Suggestions: If you must go.... price all your goods first at your Hotel and then half it!!!!
Fun Alternatives: Buy thru your Hotel or at the airport ... they usually have the same goods and they are genuine!!! If you get conned into any shopping trip that you don't feel comfortable in.... threaten to call the tourist police and demand to leave!! Pay cash for everything and do not hand your credit card to anyone!!!
Personally we did feel very 'rushed' on our Nile Cruise. Our intinerary would have been different to the one you may follow. An example of how rushed we were. We arrived back at Luxor during the early hours of our last day, a Monday. We had to bee all packed up and have our luggage left outside the cabin by 6am. Breakfast had to be had before this as well. The coach for the West Bank tour left at about 6am. WE all felt rather tired and stressed as well. We arrived back at our ship at about 1pm. We had no time to get out at the two big statues of Menmon but was told to take pics from the bus. Not surprisingly, the rep/tour guide whatever they are called, found plenty of time for a visit to an alabaster factory where he gets his commission.
When we got back to our ship at about 1pm we were all totally knackered. Our transport for the airport due to leave at 3pm that same afternoon! Many of us had long onward journeys after arriving at Gatwick about 2300hrs in the freezing weather. This last day was NOT an experience I want to go through again. By the way-- we were on the M/S Tulip and travelled with First Choice just for the record. The more people that know about all this the better. I have, of course, written to complain and am awaiting a 'reply'. Incidentally, on arrival back home in Wales my wife was admitted to hosptal for 5 days with heatsroke and dehydration. The gruelling last day did NOT help.
That is why my wife and I want to return to Luxor in order to realx and see the sights at our pace and enjoy it all. That is why we are asking for recommendations for local hotels on the West Bank. We want to thoroughly enjoy our return to Luxor and not be influenced by Holiday Reps who are on the make.
If you are going with an organized tour a crowd of people have already a set strategy to "milk" you. There is ALWAYS a stop both at a Papyrus and Alabaster shop. All what you might buy there is - even if you are coming down to a 10 % of the price demanded at the beginning is outrageously overprized. Not only the shop owner wants to make an easy money. Your guide and the bus driver get their share, too, because without them nobody would ever come to these shops which are usually far from everything what might be interesting.
Unique Suggestions: The minimum you can do is just to remain in the bus - think that it is mostly fairly hot outside and the bus has air condition.
The better strategy is to warn as many of the passengers as possible already at the beginning of the tour - you may argue that you all are going to lose precious time which you better spend in the Karnak Temple or the tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
And the best might be to give the guide and the driver a baksheesh at the beginning of the tour and to make clear that this is for NOT visiting these shops. I am sure all in the bus agree because those who really want Papyrus or Alabaster have in touristic Egypt thousands of other opportunities for that.
We could observe on our tour that the purchases made by our bus (the whole bus, not per capita!) were about 10 EUR at the Alabaster and maybe even less at the Papyrus.
Fun Alternatives: If you are not on an organized tour it is the best that your hotel organizes for you a reliable taxi driver with whom you agree at the beginning that you are not interested in any shop, just in the great sights. A fair baksheesh will support his understanding and you make really that out of your visit what you can enjoy. And the driver keeps all touts and other bastards around the sights at a comfortable distance.
They are so "nice, frendly and polite" ready to show you something or to take picture of you, the, things you have never asked for, but if you let them do it, they ask for the money. Than if you refuse to give it to them they get angry, complain, try to tell their sad life story....and at the end they usualy get what they want as it is just the easiest way to get rid of them..and story goes on and on again.
Unique Suggestions: You eather ignore tham or you can pretend you don't know the game and tip them.
I usualy went for the second option as it was my holiday and those people are realy poor. The worst thing is if you belive them as in that case you feel like a naive fool.
They try to lead you to a "better" place in the temple and ask you money then.
Or they ask if they can take a picture of you and your wife or family and ask money for it.
They do nothing whole day, sitting in the sun, and waiting for tourist-bait.
whenever you’re going to local market and feel interesting, do not too fast to take or touch the stuffs. make sure first before bargaining and touching, once you do that means you are agree and will buy it.
another trick from them in the local market is asking you about several denomination of coins from countries. do not playing and touch this also, since it means you’ll buy that foreign currency.
Unique Suggestions: give them smile and see the stuff from a distance. if you feel need to say, just say “la, sukhran!” [no, thanks].
Fun Alternatives: better to stay away from a hectic local market. wait 'till you can walk easily and comfy in bargain. no need to show off you're a tourist with too much interest :)
While you walk in Luxor you will be approached by taxi drivers, horse carts and normal people who will offer to take you to the Egyptian market and that it is only open on that day.
Chances are that they will take you to some shop (and they will get a percentage if you buy anything) or they will take you to the souk. In any case, all the shops and all the markets are open every day, the whole day.
Amazingly, we had taxi drivers offering us to take us to the souk while we were less than 50m from the souk itself: not sure where they would have take us...
Fun Alternatives: If you are walking on a road and don't want to be approached by taxi drivers, walk on the side against the traffic (they are less likely to stop and they cannot follow you).
Also, for some reason "La" ("no" in arabic) seems to be more effective than "No, thanks".
Another good way to lose their attention is to tell them: "I have arrived, I am going there" pointing at some place nearby.
When you say this, funnily some of the taxi drivers (or horse cart drivers) will tell you: "Maybe later then? I will wait here for you"
"Khawal, metnak, olla" are different names for describing a homosexual man. If you are one then i have to warn you from the trap.
You might find guys who pretend they are gays and will lead u to believe so till u r inside a room or so and they will start the blackmail game. They might rip you off of your money and still wont give you what you want.
Unique Suggestions: Dont show you are a gay and wait till you know what's going on around.
Fun Alternatives: Get to know the person very well before getting involved. Many murders happens around gay community in Egypt.
When going to most touristic sites you will be followed and surrounded by lots of men offering you to buy their original papyrus papers. It is not an original papyrus they are liers.
Unique Suggestions: If he is offering you a papyrus as an original one tell him No this is not Original and that you are the brother of picaso or leonardo Da vinchi and that you cant be decieved by this.
Fun Alternatives: If you are stuck by his hassle then give him a 3-5 egyptian pounds (less than 1 dollar). and ask him to give you the papyrus.
Dont buy papyrus from the streets cause they are not for real but a sketchy.
There are special places to buy them from. ask you tour operator.
The first time we left our hotel in Karnak we took a taxi and,as we had been warned, we agreed the price (30 Le) before we got in. When we got to the luxor Temple, the driver said, when we offered the money "No both ways, same price when do I pick you up? well he picked us up at the agreed time but when we got back to our hotel he wanted 90 Le. 30 Le each way and 30 Le for "waiting". So do not agree "both ways" unless you are sure of your driver. After that we were never troubled but I always made sure the driver understood
Unique Suggestions: Just make sure the driver knows what you are prepared to pay, if the first taxi is too expensive walk to the one behind. They soon bring their prices down.
One chap asked me to write a post card he wanted to send to England. All he wanted to do was to get me into his shop so he could pressure me into buying some of his papyrus rubbish. It didn't work but he was VERY persistant. It would have been easier to part with a few pounds but as my wife said "You're so mean, the poor man never stood a chance"
Unique Suggestions: This con is easy to spot.
Arriving at Luxor Airport there was a large queue of people trying to purchase immigration visas. Out of the blue an Eygyptian person summoned me forward and I thought he was guiding me to another place where you could purchase a visa. All he was doing was taking me to the front of the queue! Then he asked for a tip and I reluctantly gave him £1 sterling coin.
Unique Suggestions: This could have turned nasty for example if you were in Tesco and someone pushed in front of the queue you would not be happy. Fortunately everyone was in a holiday mood and saw the funny side of it.
When we were leaving Luxor airport there was another scam. Someone came up to exchange £ coins in exchange for Egyptian notes. I was offered 8 £1 coins and 1 £2 coin for an Egyptian L10 note. I checked the coins and did the deal but as he handed me the coins there were only 8 £1 coins the £2 coin was hidden in his hand until I complained and he handed the coin over.
Fun Alternatives: Is there an alternative? You have to use the airport but beware of Egyptians bearing gifts ( a habit they have borrowed from the Greeks?)
your guide, taxi driver or new best friend will take you to one or both of these places at least once on your visit. They are interesting but intimidating places.
Unique Suggestions: papyrus 'institute/museum/factory'
first they will show you how the stuff is made. This is the best bit..enjoy it if you havent managed to get out of entering the place by claiming you have all the papyrus you could ever need. Unless you actually want to buy any, and they do make nice souveniers and they are genuine, not banana leaves, here, claim the above...you have some....
the only place i ever felt pressured into buying anything, then the sales man moaned i hadnt spent very much and then complained i hadnt given him a big enough tip.
i did not unpack the carefully wrapped package of stauettes until i returned home. There were 3 missing and the remaining ones were not the ones we had choosen. Nefatiti's nose was straight on the one we chose!
Advice. Stay in the van/coach/taxi and if you do buy anything, check them wrapping it, or unwrap it before you leave the shop.
Fun Alternatives: the alabasta is only a few pence dearer from the shops....and if all else fails, buy it and any other soveniers from the airport departure lounge...its fixed price and wonderfully easy...lol