You are sure to encounter the Pyramid touts as you make your way down the road leading to the monuments. They apparently sell different sorts of trinkets... and also rides on camels and horses.
If you really want to ride a camel or a horse its good to know a few things.
Unique Suggestions: First, find out the current price for riding a camel/horse before you head to the pyramids. You can inquire at the hotel or with an up to date travel book so you will know where you'll stand.
I asked what the average price was when I got back to the hotel and I was told the price should be around 10 dollars. I will raise my hand and admit that I paid about 20 dollars for a horse ride. I am sure others have paid twice that, so I don't feel so bad... but I learned a lesson.
Second, be very clear to the camel/horse guy that you want to see the pyramids. I say that because they might try to give you a quick little tour and then quickly usher you to a papyrus shop nearby. If you dont want to go to a papyrus shop be clear that you have no interest and that you want to see the Pyramids.
Lastly, if you are a woman do not allow the camel guy to climb on behind you. When I rode the horse my guide was a man and a young boy. They helped me get on the horse, but I managed to trot along on my own. It was fine.
But I have read accounts where some women have been groped because they allowed the camel guy to ride with them, so if you don't want to ruin your Pyramids experience then follow this tip.
Often I tried to convince my new fellow-crewmembers and cruise-passengers to simply boycott the Paphyrus-Institute , but somehow these people in the shops know a lot of tricks how to get rid of their stuff anyway.
They always started with a small demonstration, showing how Papyrus was made by the ancient egyptians, and then they led the people to the shop and started to tell them , that ONLY they have the genuine kind of papyrus , provided with a certificate-stamp....
Unique Suggestions: Haggling is possible all over Egypt in all tourist-shops, BUT NOT in the Paphyrus-Institute !
Fun Alternatives: I may highly recommend to look for that kind of souvenir at other places first !
Have a look at flea-markets in your home-country and in the type of shop selling carpets or exotic furniture and arts - mostly they also have a big choice of such cheap prints for really cheap prices.
Make a google-search for these prints and get them for almost nothing !!!
ON my picture : another print 50cm x 40cm on "Real paphrhus" with the "genuine stamp-certificate" on the backside sold for 5 Euros in Germany in 2004 !!
The notorious Papyrhus-institute in Kairo - just a few hundred meters from the famous pyramids is nothing else than a terrible tourist-trap with overpriced prints made in the style of the ancient egypts.
You cannot book any tour from a cruise-port like e.g. Alexandria to Kairo without going to the Papyrus-institute as well, and the biggest problem is that you pay 150 - 200 $ for an exhausting daytour to see the pyramids, and you have a total of 20-40 minutes at the pyramids and about 2 hours inside the Papyrus-institute - the time there actually depending on the number of people , who are willing and silly enough to pay prices between 50 and 250 $ for simple prints on papyrus , that you may get for 2-5 $ also at the bazars of Alexandria.
Unique Suggestions: This fact is a well-known tourist-trap , but there is absolutely NO way to get a single bus for a cruise-company ( and they need 15-25 all at the same time) without a stay inside this shop, where you get a short demonstration, how the Papyrus was made, and then you may have a look around and see all these ";-))Precious and Unique handpainted originals on handmade Papyrus;-))" that is nothing else than a print out of a mass-production and a clever managment behind it.
A good percentage of the over-charged money is obviously going to the driver, tourguides and bus-companies...
Fun Alternatives: These kinds of prints on Papyrhus make a great souvenir and you simply have to take a look around the bazars and shopping-stands in the streets - you get the same things for just a few Dollars...
b.t.w. : the papyrhus-print on my picture was offered for 5 Euros in a shop in Passau / Germany recently :-))
Around the pyramids, there are tons of camel drivers trying to sell you a ride. If they let you take a picture with them, they will want money, so just be careful and get a picture from a distance if all you want is a photo. If you do want a ride, just decide on a price and be firm about sticking with it. Plus, it's a rare experience, so just have fun and be prepared for the haggling and don't let it get to you.
Unique Suggestions: Be firm and settle on the price of the ride before you get on the camel.
On our trip we were offered the opportunity to go down into the Pyramid of Menkaure. Although this seems like it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see what it was like to go into one of these large chambers, we found that it was not that exciting, you were rushed through it, and it was extremely claustrophobic. Were there any cool inscriptions down there, or anything left to the same integrity of its original state? No....
Also, you can not bring your camera with you anyway, so it is really not worth it in my humble opinion.
Fun Alternatives: Enjoy your time at the Pyramids, and take more pictures of everything else!
One of the main things that you need to know about Egypt is that everyone is after your dollar, or euro, DM, Franc, Ruble, or whatever currency you have in your pocket.
This picture is of a camel rider who harassed me for a good 5 minutes thinking I took a picture of his camel, and came over demanding a Baksheesh (tip) for the camel to have his picture made. Luckily for me, our tour guide had only moments before told me that you were not obligated to tip anyone, and the Antiquities Police would come over and get them away if you simply called for the Police.
Keep yourself out of an awkware position by taking a picture further away, or when they are not noticing what you are doing.
Just assume these 2 things. 1) The souvenir books they sell you are poor quality and will fall apart and 2) The water sellers will short change you or refuse to give you any change. Especially if your tour bus is leaving. That's why I like my picture of a Policeman beating some seller for being in the wrong area.
Have small coins or single Egyptian dollars. 1 Egyptian dollar is fine for a bottle of water. Walk away if they will not accept that. Alternatively grab the bottle from them and throw the money at them, then jump on the bus. These guys are THIEVES. Do not think otherwise
It's strictly forbidden to climb up the Pyramids in Giza. But everybody want to make a photo at the Pyramid background with oneself in front of it. So did I! As it appeared it was very simple! It costed only 1LE and a person who allowed me and my friend to climb up the Pyramid made several photos (though he asked $1 at first!).
I was very glad that I managed to solve this problem but while I was walking around the Pyramid several policemen asked to allow me to climb up the Pyramid! Very kind men!
In 1960, tourists wearing leather soled shoes probably found it easier to tour the Great Pyramids from the back of a camel, as my Aunt and Uncle did. At that time the camel vendors waited patiently in an organized line for the next tourist to arrive. However, at the time we visited in 1997, we had simply three hours to survey the area, and I didn't want to do it from the back of a camel. So, we had to dodge the camel vendors.
Unique Suggestions: I'm pretty certain that the authorities are aware of this problem, but in all reality, I don't blame the locals for wanting to make a fast buck. This area is large and for those not fit to hike, a camel ride might be just the thing. I would certainly bargain hard though as there are plenty of camel ride vendors hanging around. If you don't want a ride tell the vendor "La ShooKron", which means "no thankyou". Besides camels, there are also plenty of donkeys and horses around.
Fun Alternatives: In general, I recommend walking around the pyramids. Bring good walking or hiking shoes, and prepare for the possibility of a sand storm.
the salesmen at the observation point.
Lots of tat souvenirs are on display at a price, though bargaining will achieve a reduction . However, some of the carvings are pretty poor quality [better at Khan el Khalili], coloured onyx eggs may lose some of their colour on your hand by the time you get home. Onyx is onyx- not bright blue or red!
Unique Suggestions: Look, take photos
From the amount of stuff on sale everywhere people must be buying...
Fun Alternatives: ...then go to Khan el khalili- or if heading that way Luxor or Alexandria to get the same without being ripped off as much.
On your way to The Giza Pyramids you´ll be hunted down of locals trying to sell you THEIR tour, camel, donky or horse (especially if the tourist season is low).
They´ll try to get in to your taxi - firstly, try to avoid it by telling the driver (who´d most likely get a good commission for stopping).
IF they manage to get in - do not listen to their offer!
Tell them to get out or get out yourself. They will not listen to any sense. I myself had to be very aggresive to avoid them.
Unique Suggestions: Be extremely sceptical with the offers you get.
Get out if you feel even the slightest uncomfortable!
Make sure you have an idea of the price of what you´re buying is, if fx buying a tour or a horse ride.
Know exactly what is included in the price.
IF you´ve fallen into the trap anyway, mention the tourist police (eventhough, they´ll probably stay passive and they usually speak only a little english if any). It´ll might scare them enough to return you your money.
Fun Alternatives: Ask to go to the enterance infront of the Sphinx, walk to the ticket sales and bargain your ride from there - I myself prefer to walk.
Or organize a trip in a group from Cairo - although you might have a limited time available.
First time we have visited the Pyramids,we had no idea how much it`s charged to get a horse back riding,we thought we had bargained well enough but it appeared that we didnt,we were over charged for a horse back riding fee,now there`s a very visible big sign that tells you the exact fee for every ride.
Unique Suggestions: Take a look at the sign it tells you how much to pay,wether if you are an Egyptian,or a tourist or a student.each has their own fees.
To visit the Pyramids site for an Egyptian is 2 Egyptian pounds and for the foreigners it`s 20 egyptian pounds(about 3.5USD$).
For a 15 minutes ride on a horse its about 10-20 Egyptian pounds and for a camel ride is 5-10 pounds(1-2$).
Fun Alternatives: If you are a good bargainer then be my guest.
Be careful when you arrive with taxi to Giza Pyramids. The driver might take you directly to one of his "friend" who is by chance "the best" camel and horse owner and who can take you to the Pyramids without paying the entry fee! You'll be also told that the entrance is closed and you can go just by camel or horse!
Unique Suggestions: Do not believe them and insist on going to the main gate!
In the Giza area it is extremely common for 'cammel riders' to offer you a cheep ride on a cammel (1-5 Egyption Pounds). This activity is fun to do once! be warned it is a quite painful experience, especially if you are in shorts. Your legs and behing will be in pain during and after the ride, so make it a shore and cheep one. (the large sacks that they put on the cammels are really not ment to have contact with skin, very painful!)
Unique Suggestions: If you decide to do a cammel ride have long pants (this could be difficult in 42 degree weather) and make it short and cheep. You can get a ride all over the Giza pyramid site and Djozer. Don't forget to bargen.
Fun Alternatives: It's a do or don't activity, but you can follow my advise above.
The Arabic term 'baksheesh,' meaning gift, is commonly used in and around the tourist sights in Giza. I assure you that nothing is truely free and you will be hasteled and surrounded in to buying something. However, I did meet one man who actually did give me a free gift, after chatting with him in Arabic for a little while, but i felt so bad taking it that I gave him a pound anyway. But this can be stopped by simply saying 'no thank you' in the Arabic language "LAA SHOKRAHN"
Unique Suggestions: "LAA SHOKRAHN SAYID, LAA SHOKRAHN, LAA, MA-AS-SALAMAH"
Fun Alternatives: Very difficult to avoid completely, and it existed also in Luxor and Cairo city, and probobly more areas throughout Egypt. Its not much different then common begging but its easier to get sucked into with a baksheesh free gift.