Khan el Khalili, Cairo
ok lets get a crash course on this exciting but daunting experience. camera? check. wallet? check. persistent shop keeper swatting device? check. lets go
ok. first, what do you want to buy? khan el khali has loads of stuff, but most shops seem to have the same stuff! good to buy here - rugs, handbags (really good copies), perfume, clothes, papryus, statues, everything!
ok, now you're ready to go. now remember these things:
1) no matter how much you bargain and haggle, you are not local, and will not get it at local prices.
2)but also remember that the prices quoted/listed are a million times more expensive than what you will get them for if you haggle.
3) you will be invited in to 'sign the guestbook' or 'take business card to help my shop and make name for me and my family' this is just a ploy to get you insie. hen they may shut you in!
4) they are great with compliments! especially to women, just dont take anything they say seriously
stuff to say:
"kalla wa shukran" no thankyou
"mafeesh fluss" i have no money
"dah ghaly" thats expensive.
if you pretend you don't really want the item you WILL get it cheap. if they see you really want it the price will be higher!
We visited Khan el Khalili twice while in Cairo... The first time we were so tired and hot that we really didn't buy anything, we got a little lost amongst the windy streets and we hardly took notice of what was in the shops...
The second time we were much more refreshed and we were about to leave Egypt so we spent a few hours wandering around looking for some things to bring back home and we ate at one of the cafes at the entrance to the bazaar.
What to buy: You can buy all sorts of things at the bazaar...clothes, sheesha pipes, toy camels, souvineers, jewellery, t-shirts, hats, spices, antiques, cushion covers/sheet sets, musical instruments, belly dancing outfits, local foods, scarves/pashminas etc.
What to pay: Always haggle and never pay the first price they ask...you can usually get them down to 20- 40% of the original price!!! Sometimes it's really not worth the bother (for the few cents extra it might cost) but if you're in the mood then give it a go.
One of the great attractions of Islamic Cairo is the great market of Khan el Khalili. It was named after Prince Jaharkas Al Khalili, who was one of the powerful Mamluke princes in the 14th century. It may seem like a tourist trap but take a look down some of the side streets and you'll see things you wouldn't expect as well as quite a few locals bargaining away. You can get just about anything in this market but remember to bargain. Other than that, just take in one of the great souks of the Middle East and have fun.
Well I tried to smoke Sisha in one of the coffe houses and I enjoyed it so much that I just had to buy one of these waterpipes.
And Khan al Khalili market was the right place to find almost anything you want. But bargain hard , its just like a game, some tourists dont understand it and pay prices up to 10 times more then they should.
I needed a small pipe to bring with me and I looked at several , I ended up in a shop with younger boys, and trying to bargain with them was actually quite easy,
The price for a complete package waterpipe was LE 80 but I ended up paying only LE 25 , it must have been a good price because the boys nearly cried when I left them....
What to buy: Egyptian waterpipes.........
And you need some fruit tobacco 250g price only 10 pounds.
What to pay: Everything half the price or more than that after bargaining
This ist he most famous and the oldest market in Cairo. Is full of athmosphere and fulfilled of every kind of stuff you would need.
Actually ,as a touristic place, you will see only touristic stuff, but some items are really appreciable, like the water pipe, the most common item.
As always, remember that the price called is simply thousand time higher then the real one, so simply bargain or check other places…
Not quite in Khan el Khalili, if you consider it the main "souq" street, but still in the souq nonetheless: the spice souq, which is not as large as one would expect it.
What to buy: Buy all sorts of spices - and in particular buy those that:
a) you can't find at home
b) at home have ridiculous prices.
Of course the best buy is saffron (and make sure you are not sold corcuma). Break it in your hand and smell it... if the aroma is intense, the saffron is good (plus you show the salesperson that you know what you're buying)
What to pay: we paid about 2 euros for 200 grams - which is quite a large bag.
This is a village called KERDASAA . It's about 13 km's away from the pyramids. You can find some very cheap cotton of fantastic quality. Souvenires, silver, everything in just one place.
It's cheaper than Khan El-Khalili! But don't forget to bargain. Be prepared to pay the price for tourists, but if you do your job good, it's still going to be cheaper than back home.
What to buy: Kerdasaa is also known as Cotton Village. Cotton is very cheap there and you can find more than nice things there. I have bought two beautiful galabea blouses there for about 25 LE each ( 1 EUR = 7 LE ) and if that is not cheap I don't know what is? I know that if I could find something like that at home, I would probably have to pay about 25 EUR for it... There are also some silver and leather items there and traditional souvenires to be found in Kerdasaa, but trust me, cotton is the best choice there.
Apart from regular bazar shops, there are also mobile street sellers who would always try to sell you something. Don't utter your interest, like, I need papyrus'. Then half a dozen sellers would surround you at once!
When you had enough of bergaining and buying perhaps you wanna relax a bit. This is the cafe you may choose to sit down for tea / coffee / shisha (water pipe). This cafe is a pretty big one and said to have never shut down since 1973! But you still have to encounter mobile sellers whom you have to say no and no again politely.
This area would be a little tricky for women. If you are westerner, perhaps yo would always be touched by the people. A little nuisance, but all you should do it to ignore. Avoiding tight-fit clothes and perhaps with a cloth over your head may improve the situation.
This is a part of Khan al Khalil which shows a traditiona and old security measure. Notice the many different gates. During off hours they are locked separately. As a result, thieves and robbers may not organize to steal from all butiks and may not easily find out their convenient way.
Tourist buses stop in this area, and its also an unlikely touristic place. When you decide to buy something give a price, usually one-fourth or one-fifth of the price th eseller asks. Don't think your price is final. There would be new prices several times until both parties reach an equilibrium. So, the price you are thinking or ready to pay for ask a price lower than that, leaving a room for negotiation. That's the bergaining process and as one of my friends say, half the fun! Bergaining with smiles and jokes would get you a cheaper buy, usually.
Khan al khalil is the place, where you see the widest and largest collection of souvnir items, including papyrus, and pices of phraonic idols and symbols. This is also a big bazar area with spices and stuff of daily necessaitites. And this is also the area where you buy them cheapest or at the highest price!
Yet another amazing experience we had in Cairo was a visit Khan el-Khalili markets.
These markets are a labyrinth of streets and lanes with shops selling everything from tacky souvenirs to gold and silver, clothing, antiques and pretty much anything else you can think of.
I was feeling game, so browsed the markets by myself. I made many new friends as I shopped - even got a marriage proposal or two - and saw so many great things to buy that it was too hard to decide and I didn't buy anything.
Meanwhile, Alex was sitting in the famous El-Fishawi Cafe sipping a Turkish coffee and puffing a shisha.
The markets are crazy, busy, crowded, noisy, fabulous!
What to pay: Better bring your bargaining skills with you!!
It's like visiting bangkok without going to it's famous chatuchak market. How could one not visit Khan Al Khalili, esp if you are a shopaholic like me? =P
From our hotel, meridien @ New Cairo, we took a cab down to this bazaar and it cost us about 35 EP. We asked the driver to drop us at Hussein (or Houssein) Mosque which is a very good meeting place if you are going with a few frens.
T-shirts are cheap there, you can get USD$5 for 2 pieces. You can get cartouches, perfume bottles, scarfs , souvenirs. a lot of things there.
Well even if you are not buying, you should just go and visit this place.
I dun know, when i was there at 10am, most of the shops were not opened yet. And from what i understand, if you are their first customer, they would certainly try their best to sell the thing to you.
So Good Luck!!!