Khan Ali Kalili is Cairo biggest open air market.
It is somehow not changed since the 14th century and there are people that work here for generations. It is located in the heart of Islamic Cairo and in the heart of the traffic jam of the city.
I was disappointed by this market, looked more like a huge cheap and fake labels clothes market than anything else. What I enjoy more in middle eastern suks are the spices smell all around, here you could just breath the pollution caused by the traffic and the sulfur of fireworks as we were close new year eve.
Interesting neighborhood with different and unique atmosphere, its also a souvenirs paradise
Hundreds of shops next to each others sailing the very same thing...so it gives you a good chance to find the best deal! the secret word of that place is BARGAIN like a local otherwise you'll be eating alive!lol
Due to the few numbers of tourists these days and because the shop owners are desperate to sell you can take an advantage of the situation and get cheap as dirt prices.
In my opinion the coffee shops in the area are overrated and overpriced or maybe it's just our coffee shop!!!
From down town you can take a white taxi it takes 5 min and 5 pounds! in the return don't take any taxi driver's offer just walk a little to the main street and stop a white taxi with meter.
So what is a visit to the city of Cairo without walking along the fascinating souk of Khan El-Khalili. This is surely on the top 5 list to see in Cairo. There are about 3 tourists there who asked me how to go to the Khan during this trip.
This souq is built in 1382. When the Sultan Barquq started his madrassa in Bayn el-Qasrayn, markets were rebuilt, and Khan el-Khalili was established. It was also known Turkish bazaar during the Ottoman Empire, ironically there is also an Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul near the Eminonu ferry port and the Sultan Valide mosque.
Either you just walk around the souq or buy stuff like souvenir items, shirts, alabaster statuettes, shisha pipes, spices, papyrus, boofa, lamps, kilims, carpets, jewellries and all sorts of stuff, just remember to haggle with prices though. Start at 30% of the seller's price and work your way upto 50%, don't give up easy, promise, you'll get it. The souq is colourful and it's a feast for all your senses.
You can always include the visit to Khan el-Khalili when you take a walking tour of the old Islamic Cairo as it's within the area.
If you are acquainted with souks and bargainning this may be just one more commercial area. But if you want to feel the pulse of arab deals and feel the real Cairo you must not skip this famous street, and its tents and shops of any kind.
I must confess that we were not impressed, maybe because... it was one more... we were short in time... shopping was done...
Still as good as it was before with all the amazing decorations in the walls, you can enjoy buying, bargining with the very funny egyptians, enjoy the traditional tea and coffee houses like feshawy.
hey, Bargin........i love my people and they are kind believe me, yet i know they expect bargining.
buy everthing you can imagine but much cheaper than else where, the deeper you go inside the cheaper you get.
Wikala El Ghuri, an ancient Carvanserail where the caravans used to stay during their trips. On the ground floor a large courtyard for the animals with safe rooms around to store the goods. On the upper floors the rooms for the travelers.
Recently renovated, it is worth a visit (entrance fee LE 15)
On Monday, Wednesday and Saturday evenings a 7.30pm (but be there at 6.40pm when the doors open in order to get an entance ticket (free), there are a great number of people who want to see this show).
This used to be a real Sufi Derwish ceremony with some show effects, but now it is mainly a performance. Still it is a very good one and beats what you can see in the hotels.
If your ears aren't already damaged by a lot of disco fever, bring ear-plugs, the sound is tremendous.
Narrow streets, medieval arches, stalactite architecture, and fascinating merchandise characterise Khan el Khalili, Cairo's traditional bazaar, and provide everything one would expect from an exotic Middle Eastern bazaar. However, Khan el Khalili is significantly more touristic than other middle eastern souks (e.g. Aleppo), yet at the same time, the shopkeepers are friendly and less aggressive than some souks (e.g. Marrakech). Khan is in fact a misnomer, as the word means "caravanserai", rather than "bazaar". But Cairo's main market owes its name to the 14th century caravanserai which existed on the site and led to the development of the bazaar around it. Historically, Cairo was an important merchant town on the Silk Road and Khan el Khalili was where all the trade occurred. Today, this bazaar is an important stop on any visitor's itinerary, where the merchandise is quite interesting and better priced than other parts of Cairo. Silver, rugs, pottery, fabrics and much more can be found in these narrow alleys and shops. Take your time while walking around the market, and stop along the way to see some of nearby Islamic monuments too.
This 19th century Sabil (charitable fountain), Kuttab (religious reading school) of Ahmed Pasha is a beautiful example of Ottoman Baroque architecture. It was built in 1864 and is among numerous such charitable structures around Cairo, a tradition that dated back to Mamluke times. The school was located on the upper floor with the colourful wooden balcony, while the fountain was on the ground floor with the intricately carved marble. This small edifice is located across the narrow street from Mosque of Sayyidna el-Hussain, next to Khan el-Khalili. When I visited in April 2007, some restoration work was in progress.
The souk (market) in the Old City of Cairo is the Khan el-Khalili. It was considered as a major tourist attraction in the city.
We went there at night time and it was very crowded. I wonder how it look like during the day. Yes, you can purchase all kinds of souvenirs here. Most stores have small spaces that the seller has no place to stay inside. They just let customers to come in and choose their buy. When ready to pay, the seller go inside and collect the money. Very interesting way of running a business.
I bought a lot of papyrus, Egyptian t-shirts, lamps, decorative magnets, and many others. I believe the price is right. The local sellers are mostly friendly. I did not encounter aggressive ones.
You should include this in your itinerary. It is a good experience.
The Khan Al Khalili souq is a great place to wander around and shop in when in Islamic Cairo. There are certain sections for clothes and textiles, tourist souvenirs, perfumes, goldsmiths, jewellers, coppersmiths and antiques. Open every day, but quieter on Sundays, it is nice to wander the streets and see the ancient architecture as well as the mosques and madrassas. There are cafes and restaurants too such as the famous "El Fishawy", where you can stop for a drink and a bite to eat.
Beware that you do get hassled by the sellers quite a lot here, but this very common everywhere you go in tourist areas!
This long street to the south of the main souk is still quite a touristy area, but the further west you walk along it, the more 'local' it becomes. It also becomes increasingly narrow and congested, but the sights and smells more than make up for it: traditional clothes cheek-by-jowl with leopard-print; beaten copper next to plastic. Spice stalls give out their warm, sweet aromas, with chilli peppers adding their distinctive scent.
It's a wonderful place, and you'll find yourself returning over and over again - in 5 days we went there on three seperate occasions! I bought a light cotton scarf with some open-thread work at one of the stalls, and haggled him down to 15LE. It can be difficult to ignore the blatant guilt-tripping they use, since you know you come from a much wealthier country!
The Khan itself is a covered souk, built in 1382, and sits in the corner between Midan al-Husayn and al-Muski street (itself a market area).
Here you'll find anything you could possibly wish to buy, from clothes, jewellery and perfume to spices, musical instruments and backgammon boards. Not to mention the tacky souvenirs! Be prepared to haggle shamelessly!
It's quite easy to lose your way in the narrow alleyways - finding a decent plan of the souk isn't easy, but getting lost is half the fun really!
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around should you get hungry (see my restaurant tips for el Fishawi's etc).
This lively souq dates back to the 1300's.
Although it could be seen as a tourist trap, it is much more than that. If you take time to wander around you will find areas where many locals buy at this market.
If you do want to spend money, haggle!haggle!haggle!
What you can buy: brass items, leather, belly-dance outfits, prefume, spices etc.
You will find coffee houses and the market is very lively at night, with a great atmosphere.
A taxi from downtown should not be more tha 15 EPounds.
Khan Khalili Bazar is great to enjoy during day light and night time. At night time, all the locals come to shop, walk around and have some tea and coffee. Khan Khalili is the spot to buy all the souvernirs, but dont pay the first price they say. Walk around and find out first want you want to buy and then bargain! All from pyramids, belly dancing attire, brass, oils, everything! I even bought beads for jewerly making.
Wear comfortable shoes to to walk around. Sit down at the coffee shops area and enjoy the area. Its very unique. Dont get afraid if you hear some Egyptian talking loud. It can get a little bit crowded early in the afternoon when all the tourists buses arrives.
I did afternoon and night... so pick yours!
In essence, Khan el-khalili epitomizes all that is Cairo: rough, dissarray, unconventional, squalor but within the alleyways and cluster of merchant vendors is the spirit of the Egyptian. Enthusiastic, friendly, and inviting, though perhaps trying to squeeze those american dollars out of you... This bazaar is open all day and all night, and the hustle and bustle is straight from the medieval times. Youll find donkeys, carriage drawn cargos, hard working egyptians stocking up the shops, local elders smoking, old ladies selling produce and cleaning it with dirty water, camels, and every other random thing in LIFE! Khan-el-Khalili is full of life and never a dull moment.
Upon arriving in Cairo, I left the security, glamour and luxuries of my beloved Sheraton hotel and set out to see CAIRO on foot. It was hot, and immediately I was forced to adjust to the heavy traffic and noise.
Khan El-Khalili offers EVERYTHING! Upon delving deeper into the bazaar, I was quite shocked to find microwaves and appliances being sold next to shishas, necklaces, trinkets, clothing, furniture, LIVE POULTRY, SHEEP, and other animals, etc...
A must see in Khan el-Khalili is the Al-Husayn Mosque. For Shi'ite Muslims this is a venerated shrine, believed to house the head of the beloved grandson of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), Imam Husayn (radallah alyahim). Therefore, the faith is strong in these parts. When I was there, a police officer was playing a handheld drum leading a pack of woman mourners in black veils. There was recitations and prayers playing on loud speakers. The atmosphere seemed to be building, and I waited some time for an event to occur but nothing happened. It was just passionate faith of the crowd listening. Inside the mosque it seemed to be a beacon of light, and I felt it offlimits for myself to enter. It was very emotional the air.
In this 'square' is outdoor seating from cafe and restaurants, and closer nearby is the famed El-Fishawi Cafe which is a must see. They are reputed for never refusing a guest, by finding spots in any square inch of this cafe, which itself is not very big. The seating spills out onto the alleyway, and to find itself is only possible by turning a corner into an alleyway by accident. The decor is all very authentic from centuries ago, and strikes a balance between humble meekness and oriental quality decor. Everyone must smoke the water pipe here. try the mango juice. Popular to locals as well as tourists, fishawi is a fantastic way to spend the night enjoying conversation.
I wandered aimlessly through Khan el-Khalil for hours. There are no signs, entrance, exits, and your map probably only indicates the Khan with a large icon not indicating detail so be prepared to feel your way around.
You should think about getting some great souvenirs here, and if your budget is reasonable, you can get some impressive souvenirs for cheap if you bargain good. (less than half of the offered). Hot items are lotus perfumes, shishas, precious rocks (although hard to determine the purity of the materials), and rosary type beads.