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Cairo's best example of shopping local
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!
- Budget Travel
A central part of Cairo
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.
Wikala of Al-Ghouri
It was a medieval mechant hostel, which is located less than a hundred meters away from the Sharia Al-Azhar's entrance to the Khan El-Khalili market. It is open daily (8am - 7pm) and you would pay 10LE for your visit.
Khan el-Khalili Bazaar
The Khan el-Khalili Bazaar is situated at one corner of a triangle of markets that go south to Bab Zuwayla and west to Azbakiyyah. The Khan is bordered on the south by al-Azhar Street and on the west by the Muski Market. It was established about the XV-th century on the site of a Fatimid castle, which has preserved its old world character, although the shops now cater for the tourist trade (carpets, jewelry, antiques, perfume, etc.).
One of the old original gates guards the entrance to the original courtyard which lies midway down Sikkit al-Badistan (street).
Egyptian buyers generally shop in the area north of al-Badistan and to the west, where prices may be lower. Better deals for gold and silver are to be found west of the Khan along the "street of the goldsellers", and further on one will find the Brass and Coppersmith Markets.
You may watch my video-clip from my personal channel on YouTube: 5 min 52 sec Egypt Cairo Khan al-Khalili Bazaar 2007
You may find the exact direction with my photos on my Google Earth Panoramio Khan el-Khalili Bazaar and Khan el-Khalili Bazaar and Mosque
- Historical Travel
Cheap cheap cheap!
Yes cheap n good shopping here! Tip is to bargain e prices like way down e quoted prices.. e colorful beaded headdress goes for like 10-15 pounds...e perfume glasses in set of fives abt 25pounds (not those made of glass but of better quality).. fridge magnets abt 2 for 20 pounds.. e set of 3 pyramids abt 10 - 15 pounds.. e scarf goes for 10 pounds..10 bracelets or 10 bookmarks for USD1...
Also u can alwaz get a rough guide of e prices here n when u r travelling to say sharm el sheik or aswan etc n e shop keepers quote u a higher price.. juz tell them that u bot those at a cheaper price eg 15 pounds in cairo n they'll automatically lower their prices coz well ... they know u know e market price!
but do bear in mind dat they r not rich to begin with so do not go down too hard on e prices! have fun shopping!
Did someone say Cartouches?
I thing one of the best gifts to be taken from Egypt is buying a silver cartouch. Its two sided and on one side your name writing in english and the other side your name in hieroglyph. i think it is the most different gift to be taken from Egypt. But do not forget to buy papyrus papers. =)
And about the prices, two sided max. 15 USD for one pcs.
- Arts and Culture
- Road Trip
Is it a tourist trap ?
As I was reading the tips about it before I want to Cairo, I had a picture of how it should look like. The picture was wrong. I expected huge market but I am still not conviced that it is the largest matket in Arab world, although I didn't have enough time to "check its size". I found the shopping impossible, the sellers were to pushy so I found myself runing away even before I started to look at the goods. The few prices I mannage to pick up vere ridiculosly high comparing to other places.
The original khan-caravansary was built in 1382.
Day 2, Morning: Hidden Treasures
Yes this is a tourist trap. But as long as you are aware of this, it can be an enjoyable experience.
Tips on buying:
- Bargaining is a must. Offer 30% of the total of what they are offering and go from there.
- Don't show interest in what you want.
- Don't buy from the 1st store. See what the competitors have and then if you must, return to the same store.
- Remember, let the bargaining be a fun experience.
- Last tip: as a foreigner you'll always pay more than what it's worth. Just remember these people are less fortunate than you.
A must is to visit Fishawi's coffehouse ( in an alley one block west of Midan Hussein). Go there for coffee and relax. It's entertaining to watch the roaming salesman and the many women and children trying to sell you their many wares. Fishawi has a claim that it's been open for the last 200 years.
Go to Beit el-Suhaymi to see the finest example of a 19th century family mansion built during the Mamluk times. The exterior is plain but once you enter through the tunnel-like entrance you'll encounter a beautiful courtyard. Explore the many rooms with their large wooden doors, decorated walls and ceilings, tiled floors. Imagine how they worshipped in their large prayer rooms or gathered for intimate conversations in the family rooms. Admission is 20 Egyptian pounds. It's located down an alley off Sharia al-Muizz li-Din Allah. Ask the police for directions. They are always around.
Time for lunch! Try the Khan el-Khalili Restaurant & Mahfouz Coffee Shop. It's the only upscale restaurant in the area with the only clean toilets in the khan. Call ahead to reserve a table as they are popular with tour groups. (590-3788) 5 Sikket el-Baddistan
Why do I love thee?
I don't know why, but unlike Istanbul's Kapali Carsi (Grand Bazaar) which was clearly a tourist trap, I just fell in love with Khan el-Khalili, Cairo's (and arguably Egypt's) largest souk, which began as a small trading outpost in the 14th century A.D. Could it be the unpaved, dusty alleys lined with screaming hawkers? Or the colorful spice souks and the atmospheric ahwas (coffeehouses) filled with tourists and locals alike? Or is it simply the fact that most of the rough and tumble trade that goes on here are genuine, day-to-day activities carried out by the locals themselves in contrast to the contrived, mainly-for-tourist atmosphere that was characteristic of Kapali Carsi, which was how I initially expected Khan el-Khalili to be?
Lucky me, I was wrong all along. While many souks, especially those close to Al Hussein Mosque, cater to tourists' insatiable appetite for trinkets and souvenirs, the inner souks, hidden behind medieval gates and known only to Khan el-Khalili regulars and adventurous tourists, are genuinely functioning markets where the trading of all things essential and not-so-essential had been going since the Medieval period. All does one need is a genuine sense of adventure and curiosity not to mention patience, in discovering these hidden nooks and crannies. A good camera also helps in capturing these priceless scenes.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
The right place for shopping
This shopping area consists of numerous shops selling clothes, spices, perfumes, souvenirs and many more. It is like a big maze and it is easy to get lost. The shop owners would try their best to sell you something, but it is better to check with some other shops and bargain before buying.
I was surprised (in the nicest of ways) at the lack of tourists here. I am not sure if we actually even saw another Westerner & after our Pharoah Day (museum & pyramids) it was very refreshing and a very encouraging start to the day.
The market is hustle and bustle but at no point did anybody hassle us, try to drag us into a shop or interfere in any way. Everybody was friendly but most people just went about their own business.
Cairo is the place to buy things and we got a few really good bargains here. The haggling was hard but then the prices were so much more realistic (compared to places like Sharm el-Sheikh) to begin with.
Tip : The best time to visit Khan al-Khalili is during prayer time due to people mass on the streets.
Tip : The mosque of Sayyidna al-Hussein is here and it is a very (world) important mosque so you should take care to remember / respect / be sensitve to the fact that you are in an important Islamic area.
Khan al-Khalili should be high on priority and if you are a well travelled soul who is anticipating it to be a big tourist trap, you will probably be as pleasantly surprised as I !
Khan el Khalil
The place to shop in Egypt. Save Cairo for last on your itinerary. Browse every bazar you find in Egypt and street vendors and kiosks but buy only what is really local and unique and not able to be found elsewhere.
Save Cairo for last stop on your itinerary and save one afternnon to shop here.
Go to every shop and hassle yourself the vendors, ask questions, ask prices of everything you find interesting and compare. Ask what material is made of, try shoes, taste spices, smell incense sticks (buy only Egyptian ones-they are dark grey and usually found at mosques' entrances-the rest is Indian and we have that here).
Take lots of pics of these colorful corners and buy nice souvenirs (and cheap ones in most cases) for your friends.
- Women's Travel
- Arts and Culture
Cairo Traditional Market
I have read many enthutiastic tips from other members about Al Khalili market in Cairo. That is why I was really surprised when the tour agent who plan my cairo trip discouraged me to go there. It won`t be a good place to visit on a raining day as it is an opened market. It is still a very interesting place for me to see such an arabic traditional market. My tour guide recommended me not to buy anything from there for the souvenirs as most of the things will be made in China not Egypt. I wonder why their government don`t try to do some renovation in AL-Khalili like good parking places and streets. Mud and water will be everywhere when it rains. It is a good example for the ancient arabic market actually. No matter what others said about Al-Khalili and no matter how hard your tour guide try to force you not to go there, YOU MUST SEE THIS PLACE. Though you may not buy anything, you will be excited to see all the activities in that market. If you want to buy something there, enhance your bargain skill.:-))
- Family Travel
- Women's Travel
- Historical Travel
Walk through filth
After reading some reviews, this market sounded really cool. However, we did not enjoy it at all. It's crowded with people constantly bugging you to stop at their shop. Also, if you go with a child as we did, you have to watch out for people carrying large (or heavy) objects from running you down. The trash is disgusting and sometimes ankle deep. The people just sweep trash into the middle of the streets where you walk. Thankfully, it was early December. I would imagine this place smells really rank in summer. We do not recommend this place unless you are with a trustworthy guide who can get you in and out quickly.
Visit this great bazaar!
There are bazaars and markets in the world, but nothing like this. Although the Souqs are all over the country, this is the one with international history, beginning in the 1300's! The streets are narrow, the buildings are interesting and the products are wonderful. There are people everywhere, nice, kind and great senses of humor.
- Historical Travel
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