Be careful when buying small stone carvings and papyrus. They will always tell you that those are authentic but most of the items they sell in cairo are fake ones. They are not real stones and definitely not real papyrus..so try to pay the price for a replica.
The national currency is the Egyptian pound, or L.E., which is divided into 100 piasters, or P.T. One U.S. dollar is roughly equivalent to 5.5 L.E., and one British Sterling will get you 8.4 L.E. But, do visit www.oanda.com for up-to-the-minute exchange rates (Oanda also has a nice “cheat sheet” conversion chart that fits neatly into a wallet.)
Egypt is still largely a cash economy, though credit cards are widely accepted in finer stores, restaurants and hotels. ATM's tend to be the least expensive way to obtain local currency. Note: Try not to have any Egyptian money left at the end of your stay, as you cannot exchange it outside of Egypt.
First, the currency. Unscrupulous vendors may try to give you piaster notes instead of (Egyptian) pounds when making change. The bills look quite similar, so get familiar with them before going on a spending spree. Also, Egyptian vendors are notoriously aggressive. Don't give them money until you've agreed upon a price and have your purchase in your hand.
When shopping for souvenirs eg. Khan el Khalili, try to have a summary in your head what to buy, and for whom. If you buy all the things from the same person, you'll save a lot of money. I started to remember late that I wanted one more glass pyramids, one more obelisk, one more... and ended up spending twice as much I would have spent.
Unique Suggestions: Laugh it off! Souvenirs aren't that expensive after all :]
I was near Khan El khalili for Friday prayer at Al Hussein Mosque and later took time to wander at the alleys. I was shocked to see these young shopkeepers surrounding two Japanese tourists forcing or threatening the latter to buy their wares. They are loud and look dangerous so dont mess with these kids. Earlier on I was also nearly duped by one of these shopkeepers to buy their goods, initially crying out their wares in Egyptian Pound and later insisted in USD. Luckily for me I don't look rich enough for them and let me go away :-).
Unique Suggestions: Walk fast and point your camera at the many beautiful buildings in the alleys. If you do get lost in the alleys seek help from the local ladies, they are more genuine and helpful.
The problem with Egypt is they are very low on the immigration list to the U.S. They have basically only two industries: the Suez Canal and Tourism. Plus, they're currency is ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS outside of Egypt. If you have too much when you are finally getting out, you can't change it back into real money. They are abysmally poor. And they do what they gotta do. Which makes for a really unpleasant relationship, between the haves and the have-nots. So expect everyone to be trying to squeeze every possible nickel out of you 24 hours a day.
You would think changing money inside the Airport would be a safe bet at not getting ripped off right? Wrong not in Cairo! As you are about to pass into customs there is a money changer there, he short changed me, because he knows we are all in a hurry to get moving. I took my mkoney back to him and he didnt flinch, he just looked at me and rehanded me 100 pounds extra. I went back there 3 times until he got it right. Dont let him rush you either, just stand tough! and get the right cash.
Big trap for new players!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Unique Suggestions: Dont let this guy rush you, count the money carefully. It is in english not arabic on the reverse side of the note. and make sure you dont walk away until it is right.
Fun Alternatives: Alternativly, change a small amount and change the rest at the hotel when you have more time to count the cash!
Whereever you want to buy anything , from a shop at khan el khalili or from a walking vendor , except for the supermarkets and grand shops like Nike or whatever (there is no bargain in such places) , you have to follow some steps while buying , in order not to get fooled with unfair price ..
1)all of the time , the guys standing out of the shops or the walking ones will call you to show their goods , you will hear some phrases like " there is no charge for looking " and others ..
well that might be true , there is no charge for looking , but once you step inside the shop , or once you let the walking vendor put the good in your hand , you will have a little hard time to get rid of them.. so do not do so unless you really are so interested ..
But whatever , if you want to leave , do not be embarassed , just say " I'm sorry I'm not interested and I have to go" , it is not a problem .
2) even if you are dying to have that good , never show an interest , on contrary , pretend that you hate it and you do not want to buy it at all , and you can just buy it because you want to get rid of the embarassing situation ..
3)go like this :
you : Noo,I do not like that ,eww , look at the awful drawing , how much does it cost anyway ?
him: it is for 120 LE but because you sound a good person I will give it for 90 only ..ha?
you : WHAT 90 LE?!!!!!!!! YOU MUST BE KIDDING , MY FRIEND HAS JUST BOUGHT IT FOR 30 LE !
him: no , that must be another one , I have another that costs 40 LE , but it is not the same quality ..
you ( leaving the place ) : yes it is the same , no , it is even better !! I'm not buying this with such a price .. forget it ..
him: just wait what about 60 LE ?
you :30 !
you will be so surprised how you can cut the prices that much , but believe me ,it is always like that ..
When you do your shopping, make sure you check your notes if they're torn or worn-out (when receiving your balance or when paying), becuz torn/worn-out notes have no value in Egypt.
Shopkeepers/hawkers tend to give you your money balance with these torn notes to get rid of them..and then you find yourself with unusable money!
I had a note with a little tear on it which I didn't even notice. This one shopkeeper refused to accept it. I attempted to use it with other shopkeepers, but failed miserably. I then went to the money changer to replace it. Again, they refused to accept. Nobody wanted my money!
Unique Suggestions: Basically, tourists will end up getting all the unusable money because we don't know this business. Please pay attention to the notes you receive. If they’re torn, kindly refuse!
Barganing in Egypt can be considered a "local custom" but in some case it really become a trap.
There is no tourist that doesn't know that he has to bargain every time he wants to buy something. In a certain way, bargaining became a duty.
It's true that most of the times the salesmen overprice just because is selling to tourists, but I think that almost all the tourists also expect to buy the things in Egypt for nothing, just because they are considering that is a cheap country.
I saw tourists bargaining even for a bracelet that costed USD 1- and I was wondering in what part of the world you pay as less as USD 1- for a bracelet.
It's probably hard appreciate the righ value of the products with such wide range, but it is also a matter of maintaining your common sense when bargaining.
You need to be really good at bargaining skill to be able to get real price here. A starting price at 150 LE can go as down as 30LE. So be prepare :)
Unique Suggestions: When bargaining, try to show that you are not really interested. The seller will make all their effort to make you buy it. Some will hassle you. Just walk away slowly
4 Reviews and 247 Opinions You must go through a street barrack and through metal detectors just to get to the elevator and get...
5 Reviews and 308 Opinions If you are seeking a luxurious trip to Egypt, then the Four Seasons Hotel is the only place to stay....
Mena House Oberoi Cairo Cairo
23 Reviews and 105 Opinions This is the best hotel I have been. It was Sultans Palace and it was renovated and started to be...