Business is Business
No matter where you go, you will always get people trying to make a living, after all, that's what we all do.
It's not much different here, although one thing is. You will get the usual sellers coming up to you asking you if your English or German or whatever, they start by getting in with a few words, then they will ask you to buy something from them. Now all that is fine, and usual business anywhere in the world, but I found it gets really heave here at times.
Aside from the ones wanting you to take a "free" gift off them and trying to shove it in your hands, which you should not do as nothing is free. You also get those that insist you visit their shop which is just a few metres away, but can turn out to be much more than that. Do not go, do not follow them or let them lead you away from the safety of other tourists or your group.
Now Im not saying you will be dragged off into the distance never to be seen again, although that might happen, what I am saying is that once they get you away from everyone else, I found sellers to become more agressive to the point of scaring you into buying their products.
One person I spoke to told me that once he was in the sellers shop, the door was locked behind him and he told that it would be insulting if he didn't buy anything after making the seller feel he would make trade. He ended up buying something more than he had allowed for in order to get free.
When you approached, just say "NO Thank You", they all know what it means in any language, then keep on walking and don't look at them. You only have to say that nothing more, and you don't need to get angry because it is a hundred time a day, this is how they make their money, just business that's all. If they grab you or pull you, then this is a different matter agian.
When they give you a price for something you want, just shake your head and walk away, they will soon coming running after you. Keep doing this until they give you the price you want. If they stop hounding you then they have likely reached their lowest price.
Oh yes, also, don't take a camel ride away from the town, without it being arranged through a tour, as there is a huge chance you will have paid to get far away, to only then be told it will cost you much more to get back, much more.
Always use the arranged tours here, there are loads of shops so use them, do not use a tour from a guy coming up to you on the street. Use a shop, and use a shop that looks busy and like a shop, not a shack.Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Gay and Lesbian
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Beware of Ask-Aladdin Egypt Tour Operator
BEWARE this tour operator! My wife and I just returned from a trip to Egypt using Ask-Aladdin, and we feel scammed. The tour guides and other personnel were great because their pay depends on tips paid by travelers for good service. However, the owner made arrangements that were not what we asked for and paid for, and showed utter contempt for his customers. One example occurred at Abu Simbel. We had booked an entire day for Abu Simbel, flying from Aswan. We had traveled from America and wanted to spend an entire day there. Our flight was very early in the morning, arriving at Abu Simbel before 7:00 a.m. Our guide took us to the entrance where he gave his description and informed us that guides were not permitted inside, and then he said, “It is now 7:35; I will meet you back at the restaurant in one hour, at 8:35.” We were stunned. Why? Were we going to have breakfast? No, we have to catch our flight back to Aswan. Why? We had booked an entire day at Abu Simbel. No, the flight back leaves, and we have to get it. We had a big argument, but in the final analysis, Ask Aladdin had booked us on a flight back to Aswan where we had no other plans scheduled for the day. We had made our way all the way from America to Abu Simbel for a one-hour visit. Aladdin had never mentioned this schedule to us, or we would have rejected it out of hand. It was completely absurd! We felt that he had scammed us without telling us; if he had worked with us, we would have been happy. Instead, we felt scammed. Several other incidents of a similar nature arose on the trip, leaving us feeling very angry at this company and especially at the owner of the company. BEWARE!Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Luxury Travel
Luxor Karnak Temple 'guide'
The bedouin looking fellow who leads tourists into a corner through a door for great photo ops and a betrothal ceremony but insists you haven't tipped him when you have and asks all the party for tips!
Unique Suggestions: Give him a good tip?
Fun Alternatives: Don't be lead away from the main routeRelated to:
- Historical Travel
Yes, it is true that they all ask for baksheesh(tips) for their little service. But then you have to understand their culture. Even the well-to-do egyptians give baksheesh to their own people. Most of the poor bear poverty with good grace, while hoping for "God-give" rewards. So what is so wrong to give 1usd or 1eur to these poor people who have to make ends meet? Consider it as donation to the less fortunate and don't make a fuss out of it. I don't believe any tourist who travel all the way to egypt is so hard up.
Unique Suggestions: They always ask for more baksheesh. That is only their job to earn more income from you. However, you just give what is fair. People in Luxor is most notorious for this kind of act and very skimming too. I find people in Assuan are more genuine and much less aggresive in asking for $. In Cairo, there is a mix. Some ask for money and some not. Whatever it is, you will have a good and memorable time. One thing you should also know is that these people earn most of their living from tourists. And some of them know the tricks so well to milk you out for more cash. However, they are by no mean dangerous or violent at all. They are very welcoming and peace loving people. Sometime they raise their voice but that is their way to squeeze more money from you. Don't take it seriously and just ignore them and be firm. In fact they are scared stiff to be found out what they do to you. They will *** in their pants if you say you will report to the police. LOL! I did not threaten them that way but I have the feeling that would be the case. I don't know any country in the world where people are so fear of police like the egyptians. So, you can be sure there will be no blackmails or threats imposed on you. I just love the mischievious egyptian way. I find it is so endearing. Enjoy your holiday in egypt. I wish I could go back there soon again.
Fun Alternatives: Stay at home and don't go anywhere.
Wherever you go in Egypt you will find people asking for bakhsheesh , either openly or discretely by using the phrase 'eeya khidma? ' or 'haga taani?".
Tipping is a way of life to the Egyptians; the rich give to the poor . It is a way of making sure that everyone gets a share. The majority of Egyptians are very poor indeed by western standards and depend on tips to live. Children learn from an early age to offer to carry bags, open doors etc and expect to be rewarded for it. What they get contributes to the family income.
Unique Suggestions: Usually 1 EP is sufficient if someone tells you the way, carries your shopping or brings you a towel etc. Of course they'd love more, but if you are tipping everyone, it can become expensive.
Fun Alternatives: So if you take a picture of your friends or children on a camel, do give the owner something, at least the camel might be fed!
If you absolutely will not tip, at least do smile and say thank you [shukran] nicely and turn down the offer of help. Don't shout or lose your temper, just calmly walk away.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Beware of those "helpful" Egyptians!
Everywhere, from the pyramids to the museum to anywhere in the street, there are people that offer their services - at a fee as you will learn later - of course.
Beware of the camel riders at the pyramids who want you to pose with them and their camels for photos - they don't accept small change for the favor.
Shake off the so-called guide at the museum as soon as you have your ticket - unless you want to be 'guided' by a very expensive self-made guide.
Beware of people that stop you in sthe street and invite you to their shops for coffee - it is not just a friendly invitation.
Beware of people that volunteer to tell you that they are 'doctors' and can fix any problem that you may have - they want your money!Related to:
- Family Travel
The Factory Stores
Alas, the day is not over before a visit to the "Perfume Factory" where as expected everything is hugely overpriced. This is at the urging of our guide who I’m sure is hopeful we will buy so he can get some commission!...There are also the Carpet Factory School , etc etc
It is wise to resist the urge to buy as these are truly tourist dollar grabs . You can find all these things for less money in the market!!Related to:
- Women's Travel
Alright, just coming into the airport, you'll probably have problems. If you tip, only give 2LE AT MOST. On my most recent trip, I had a guy ask for 20 USD from me; not only did he forfeit his tip, I told him if he pulled anything, I'd tell the police. All this because he moved 1 bag of mine 5 feet... Anyways, he got freaked out, figured I was local, and ran off.
Know that all of these people are afraid of the police. If you encounter problems, don't hesitate to tell officers *immediately.* Don't be afraid to even threaten to use the police. If people bother you, wave your right hand at the ground while it's at hip level while saying Laa shukran. It's the native way to decline and they go away sooner. Do not tip to make people go away. I know it's tempting, but it only encourages them. Instead, tell them you will contact the police or yell.
Do not be afraid to pitch a fit. Living here, I've found that pitching a fit is sometimes the only way to get things done. If someone rips you off, start hollering and ask for the police. Again, everyone's afraid of the police. As much as you may want to help these people as they are very poor, realize that you can do so by positive reinforcement (tipping a good transaction or cabbie, etc) instead of encouraging them to rip you off.
Women, shorts and tank tops are a horrible idea here. You don't have to dress like me (abaya and hijab) but if you want people to leave you alone, it helps. If you go into a mosque, please cover yourselves; while it's a beautiful place for you, it's an area of worship for us and it's a bit offensive to be praying in a mosque while barely-clothed people pass in front of you or gawk.
Al-Khalil Bazaar-Don't buy any jewellery here
Don't be taken by the merchants at Al-Khalil Bazaar. It's a good place to shop for a souvenir but don't buy the jewellery. They overcharge you for FAKE jewellery. Luckily my wife and I were not taken because my wife knows her jewellery. To tell if its real gold or silver first check for a stamp on it telling you how many carats it is. Second rub the gold or silver if it smells like metal its fake if there is no smell then its real. Be smart and you won't be had.
Unique Suggestions: Shop around its a good place to buy your souvenirs in Egypt. Haggle with the merchants and I guarantee you they will drop their prices.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Dear, don't worry about anything this document was only written between both of you so he can travel within the Egyptian soil without been interugated by local authorities and to safe gaurd himself (sorry to say so) well as always said life is a school so don't look behind, just remember the nice days and places you have visited in Egypt. The paper does not stand infront of court.
The whole Kairo seems to be a tourist trap
It seems where ever you are in Kairo, especially near the pyramids, everybody wants to make money out of you. An invitation for tea, with the casual conversation and friendship-offers and "true interest" in you changes after a while in offers of Camel trips and exclusive visits to the pyramids. It is done out of friendship, of course, and if you refuse, you have insulted them and therefore, you have to go on the trip to save your face and costs are only mentioned afterwards, different to the one's you believed you had agreed upon.
Another popular trick is to give you some "presents" like cheap stone ornaments and to exspect money in return. Nothing is for free in Kairo. Unfortunately, mass-tourism has spoiled Arab hospitality and genuine interest in each other's culture.
Egypt - Let Me Take You to The Papyrus Museum
If you travel in Egypt and have any sort of guide, bus driver, taxi driver etc. there is no doubt that you will be offered the opportunity to visit a or "the" papyrus museum. These "museums" are located all over tourist areas in Egypt and are designed to sell you papyrus art. When you enter the museum you will be offered tea and a demonstration will be given on how the papyrus plan is converted into paper which was then used by ancient Egyptians to record their history. Following the presentation, you will be be able to shop in a store full of these paintings and pick one that you like (if you want to). The idea of the whole thing is to get you in the store to buy something. Some things are priced reasonably and make a nice souvenir and others could be your ticket to the road to ruin.
Unique Suggestions: As I recently learned from my 3rd grader who is studying Egypt, papyrus was the first paper invented and the technology is an important part of Egyptian history. Therefore, you should at least go to one of these museums so you can actually see how they used the stuff. Once we were there we drank the tea, ate some cookies and then bought nothing. Fortunately, we were taken to another papyrus museum later in the trip and we bought three or four pieces for about $20 including one that they painted hieroglyphic symbols for our kids' names. They had fun and the tea was good. Have fun, learn something, and do not get stressed by the salespeople. This is an essential element of any first visit to Egypt and there is really no pressure at all.
Fun Alternatives: Go at least once and then if anyone offers tell them you have enough papyrus items and tourist junk to last you a lifetime and tell them you aren't going to buy anything. The only reason they are taking you is for a commission so once they know you aren't shopping they should drop it.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
Surviving in Egypt
THE PEOPLE & THE SHOPPING:
The people are very friendly but will drive you mad to buy things. The touting is everywhere even at the smallest temples, but you can get some good bargains. At all times SMILE, and be FRIENDLY even when you feel harassed. HUMOUR goes a long way, as does being DIRECT. eg. look at a scarf, ask the price in Egyptian pounds. Don't let him (very rarely her) distract you with how fabulous the scarf will look on you, or how it's hand woven from Egyptian cotton etc. - just repeat your request for the price of the scarf. Then when he says an outrageous price (eg. 100 egyptian pounds) just exclaim "No!" or "No thank you" and WALK AWAY. WALK AWAY. WALK AWAY. THE WALKING AWAY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Instantly he will come back with 'ok, ok, 80 pounds' or 'ok, how much you want to pay' - then you deal. You can EASILY get a scarf down to 20 pounds - but say this price, and KEEP WALKING AWAY until you get it. You may have to leave the shop and walk a few metres away, sometimes more, but 99% of the time they do come after you. Don't hand over your money until you've shown him what you have and checked that he has change, and you see the correct change in his hand. (and hang on to small change - 20, 10, 5 pound notes - hard to get and best to go shopping in the markets with lots of these denominations - 50 & 100 pound notes are very difficult to get change from in the markets). I got heaps of fabulous bargains all over Egypt, for all kinds of things, using this bargaining technique. Scarves and jewellery for 20 pounds or less, a beautiful camel leather handbag for 60 pounds, statues and ornaments for 20 pounds or less, to name a few. And it was fun! Most Egyptians enjoy the bargaining game as well, if you're fun about it.
We took a small Arabic phrase book and made the effort to learn very basic things like hello, goodbye, thankyou, how much is this, and 'too expensive' - you get more respect from the locals and more bargaining power when you can use even a little of their language.
Unique Suggestions: When getting a black & white taxi, agree on the price in Egyptian pounds through the window, before getting in. An average price is 30 egyptian pounds for a half an hour trip. If he doesn't agree, walk away. He will either change his mind or someone else will agree to take you for that price. When you get to the destination, get out of the taxi before paying. If he tries to change the price (which they do - sometimes they'll do things like - I meant 30 US dollars - 150 Egyptian pounds - so using the words Egyptian pounds when agreeing is very important) say no, and either give him the agreed amount or walk away. Make sure you have correct change as many drivers don't carry change and this can cause problems.
Fun Alternatives: La shokran (pronounced 'lah shock rahn") is the most important Arabic expression you can know!
It means NO THANK YOU! Use it as much as you need to! Saying this in Arabic rather than English has much more effect/respect with Egyptians and will get them to leave you alone much quicker.
Egypt is a big tourist trap. Once you enter the country, be prepared to meet the worst kind of people on earth, they will all try to be nice and ask for money afterwards. It's a third world country where you spend as if you are in a developed country. Not worth the time and money.
There are two types of modern Egyptians, the ones you can see in touristy places, the vultures and the real human Egyptians (probably educated ones) which you can find in malls and some decent establishments.
Don't get me wrong, the sites were amazing, the only thing that sucks are the people living in that country. They're stuck in their ancient world and they don't seem to mind as long as baksheesh is pouring in.
Unique Suggestions: Don't talk to friendly strangers
Ride the yellow metered taxis in Cairo
Spend a Maximum of 1 day in every city
You don't need to see all the temples, they're all the same unless you are deep into Ancient Egyptian stuff.
Get a Nile cruise, 'cause its the only way to have a relaxing time.
If you're in Aswan, look for a taxi driver named Toto, you can message me for his contacts. He's the only cabbie that didn't try to rip us off. :)
Fun Alternatives: If your expecting to see some cultural stuff in Egypt, forget about it. Their culture revolves around baksheesh nowadays. So, if you really want to visit an Arab country, go to Morocco, where the people are gentler and the culture still intact.
Papyrus Museums and the comissions they pay
Every tour in Egypt has a visit to a Papyrus (or perfume) Museum/factory . Be aware, that at least 50% of the price you pay goes in comission to the guide or driver that took you there. That's on top of the whip round that the tour may have donated because the guide is such a nice guy and so informative.
Unique Suggestions: On you own. Get your driver to drop you down the road from your intended destination, wait until he has gone, then enter the shop or factory at your own risk. Remind the sales person that you came in without a guide/driver, that means any marked prices should be cut in half for starters and then haggle, haggle, haggle. My wife and I do a double act, her wanting to buy the whole shop and me acting the poor man (sometimes it's not so far from the truth). Comments like, "the shopkeeper is obviously a collector, and does not want to sell this item, that is why he is charging such a high price" or "I want an Egyptian price". Failing that, ask for an Asda price, or "if I pay this, what do I get for free"
Fun Alternatives: Egyptians have a wonderful sense of humour. Ask for the impossible, a helicopter ride back to the hotel, especially if it's next door, failing that a free ride back to the hotel, calesh preferably (egyptian for free is 'bi balaash') of course you then run the risk of the calesh driver taking you for a ride, literally. Failing that, show your chambermaid what you have bought and how much it cost, then ask them to do some shopping for you. That way, you get some stuff at prices you would never achieve, she gets a comission (trust me, she will) and you will make friends with the staff.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
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