Hawkers and hassle, Cairo
being the number one tourist destination of egypt, the Giza Necropolis, where the Great Pyramids are located, has lots of mini stalls, hawkers, touts asking for alms and selling items and other unscrupolous elements like the pick pockets, photo scammers and the like. since having permanent shopping stalls are not allowed in the Complex, the sellers have wooden stalls of which they put the souvenir items on display while the hawlers carry them and aggresively pursue tourists to buy them. my suggestion will be to don't buy at the wooden stalls and hawkers around the area as the prices are sky high and they don't accept haggling and even act aggressively to you if you would not buy their overpriced items. They even gang up on single unsuspecting tourist if you would not buy there items at the atrocious prices and threaten you with bodily harm! even our local egyptian tour guides had a hard time shielding us from these pesky and lousy sellers.
if you are in a group tour like us, you can buy all the items they sell at shops outside the giza necropolis which the tour buses drop you off and you can even haggle for items you buy as they sell the same items you find at the Pyramids area and without the hassle and the physical threats and gouging!
since the current political situation in egypt which is less than stable since the 2011 ousting of Hosni Mubarak and the present Mohammed Morsi, the touts, assorted hawkers, sellers and the notorious pickpockets abound around the major tourist areas of Cairo and most especially, at the giza necropolis. they have gotten more aggressive as there are less tourists going to egypt because of the continuing political crises. don't make eye contact with these touts asking for money or the hawkers selling their wares or even posing for pictures in front of camels as these people will pester you to buy their products, for alms and even payment for posing in a camel or horse. Even our local tour guides almost had a fight with these goons as they were pestering our group and trying to surround us to force us to buy.
My husband and I decided to take a short walk to the wonderful Cairo museum and, as mentioned by others here, we were stopped by someone as we looked at our map. He spoke very good English and was smartly dressed in a suit and tie. He asked could he help us with directions, we said no thank you. He said he was a doctor and was not trying to trick us like many bad people in the area. When we said we were visiting the museum, he said it didn't open for another hour and we could have tea with him. We said no thank you. He said he was not trying to trick us, but just wanted to be helpful and hospitable. He was so persistent. We ending up crossing the road to his "pharmacy" which turned out to be the usual shop full of junk for tourists. His colleague locked the door behind us. He asked someone to make tea and then proceeded to try to sell us various things. Then he also asked for money for his daughter who is getting married. We explained over and over again that we didn't bring very much money out with us as we were just going to the museum. He started to become more and more aggressive. My husband became really annoyed and insisted they let us out. We finally escaped without paying anything, but it was a horrible experience. I was surprised to see the same scam mentioned here by a number of people. We know some lovely Egyptian people; I feel it is such a shame that these conmen spoil the experience of seeing an amazing country. Anyway, my point here is, don't get caught the same way.
Beware of the sellers around the pyramids. They will try to offer you "free" gifts but I'm pretty certain that these gifts are not for free and you will get harrassed.
There are also people offering to have their pictures taken with you but I'm pretty sure that they will want money for their time.
We have also been warned about the people who own the camels who will take tourists far away on a camel ride and then won't bring them back until they pay them lots of money, way above the agreed price.
Its nice to be friendly and interact with the locals but unfortunately, as we were warned by our guide, they are only interested in one thing and that, my friend, is your wallet.
When a friend and I were walking along the fence beside the Cairo Museum towards the front gate a very well dressed and well spoken Egyption man said to us "The Museum is closed between 12 - 2 but I can show you a government run souveneir shop while you wait". I was a little suspiscious but my friend wanted to go as she is a keen shopper. Well he led us across the road into a tiny little shop which was obiously run by his wife/mother as they knew him well and once inside they shut the door behind us and it was very difficult for us to get out. Eventually we managed to get out and when we got back to the museum we found that it doesnt shut between 12 - 2 at all.
Although overall the people of Egypt are wonderful, warm hearted people, there are definitely those who put the "gyp" into Egypt! You need to be on alert at all times and aware during your trip. This is not to suggest that it is unsafe in Egypt but rather hawkers and vendors will do everything they can to trick and pressure you out of your money. The following is a list of scams:
TAXI SCAMS: Cab drivers will almost always over charge tourists so be prepared to negotiate your fare before you get in the cab. If you are taking a cab to the Pyramids they will try and drop you off by the stables near the pyramids where hawkers will pressure into a horse or camel ride. Tell the driver you want to be dropped off at the entrance.
PYRAMID SCAMS: No I don't mean a pyramid scam like Amway but rather scams at the Pyramids. After you buy your ticket and enter the site, hawkers will come up to you and either ask for your ticket or try and take it out of your hand. Do not give them your ticket...they do not work there...they are simply trying to trick you into paying them for a "official" tour. Hawkers will also come up to you and welcome you to Egypt and then try and give you a "gift". Do not accept the "gift" under any circumstance. If you have to, put your hands in your pockets, because they will literally force the item into your hands. If you accept the "gift" they will then hit you up for a big tip and believe me when I say they are persistent. Save yourself the trouble and simply keep on walking. Often times the security guards at the Pyramids will motion for you to follow them and they will take you to a place with a nice view and offer to take your picture. Then of course they ask you for a big tip. If you say no (as I did several times) they get really mad. The viewpoints were okay but I would have found them on my own. So be advised the security guards are harder to say no to then the hawkers...the guards after all have guns.
EGYPTIAN MUSEUM SCAMS: If you are walking to the Museum there is a very good chance you will get stopped by someone telling you that the museum is closed for a "special event" for an hour. They will then invite you into their shop to have tea and or say hello to their wife. They will then proceed to pressure you into buying their worthless souvenirs for the next hour. So accept the invitation at your own risk. As far fetched as this scam seems it happened to me (I said no) and three other people I talked with (they didn't say no and ended up buying crap they didn't want) so don't be surprised if you get the pitch.
Yes, you need to prepare and pay exact amount if possible. If you are handing 10 Egyptian Pounds to buy snacks and refreshments in stalls on the street, more often than not - you are not getting your change. Seems normal to some vendors like the guy I posted here, he did not give the change to my family. It happened and he still have the guts to pose for a picture, lol. It is small amount of money but still.......he'll gonna do it to each of his customers???
Nevertheless, I still love Egypt and still like the people!
We didn't experience much hassle in Cairo, mostly just people asking if we wanted boat rides on the Nile or hashish, but a simple 'la shukran' said with a smile and while continuing to walk on, mostly did the trick. People may fall into step with you for a while, but if you keep on walking eventually they'll go back to their pitch.
Annoying, aggressive hawkers and "guides" at Egypt's tourist sites are well known, but one stupid scam really annoyed me. At the Pyramid, Saqqara and other sites we were often approached by officious acting people who would sternly demand to see our entry tickets so they could "check" them. Upon seeing that they were valid, their expressions would soften and they would act apologetic before launching into "guide" mode (and then of course want a "tip"). These guys are not official and there are no ticket "checks" after you enter. If someone approaches you and asks (demands) to see your ticket, ask to see THEIR ID. When they can't produce one, tell them to go away or you will report them -- that's what I always did. One of these guys actually had a police whistle that he used to enhance his official site police act. I didn't show him my ticket either and told him to have me thrown out if he had these official powers. He just kind of walked away.
If you're not going there with travel agents (i.e. on your own), chances are that you'll be approached by people who want to offer camel ride to move around in the area of pyramids. They're so persistent. Fortunately, we were warned by friends about this, that they were agreed a price but after a distance, were asked for additional money. You can just ignore them if not interested.
In our case, we actually took a cab from the hotel to the pyramids. Some two kilometers before, a man stopped the car and joined us. We thought the taxi driver simply allowed a ride for the local. They had a chat and suddenly we were brought to the camel agent's place quite close to the entrance - it was kind of the HQ for the camels. They tried to persuade us, but we just refused. We had to walk some 500 m to get to the entrance area. Even to reach to that point, a man approached us on his camel with his offers.
You visit Cairo and inevitably see the mighty Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx. But somehow you'll be led to the perfume shop nearby. It seems to be a bargain (something like half the price of the original French version) but somehow when you are back home the smell of your perfume is gone. Must have been left behind with the genie. If you must still buy suggest you just get the bottle and fill in your favourite perfume yourself. Pictured here is the man making a perfume bottle at the factory. But the beauty of the pyramid lingers on - a truly ancient monument wonder!
I personally didn't get picked, but I saw at least 2 instances where locals were following / scouting subjects and then attempted to pick their pockets. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially in the market areas!
as in any big city you need to be careful. i know its a bit nerdy, but i have a money belt in which i keep passport and money under my clothes, and a small amount in my pocket. It makes for greater peace of mind. Be especially careful in crowded areas, especially if your attention is diverted to an attraction or incident. Some pickpockets work in groups to distract tourists whilst another pickpockets you when you're busy looking !
People can really cheat you in cairo,especially in your first days.Because they threat you so nice and friendly that you can't think that they are cheating you.Everyone seems to be very friendly at first.But do not be fooled by this friendship,because even they show you the place of the toilets,they want bahºiº from you,and everyone has a friend who sell cheaper things than the others!!Be careful when they come near you for help and say hello my friend and no problem!!These are the words of the cheaters.If you want to ask for help,ask to the women.
passed a week in cairo had no pbs what so ever from people or taxis or whatsoever , just beware of the tour company you chose , the only crooks i encountered are the company i hired to guide me trhu cairo , it is "guide tours " in maadi , stay away of it . real unprofessional and crooks