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Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

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San Salvador, El...
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Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

Hi all:

since it sounds like there are lots of repeat-visitors on this forum, I would love to know what you suggest are great souveniers to buy, and at what cost? I know this is a general question, but like, how much should we pay for papyrus? a medium size carpet? what else is there? I would love to know an average price so i don't spend hours haggling. [I am coming from the Mideast so some stuff may be sold here. ]

Thanks so much--

San Salvador, El...
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11. Re: Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

Point taken, Pausilypon. Was wondering if the Khan el Khalili was overrated or too touristy and you were going to share some secret souk someplace else. I guess we will check it out as this is a one time only trip and I do like a local trinket. Curious if we can get the same all over egypt? Thanks to all-leaving in 3 weeks -inshallah-so getting very excited.

UK
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12. Re: Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

JohnsonG... reading up on the sections of Khan el-Khalili might save you time. The Rough Guide: Egypt and other such similar books have plenty of information. There is a far better range of merchandise and than you can find elsewhere, in my opinion. Sure, there is the same tourist tat but there is much to see and do that will delight. I like the souks better in the evening in Egypt. There is more atmosphere, more life, more fun.

I am not normally a fan of guides but for those short of time, they may serve you well here. The commission they would get on sales is one thing to look out for. I wouldn't use a guide here and it sounds like your travel experiences will help you tackle this huge market well.

San Salvador, El...
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13. Re: Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

Aswan: Great--will do. I have the Lonely Planet's Mideast book and it doesn't have a huge section on the market but my Eyewitness Cairo must. Will be prepared-for sure! Thanks!

San Antonio, Texas
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14. Re: Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

When we were there in December, we bought a bunch of the papyrus sheets they were selling at the Citadel (cheapest than other places we went to). As was mentioned earlier, walk off and the vendor will follow you, offering a lower price until he stops. We took these papyrus sheets and took them to a scrapbook shop back home and had them laminated on both sides. They make great place mats for the dining table and gifts to friends.

London, United...
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15. Re: Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

I will be very controversal here :0 But I really dont like papyrus. Though I know it does make a good souvenir. Dont be conned into buying papyrus from a 'factory' or an expensive shop. The same stuff they sell for 100 dollars you can buy on the market for 1dollar (5egp)

Most souveniers on sale are made in China and not very good quality and get a bit boring because you see the same type of thing all over the Middle East and as far away as Bosnia and Andulusia!

Basically there is very little that is unique. So if the vendor doesnt want to sell it to you at a reasonable price just go to the next shop.

However when in Egypt I like to buy perfume. Its inexpensive and good quality. The cost is about 1 egp /ml. The little glass perfumes bottles are also very pretty and should come free when you buy a lot of perfume. Or you can buy them separately for a few egp.

Kaftans or Galabayas are great to buy for lounging around the house and should cost betwenn 20-30epg.

A great range of hijabs or headscarfs are sold from 10egp

You can buy belly dancing outfits. I hip scarf cost 3egp but to get a full outfit costs much more. Belly dancing forums can give you more information if you are interested in that.

I also like to buy karkadey (Hibiscus tea) That is an Aswan speciality but you can buy it anywhere. Cost is about 10egp/kilo.

Im not sure of the name of it but there are spices and potion shops when you can buy lots of tradional type beauty products. I like to buy amber resin.

If you like shisha. You can buy a large water pipe for 50egp. You can buy nice lanterns or fanoos. I cant give you a price because it depends on what you buy. There is a large range of metal work and glass lamps. As a guide a paid 60egp for a large yellow glass lamp shade that I use in my living room. There are quite a few lantern shops as you enter Khan Khalili and more in the covered bit just next to it and along Al muizz street. Sorry Im not good at giving direction.

Lernert and Landrock sell old turn of the century Egyptian Photos.

I havent actually bought anything from the tent makers market but you cant buy applique materials for up hostling etc

There are some artisan shops in Zamelik that you might be interested in .

I dont where else you are going but if you are visiting near to Fayoum (which is one hour from Cairo) ie the wadi al hitan.... Then I recommend to visit the village of Tunis. Which is an artist village where they make their own pottery etc. I have bought some nice items from there.

As for advice on haggling. I dont really have any because I hate haggling. Just be nice. I first ask around to get the idea about prices. It helps that I know basic Arabic so can listen in to prices. I tend to just tell them what Im willing to pay. And that is that. Mostly they accept my price. Occasionally I will haggle a bit just for form if Im buying a few items from a shop.

San Salvador, El...
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16. Re: Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

ThAnks to both of you! John:great idea about the lamenation! Serthazada: great info! Thanks for sharing!

San Salvador, El...
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17. Re: Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

Is it typical to offer HALF the asking price and go from there? Thanks,

Indianapolis...
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18. Re: Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

Basalt Scarab Beetle.

Don't go home without one! (...but that's just me). Excellent small souvenirs for the family. Get one made from stone, not plastic. Ask the shop keeper to dunk it in water. The water sheds off plastic beetles like rain on a waxed car. Stone will start to soak up the water. Some areas of the stone are polished, so the water may run off. The water soaks into the carved areas of the stone.

Ask the shop keeper to hold a lighter on it for a minute or two, not 30 seconds. Hold it steady, not waving it around. If it melts, burns, or stinks, it is plastic. If it is stone, he will hold the lighter on it all day long without the fear of it melting and him losing money. Be observant so he doesn't do a switcheroo on you.

San Salvador, El...
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19. Re: Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

Holy cow! I have no idea what you're talking about but it sounds cool and my boys will love it! What type of shop can I find these things in? And what in the world does one pay for this? Thanks much!!

Indianapolis...
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20. Re: Best stuff to buy in Cairo/Luxor??

Do a Google search on basalt scarab beetles and click the images link. That will give you a good idea of what they look like (along with the other items that were mentioned). You can find them in every shop from Cairo to Aswan. Ask the price in one shop and buy in the next shop. You then have an idea of the going price.

The price depends on your haggling skills, but buy them in quantity for a better price. You could negotiate the price for one, then haggle down from there for a half dozen. You can find them from 4+ inches long (10 cm), down to the size of a coin (the smaller ones are choking hazards for small kids and look like a black jelly bean).