Shopping and buying are two different things. There are amazing bargains to be had in Egypt… truly a shopper’s paradise. Egypt has a wide variety of well-made goods, including:
- Egyptian cottons and linens
- finely wrought gold and silver jewelry (check especially for a cartouche)
- genuine papyrus paintings
- Perfume and essential oils
- Alabaster and marble
- Leather goods
- Handmade carpets (wool, cotton, silk)
Almost every city and town has its own souq (“sook” = bazaar) where the locals go to buy clothing, vegetables, household items, jewelry, toys, and more. Enjoy browsing down narrow streets filled with beautiful cloth, freshly ground spices, hand-carved wooden toys, and more. You will find plenty of tourist knickknacks for sale as well.
General tips for a great shopping experience
- You will be “hawked,” so be prepared!
- You will be stared at, so be prepared, and take it for the compliment it is.
- Goods tend to be clustered in one area in a guild system, so most clothiers are together, gold jewelry together, leather goods together, antiques together…
- Have a price in mind that you want to spend. Like buying a car, you must be willing to walk away. But if you really like an item, be prepared to haggle.
- If you look interested in buying, you may be offered tea to encourage you to buy in that store. (The mint tea is an especial favorite.)
- Be aware that if you touch an item when browsing in the old marketplaces, it indicates you may be interested in buying it.
- In modern stores (shopping malls, chain stores) you are not expected to haggle.
- The shops outside major tourist attractions often contain cheap reproductions of nicer items and are often overpriced. Buy at your own risk!