To Market: Shopping in Egypt

When it comes to finding someplace to shop in Egypt, it isn’t a hassle–you can find vendors nearly everywhere. However, hassling over the prices is essential. Luckily, a little bird told our tour group what reasonable prices are for the most popular purchases.

It should be noted that…

Khan El Khalili Market
Khan El Khalili Market in Cairo

When it comes to scarves, better deals were to be found at the tourist spots–especially when it came to white cotton scarves. I was hesitant to purchase from the pushy vendors while we were touring, because I wanted to have a shopping experience at the Khan El Khalili market. In the end, I would have gotten better deals if I didn’t wait!

Carved Hippo
Carved hippo–possibly made of Aswan Red Granite

The price of a statue varies based on size and materials. Most of the statues to be found are painted resin (disguised as wood). Statues made of other materials can vary from city to city. I picked up my stone hippo on the way back from the Temple of Philae… I’m so thankful that I did, because I didn’t see anything like it anywhere else on the trip.

Cartouche necklace
Cartouche necklace with my name

Cartouche necklaces are a time honored tradition when it comes to Egyptian souvenirs. I paid around $35 US (or 650ish LE) for a sterling silver cartouche and chain.

Many perfumeries in Egypt sell more essences (essential oils) than perfumes. The oils can be used by themselves, added to olive oil, or added to rubbing alcohol to create a perfume. Compared to the price of essential oils in the United States, Egypt is dirt cheap. The kicker for me was the smallest size that the perfumery we visited sold–it came out to $40 US! While this is really a great deal, I wasn’t mentally prepared to spend that much on a single scent. My plan going in was to purchase small amounts of a few different essences to give as gifts. Other members of our tour group with similar plans bought the large bottle and then broke it into smaller glass containers (which could be purchased for $1-3 US) on their own.

Finally, many wooden boxes with mother of pearl don’t actually have a lot of mother of pearl in them. When held to the light, no shine means that it’s actually plastic and worth significantly less (20-30 LE). A reasonable price for a shiny box falls in the 80-100 LE range.

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