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Cairo: Khan el Khalili

Bazaar shops, Cairo


Reputed to be the largest bazaar in the Arab world, the Khan el Khalili is a collection of narrow, winding streets packed with shops selling all manner of things. The tourist can only skim the surface of the bazaar which can be intimidating. By sticking to the widest streets closest to the 'outside world', there is still an experience to be had.

You will be accosted by friendly but insistent shopkeepers who start by asking where you come from (they all have friends who live in your country) and then offer to show you their wares.

Most have basic English, including "Asda price", but don't believe every sales pitch - we ignored "everything is free today". A polite and cheery "laa shukran" (no, thanks) usually enables you to move on.

Having decided where you want to shop in the souk, the shopkeer will be keen to help you with your purchase. Here's where the fun starts. Although some western-style shops in Egypt have fixed, marked prices, most require you to ask and then negotiate. Haggling does not come easy to most westerners, but it is expected and the first price will almost always be two or three times what you will eventually agree. In any case, prices are so low in Egypt that you are sure to get a bargain.

Typical wares on offer in the Khan el Khalili are leather goods, gold jewelry, ornate perfume bottles, alabaster carvings, and almost anything shaped into pyramids and camels.

Khan el Khalili bazaar
The bazaar has narrow streets with goods displayed outside the shops
  Street cafe outside the bazaar
Relaxing with a coffee in the sunshine just outside the Khan el Khalili

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