Shopping in Cairo is fun and distinctive, characterised by market haggling and the pursuit of antiques, or at least, souvenirs that look like antiques. Many visitors to this vibrant city will have a wonderful time just wandering through the souks (markets) taking in the diverse sights, sounds and smells.
Just about everything can be bought at the largest market in Cairo, the Khan al-Khalili. Most visitors dare not venture deep into the interior as the market can be intimidating, with very persistent touts and a mind-boggling maze of stalls and shops. Bartering is an essential skill when in Cairo and a good rule of thumb is to halve the first asking price and start haggling from there. While haggling, visitors should try to stay unruffled and retain a sense of humour but should still be firm. If you feel you aren't getting a good deal it's always a good idea to show your willingness to shop around. The markets, especially those most popular with tourists, are frequented by petty thieves and conmen so travellers should be on the alert. Women in particular may find that they experience a lot of harassment in Egyptian markets - it is best to dress conservatively and explore in groups. Many travellers prefer to hire guides to give them tours of the markets and help them negotiate with merchants. Hotels can usually recommend reputable guides for this kind of service.
Popular souvenirs in Cairo include painted papyrus scrolls embellished with hieroglyphics, copper and bronze items, jewellery, carpets and leather goods, which can be found away from the main tourist drags. The quality is normally excellent. The Wekalet al-Balah is a must for lovers of beautiful fabrics and Egyptian cotton.
Most shops opening hours depend on the season and shops in tourist areas generally keep longer hours. The majority of stores open at 9am and close at 7pm during the winter months, while during the summer stores often stay open later but close for an extended lunch hour during the day. Opening hours during summer are usually about 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 9pm. During Ramadan opening times can be disrupted.
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