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Souks (Markets)


Gold Bazaar
Off Hussein Square, Cairo

Cairo is one of the cheapest places in the world to buy gold. This market offers standard pharaonic-styled jewellery, or basic gold jewellery. One of the most popular buys here is the cartouche. Perhaps the most famous cartouche maker is Mihran and Garbis Yazejian Jewelers (8 Sikket El Badestan, Khan El Khalili), who will make you a personalised cartouche with your name in hieroglyphics. This is a no bargaining shop. If you decide to shop around in the gold area, be sure to compare prices, as you may be able to get the same work cheaper elsewhere. Remember, Egyptian gold is usually a higher carat than that found in the West and so is a darker colour.

Khan El Khalili Bazaar
Off Hussein Square, Cairo

A retreat from the sun in summer, in milder winter temperatures it's even easier to lose a day wandering this this sprawling market. It exudes a truly amazing atmosphere with its labyrinth of bustling alleys lined with merchants displaying traditional crafts. Most of the shop fronts conceal cramped workshops, where craftsmen still produce lanterns, inlaid boxes, water pipes and brassware using traditional techniques. Beware though, merchants here are masters at the art of haggling, and even the locals joke that they can never get local prices. Stop in to have your quick meal at Naguib Mahfouz. Cash is definitely preferred here, but some vendors accept credit cards.

Khan Misr Touloun
Ibn Toulun Street, Cairo

Opposite the Ibn Tulun mosque in Islamic Cairo, this gem of a shop has an excellent reputation for its Egyptian arts and crafts. Ornaments, bowls, plates, wooden chests and clothing are just a few examples of the delightful wares on offer. Each item is unique and very well-made; none of which you will find at the Khan El Khalili bazaar.

Silver Market
Off Hussein Square, Cairo

Khan El Khalili market is, in fact, several markets rolled in to one, with several distinct sections. One of these is the silver market. Most of the silver you'll find in this area is 900 carats. Prices of the items vary according to international prices and the work involved in making the item. Many people believe that the quality of workmanship in Egypt is better than abroad. There are numerous shops selling pharaonic-styled silver pieces, but if you want something a little different, you'll have to look for it. If; however, you can't find what you're looking for you can always ask for items to be made to order – the price for this will depend on the work involved.

Souk El Gomaa
Khalifa District, Cairo

In the Southern Cemetery south of the Citadel, this sprawling weekly market is all the craziness of a medieval bazaar in a modern setting: under a highway flyover, expect new bicycles, live donkeys, toilets and broken telephones. Antique collectors can find some great antiques and vintage duds. Go before 10 am, when the crush of people can get overwhelming.

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