Shopping in Egypt
Egypt is a wonderland of shopping opportunities. Of course, there are the famous bazaars such as the Khan el-Khalili, but then there are also thousands of unusual stores scattered about the country, and especially in Cairo, though some products are better purchased perhaps from the locale from which they are produced, such as alabaster in Luxor. However, Cairo provides a huge variety of everything from antiques to fine clothing and especially jewelry.
In some shops, you must haggle while in others the price will be set. Which type of store provides the best possible deals depends both on the shop itself and the haggling ability of the buyer an seller. Frequently though some of the best deals at the best consistent quality is found in stores with fixed prices. There are many tourists who are not used to the concept of negotiating deals or haggling over prices, but these skills are part of the fun of shopping in Egypt and may be useful in other places too. Haggling is an art. But, it should only be used in the right place. In some exclusive shops, supermarkets, coffee shops, restaurants, clubs and public transport there is usually no haggling. Haggling is acceptable in the old souks where you can buy anything from gold bracelets to replica gifts and Egyptian dresses. Haggling in these outlets is permitted, sometimes expected, as a way of communication and exchanging information.
Prices, however, have to be put in perspective. Egypt is still fairly cheap, at least for tourists who exchange US dollars. The purchasing power of the US dollar in Egypt is almost double that of the dollar in most parts of the US. To make your life simple, you can draw a line about what is not worth haggling about. Items below LE 40 (roughly $ 10) are not usually worth the effort or the waste of precious holiday time. If you still think an item is overpriced, then offer your own price and walk away. This will put the vendor in a yes or no situation.
So, when it comes to shopping, know what you want, and negotiate hard to get it for the right price. Otherwise, don't waste your time, haggling over trivia or buying stuff you do not need. As most travelers know, the best bargains of holiday time often become clutter around the house, and end up in yard sales. So, after all the haggling, it may be worth paying a little over the odds to get what you really want.
There is no golden rule for haggling except offering what you think is a fair price. With a new exchange rate of more than LE 5.60 to the US dollar, Egypt is cheaper now than at any time in the past; the average tourist can afford to be a little generous, and still save money.
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