Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Luxor Bazaar - Egypt Shopping - Egyptian Bazaars - Prices in Luxor - Luxor Guide - What to do in Luxor Egypt

While in Luxor, we went to the market at least a couple of times. I thought therefore, that it was appropriate to have an entire post devoted to the market itself.

The Luxor Bazaar is located near the Luxor Temple in the central area of the city.  The market is much smaller than the market in Cairo, but it is still a decent size, with many shops inside.  However, I found that the vendors here are more ruthless about getting you into their shops than in Khan al-Khalili market in Cairo.  Also, I should note that the prices here are also much higher.

Outside of the market is a small falafel stand where you can buy cheap sandwiches for 2 LE each.  This is a good idea if you are hungry.  They sell falafel, fuul (sometimes spelled "foul" but pronounced as fool), mashed potatoes, and eggplant.  All of these are vegetarian.

Vendors in the Luxor Bazaar

Shawl and Scarf Vendor:  While in the market we stopped at a scarf and shawl vendor, who sold us a couple of shawls.  An intricate and very pretty shawl cost us 25 LE, originally quoted at 35 LE.  Some were quoted at 45 LE.  This all depends on the quality, and there are many to choose from.  We went back later on and purchased 3 more for 60 LE total.  One was quoted at 15, and the others were similar to the first one we purchased at 25 LE the day before.

Spice Vendor:  Why we stopped at a spice vendor inside of the tourist market instead of stopping at one where the locals shop is a question that I later asked myself.  This guy was quite a character though, and was very pushy with selling us spices.  He really wanted us to buy coriander and cumin, both of which we have ample supply of home.  He also wanted us to buy Saffron, which is really Safflower in Egypt.  He said that the ground saffron (which looked and smelled like Tumeric) was from Iran (implying that it was better than wherever we get ours).  We told him over and over we didn't want it, but he packaged it up and began to weigh it for us.  We were firm and did not purchase it.  We did, however, purchase some mango tea, for 10 LE for about an ounce.

The spice man said that all spices were sold by the gram, and that the mango tea was 50 Piastres per gram.  We doubted this, and he filled a small bag and tried to sell it to us for 35 LE.  We said no and he said "fine, 20."  We said "no" and he filled it with more tea.  We said "10" and he said, "fine, 10" but started emptying the tea back into the container.  We acted like we were going to walk away due to this tactic, but he stopped emptying it really quickly and we purchased the small bag for 10 LE.  We were probably ripped off here.  Lesson: don't buy spices in a tourist market when the locals buy them for much cheaper outside in non-tourist markets.

Egyptian textile pattern
Textile Thief:  This was where we were ripped off the worst.  We wanted to purchase an Egyptian/Arabian style textile fabric.  It has colorful designs on it.  Anyway, we were immediately quoted 380 LE for four meters.  This comes out to be around $50.  We told him "no" and that we were thinking closer to 20 LE per meter.  He said "are you JOKING?" in a tone which made him seem offended.  We said "no, in the US, we buy thicker and more intricate fabric than this for around the same price."  As we drank the tea he gave us, we haggled further.  He went down to 280 and then to 200, but we still did not budge.  Eventually, we said 30 LE a meter, which was still too high (we should have never went near that number).  As we finished our tea and were about to leave, he went down to 30 for 3 meters.  At this point, Beverly did not want to buy it and said "let's just go."  But, I had agreed on 30 and was compelled to stick with the offer I made, as is the custom here.  We purchased this fabric for 90 LE total (close to $14) and left.  We later found similar fabric in Cairo for 8.5 LE a meter without haggling.

Egyptian-style Shirt (Kurti) Salesman:  Beverly was interested in buying a shirt with silk designs on the outside, and the shopkeeper quoted us, before entering the shop, 10 pounds (not sure if he meant Egyptian or British).  This got Beverly into the store.  She found a burgundy shirt that she liked with silk embroidery near the neck and she asked if it was 10 LE.  He said, "no, this one is 690 LE."  That's over $100 for a shirt that was, honestly, worth only a few dollars.  We were stunned.  After haggling for a while, we got the price down to $4 US dollars and 10 LE.  We still think we were overcharged.  The idea of paying $100 for such a thing was more than ludicrous.

Conclusion:  The Luxor market is a fun place to visit, but be prepared to haggle hardcore.  You will probably be overcharged and you will literally be pulled into shops.  I found that prices here are originally quoted much higher than in Cairo, and you will still probably pay more after haggling.  In a future post, I will talk about the Khan al-Khalili market in Cairo and the prices for goods that we paid there.

Also, there are many characters in the market.  One man yelled "buy one get one freeeeee!!!" as we were leaving.  Others will say "everyone inside 1 pound."  This is clearly not true, and I try to stay away from places that make such claims.  In fact, I found myself often going into the stores where we were not pulled into.  I know better than to go into a store where one tries to physically get you to go in.  Sometimes you are blocked from leaving stores until you buy or say "no" a few hundred times.  When shopping you can not take it too seriously, as it can really bother some people after a while.  I have heard stories of people crying because it is all too much.  The best advice is to be prepared and realize that these people make a living off of what they do, and many probably don't make that much money as some do not own the shops themselves, but merely help run them.

As of the time of this writing, the exchange rate is between 6.5 to 7 LE to the dollar, although vendors will quote you 7.5 LE to the dollar.

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