No holiday is complete without some souvenir shopping – be that as a reminder of your unforgettable experience or a taste of Egypt for those back home. Whether you brave the 500-year old Khan El Khalili souk in Cairo or visit a local market near your Red Sea resort, you’ll find there’s a wealth of goods on offer, but what should you choose? As you wander the maze of streets and lanes it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start, so we’ve selected the five most popular gifts you should look out for as you take in the bazaars, markets and souks. One word of caution, make sure you consult your tour guide for a list of authentic traders. If you’re on an excursion from one of our luxury Nile cruises, you’ll have a tour guide on hand who can help direct you to the best vendors. Remember, it’s easy to buy a ‘local’ scarf and then find that it’s made in China and can be found in almost any bazaar in North Africa! Here are the items that make our top five:

  1. Jewellery

When it comes to jewellery, you’ll be overwhelmed by what’s on offer. Silver tends to be the most popular metal, but make sure it has the correct ‘925’ stamp otherwise it could be another metal.  Look out for pieces that depict the Scarab beetle, this is the symbol of creation and resurrection, and tends to be featured on bracelets and necklaces. Another unique piece to look out for is a cartouche. This oval hieroglyphic tablet has a horizontal line at the end, and it makes a beautiful necklace pendant. Moreover, it can be personalised with your name, or a meaning, making it the perfect souvenir from your visit to Egypt.

  1. Incense and Spices

There’s nothing quite like evoking memories than bringing some fragrance or spices back home with you. You’ll be transported back to the windy streets of Cairo in no time, filling your home with middle Eastern warmth. For the authentic Oud incense powder, you’ll have to travel to Khan El-Khalili, but this can be pricey so look for mixed incenses, or Bokhor incense sticks. Just make sure you smell them burning, as the fragrance can dramatically change when they’re lit.

When it comes to shopping for spices, while you can buy many of them at home, you’ll undoubtedly find they’re of higher quality – as well as a cheaper price – at a local market. Turmeric, saffron, cumin, ginger and cardamom tend to be incredibly popular choices.  Sumac is also an incredibly popular Middle Eastern spice that should be at the top of your shopping list.

  1. Papyrus scrolls

The papyrus scroll is another highly prized souvenir. Derived from the papyrus plant that once thrived on the banks of the river Nile, this ancient form of paper was used during ancient Egyptian times. Today’s scrolls are of course replicas, and depict a vast array of work – from Egyptian Gods and famous battle scenes, to hieroglyphics and scenes of daily life in Ancient Egypt. The parchment is typically light beige in colour and can be hung from a wall with or without a frame. You can even ask an artist to write your own name or personal message on papyrus, which is a wonderful personal touch and very popular among tourists.

  1. Wooden Jewellery Boxes

Exquisitely handcrafted jewellery boxes are very popular in Egypt and can be found in just about every market. Available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, they feature a geometric pattern and are inlaid with mother of pearl. You can also find chess and backgammon sets, but make sure you find one that’s good quality and uses hardwood with intricate inlays.

  1. Belly Dancing Outfits

Chances are, you’ll see professional dancers on the street or even be entertained by a belly dancer during a themed night at your resort, so it’s not surprising that a belly dancing outfit is a popular, fun item many of us bring home from Egypt. These mesmerising costumes feature scarves, beads, jewels and coins and come in beautiful vivid colours. As the dancers swirl to the Arabic music, in this expressive dance, images of centuries old Egypt spring to mind, so what better way to bring a bit of that tradition home? You can buy one or two piece outfits, along with a range of sparkly accessories, and they’re great for fancy dress parties at home or for the children’s dressing up box.

When you come to making your selection, don’t forget the art of the deal. Traders will expect you to haggle, finally agreeing on a price that’s acceptable to both parties. As a general rule of thumb, start with half the asking price, which will, of course, be refused and you can then come up to an agreeable amount. If you still feel the price is too high, don’t be afraid to seem to give up and walk away. If you’re close to the right price, you’ll likely be called back and be able to buy that precious souvenir!

Egyptian money tip: A pre-loaded bank card or one that doesn’t charge for use abroad is obviously a good option. We can personally recommend Monzo for this but there is probably others that will suit you too.

Saving for your Egypt Holidays:
While we are on the subject… we find that using a separate bank like Plum a good option for helping you save for your next holiday to Egypt.

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