Egypt is a mystery land that always has a special attraction for those who are passionate about learning about long-standing cultures, majestic and mysterious architectures which were built in ancient times by powerful Pharaohs. If you are planning a trip to travel to Egypt but still wondering what to buy in Egypt as souvenir and gift for your relatives and friends, do not miss the article below, because it will solve that worry for you. So, what to buy in Egypt, what should I buy in Egypt, what to buy in Egypt as gifts, what to buy in Egypt as souvenir? Let’s check out Egypt shopping guide with the suggested of 17+ best meaningful Egyptian souvenirs (best Egypt souvenirs), best things to buy in Egypt, must buy in Egypt to bring back as well as best places to find them to find out the answer!
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In the collection of Middle Eastern folk tales “One Thousand and One Nights”, the author once said “Those who have not traveled to Egypt are not considered to understand much about human civilization”. Egypt is not only famous for its great pyramids, mysterious tombs of great Pharaohs, unique cuisine, but also unique art products that can buy as souvenirs. Referring to Egypt, we immediately think of a powerful ancient civilization, with legends about the gods such as Ra, Bastet, Osiris, Isis, … and countless different traditional values. Today, these ancient values are most clearly expressed not only in history books but also in souvenirs that recreate ancient culture. So, visiting Egypt, you should not miss the opportunity to own +17 unique traditional gifts below that only found in Egypt!
What to buy in Egypt: Antiques
What to buy in Egypt as souvenir? The first answer is definitely antiques. Going to explore a land rich in ancient civilizations like Egypt, “pocket” for yourself a few antiques as gifts for your loved ones and relatives is a very right decision. You can go to large and small markets to choose your favorite antiques. In particular, Khan El Khalili Bazaar in Cairo is the busiest antique trading center in the land of the pyramids. If you are an antiques hunting lover then this is a true paradise. There is nothing happier than being lost in a world surrounded by countless antique items from simple to elaborate.
You can go to Khan Khalili Bazaar (Address: El-Gamaleya, El Gamaliya, Cairo Governorate, Egypt) – the largest antique market in the country of pyramids, a paradise for antique enthusiasts. You can easily find and buy antiques that are crafted from simple to meticulous, elaborate to decorate your living space or as gifts for loved ones.
What to buy in Egypt: Egyptian Wool Rugs
Egypt is famous for its traditional craft of knitting and crochet wool and yarn. Local artisans with their talented, skillful hands and creativity have made many unique and exquisite handicrafts, especially woolen carpets and rugs. So, wool rugs are gifts you cannot miss to bring back. With neat design, eye-catching colors, diverse designs, patterns and motifs, plus anti-slip function, high-grade wool rugs also have smoothness and good water absorption. Those are the things that will make you feel that the money you spend to buy these rugs is completely worth it.
If you are still considering what should I buy in Egypt, what to buy in Egypt as gifts, Egyptian wool rug is the next suggestion. The Egyptian people are world famous for their ingenuity and meticulousness, especially in knitting yarn. They always weave and knit yarn in many creative forms. So, they creating very unique fabrics and textile products and you can absolutely buy some as gifts when return home. In particular, there is a very delicate gift that the Egyptians knit to create them, which are wool rugs.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Egyptian wool rugs are well-known to many people because of their beautiful appearance, anti-slippery and variety of patterns. When holding the rug, visitors will feel that the craftsman must be very meticulous in each stage to create such a beautiful, smooth, and highly water-absorbent product.
Best egypt Souvenirs: Spices
Are you still wondering what to buy in Egypt as souvenir and best things to buy in Egypt? Spices are an option you should consider. It must be a gift that mothers, sisters, and women who love to cook love. You can choose typical Egyptian spices such as cumin powder, curry, cardamom,… or you can buy mixed spices by asking shop owners to consult and choose some spices to make your own Egyptian mixed spices powder.
Spices are a pretty suitable answer for those who love to cook. This is a unique gift that many tourists choose as a gift before leaving the land of Pyramids. Spices in Egypt are often difficult to find elsewhere. Therefore, these spices are very meaningful and practical especially for mothers, wives, sisters,…
Best egypt Souvenirs: Egyptian agarwood, essential oils, frankincense and myrrh
You might be surprised to learn that the scent of agarwood, frankincense or essential oils is an essential part of daily life in this northeastern African country. Their importance is also reflected in the widely circulated saying “A day without fragrance is like a lost day”.
On the Papyrus paintings or murals depicting the life of the ancient Egyptians, if you look closely, you will find many people in the paintings wearing a kind of jewelry shaped like a lotus bud. Many studies believe that it is the dried plaster made from a number of ingredients such as animal fat or vegetable oil, beeswax and other flavors such as cinnamon, myrrh, henna… These scented plasters smell like perfume, they penetrate the wearer’s skin, hair and clothes, both giving them a scent and repelling insects.
Not only carrying fragrances with them with such scented plasters, the Egyptians also used agarwood or essential oils. These two scents were considered extremely valuable in the ancient Egyptian world and were only used in temples or for living deities (e.g. Pharaohs).
Now you also have the chance to own and bring home the scents of this mysterious country in an easy way. You can go to any dry market or famous souvenir shops to choose a few pieces of frankincense and myrrh or delicate perfume, essential oils bottles.
The most common type of agarwood used as a gift is Agarwood (Agarwood from Oud wood) or agarwood made from the powder of local crushed herbs such as Mastic, Ein Al Afreet or Bokhor organic stick agarwood made from Oud wood and soaked in essential oils or fragrances with essential oils.
Among the agarwood mentioned above, the most popular is the last, Bokhor or Bukhoor (Dark Grey Agar Wood Oud Bukhoor) with a price of 5-10 EGP for a box of 10 Bokhor sticks and the most expensive is Agarwood, with about 100 EGP per 50g of Oud wood powder made from pure Oud wood.
Different from frankincense, agarwood, Egyptian essential oils have a wide variety of different scents, the most popular of which are jasmine, amber, musk, rose… You can buy essential oils bottles with individual scents, or ask the perfumer in the store to help you create a new scent from different essential oils. The price of 1 gram of essential oil ranges from $1.54 to $2.2.
Must buy in Egypt: Egyptian Pottery
The art of making ancient Egyptian pottery is also very rich and sophisticated. The ancient Egyptians discovered ceramic glaze quite early, on the surfaces of ancient Egyptian pottery delicately carved small figures depicting many themes. Pottery is often buried with the dead and used in mystical rituals. Therefore, pottery is also a meaningful gift imbued with ancient Egyptian culture from thousands of years ago. In addition, you can also buy small pottery and stone souvenir items such as small statues, vases, jars…
Must buy in Egypt: Shisha Hookah (Hookah Waterpipe)
The metal and glass containers used to smoke cigarettes or dried fruits, herbs have different flavors and are filtered with water called Hookah or Waterpipe. It is a practice so ingrained in Muslim countries that you can easily find them in restaurants and tea shops and business offices.
They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and designs, so if you go to a craft store to buy hookah, you can definitely find them hand painted with some Egyptian ornamentation. One of the best places to buy them is the Khan el-Khalili in Cairo as mentioned above, where you will find all kinds of hookahs at very affordable prices.
Best things to buy in Egypt: Dried food
One more suggestion for the question of what to buy in Egypt is dry food – an irresistible unique feature in Egyptian culinary culture. The Egyptian food is not only cooked from meat, but many dishes are made from dried foods. These are dishes that combined from herbs, grains, nuts and some spices such as peanut, sesame, coriander, mint and dill. These dry foods are usually served with cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes. It will be happy when you give these unique dishes to your relatives and friends.
What to buy in Egypt as gifts: Khayameya
Developed during the Mamluk period (1250-1517), Khayameya is a traditional craft in Egypt. Artisans create patterns by embroidering many small pieces of fabric onto a large cloth, called Khayameya which means “Tent” in the Arabic language. In the past, the Khayameyas were used to decorateing tents for indigenous people to avoid heat and sand when moving in the desert.
In addition to making tents, Khayameya is also used to make pillows, to create decorative patterns for clothes, wall rugs, etc. Due to the complexity of making a Khayameya sheet, the cost of this fabric is often more expensive than that carpets and other fabrics are sold in the markets. Today, although they have applied fabric printing techniques to create Khayameya pieces at a more affordable price, these fabrics of course cannot be as beautiful and thick as Khayameya traditional fabrics.
When traveling to Egypt, the best place in Cairo for you to discover Khayameya art is the Al Khyiamia (Tent Makers Bazaar) (Address: Al Khayama, El-Darb El-Ahmar, Cairo Governorate, Egypt/Hours: 10AM–11PM; Sunday: Closed), located right near the Bab Zuweila gate in the center of Cairo. That’s where a whole colorful world of Khayameya sheets opens before your eyes.
Wandering around in the market, it will not be difficult for you to have the opportunity to see the skilled workers quickly putting needles and needles to create beautiful patterns. Not only selling traditional products such as Khayameya fabrics, rugs, carpets, pillows… there are also other everyday items sewn from Khayameya such as bags, purses, wallets, aprons… at a pretty cheap price.
Khayameya market is also famous for another handicraft product, which is a cowhide rug made and embroidered by hand, priced from only $2.65-$3.53. This is also an interesting and practical gift from Egypt that you can bring back to give to your loved ones.
Best things to buy in Egypt: Belly dance costumes
Originating in Egypt, this dance is represented by some specific hip movements and music. This dance costume is designed with fabrics of different colors and designs with shiny embroidery and patterns (attached with glitter beads). Tourists often buy these clothes as souvenirs, but they are not designed for outdoor use purposes.
What should i buy in Egypt: Perfume
For those who love the seductive scent of perfume bottles, don’t forget to buy yourself a few bottles when you come to Egypt. The perfumes here have a combination of ingredients from animals, so the scent is very passionate and flies away easily captivating the sense of smell of many people. So give this unique gift to the people you cherish. Some best Egyptian perfume brands you can refer to such as Sevilla Fragrances, Drills, Oud Al Deewan, Dudum…
What to buy in Egypt as souvenir: Djellaba
Djellaba is a typical Egyptian costume. It is a long dress made of different materials that covers the body from neck to toe. Men traditionally wear it white with some red detailing on the neck, while women have a variety of colors and embroidery to choose from. You can find them in many shops located in the villages around the Nile, as well as in Cairo’s traditional shops.
Best egyptian Souvenirs: Papyrus
Papyrus is a great invention and pride of the ancient Egyptians. Papyrus is considered one of the first foundations in the process of forming and producing writing paper today. It is not surprising that Papyrus has become a worthy souvenir rich in cultural and historical value in Egypt thanks to its historical and cultural values.
Papyrus, also known as Cyperus papyrus, is actually a thick paper-like material produced from papyrus plant, a plant that grows in the moist soil regions of the Nile Delta. The production to transform papyrus plants into papyrus paper was first recorded around the First Dynasty of Ancient Egypt and later spread throughout the Mediterranean region.
The making process of Papyrus also needs to go through many different stages, from harvesting the papyrus plant, separating, rolling the fibers, soaking in sugar-reduced water, drying pressing and layering into paper. The quality of thin or thick paper products, bad or good, depends on many factors such as where the papyrus plant is grown, the age of the plant, the harvest season and most importantly, the fiber of the plant.
Although papyrus is hard, difficult to fold and break easily, it is easy to write, and it has been used to record many precious documents dating back to Ancient Egypt. Today, visitors can easily buy papyrus scrolls with reprints of Egyptian hieroglyphs with rich content such as scenes of the wars of the Pharaohs or the Hieroglyphic alphabet, the images of birds, gods…
Must buy in Egypt: Kohl
Girls who love sexy cat eye makeup will not be able to forget the inspiration of this makeup trend from the black eyeliner of Queen Cleopatra in the movie Cleopatra first premiered in 1912.
And not only Cleopatra, ancient Egyptians, including men and children, used to line their eyes like that with a lead powder called Kohl. Kohl is made by grinding the mineral Stibnite (Sb2S3) into a powder and used for eyeliner and mascara for eyelashes. People also use Kohl to apply eyeliner to babies with the concept of helping the baby not to be cursed by evil eyes.
In ancient times, Kohl was widely used since The Early Dynastic Period (circa 3100 BC). People usually paint black with Kohl made from the mineral galena for the upper eyelid and green from Kohl malachite blue for the lower eyelid. Kohl was used to combat eye diseases that could be caused by contamination from the water of the Nile, and the ancient Egyptians believed that in the hot desert with the sun shining year-round, coloring eyeliner in black will help protect the eyes from the sun’s rays as well as eye diseases caused by contaminated Nile water.
Although these traditional cosmetics are often made crudely, today there are many businesses that have standard Kohl products that can be used safely with beautiful designs. If you buy these Kohl cosmetics, you will not only have a unique makeup item, but also have a natural way of protecting your eyes. Scientists at the Louvre museum and CNRS research institute, France believe that the low lead salt content in Kohl will produce nitric oxide (N2O5), which helps strengthen the immune system against bacteria that cause ocular allergic inflammatory diseases.
Egypt shopping guide: Karkade (Egyptian Hibiscus Iced Tea)
While in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries hibiscus trees are only grown as a hedge or for rural children to play with its flowers, in Egypt and almost Middle Eastern countries, hibiscus flowers are dried and made into a tea called Karkade which is very famous.
The most common hibiscus flower is red, so most Karkade drinks in Egypt also have this characteristic color. Due to the simple recipe, this hibiscus tea is very popular with Egyptians in the hot summer.
To make this kind of hibiscus tea, first, fresh hibiscus flowers, after being picked from the tree, are removed from the pistil and flower base and washed thoroughly. Then, they put the flowers in a large jar and boil water in it. When boiling water just touches the flower, the flower will wither immediately, and at the same time, all the substances in the petals will extract into the water, causing the water to quickly turn dark red.
In addition to processing directly from fresh flowers, the Egyptians also used dried hibiscus flowers. Even dried hibiscus flowers are sold in many traditional markets.
Karkade drink is popular in Egypt not only because of its flavorful, but it is also considered a good tea for health. This type of tea has an attractive bright red color, when drinking it has a sweet, aromatic and cool taste. The Egyptians also said that Karkade has the effect of regulating blood pressure, diuretic and is a rich source of vitamin C for the body.
Since Ancient Egypt, Karkade has been considered as a beverage to drink on special occasions such as weddings and parties. Today, you can find Karkade everywhere in modern Egypt, from restaurants to cafes. Even in hotels in Egypt use Karkade as a welcome drink. Therefore, you can buy this famous specialty tea as a gift at an affordable price.
Egyptian Goddess statues of Bastet & Scarab
When you stepping into any souvenir shop in Egypt, you will find countless souvenir statues displayed in all different designs, shapes, sizes and materials. However, the most prominent and most significant of all those statues is probably Bastet (Black Egyptian Cat Statue) and Scarab (Beetle Statue).
One of the gods most revered by the ancient Egyptians was Bastet. Bastet takes the form of a woman with the head of a cat and embodies the form of a cat. Bastet is considered the god of cats, joy, protection, music and family, so it is believed that simply placing her statue in the home will protect the family from evil spirits.
Statues of the goddess today are publicly sold in markets or souvenir shops in Egypt with prices ranging from $3.5 to $15.5 with a small statue about 25cm high, a big statue about 45cm high will cost from $4.85 to $25.5 depending on different materials such as plastic, granite or plaster.
In addition to statue of goddess Bastet, one of the other equally famous images in Egypt is the Scarab beetle. The ancient Egyptians believed that Scarab was the image of the god Ra rolling the sun across the sky (which is the process by which the sun revolves around the Earth in one day). Not only that, but the statues of Scarab, whose bottom is engraved with words, was once considered the seal of the Egyptian royal family and was used to stamp on important documents.
Today, visitors can buy all kinds of bead bracelets with a bead of a Scarab statue or Scarab statues in particular as small as a stone. However, you should avoid buying green or black Scarab statues inlaid on a gold base (Heart Scarab); or statues of the winged Scarab (Pectoral Scarab); Or super small Scarab statues about 2-3cm with the belly of the scarab carved like a real thing, not flat (Naturalistic Scarab) because these are three types of Scarab statues used in funerals. Most of the Scarab statues are priced from $0.88 to $2.5 or more depending on materials.
In addition to the above souvenirs and gifts, you can also buy some other souvenirs as gifts such as keychains, refrigerator magnets, jewelry, leather goods, fabrics, mosaics, aromatherapy…
Egypt shopping guide: Where to buy gifts in Egypt?
The most interesting shopping place for tourists in Cairo is Old Bazaar aka Khan-el-Khalili as mentioned above which specializing in selling all kinds of jewelry, spices, bronzes, brass, fabrics… which was built in 1382 by Emir Djaharks el-Khalili and is named after him. This market has a history of nearly 700 years. The market is open daily from about 9 a.m. to midnight, except Fridays that open after 1 p.m.
There are also many modern shopping malls and centers, especially near Tahrir Square. The prices of items are often not fixed, so do not hesitate to bargain for the best price.
In Egypt there are also vendors selling fake goods to deceive tourists or charge for bogus services. It will be difficult for visitors to recognize, especially around the pyramids at Giza. Advice for visitors is not to use any service without agreeing on a price. Only work on sightseeing and shopping services with staff of the relic site.
Egypt shopping guide: Some shopping notes you need to know
The currency of the Egypt is the pound (Egyptian Pound), abbreviated as EGP, 1 USD is equivalent to 15.71 Egyptian Pound. To be able to use money in Egypt, you just need to exchange it to USD, then exchange to EGP in Egypt. Note, remember to exchange to a little more small denominations, because in Egypt they will rarely give cash back, but it is automatically a tip. At that time, you will find coin is extremely useful, as it can be used for taxi rides, go to restroom, camel rides or tips for staffs. As for large denominations, you should use them to pay for hotels, meals or trains.
Regarding the monetary system, the Egyptians used coins and banknotes. With coins, there will be denominations of 25pt, 50pt, EGP1. As for banknotes, or Egyptian pounds, there will be denominations of 25pt, 50pt, EGP1, EGP5, EGP10, EGP20, EGP50, EGP100, EGP200. You can exchange from USD to EGP at banks in Egypt, they usually work from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday.
- Once you’ve exchanged to Egyptian pounds, it’s easy to spend them on anything. Usually, the shops here will have opening hours depending on the season and region. Opening hours are from 10am to 8pm, they will close on Fridays, just like Saturdays in Vietnam.
- When traveling to Egypt, you should learn to bargain or ask your friends (if any) to bargain for help. Like Dubai, shops in Egypt are often overcharge when it comes to trading, so you should bargain before you intend to buy any item.
- When asked about the price you want to buy, do not give the price first. Best, ask the seller for the price first, then you only need to pay 1/4 or a bit more of this amount. Example, when you want to buy a picture as a souvenir for $10, you should only pay about $2-$4. As for leather goods such as bags, jackets, and wallets, they are only about 1/3 cheaper than in Vietnam.
- Once you have decided on the item to buy, be careful and pay the correct amount in Egyptian pounds. If they see you as “ignorant”, they will sometimes ask you pay in British Pound (GBP), and GBPs are much more expensive than Egyptian pounds. You should also note, when traveling to Egypt, remember to memorize the Arabic numeral system, also known as Arabic. It is really necessary because most of the numeric characters like 1, 2, 3 will be converted to the Arabic coefficient written on the number of seats, room number, price, etc..
- In addition, if you want to buy a papyrus painting, is a work painted on papyrus, produced from fibers of the papyrus plants, which is very common in the lands of the Nile Delta. However, if you do not have a bit of Egypt travel experience, you will be very easy to buy fake paintings, mass printed on corn husks, dried banana peels like the real thing. Ideally, look for reputable stores, where there are certificates, signatures or imprints of the artists on them.
If you have the opportunity to visit Egypt, do not miss the opportunity to bring back these extremely unique and meaningful gifts. They will contribute to enriching your souvenir collection and will also help you to remember the wonderful moments of this trip of a lifetime to the land of great Kings and mysterious Gods.
Are you looking for more top things to do in Cairo: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here. Also, ae you finding some best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels in Cairo with good ratings and reviews you can refer on Agoda.com or Booking.com.