The Ultimate Guide to Shopping in Egypt’s Khan el-Khalili | Solo Female Travel

Isn’t there any woman in the world who does not love being surrounded by vibrant, colourful lights? Ummm… The first image I get from colourful lights is the “I see the light” song from the Rapunzel movie. Rapunzel and Flynn are alone in a small boat in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by millions of lantern lamps flowing through the sky in bright light. Now that you have picturised this dramatic feeling. Let me tell you, ladies, I am not going to talk about a real place like this. Instead, I can guide you to an amazing bazaar in the ancient city of Egypt, where you can buy these beautiful lantern lamps at the best price in differing varieties.

So, the beautiful bazaar that is home to many artisans is called the Khan el-Khalili bazaar. This hidden beauty is situated nearby other beautiful locations in Egypt. This makes khan el-Khalili bazaar a must-visit place in the world. Trust me—you will never be done shopping in this bazaar. Add it to your checklist already!

Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

Khan el-Khalili Bazaar is situated in the Cairo city of Egypt. Cairo city is widely famous for its historical significance. You can describe Khan el-Khaili as the place where art and beauty reside in tranquillity. What I love about Khan el-Khalili bazaar is they have millions and millions of handicraft items and souvenirs.

How to get to Khan El-Khalili Bazaar

Getting to Khan El-Khalili Bazaar is so easy. You can take any public transport to reach Cairo. Cairo is one of the main cities of Egypt as it is the destination for many travellers.

On reaching Cairo, you can hire a local taxi or book an Uber to get to Khan El-Khalili Bazaar. I took an uber as the local taxi’s charge is pricier than the flight ticket. I’m not even kidding! The bazaar is too crowded, apparently with narrow lanes. So, you will be dropped at the Azhar mosque, which is next to Khan el-Khalili.

Not to miss in Khan el-Khalili bazaar

A tour to khan el-Khalili bazaar is incomplete without visiting lantern lamp shops, spice shops, carpet shops, souvenir stores, jewellery shops, perfume shops, and fabric shops. Don’t ever miss out on these. I know walking through the streets of Khan el-Khalili bazaar is exciting, but if you don’t visit these shops, your trip is incomplete. No doubt, the bewitching beauty of the khan el-Khalili bazaar will make you love Egypt even more!

Are you still wondering why you should visit Egypt? Here is why!

What to wear to the bazaar

C’mon ladies—you can wear whatever you feel comfortable with and which best resonates with you. I prefer wearing mommy jeans and full sleeve top. You can go for summer dresses or pair your jean with fancy tops.

khan el-khalili in egypt

Whatever outfit you are in, wear an anti-theft chest sling bag. Since you are in a crowded place, is it not only safe to wear a chest bag, it will give a comfortable feel so that you can enjoy your time without any hassle.

Here is what to pack for Egypt- a 24 must-have essentials for women.

Must-visit historic cafe’s 

The nearby hotspot to Khan el-Khalili bazaar is Hussein Square. Hussein Square is a garden arena covered with many restaurants and cafes. So you can take breaks in both khan el-Khalili bazaar cafes and Hussein Square.

Al Fishawy is a historically popular cafe situated in Hussein Square. It is worthy to note that it is the oldest cafe in the bazaar. This cafe is famous because the renowned Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz frequently visited this cafe.

There is another cafe named Naguib Mahfouz in Hussein Square. This cafe is named after the same writer. Both these cafes are pretty famous among the tourists, and they offer good service at an affordable price.

Karkade and Zanjabi

If you don’t know already, tea is the national drink of Egypt. Their cuisine has myriad types of beverages! You have many options to have a good-tasting beverage.

khan el-khalili in egypt

Among the huge list, I like Karkade and Zanjabi. I highly recommend you try these beverages. Karade is and also called hibiscus tea. It is a cold drink. It is said that pharaohs favoured this tea, and it is served at weddings and other celebrations.

This drink relaxes you from any uneasiness. Egyptians clank their glass before having hibiscus tea. If you get an opportunity, don’t forget to toast it with your acquaintance.

Zanjabi is a hot drink made with ginger and spices. The magic lies in the mixture of spice with ginger. This magical beverage may sound like ginger tea, but it’s nothing like ginger tea. The mixture of spice gives it a heavenly taste.

Visit this website and choose your beverage from the distinct collection.

What is the best time to visit the bazaar?

The best time to plan your visit to the Khan el-Khalili bazaar is towards the end of your trip. There are so many reasons for it! You do not want to be carrying the extra luggage if you have plans of visiting other cities like Luxor, Alexandria, etc. (which I absolutely recommend), especially via a local flight. And also, you will get a clearer picture of the country only towards the end of your trip. 

I observed what Egypt was all about culturally and used it to get the right kind of souvenir gifts for my friends and family on the last day of my solo trip to Egypt

Talking about the timings, I’d say it’s better to visit the bazaar in the late afternoon. Also, please note that most shops in the bazaar are closed on Friday mornings and Sundays. So plan accordingly. 

How to haggle like a pro 

Prepare yourself for the fun

If you ask me, haggling in the streets of Khan El-Khalili bazaar is a refreshing adventure. So, as a thumb rule, prepare yourself for all the fun. Don’t worry. The vendors hike up the price for the foreign visitors. So, no compromise in bargaining. You can do it with fun. Of course, note down this haggling experience in your journal!

Be polite

After preparing yourself, don’t be too excited and take the negotiation to a serious level. You are there for a beautiful experience. Don’t ruin it with bad memories. The shopkeepers will always listen to your bargain as they have deliberately hiked up the price. Being polite and calm wins you the bargain.

Say Thank you

Thank you in Arabic means “Shukran.” If you find that the bargain is not satisfying, you can say “Laa shukran” and leave the place. “Laa” denotes “no” in Arabic. Denying the offer in this polite manner is a super trick to get back on the bargain even better.

Walkout in disappointment

Another trick equally promising as saying “Thank you” is walking out of the shop in disappointment. I have done it in countless shops. Trust me, it works. The shopkeeper’s goal is to get you to buy things at the best price possible. While they reduce the price, they still get a good profit from it. So, when you leave in disappointment, you are actually taking away their profit. It gets you back with a hopeful bargain.

Tell them about another cheap shop

Telling the shopkeeper about another shop offering a low price is a trick everyone knows without any advice. By doing so, you are indirectly informing the shop owner that you are not ready for the compensation. You are determined to buy only at your suggested price. This alarms the shopkeeper. Eventually, they will come to your range of price.

Keep the money hidden

If you want to haggle like a pro, don’t show the money you have. Keep your money hidden. Only when the bargain is over for good take out the currency. Keep in mind that the shopkeeper should know the amount you possess while you are paying only!

Beware of these tricks shopkeepers use 

The shopkeepers use some marketing gimmicks to sell you stuff. Some tricks are downright gross. I told you never to let the seller know how much cash you have in your pocket. Beware of it. 

Some will ask how much you are willing to buy the item for. You might not know the actual value of the price, and you may end suggesting more money than the original. So, never guess the price of the item. Let the seller tell you the price. You can haggle like a pro after it.

Don’t fall for their wishy-washy praises. Remember, their job is to sell items. Their living is based on it. As solo female travellers, we cant get ourselves deceived by this fake praise. Buy stuff you like, don’t buy things because the shopkeeper guaranteed it or told you it suits you well.

The best shops to buy souvenirs in the bazaar

There is no such thing as the best shop or the worst shop in the bazaar. All shops are the same and most of the items you can find in every shop. If you ask me about my souvenir purchase, I was crazy over their lantern lamps. I purchased quite a few lamps, some silk fabrics, and a gorgeous-looking shisha. 

How safe is Khan El-Khalili Bazaar

If you are wondering if Khan El-Khalili Bazaar is safe for a female solo traveller, yes, it is completely safe for a solo woman traveller. You can definitely find another soul like you there since the place is super safe. However, the historical background of Egypt is not without any terror. But, the tourist places are always lined with tourists, and you won’t feel like passing in a strange country. 

If you are thinking about COVID, then I guess it is unsafe. If not for the pandemic, I would have started my second trip to Egypt already!

Nearby tourist spots

Cairo is the most sort after location to witness the wonders of ancient architecture of Egypt. How can we exclude the awe-striking pride of Egypt—Pyramids.

Yes, we have pyramids situated a few kilometres near the bazaar. So, the other places you can go solo beside Khan El-Khalili bazaar are Saladin Citadel Museum, the great sphinx of Giza, and Saqqara Memphis.

Cairo is one part of Egypt. There are few other wonders left to be seen in Egypt—the red sea is one such favourite spot! If you are planning to add the Red sea to your Cairo tour, read my blog post for more information.

Speaking Arabic in the streets of Egypt

Dressing up in other cultural attire and imitating their language is the only time people like to be in the shoes of others. Isn’t it right? Damn, how difficult it is to understand other people. Let us keep this discussion for some other time. 

No travel is complete without uttering a few sounds in a foreign language. I will tell you few sentences which I used during my visit to Khan el-Khalili Bazaar. They actually received a good response.

As I said earlier, Khan el-Khalili is a place of trade and commerce. To our surprise, the shop owners are vaguely fluent in many languages. They speak good English. Though they may not understand completely, they know common words which they grabbed from the foreign visitors. How funny! What we are planning to do, the shop owner does it already! Without any delay, let’s look into common Arabic words and phrases you can use during your visit.

Words that will come in handy while you’re shopping in Khan el-Khalili

  • “Shukran” in Arabic means Thank you. It would be lovely if you say shukran when you get any help from the native people. It puts a smile on both people.
  • “Thaman” means price. I remember pointing to the item and saying this word out weirdly lol. Some even made fun of my accent! Well, that’s part and parcel of being a solo female traveller, I guess. 
  • “Baai” denotes salesperson. Whenever you ask something, you can end it with ‘baai.’ Ex. “How much is the silk scarf, baai.”
  • “Naam” means ‘Yes.’ It is an easy one. However, people laugh if you do not pronounce it correctly. The “a” in Naam has a high tone and stress. You have to accentuate the ‘a’ to sound more native.
  • “Laa” means “No,” and of all the words, I liked to utter this word the most. It comes out of the mouth easy as honey, and it’s funny. I used this word even after my vacation, making myself creepy around my peers lol.

I hope you will have a lot of fun haggling around the streets of Khan El-Khalili Bazaar speaking in a foreign tongue.

The busy streets, prayer chanting from speakers, crowded people, sky-high minarets, and some Arabic music best defines your experience in the Khan el-Khalili bazaar. The bazaar is gracefully noisy and extremely exciting. Feeling calm and peaceful in a loud, clanking environment is a magical feeling. It is your time to experience the magic feeling. Don’t forget to make room for lantern lamps and shishas on your list!


An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.

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