Unique Egyptian souvenirs: 8 ideas to gift your loved ones
There is a lot to see, experience and learn in your trip to Egypt. The ancient country is known for its pyramids, mummies and other historical monuments. As much as it sounds exciting, it also gets tiring to explore the places in long day tours. But there is another nerve-racking thing to do while you’re in Egypt. And it is shopping for your friends and family back home! I’m telling you this out of my own experience. I googled a lot about Egyptian souvenirs a couple of days before I landed in Cairo. I bookmarked some blog, even though I was not really impressed by its suggestions. But guess what, I ended up buying some cooler things that I didn’t find in the blog. So I thought I’ll write a blog to help and share ideas for unique Egyptian souvenirs to gift your loved ones.
What you must remember while buying these unique Egyptian souvenirs
Ok now let’s run over a few quick points that you must remember before knowing the souvenirs.
- Make sure to get a reliable local tour guide or a friend’s help to fix the best prices. Trust me, you’d be surprised at how the prices go down!
- It is also ok to pay a few extra bucks or do tipping. After all, the local vendors make living out of this! Tipping is expected at most restaurants, shops and services in Egypt.
- Do not flash your money while you’re in the market places.
- Take time to check out the items before you ask for a price.
- Do not make an eye contact with the vendor unless you’re interested in making a purchase from the shop.
- Be firm in saying ‘NO’. Be polite as well. ‘La shukraan’ means ‘no thank you’ in Arabic. So make sure to say ‘la shukraan’ when you’re approached by a local vendor.
- Trying shopping in market places rather than the shops near the monuments. It is relatively cheap, and you can also find more unique Egyptian souvenirs.
- Khan el-Khalili is the one-stop destination (even though it is not a non-touristy place) to buy most souvenirs from the list when you only have a day’s time to shop in Cairo.
Papyrus has been in Egypt since ancient times. It is made of the papyrus plants. There are many papyrus factories in touristy places but you can always get the replicas of the same in Khan el-Khalili market for cheaper prices. It comes in different shapes and sizes with various artwork like portraits of pharaohs, significant historical milestones, hieroglyphics, etc. It makes a great gift for people who are into history and art.
Hookah is found at most outdoorsy cafes in Egypt. I guess Egyptians love hookah with their ‘shai’ (Egyptian tea). The traditional classic hookah is usually handmade. It is made of a base, hand-painted with gold paint. The craftsmanship involved in the making is incredibly breathtaking since it comes in different colours, shapes and sizes. There are original Egyptian hookahs as well as the replicas of the same for affordable prices. Hence, you can always buy them according to your preferences.
3. Belly dance accessory/costume
Well, this does not really belong to the list of unique Egyptian souvenirs. But if you have a dancer-friend, then this is the right gift! Belly dance originated in Egypt and is now popular throughout the world. I loved the different accessories of the art-form being sold in Khan el-Khalili. Furthermore, there are many colours, types and qualities of the costume. I got waist chains, headpieces and costumes for my friends back home. Make sure to check out every apparel shop/store in the bazaar to get ahold of the best piece. Also, don’t forget to bargain!
Fanous is the traditional lantern found at Egyptian households during the month of Ramadan. It is made of various materials likes glass, recycled tin can, plastic, copper etc. However, the most traditional one is made of copper. It is such a magical sight in the night time at Bazaar when most shops are lit with these lanterns. I’m sure this is one hell of a tactic to attract tourists to buy them! I’m so confident because that’s I how I bought one too lol.
Khayameya is a traditional Egyptian fabric used for tents. It is so old that it dates back to the 12th century. There is an exclusive bazaar for leathers, fabrics and carpets in Cairo. You can get this beautiful fabric in different forms, shapes, sizes and designs. The more intricate the design/weaving is, the more you must pay! On the contrary, it is quiet cheap in the market places. You can take a reliable local guide or a friend to help you get it for the best price. And it is one of my favourite unique Egyptian souvenirs, hands down!
6. Personalised hieroglyphic gifts
Hieroglyphics are Ancient Egyptian alphabets, carved on the walls of the historical monuments. This Ancient script was developed 4000 years ago in the form of signs and pictures. Cartouche is a name plate for pharaohs in the Egyptian history. It is oval shaped with a horizontal bar at the end. You can get your name or your friends’ names carved in cartouche with hieroglyphics as a pendant or any other showpieces.
Ok, there are many Arabic sweets that would literally blow your mind away! But this original one is way too special! Basbousa is a semolina cake soaked in sweet syrup. This is the best thing you can gift your friends who have sweet tooth. Also, this easily makes it to the top of the list on must-eat local foods in Egypt. Make sure to buy it from a local shop on the last day of your trip. I got 3 packs for home and all of them were gone in less than a day. It was SO good!
Musical instruments from Ancient Egypt were interesting. One of them is Arghul and it is similar to a flute. I found it more unique than other instruments because of its sound that gave classic ‘Egyptian vibes’ to me. I don’t know why, but it felt like I was travelling on a camel in the desert beside the mysterious pyramids. Weird right? But I must say, it was truly an authentic sound! You can find a lot of these in the market places.
You can thank me later in the comment when you get your hands on these unique Egyptian souvenirs! There is also another blog on list of gifts from Egypt that I found quite interesting. Check that out if you are interested.
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.