The Great Souk of Cairo: Khan El Khalili

Khan el Khalili: Guide to Visiting the Great Souk of Cairo | www.carriereedtravels.com

I finally made it up to Khan el Khalili today with a women’s group I’m in. I’ve been wanting to go, but find that these sorts of local bazaars are best visited the first time with someone who knows what they’re doing. Once you have a bit of a layout of the land and some tips, it’s easy and fun to go back on your own to explore more.

Khan el Khalili is a souk, or bazaar, that has everything under the sun! Jewelry, clothing (Western and Arab), souvenirs (pyramids and pharoahs and sphinxs and hieroglyphics on everything!), metal of all types, furniture, fanoosh (lanterns), blown glass, and more. It is large and spread out with some of the best stores hidden away up winding stairs. This does make getting back to them a challenge. I tried my best to Google pin drop locations, but my gps was having a hard time pin pointing my location and it doesn’t really explain if something is upstairs or through an alley well. Hopefully I’ll find things again!

Khan el Khalili: A Guide to Visiting the Great Souk (Market) of Cairo | www.carriereedtravels.comIMG_8027

We went to several shops that our leaders visit regularly and that have fixed prices. Our first stop was a dual shop that has clothing and blown glass. Mostafa runs both shops that are next to each other. The clothing shop has a range of t-shirts up a spiral stair case. All your typical type souvenir ones in a range of colors and sizes. Some were quite humorous! Ground floor had pashmina scarves, plus Egyptian patterned or styled shirts and dresses. I got super cute dresses for me and DD–floor length, short sleeved, bright colors, and loose. DD’s is bright pink with gold Ancient Egyptian pictures and hieroglyphics on it. Mine is bright blue with gold, white and blue stitching.  The blown glass side was cool too. Lots of ornaments and decorations. Got a cool present there for a family member 🙂

Next up we went to a silver shop (MK) that is one of those I may never find again! It was through an alley, up some sketchy stairs and down a hall way. No sign or markings, just a man in a small room. But his silver jewelry is awesome. Just trays of it that you dig through and then he charges by the weight of the jewelry. I got some earrings and then got two presents. I have a potential pin drop and will try my best!

Khan el Khalili: A Guide to Visiting the Great Souk (Market) of Cairo | www.carriereedtravels.comIMG_8034

Then we went to a souvenir shop called Jordi’s that was also up some stairs–but a different set than the silver shop. Tons of cheap souvenirs–mugs for LE35 (or about $2), small spiral notepads for LE4 (25 cents), pyramid models, keychains, plates, etc. All with Egyptian things on them.

The rest of the group ended their tour at a lunch spot called Naguib Mahfouz, but I had to head home to get the kids from school. It was fun wandering down some of the alleys on my way back out of the souk. So sparkly!

Khan el Khalili: A Guide to Visiting the Great Souk (Market) of Cairo | www.carriereedtravels.comKhan el Khalili: A Guide to Visiting the Great Souk (Market) of Cairo | www.carriereedtravels.com

Practical Information:

Location? Islamic Cairo, across from Al Azhar Mosque—If coming from Maadi get dropped off here (https://goo.gl/maps/5i5eCuwM2EJ2). On the return, use the stairs that go down for the underground pedestrian bridge to the Al Azhar Mosque side of the road.  If coming from Downtown/Garden City, do the reverse—get dropped off at the Mosque and then use the stairs down to cross under Nafak Al Azhar. The stairs are just to the west of the mosque.

Khan Map
Red dots are where I have pin drops marked below. The blue dots are suggested drop off points near the pedestrian underground walk way. Yellow road has many shops and is easier and more condensed walking for a mini trip to the Khan or to start out.

Cost? Free

Camera Fee? No, though many won’t appreciate having their photo taken. Ask before photographing people or inside shops

Toilets? You’ll see some, but they are filthy, old, half broken and mostly used by men. But they’ll work in an emergency. Some restaurants will have them.

Food/Drinks Allowed? Sold?  Yes to both. Naguib Mahfouz is easy to find and a good food option for lunch or dinner (https://goo.gl/maps/66wKRNCKjMM2), though there are many others

Stroller Friendly? Not at all. Uneven walkways, narrow paths, missing stones, trash and debris, steps and stairs. Be prepared to carry young children.  Tight to the body baby carriers better than hiking carriers due to tight shops

Parking? Not easily, though you might find street parking on Nafak Al Azhar

Notes: Khan el Khalili is a cool market/souk but do be aware it can be hectic later in the afternoon and evening. Late morning is calmer, but not everything is open. Some stores have fixed prices, but many you’ll need to bargain. Foreigners will automatically be quoted a higher price. You can find everything here from souvenirs (things with pyramids, pharoahs, etc on them), t-shirts, clothing, jewelry, home goods, furniture, silver, bronze, gold and more. Be prepared to explore!  Parts of it are very dirty, tight, or old.

Pin Drop Locations:

Mostafa’s Clothing and Blown Glass–https://goo.gl/maps/ynVcQKiyzW72

IMG_3083.JPG

MK Silver–up a flight of stairs from a bead shop. Go up the 3 turns of stairs, then right, then left. It’s a tiny shop on the right https://goo.gl/maps/8sKfDGQcxTm

IMG_3084.JPG
The entrance to the stairs that lead up to MK Silver–NOT the white ones on the right, the dark hidden ones in the back.

Naguib Mahfouz–food spot–https://goo.gl/maps/diSKNqHcgat

Jordi Souvenirs–upstairs–https://goo.gl/maps/fskFMTMHVrR2

Khan el Khalili: A Guide to Visiting the Great Souk (Market) of Cairo | www.carriereedtravels.com

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