Egyptian costume shopping in Khan el Khalili
With tips for a solo female traveller (part 1)
Wow, times have changed in the ‘Khan’ since i was there last. It was a bustling place with many tourists and happy shop owners with hilarious one liners, trotting them out in a dozen languages. Now, it is more a case of spot the tourist. Luckily there are still locals visiting.
The one liners are still there, but the hustle and bustle is gone. It makes it way easier to move through it but I couldn’t help but feel sad for those trying to make a living. If it wasn’t for the locals shopping there, then I am not sure what would happen to the place.
The good news is – the belly dance shops are still there and seem to be doing OK. it seems dancers are ignoring the over zealous safety warnings for travel to Egypt and are still coming, albeit in lesser numbers.
Ok, on to actually shopping information. Mahmoud Abdel ghaffar ‘s shop is a great place to use as a base and to orient yourself. It is down the main street of the khan and reached down a short alley between 2 shops that also sell some belly dance gear. It is 3 levels of belly dance bliss. 4 years ago it was great. This trip it was tricky as they were renovating and a lot of stuff was covered plastic to try and protect it from the dust of construction, but it will be even better when its finished. At the start of April Mahmoud said it would be done in only a few weeks. I think it may be a few months by the time it is done but costumes and belts are still available. You don ‘t negotiate here, the price is named and that is it. (this is in contrast to most of your other dealings in Egypt). Prices are not cheap but neither are they rip offs, so if you like something here, buy it! He has the most stunning array of belts / hip-scarves I have seen. As a price indicator, earrings are around 10LE belts between 60 and 80 LE. If you need costume adjustments or help, a woman is brought in to assist. There is a variety of sizes here. I bought a costume from this shop on my first trip, it was a little large and I adjusted it at home ( as i didn’t have time for the seamstress to do it for me on site) and I noticed that while it does have some smaller stuff, it has a decent range for ladies with fuller figures. If you are really busty or above a size 12 (Australian) then this is a particularly good place to have a thorough look through.
You can send large boxes of shopping back home through him at the cost of approx $300 AUD per box to get to Australia. I don’t know if its cheaper to send to Europe. The box can contain around the 20-25kg of awesomeness and is big enough to fit 2 drums inside plus a lot of extra things packed in and around them. You can buy things from other shops and deposit them in your box while you are in Egypt and then stop by on your last day in Cairo and pay the shipping. It will be at your house in about a week, which is pretty good going.
(I keep running out of time to edit my 1700 word epic on costumes in Cairo so I decided to post it in shorter parts, I still didn’t have time to edit this much but hopefully it make sense – stay tuned for more soon)
Have you travelled Egypt on your own? What were your experiences? Please comment below.