If you want to know what to buy in Egypt, this post has you covered! I love wandering a bazaar or a souq or a gift shop to find the best things to buy in Egypt as a memento of my trip, especially if it is one of the popular or unique Egypt souvenirs.
I used to send myself home a postcard, but that was interrupted after a postcard from Jordan took 9 months to arrive in Canada! I have also been to a few places lately that do not have post cards on every corner, unlike the ABC shops scattered along Waikiki Beach in Oahu. I decided the best souvenirs to buy in Egypt should come home with me. I also like to buy a flag from the country I am visiting.
Keep reading below to see what to buy in Egypt and find the best Egyptian souvenir for you!
What to Buy in Egypt | 10 Best Things to Buy in Egypt
#1 Alabaster Vase
Alabaster is a popular thing to buy in Egypt to take home as a souvenir. It is a soft rock that makes it ideal for carving.
There are plenty of places to buy Alabaster in Egypt but if you visit a factory, they will probably explain to you how to tell if what you are buying is genuine alabaster or a replica made of other materials.
When you are in these places, know that the shop you are in is likely there for your benefit, but that is part of Egypt. The locals need the support of the tourists.
When we were in Cairo, one of the best things we did was a day tour. You can check out a great one here. If you are not sure that you want to navigate Egypt on your own, these amazing small group tours will get you all of the high lights in what is considered a difficult country to travel in.
When you are done with this post, consider reading Tips for Visiting the Pyramids of Giza and our experience there!
#2 Canopic Jars
Canopic Jars would be one of the best things to buy in Egypt as a unique souvenir in my opinion. What else holds so much history as the mummification of the Egyptian Pharaohs? What else can you put on a shelf that immediately says Egypt?
The canopic jars used in the mummification process held organs of the deceased.
Did you know that ancient Egyptians thought that the brain was useless and it was discarded in the mummification process.
The four canopic jars held the stomach, the liver, the intestines and the lungs. They come in various materials and you will see them all over Egypt. We chose to buy ours from a stone shop and they make a great display at home.
If you are spending a few days in Cairo. I suggest you check out this: Daily Cairo Dinner Cruise. It is super affordable and makes for a great Egyptian experience.
There are a few spices you to buy in Egypt on your visit that are often very high quality and cheaper than from home. Spices can be found almost anywhere from hotel gift shops to souqs and markets. Sumac is a popular purple colored one that I suggest you keep your eye out for. It is great with chicken and you can also use it in making your own Zaater to put on bread. I also suggest looking for Zaater spice if you enjoy bread with oil and zaater. It tastes much better than the ones you can buy in the ethnic foods sections at home
#4 Cotton Dress
Whether you choose a pair of Egyptian Pyjamas or a loose dress or shirt, you will have plenty of choices in the Souq’s in Egypt. We enjoyed wandering the Luxor Souq and the kids picked out a pair cotton wares for themselves.
Again, when you are comparing these, you will likely find lots of cheap imports, and that is why each stall has the same one. But there are authentic Egyptian made if that is what you were after. I was not picky on the authenticity and wanted some cute pyjamas for my kids!
When shopping in the souq for the best items to buy while in Egypt, my goal was to provide for the locals. Spending tourist dollars is what they need. No one will really give you a good idea of what things should cost. I was quoted an insane price for a cotton jumpsuit and walked away instantly. I quickly found a similar one at the first price I was offered was much more reasonable. Pay what YOU want, if it feels to expensive, do not buy it.
The Best Cairo Day tours here
One of the best things to buy from Egypt in my opinion is a cartouche. There are jewelry shops that can put your name on a cartouche in just a few hours and it makes a great souvenir from your visit to Egypt.
If someone was to as me what to buy in Egypt, It would be a cartouche. We each got a cartouche made with our names. They have various prices and materials. They are a small keepsake that you can wear and show off. Look for the silver to be stamped with 925, otherwise it probably is not silver.
If you are on a Luxor Tour, your guide will likely suggest a shop to you.
Egypt is known for its perfumes.
There are small shops right outside Giza that will let you go in and smell the perfumes and tell you all about the sourcing of perfumes in Egypt. It is definitely interesting and we came home with a few small bottles ourselves.
A small bottle makes a great Egyptian gift to get your friends and is only a few dollars.
Perfumes and scented oils are also a popular souvenir in Dubai. If you are planning on visiting the Emirate, have a read of my post on What to buy in Dubai.
Papyrus is a material similar to paper that was used in Egypt as a writing surface. It comes from the papyrus plant that was once abundant in the Nile Delta.
Today, you can find papyrus shops that will show you how the paper-like surface was made in ancient times and purchase beautiful artwork depicting Egyptian gods and daily life in Ancient Egypt.
The one thing I regret from our visit is not staying long enough to do a Nile Cruise. We are already planning to go back and will be doing this one. If offers good food and accommodations and great guides. Those are all the important things!
#8 Glass Sand Bottles
If you are wondering what to buy in Egypt or want a cute gift, the glass sand bottles make a great souvenir.
Artists will craft them for you and watching their craft is something fascinating in itself. Sometimes they will use authentic coloured sand, and other times the sand will be dyed to create dynamic colors. Have your name engraved, or the date of your visit, to commemorate your vacation.
#9 Mini Water Pipe / Shisha Pipe / Hookah Pipe
Arabs love their tea and their shisha. You will find locals with their sweet tea and shisha outside restaurants and coffee shops.
Look for a small one that will fit in your suitcase.
It will make quite the conversation piece in your home and will remind you of the sweet apple aroma outside local restaurants. If you want to know what to buy from Egypt, a mini water pipe is a great choice!
#10 Mini Pyramids
You can get mini pyramids for as little as a few American Dollars. If you want to bring home something small, this is a great option. It is probably one of the popular things to buy in Egypt.
They are made of several types of materials and the price ranges will depend on what they are made of.
The cheapest ones will likely be Chinese imports, but if it being Egyptian made is not important to you, that is a sure way to save some money. While browsing the souq, keep your eye out for these little treasures, they make a great gift! We grabbed the three pack that also had a sphinx from a souq in Luxor.
Conclusion: What to Buy in Egypt
I hope these 10 suggestions have given you some ideas of what to buy in Egypt on your trip.
Shopping is an experience in itself and sometimes the pushy salesmen can get really annoying. It is best just to ignore them, if you are walking past, and do not feel pressured to buy anything you do not want.
It is hard to find out what a “fair” price to pay is, but the general consensus is to pay what you think is far. I WAYYYYYY overpaid for a “robaba” instrument for my son, but it was still inexpensive and it was not from a vendor who had been bugging me so I was happy to give him my business.
Part of my travels in Egypt is about spending my money in an economy that so needs it. If you have always dreamed about Egypt, now is the time to go!
Check out these tour options for travelers who want an ethical and off the beaten path experience. Enjoy your travels and do let me know in the comments what Egyptian souvenirs you brought back from your trip!
If you are planning a visit to Egypt, check out these other posts:
What you want to know about The Valley of the Kings
Packing Tips for the Middle East with my Jordan Packing Guide
Reviewing Sharm el Sheikh Resorts: Movenpick Naama Bay
Lindsay is the founder and editor of Carpe Diem OUR Way. She is passionate about sharing her experiences of traveling with children on adventurous family holidays around the world! She resides in the suburbs of Vancouver when not jet setting abroad.