Shopping doesn't have to be a chore and it doesn't necessitate forced pleasantries with anxious salesmen. The best places to shop are the places that are densely stocked with goods that sell themselves. Some of these spots are stores or neighborhoods full of stores and some of them are acres covered in haphazardly constructed stalls. The only thing that all of the world's best shopping destinations have in common is stuff that you'd want to buy.
Khan el-Khalili, Cairo
Why to Go: Cairo is a fascinating city because, within its confines, the modern and the ancient live side by side. At Khan el-Khalili, they're more or less intertwined. The city's largest market is full of treasures – some ancient – hookahs, textiles, postcards, snow globes, beggars, holy men, students, daggers, silverware, and perfumes. Before the call to prayer sounds, it's always abuzz with photogenic activity. Foreigners can expect to be approached by friendly and unfriendly locals. Some will be eager to practice their English (many Egyptians are fluent) while some will offer summary judgment of U.S. foreign policy. A little politeness goes a long way, and a shopping trip to the area is always a learning experience.
What to Buy: Skip the tourist junk, and buy some perfume. Egyptians have been manufacturing the stuff for thousands and thousands of years, and though the local mixes are a bit oily, you won't find similar scents in a department store.
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