Visiting markets wherever you visit is certainly worthwhile, but there is something very special about the bazaars in the middle east. Khan el-Khalili Bazaar in the Old Town Center of Cairo, Egypt, also known as Old Cairo, is certainly one of them. They can be quite busy and you need to be aware of your circumstances to avoid pickpockets or those who might want to take advantage of you. In most bazaars it is usually customary to bargain over the prices and the vendors don’t take offense to it. In fact, to get the best price, you might even start to walk away before the vendor offers a lower price that seems reasonable to you. Haggling, though, does not mean offering a ridiculously low price that might be viewed as an insult.
In addition to the crowds, there is likely to be sensory overload with the various smells, colors, and variety of items that can be found within the bazaars. There are spice shops, tobacco shops, artisans selling rugs, hookahs, clothing, pottery, and more. There are also coffee cafes and bistros with local breads as well. The narrow streets of the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar wind in various directions and you could spend hours walking through the shops and bartering for items. We only had a little over half day during our time in Cairo to visit the old historic center and wish we could have spent more time in the bazaar.
Old Cairo has many sites to visit and the bazaar is certainly one that should be visited. Some of the other key sites in the area are the Mosque and Madrassa of the Sultan Hasan, Abu Serga Church, the Babylon Fortress, and the historic Ottoman house Bayt Al-Suhaymi are just a few that should be visited as well. Cairo has so many interesting things to see that you could go back several times and always find something new to see.