I’ve been told by many guide books and other travellers that this town is the most painful place in Egypt in terms of hassling tourists, but on arrival I found it to be quite the opposite. I honestly think the government caught wind of this reputation and stepped in because all you hear in the Souq (market) is ‘no hassle!’ and people tend to respect it when you say ‘no thanks’. Not to mention nearly every shop has a no hassle sign. If you plan to a little shopping here in the market there are 3 types of shops:
1. Typical market shops (90% of shops)– when you ask how much (let’s say for a scarf), they start with 25LE. The tactic is to look at them like your saying ‘your joking right?’, say ‘too much, too much’ and slowly start walking off. They price will then suddenly become 20, then 15 and eventually 12LE. If the price doesn’t drop as much as you’d like you then actually walk off. On your way back through the market, they will remember you and offer a lower price. Sold!
2. Fixed price reasonable shops (5%) – these shops will start with a reasonable price, will not budge and assure you that you are paying Egyptian price; but it’s cheap enough. Sold!
3. Fixed price ‘are you serious???’ shops (5%) – they people think there items are solid gold and worth 3-4 times their worth in Australia because they are Egyptian made. Good luck mate. No sale!
Taking a step away from markets. To date, I’d have to say this has been my favourite Egyptian town. The mixture of huge temples (one with a mosque built inside it); never ending tombs on the west bank; the contrast between blue Nile, green fields and yellow desert; mountains in the distance lit up at night; the kick ass hotel (Nefertiti, 100LE/night), particularly when the sun sets over said mountains); good restaurants; and the town’s general fun atmosphere makes it a winner in my books.