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TOP-16 Best Gifts from Egypt


Page update - Aug 18, 2023

What are the most interesting gifts and souvenirs to bring from Egypt? What are the prices? Where is the best place to buy? How to choose the best and not to overpay? Read the answers on this page and our list of the best gifts from Egypt.

Also, don't miss the second list: what NOT to bring from Egypt.

The prices and other information on this page were updated in August 2023. Prices in Egypt have changed over the past six months. All the current prices are below on this page.

Important points

- Further on this page, we will give prices in US dollars or Egyptian pounds, depending on the place where it is most convenient to buy the gift or souvenir. If it is better to buy in a store in a tourist area, the price will be written in US dollars. If it's better to buy in a supermarket, then it's better to buy in Egyptian pounds. See the current exchange rates in our review "What is the money in Egypt".

- Prices for souvenirs and gifts can vary greatly from store to store. The prices are always higher in hotel stores. If something can be bought in the supermarkets, it's better to do so as it will be cheaper. Some gifts are interesting to buy at markets, such as spices or karkade.

- Prices may vary from resort to resort. We will publish the typical prices for Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh. But the prices may be 20-50% higher in remote resorts.

- Not all items are allowed to be taken out of Egypt. And not all items can then be brought in your home country. Some items are allowed, but in limited quantities. Therefore, we recommend reading our review "What you can and can't take out of Egypt" before planning your list of gifts and souvenirs.




16 Best Souvenirs and Gifts




16. Karkade

Aka "hibiscus tea", although it's not quite correct to call this drink the word "tea". Karkade is made from the dried flower petals of the hibiscus plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa). As it looks, see the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.

The drink is very popular in Egypt, believed to have been drunk by the pharaohs. Karkade is drunk hot on cold winter nights and cold on summer days. It is a universal drink for Egyptians.

In hotels in Egypt, they often serve it as a complimentary drink as soon as tourists arrive. The drink can be tasted at any meal or at any time in the bars. Karkade is definitely not to be missed.

Some tourists choose not the most cultural way to bring karkade home - they just take sachets in large quantities from the restaurant. We don't recommend this way, and it's better to buy karkade in a store. The packages on store shelves usually have the title in English, look for the inscription "Hibiscus" on the package.

The prices range from 15 to 25 Egyptian pounds for a pack of 20 brew bags. You can also buy loose hibiscus very cheaply at markets. If you take a kilo or more, the price is 10 USD dollars per kilo or cheaper. It can cost much higher in the markets at resort areas.




15. Pendant or amulet with hieroglyphs

In Egypt, it is very common to sell pendants and amulets on which the name of the buyer is written in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Some stores sell ready-made pendants. Some mint on order a name, nickname, or any word.

Also such pendants are called "cartouche", which is wrong. The word "cartouche" refers to an oval inside which a pharaoh name was written in ancient times. Naturally, your name on the pendant will be in the cartouche, how else would it be?

The souvenir is beautiful, but from a scientific point of view it can be safely called "the fake". The alphabet of hieroglyphs used by the traders is only partially identical to the real ancient alphabet. The ancient Egyptian alphabet had almost no vowels, and it is very difficult to write most names in it.

The price of a plain steel pendant is from USD 10, for a silver pendant from USD 25.

We do not recommend to buy pendants made of silver and even more so of gold. Firstly, the chances of getting a fake (not made of precious metal) are very high. Secondly, you will have no proof of the authenticity of the metal, and you will not be able to sell or pawn it if necessary.




14. Egyptian beer

Egypt is the birthplace of beer. Already the builders of the Great Pyramids drank beer as an important part of their diet. However, ancient Egyptian beer has little in common with modern beer.

Now there are several dozen varieties brewed in Egypt. Some people like Egyptian beer, some do not. We have only one piece of advice: try it first and then go buy it to bring home.

Stella is the most popular beer brand in Egypt. Do not confuse Egyptian Stella with Belgian Stella Artois, they are completely different brands. Stella beer now only comes in one variety, the 4.5% lager. There used to be other sorts, but they are no longer available.

Sakara is the second most popular brand, named after the famous necropolis of Saqqara in the south of Cairo. Nowadays, there are two regular varieties - Gold and Weizen, as well as strong El-King with 10% and 15% strength.

We recommend trying El-King 15% first of all. Agree, it is unlikely to find beer with such strength anywhere else.

Meister is the third most popular brand. The regular brand (called Meister) with 5.2% strength and the Meister Max brand with 8% strength.

If you will find Pharaoh, Luxor, or Aswanli beers, taste them as they are rare. We especially recommend trying Desperados, a beer with Egyptian tequila in it.

The price of a can (bottle) of 0.5 liter beer - from 30 to 50 Egyptian pounds.

By the way! Recently (at the beginning of 2021), the largest Egyptian liquor stores chain Drinkies has got a handy application for Android and iOS. Through the app, you can see the main range of Egyptian beer and even order with delivery to the hotel. Use it. The app is called Drinkies Store Al Ahram Beverages.




13. Scarab figurines

In ancient Egypt, the scarab was identified with the sun, as this insect rolls dung balls, as if repeating the path of the sun. God Atum, the creator of all things, was sometimes depicted in the form of a scarab. It is dedicated to him a large statue in the Karnak temple, with which tourists like to be photographed during the tour.

Amulets in the form of a scarab were popular in ancient Egypt. Such amulets or simply figurines of a scarab are often found in ancient tombs. Despite the plurality of scarab figurines found in the tombs, historians still dispute what cult role these beetles played and what place they occupied in the religious system.

And it has not been acknowledged exactly what effect the amulets in the form of a scarab should bring, as it does say nowhere in ancient texts. Merchants of souvenirs say that it is necessary to buy a scarab standing on legs - it brings good luck. And if a scarab is sitting on the belly then it is a funerary object, and it should not be bought. These are beliefs that are not supported by archaeological finds or ancient written sources.

Choosing a scarab figurine is very simple: the more beautiful and colorful it looks, the better. The price for a figurine starts at USD 1.




12. Duqqa

This is perhaps the most colorful Egyptian national food product. It is a mixture of ground nuts, spices, and herbs. There are hundreds if not thousands of variations of duqqa in Egypt. The composition may vary slightly from region to region. In addition, many Egyptian families have their own recipes for duqqa.

The main ingredient in the mixture is nuts, usually chickpeas or hazelnuts, less often almonds. Sesame, coriander, cumin, allspice, parsley, and dill are also added. This results in a true extravaganza of flavors.

Duqqa is usually eaten with bread and butter. Or sprinkled on top of sandwiches or vegetable dishes. It is popular among modern Egyptians to eat duqqa with chips. You can sprinkle it on top of any dish and it will be delicious.

Egyptians prefer to buy fresh duqqa at markets. Therefore, it is rarely found in supermarkets.

The price ranges from 100 to 300 Egyptian pounds per kilogram. The price depends greatly on the nuts used in the mixture. The cheap varieties are made of chickpeas or even peanuts (the cheapest nut). Expensive varieties are made of almonds or even pistachios.




11. Figurines of the ancient Egyptian gods

Figurines depicting the gods of ancient Egypt are very popular with tourists. In souvenir stores, you can find figurines of different sizes - from 4 to 20 inches (from 10 to 50 centimeters), made of different materials - wood, stone, plastic, and even ivory.

The god Horus was depicted as a man with the head of a falcon. He was the patron of the power of the pharaohs. Not in vain the rulers of Egypt of the Ptolemaic dynasty built him the grandiose temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu, because the Ptolemies were of Greek descent, they feared for their power.

The god Anubis was depicted as a man with the head of a jackal. He escorted people to the realm of the dead, and was also the patron of poisons and medicines.

The god Osiris was the king of the afterlife. He taught people the art of cultivating the earth. During the supreme judgment of the mortal soul, it was he who played the role of chief judge.

If you are preparing a gift for an executive, then choose Horus. For doctors and pharmacists Anubis is recommended. Employees of law enforcement and judicial authorities fit Osiris.

If you need to buy a souvenir for someone of an intellectual profession, the god Thoth, who was depicted as a man with the head of an ibis (a bird with a long beak), is suitable. This god was the avatar of wisdom, he taught people to read and write.

The price of the figurine is from USD 2 to USD 100. The price depends on the size, material, and quality of the figurine.




10. Egyptian cheeses

Mish is the most unusual Egyptian cheese. It is made from other types of cheese. The source cheese is put in a clay jar, salted plentifully, and poured with sour milk. To initiate fermentation, add a little bit of already mature mish. It is kept at room temperature for several months to several years.

The taste of mish is very salty and sharp, and not everyone will like it. The color is yellow-brown. Mish used to be exclusively a homemade product, but now it is actively produced by dairies. The price in supermarkets is from 50 to 100 Egyptian pounds per kilogram.

Rumi is a family of Egyptian semi-hard cheeses. Depending on the ageing, this cheese can be young - softer and reminiscent of a Greek Kasseri. It can be aged and then the consistency is similar to edam or gouda. It can be heavily aged and then be close to Parmesan. The price is about 150 Egyptian pounds per kilo.

Arish is a very interesting cheese that is most similar in consistency to Italian ricotta. The price is about 100 pounds per kilogram.

Modern Egyptians eat fewer and fewer local cheeses every year. Therefore, it is often difficult to find these cheeses in supermarkets.




9. Figurines of cats and the goddess Bastet

There is written evidence that a Roman soldier in Egypt ran over a cat while driving a cart. An Egyptian stabbed a Roman soldier to death, even though he knew Romans would kill him. That is how much the Egyptians honored cats.

A cat is the guardian of the home, comfort, and well-being. It is often depicted with a snake, which surprises many tourists. In fact, cats hunt and eat snakes, there is nothing surprising about that. Of course, cats in Europe do not hunt snakes due to the small population of the snakes, but in Egypt snakes are part of the diet of cats.

There is an opinion that the cat with the snake is a funerary symbol, but the source of this information is not clear, as in the case of the scarab. If the cat is busy destroying snakes, a danger to humans, then it looks more like a symbol of well-being than a symbol of death. From ancient times, cats were the main weapon of people against rodents that threatened the food supply.

You can "kill two birds with one stone" by buying the figurine of the ancient goddess Bastet, who is depicted with the body of a woman and the head of a cat. Bastet was the patroness of fireplace and childbearing. It was thought that her image protected the house from evil spirits, diseases, and vermin.

The price of the figurine is from USD 2 to USD 100. The price depends on the size, material, and quality of the figurine.




8. Egyptian strong alcohol

Egypt produces strong liquor dispite the country is Islamic. But Egypt does not have its own national strong alcoholic beverage. All of the local drinks are copies of European. But they are interesting in their own way.

Zibiba is an aniseed vodka, a copy of the Greek "ouzo" or Turkish "raki". The price starts at 60 Egyptian pounds for 0.5 liter.

Auld Stag is the most popular Egyptian whisky. The price starts from 200 pounds for 0.75 liter.

Blue40 and Black50 are local vodkas. The price for Blue40 is from 350 pounds per liter. The price of Black50 is from 450 pounds per liter.

Malvado is a local tequila and is made from agave fruit which grows well in the Egyptian climate. The price starts from 180 pounds for 0,75 liters.

Cubana is a local rum, Butler's is a local gin, Devlin is a local whisky. Prices start from 250 pounds for 0,75 liters.

Egyptian strong drinks are quite good in terms of quality. In our opinion, the taste is mid-range. All the opinions of tourists vary and sound rather personal. First try and then take it, if you like it. Unfortunately, alcohol is not sold in every store.




7. Canopic jars

These are ancient Egyptian ritual vessels. During mummification, internal organs were removed from the body and placed in these vessels. The set always consists of 4 pieces. Each canopic jar is decorated with the head of one of the gods, one of the four sons of Horus.

The god Duamutef with the head of a jackal for the stomach of the deceased. The god Hapi with the head of a baboon for the lungs of the deceased. The god Qebehsenuef with the head of a falcon for the intestines of the deceased. The god Imsety with a human head for the liver of the deceased.

Real canopic jars were about 12-15 inches (30-40 centimeters) high, made of alabaster, more rarely ceramic. Modern replica souvenirs can be any size, but they are usually made smaller - 6-8 inches (15-20 centimeters) in height.

The souvenir is beautiful and even useful in the household. It is amusing to see how people use these jars at home to store sugar and salt. Why not?

The price depends a lot on the material. The price of a set of simple ceramic canopic jars starts at USD 10. The price increases if the vessels are beautifully painted or contain additional decoration. The price of a set of alabaster canopic jars starts at USD 50.




6. Hawawshi

Be sure to try the Egyptian version of a meat pie, called "hawawshi". Egyptian hawawshi comes only with meat, and not any other filling.

And if you like it, you can buy a ready-made frozen hawawshi pie in a supermarket, although they are not found on the shelves very often. The price is 70-110 Egyptian pounds per pie. Of course, the pie will defrost on the road home, but it will not spoil, and you can safely eat it with family and friends. Refreezing it again is possible, but not recommended.

We recommend tasting hawawshi pie only in restaurants, and NEVER in street-food. Street pies are called by the Egyptians themselves "the graveyard of all spoiled meat". There have been cases of fatal poisoning in Egypt.

There have even been publications in the Egyptian press that dogs and cats are used in street pies. Is it true or not? It's hard to say. But it is better to be reassured and try hawawshi only in restaurants. Factory frozen pie is definitely safe.




5. Essential oils

Every major hotel has a store with a wide range of essential oils. The most popular aromas are sandalwood, menthol, lavender, aloe, mint, rose, and jasmine.

You can use them as perfumes or just put them in your home for a good smell. Keep in mind that essential oils are highly concentrated and should always be diluted.

Some oils are considered therapeutic. Of course, we will not dispute about menthol oil, as it is good against colds, as menthol is a good antiseptic. The "magical" healing properties of the other oils are not well proven by science. You should be especially careful with such gifts if you are allergic, as it is unlikely what kind of reaction may occur.

Price of a 25 ml bottle of essential oil is from USD 3 to USD 50. The price strongly depends on the sort and concentration.

The wholesale price of essential oil is about USD 60 per kilogram. This is the lower theoretical limit to which you can bargain. However, in reality, tourists buy oils even more expensive than USD 3 per 25 ml, especially if they buy them in the hotel store.




4. Egyptian fruits

The main two advantages of Egyptian fruits are the low price and the other (than in Mediterranean region) months of harvest. It is for these reasons tourists like taking home fruits from Egypt. In addition, in Egypt, you can buy fruit already matured, but not matured in the box on the way.

The bestseller among tourists is strawberries, which are harvested in the winter months in Egypt. Agree, it's nice to bring in the winter strawberries for 50 Egyptian pounds per kilogram, when it costs 10-20 euros in supermarkets in Europe or USD 10-20 in supermarkets in the US.

Apricots and peaches are also popular. These fruits ripen in April and May. You can buy them in a store for 30-50 pounds per kilo.

However, many tourists notice that Egyptian fruits often lack flavor and sweetness. This is not surprising given the abundant use of inorganic fertilizers by Egyptians. So be sure to taste the fruit, and only then buy large quantities to take home.




3. Paintings from sand in a bottle

Very popular souvenir among tourists. These paintings in bottles are made only by hand, hence the relatively high price. You can look at the work of the artist and even participate in master classes in some stores.

The themes of sand paintings in Egypt are not diverse - sand, desert, palm trees, camels, pyramids. By the way, it is Egypt that claims to be the inventor of this art form, and it disputes this right with neighboring Jordan.

The price of a bottle of sand painting is from USD 3 and up. For a bottle 6 inches (15 centimeters) high, prepare USD 10. If the pictures on the two sides of the bottle are different, multiply the price by 1.5 times.

The first important point. These bottles are sold open in Egypt, and the top layer of sand must be fixed with glue or a special solution. So make sure that the sand does not spill out of the bottle. If it does, ask the bottle to be closed.

The second important point. Do not forget that the thing is fragile, and it can easily break in the luggage. And we all know that the movers at the airports don't have much love for the luggage of passengers. We recommend that you stock up on some protective packaging for fragile gifts, or as a last resort, lay down some clothes.




2. Egyptian sweets

The range of Egyptian sweets is very wide and interesting. But unfortunately not all sweets can be brought home, since the shelf life of many sweets is short. For example, you can not bring the famous omali, kunafa, or kataef.

But do not get upset, because there are still many options. For example, Kahk cookies, which used to be made in Egyptian families during Ramadan, and now you can buy in any supermarket all year round. Or the famous Arab basbousa has a long shelf life. Or the Egyptian variation of baklava, called "goulash".

Even if the dessert or sweet can not be brought in fresh form, you can often buy ready-made mixes for cooking at home. Prices in supermarkets for such products are sure to please. For example, the omali mixture costs 20-30 Egyptian pounds. At home, you will need to pour the mixture with cream and send it to the oven.




1. Papyrus

This ancient paper is made from the plant Cyperus papyrus, which grew in plenty in the Nile Delta in ancient times. As early as the Ancient Kingdom, the Egyptians learned how to make paper from the stem of this plant. The oldest samples of papyrus were found in Wadi el-Jarf are dated 2560-2550 BC. That is, these papyri are the same age as the pyramid of Cheops.

The production technology was simple. The core of the stem of the plant was cut into strips. The strips were laid next to each other in two layers - the first layer vertically, the second horizontally. Then they were dried under a press. Once paper appeared in the Western world, papyrus was forgotten, and by the 18th century the plant was no longer found in the Nile Delta.

Now the papyrus herb has been reintroduced to Egypt and the production of papyrus paper established again primarily for sale to tourists. In souvenir stores, they sell both real and fake papyrus, and the price may differ many times. If you want to buy a real one, it is better to go to a specialized store, which even gives a certificate of originality.

A real papyrus costs from USD 5 to USD 100. The price depends primarily on the size. A fake papyrus starts at USD 1.

Keep in mind that papyrus is well preserved in the dry and hot Egyptian climate. But it can quickly spoil and even get moldy in wet climates. In addition, real papyrus cracks when bent, which is why papyrus was used to make scrolls in ancient times. Books did not appear until the Middle Ages, when parchment was introduced.




Outside the competition - magnets, charms, amulets

Almost all of these simple souvenirs in Egypt are of Chinese origin and have an ancient Egyptian theme. The magnets depict pyramids, pharaohs, or ancient gods. The most common type of keychain is a mini-copy of the pyramid of Cheops. Less common are souvenirs with camels.

A magnet or keychain usually costs USD 1. But do not agree, demand two pieces for a dollar, then you get an adequate price.




What NOT to bring from Egypt

Corals, shells, and any marine life. All of this is officially forbidden to take out of Egypt. The penalty is 1,000 US dollars. Of course, many tourists successfully take corals, turtles, crabs, and other animals. But they are just lucky, they do not fall under check. Are you sure that you will be as lucky? Is it worth the risk?

Gold and jewelry. The chances of getting a fake are great. As in many tourist countries, in Egypt, the business of selling fakes to tourists is on stream.

Kohl. This is a traditional Egyptian eyeliner. It is made of lead sulfide, which is a rather dangerous material for health. Not recommended.

Ivory and crocodile skin. Banned for transit between countries. All elephant and crocodile species are protected by the Washington Convention (CITES). If you get caught in a spot check at customs, you could be in trouble.

Camelbone products. They have no real value, but traders sell them at quite a high price. There is no sense buying them, unless you liked some little trinket. Camels are not protected by CITES, so products made of camel's bones can be transported across the border freely.

Leather and fur. We do not recommend this, as Egyptian leather is not known for its quality. And if it turns out to be defective? Who will you complain to? And if the defect is found at home? Will you go to Egypt to exchange faulty items? Do you need it?

Hookah. It's fragile, and it may not survive a trip home. In addition hookahs in Egypt cost about the same as in other countries. There's no point. But the hookah charcoal and tobacco in Egypt is cheaper, it's worth looking closely.

The 1 Egyptian pound coin is very beautiful with a gold mask from the tomb of Tutankhamun. This mask can now be seen in the Cairo Museum. It was this coin that became a popular souvenir. But it is worth stopping on this coin, because it is almost impossible to change Egyptian pounds in other countries. It is possible to take out of Egypt national currency - Egyptian pounds, but no more than 5,000 pounds.

Any antiquities or antiques. Forbidden for export from Egypt. Once again, we recommend our review "What you can and cannot take out of Egypt".

Important and useful to know

- Read about interesting brands of Egyptian alcohol in our review "Egyptian alcohol";

- If you need to exchange USD dollars, UK pounds or Euros for Egyptian pounds to buy souvenirs, read our review "Money exchange in Egypt";

- For other expenses, read our detailed review "How much money to take to Egypt".

Have fun shopping in Egypt, and read our interesting pages about this country (see the list of the pages below).

TIPS FOR TOURISTS

What Don't Do in Egypt

Cheats of Tourists in Egypt

What to Take to Egypt

Sharks in Egypt

To Egypt With Kids

How NOT to Get Poisoned in Egypt

National Holidays in Egypt

Weather in Egypt by Month

MONEY AND EXPENSES

What Money in Egypt

Money Exchange in Egypt

How Much Money to Take to Egypt

TRANSPORT

Taxi in Egypt

Cairo Metro

From Hurghada to Cairo

From Sharm to Cairo

From Hurghada to Luxor

From Cairo to Ain Sokhna

Intercity Buses - Guide

GIFTS, SOUVENIRS, CUSTOMS LAW

What to Bring from Egypt

What You Can & Not Bring in Egypt

What You Can & Not Take out of Egypt

ABOUT EGYPT

What Language is Spoken in Egypt

Who Are the Modern Egyptians

Friday & Weekends in Egypt

Ramadan in Egypt

TELECOM

Internet in Egypt Cheaply

RESORT REGIONS

Sharm El Sheikh

Naama Bay

Hurghada

Ain Sokhna

Mediterranean Rivera

BAD HABITS

Alcohol in Egypt - Prices & Rules

Local Egyptian Alcohol

Cigarettes & Smoking in Egypt

Vape and iQos in Egypt

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