Aswan Souk Review
You won't find fresh elephant tusks here these days, as in the past, but this is still a lively, colorful marketplace filled with Nubian music—tourists by day, Egyptians by night.
From the Corniche, head a couple of blocks east, or start from the train station. Walking along the wide, traffic-free thoroughfare, you can find better cotton fabrics here than in Cairo—either plain white or printed with African or pharaonic designs (about £E11 per meter, which is a bit longer than a yard). Ready-made buys include galabeyyas (cotton shirts, £E120), tablecloths (£E100), and simple, fine white cotton scarves that come in handy in the heat of the day (£E25–£E40). If you really want to shop like the locals, watch for out-of-the-way staircases that lead to a lower level. Asking prices in these underground shops usually start at less than what hard bargaining will get you up on the street, not to mention better-quality merchandise. Antiquarians should be on the lookout for antique tribal items, such as daggers, jewelry, and household items. Carpets are also a good option, as many Bedouin and Nubian handmade carpets find their way to Aswan. Unfortunately, most vendors have their most kitschy patterns at the front of house (decorated with camels or village scenes), and you need to ask for the genuine article—giving away one of your bargaining chips by declaring an interest. Stop in a café for tea and watch the traffic flow.
- Address: Souk St. (parallel to the Corniche), Downtown, Aswan
- Hours: Daily 8 am–midnight
- Location: The East Bank