For many, the endless stream of merchants trying to sell you some dubious souvenir can be wearing to say the least, but maybe it is worth remembering that for the majority of these hawkers this might be all they get to feed their family for that day. The drop in tourism since the revolution of 2011, although now on the rise, has been devastating for many of these merchants. If you don’t want to engage, then walk past with a dismissive wave of the hand, or a quick “laa shukran” (no thank you). The moment you answer the standard “Welcome in Luxor, where from?” greeting, you are considered a fair target. It is a game, and by answering you have accepted the opening move.
If you see something that you want, first decide what you would be happy paying for it, then ask the vendor for his price. Do not be fooled into telling them what you think it is worth. Offer half of what you would be happy paying and take it from there. Remember you can always walk away. Saying you need to think about it can often help negotiations. Keep smiling, it will get you a better price.
Some of the sites on the west bank have their own gauntlet of shops selling tourist items from plastic sphinxes to local clothing and innumerable scarabs, pharaoh busts and papyri as well as postcards. These stall holders can be quite insistent, but a little tolerance and a sense of humour will see you through. There is no point in getting angry – the only person who loses out is you. Better a laugh and a Laa, laa, laa.
On the west bank there are also several alabaster factories, again, some better than others. Speak to your guide or tour leader.
The souk, opposite Luxor Temple, is worth a visit, but be prepared to bargain. Most shopkeepers will tell you a vastly inflated price, sometimes up to ten times the real price, so your turn is to offer way below that. Eventually you will reach a middle ground. If the price is still too high for you then go and look elsewhere. Many of the shops at the tourist end of the market stock very similar items, some better quality than others. Have a good look around and do not be taken in by the tales of hardship from the shopkeepers, they will never sell you something at a loss. If you are happy with the price then all well and good, but do shop around.
Do not under any circumstances buy any antiquities. Laa shukrun.