Photo Credit: Paul Keller

Shopping in Syria is best done at local markets known as souks. These are definitely the places to find the best bargains and also the best goods. Here travelers will find everything from household items and electric goods to souvenirs and handicrafts. Many travelers have reported that market wares are so plentiful that it is easy to lose oneself – literally and figuratively.

There are a few items which should definitely be considered while in the country. Such items include precious and semi precious stones which are native to the region like mother of pearl, wooden carvings like lacquered chess sets, gold and silver jewelry and hand woven traditional materials.

While Damascus is a great place to shop, particularly in the Souk Al Hamidiya located in the Damascus Old City, many maintain that Aleppo is by far the superior location. Of particular appeal in Aleppo are Souk al-Shouna, Sebastian, which sells some of the most beautiful textiles in the country, Sharia Al Adasi, from which traditional sheesha pipes can be purchased and Saahat al-Hatab where the best jewelry can be found.

In Syrian souks, bargaining is the norm and travelers should be surprised if they do not encounter the practice. Local traders are highly skilled in the art so travelers will have to be sharp on their game. Do keep in mind, however, that most traders are not malicious in their intent and that most times, bargaining carried out in the spirit of friendliness and fun will yield far greater results.

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