Touring Guide and Photos for Luxor in Egypt.
Visiting and Sightseeing around Luxor in Central Egypt - things to do and places to visit whilst on holiday in Luxor.
Apart from many photographs taken in and around Egypt's fabulous Karnak and Luxor Temples in the city there is also plenty of information about our self-guided sightseeing trips and tours out across the River Nile to the West Bank to visit Luxor's Ancient Sites around the tombs and temples at the Valley of the Kings,
the Valley of the Queens and the Tombs of The Nobles and Workers. Our intention was to do our own thing by organising our own sightseeing days out and schedules in order to visit
Luxor's various tombs and temples locations - in fact the only "organised" trip we did was a Nile Cruise down the River Nile to visit Dendarah.
There is lots of general and hopefully useful holiday information about the city itself i.e. restaurants, getting around and about costs, the environment and generally how we found Luxor as a holiday destination for tourists and visitors.
Please note that where various prices are indicated these applied a little while ago and would certainly have increased by now.
We found the air quality was sometimes really bad in Luxor - especially near where the large diesel-engined hotel boats were moored. The
photo on the right shows how, although the sun had been up for more than 3 hours, it was unable to penetrate the mucky and polluted air. We stayed
at the Mercur which is situated right alongside the Nile and where at times there were 12 cruise river-boats moored - these Nile river hotel boats seem to keep their diesel engines running all the time and the exhaust fumes were awful at times.
On top of that the throbbing noise from the engines was really invasive. We had originally booked a room so we could have a River Nile view but after a couple
of nights we moved rooms to get away at least from the noise. Walking around the city seemed to be perfectly safe - there are plenty of police around for a start
but anyway the local people just gave a good impression of welcoming you. The only real drawback was being constantly approached by taxi drivers, hire boat
owners and so on - as well as children and even adults asking for baksheesh - more on this further down the page. There are lots of -tourist- police around all armed with either
pistols or kalishnikovs as well as plain clothed police usually wearing black suits or leather jackets - though some of them were in Arab dress - we got to chat with several of them and they were really friendly.
Egyptian Visas: Once you arrive at Luxor airport you need to purchase a visa - there are several desks open and it's
just a case of handing over around 10 UK Pounds. You also have to fill in an entry form (these were handed out during the flight on our trip
so you can have them ready). At the airport when you leave you have to fill in another simple form as well - mostly all these forms require are names and addresses plus passport numbers.
Currency: The Egyptian Pound is indicated as LE - the exchange rate when we were on holiday in Luxor was around 9.5 Egyptian Pounds
to an English Pound. The hotels all seem to have exchange facilities but you can also easily use UK currency, USDs and Euros if you wish in shops
and so on. We soon realised it is very useful to have a good supply of LE 5 and 10 notes since tipping is expected especially around the various
archaeological sites - but don't have them all together since if the recipient sees a wedge of notes they will be pestering to have them all. We just kept maybe 30LE in one pocket and the rest hidden.
Transport in Luxor: There are loads of taxis circulating around Luxor and the drivers will often slow down and ask
you if you want to go anywhere. It is important to agree the fare before getting in the taxi - generally speaking anywhere around the city should
not cost more than 15LE. On the West Bank you can get a taxi out to the Valley of the Queens or Kings from around 35LE. You can also hire a taxi in Luxor for the whole day if you wish - we were offered this for 12 UK Pounds and the deal was the driver would take us from
Luxor (via the road bridge) to the Tombs area and just hang around while we did our sightseeing at various locations, ferrying us around to wherever
we wanted to go, with no time restrictions etc. and then bring us back to Luxor when we had finished (although a tip would need to be added to this amount too).
There is also a local bus service or arabaya - these are like transit vans and everyone just packs into the back on wooden seats or even hang off the back. They are mostly used by the locals to get around and will stop anytime for you - cost usually just
2 or 3 LE. We used them several times on the West Bank to get out to the Tombs - if you hail an empty bus they will take you out from the ferry to the tombs area for around 5LE and not stop for anyone else on the way.
Crossing the Nile is straightforward - there is a Tourist Ferry operating but we used the Local's Ferry - the price should be 4LE return
for 2 people - this Local Ferry operates 24 hours a day crossing every 10 minutes or so.
If you walk down to the Local Ferry you will often be approached by owners of small boats suggesting they will take you across cheaper than the Local's Ferry - the cheapest we ever found
was 10LE so hardly cheaper but they are worth trying out just for the different experience.
Almost certainly if you use them they will also
offer you a taxi ride up to the tombs or anywhere else you want to go - but be certain to agree the price. One guy we went across with took
us to "his" taxi for an agreed price of 25LE up to the Valley of the Kings - we got into the taxi which already had a driver - when we got
to the Valley they wanted 25LE each - we simply gave them 30LE to share between them and that because we got bored arguing.
Finally in Luxor you can go on the horse drawn carriages or caleches - these take you around for usually
about 8LE but sometimes will offer a 30 minute ride for even less if things are quiet. They drive amongst the traffic with the taxies and
coaches etc. impatiently trying to get past them - we saw one very nearly get crushed by a coach and another time a horse got knocked over though
thankfully lots of people rushed over and got it onto it's feet very quickly and it seemed OK. If you are walking along the paved area alongside
the Nile the drivers will often pester you badly - staying alongside you for ages shouting at you to hire them - very annoying after a while.
Begging and Baksheesh. Unbelievably annoying and widespread in Luxor. Take a stroll along the paved area by the Nile
and you will be frequently approached by people just begging for money, trying to get you to change money, selling various trinkets etc. - it
can be so annoying when all you want to do is have a quiet wander around. Walk into any of the Bazaars and forget having a browse in the shop
windows - show the slightest interest in anything and the shop owners are onto you like flies and will follow you along for a while trying to get you to go into their shops.
At Karnak Temple we were asked several times by the Tourist Police for baksheesh - unbelievable. Actually the whole begging thing starts off at and finally ends at Luxor airport - when you
arrive someone will try and take your case to put it onto the transit coach - this is often only a few yards but they will want or try to get 20LE or so
from you. At Luxor airport when we got to the check-in desk to leave the guy who puts the labels onto the cases insisted on being paid to simply lift them onto the conveyer belt - most of us simply refused of course.
Food and Restaurants in Luxor:
You can eat in any of the hotel restaurants - most of them have various themed restaurants i.e. Egyptian, Thai,
Italian or Indian etc. - we used three independent restaurants namely the Eclipse (steaks and chicken and also has a bar), Snobs (great steaks
and chicken plus the presentation was excellent) and the Lantern (English type food like pies but also steaks etc.) - with Snobs perhaps our favourite.
You get a nice big plateful and I especially liked the steaks which were big and cooked beautifully. A starter, main course and sweet plus
a cup of coffee for two people was typically costing around 200LE. The wine we found to be not that good and it was very expensive. These restaurants
are located towards the Sheraton Hotel end of Luxor but the taxi drivers know them by name so all you have to do is grab a cab and pay your 10LE or so to find them if you don't fancy walking.
Sightseeing in Luxor:
We had decided to go to Luxor very much at the last minute - one of our "things to do" has always been to visit Egypt's temples and tombs and coupled with horrible cold English weather the time seemed just
right to go there. The temples are really impressive and what was a real bonus was that you do not need to go on organised "holiday company" trips - these are generally very expensive compared with "do it yourself" and all they do is whisk you
around in a coach from one place to another. Should you go on your own then you can chose where you want to visit, how long to stay and where you want to wander off too next.
You also of course see much more of real life since you are in amongst it rather than staring out of a coach window. Whilst walking around we saw some small crocodiles in one canal, watched the sugar cane being cut and transported out on a narrow gauge railway and
the amount of wildlife to be seen is amazing - from black kites to all sorts of waders to kingfishers. More than once whilst walking in villages
we were invited in for a cup of tea, we also got shown round one temple site by the secret police and then sat with them for half an hour having a drink and talking about all sorts.
The only sightseeing mistake we think we made was our schedule in that we visited Karnak on our first day - Karnak Temple complex is so
impressive that others are rather dwarfed in comparison. For instance Luxor Temple is really impressive but on a smaller scale - so we should have visited Karnak last of all. . .
Concerning touring the tombs and temples on Luxor's West Bank we visited the various locations starting at the Valley of the Queens (20LE for 2 tombs), Valley of the Kings
(55LE for 3 tombs). However the most impressive and colourful Egyptian tombs were those found around the Valley of the Nobles (20LE for 2 tombs)
and the Valley of the Workers (20LE) - these two locations in our view should not be missed. (the prices mentioned have probably gone up a bit since our last visit)
The only disappointment was the famous tomb of King Nebkheperura Tutankhamun, the 11th king of the 18th Dynasty - firstly you had to buy an individual ticket to enter
it (70LE each) i.e. far more expensive than any other - and the tomb just was not that particularly impressive visually. It is a shallow tomb and all you have is the sarcophagus containing his mummified remains and some drawings on the tomb walls - compare that with the nearbye
Ramses III tomb which is absolutely fantastic with it's sheer size and content.
Not all the tombs are open all the time so it is worth
doing some research on the web or from books and maybe picking out 9 or 10 that you think you would like to see so that on arrival at the ticket office and finding some are closed you have your alternative choices ready.
What to wear and not to wear around Luxor's streets and ancient sites: Just a note on this - before
we left my wife was very unsure about what would be acceptable to wear so this may be useful for potential visitors. Low or even relatively
low cut tops seem to be a "no" as were short skirts and even knee length shorts seemed to sort of attract attention in places. Most women seemed
to be wearing either long skirts or more often trousers and had tops which at least covered their shoulders.
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