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Luxor Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Luxor vacation


AliJo
Felucca Ride on the Nile 4 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
There are few things as pleasant as a sunset ride in a felucca on the Nile. Expect to pay around 20 Egyptian pounds per hour, but the experience is well worth the price. Many of the felucca captains will want to take you up to Banana Island, which is about a 3 hour journey, depending on the wind and the level of the Nile at that time of year. The island itself is covered with palm trees and not much else. If you're looking for a relaxing day with a picnic lunch, then this may be the thing for you. Personally, I much prefer a quiet hour's sailing just before dinner. If you find yourself with favourable weather conditions (clear skies and a steady cool breeze), then take advantage of the perfect felucca day. Otherwise you may find that you have to be towed upriver by a motorboat, which will cost you extra and will decidedly ruin the atmosphere!


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AliJo
Getting Around in Luxor 4 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Getting around in Luxor is fairly easy, particularly as the town centre is quite small. Everything on the East Bank of Luxor is easily within walking distance, and the wide shady pathways along the Nile make any stroll through the town very pleasant indeed. If you're going down to Karnak Temple, I would recommend a ride in one of the horse-drawn carriages. Most of the animals seem reasonably healthy, and as long as you agree a price in advance and be firm about sticking to your planned route (detours will cost you!), the drivers are quite pleasant. You should pay between 10 and 15 Egyptian pounds to get from the centre of Luxor to Karnak.

When crossing to the West Bank, the public ferry is by far the cheapest option. I believe the fare is 50 Egyptian pence for locals, but you will most likely be charged 1 Egyptian pound as a foreigner. The ferry can be an interesting place to meet other travelers or locals, and if your digestive tract is particularly strong, you can buy food and drink onboard as well. Alternatively, you can take a private ride across the river on a motorboat, which will cost you more but might be more convenient, as you will sometimes have to wait 20 minutes for the ferry to depart. You will have no trouble finding a private boat to take you across; you may actually have more trouble insisting that you'd rather take the ferry!

There is always the option of traveling by taxi on both sides of the Nile, but this is the most expensive and least enjoyable means of travel. I prefer to see the East Bank on foot or in a carriage, and the West Bank by bicycle, provided the weather is not too hot!


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AliJo
Left Luggage in Luxor 3 stars
For those of us who prefer backpacking or are forced to travel on a budget, we don't always have the option of paying extra to check into the hotel early or to leave luggage after checkout. The good news is that Luxor has a safe and reliable left-luggage office at the train station. Prices are reasonable, you pack up the locker and you keep the key. I have to admit that we were a bit nervous about leaving our stuff, but even our valuables were unmolested. This is a great option for people arriving early on the overnight train from Cairo, or leaving late to catch the overnight train back to Cairo.

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AliJo
Cycling around the West Bank of Luxor 5 stars
It may sound like a crazy idea to rent a bicycle and cycle your way round the West Bank and up to the Valley of the Kings, but I think it's the only way to go! Granted, we were traveling in April, and the heat was not so intense as it would be during the summer months.

We arrived into Luxor on the overnight train from Cairo, which meant that we were able to leave our luggage at the train station, wander through the early morning streets of Luxor, and catch the ferry over to the West Bank, all before 7:30am. We rented our bicycles for 15 Egyptian pounds for the whole day (until sunset) from the first place we saw after getting off the ferry. We checked them carefully before we agreed to the offer. Setting off for the Valley of the Kings, we stopped at the Colossi of Memnon before the first tour buses got there, and were on our way up the hill before the sun got too hot. The Valley of the Kings is approximately 10km from the ferry dock, and it is uphill most of the way. It's a gradual incline, not steep, and it is perfectly doable even for novice cyclists. Neither my husband nor I had been on a bicycle in over two years, although we are both in good shape. There is no way to lock up your bicycle in the parking lot at the Valley of the Kings, but there are plenty of tour bus drivers and parking lot attendants who are more than willing to keep an eye on your bicycle for a few hours in exchange for a few Egyptian pounds.

The way back to the ferry was considerably more pleasant, as the day had gotten hotter and we coasted the whole way down the hill, creating our own breeze. The views across the desert and out to the Nile are amazing, and if you go early, there is very little traffic; you almost feel you are alone in the desert. On the way back down the hill, we stopped at several other sites, including the Ramasseum and the Tombs of the Nobles. The Medinat Habu, or the Temple of Ramses III, is less than 1/2 km out of your way, and well worth a few extra minutes of pedaling.

If you decide to take this option, be aware that there are no bicycle trails and you will have to ride along the main road. Even with the higher traffic at midday coming down from the Valley of the Kings, we felt perfectly safe, as the drivers give cyclists a wide berth. Do wear sunglasses, as some of the passing tour buses will inevitably throw sand in your eyes! But this doesn't begin to compare to the independence you gain from this mode of travel and the exhilaration of the open air of the desert and the Nile valley!


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AliJo
The Hassle Capital of Egypt? Not Anymore! 4 stars
Before going to Luxor, my husband and I were warned multiple times that the city had earned a reputation for being the hassle capital of Egypt. We showed up prepared to brave the onslaught, only to discover that Luxor has made a change. The city seems to have learned of its reputation among tourists and decided to change its image in a massive public relations campaign. At any rate, while we did encounter an endless stream of offers for felucca rides, carriage rides, private boat launches across the river, and a host of other things we didn't need, we also encountered a universal good humour about the whole process. Each offer was repeated no more than twice, and each would-be salesperson almost always received our second rebuttal with, "Ok, no hassle!" More creative solutions included, "Ok, maybe tomorrow? Maybe never?" or my personal favourite, "Ok, but you will still marry me, yes?" In Luxor I learned to engage in the friendly banter and say "No thank you" with a smile. It proved to be a good experience and was one contributing factor in making our few days in Luxor among my favourite days of our trip.

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