What to See & Do in Luxor

After the greater Cairo/Giza region in the north, Luxor is Egypt’s second most popular tourist destination. Although there are certainly tombs and temples throughout Egypt, the most magnificent ones are found in Luxor, which is why I refer to this region as the “land of tombs and temples.”

The Valley of the Kings, which contains the magnificent underground tombs of some of the greatest pharaohs of ancient Egypt, and the Karnak Temple, the greatest temple dedicated to the gods of ancient Egypt, are both in Luxor. Therefore, Luxor, like the Pyramids in Cairo or Giza, is a symbol of ancient Egypt.
Okay, let’s begin by discussing the precise location of Luxor. It is evidently located in Egypt, but it is quite a distance away from Cairo by foot or by caravan. Cairo is in the country’s north, close to the Mediterranean Sea. However, Luxor is located much further south in the lower part of Egypt, approximately two-thirds of the way down Egypt’s length.

The modern Arabic name for the city that is located on the site of the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Upper Egypt is Luxor. Since the Nile River flows north, Luxor is in the south of Egypt, further up the Nile. Before Pharaoh Narmer aka Menes came along and united the two lands under his rule around 3000 BC, or roughly 5000 years ago, Egypt was divided into two separate kingdoms. Consequently, Luxor served as the capital of Upper Egypt prior to unification and the united Egyptian empire for nearly a thousand years at its height.

However, as I mentioned earlier, Luxor is the Arabic name for the ancient city that was acquired by the Arabs after their invasion and much later settlement. The city’s capital in ancient Egypt was referred to by a number of names, including Waset, Nowe, and Ta-ope. None of these names are still used today because the majority of ancient Egyptian names for people and places were later given to them by their conquerors. As we have established, the Greeks gave the capital, Waset, the name Thebes, and the Arabs gave the city the name Luxor, which is still used today.

However, Luxor was a capital city of enormous wealth and excess during its heyday. It was here that some of Egypt’s wealthiest and most powerful kings lived, ruled, and lavishly constructed monuments, temples, and other similar structures for the city and its surroundings. In addition, a lot of them buried themselves and their families here as well, in elaborate secret tombs appropriate to their status as god-kings.

The majority of these ancient palaces and temples have, of course, been destroyed over the course of several thousand years; however, fortunately for us and almost astonishingly, some of them have survived and are still intact today, allowing us to tour them and experience the splendor of ancient Egypt.
Therefore, let’s move on to discussing what remains in Luxor for you to see during your current visit. Even though the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo are the most well-known ancient monuments, Luxor actually has a lot more ancient things to see than Cairo and Giza.

To begin, the Valley of the Kings is Luxor’s most well-known location. This area is on the Nile River’s western bank in Luxor, so it is across the river from the actual city. The Egyptians buried about 500 pharaohs, most of whom belonged to the New Kingdom, at this location.

If you have hired a car and a driver in Luxor, you will need to drive approximately 20 minutes south of the city to the nearest bridge to cross the Nile. From there, you will need to drive approximately 20 minutes back up the Nile and another 10 minutes further north to reach the Valley of the Kings. While it’s nice to have a car and driver for the day in Luxor, it’s not necessary, especially if you want to see as much as possible in one day. If you’re strapped for time or money, you can always take a small felucca boat across the Nile and hail a taxi on the western bank to get the 10-minute ride to the Valley.

In comparison to Cairo and Giza, taking a taxi is not nearly as troublesome in Luxor. In contrast to the majority of the time at the Pyramids, even first-time tourists can explore Luxor on their own and not have a bad time. But even if you go to Luxor on your own and hire a guide, you’ll still be at a loss because, like the Egyptian Museum, a lot of the information about what you’re looking at and walking through isn’t labeled, and you’ll miss 90% of it if you don’t have someone who knows what they’re talking about with you.

The ticket window is currently located outside the back door of the visitors center, which you will enter through a light security checkpoint when you arrive at the Valley of the Kings gates. The general admission ticket to the site can be purchased here, and it gives you access to three of the six to ten regular tombs that are open to the public at any given time. Depending on annual fluctuations, this basic entrance ticket typically costs approximately 10 American dollars, plus or minus a few dollars.
Within the Valley complex, there are now a few unique tombs that require an additional ticket to enter.

You can enter three tombs with your general admission ticket, but if you want to see King Tut’s tomb, you’ll need to buy an additional ticket, which could cost as much as twice as much. That may seem like a lot for just one more tomb when compared to the cost of general admission to three tombs across the Valley. However, considering that you have traveled all the way to Egypt and spent thousands of dollars, I believe it is well worth it to just spend a few extra dollars and see King Tut’s actual tomb while you are there.
Although it is not as large or elaborate as the majority of the others you will see, it is still cool to know that you have actually entered King Tut’s tomb. Because he died suddenly and so young, the story you’ve heard about how his tomb was carved and buried was rushed and poorly planned, which also contributed to its survival over thousands of years by grave thieves. Even though he was one of Egypt’s weakest and most politically insignificant pharaohs at the time, we still have all of his treasures today and are familiar with him as the most famous pharaoh.

Ramses VI and Seti I’s tombs, in addition to Tut’s, require an additional ticket. While Ramses VI’s tomb is less expensive and well worth the extra money to see, Seti’s tomb is quite pricey. Finally, a “photography ticket” has been introduced at the Valley of the Kings, just as it is at the Egyptian Museum right now. Because a) it’s cheap and b) you’ll want to take pictures inside the tombs, you should definitely get this as well. The fact that they are now allowing photography inside the tombs for the price of a cheap additional ticket is quite remarkable. Photographing inside the tombs was prohibited for decades.

Okay, when you go to the Valley complex, you should start by looking at three of the included tombs that you want to see first, and then plan your time there accordingly. If you want to start from the back of the Valley, it’s usually best to walk all the way there. Because it is near the beginning, I typically like to visit King Tut’s tomb last or next to it. However, let me just talk about a few of my favorite tombs and why I like them so much. You can choose which three you want to visit based on what you want to see in them.

Okay, KV11 is one of the larger tombs. The walls are painted bright colors, and the main burial chamber has a huge red granite sarcophagus. One of the things I love about this tomb is that the builders actually broke through to an older tomb when they were digging to build it. You can see where they said “uh-oh” and patched over the hole, then hung a right and continued digging. This one was initially constructed for a pharoah named Setnakhte, the father of Ramses III; however, when they made a mistake, they simply abandoned it and constructed his tomb in a different location. However, KV11 ended up being his tomb because his son Ramses III ordered the builders to hang a right at the breakthrough spot and keep digging.

KV16 is Ramses I’s tomb. He died before it was finished, so it’s small and simple, which makes it easy to build. However, the inside is still very beautiful. Accessibility is something to think about in the Valley of the Kings if you or someone you’re with has trouble getting up stairs. Some of the tombs have steep steps that lead up and down into them, and others have entrances that require a short hike up. However, the good news is that there are a few that are not only simple to reach but also simple to enter, and Ramses I’s tomb is one of them.

KV34 is another attractive option. Because it is the tomb of Thutmose III and is located far back in the Valley, you might want to start there if you want to include it. But be careful: this one has a lot of steps outside to get to the entrance, and once you get inside, it goes back down into the mountain. However, the advantage of this is that, for the same reason, it is typically less crowded on busy days.
KV35 is another one that is really cool because of the significance it holds beyond just being Amenhotep II’s tomb. Since the Pharoah was still in his original sarcophagus when the tomb was opened in 1898, the fact that a slew of other mummies were also found stuffed into a side chamber of this tomb is truly bizarre.

Think back to the days when well-known tombs were frequently looted, and robbers frequently hacked open the mummies of pharaohs in search of gold and jewelry buried on their bodies. Since Amenhotep II’s tomb’s location remained a secret until almost the turn of the 20th century, the high priests finally became sufficiently alarmed to enter a number of tombs on their own and steal the mummies of the Pharoahs to hide them all in a secret room.
As it turns out, these High Priests’ cleverness allowed them to find a really good place to hide inside Amenhotep II’s tomb, which is why we still have the actual mummies of some of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs.

So, those are a few of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings that I like and others do as well. However, there isn’t a definitive list of must-see tombs that you should make sure you don’t miss. You can’t really go wrong once you get inside the Valley of the Kings because even the least impressive tombs are still beautiful to see.

It is simply a matter of determining which aspects of these magnificent tombs you want to focus on and selecting based on those factors, such as ease of access, well-preserved wall art, the largest or most rooms, a favorite pharoah, or just a fascinating story behind the tomb. They’re all fantastic.
You know how I keep repeating that Egypt as a whole is still an active archaeological site where new discoveries are made on a regular basis? That is certainly the case in Luxor, particularly in the Valley of the Kings. I’ve already mentioned that a lot of the locations of tombs have been known since antiquity, which means that they were found and taken from thousands of years ago. However, many more have recently been discovered.
We just talked about Amenhotep II’s tomb, which was found in 1898. You probably already know that King Tut’s tomb in the Valley, which was found in 1922, contained all of his treasures and his mummified body. However, tombs in the Valley are still being discovered and excavated by archaeologists to this day.
They discovered a chamber that came to be known as KV64 in 2005, but it wasn’t until 2011 that they were able to enter and begin exploring it. In addition, a second tomb known as KV65 was discovered in 2008 and is still the subject of excavation and research. As a result, it is almost certain that many more of Egypt’s lost pharaohs’ tombs remain undisturbed beneath the ground you will be walking on, which is such an exciting thought when you are there.

Additionally, water is another exciting thought to contemplate while at the Valley of the Kings. Even when Cairo is much cooler, it heats up to the point of being unbearable. Even if you only walk around the Valley for an hour or so, especially during the summer, you can quickly become overheated. Therefore, before and during your visit, ensure that you bring or purchase a large bottle of water. In fact, just drink bottled water on a regular basis while you are there to avoid becoming dehydrated and having to cancel your trip. You have come far enough to see what you are there to see.
You will be on what we refer to as the West Bank of the Nile, or the western side of the river, where you will also find a few other important sites after you finish at the Valley of the Kings. Hapshetsut’s temple is a must-see, and while you’re on this bank, you can easily visit the Colossi of Memnon as well.
There is also the Workers’ Village and the Valley of the Queens on this side of Luxor if you want to see more tombs and spend more time in Luxor. However, you won’t be missing anything significant by skipping the Valley of the Queens or the Workers’ Village if you are short on time, exhausted, or think you will be after traipsing around the Valley of the Kings. Those are only for serious historians of Egypt.
However, Queen Hapshetsut’s mortuary temple, also known as Deir el-Bahari on most maps and local Arabic, is a must-see. The tomb of Queen Hatshepsut, a remarkable figure in Egyptian history, is quite a sight to behold. There are no additional tickets to purchase once you are inside, unless you want the cheap ticket to ride the tram up and down the causeway as well. Entry usually costs about $5 US. However, unless you or someone you’re with has mobility issues, you don’t really need to wait on that short distance. Also, the wide-angle shots you can take halfway up the short road leading to the entrance will be some of your best photos of this site.
As I mentioned earlier, Luxor’s western bank of the Nile also contains the Valley of the Queens, which is home to about 80 additional tombs of queens and princesses who lived roughly at the same time as the pharaohs who are buried nearby in the Valley of the Kings. The majority of queens were buried in the Valley of the Queens and a few other areas nearby, though there were a few queens who were actually buried there.
I won’t spend as much time on this site as I did on the other two, which are the most important sights to see on Luxor’s west bank and can be done in half a day, by the way. However, if you didn’t get enough tombs and ancient wall art at the Valley of the Kings and want more, or if you want to see how the tombs of the Kings and the tombs they built for their queens differed (hint: They aren’t quite as impressive), or if you have more time in Luxor and want to see more sites.
The Workers’ Village, which is also nearby this entire area, is the same way. The Workers’ Village ruins, on the other hand, are very different from the royal tombs in that they show you what life was like for the laborers who were pharaohs’ subjects and hired to build the tombs and temples. These people included sculptors, painters, engineers, architects, and others in addition to the manual laborers who were carrying the stones and digging out the dirt. If you have to choose between the Valley of the Kings and Hatshepsut’s Temple, two must-see attractions, I would probably recommend going to the Workers Village first.

The Colossi of Memnon, on the other hand, is one more site on the west bank that you can fit in even if you’re short on time. Because these ruins are on the side of the road, you’ll probably pass them anyway, so it’s not really out of the way to stop and check them out even if you’re in a hurry. These two massive statues used to stand at the entrance of an even larger temple. However, most of that temple has been destroyed, and even these two statues had to be put back together in modern times to get to where they are now.
Because it is not an “official” or ticketed site with administrators and security, this mini-site is free, but be aware that there will be a lot of unregulated souvenir sellers there. They aren’t dangerous, but they can get away with rushing tourists more easily here than at larger sites. You will literally only need about five minutes to complete this site.
So far, everything we’ve talked about has been on the western bank of the Nile in Luxor. Now, we’ll move to the eastern bank to see what’s there. You can use the same mode of transportation to return to the eastern bank if you took a car and driver to the western bank. Or you can take a little motorized boat back over and there much quicker.
If you want to see both the west bank and the east bank in one day, I usually recommend taking a boat back to the east bank regardless of whether you have a car. There, you can actually walk to the first site you want to see, which you can’t do if you go to the west bank.Therefore, taking a short boat ride to the subsequent location and having your car and driver meet you there when you are finished is much quicker and saves a lot of time.
Therefore, on the east bank of the Nile in Luxor, there are three primary attractions that are frequently visited by tourists. The Luxor Museum, the Karnak Temple, and the Luxor Temple are the most significant of these. You won’t have any issues if you skip the Luxor Museum. It’s small and the outdoor sites in Luxor are far more worth your time. If you have extra time and want to see more, you should only visit the Luxor Museum.
In a similar vein, you won’t regret skipping Luxor Temple due to time constraints. However, Luxor Temple can be really interesting to see if you have more time. Because it is in the middle of downtown Luxor, you can also just walk around it and see it from the outside if you prefer, and I especially like it when it is lit up at night.

Ok, so let’s talk about Karnak.

Karnak is a massive complex of temples. It’s actually the second largest religious complex in the world after Angor Wat. But it’s one of MY absolute favorite places in Egypt to walk around in and explore and I feel pretty confident in saying that I think you’ll be blown away by it too when you get there, so allow at least an hour and a half or two hours to let yourself get lost in it and soak it all in.

Unlike most of the other sites and monuments in Egypt like each Pyramid or each tomb that was primarily built by and for a particular pharaoh in his lifetime (or her lifetime, in a few cases like we’ve talked about), the Temple of Karnak was built up over the course of nearly two thousand years by more than 30 different pharaohs.
Remember how frequently I emphasized the significance of comprehending Egypt’s actual age? You are familiar with the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, which was famous for taking over 130 years to complete and is still not expected to be finished until 2026, despite the fact that construction began in 1882.
Well, picture Karnak and the ancient Egyptians. They had to be thinking, “Sheesh, when is construction on this temple ever going to end?” after a thousand years when the temple was still being built up and expanded. And even though they had built for a thousand years, it would still be another a thousand years before the pharaohs would say, “Ehhh, I think we’re good. “It’s finished.
The size of Karnak Temple means that St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican, Milan’s Duomo Cathedral, and Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral could all fit inside, leaving plenty of room for a party outside. Like the majority of grand buildings from ancient Egypt, not all of them are still standing today. After all, after the two thousand years it took to finish, it has remained there for another two thousand years.
However, there is still plenty of it available for you to marvel at its size and beauty today. Another wonderful open-air archaeological site in Egypt is Karnak, where you can walk around inside, touch the walls, feel the groves of hieroglyphic carvings with your fingers, and look up at the enormous lotus flower-topped columns in the main hall with some of the original paint still visible. When all of the walls and ceilings were painted in bold, bright colors, huge flags and banners were waving in the wind on top of the pylons, and priests were walking around with incense and chanting prayers to the gods. You can just imagine how stunningly beautiful all of this must have been in its heyday.
Okay, let’s get back to the present and some details. The visitors center’s front door is where you enter Karnak, and the back door is where you’ll find the ticket window. Tickets for Karnak typically cost around $10, varying by a few dollars from time to time.
After that, you’ll pass through a small mini-security checkpoint as you walk across the large courtyard toward the massive ruins you can see in the distance. After that, a man will be standing near the entrance, between the massive pylon walls, and he will tear your ticket for you. After that, you will be allowed inside.
Some people prefer to be shown around Karnak while others prefer to explore it on their own. However, even if you absolutely adore being shown around and interacted with throughout the entire experience, I would highly recommend spending at least half an hour exploring Karnak on your own to fully appreciate the scale and grandeur of the site. You really just need to wander around, look, be curious, look around corners, and get up close and personal with the huge structures and hieroglyphics on the walls and columns.
You will only be able to comprehend Karnak by seeing it and, more importantly, by experiencing it for yourself because it is nearly impossible to describe the massive ancient beauty that can be found in every room. But once you’ve been there, you’ll think to yourself, “Oh my God, John was so right about this feeling of just being overwhelmed with awe inside of Karnak.” You’ll remember me saying this.
The Great Hypostyle Hall, which is located in the front center of the complex and is referred to as such, is my absolute favorite part of the temple. As soon as you enter, you will quickly arrive at this location. Although the Hypostyle Hall in Karnak is the most well-known in the world, the term “hypostyle” simply refers to a large room whose roof is supported by a large number of columns that are arranged around the room.
The enormous girth of the columns is the first thing you’ll notice when you enter this hall. They are significantly larger than any other columns you have ever seen. Then, when you look up, you see the lotus petals growing out of the ground, making them even bigger on top. The sheer quantity of these columns all around you becomes apparent as you move through the hallway. You should definitely take a left or right turn into the Hypostyle Hall’s column forest and get lost there.
More rams-head sphinxes and enormous obelisks covered in beautiful hieroglyphics can be found in the open-air and indoor parts of the temple that are located beyond this room. These obelisks also cover the walls between the rooms and the outer walls of the temple. Because I want everyone to be able to experience Karnak for themselves and form their own impressions of this location, I don’t want to give away too much here. It’s enough to say that I’ve been to Karnak numerous times and get excited every time I get the chance to go back.

Luxor Temple

As I mentioned earlier, Luxor Temple is a smaller temple in the center of the town itself, despite the fact that Karnak is the main attraction in Luxor, which is on the eastern bank of the Nile. Luxor Temple is still a very impressive ancient site with some unique aspects of its own that Karnak doesn’t have, like the ancient Roman temple built later on its grounds and especially the mosque built much later right in the middle of the ruins.
In history, it has been fairly common for conquering civilizations to construct their own worship sites within or on top of those of the conquered. However, most of the time, the old sites were completely destroyed and replaced by the new ones. As a result, I always find it fascinating when a structure has layers of history that have all survived to the present day, such as the Luxor Temple, which has an ancient Egyptian temple to the gods, a smaller temple to the gods of Rome, and a mosque that the conquering Arabs added later. Also, the mosque inside Luxor Temple is still used today, so technically, Luxor Temple is still a place where people worship, but not for the religion it was built for.

The majority of visitors only spend one or two days in Luxor, but some prefer the tranquil atmosphere and want to stay longer. I usually can only stay in Luxor for about two days before I get restless and want to move on to other things. However, if I stay longer than that, it is because I am enjoying myself at the renovated Hilton resort property just north of town and along the Nile.
Renting a felucca boat for an afternoon in Luxor and taking a leisurely cruise up and down the Nile can also be very cool. The traditional-looking boats with large sails known as feluccas can be found all over Luxor and in some cases even in Cairo. They will sail it for you with a man who usually speaks some English, so they will be able to point out interesting things along the river while you are floating and relaxing.
When someone calls out to them and asks them if they would like to take a boat ride on the Nile, a lot of people just jump on a felucca out of spontaneity. However, if you prepare in advance for a felucca sail, you can ensure that you bring along food and beverages to make it a posh little excursion.
So far, I’ve talked a lot about where to go to Luxor and what to do there. Now, let me briefly talk about some of the logistics of going to Luxor.
Although Luxor’s hotel scene isn’t quite as diverse as Cairo’s, if you’re going there for more than just a day, you can find some excellent accommodations. As previously stated, the Hilton Luxor Resort and Spa is my favorite Luxor hotel. Due to its location on the tranquil banks of the Upper Egypt Nile, I believe this property is one of the nicest resort properties in all of Egypt. It competes with nearly every five-star Cairo property.
The international hotel chain Sofitel also owns and operates the Winter Palace Hotel in downtown Luxor. Don’t expect five-star luxury at the Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor; it’s a little out of date and worn around the edges. However, Luxor’s Winter Palace has a charming and quaint appeal that dates back to the turn of the 20th century, when explorers, archaeologists, and Egyptians spent the winter months digging up tombs and treasures in Egypt and making headlines worldwide with their discoveries.
In fact, in the latter part of the 1800s, that was precisely its intended audience. It was not built to be a real royal residence; rather, it was made for the aristocratic tourists and explorers who were flocking to Egypt at the same time that Egyptology was becoming a new field.
The Jolie, the Mercure, the Steigenberger, and the Sonesta, in addition to these two properties, meet roughly four-star Western standards the majority of the time.
This is an insider’s tip for all hotels in Egypt: if a hotel is named after a pharoah, it almost always means that it is a dump. Avoid establishments referred to as the Ramses Inn, Cleopatra Resort, or King Tut Hotel. Those are just fictitious examples of names that I came up with, not names of actual properties that I am aware of; however, I hope you are getting the point.
Moving on, let’s talk about how to get to and leave Luxor while we’re talking about logistics. Flying is the easiest way to get there from Cairo. The one-hour flight typically costs between 150 and 200 dollars, and Luxor’s airport is small and simple to manage.
The train is another option, but I wouldn’t recommend it to older tourists, families with young children, or anyone who can’t handle a cheap or backpacker-style trip. The overnight train ride from Cairo to Luxor lasts ten hours. I’ve done it a lot, and I usually like it. However, I can sleep pretty much anywhere. Although the seats are spacious and comfortable, there is neither a plus nor wifi, so ensure that your devices are fully charged before you board.
The Cairo train station is a zoo that is difficult to navigate even for Egyptians, whereas the Luxor train station is manageable in size. Be aware that ticket sellers are only permitted to sell tickets on certain trains to foreigners if you decide to purchase a train ticket between Luxor and Cairo. Only about a quarter of the trains that travel daily between Luxor and Cairo permit foreign passengers to purchase tickets.
This is simply due to the fact that they are the “nicer” trains and, more importantly for the Egyptian government, the trains that are more secure because they do not stop at all of the smaller train stations in all of the towns and villages without Tourist Police in central Egypt, where foreigners generally do not go (and have at times been denied access).
One more thing to keep in mind if you decide to take the train is that they do have a “sleep car” train. However, I don’t think it’s worth it unless you absolutely need a lie-flat bed to sleep. The regular seats are wide and comfortable, with a lot of recline. Additionally, considering that the ten-hour journey on regular trains typically costs between eight and fifteen US dollars, the price is quite reasonable. The cabins on the sleeper trains aren’t very nice and cost a lot more.
Now, you can legally travel between Luxor and Aswan by train, whether you flew into Luxor from Cairo or took the train there. The only other option is to travel the three hours with a driver in a cheap private car.
Private automobiles and buses are the two primary modes of transportation between Luxor and the resorts along the Red Sea. There are no direct flights between Luxor and Aswan or between Luxor and the Red Sea, and there are no trains between Luxor and the Red Sea.
Many people are unaware that Nile cruises also do not operate between Cairo and Luxor. The cruises run between Luxor and Aswan. Although I don’t like them very much because they’re slow and take a lot of time, they can be nice options for visitors who like to travel slowly, especially older travelers who are less mobile or who get tired more quickly.
Okay, now let me talk about some scams to beware of in this region of Egypt. Even if you are on your own, you won’t need to be as vigilant here because, fortunately, the vultures aren’t as numerous in Luxor as they are in Cairo and Giza’s Pyramids. But I want to warn you about three scams, or maybe there aren’t any scams at all, just more “unusual situations.”
The first concern is being caught taking pictures in the Valley of the Kings‘ tombs without a photography permit. Because this ticket is brand-new and reasonably priced, I always advise visitors to simply purchase it to avoid the hassle of attempting to “sneak” one or two photos and running the risk of being caught. Still, there are some people who try to save money by not purchasing the new ticket, but the tomb guards usually catch them.
But here’s the problem with the guards: they have been watching hundreds of thousands of tourists enter and exit these tombs for years. Despite their rough exterior, they are well-versed in tourist psychology and know what to look for. They can tell when someone is trying to sneak a picture into one of the tombs by the gestures they make—they don’t even need the flash to go off.
And do you have any idea why they are paying such close attention to this? Unfortunately, this is rarely the case due to genuine concern for ticket revenue management or historic preservation. This is due to the fact that if you don’t have a photography ticket, they can confront you and demand a bribe from you if they catch you.
The deal is that if they catch you, they have to take your phone or camera away and tell you that it is against the law to take pictures without this specific “permit.” After that, they engage in a little song and dance with you before asking you for a bribe to remain silent. Most fearful or anxious tourists simply pay the equivalent of ten or twenty dollars US to avoid “getting in trouble.”
When you already know you’ve done something wrong, this may seem like a reasonable amount to pay to get your phone or camera back from someone who seems “official.” However, if you fork over that much, it will be raining cash in that guy’s house for the next month, which is a hell of a lot of money to those guys.
If you do break the rules and are caught, I can assure you that you won’t be conned into parting with a pharaoh’s wealth. A straightforward “gift” of fifty Egyptian pounds to the tomb watchers will be sufficient and generous. They will probably protest and say that you need to give them more, but you won’t, so you just tell them that it’s just your phone or camera or nothing at all.
If this happens to you, you shouldn’t feel like you’re the only one in this predicament because it happens dozens of times a day. It has even happened to me multiple times, and all I do is pony up, give the guy a few dollars to make him happy, and move on. However, now that they have the photography ticket, I always receive that, and this does not occur anymore.
When it comes to those very same tomb watchers, the second thing to be on the lookout for is one of their more up-and-coming ways to make money: offering you a brief tour or letting you borrow a flashlight to better view the wall art. Be aware that they are expecting a tip if they follow you into the tomb and begin pointing out things when it is not busy. For the pointing mini-tour or to borrow their flashlight, you can pay 10 or 20 Egyptian pounds. But seriously, if you don’t want it, just politely say “la shukran” a few times, which means no thanks, and continue exploring on your own.
Since guides aren’t allowed inside the tombs, they often play substitute guides when it’s not busy, when they don’t have as many tickets to sell at the door and can follow you in to try to make a few bucks.

One thing I’ve learned about poor Egyptians over the years is that they always try to get their hands on your money and won’t just ask for it as charity like many people in the West do. No matter how basic or humble the service, even the poorest of the poor almost always want to do something for you before asking for money. I admire and love the Egyptian people for many different reasons, and that’s just one of them.
The alabaster shops in Luxor are the third thing to keep an eye out for Luxor is famous for its alabaster jewelry, so if you’re brave enough to hire your own guide from a local company or try to find one on the way, you’ll almost certainly end up in an alabaster shop during your trip. Regardless of where you are taken for “shopping,” the guide and frequently the driver will receive a substantial compensation from the shop for choosing that location over another. The more shady local guides will try to point you in the direction of stores that pay them the most, so they can keep a cut of everything you buy under pressure.
It’s the same as the scam at the Cairo papyrus shop. Be careful, and avoid visiting an alabaster shop in Luxor unless you absolutely must have some alabaster souvenirs. If you make a seedy guide or driver skip it, they will be irritated and enraged with you. However, if that happens, you have chosen the wrong guide from the start, so let that serve as an indication of quality among other things.
Okay, that wraps up this post about getting to, staying in, and exploring Luxor, Egypt’s second-most famous collection of sites. Whether you only have one day in Luxor or a whole week to relax and unwind, there is so much to see and do that you are guaranteed to be awestruck. In any case, have fun while you’re there. If you have any additional inquiries regarding your trip to Luxor, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email as always.

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