On our third day in Egypt we caught a 5 am flight to Luxor. Outside the airport, the drivers tried to make us pay 80 EGP for a ride to our hotel while standing next to a sign stating 44 EGP was the standard rate to the city.
We decided to stay at the Bob Marley House Hostel after reading reviews about the bed and breakfast style service they offer. Upon walking in the young guy at reception ran over to help us with our bags and make tea. He explained how to get around the city and offered to run to the market to get us souvenirs or food so we didn’t have to worry about high tourist prices. All of the guests are equally as welcoming, hanging out downstairs to socialize, and vary in age.
Even though we’d been up for hours already to catch our 5 AM flight, we opted to hop on the hostel’s 8 AM tour to the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank. I mean we may as well keep going while we have the stamina, right?
We paid 45 EGP for a driver and tour guide (before tip). With entrance to the four sites we visited, the tour added up to 190 EGP.
First stop was the Valley of the Kings to explore three tombs. You are not allowed to bring cameras inside so be prepared to drop your camera off at the entrance (reminiscent of an unofficial coat check) or hide it in your bag. Our guide warned of a 1000 EGP fine for anyone caught taking pictures. These tombs are cut into the mountain instead of pyramids and offer much more space. While I felt claustrophobic crawling into the Queen’s pyramid in Giza, I really enjoyed these tombs. The artwork and hieroglyphics are pretty well preserved here too.
After the tombs, we stopped at an Alabaster Factory (there are countless in the area) to see how the “true” souvenirs are made. While this was clearly a deal between our guide and the business to make money, I enjoyed learning about how the Egyptians work with stone. They even called me out, yelling “Shakira, Shakira,” dressed me in an Egyptian headdress and had me grind the stone for show.
After perusing the store, we drove to Dair el Bahari (Temple of Hatshepsut) to wander the terraces in the sun. The queen who built this temple dressed and acted like a man to retain power and the support of her people. She was successful at warfare but promoted peace and economic prosperity. Ina nutshell, she was one of Egypt’s most successful pharaohs and a total girl boss. Most impressive is the mountainous backdrop of this temple. Entry was 50 EGP plus another two pounds for a trolley ride. The trolleys they sell you at each spot are unnecessary because the walk is so short but we rode them as a group.
Our fourth stop was at Medinet Habu (Temple of Ramesses III). Entry was 40 EGP. We paid at a ticket office off the rode then drove to the actual site. This process was confusing because the office sells tickets for a number of sites and you have to make sure to communicate which ones you are purchasing. It’s times like these that a guide is really worth your while.
It’s also worth noting that cameras are allowed in the temples, unlike the tombs. I didn’t want to risk leaving my camera at the entry of tomb sites so I only brought my phone.
Together Traveler Tip: Only bring as much money as you need for entry fees, tour, tip plus a small emergency fund. It’s easy to get sucked in by the hawkers but you can’t pay them what you don’t have.
Our final stop was at the Colossi of Memnon. Our guide only gave us about five minutes at this view point but it was gorgeous. I also enjoyed the scenery throughout our drive just as much. Luxor has a lot of natural beauty and seems better taken care of than Giza. Sites were organized and although confusion can occur during communication, there is a clear system in place and our guide genuinely tried to make our visit enjoyable.
Egyptian (and Jordanian) guides are not shy to ask for a tip. They will tell you when they want more from you. Don’t be alarmed, just be prepared to be equally as explicit in your response. It’s a business interaction after all.
We were dropped off at our hostel by 2:30 PM, and it’s always nice to feel like you’ve accomplished a lot before late afternoon. Now I can’t wait to relax and enjoy the peaceful calm of this hostel.
Would you opt for an organized tour or explore the Valley of the Kings on your own?
Planning your own trip to Egypt and looking for suggestions? Check out my itinerary for one week in Israel plus a second week to visit Jordan and Egypt.
Wondering why I’m in Egypt? Read this post here.