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Luxor, Egypt

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Luxor, Egypt

Luxor is a city in Upper (southern) Egypt and the capital of Luxor Governorate. The area of approximately 416 square kilometers (161 sq mi). As the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, Luxor has frequently been characterized as the "world's greatest open-air museum", as the ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor stand within the modern city. Immediately opposite, across the River Nile, lie the monuments, temples, and tombs of the West Bank Necropolis, which includes the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. Thousands of tourists from all around the world arrive annually to visit these monuments, contributing greatly to the economy of the modern city.

Districts

Although a relatively small town by Egyptian population standards, Luxor is quite extensive and is best divided up into several... Read more

Luxor, Egypt

Destination:

Luxor is a city in Upper (southern) Egypt and the capital of Luxor Governorate. The area of approximately 416 square kilometers (161 sq mi). As the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, Luxor has frequently been characterized as the "world's greatest open-air museum", as the ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor stand within the modern city. Immediately opposite, across the River Nile, lie the monuments, temples, and tombs of the West Bank Necropolis, which includes the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. Thousands of tourists from all around the world arrive annually to visit these monuments, contributing greatly to the economy of the modern city.

Districts

Although a relatively small town by Egyptian population standards, Luxor is quite extensive and is best divided up into several 'districts' or areas that group the main attractions on their respective sides of the river Nile:

  • East Bank the town, the Luxor Temple, the Temple of Karnak, The Museum, trains, hotels, restaurants
  • West Bank the location of the major ruins including Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and other important sites; the Western Valley ruins, and a few hotels.
The old capital of Egypt, Thebes, was on the West bank of the Nile. That is where most of the ruins and tombs are.
The modern city of Luxor is on the East bank. That area has the train and bus stations, most of the hotels and restaurants, some museums, tourist shops and so on. Most visitors (and almost all tour groups) stay on the East bank and travel across for the tourist sites but, in recent years, there has been an increase in hotels on the West Bank, and many independent travelers stay there.

Climate

Luxor has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh) like the rest of Egypt. Aswan and Luxor have the hottest summer days of any other city in Egypt. Aswan and Luxor have nearly the same climate. Luxor is one of the hottest, sunniest and driest cities in the world. Average high temperatures are above 40 °C (104 °F) during summer (June, July, August) while average low temperatures remain above 22 °C (72 °F). During the coldest month of the year, average high temperatures remain above 22.0 °C (71.6 °F) while average low temperatures remain above 5 °C (41 °F).

The climate of Luxor has precipitation levels lower than even most other places in the Sahara, with less than 1 mm (0.04 in) of average annual precipitation. The desert city is one of the driest ones in the world, and rainfall does not occur every year. The air is mainly dry in Luxor but much more humid than in Aswan. There is an average relative humidity of 39.9%, with a maximum mean of 57% during winter and a minimum mean of 27% during summer.
The climate of Luxor is extremely clear, bright and sunny year-round, in all seasons, with a low seasonal variation, with about some 4,000 hours of annual sunshine, very close of the maximum theoretical sunshine duration.
In addition, Luxor, Minya, Sohag, Qena, and Asyut have the widest difference of temperatures between days and nights of any city in Egypt, with almost 16 °C (29 °F) difference.
The hottest temperature recorded was on May 15, 1991 which was 50 °C (122 °F) and the coldest temperature was on February 6, 1989 which was −1 °C (30 °F).


Source:
Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Luxor, Egypt: Port Information


Cruise travelers can visit Luxor on a cruise tour. Your liner will dock at the port of Safaga situated about 140 miles away. It takes about 3.5 hours each way.

Get around Luxor, Egypt


By bicycle
Luxor is brimming with rental shops for bikes and a great many hotels also hire out bicycles. Check the tires and be wary of last-minute inflating as they may deflate just as fast. It is quite normal for people to be asked to leave behind their passport, drivers license or student ID card as a deposit. Bikes can be rented on both the East and West Banks of Luxor (the latter near the local ferry landing), though the choice and quality of bikes are usually better in the East, and prices can be a little over-inflated on the more isolated West. If you look for high-quality bicycles, you can find Dutch bikes (gazelle/batavus) at the Dutch Rental Agency in Sheratonstreet (Eastbank)and in the Souk just when you leave the ferryboat (Westbank). Note that bikes can be taken on board the local ferry (be considerate though!), so feel free to hire on the East, then transport your bike over yourself. Do watch Egyptian traffic before deciding if you want to ride a bike through it.
Remember - the East bank is the metropolitan side, so consider the traffic and crowds while deciding whether to bike on that side. The West Bank, in contrast, is much more rural, and many tourists opt to bicycle among the fields here while getting themselves between the tourist sites.

Warning though: At the sites, guards will try to convince you to avoid locking your bicycle as they will watch it. Which they will do very well - and then demand a tip for having done so. Lock your bike yourself to avoid this unnecessary expense.

By motorcycle
For the even braver, Luxor is brimming with Chinese motorcycles. In the summer, the roads around the West Bank are relatively empty, and motorcycling around the ruins and mountains is easy and efficient. In a slow season, many are willing to rent you their own motorcycle for the right price. Remember to demand a helmet - since nobody uses them.

By taxi
Taxis are plentiful in Luxor. They have no meters, but there are current rates that are accepted if you stay firm. 

By minibus
Minibuses are the transportation of the locals in Luxor, and the cheapest way to get around for the adventurous tourist. They all have the same shape so are easily recognized. They have fixed routes, with different routes marked by a different color on the side of the minibus. However, there are no maps of the routes, the locals just seem to know them by heart. All bus routes seem to converge at the railway station. Hail a bus by looking at it while it is approaching, and raise your arm. When the bus is full it will not stop (there are about 14 seats in a bus). Otherwise, you can jump in, take an empty seat, and pass money to the driver. When you do not pay while you sit down, they will assume you do not know the price and the driver will charge you more. Getting off is possible anytime, and is done by simply asking the driver to stop when you are near your destination.

By boat
An essential way of getting between the East and West banks of Luxor is to use a boat. As you walk by the river, dozens of felucca owners will offer you their services to haul you over the river, and normally a taxi driver will be on standby on the other side. This, of course, is all at a very inflated price. It is much easier to take the blue local ferry, a very basic boat. The downside is that the ferry only leaves when it is full, or when another ferry arrives, so taking the ferry is in general slower - though you avoid the haggling. Taxis are available at the ferry terminal on both sides, and the trip takes just a few minutes.

By calèche
Calèches, or horse-drawn carriages, are common on the east bank and are a delightful way to see the city, especially at night-time. Prices vary according to bargaining skill. You'll need to haggle/walk away to get these prices.
BEWARE: There are frequent reports of robbery by carriage-drivers. If they harass you, threaten to call the tourist police.
However, a number of animal rights groups have advised against calèches due to the poor treatment of the horses. It is not uncommon for drivers to beat their horses, and most Western tourists will notice many skinny and scared animals. This does not mean that all drivers are to be avoided, some are reputable. Use common sense when choosing.

On foot
It is also possible to travel around the tourist district on foot during the cooler parts of the day, provided you have a good sense of direction. To avoid unwanted attention you will need to constantly repeat the words "No Hassle", or "Laa Shukran", which means No Thank You in Arabic. Also, be prepared to yell out for the Tourist Police if you have any concerns for your safety. There are usually always some policemen nearby since they may be also wearing civilian clothes.
A good tactic for avoiding hassle is to buy an Egyptian paper each day (in Arabic) and carry this with you. Locals will assume that you know Arabic (and therefore their tricks) and leave you alone.

What to see in Luxor, Egypt


Definite highlights, not-to-be-missed, include:
  • the Valley of the Kings
  • the temple complexes of Luxor and Karnak
  • Medinet Habu
  • the Tombs of the Nobles
  • The Ramesseum Temple

What to do in Luxor, Egypt


  • Walk from the Valley of the Queens across the desert and over the cliffs to the Valley of the Kings
  • Hire a bike and ride around Ancient Thebes - takes you less than 15 minutes to get there. West Bank scene from a felucca boat, Luxor.
  • Hire a donkey, horse, or camel to ride around Luxor's West Bank. Go to Pharaoh's Stables, just a short walk from the ferry terminal. They will take you to places where the big coaches can't go, so you can enjoy real Egypt, with its friendly people and relaxed lifestyle. Every day is different when you see the West Bank by horse or donkey, and the guides will look after you all the way. They have horses for beginners to experienced riders. 
  • Go for a swim in a hotel’s pool after a dusty day of tombs and temples.
  • Magic Horizon Balloons, Badr Street, off TV St. (booking@magichorizon.com), ☎ +20 (0) 1005688439. Flight starts before dawn: MH staff picks passengers up at their hotel or cruise boat, ferry them across the Nile by Felucca boat (tea/coffee & cakes provided on the boat) and drive them to the take-off point. Guests glide up from the West Bank in a balloon and float over Luxor enjoying a view of all the important landmarks of the West Bank. A unique way to visit the ancient land of the Pharaohs. Each flight lasts at least 40 minutes, weather permitting. 

What to eat and drink in Luxor, Egypt


Eat

Luxor is a vegetarian's paradise with lots of fresh seasonal vegetables such as tomato and cucumber.
A meal often begins with pita-bread and mezze such as baba ganoush or taboulé.
Your main course may include meat or poultry, or regional dishes such as pigeon or rabbit. (To avoid an upset stomach, you may prefer to stick with the beef.) As with any heavily touristed area in Egypt, it's never hard to find reasonably well-executed Western food.

Dairy products, such as yogurt or gibna bayda cheese (think feta but much creamier), might accompany your main meal.
Finally, many fine vegetarian desserts are available, though some might seem overly sweet to western tastes. (If you can, specify low or medium sweetness.)
While the evening meal is often filling, you may find this doesn't meet the energy requirements of a busy tourist. Be sure to eat a hearty breakfast, drink lots of water, and snack frequently during the day.
For restaurants by district, see:

  • Luxor, East Bank
  • Luxor, West Bank

On the road, nearby television street and the train station are lots of fruit vendors - be sure to pick up some fruit that is delicious and cheap. These guys make an honest living with their shop and will not try to scam you. You will find the non-tourist part of Luxor to be very friendly and inviting, indicative of true Egyptian culture.

Drink

There is something of a social stigma attached to public drunkenness. Although Egyptians themselves sometimes choose to ignore this, for a foreigner to be drunk in public can give a bad impression. Most local pubs tend to be testosterone-filled hard-drinking dens where lone foreigners and especially lone women may feel uncomfortable.
That said, there are numerous places in Luxor to buy alcohol. Many restaurants, above the basic on the street places, sell lager and wine. They are generally made obvious by Stella signs outside or by having people drinking inside them. There are two open-air restaurants opposite the temple about 200m south of the main entrance. The huge Stella signs outside give them away.

The duty-free shop has moved (2014) from next to the Emilio Hotel (close to the north end of the Luxor Temple) to next to the Sheraton Hotel further south along the Nile. They also sell electrical products.
To buy local Egyptian beer and wine, there are a handful of shops near the train station on Ramsees Street - they are easy to find as they have shelves full of wine and beer behind the counter. 
Drinking in the street or in parks, although fairly widely done by locals, is not recommended for foreigners as it is technically illegal and alcohol is generally cheap enough in restaurants anyway.

Shopping in Luxor, Egypt


There are at least two different markets in Luxor. One is located in an air-conditioned hall, with shops located on either side of the hall. This market hall connects two major streets.
The older market takes up several streets near the Luxor temple. It is a joy to walk through, as it is mostly pedestrian and is a welcome respite from the horse and carriages on the main streets. This market really feels like an old souk and the visitor is taken back in time. It is covered with a wooden trellis, shading people from the sun. Many of the shops offer the same items, so the wise buyer shops around and looks for the best price. One can often bargain better after going to several stores.

Once you find a merchant you like, sit down, have some tea, and begin the game of bargaining. It can feel like you are becoming a part of the family. Buying something as simple as a cotton galabeya can take hours, as you try on almost every single galabeya in the store, and then move on to items that they think you may want for the rest of your family.

Buying anything may be very frustrating due to constant bargaining if you are not used to it.

The main Souk in Luxor lies on the Abd-El-Hameed Taha and consists of the section for tourists and the section for locals. The touting in the main Souq's tourist section is so bad that it is an absolute nightmare walking through it. Any desire you had to buy anything will quickly disappear as dozens of men try every possible catch they have on you. These include: "You look lucky," "you look Egyptian," "come see my shop, no hassle," and guessing your nationality. But if you continue straight forward (north of Mostafa Kamel), passing by the garden, you will come to the real Souq, where the locals go shopping - and suddenly the atmosphere changes completely. While the local section is less clean, it is much busier and much more hassle-free, so you get to choose for yourself the merchants and wares to investigate.

Safety in Luxor, Egypt


Luxor is known as the hassle capital of Egypt. For those not on fully organized tours, touts can make sightseeing very frustrating. However within temples, one must contend with the government tour guides who are legitimate government workers who aggressively "guide you" and then demand a tip. It may be worthwhile to give a small tip upfront then ask to "self-tour".

Some of the older tricks in the book that you need to ignore are:
  • The "I need a letter translated" opener, used to draw you into a shop
  • The "I need a letter writing to my friend in your country" opener (they show you an address that's in your country), again used to draw you into a shop
  • The alabaster factory. A large percentage of alabaster is imported and is hardly made on site. The vast majority of other stones such as jade are imported from China and India.
  • "The temple is closed"- Check opening times before you arrive. Find out on your own whether something is open or closed, whether you're walking the right way or not. Ask a local, not a taxi or caleche driver.
  • Papyrus Museum- It's just a papyrus shop, some are good, some use cheap imitations.
  • Scarf seller - person selling usually just one scarf will attempt to use it to hide their hand movements while they pickpocket you. Reported two attempts in two days.
  • I work in your hotel and saw you at breakfast this morning. Usually just trying to start a conversation to guide you towards a shop/restaurant that will give him a commission.
Merchants in Luxor are notoriously aggressive and manipulative. Ignore them. In shops and the market, the phrase "no hassle" or "Laa Shukran", meaning no thanks in Arabic. Being polite will make your life easier, as people will remember you if you were rude and may hassle later. If problems persist, threaten to call the tourist police. That being said, the Luxor market actually has some of the best prices for souvenirs that you will find throughout Egypt. Depending upon the perception your profile creates, you may be asked if you would like to purchase drugs or sex. Remember, prostitution and drug use are not taken lightly by government authorities.

Language spoken in Luxor, Egypt


Egyptian Arabic is the commonly spoken language, but English is also widely spoken. 

LOCAL TIME

7:55 am
March 19, 2019
Africa/Cairo

CURRENT WEATHER

28.46 °C / 83.228 °F
few clouds
Wed

27.25 °C/81 °F
sky is clear
Thu

25.97 °C/79 °F
sky is clear
Fri

18.26 °C/65 °F
moderate rain
Sat

14.43 °C/58 °F
heavy intensity rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

EGP

1 USD = 17.33 EGP
1 EUR = 19.66 EGP
1 GBP = 23 EGP
1 AUD = 12.3 EGP
1 CAD = 13 EGP

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