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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 population numbers 487,896 (2010 estimate), with an area of approximately 416 square kilometres (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... Read more

Luxor, Egypt

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Luxor is a city in Upper (southern) Egypt and the capital of Luxor Governorate. The population numbers 487,896 (2010 estimate), with an area of approximately 416 square kilometres (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 travellers 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:
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Luxor, Egypt: Port Information


Luxor's port is a mooring spot. Most boats dock in central Luxor. Ships moor side by side. And some cruise lines have private docks.
The Luxor cruise port is a few miles outside the city of Safaga, and Luxor is a 3-hour drive from Safaga.
Taxis are available. If traveling by bus as part of an excursion to the site of Luxor, armed security personnel will be on-board.

Get around Luxor, Egypt


Get around

By bicycle
Luxor is brimming with rental shops for bikes and a great many hotels also hire out bicycles. Rental rates vary from roughly 5LE - 20LE, depending on your bargaining skills, the relative demand on bikes that day and the quality of the bike in question. 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 is 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 more brave, Luxor is brimming with Chinese motorcycles around 150cc. With the right bargaining skills you can net one for 50LE+ per hour, or less for the day or evening. 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. From the airport to downtown is about LE 50, and short trips within Luxor are between LE 10 and LE 20. A round trip to the West Bank is about LE 100.
The Sheraton Luxor Resort has a list of current (overpriced) taxi rates from their hotel to a number of destinations that can be used as a handy reference.

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 colour on the side of the minibus. However there are no maps of the routes, the locals just seem to know them by heart. All busroutes 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, a flat 0.50LE per person for a ride (no haggling required). When you do not pay while you sit down, they will assume you do not know the price and the driver will charge you 1LE when you get off. 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, 20-30LE minimum and that is if they don't give you an extra excursion (not necessarily what you asked for). It is much easier to take the blue local ferry, a very basic boat that you can use for around 1LE, sometimes 0.50LE. 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, but 20LE per hour seems common, or 5LE for a short 1km trip. You'l need to haggle / walk away to get these prices.
BEWARE: There are frequent reports of robbery by carriage-drivers. If they harrass 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 scarred animals. This does not mean that all drivers are to be avoided, some are reputable. Use common sense when choosing.

Beware of using the same driver for several days in a row. At the end he may decide he has undercharged you in some way for previous trips and may ask for a lot more, for things which "wasn't" included, such as waiting around while you visited a temple, all the money paid before went to the boss and none to your driver, a tip for the horse, in the original price. It might be best to use a different driver each trip and not book a previously used driver to avoid this possible scenario from happening even if he does seem more pleasant than most to start with.

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. Egyptian papers cost around 1LE.

What to see in Luxor, Egypt


See

The various Luxor district article pages contain detailed information and suggestions for things to see. 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


Do

  • 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.A local felucca ride just before sunset; shouldn't cost you more than about LE 30 (for one person) per hour.
  • Take a felucca cruise on the Nile for a 2 day trip to Aswan (the reverse trip is recommended, however, due to river currents).
  • 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 cant go,so you can enjoy the 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.The Sunset ride and Nile ride is a must do. www.pharaohstables.com call them on 010 6324961
  • Go for a swim in a hotel’s pool after a dusty day of tombs and temples: Iberotel: 75E£, Sonesta: 50E£, the one right next to St. Joseph: 25E£.
  • Magic Horizon Balloons, Badr Street, off TV St. (booking@magichorizon.com), ☎ +20 (0) 1005688439, [1]. 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 an 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 yoghurt 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 which serve Stella lager for 14LE including tax (as of September 2011) and other local beer and wine for fairly reasonable prices. The huge Stella signs outside give them away. If you can't find somewhere convenient serving alcohol, it may be an idea to ask the staff in your hotel for directions. 'Cafeteria' can be the euphemistic name for a pub in Egypt, and pubs can be quite hard to find if you don't know exactly where to go.

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. If you take your passport and go within two days of arriving in Egypt, up to three bottles of main-name spirits and beer, etc. at well-reduced prices, per person, can be bought. After the two days you can only buy the Egyptian equivalent. They also sell electrical products and close at 10pm.
To by local Egytian 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. Prices in 2014 are 55LE+ for a bottle of wine, 10LE for beer, before haggling.
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


Buy

​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. This trick has proven to work well: usually their first offer for the price can be ten or even a hundred times bigger than a reasonable price. First decide what you are actually willing to pay. Let us say that in this example it is 20LE. If you ask for the price, you may get a reply "120LE". Now you offer 22LE. You may then be offered something like 110LE. Then instead of going up, you start going down with the price, your new offer will be only 20LE (your predefined price limit). If the bargaining continues you continue dropping your offer. Pretty soon he will understand where the bargaining is going and you get a comfortable price or - at least - you get rid of the vendor.

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


Stay safe

Luxor is known as the hassle capital of Egypt. For those not on fully organised 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".

Pre-book accommodations ahead of time to avoid touts at the stations. 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 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 pick pocket 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 more 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

2:11 am
January 19, 2019
Africa/Cairo

CURRENT WEATHER

10 °C / 50 °F
sky is clear
Sat

16.54 °C/62 °F
sky is clear
Sun

18.09 °C/65 °F
few clouds
Mon

17.98 °C/64 °F
broken clouds
Tue

13.8 °C/57 °F
sky is clear

LOCAL CURRENCY

EGP

1 USD = 17.89 EGP
1 EUR = 20.34 EGP
1 GBP = 23.04 EGP
1 AUD = 12.82 EGP
1 CAD = 13.49 EGP

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