ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Luxor On A Budget

Updated on August 26, 2011

Luxor, in Egypt, is one of the most fascinating cities on earth. Known as Thebes to the ancient Egyptians, Luxor has so many stunning temples and monuments that it's been dubbed the 'world's largest open-air museum.' And pride of place amongst all this magnificence belongs to the Valley of the Kings, situated on the Nile's West Bank. This is where, for nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century B.C., Egypt's pharaohs were laid to rest.

A trip to the Valley of the Kings is a must for everyone who visits Luxor. But there's just one problem: organized tours have become wickedly expensive. Two people staying at a hotel on the East Bank of the Nile can easily blow $200 on a five-hour trip. But you don't have to bust your budget to visit the tombs of Egypt's mightiest rulers. It can be done for a fraction of that cost and here's how.

Forget the organized tours. Doing it yourself is really quite straightforward and safe. My wife and I have visited the West Bank on numerous occasions and we've never felt worried or threatened in any way. It's a good idea to have a guidebook with you, or else you can check out the Theban Mapping Project website which has tons of fascinating info. And another thing; take plenty of water. It's hot. Even in winter temperatures in the Valley of the Kings can soar into the 90s.

The Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings

Crossing the Nile
First you need to cross the Nile to get to the West Bank. The easiest way is to take the National ferry. The terminal is on Luxor's main street, called the Corniche, just across from Luxor Temple. So it's right in the heart of town and handy for all the major hotels. The ferry operates several times an hour and runs all night.

At the terminal, several guides will tout for your business. Most speak English and act as agents for cabdrivers who operate on the West Bank. When you've agreed a price – LE120 ($20/£12.50) is reasonable for a half-day hire (payable at the end of the excursion) – the agent then accompanies you onto the ferry. The trip across the Nile only costs LE1 each way (that's about 17 cents or 11 pence!) Or you can pay LE2 and get a handwritten return ticket which saves a bit of time on the return journey.

Then settle back for a very pleasant 5 minute journey across the Nile. Quick tip – always go on the upper deck, as there are some fabulous views to be had along the Nile. Plus, it really is something to see businessmen in expensive suits, poring over the contents of their briefcases, sat alongside a farmer who's decided to give his goat a day out! This is the real Egypt and utterly absorbing. Best of all, you won't be overrun by other tourists.

The first time we made this trip the agent, Ayad, accompanied us on the ferry, to show us the ropes and to introduce us to our driver, Mohammed, on the West Bank. Both were wonderful. Thereafter, each time Ayad just phoned ahead and Mohammed was always waiting for us.

Buying Tickets
There are many incredible sites to visit on the West Bank, besides the Valley of the Kings. Let the driver know what sights you want to see and he will take you to a kiosk and buy the appropriate tickets for you. One of the best is the temple of Hatshepshut, the most powerful of all the female pharaohs. At the time of writing a ticket for Hatshepsut's temple is LE30 ($5/£3).

Down in the Valley
Then it's on to the Valley of the Kings. The journey doesn't take long, about 15 minutes into the Theban Mountains. When you reach the drop-off zone arrange a pick-up time with your driver. A couple of hours is probably enough for the first-time visitor. Then you buy your ticket at the visitor's center. Currently the entrance fee is LE80 ($13.50/£8) and this provides access to 3 tombs (not including the tomb of Tutankhamun which costs extra.) Since most of the tour guides herd their parties into the closest tombs, and these can become very hot and overcrowded, it's a good idea to head for some of the more distant tombs. Here you can marvel over amazing 4,000-year-old murals and hieroglyphs at your own pace and in relative peace and quiet. This is one of the most magical places on earth and the memories will live with you forever.

Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri
Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri

The Queen Pharaoh

At the appointed time, meet your driver at the drop-off zone for the short journey to the temple of Hatshepsut. There are no problems with cameras here and you can snap away till your heart's content in this fantastic building. Unless you anticipate spending an awfully long time in the temple, the driver will wait for you. On the return journey he may suggest a visit to one of the nearby 'alabaster' factories. Give this a big miss. The stuff is shoddy and the prices are astronomical. A knowing smile and a polite "No, thanks" usually gets the message across that you're not in the market for being conned. After all, we're trying to stay within budget.

The Trip Home

At the end of a memorable day, it's back to the ferry terminal. This is where the LE120 ($20/£12.50) changes hands. We generally add on a good tip and, if we're returning to the West Bank, make arrangements with the driver to meet us again. The best part of a do-it-yourself visit is that the money goes directly into the hands of the people who need it the most, rather than some faceless tour company. All that's left now is to catch the next ferry for the short return trip to the East Bank.

When you disembark at the Corniche how about treating yourself to a long, cool drink on the terrace of the Old Winter Palace hotel? There's no better place in Luxor to watch the sun set over the Theban mountains and you'll have plenty of money left over to enjoy the treat. Your day out in the Valley of the Kings has cost you and your partner just $60/£37.50, saving as much as 70 percent off the tour company price. I'll drink to that. Cheers!

A Tour of the West Bank


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)