Backpackers from Dubai to Egypt - Luxor

March 23, 2011

Luxor, Egypt sits 12 hours by bus away from Cairo, and on its east is Libya.

People visit Luxor because it's known as the world's greatest open air musuem. The Nile's west bank is said to be the 'city of the dead' because it's where the ancient kings and queens took years to build their mummification temples and tombs. 'City of the living' is on the east bank with temples to adore their many gods.

People in Luxor are generally linked to "hassles" -- cunning to the un-assuming tourist, or rude to their unwilling prospect-client.

I'll leave the details of what to see in the place to the following links:
Some links:
Luxor on Wikipedia
Luxor on TourEgypt.net
More importantly, for an unbiased photoblog of Luxor, I guess Mr Tony's blog speaks most about the streets of Luxor. I suggest you check him here.
Now, I hope I recall it right some of our guide, Aladdin's remarks on Luxor:

  • Most houses are not properly roofed signifying they're not fully constructed and not subject to taxes. A finished house is taxed 40%
  • Arabic Valentine is celebrated every 4th of November
  • Tourists are stereotyped based on their nationalities. And jokingly he said the following are most likely seen with: Japanese - a camera and an umbrella, Canadian - a bag with a Canadian flag, tourist from Holland - beer and drugs (remember, said jokingly), Russian - naked and high-heeled. English - bottle of beer and a girl. We haven't seen a Filipino in Luxor so that explains why we were spared of a remark
  • Cruise boats along Nile River numbers around 300
  • The smokey sky is due to burning of the fields
  • Sugar is a staple among Luxor people, hence the vast sugar cane plantations
  • Sugar canes were banned to grow near the roads for security reasons -- terrorists can easily hide behind.
  • It rains in Luxor for two minutes every four years.
The tombs such as those in the Valley of Kings and Valley of Queens strictly do not allow taking photos and videos. It's said that the lights from the camera damage wall inscription colors. It's a shame but I'll share anyway: we were too stubborn and took a video using our mobile phone (took cue from an elder tourist we saw doing it). We got caught, and the tomb guard took from us EGP100 (USD 16.80).

Most reviews say hot air balloon rides are cheap in Luxor. We paid EGP 400 (USD 67.25) each via our hotel but we were told getting it directly from the operators could be some EGP 300.


The ancient Egyptians believe they attain salvation  after life through mummification, spending years to build their mummification temples. This is where Queen Hatshepsut got mummified.

Egyptians wrote their stories through hieroglyphics
Temple walls with colored sketches (that withstood centuries) mostly showing how the ancient kings and queens adored their gods.
Luxor boasts of alabaster craft. The above shop owner demonstrates how the alabaster design diffuses light (a lighted bulb has been put inside)

I think this is Amun, the god of fertility.

In Karnak temple. Notice the massive columns. There are 134 of these rising 10-21 meters high.

Firing up the balloon.

A view from the hot air balloon -- unfinished roofs as a form of tax avoidance.

Starting to carve/ shape the alabaster stone.

(if you intend to backpack from Dubai to Luxor, Egypt, you might want to read further)

Our Egypt trip last year came about when I received Flydubai's enticing newsletter giving 30% one-leg airfare discount (and Dubai - Luxor was under AED300). When I shared it, two friends exclaimed it's an inexpensive try. One spent AED 1500 per person for five days on Luxor and Cairo. Another spent AED 5000 per person for ten days Luxor/ Cairo/ Sharm Al Sheikh with five days four-star hotel stay in the latter.

It was AED 2500 each for me and my husband, for five days covering Luxor, Cairo and Alexandria. Nothing fancy in our hotels. We engaged tourist guides and had a hot air balloon ride. From Dubai, we arranged our Luxor and Cairo tours, airport pickup and hotels with Nefertiti Hotel and Alladin Tours which is a convenient option, I guess.

A third of our travel cost went to paying our tour guides, hot air balloon ride and entrance fees to the temples (yes, everything Egypt has to offer comes with a fee, more expensive than what's paid for tour guide fees).

It's worth paying for a tour guide. A good one, could spare the tourist from hassles, although the tourist should still remain discerning especially when the guide leads the group to a shop were he is said to have a huge cut of the price the tourist buys.

For Luxor backpackers, Nefertiti Hotel is good with nice staff, clean small rooms, buffet breakfast and roof top view overlooking the Nile River and the Luxor temple. We booked online via Hostels but on our first night, they guided us to Queens Valley hotel since they were full. Queens VAlley is a turn-off, it looks ok outside, but inside is like an unattended haunted and dirty place. We forced ourselves to eat their small serving of breakfast served on dirty utensils and unhygienic setup just as we were so hungry and our tour van was already waiting outside.

Our Egyptologist-guide Alladin's enthusiasm and knowledge got us awed at how the ancient Egyptians have left tales of their lives then, considering how crude things were.

Our fourth night saw us in a 12-hours bus ride from Luxor to Cairo. It was the holidays the previous week then, making all trains full. We would be going back home Dubai via Alexandria which is 15 hours away, leaving us no choice but take the bus. We realized that our itinerary should have been Dubai-Alexandria - Luxor - Dubai. Moreover, flights in Alexandria are always reaching and leaving at mid day, so our route only gave us half day light to explore the place, that's not a fair allocation to appreciate what it can offer.  

There's lots of walking, so a stamina investment prior to travel may be better. I noted that the comforts of city life is not found here. There was no shopping mall or huge hypermarket in the area.

For more photos, please do check here.

By the way, we visited Egypt in November last year before the unrest.

Next to blog: Cairo and Alexandria.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. (I posted a long comment a while ago but i got an error message.)

    very insightful and informational guide for visiting Egypt. hopefully, i'll see this place in the near future.

    did u take home any souvenirs from there?

    PS
    the floating brown thing on my post about Hanauma Bay is actually the coral reef at the bottom of the bay; that's how the clear the water is.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Kayni,

    That was a quick comment :-) Salamat :-)

    I'm starting to write long posts and I hope I'm not overdoing it kasi I'm motivated by the searches that lands here.

    The shop where our guide brought us to sell expensively kaya we did not buy anything there. We did later near our hotel, but when we reached home, they were broken. Had we been hoaxed? I dont know :)

    ---

    Wow, really, people in Hawaii do love their place so much, they (you) have kept it pristine. Isn't it so great if Philippines is taken cared as in Hawaii?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I enjoyed reading your post Bevs and looking at the photos. Thank you for sharing.

    Grabe naman ang 40% tax na ipinapatong sa finished na bahay. Well, kung ako ang nakatira doon I might do it as well.Forever na unfinished ang bahay ko hahahaha.

    Looking at the picture of hot air balloon, I wonder kung ano ang feeling ng nasa taas. Maybe I'll go gaga with screaming to death :))) hahahaha!

    Let me share this one. Pag nakakapunta ako sa isang place dito sa Al Ain na hindi alam ng karamihan, I usually do a series of blogposts kasi talagang mahaba lalo na pag gusto ko na detailed ang maipapaabot ko sa readers but I have discovered that most of the photobloggers ay hindi interested magbasa ng mahabang posts but it didn't stop me from writing the way I wanted it to be.

    One more thing that I have discovered when I checked the stats, maraming referring links and web browsers ang nagla-land sa site because of detailed posting.

    Ayan napahaba na atang masyado ang nasulat ko...ano ba yan!

    Excited na ako magbasa about Cairo and Alexandria. Sure na aabangan ko yan.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you thank you Misalyn :-)

    Parang nakakatakot before you board the hot air balloon pero while it takes long for you watching it being setup at saka marami kayo naghihintay, nawawala naman yung takot. Once you're up na, nothing scary na.I too tremble at heights, but I enjoyed the ride :-)

    I realized nga na in blogging, we tend to adapt to a certain purpose. Ung nga this time for me, 90% of my small stats is from searches, out of which about 75% is from UAE. For a less visited blog, nakakaexcite kung may mga nagvivisit from searches :-)

    Sana di mapatagal yung Cairo at Alexandria, hehe...

    ReplyDelete
  5. You're lucky to have visited Egypt before the huge protest against the government happened. As much as I want to try the hot air balloon experience, mukhang hindi safe yung dito sa UAE.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for sharing those pictures. How I wish I could go to Egypt too.

    ReplyDelete

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