Luxor Temple from the south-west
The East Bank of Luxor refers to the central part of Luxor township, centred on the twin foci of the Temple of Luxor and the Temple of Karnak. Unlike the West Bank, which was ever the main area for cemeteries and mortuary temples, the East Bank represented the main settlement of the living throughout the millennia - a role that has hardly changed. The vast majority of hotels and tourist facilities are to be found in the East Bank.
Today's catch: Luxor market
The layout of Luxor town is fairly straightforward: arranged about the temples of Karnak and Luxor (actually some 3 km (1.9 miles) apart, in the north and south of the city respectively) are four main roads with a network of many small streets between them:
- the Corniche el-Nil (usually just referred to as 'the Corniche', running along the east bank of the Nile and connecting most of the major attractions
- Sharia al-Mahatta, linking the railway station with the area around Luxor Temple
- Sharia Karnak, running inland parallel to the Nile and the Corniche
- Sharia Televizyon, in the southern part of the town, an area of inexpensive accommodation
The reconstruction of the centre of Luxor is largely complete...but now they're digging up the town centre to expose the twin rows of spinxes that lined the processional route from Karnak to Luxor temple. As a result, a large number of buildings including hotels, churches and,I believe, mosques together with many private houses have been or will be demolished. Some of the recovered sphinxes are in good condition for their age although many are just fragments which are being fitted into cement replicas.
a recently excavated sphinx: this one in good condition
Completed major works include widening the main road along the corniche allowing the coaches from the Red Sea resorts to quickly access Karnak temple & the Valley of the Kings.
The East Bank of Luxor represents the central part of Luxor as a locality, the part of the town that the vast majority of tourists will first arrive in, either by land, river or air - arrive in Luxor, you've essentially got to the East Bank....
- the Temple of Luxor, open daily May-September 6AM – 8PM, October-April 6AM-9PM, admission LE 50, LE 25 (student) - as it stands today, largely the work of Amenhotep III and Ramesses II the Great (whose colossi and obelisk stand at the entrance). Also to be seen is the small "hanging" Mosque of Abu al-Haggag, its position a reflection of the ground level that had built up before excavation of the temple precinct
- the Temple of Karnak - more accurately, the Temples of Karnak, open daily May-September 6AM-6PM, October-April 6AM-5PM, admission LE 65, LE 35 (student)
The famous Hypostyle hall at Karnak
- the Karnak Open Air Museum - an off-shoot to the Karnak temple complex, accessed just before the Second Pylon at left, featuring an amazing array of statuary and reconstructed temple structures. Don't miss this! Ticket to be bought from the Karnak ticket office. Open 6AM - 5.30PM daily. Entry LE 15, LE 10 (student).
- Luxor Museum, open daily October-April 9AM-3PM and 4PM-9PM, May-September 9AM-1PM and 5PM-10PM, admission 80LE - located approximately halfway between Luxor and Karnak temples on the Corniche el-Nil. A small but quality collection of antiquities, mainly from the Luxor region. Includes most of the remarkable collection of pharaonic statuary found in a hidden cache within Luxor Temple in 1989, displayed in a special annex.
Statue of Amenhotep III in Luxor Museum
- Museum of Mummification, Corniche el-Nil, open daily October-April 9AM-1PM and 4PM-9PM, May-September 9AM-1PM and 5PM-10PM, admission 35LE, opposite the Mina Palace Hotel - as the name suggests, the small but fascinating collection is devoted to mummification practices.
- Pay a visit at the Brooke Hospital for Animals - and leave a donation!
- Visit ACE - Animal Care Egypt - it has new premises, and operates free for Egyptians. Donations are always accepted - but consider buying their clothing range or books, as a charity, they totally rely on such things.
- Pay a repeat visit to Luxor Temple at night - atmospherically lit, it has a completely different mood to that found in the daytime and is usually more intimate then with fewer visitors.
Nile sunsets can be spectacular
- Watch the sun go down over the Nile: preferably from the terrace of the Old Winter Palace hotel, with a drink in your hand. Listen to cacophony from thousands of small birds that roost in the trees lining the Corniche.
- Gift Shop everything for €2 (everything for two euros), (30 meters north of karnak temple parking lot, on the right (opposite the Nile)), ☎ 0101461739. The owner has totally figured out the Euro-American mentality. It's the same stuff you can buy everywhere else, but everything has a flat price of €2. the best part is, the guy isn't breathing down your neck. egypt should have more of these shops. everything for €2.
- A Taste Of India, St Joseph Hotel Street (100 Meters down side street next to the St Joseph Hotel), ☎ 0193732727. Noon to 11PM. Indian tandoori plus a good selection of international dishes including steaks. Good selection of vegetarian dishes. Very popular restaurant owned by English Ex Pat who has operated Indian restaurants in egypt for several years.
- Casablanca, El-Rodah El-Sherefa Street (100 meters down side street from Steigenberger Hotel in Khaled Ebn El Waleed Street), ☎ 0101725821. 11AM to 12PM. Classy restaurant with anemphasis on fish and seafood along with classic Egyptian food. Tastefully decorated and spotlessly clean. The presentation of the food is lovely and the staff and owner are welcoming without being obnoxious.
- Jamboree Restaurant, Daily 10.30AM-2.30PM & 6.30-10.30PM. Inside the Souk. Ph: 010-146 1712, a spotlessly clean, air-conditioned establishment with roof terrace, serving a range of mid-priced Egyptian and international dishes of above average quality including Cajun chicken (LE 22.50), tasty jacket potatoes (LE 9-13) and a safe salad bar. Owned and run by two really friendly and handsome Egyptians, Mr. Hamdy and Mr. Amer.
- El Kebabgy, Daily 12.00AM-12.00PM. Below the Corniche, near the Winter Palace Hotel, it offers great views of the Nile & West Bank and inexpensive, decent quality food including pasta, grills (Kofte, kebab, pigeon), mousaka etc; by candle light at night.
- El Zaeem, Main road bordering the market, bright lights, two levels (sitting upstairs), 'chain' feel, red uniforms. Offers fresh simple and very cheap food such as shwarma and hawashi for 5 LE or less. Note that they have an Arabic menu with the 'correct' prices, and an english menu (or no menu at all) with made up prices for foreigners (anywhere between 10-25 LE for shwarma!). Therefore, reading arabic is a necessity for the local price!
- McDonalds, Behind Luxor Temple, provides cheeseburgers and a safe haven from the nearby souk.
- Al-Sahaby Lane  The restaurant is located next door to Nefertiti Hotel, in the souk, the colorful Egyptian market of Luxor, on Sahaby street, and it may be the best place in Luxor for a lunch or dinner.
- Sofra, 90 Mohamed Farid St, ☎ (095) 235 9752, . 11-midnight. Specialises in Egyptian food with a groovy decor of Egyptian antiques (and antique-like furnishing). Gives you a Western-style experience with Egyptian food. Very friendly service that can be a little slow at times. It's expensive for Egypt with starters around 10-25 LE, mains around 30-60 and juices 10-20. Because it's the top pick of a very well known guidebook series, you really do need to book here otherwise you'll be turned away at the door.
There is an excellent sugarcane drink place located near the train station, on the main road past the rotary. 6 LE for a cold, fresh bottle of sugarcane drink (1.5 liter).
However, if you prefer a feshly made sugar cane drink, go to one of the many fruit juice shops. To prevent being cheated, as everywhere else, act cool, and make sure you have small coins available. Give the coin man 1 LE (this is the current rate; June 2010) and you will get the right colour coin for the sugar cane drink. (they often have other juices available as well, but we didn't manage to find out about their true prices)
- Boomerang Luxor (Boomerang), Mohamed Farid street, Luxor, Egypt (walking distance from train station), ☎ + 20 191 361 544, . 5 star beds, super clean, many bathrooms, roof-top, great staff. from LE 35.
- Fontana Hotel, Sharia Radwan. clean and friendly, breakfast included, do haggle over the price! LE15.
- Oasis Hotel. breakfast and internet included. Lovely breezy rooftop where tea and cake are served daily at sunset. Big rooms with firm beds and ceiling fans. Super close to train station - good for stumbling in after deboarding an overnight train. LE20+.
- New Everest Hotel ( [email protected]), Train station street (From train station walk into the direction of Luxor Temple, then turn first street left and after that first street right), ☎ 0020108997751. breakfast, internet, wifi, bike rental, student discounts, helpful staff for trip organisation. LE30.
- Horus Hotel, Sharia Karnak (about one block north of the junction with Sharia al-Mahatta, near the Souk), ☎ 372 165 (fax: 373 447). basically comfortable, the front rooms have a great view over Sharia Karnak to the northern end of Luxor Temple (perhaps not as great as it sounds - quite a bit of street noise goes with that and the mosque within the temple will guarantee an unforgettable early morning wake-up call from its muzzein....)
- Nefertiti Hotel, (North of the temple), . Clean and friendly. Roof terrace with view over the Nile, pool table, internet in rooms and lobby, simple breakfast included LE 120+.
- Philippe Hotel, Sharia Nefertiti, ☎ 373 604 (fax: 380 050). a good mid-range hotel, well-located with a rooftop garden, bar and pool
- Rezeiky Camsite and hotel, Karnak st., ☎ 2381 334 (fax: 2381 400), . Basically comfortable, Rezeiky Camp has more than 60 of single and double rooms. All rooms overlook the swimming pool and the garden. Hotel offers home-cooked Egyptian buffet.
- Jolly Ville Mövenpick Luxor Resort, Crocodile Island (4km from Luxor/East and a free shuttle bus/boat service). A nice comfortable hotel with 332 rooms & suites. All the rooms are bungalow style, with satellite TVs, direct dial telephones, mini-fridge, private baths with showers and bath and individually controlled air conditioning. There are also terraces which usually face large garden areas and sometimes unusual for Egypt, non-smoking rooms. Recreational activities include an outdoor swimming pool, four tennis courts with flood-lighting, a jogging track, soccer field, table tennis, bicycles, a billiards room, volleyball courts, gymnastics, massages and felucca sailing. The main restaurant is good for breakfast but the dinner Buffet is expensive. US$165-US$230.
- Winter Palace, Corniche el Nil, ☎ 380422 ([email protected], fax: 374087). Built in 1886 during Queen Victoria's reign, this Sofitel chain hotel is the place to stay in Luxor. It is very central, well-appointed, and has good service and quite a bit of history. It was on the bulletin board in their lobby that Howard Carter first announced his discovery of King Tut's tomb. Often block-booked by tour groups, so reserve well ahead if you want to stay or be prepared to be flexible with dates. US$134-US$504.
Various large chains like Hilton, Sheraton, Novotel and Meridien also have high-end hotels in Luxor.
Luxor town has 4 telephone offices, allowing travellers to avoid the often hefty charges levied by hotels and mobile carriers for international phone calls.
The main telephone office is on Sharia Karnak, adjacent to the souqs and almost opposite the Emilio Hotel. It is conveniently open 24 hours a day. Another, smaller branch can be found below the grand sweeping entrance to the Old Winter Palace Hotel on the Corniche (open 0800-2000); whilst a third telephone office exists at the railway station (open 0800-2000) and the fourth telephone office is in Sheraton street, next DHL office.
If you wish to use your cell phone in Luxor, it is advisable to visit the Vodafone shop at the bottom of Television Street. You can buy a Holiday Sim Card, which costs 25LE, and you will avoid any roaming charges, even on international calls. Just top up the card as necessary. If your phone is 'locked' by your phone company, they will advise where you can get it unlocked for a fee of between 30-50LE.
Or buy a local simcard at Mobinil shop, opposite Pyramisa Isis Hotel, here they sell special tourist lines active for a few days. Also available are microsimcards for iphone4 and ipad users (prepaid) so you can use 3G for local egyptian prices during your holiday.
There is no shortage of venues in Luxor town to access the internet for email and browsing - the last few years have seen shops and food outlets both great and small venture into cyberspace as a new form of cottage industry. Shop around for the best deal, 1 LE for an hour or 0.5LE for half is often accepted.
Luxor town's main post office is on Sharia al-Mahatta, not far from the intersection with Sharia al-Karnak. Open 0830-1430 daily.
A smaller post office branch can be found in the Tourist Bazaar.
The Luxor passport office is located south of the town centre, virtually opposite the Isis Hotel, open Saturday - Thursday, 8AM 8PM. Rumour has it that visa extensions are far easier to acquire at this office than in Cairo.
If you want to buy stamps, you need small change because no one will sell you if you don't have it, and if you see an old woman at the stamp place, maybe, you will go back again because she doesn't want to work and do anything for you. She doesn't has a service mind. There is very bad experience with this post office.
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