Though the train is very good, almost runs on time, but the food and service part is worst for a tourist train like this and the fare. The attendant will listen to our request but always ask for a tip in USD or in Egyptian Pound as he knows that the passengers are in First Class.
What they can do is like in Indian Rajdhani Express, they can attach a full cooking pantry car and some waiters to serve good cooked food. while in Indian train tea, coffee is given almost unlimited with biscuits and snacks, they too can introduce something like that. In Indian First Class, you can take shower but here the water supply is inadequate and the flush in the toilet chokes. Needs lot of improvement but the train is very clean.
We travelled by ERNST or Egyptian National Railways & Temoinsa, from Cairo to Asawan and from Luxor to Cairo ( El Giza) both by first class. Fare per passenger is USD$120 per person one way. The train is very good though not up the standard of our Indian Rajdhani Express or Shatabdi Express or Duranto Express. In this train space is a problem though made by the Germans, but the first class seems to be very small. The first class has coupe for two, has a small basin in the cabin. In the toilet water supply is very poor and the flush does not always operate. Food is given twice in the train the dinner and breakfast, but it is inadequate and very dry. The train does not have a running pantry or dining car but the food is carried from the station and warmed in the train. Tea is inadequate and given only once. Food quality is not up to the mark, they give bread, a pice of fruit cake, beef or sometimes chicken, butter and a fruit etc. The worst part of the food supply is they wake you up at 3.00AM and give breakfast, as because his duty will be over by 5.00AM , when the train will reach El Giza!
Luxor is along way upstream from Cairo, a full day's journey by train. For this reason most tourists, slaves to tight schedules, elect to take ane of the night sleeper trains. But if your time isn't so tight it's a delightful trip to take by daylight. Not only will you probably have entertaining company, you will also have a splendid opportunity to view the life of the ordinary fellaheen, an agricultural way of life in many ways the same as that practised by the ancient Egyptians.
The best way to visit Luxor from Cairo is to take the overnight sleeper train. The trains leave Cairo at night and get to Luxor in the early morning. They also leave Luxor at night and arrive back in Cairo in the morning as well. The carriages are very comfortable and clean and the price includes a dinner and breakfast. The cost is $60 one way in a shared double cabin or $80 for a single cabin. There is a website that has the prices and routes available but they do not respond to emails so I was unable to reserve through the site. I had to go to the Giza train station (not Ramses Station) there is a trailer office next to the station that sells the tickets. They only accept U.S. dollars so be prepared for that. The sleeping trains are the best and most reliable option for tourists. The local trains are cheaper but they are sitting trains with no beds and food options, additionally much of the time they don't allow tourist on those trains. The train I took left Cairo at 9:00 and got to Luxor at 6:10 and then the return train left on roughly the same schedule. Check the website for the most current schedules.
We took the overnight train from Cairo to Aswan, which takes 16 hours. The 1st class service provides very wide swivel seating and plenty of leg room, so we saved ourselves a significant sum over tickets for the "sleeper" service. I tied my shoe laces to my luggage, but casual survey of the other passengers showed little to be worried about--families and businessmen who could care less about our luggage. The tracks were in good repair and the train wasted little time in moving between stations.
Luxor is roughly half-way between Cairo and Aswan, so we returned north from Aswan by way of local vans that make quick work of the short run visits to temples at Esna and Idfu along the way. And, on the trip from Luxor back to Cairo, all train tickets for 1st class were sold out, so we purchased 2nd class seats. As it turned out, 2nd class was somewhat more entertaining in terms of conversations with fellow passengers, and the seats while a bit more confining than 1st were really quite adequate for the shorter run. The great thing about train travel is that if the seat makes the bottom sore, a passenger can get up and walk around to ease the discomfort.
The Luxor Train station is a long walk through the center of Luxor from the waterfront hotel area, but is still close enough for backpackers or even those like ourselves who pull wheeled luggage.
Travelling to and from Luxor is easily done by train and most foreigners by pass any bus because the journeys are usually long. Luxors train station is located in the center of the town. Abela Egypt Sleeping Train (237 2015 or www.sleepingtrains.com) leave at 830pm and 930pm daily arriving in Cairo at 545am and 645am the next morning. The cost is around $53 US which must be paid in Euros or US dollars. The other train that foreigners take is the 981 departing at 915am , train 1903 departing at 915pm and train 997 departing at 1110pm. The trip takes about 10 hours and student discounts are available. Foreigners are permitted to take the 3 daily services to Aswan (train 996 leaves at 715am) (train 1902 leaves at 930am) and 980 leaves at 5pm all taking around 3 hours. All three trains to Aswan stop at Esna, Edfu and Kom Ombo.
I took train from Aswan to Luxor. There are only 3 official trains, 06:00, 18:00, and 20:00 for foreigners. However, the tourist office told me in Luxor that I could take any other trains to Luxor if I brough the ticket on the train. This information was confirmed by another VTer to be wrong and she could not even get through the ticket conductor at the train before she board on the train. To avoid this potential trouble, I took the 06:00 train (1st class 26 EGP May 2006) to Luxor. The 1st class is very comfortable (see pic).
If you are coming from Cario, you can take one of those foreigners cleeper. See this page for details:
Train from Cairo
Inside of Luxor Train Station are two different ticket booths - one for locals and the sleeping train booth for foreigners. If you're coming inside the station, it will be on your left with a "Sleeping Train" sign posted on the wall next to it.
You must use either Euros or American Dollars to buy the ticket. They do not take Visa. If you don't have either, across the street from the station (and slightly to the right) is a money-exchange office.
One-way ticket cost from Luxor to Cairo: $53. Your platform (most likely) will be the one you first encounter upon entering the station. You shouldn't have to go underground to cross over to the other side platform. There are only two platforms total.
On the Abela sleeping train, you will be served dinner that is basically airplane food (buy drinks separately) and breakfast that is just a variety of different breads (coffee and tea included here).
You can have drinks sent to your cabin, or you can purchase from the club car. A bottle of wine is 65LE, Stella beers are 14LE.
To get the beds down, contact one of the workers; they have to use a special key.
The overnight train to Cairo arrives around 7am.
We took a train from Cairo down to Aswan then from Luxor back to Cairo... It was a '1st class' train cabin that we were in and was actually not too bad. The seats were like business class in an aeroplane but the toilet was definitely not the nicest. ;) The train ride down to Aswan took around 16 hours because of an accident on the track (it's usually about 12 hours) but it was fun to look out the window during the daylight hours and see some of the countryside. From Luxor to Cairo it was about a 9 hour trip...
If you take the overnight train from Cairo to Luxor and are travelling independantly, be aware that the train arrives in Luxor very early in the morning before the town has woken up.
There will be taxis waiting at the train station for the early morning train, so you should be fine moving on - but remember to haggle withthe taxi driver on the price before you get into his car.
Make sure yuo know what you want to do at 6am before anybody is around and don't expect your hotel to be able to let you check-in this early - my hotel did but it took a little bit of a financial gratuity to ease the early morning check-in which was worth every penny just for a couple of hours sleep in a bed and a shower.
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