A good hotel in Luxor is a must as it is will be your safe haven away from the 'hassle' tourists often get on the streets and in the town. From the moment you arrive in Luxor EVERYONE wants to be your friend and they'll follow you down the road with their well rehearsed sales pitches - trying to get you to ride in their carriage, eat dinner at their cousin's restaurant or take a tour with their uncle's tour company. Its been a difficult year for tourism and the people of Luxor rely on tourist money - they don't miss a beat when it comes to helping you part with your cash.
Everyone will ask you if this is your first time in Egypt. Always say "NO". This will make them assume you are wise to the many tricks they will try and perhaps leave you alone in favour of a Luxor Virgin. They sit and wait outside your hotel. They know when you arrived and when you will probably leave. They know they only have a few days to manipulate your time before you wise up to their agenda.
There is lots to do in Luxor and finding a tour operator you can trust is important. Everyone will want to organise your time in Luxor but trust the wrong person and you will end up paying 2 - 3 times the normal rate. We organised a tour of 'the Valley of the Kings' with our 'hotel tour agent' and paid way too much. After several days in town we finally found a tour company that we felt we could trust. Larose Tours is situated on the restaurant filled street opposite the Sonesta Hotel - about half way up. I will properly review this tour operator in another thread.
During our week in Luxor we met many intersting characters, most trying to offer us tours, taxi rides, carriage rides and restaurant recommendations. But some wanted to sell us souvenirs, Hash and even Steriods. You must be firm and polite. If you say "no" they will push you to agree "maybe later" and if you do, they will follow you down the street the next day claiming "you promised".
Its easy to let this bother you and it can be tempting to lose your temper. Just remember, for most in Luxor, you are the only source of income. It is what you must expect as most know no better even though it is merely a form of industrious begging. This is part of the Egyptian experience. It is no wonder, many return to Luxor with the intention of staying within the confines of the hotel, sunbathing by the pool - avoiding the hassle.
Coping with hassle and harassment in Luxor is an ongoing daily problem for me as I live here.
When I look around I realise that the majority of Egyptians are kind and polite, I would say 95% are. There is a problem though with a minority.
Each and every day some fool will ask me where I am going, what I am looking for. A good idea is to turn around and say 'Please don't follow me' They are terrified of being accused of following for some reason. There will be times when you have to be more than firm. Bear in mind that an Egyptian would not dare to ask another Egyptian for their name, where they are from or where they are going. This would be considered the height of bad manners, so don't fall into the trap of answering them. Tell them it is rude to their face and they will agree with you. If you are followed or hassled in any of the temples or museums complain to the manager if you have time. People who let this go are making life a misery for countless tourists so address it when it happens.
I deliberately go into shops where they will let you look around and if necessary I will tell them directly not to bother me or I will leave. As always be very firm.
When you get into a Taxi, check the cost of the ride first, if is sounds expensive or worse if he says 'what you like' walk away. They will soon tell you the correct price. 10EGP is the minimum for any journey in the centre of Luxor.
When inside the taxi you do not have to let the driver smoke if you don't want him to. Also many drivers assume that we like Bob Marley or the Koran playing. If you don't like it say, they won't mind.
Contrary to what some may believe though you do no service to yourself or the 12% Christians living here by dressing modestly, donning long skirts or headscarves. Wear what you like and don't bow down to what you may assume to be the culture, Egypt is not a Muslim country, it is a country with a lot of muslims living there, they have no more right to demand respect than the tourists do. In fact it is tourists that are keeping the economy going and they deserve every respect. It is a misnomer that they are expecting you to dress like them, they don't.
If you are a woman of Any Age beware of young egyptian men who will try and flatter you and encourage you to fall into traps. Best is to just not open any conversation with men on the street. They will say they know you from the hotel, say you are beautiful, have lovely body and no end of other compliments just to get something from you whether it is sex or money. Luxor has a long history of ripping off women and there are many men making a living from this. Unless this is something you particularly want to do, be aware of it from the start.
Baksheesh is a way of life in Egypt. It works as a system but tourists should be careful not to overtip as this inflates the local economy. The main concern is having enough small notes, you end up hoarding your change for baksheesh! In July 2011 there were few tourists so more insistent "services"offered particularly at the tombs. These people have to make a living though and it's quite a small amount to westerners, I didn't begrudge it. I found post revolution Egypt to be amazingly honest and law abiding even though there were no national police only tourist police. The strong family and local based culture effectively self-police a city where 80% of income comes from a drastically reduced tourism. Hassle is another thing though- really it was always a problem, but now with hotels at 10% occupation every tourist who ventures out will be bombarded relentlessly. The Egyptians have a playful sense of humour so a smile will help you but to be honest it is often just best to keep your head down and ignore them. A split second eye contact and you have a new friend for life! Taxi drivers are in my experience nice enough, you have to bargain- if you know the going rate they realise, and the initial exorbitant prices are offered without any seriousness. Fellucca captains have a battery of scams if you let them and caleche drivers are crooks high on drugs according to many locals. Luxor is great- it's dirty and chaotic- full of hassle- but fun and safe enough for us to walk our teenage kids around. Please be respectful of the local customs in a muslim country though. The Egyptian people have taken a massive step forward with the revolution- I wish them well. They need tourism and will make you very welcome. If you play the game and part with a bit of money, everyone wins and you will have a holiday of a lifetime.
Our first day in Luxor we were hassled many times to take a Kalesh ride - eventually offered a whole day for 10 Egyptian pounds, all round Luxor, because, said the driver, it is a special holiday and the Souk is closed. We ended up being taken to what he called a Government hassle-free fixed price shop. It was neither hassle free nor fixed price.
Just two hours later when we got fed up and asked to be taken back to the Luxor Temple area, then he wanted 150 EP. Later we discovered that the Souk had been open every day
Few days later, we were about to cross the road to the Souk - we could see it and yet again Kalesh drivers were shouting that it was closed.
I was in Luxor 20 years ago, and now the hassler Kalesh drivers (whom our rep told us are all quite rich me - after all they own horses and carriages), the falucca boys and to a lesser extent the taxi touts - and very much spoilt it
How great it was then to be able to walk without hassle.
I would not believe any of them
My other gripe was against the Jolie Ville hotel and Thomsons - what a terrific resort except that they advised not to drink tap water and then sold bottled water at 13 Egyptian Pounds - in town it was 2 and a half or 3
I had a fantastic holiday in Luxor but we did encounter alot of harrassment from people trying to offer me taxi rides, caliche rides, felucca trips and people trying to sell us various this in the street. We were was ripped off by a guy who looked very smart and professional who we booked a camel ride on the West Bank. The guy lied about everything he told us and we have since found out he has been in the English newspapers for fraud.
He works along the Corniche opposite the Mercure Hotel and calls himself King of the Nile Please be very careful of him and stay away from him as all the hotel satff warned us that he is dangerous.
It seems that Egyptians everywhere where tourism happens see tourists as walking ATM machines or at least as rich as Ramses II. Everybody wants to sell you incredibly lousy crap. And be even careful with these children who ask you to change the coins of Euros and cents into a 5 € or 10 € bill. The sum of the coins they ask you to change might even be correct but these kids are never alone and while you are busy to count the coins an other may snatch your wallet and run away. There is no need to change the coins into bills because EUR became a second currency in touristic areas in Egypt so there is always enough need for small change and the coins circulate like the bills exactly as in a Euro Zone country.
Well would you trust what i say?? i have read good reviews here about how to deal with people ask persistantly in luxor and even Cairo for tipping,
First of all where can you meet these kind of people?
it is the first place where you will find yourself surrounded by many people who say:TAXI TAXI,if you didn't organize your tour with compnay or local office so best thing is to hurry up away from the station and look for your company bus.
they will be around and try to buy you some thing,evenif you say thank you they will follow you trying to persuade you,just say thank you and keep walking around,they will give up when see you aren't really interested!!!
this is the hardest part because you can meet various kinds of people,one try to sell some thing and others try to tell they can organize you tour and some others say just they want to be friend with you!! ALL types trying finally to get money from you so you have to pretend you are really offended and want to leave quickly,they will give up at you and look for some one else ; )
If you have further questions please don't hesitate to ask me or send e-mail.
Baksheesh (Arabic word for tips) is a way of life in Luxor - and that is understandable considering more than 60% of the people depend on tourism for their livelihood. But I never imagined it could be practiced in such an undignified and demeaning way - until I met the baksheesh monster at the mosque near the Luxor Temple.
Those who've been to Luxor would have noticed the beautiful mosque on the main square beside the Luxor Temple complex. An attraction in its own right, it was the object of my shutter-happy mood one afternoon. As I was happily taking pictures of this beautiful piece of Islamic architecture, a smiling man beckoned me to enter the mosque and take more pictures. True enough, he showed me the beautiful interiors with the grand chandelier and intricately-carved wooden mihrab (the niche that points to the direction of Makkah). I was having a grand time - enjoying the friendliness and kind gesture of this man - until I was about to take out my wallet and give a donation (which was the norm).
Before I could say my shukran (thank you) and give him my donation, he demanded 20 pounds (~USD 3.50) as baksheesh. I was taken aback. Yes, I was planning to give him 5 pounds (~USD 0.90), but more than the amount itself, I didn't feel good being squeezed for a "donation." It just didn't feel right. So I gave him a 5 pound bill and said my thank you, and that's when he metamorphosed into a ravenous baksheesh monster and went ballistic shouting who knows what (in Arabic), while at the same time shoving me out of mosque just stopping short of hurling me out with my shoes (I still had to put them on). It was a horrible, humiliating experience. And one that left a very bad taste.
As I was leaving, I can't help but wonder, if the money was for the mosque, why did he put it inside his pocket and left the mosque, too? I can only say "bless him!"
Baksheesh is the Egyptian term for tips to anyone for practically anything. In fact many times it's accepted to do so and not doing so is frowned upon. The Egyptian society has been historically bred to be that way. But a line is drawn towards kids who race after you demanding money. These children who play in the streets have come to expect a handout from your passing carriage. Many of these children will come running after your horse and carriage running dangerously close to the wheels. It is not life threatening to the tourist but can be quite annoying and not to mention dangerous for the kids involved. These kids are so persistant that many of the tourists throw money out of their carriage just to be rid of them and this sadly encourages them even more. The situation was so bad with my group that the driver of our horse and carriage started to whip the kids away with his horse whip. Human rights activists wouldn't have been pleased with the sight but the fact remains that it was really dangerous for the kids to be doing what they were doing, and all for a little baksheesh.
The poor horses are run in very hot temperatures from 9am til 2am the following morning and are whipped under the belly and around the back legs so that the tourist dont see the marks. Use the taxi, its cheaper anway
If you get hassled by the locals all you need to do is say firmly and loudly "La Shakrun" (our guide said to say it la shock-run)... We found that most of the time the locals would just joke around with us - "ah, you are so beautiful", "how many camels for your wife", "I have what you want", "you have beautiful eyes" etc...we just laughed it off most of the time and that usually worked. But if someone was pushy then our La Shakrun came in handy...
While travelling in Luxor I met a few girls were harrassed by local men after sunset especially near some hostels and near the Nile River. Females should exercise extreme caution when looking for a place to stay in Luxor. Several people I met said they heard of some women being sexually assaulted after being given spiked drinks by hotel staff. I recommend Happy Land Hotel and Fontana Hotel.
On the whole Luxor is safe and the hassle you encounter is primarily from people begging or looking to sell you something. The only thing that is hassle is their incredible PERSISTANCE. You have to match this by being really firm, respectful and as suggested by others calm.
We were approached by a small boy about 10 / 11 years of age near the market in Luxor. He had a small packet of paper tissues and appeared to be trying to sell them to us. One of our group felt sorry for him and gave him some money but did not take the packet of tissues from him (on basis that the boy could sell them to someone else). The child followed us for nearly a mile dragging out of each of us in turn and whining but we could not understand him. We were not sure whether he wanted us to take the tissues or give him more money or what ! We did a complete loop around Luxor and it wasn't until we passed the Museum that an Egyptian lady doing a guided tour spoke to him and sent him home. It turned out he wanted more money for us to buy the tissues and was holding out for the price. Be firm but polite is the main advice. Say no thank and please go away...and all the better if you can say them in Arabic.
Apart for the usual Felucca and private tour sales touts and the usual pressure at the souks to bargain we did not encounter any major issues. The advice here is say you are going home the following day and you don't have any money left. They will try to engage you in conversation...remember they are expert salespeople ...don't tell them where you are staying, what trips you are doing or any information they will be able to use to attract your attention when they see you again. However, do avoid being rude., arrogant or condesending....they are just doing their job the way they do it...its not personal !
We went to Luxor in August, low season, which meant that as well as oppressive heat (54 degrees at times) there were not that many tourists, so every fare/ customer counted. We were hassled constantly! To the point where it became unbearable and we stopped leaving the hotel in the evening. My friend and I (we are 27 and 32) have been to several countries where hassle has supposedly been a problem (e.g. Gambia) and we have never had a problem but we occasionally felt quite unsafe here. My friend was even propositioned in the street and he didn't leave until we reached a tourist policeman. I would not reccommend female travellers to visit Luxor, particularly in low season
In some cultures women are not allowed to go out without a male relative or companion. This is largely the case in Egypt, and a woman on her own is likely to attract unwanted attention. Even a pair or group of girls can face inappropriate remarks and possibly worse. I found this to be the case especially at night, and even when I was out walking in the evening with my parents, I was accused of being my father's second wife! I met girls travelling in pairs in Egypt who had experienced nothing worse than a lecherous waiter or two, but it is best to be wary. If anyone asks you to go and watch bellydancing, see their 'brother's farm / market' or anything similar, I would advise you to politely, but firmly, decline.