Tombs vs. Temples in Luxor’s West Bank

The historical sights in and around Luxor, Egypt are roughly divided geographically into two small regions: The East Bank and the West Bank, and two genres: tombs and temples. The East Bank, where I stayed at the perfect Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa, has no tombs but holds the awesome Karnak and Luxor Temples, along with what I think will be one of Luxor’s most famous sights once it officially opens this month: Sphinx Avenue. The West Bank has both tombs and temples and is home to some of Luxor’s most talked-about sights, like the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. I’ll be writing about the East Bank temples in a future post but will say now that while I thought the tombs of the West Bank were extremely interesting, it was its temples that really grabbed me.

Tall columns at the Medinet Habu Temple in Upper Egypt

Medinet Habu Temple

The Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, where most of the tombs lie, were constructed from the 16th to the 11th Centuries B.C. and contain 63 and 70 tombs respectively. Dark, colorful and mysterious, it is unfortunate that photos are not allowed inside the tombs in order to protect and preserve their original hues. I respect this, but it’s kind of disappointing to walk away from such amazing sites with only photos like this to show for it:

"Road" Sign at Valley of the Kings in Luxor

"Road" sign at the Valley of the Kings

Egyptians at the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, Egypt

Locals at the Valley of the Kings

While snapping the photo of a Bedouin man outside one of the tombs in the Valley of the Queens, an Egyptian tour guide who was bringing a group out of the tomb told me you’re not supposed to take photos even outside. I’ve since been told he was incorrect.

Bedouin man at the entrance to a tomb in the Valley of the Kings

Bedouin man stationed at a tomb entrance

While I liked the West Bank tombs, I just loved the majesty of its temples. Happily, you can take as many photos as you want of these magnificent ancient structures.

Queen Hatshepsut statue in Luxor's West Bank

Queen Hatshepsut

Short columns at Medinet Habu Temple in Luxor, Egypt

Portion of Medinet Habu Temple

Egyptian Police officer and Bedouin man at the Temple of Hatshepsut

Portion of the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

Colorful carving on a wall at Deir el Medina

One of the many colorful carvings on a wall at the village of Deir el-Medina

Entrance fees are charged for West Bank sites, and prices vary. Hopefully you can afford to see them all, while still paying for your annual travel insurance and other expenses. Below is a breakdown of costs for some of the most popular sites, with a complete list of entrance fees here:

Medinet Habu – (a completely underrated sight!) 30 Egyptian pounds

Valley of the Kings – 80 Egyptian pounds for three tombs. The very famous tomb of King Tutankhamen costs an additional 100 pounds.

Valley of the Queens – 35 Egyptian pounds. I was told by my very reliable source, King Safari Dahab that Queen Nefertari’s tomb, which is currently technically closed, can be opened and toured if you cough up 20,000 Egyptian pounds (3,300 USD), which some tour groups actually pay!

Deir el Medina – 30 Egyptian Pounds – Neither a tomb nor a temple, rather a village where workers at the Valley of the Kings lived. There is a temple at this site, although it was closed when I visited.

Tombs of the Nobles – Price varies from 15 to 30 Egyptian pounds, according to which tombs you choose to tour.

All the sights of Luxor’s West Bank are 100 percent worth seeing, but its temples can totally make your day. :)

While in Luxor my accommodations were provided by the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa, but all opinions are honestly my own.

3 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Gray says:

    On a scale of 1-10, how claustrophobic would you say the tombs are inside? Valley of the Kings has long been very high up on my bucket list, but I’m finding that I just don’t tolerate close, dark spaces well any more. Would it be worth it for me, even if I didn’t go inside any of the tombs?

  2. Sabina says:

    I would say a 5. They are cramped, that is for sure. Each tomb that I entered allowed me to easily stand fully upright when walking entering and while viewing them. Also, the entrances as well as the tombs themselves are wide enough that you can fit a minimum of two people side by side. If you’re hesitant about going in the tombs you might want to skip the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens entirely, as aside from the tombs there is nothing to see but mountains and sand.

    What I would do if I were you, though, is pay for the inexpensive Valley of the Queens ticket, then go into a tomb or two and see how you feel. I can’t tell you specifically which tomb in the Valley of the Queens you might want to try but maybe someone who works at your hotel or your tour guide, if you have one, can direct you to a fairly large one. The people who work at the tombs I think wouldn’t speak good enough English for them to able to understand your concern. I hope you get to Egypt soon!

  3. Gray says:

    Great advice, Sabina! Thank you very much!

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