Have you been to Luxor?   We are trying, genuinely trying to make Luxor a really good, exciting and memorable experience for tourists.

We all know that Luxor has it’s faults but, believe it or not, some people don’t want to admit we have problems.

Would you take a few minutes to briefly tell us here the nasty and the nice things about Luxor, please?  

As a foreigner here I am aware of many things that need changing and improving, but I am just one person and I have to show the extent of the problems to get actions on them.  Will you help?

I would also be sooooo happy if you gave me some suggestions as to how you would like to see Luxor improved.  Tell  me what you liked but maybe might be better.  Tell me things you would like to see that we haven’t here at all.  Tell me what you dreamed of experienced when you came here.  Tell me if you experienced it or not.

It is not necessary for you to have stayed at Mara House, you can tell me regardless of where you stayed.  Maybe you have family or friends who came to Luxor, would you pass this page on and ask them to contribute.

It does not matter if you visited Luxor this year, last year or 10 years ago – I want your opinions and value your contributions, please don’t be shy 🙂

You can contribute as many times as you like.  If you have any difficulties with the site please let me know.

HELP US TO MAKE LUXOR BETTER FOR FUTURE VISITORS – please.  Click on the “Comments” link at the end of this page and a box will open up for you.  Just in case you write a lengthy one – it is always best to highlight what you have written and copy it before hitting the POST button – just in case there is a glitch and you lose what you have written – that can be so frustrating!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I would like to share a something nice that happened in Luxor. We went to dinner one night and I wanted a piece or two of pita bread to eat while looking for a place for dinner. We stopped at a place making fresh pita on the street. I took a big bite while Mark paid for the bread. He paid with the only money he had, which we found out was too large for them to give us change back. They told us not to worry. I said we will be back to pay after dinner. Went for dinner and on the walk back to Mara’s we stopped to pay for the bread. The workers remembered who we were and I feel the were shocked to see us come back to pay. I really was touched that they let us leave without paying and were surprised to see us come back to pay the small amount we owed.

  2. Hello Mara, Mark and I stayed with you in March 2013. Luxor really is a wonderful place to visit and so much to see and do. The hightlight of Luxor for us was Mara’s House. The staff took great care of us during our stay. Also, the guides and drivers were on time and the cars clean even the guides and drives you sent us in Cairo.

    As for the souk….well the people in the market do not promote a relaxing environment to shop. They are agressive and that make me want to rush out of the market. Here in the U.S. we have what is called “personal space”. When anyone gets to close to you, within a few inches it makes us uncomfortable. It is best to stay at least an arm lengths away for comfort.
    As we have talked before the products sold in souk need to change. Most of the stall sell the same items. When I think of Egypt I think Egyptian cotton….I did not see and cotton wash cloths, bed sheets, placemats. The jewlery at Mara’s is more what we look for, also the bookmarkers at Mara’s are the only ones I found. Small items easy to pack are best to sell in the souk. Fabric, bath soap, candles candies, watercolor paintings, paparus paper note cards are a few of the items that I would love to see. Also, make sure items are displaced clearly and all items are clean and dusted off. If you sell cloth or fabric keep it covered in plastic so items stay clean and dust free. Any lagre items are difficult to bring home as it may needs an extra suitcase and then we have to pay and extra $50 USD to bring home.

  3. Hi Mara
    Having visited luxor several times the most off putting for me was being offered sex and drugs. Also not impressed that my email address was given to a taxi driver presumably by the hotel. Should be in Luxor now but got cancelled by the tour operator.
    I wish you and Luxor well for the future and hope to return soon

  4. Hello Mara, have not stayed with you, but have eaten in your restaurant, what a wonderful meal we had. We have been to Luxor several times and do love it there. We are used to the hassle and can deal with it, but so many at the hotels are frightened to go out die to the hassle. I think this is Luxor’s biggest drawback, and the one big thing that stops people coming back. However know you will realise this. Because we have been before we try and get people out of the hotel to different restaurants, and when they do they LOVE it. Seeing the sights of Luxor, ie donkeys mixing on the roads with coaches, seeing oxen plough the fields, and just Luxor life is fascinating.

    We too have a caleche drive we trust and have used him many times. He does not rip us off, doesn’t hassle us and enhances our holiday. He takes us over the railway line to see the local market, gets us wonderful felafel sandwiches to try and again we love it.

    If only people could wander the streets without being followed would be great. There are times my husband and I are sitting or walking on the corniche,past the El Luxor hotel towards Karnak, and there is no one to be seen. Suddenly someone pops us and has to talk to you, it’s so intrusive, and you can’t get rid of them.

    But what we love is watching everyday Luxor life. We have stayed in the Jolie Ville before end it is a beautiful hotel, but now prefer the El Luxor, which is more in the hubbub of Luxor life.

    So for us, don’t change anything, just try an get across the hassle frightens the tourists. Good luck in what you are trying to do.

  5. This comment was sent to me by some who wishes to remain anonymous so was not sure how to use comment box.

    I remember from the time I came to Hurghada and decided to move to Egypt. First things that made us so happy was when the convoy stopped and we could travel free to Luxor.

    I know how the small Egyptian tours are having a hard time to get the right paper to go. THAT should be done on a more easier way. But of course some want the money for themselves and does not give normal people a chance. I had my car and always my “family” with me. So no problem to go. I would love to see it more open. They could put police on the way different posts and also driving around in the dessert. Some problem is the speed and no lights on the car. But if it could be some rules there and police checking I think It would be a better trip from Hurghada to Luxor. The travel agencies take to much for the trip and they do not visit so many places.

    Also It would be good with easier plane trips from Hurghada to Luxor. (Big wishes from me :-)) and that we do not have to go true Cairo to get to Luxor. I feel reading and hearing when I left that the convoy started up again. And then It Is hard to get people to Luxor like I did and a lot of other people.

    I feel you more want me to say things about Luxor but something also have to be done about getting to Luxor.

    The worst Is all the hassle and baksheesh. Also on the way to Luxor tipping the police a little if you so they wanted that for letting you easier on the way. The bazaar on the sites are terrible even for me that know some Arabic and knew my way to do it. They are running to you and following you tourists get scared and do not like that. Also when they follow the small trains it is to much hassle. It is hard when they also use the kids, because you feel more sorry for them.

    The taxi driver should learn to use the meters then and speak better English sometimes. I am sure they would get much more tips. Also drive safe and straight to the destination. If they do not now where, then be honest and say so. Like the people i sent in the taxi and i told the driver to use his meter. Some of them came all the way back and said thanks because they got good tips and the people where so happy and wanted the number so they could use him on the rest of the holiday.

    Also In the bazaar street on the east bank they would sell a lot more If they had different things In the shop and let the people come quiet in to the shop. Forget all the hassle outside and be nice and only say good morning, good afternoon or good evening with a smile. Maybe also you can look inside with no hassle. But they have to stick with that. And then it is the prices are you honest and do not try to rip the tourists for money you will sell more. A lot of people learn about prices and I am sure they will sell more. Many people like fixed price I do not because a little of the charm is to learn that why with barging on the price. But I feel the fixed price shops are selling very good. But the prices are higher on the same time hassle free.

    I would love a clean street where they was selling local food and sweets for taste. A lot of people want to taste, but are scared If they do not like it they would not have a whole meal. I would like to see a better way to the fruit and food bazaar. I think I never so it good In Luxor. But I only visit the one In west bank (near the hospital) always early in the morning with a few people. They had a blast to see all the locals and loved to buy and look. I always bought some chicken,ducks or rabbit when I was there and took to the family i had close.

    This Is also an idea to you they can buy they own dinner made by your chef in the evening 🙂 I am sure the guest would love it. PS If they want let them see all from buy to killing the Muslim way. I know most of the people I had liked to see and some not. And when the dinner was finished the comment was always oh this was the best I ever had on a holiday.

    I would love a place In Luxor to see local dance and music preforms like the one in Cairo called
    Al_Tannoura_Egyptian_Heritage_Dance_Troupe. I would also like to see Nubian shows. Did never find that place 🙂 The belly dance shows are good but all the hotels have the same. Some locals that are not all good. You see it better outside the hotel. More local restaurants In European standard and then the bathrooms should been upgraded most all over the places. That Is always a big talk. Of course I learned my places to go but most of the time had to excuse the bathrooms.

    You also have the horses, they are and attraction in both good and bad way. I would love to see more healthy horses and I am sure people with use them more. The ones with nice looking horse know how to race the prices.

    The tourists love to see how the local lives and what they do in the daily life.

    What If some made, spend a day or half a day with a local family.? Of course that half day can be done on different times a day. Learn from the woman how to cook Egyptian food? Go with the farmer to his field. I am sure they would come home with good good memories and a new understanding on how good their life is. Maybe also more happy 🙂

    Cooking classes and shopping the food they will make.

    Visit some of the places the tour buses do not go too. Local factories and shops outside the tourist places.

    I know people like to get away from the hassle so if that stops then a lot is done.

    Maybe start a English newspaper, where you can have local stuff. Like happenings, shows on on on. Of course also news, but more local for Luxor. Tips and ideas where to go this week.

    Some people love to see a local wedding. What about getting them in to on and they can give the couple a start with a little money 🙂

    I love my Egypt and miss Luxor so much even I lived in Hurghada. I do not know if this was something you was looking for but my head is spinning around with a lot of ideas 🙂

  6. I last visited in November 2012 – even though there has been a lot happening in Egypt since then, the prices for trips to Luxor remain very high when compared to other places where there is not so much ‘turmoil’. This must be hitting the tourism of Luxor very hard. There was definitely a change in atmosphere when I came last time, compared to previous visits – more edgy, traders hustling harder, some activities I wanted to do already shut down, hotel 25% full. It was a shock! I love Luxor and always use local taxis, shops, book my activities directly with local people, restaurants etc., but I have no idea how you are all trying to manage in the present climate. I would come back tomorrow if I could afford it, I know Luxor is a safe place, but your average tourist is simply not going to come in the present situation – they’d rather go to some gated area with All Inclusive hotels where they don’t have to venture out (ugghhh!!!) like Sharm, or to other sunny climes with no political upheaval. I wish you all the best and hope to come back soon as I love it so.

  7. This great comment is from Lisa who owns New Kydonia Suites and Studios in Greece.

    Being in the hospitality industry for thirty years and the owner/manager of my own hotel complex for over 20 years I think I have quite a good idea about tourism in general. I have a critical eye and run a tight ship as far as standards, service, hospitality, hygiene etc are concerned, so I consider myself capable of making constructive judgement on the “faults” in Luxor from a tourist prospective.

    Four/five years ago when I first visited Luxor the vibe was incredible, cruise ships ploughed up and down the Nile religiously, buses unloaded numerous tourists and their luggage, ancient sites were chock a block, a sea of tourists flocking to The Valley of The Kings, Karnak Temple, what seemed like hundreds of small motor boats ferried them to and from Phillae Temple. The whole place was geared up for tourism and appeared to run like a well oiled machine – I was impressed I can tell you! I came back to my island paradise Hania in Crete and told everyone who would listen how tourism should be, that Greece was slow and lethargic in comparison, the Egyptians were streaks ahead of the game.

    I even organised a “theme week” for a UK based company and end of November last year 2012 we stayed with Mara in her Cairo apartments and then sailed Luxor to Aswan on a small Dahabeya with friends and two 20 year old girls. We had a blast – just in time!! Admittedly as a European used to high hygiene and quality standards it was a culture shock to see women washing clothes and pots and pans on the bank side of the Nile next to the family buffalo having a dip with the kids! Everybody photographed it and thought wow like stepping back in time. Mud brick buildings with no doors or windows and a palm tree swaying in the breeze behind it – everybody said ” looks almost biblical”. Street corners overflowing with garbage and litter (collected in the most primitive of ways but it was collected.)

    The call to prayer keeping us awake at 3/4am in the morning when we had a 7am start to our touring day before the temperature rose to 37C!! That all adds to the experience and ambience in my mind. The street traders never giving up was a “99% hassle factor” at every turn and ancient site, step off the bus or out of the hotel door – learn to say ” no” in arabic and stern look, they soon walk away!

    Fly central every time you stopped to take refreshment or food – every hot country has flies and mosquitos come with the territory, especially near water – make sure you have sufficient repellent or citronella oil etc etc. If not, I’m sure the local chemist can fix you up in no time!!

    Insufficient labels on the exhibits in the museums – we all have an excellent Egyptologist guide or guide book and as a last resort google it!!
    Egypt has to get back to basics and make sure its guests and civilians are safe, step up to the plate with traffic issues, constant horn beeping (all adds to noise levels which are sensitive western ears are not used to.) Simple things like when driving in the dark “headlights” must become compulsory as everywhere else in the world, the traffic police will be surprised how the accident and road fatalities will decrease. No driving when under the influence of any substance or at the wheel for too many hours, you know simple rules of the road.

    As for the Calesh drivers and their equine friends – teach and encourage them through the veterinary schools or animal protection charities how to treat their animals, I’m sure tourists would not mind paying for a horse and carriage spin around Luxor and along the Corniche IF the animal looked well cared for and the carriage clean and safe. Simple solutions!!

    Socially, it is obvious to any person with an average IQ that a huge % of the population is seriously poor and a small % of the population extremely wealthy – recipe for disaster in such a huge population, wealth distribution is a socio-political issue. The “tipping” system which is almost compulsory appears to the tourist as subsidising very low pay – an issue which has to be addressed. The list could go on and on but to all the so called faults there is a simple answer or solution.

    In my professional opinion security is the main issue, without that, there are no issues as there will be NO tourists, exactly what Egypt is living now!! The total lack of tourism is not due to the faults in Luxor or Cairo or Alexandria it is a knock on effect from a chain of historical events, now is the time for the business people, the tourist experts, tourist Minister, internal affairs Minister, large hotel chains, tour operators, university graduates to get their heads together, pull together, right the wrongs and get on with the job in hand. Possibly the only chance they will ever get!!

  8. Hi Marie, my daughter, my niece and I stayed with you way back in 2005 at Christmastime. I really couldn’t say anything bad about Luxor although I’m sure give me time I’d come up with something! The only off-putting thing were the endless demands for baksheesh (from some but not all) and the smoothly aggresive souk vendors and touts, but that is something I can navigate. The location of Mara’s I thought to be enchanting as it is in a residential area and there was a real sense of life and community. I would love to come back to Luxor again, independently of teenaged girls this time, and spend a leisurely couple of weeks learning the town. Then I could give an informed p.o.v. of how to make Luxor better but from my experience I would say it is a little piece of jangly Heaven.

  9. I would like to have been able to mingle more with the locals, perhaps a walking tour in the neighborhood, a walk thru the souks, a visit to a local residence to see how Egyptians live and work; I found Luxor a bit intimidating to explore on my own and feel as if I missed an essentially part of the current culture; I enjoyed Mara’s. vignettes about staff and neighbors and her experience in building Mara House….

  10. Good luck to Mara and all those working hard to bring tourists back to Luxor. I hope you get a stable government, peace and prosperity.

  11. Return visits.
    As you will have realised we returned to Luxor after staying at the Mara House because Mara had done such a good job of training us for the Luxor experience. We came back for one month and we stayed in two apartments (owned by Luxor families) on the West Bank.
    If we go back again for a third time we have some friends who we will call on. They are:
    1. A young guy who was a taxi driver who spoke a bit of English. He did not overcharge us and I could call him from my mobile and he would be there. We still have his number.
    2. The Caleche driver we used at the Mara House. Nice guy, again, we have his number. Just call and he will be there. But we think he is reliable so if he says he is on another job, we would wait and have a coffee for 20 minutes until he can come. no problem. We like him.
    3. Our driver for the Western Desert trip. If we go to Aswan, We will use him.
    4. Any guide recommended by Mara. She only uses guides who do NOT take you to their brother’s shop. We do not want to go to anyone’s shop unless we choose to do so. And if we do, then that will be on a shopping day. We also used the Felucca captain she recommended. he was a nice guy and the price was excellent (thanks to Mara and Amr). We went back and took a longer trip with him the second time we visited.
    5. We will stay at either of the two apartments where we stayed on the West Bank. We have recommended them to others as well, They looked after us and made sure we had everything we needed. We have kept their telephone numbers.
    6. A cafe owner and his father on the west bank near the ferries, who has fixed prices in his cafe and is a really nice, relaxed guy. We stayed and read a book all afternoon. No problem, We went back there again and we will next time.

    We feel we have made friends with all of these people. And of course, they all speak English. Some, not very well. Our caleche driver hardly at all but it is a big advantage if you can speak English with tourists!

    Who did we avoid?
    1. A caleche driver we met who hassled us too much every time we saw him around the temple in Luxor.
    2. Most people in the tourist souk (Except for a tailor whose shop was in the side street of the souk and who a friend recommended. No hassle from him and we gave him a lot of business) .
    3. The guy who pretended to help us by offering to get us a felucca for twice as much money as Mara’s man asked. The guy was a friend (a Luxor man) but we soon realised that he was putting half the money in his own pocket. So now, we don’t trust him.

  12. Siwa trip again.
    Our Luxor driver for our Siwa trip was excellent. We paid him for a week and he took us to places he already knew about as well as going to a few places that we had found in the guide book. We booked the trip through a hotel (Egyptian owner with European wife) mostly because it was a long trip through the desert and he had done it before. (Also and very important. He had insurance.)
    We were very happy with this trip because we got to know the driver very well after a week. ( We were the only customers in the Landranger) and that was one of the best parts of the trip. That we could ask him any questions we wanted. He became our friend and worked hard to make sure we had a good trip. We gave him a generous tip at the end. He deserved it. He is a good man.

  13. Siwa Oasis
    So now I am going to tell you about our trip to Siwa. Our driver (from Luxor) said that Siwa was like another country. I think the French have got to Siwa and done a makeover on it, because it is like Morocco.
    Firstly, the shops have nice, locally made stuff in them. Handmade and nicely arranged with plenty of space between items. (Not all crammed in like most shops in the Luxor souk). Walking around here and looking is a pleasure. Many things have price tags on them and that is the price. No bargaining. So as you walk around you can plan your spending.
    We walked into one shop and the shopkeeper was sitting in the back (in another room) reading a newspaper. he just said hello to us, He did not get up. He continued to read his newspaper. We knew he was there if we had a question. He gave us time to really look at what he had for sale. When we asked the price, the price was good and we did not need to bargain with him. We were happy to pay full price because it was reasonable. He knew that if we walked out happy but with nothing, then we would maybe tell a friend or come back another day. (We did go back and we bought several things from him).

  14. Luxor tourist souk
    One day we walked through the souk. We just went to have a look. Once we saw what it was like, we definitely did not want to go into anyone’s shop because we knew we would be trapped like rats in there. So we just walked straight through.
    Then by chance, we came upon a man in galabiye, sitting outside of his closed shop doing a crossword. As we went past, he asked us if we knew the answer to one of the clues in the crossword. We sat down with him and chatted for half an hour. We talked about football, a visit to England that he had made, and other stuff. When we left he gave us a small present of a scarab each from his shop next door. We were impressed! No hassle, no pressure. and no sale.
    We have made a friend and if others were like him, then we would be happy to wander up and down the souk all day, just looking
    ‘No sale’, I hear the shopkeepers say. But if you think about it, most tourists come for a few days. You don’t want to spend your money on day one. On day one, you want to look around and see what there is. Then, the day before you go home, you come out and buy the presents for the people back home. Of course you want to spend your money with local people (and not Chinese stuff) so you are happy to deal with local people, but if the experience is so unpleasant, then we will just hide behind the walls of our nice hotel and not come out.

  15. Visiting the sites.
    We took some of your package trips which were excellent value. We did an overnight to Cairo and then two days at your suggestion (as on your website) in Luxor with your guide and by the third day we felt independent enough to go it alone to Karnak. Although we did use your caleche driver to get us there for dawn, poor guy! Also, Amr made us a packed breakfast which we ate amongst the ruins in the rising sun. Perfect.

    Cairo and the Pyramids..
    I visited Cairo when I was 17. (I am 60 now). Nothing has changed. there is still no system to help people go up and down that narrow passageway in any kind of order. One could argue that that is a good thing, but there is no doubt that we were all relieved when a friendly Egyptian took control and told us to wait for those coming down etc. .

    Running the gauntlet of the Valley of the Kings.
    Firstly, there is the terrible bazaar street that you have to negotiate. Very like the tourist souk in Luxor. Then when we were waiting for the little train, we were accosted by postcard sellers who hassle you. There were postcards available in the souk if we had wanted them.

    Our guide for the day was excellent. (Organised by you) but even he was struggling with the situation. He explained it to us after I pushed him a bit by asking lots of questions. he said that he is a local and his family live in the villages nearby. He knows many of the sellers and they look to him (the guide) to support them by encouraging us (the tourists) to buy something. But at the same time, he is torn because he knows we didn’t come to get hassled. The easiest solution for him was that if a seller came up to us, he would speak to the seller, take the item from him and show it to us. If we then said we didn’t want it, then his honour was satisfied as he had been seen to have helped his fellow Egyptian and so could not be blamed. I can see his problem, but the tourists don’t like to be put in that embarrassing position. They want to see the Valley of the Kings and enjoy the experience of a lifetime.

  16. Hi Mara, We stayed with you for a week in April 2012. Several things were very well done by you for us. Firstly, before we even got there, your website was full of practical advice. We had read the Rough guide to Egypt from cover to cover and it was full of horror stories about the guys at the airport and hassle. etc. We have both had experience of living in Middle Eastern countries but obviously we could see that Luxor has a problem with this and just the simple thing of getting your visa at the airport seemed to be a nightmare. So your words of advice were very helpful. In fact, when we got to the airport , yes it was chaotic, but one of the local tour organisers was very helpful and pointed us towards a bank ‘shop’ where we could buy our visa. We paid, I think in GBP and were just about to walk off when the chap called us back to give us our change. It was only a few pennies but it made a good impression.
    Then Amr met us and we were off to a good start because you had organised all the payments for us up front. We didn’t have to deal with taxi fares, tips or anything. Just put ourselves in Amr’s hands and we could relax.
    The offer of mint tea or whatever when we came back ‘home’ made us feel that the Mara House was our home for that trip.