Luxor Train Station can be a nightmare for new arrivals. The touts are inside and outside the train station, trying every possible means to divert people to hotels and accommodations in Luxor, where they are given commission. A lady coming to stay at Mara House once told me that, having tried several times to get the taxi driver to bring her to me, it was only when she said, “I am a police woman, and I am here to meet with some friends in the police whom I met in England, so if you don’t take me to where I want to go RIGHT NOW, I will call one of them!” It then took the taxi driver about 7 minutes to deliver her to my door.
5 COMMON TOURIST TRAPS AT LUXOR TRAIN STATION
- One person asks where you are going, then a second comes up to you (having been told by the first one where you are going) and gives you the name of your hotel. Obviously, you think he has been sent for you!
- The line “I have been waiting for you!” To which you might reply, “Oh, are you from ___________Hotel?” and off you go!
- “You want a hotel? Cheap room, very clean, Just 5 minutes down the street!”
- Then there is the “Battle of the Taxis,” as you are surrounded by drivers shouting “Tax! Tax!” “Tax” is how the Egyptians say “taxi.”
- When you ask the taxi driver if he knows the “___________ Hotel, ” he will always say, “Yes, of course, get in, get in!” So, you get in (remember to agree on the fare first), the driver starts the engine, and off you go. After a couple of seconds, the driver usually asks again, “Where do you want to go?” Then you may be told any of the following:
- “It’s closed down”
- “Had a fire”
- Owner may be sick, dead or gone on holidays
- “too far away”
- “oh you should not go there – they are all thieves and liars there! Bad, bad people”
- last resort may be “So sorry, thought I knew where it was but don’t remember now….”
All of the above will be followed by something like “but I have a very very good, cheap, nice, clean hotel….good good hotel – best hotel in All the Luxor – I can show you…if you don’t like it no problem…up to you!”
Well, what are you going to do now……………..?
If you want to avoid this scenario, make direct contact with your hotel or apartment owner in Luxor before you arrive—confirm your arrival and ask to be met at the station.
Egyptian people are always smiling and friendly, and for the most part genuinely so, but tourists should keep their heads and use common sense when dealing with anyone working in the tourist industry. If something sounds too good to be true, it generally is!
On your way to your requested accommodation you will undoubtedly (after the first 5 minutes of small talk such as what your name is, where you are from, etc.; maybe an exchange of family information such as how many children, brothers, sisters, etc. both you and your driver have – whether you are married, single, etc.) be asked where you are going later in the day, tomorrow, and the day after.
If you give this information, you will then be asked how you are getting there, if you need or have a guide, etc. Then your taxi driver, with whom you are now firm ” friends,” will offer to take you to the same places for cheaper prices. And he will, to gain your confidence, go lower than ANY price you give him (so if you want to have some fun here, you know what to do next!).
You can engage in a game of tag with the taxi or calesh driver over the next few days if you have the speed of thought and energy. Being aware that stops for toilets, coffee, welcome drinks, quick stops at his “brother’s” place, or invitations to his family home for dinner will most likely put you at some stage, in an Alabaster, Papyrus, Jewellery, Perfume Shop, Bazaar, Coffee Shop or Restaurant where your “Egyptian friend” will be handsomely paid for delivering you. Go anywhere, especially in Luxor or Aswan, with a local person, and commission is automatically paid to your escort.
This is a situation it is very difficult to extricate yourself from because everyone you are introduced to is soooooooo nice! Because most tourists are now aware of this, your “friend” may even be “honest” with you by telling you he is getting maybe 10% commission for helping you shop and he is going to share it with you…….don’t you believe it – he is getting quite a bit more than that!
Last piece of advice – always agree on the price BEFORE getting in the taxi (also a calesh or felluca), agree on the currency, and agree that this is the TOTAL amount, not per person.