The Valley of the kings in Luxor
Explore The Valley of the Kings in Luxor also known as Biban el-Moluk, the “Gates of the Kings” is an Egyptian archaeological locality in the hills immediately behind the West Bank of Luxor. As such, it is one of the most remarkable archaeological destinations in the world – the burial place of most of the pharaohs of Egypt of the New Kingdom.
The tombs within the Valley are officially given a KV number, standing for “King’s Valley”. The tomb of Tutankhamun, for example, is also known as KV62.
A number of archaeological excavations continue periodically within the Valley of the King’s to the present day.
You will require a heavy amount of negotiation to find a good price to hire a car for a day so that you should be able to haggle for in order to visit Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut, Medinat Habu, and the Colossus and Memnon (4-5h).
Open: summer daily 06:00-17:00, winter daily 06:00-16:00.
Note that not all the tombs within the Valley are currently open to the public. Many are closed periodically for resting and renovation.
Information within the Valley has been vastly improved in recent years; (mostly) gone are the old faded signs, now replaced by engraved metal signs detailing the history, architecture and decoration of each tomb, together with detailed plans and diagrams (these have been provided courtesy of the Theban Mapping Project, in association with the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities).
In order to get the best idea of the tombs within the Valley of the Kings, it is wise to visit at least one tomb from each of the three main building phases.
- The Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), requires an extra ticket for admission – arguably the most famous of the tombs in the Valley, the scene of Howard Carter’s 1922 discovery of the almost intact royal burial of the young king. Compared to most of the other royal tombs, however, the tomb of Tutankhamun is barely worth visiting, being much smaller and with limited decoration. The fabulous riches of the tomb are no longer in it, but have been removed to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Visitors with limited time would be best to spend their time elsewhere.
- Phase One Tombs. The Tomb of Thutmose III (KV34) is one of the most remote tombs in the Valley, located at the far end of the Valley and up several flights of steps to gain entry. The climb is worth it though. The tomb is of the typical, early curved plan with a large oval burial chamber. The decoration is unique, being in a simple, pleasing style that resembles the cursive writing of the time.
- Phase Two Tombs. The tomb of the last king of the 18th Dynasty.
- The Tomb of Merneptah (KV8) son of Ramesses II (the Great). Merneptah’s tomb has suffered greatly from flash flooding of the Valley over the millennia. Those paintings and reliefs that have survived, however, are generally in good condition.
- Phase Three tombs. The Tomb of Ramesses VI (KV9) requires an extra ticket for admission – this tomb was originally started by Ramesses V, but usurped after his death by his successor Ramesses VI, who enlarged the tomb and had his own image and cartouches carved in over his predecessor’s. The tomb is one of the most interesting in the Valley, with one of the most complete and best preserved decorative schemes surviving.
Consider hiking back over the surrounding hills to Deir el-Medina or Deir el-Bahari – although a relatively short hike, do take plenty of water, especially in summer. The views are well worth the physical exertion!
The Valley of the king ticket does not include a tram ride from the ticket office to entrance of the first tomb. If you are not in a rush take the time to walk. You will save the 3 min tram ride.
There is no food, no water, some shade but there are toilets available. Mini-tram carries visitors from entrance to the checkpoint.
Bringing your own small flashlight to gently illuminate some of the more obscure reliefs is always a good idea.
Watch out for the guards in the tombs that may offer to take your picture (which is against the rules) for some baksheesh. If they get your camera they can take any sort of picture, and then report you to the authorities, which is a big hassle. Beware that a camera flash in a tomb will alert the guards to picture taking that is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. You will be given the choice of leaving the site (not just that tomb) or paying a second admission fee. Since the camera check-in is directly after the admissions, technically taking pictures outside of the tombs is not allowed either. If you have your camera with you and wish to take a picture outdoors, be sure to use discretion.