Valley Of The Kings: A Complete Guide To Visiting In 2023
Visiting the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt has to be top of your list of things to do in Luxor.
It is one of Egypt’s most important archaeological sites, making it a must for Egyptian history buffs.
But even if you aren’t a keen historian, we guarantee that you will be fascinated and captivated by this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We visited the Valley of the Kings with our kids (aged 7 and 9) and can confirm it is a fabulous experience for them too.
If you want to find out about visiting with kids, we have a complete guide to Luxor with kids, including what to do, where to stay and where to eat. We’ve also written our complete 7 day Luxor itinerary.
We decided to write this Valley of the Kings guide because there just wasn’t a huge amount of up to date information out there when we were planning our visit.
Believe us, it is best to be armed with as much knowledge as possible before you visit this tourist site in Egypt.
Not only will you get the most out of your visit by choosing the best tombs, it will also help you more easily deal with any potential scams.
Our guide to visiting the Valley of the Kings will explain how to get there, which tombs you can visit, how much it costs to visit and more. And if there is anything we have forgotten to cover, you can drop us a message.
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Background information on the Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings is essentially a royal burial ground where you will find tombs of over 60 royal figures, their wives and children and some high priests.
Who was buried in the Valley of the Kings? The most famous kings buried here are Tut Ankh Amun, Rameses II, Seti I and Tuthmosis III. It is said that Tuthmosis I was the first pharaoh to be buried here.
The tombs date back to around 1539 BC, encompassing the early XVIII to the late XX dynasties. The early XVIII tombs incorporated more of a split level design while the XIX and XX dynasties’ tombs were longer and straighter.
The tombs were intricately designed with secret chambers laced with traps to try to deter tomb-robbers and provide a place of eternal rest. This ultimately failed.
The most recent tomb discovered in the Valley of the Kings was in 2006 and it is possible that more tombs will be discovered.
Where is the Valley of the Kings?
The Valley of the Kings is hidden in the Theban Hills on the west bank of the Nile. Look at the photo below of the hot air balloons and you’ll see the Theban Hills, behind which the valley lies.
If you haven’t yet got your bearings, the Valley of the Kings is on the opposite side of the river to the centre of Luxor which lies on the east bank.
The east bank of Luxor is where you will find Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple.
We highly recommend staying on the west bank before your visit to the Valley of the Kings, especially if you are planning on getting there when it opens (see below for times). We chose El Gezira Garden Hotel which we loved. See the end of the post for more details.
If you are staying on the east bank, you will need to first get across the river before you take your next mode of transport.
How amazing is this sight?!?!?
Valley of the Kings opening times
The Valley of the Kings is open from 6 am to 5 pm daily – but note that the ticket office closes at 4 pm.
Best time to visit the Valley of the Kings
Being one of the most important sites in Egypt, the Valley of the Kings is well and truly on the tourist trail. Many people come from Cairo and Hurghada on day trips to visit, with tour buses arriving from around 8am onwards.
Between 8am and 2pm, it will be very busy indeed.
We cannot stress enough how amazing it is to turn up at opening time and have the place to yourselves. It is unbelievable that you can still do this these days – but it works.
Alternatively, arrive after 2pm and most of the tour buses will be starting to leave.
We spent 2 hours visiting 6 tombs and were back at the hotel in time for breakfast. If you are just visiting the 3 standard tombs, you will probably need around one to one and a half hours.
The Valley of the Kings can get incredibly hot in the summer months which is another reason to visit early or later in the day.
Worried about what to wear when visiting? You might also find this guide on what to wear in Egypt helpful.
How to get to the Valley of the Kings
If you are staying on the west bank (El Gezira area), you can easily pick up a taxi from near the large roundabout on the Al Qarna road (close to the Nile Valley restaurant). This is also where the ferries cross to the east bank.
The journey from El Gezira to the Valley of the Kings should take you around 15 minutes by taxi. We didn’t take a taxi so we can’t confirm the price.
We hired a car from Hurghada and drove to Luxor so we had a car for our entire stay in Luxor. It meant that we didn’t have to always haggle with taxi drivers.
There was plenty of parking at the Valley of the Kings but later in the morning, much of it was taken up with tour buses. Another reason to get there early if you are visiting independently.
By the way – if you are travelling independently, you should make a stop at the Colossi of Memnon on the way back.
Also, take a look out for hot air balloons taking off at sunrise on the way to the Valley. It is a spectacular sight. If you are interested in a hot air balloon experience – you can find out more here.
If you are taking a tour, you will not need to worry about any of this!
How much is the Valley of the Kings?
The Valley of the Kings entrance fee is not entirely straightforward and requires some explanation. There are standard tickets and ‘special tickets’ available.
There are 62 tombs in total but on any given day, only 8 are open to the public at any one time. These 8 can change so we can’t say which will be available on the day you visit.
Of these 8, you can choose to visit only 3 tombs on your standard ticket. You can purchase an additional standard ticket if you want to see more than 3 tombs.
The special tickets can be purchased separately and give access to Tut Ankh Amun (KV62), Seti I (KV17) and Rameses V / VI (KV9).
If you are travelling independently, you can purchase your tickets at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings which is located just after the visitor centre (check out the 3D model of the valley there which is pretty cool).
If you are booking a tour, check to make sure whether the cost of the tour includes the entrance ticket.
FYI – photography with a proper camera will incur an extra charge. This was not specified but in other locations, it was usually EGP 50. Mobile phone photography was free.
KEEP HOLD OF YOUR TICKETS BECAUSE YOU WILL NEED TO PRESENT THEM AT EACH TOMB
You tickets will be hole-punched at each tomb entrance so you need to keep them handy. Once your ticket has 3 holes, you are done. The tickets look something like this..
Standard tickets to the Valley of the Kings
It is CASH ONLY – so make sure you have enough with you.
Adult: EGP 240 (£12.00 / $15.00)
Student (with valid Student ID card) and children aged 6 – 12: EGP 120 (£6.00 / $7.50)
Children under 6: FREE
If you wanted to see more than three tombs on the standard ticket, you would need to buy another standard ticket to allow you to see another three – or you could buy a special ticket.
Special tickets to the Valley of the Kings
There are three additional ‘special’ tombs that you can choose to visit. You can buy these tickets individually if you don’t want to visit all of them.
KV9 – Rameses V & VI – EGP 100 (£5.00 / $6.50)
KV17 – Seti I – EGP 1,000 (£50.00 / $65.00)
KV62 – Tut Ankh Amun – EGP 300 (£15.00 / $20.00)
These are the adult prices. Student/child tickets were 50% of these prices (except for Seti I which was full price) and under 6 were free.
We bought tickets for KV9 and KV62. We just couldn’t stretch to pay another £125 on top of the price of the standard ticket.
Valley of the Kings train
They called it a train because it used to resemble a train on wheels. These days, they have electric golf buggy type vehicles that in no way resemble a train. Either way, you need to purchase a ticket for the electric vehicle.
The ticket for our family of 4 cost EGP 20. There is no price on the ticket – but using our powers of deduction and knowing we were 2 full paying adults and 1 child and 1 under 6 – we reckoned it was EGP 8 per adult and EGP 4 per child. Under 6 – FREE.
Even though the entrance is only 200m and an easy walk, you need to take the vehicle. When we were done visiting, we just walked back.
Valley of the Kings Tombs
To help you get a sense of the layout of the Valley of the Kings, here is a photo of the area, showing where all of the tombs are located.
You do not get a map of the area with your ticket so you either need to bring your guide book with you (we used the Rough Guide to Egypt but Lonely Planet is also good and more up to date), print this photo or hire a guide.
As mentioned briefly before, there are 62 tombs in the Valley of the Kings (that have been discovered). Not all of them are open to the public.
The tombs available to visit are rotated to try to limit the damage caused by sweat from tourists. We have read that there are plans to create a replica of the Valley of the Kings for the future.
The site isn’t huge and while getting to the tomb entrances isn’t too difficult, getting down into the tombs is another matter.
Actually, going down into the tombs isn’t the main problem (although they are not wheelchair accessible). Coming back up the sloped tunnel was hard on the legs. I believe the longest tomb was KV20 – that of Queen Hatshepsut – at 200m long.
At the entrance to each tomb there is an information board giving a quick summary of the tomb, including the history. We took a photo of each one so that we could read this information while inside the tomb.
We asked our electric vehicle driver at the start – what is the best tomb in the Valley of the Kings? Instead of being told that the most famous tomb of Tutankhamun was the best, we were told to visit KV8 (Tomb of Merneptah), KV14 (Tomb of Tawsert/Sethnakht) and KV16 (Tomb of Rameses I).
We really recommend doing your research before you go so you can choose the best tombs for you. What is good for one person is not the best choice for another. Generally, the tombs that require a special ticket will be less busy – but if you go at 6am when the site opens, none of the tombs will be busy.
What we will say is that our favourite tomb in the Valley of the Kings was the tomb of Rameses V / VI (KV9). The entrance tunnel was so intricately carved with hieroglyphics and it was bright and colourful. The astronomical ceiling was also amazingly well preserved.
The kids will tell you that seeing the mummy of King Tut was the highlight for them!
Valley of the Kings tours
We didn’t take a tour of the Valley of the Kings, mainly because we were travelling with the kids independently and we tend to wing it to give us flexibility. We also don’t like being in a large tour group.
Having a guide would have given a lot more colour to the Valley of the Kings than you can get from the guide books and if you aren’t travelling with children, we would recommend taking a tour (private if possible).
This tour offers the option of an East and/or West Bank tour, including the Valley of the Kings with an Egyptologist.
If you are travelling from Hurghada – here are two options for you : day trip from Hurghada to the Valley of the Kings or private transfer to Valley of the Kings from Hurghada.
Other tips for visiting the Valley of the Kings
- Make sure you decide which tombs to visit before you leave the visitor centre/ticket office. If you change your mind when visiting the tombs, you will have to go back to the ticket office to purchase more tickets.
- Keep small denomination notes on you for tips. You will be asked by officials if you want your photo taken. If you do, you should expect to give them a tip. If you don’t – you can say ‘la, shukran’ which means no thank you in Arabic. It’s always worth learning a few words in different languages.
- The toilets are at the main entrance.
- There is a small café onsite but it is a good idea to bring water with you.
Accommodation near the Valley of the Kings
There is a huge choice of accommodation in Luxor (see Booking.com for the best selection) but if you are planning on visiting the Valley of the Kings in the early morning, we would recommend staying on the west bank.
Staying on the west bank means that you don’t need to navigate crossing the river before you start your trip. This can save you at least 30 minutes which, if you aren’t an early riser normally, is a big deal!
We found a gorgeous, family-run hotel called El Gezira Garden Hotel.
We really wanted a place with a pool so that we could relax after getting up early to visit the Valley of the Kings. The pool was heated which was essential if you are visiting during the cooler months.
This hotel had great family rooms with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a living area. They also have single and double rooms. Each came with a lovely balcony / terrace area.
Breakfast was simple but good. The only thing we would say about this place is make sure you do not get room 101 which is right next to reception.
The owners couldn’t do enough for us and there was no hassle which was very refreshing.
If you do want to stay on the east bank, we can highly recommend the Steigenberger Nile Palace. We spent 2 nights on the west bank and 2 nights on the east bank and loved both hotel choices.