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11 Things to Know Before Going to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt

Inside the Valley of the Kings. The landscape of tall desert mountains loom in the background of burial tomb entrances in a sandy desert.
Inside the Valley of the Kings

If you’re starting to plan your trip to Egypt, (or just love Ancient Egyptian history) you’ve likely heard about the Valley of the Kings. This is where for nearly 500 years (from the 16th to 11th century BC) the tombs for the pharaohs and nobles were made. They are all located underground in this valley so they would be hidden from looters. (A pyramid is a pretty big target for a looter, and they knew that by this period.)

And now, you can tour them! I know, I know, touring tombs sounds kind of icky, but I swear – it’s an incredible place to visit! Some of the hieroglyphics and colors are so well-preserved, it’s mind-boggling.

11 Things to Know Before Going to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt

1.) There are 63 tombs (that we know of) inside the Valley of the Kings. However, only a handful of them are open to the public (and they rotate which are open). This is due to renovations happening to certain tombs, and also to prevent damage to the tombs.

A 3D glass model shows an underground map of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Some tombs extend deep down under the Valley's hills.
A cool model in the visitor’s center shows just how deep some of the tombs are!

2.) You don’t simply “pay an entrance fee” and then get to wander. There are different fees for everything. Some tombs are included in a flat rate fee (however, once you pay the flat rate fee, you get to choose 3 tombs to visit). Some tombs cost extra (such as King Tut and Seti I.) There’s also an extra fee if you want to take the little train up to the entrance (which I totally recommend doing – it’s a long walk and it’s super hot).

3.) You have to pay extra for photography as well. If you don’t, they’ll ask you to leave your camera at the entrance (which seems sketchy to me). So, either don’t bring your camera or pay the fee. (It was 300 LE to photograph 3 tombs when we visited in May 2019. Also, you only get to photograph 3 tombs, and this needs to be purchased ahead of time at the visitors’ ticket kiosk.) You also have to pay the fee if you want to photograph using your phone. (And if not, be sure to leave your phone in your bag or pocket!)

NOTE – You can’t take photos inside Seti I or King Tut’s tomb even if you pay the fee, though. (And please don’t be THAT person who just wants to sneak a pic. I saw this happening in King Tut’s tomb, and the guards were then bribed. Don’t be that person! Don’t encourage people to break these rules, pretty please. Let’s all be good tourists. )

A long hallways in the tomb of King Ramses V. The stone walls are lined with cared hieroglyphs and artwork and there's a long wooden walkway.
A hallway in King Ramses V’s tomb. You’ll have to pay an extra fee to take photos!

4.) It’s going to be HOT. Did I mention Luxor is hotter than hell? Yeah, it’s terrible. Be sure to dress appropriately (I have a whole post filled with tips for how to dress for the heat in Luxor), bring a couple bottles of water and LOTS of sunscreen.

A woman stands on a wooden walkway inside a tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The stone walls of the tomb are covered with colorful carvings. The woman is wearing a long orange floral dress, a scarf, and a sunhat.
Dress comfortably for the heat!

5.) Be sure to see the tomb of Ramses V! If it’s open, I highly recommend visiting this tomb. It’s very well-preserved and hardly anyone was going inside it for some reason. (Of course, prepare yourself, it just might not be open on the day you get there. Don’t get your heart too set on seeing certain tombs.) This tomb does require an extra ticket, though.

A photo of an underground hallway inside the tomb of King Ramses V. The stone walls and ceiling are completely covered in ancient Egyptian carvings.
King Ramses V tomb

Photo Gallery: Inside King Ramses V’s Tomb in the Valley of the Kings

6.) King Tut’s tomb really only has his mummy in it and a pretty mural on the wall. All of his treasures are located in the museum in Cairo. We did go inside. It’s crazy to be able to see the famous King Tut with your own eyes, but beyond that, there isn’t much to see inside this tomb. (And, again, no photos inside and there is an extra ticket to purchase if you want to see inside!)

A man and woman stand outside of the entrance to King Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

7.) Be sure to visit the Temple of Hatshepsut. The Temple of Hatshepsut is on your way to the Valley of the Kings from Luxor. It is AMAZING, as is the ruler – Queen Hatshepsut. She was a badass lady pharaoh who is widely accepted as one of the most successful pharaohs among Egyptologists.

The Temple of Hatshepsut sits at the base of a large desert canyon, surrounded by sandy desert cliffs and hills.
The Temple of Hatshepsut

Photo Gallery: The Temple of Hatshepsut Outside the Valley of the Kings

A stone archway outside of the Temple of Hatshepsut near Luxor, Egypt. Locals and tourists walk though the arches as they tour the temple.

8.) The Colossi of Memnon are also along the way, and are awesome if you go in the morning! (Hot air balloons fly over them!) They are massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III. They have stood here for the past 3,400 years!

The Colossi of Memnon is two giant statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Between the statues, a yellow hot air balloon rises in the clear blue sky.
The Colossi of Memnon

9.) There are a few different ways to get to the Valley of the Kings. You can hire a car to get there (many do this right through their hotel), I’ve also heard of people hiking and biking to get there (but it’s SO hot – I would NOT want to attempt that). Another option is obviously, a tour. We had booked through Memphis Tours and Ahmed was the best tour guide I think I’ve ever had in my entire life!

A panoramic shot of the landscape of Luxor, Egypt. The city is in the desert, surrounded by sandy hills and flat valleys. The sky is crystal clear with a hot burning sun.
There are no coulds in the sky on this gorgeous – and HOT – day in Luxor, Egypt.

10.) However, if you do take a tour, note that guides are not allowed inside the tombs! (Ours would give us a rundown of each tomb outside of it, and then allow us free time to explore the tombs and look for the things he had just taught us about.)

11.) Be sure to visit the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (preferably after you visit the Valley of the Kings). This is where you’ll see all the goodies from these tombs…including the mummies! You can read all about our visit to the Egyptian Museum here.

If you have any questions about visiting the Valley of the Kings – let me know in the comments!

Before you go, be sure to check out all of my posts about our travels to Egypt and read my post about must-see places in Luxor! Find my 2-day Luxor itinerary here, my complete women’s packing list for Egypt here, and a full 7-day itinerary for Egypt here!

Photo Gallery: Inside the Tombs of the Valley of the Kings

Two stacked images show an exterior shot of the Valley of the Kings and an interior shot inside one of the tombs. Text across the center of the image reads "what to know before touring the valley of the kings in luxor, Egypt"
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  1. travelling in May this year from Canada and then ending in Dubai for 4 nights. WE have a fournight cruise as well and will be going to Abu Simbel. We are so looking forward to this and love all your writings on your experience. Truly it will help us.

  2. Oh wow this is great advice. It is seeming like more and more I’m finding certain places charge for photography. It’s a good thing iPhones are really good now. I wouldn’t want to leave my camera either.

  3. Gosh…this is so interesting Lindsey. No guides inside?? Did they say why?
    And the photography thing I”m assuming doesn’t include your phones??

    1. I’m not entirely sure why guides aren’t allowed inside. I’m thinking it might have to do with keeping the tombs from getting too congested, as it’s just some rather narrow paths in and out and there wouldn’t be a good spot for tour groups to stop and talk (without causing a traffic jam). And photography also includes phones! Thank you for reminding me. It’s best to just keep your phone in your bag or pocket if you don’t want to pay the photography fee.

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