The Valley of the Kings is one of Egypt’s most spectacular destinations. Located on the west bank of the Nile River near Luxor, this small area contains a staggering amount of exquisitely decorated tombs of Egypt’s ancient kings.
When planning our visit, we found it very difficult to find any reliable information online. Mislabeled photos, out of date pricing, and a lack of information regarding the best tombs to visit dominated a lot of the information that we read online. This is partially because the rules for visiting these tombs changes frequently.
In order to provide you with the information you need to know to plan your visit, we visited the Valley of the Kings twice with an Egyptologist. We visited nine tombs on two separate days, including the three tombs that have extra tickets. Plus, we timed our visit so we were in the Valley of the Kings in the morning and the afternoon, so we could check out crowd levels at these two different times.
We have a lot of information to share with you. I hope this article answers any questions you might have when planning your trip to the Valley of the Kings.
Important Note: Pricing, the opening of tombs, and rules for photography always seem to be changing. I will be updating this article frequently, with the help of our Egyptologist, Ali. If you learn anything new that you would like to share, in order to help future readers, please let us know in the comments below.
What is the Valley of the Kings?
The Valley of the Kings is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.
The Valley of the Kings is a royal burial ground for pharaohs from the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties (the New Kingdom of Egypt). Famous kings from this time period include Tutankhamun, Ramses II, Tuthmosis III, and Seti I, as well as powerful nobles and the wives and children of the pharaohs.
These tombs were constructed between 1539 and 1075 BC.
The hills on the west bank of the Nile River are dominated by the peak of al-Qurn, a pyramidal shaped mountain that echoes the appearance of the ancient pyramids of Giza. In these limestone hills, more than 60 tombs were excavated and decorated with intricate reliefs and images.
Valley of the Kings with al-Qurn in the background
It is believed that this area was chosen as a burial ground in order to avoid the tomb robbing that was occurring at the Pyramids of Giza and the Nile Delta. By carving these tombs deep within the earth, pharaohs believed that their tombs and treasures would be safe from robbers.
These tombs were sealed with the mummy of the king as well as shrines, treasures, and funerary artifacts to help the king in the afterlife.
The tombs are labeled with the abbreviation “KV,” which stands for Kings Valley. The labeling starts with KV1 (Ramses VII) and goes up to KV65. However, this will change if another tomb is discovered (which is very likely).
The Valley of the Kings consists of two valleys, the East Valley and the West Valley. The majority of the tombs are located in the East Valley. Currently, there is only one tomb that you can visit in the smaller West Valley, the tomb of Ay.
In 1979, the Valley of the Kings became a World Heritage Site.
How to Get to the Valley of the Kings
On a Tour
There are several companies that offer day tours to the west bank from Luxor.
We used Egypt Tailor Made and highly recommend them. For our group of six (our mothers visited Egypt with us), we had a driver, an Egyptologist, and a private van. Typically, we do not hire guides or drivers, preferring to travel independently. But for Egypt, we wanted to do things differently. We wanted to tour the sites with an Egyptologist, so we could learn and understand what we were seeing. And by having a driver, we could sit back and relax, without the hassle of finding a taxi and negotiating prices.
Click here to visit the Egypt Tailor Made website to see their tours and pricing.
If you are an independent traveler, you can get to the Valley of the Kings by taxi.
You can hire a taxi in Luxor and take this to the west bank. This drive takes 45 minutes, since you have to cross the Luxor Bridge, which is located south of the Valley of the Kings and Luxor. Hire the taxi for the day (sorry, I don’t have a price estimate for this) to visit the Valley of the Kings and other sites on the west bank.
It is also possible to take a ferry across the Nile River and hire a taxi once you are on the west bank. Ferries leave every ten to fifteen minutes and cost several Egyptian pounds.
How to Get Around the Valley of the Kings
Your visit starts at the Visitor Center. This is where you will purchase your entrance ticket and photography passes or entrance tickets for the extra tombs.
To get to the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, you will ride a three-minute tram. The tram costs 4 EGP per person (about 25 cents in USD) for a round trip ride.
From the tram, it’s a relatively short, uphill walk to get to the entrances of the tombs.
Which Tombs are Open in the Valley of the Kings?
There are over 65 tombs in the Valley of the Kings. However, not all of them are open to the public. Many tombs are closed either for restoration work or to minimize the traffic of tourists in the tombs.
Here is the list of open tombs that are included on your entrance ticket into the Valley of the Kings. Of these eight tombs, you can visit three with your entrance ticket.
KV1 – Ramesses VII
KV2 – Ramesses IV
KV6 – Ramesses IX
KV8 – Merenptah
KV11 – Ramesses III
KV14 – Tausert-Setnakht
KV15 – Seti II
KV47 – Siptah
There are three additional tombs that you can visit with an extra ticket. Here is the list with the additional price for each tomb.
KV9 – Ramesses V & VI 100 EGP per person
KV17 – Seti I 1,000 EGP per person
KV62 – Tutankhamun 300 EGP per person
Click here to read our article about the best tombs in the Valley of the Kings. This article includes lots of photos, information about each tomb, and suggestions on how to choose which tombs to visit.
How Much Does It Cost to Visit the Valley of the Kings?
When you visit the Valley of the Kings, you will need to purchase two tickets: an entrance ticket and a tram ticket.
The entrance ticket is the main entry ticket into the Valley of the Kings. With this entrance ticket, you get to choose three tombs from the list of open tombs (listed above). If you want to see more than three tombs, you need to purchase an additional ticket.
The entrance ticket costs 240 EGP per person.
About Discounts with Children and Students: If you are traveling with children, they might qualify for discount ticket. One of our guides told us that at most tourist sites (museums, temples, tombs, pyramids, etc.), kids 5 years and younger can get free entry. Ages 6 years to 12 years get a 50% discount. And those aged 12 to 30 can qualify for a student discount (50% discount) if they have a valid International Student Identification Card (learn more here). You must bring the plastic card with you because a copy or a photo of the card is not typically accepted. We did not know about this Identification Card before our visit. Tyler and Kara were 16 and 15 years old during our visit. Sometimes, the attendant would accept their passport as identification, but it didn’t always work so sometimes we had to pay full price.
The tram ticket costs 4 EGP per person. You will purchase this next to the ticket window for the main entrance tickets.
Tickets for the Extra Tombs
There are three additional tombs that you can add on to your visit. Each of these tombs has an extra fee. These are absolutely worth it, which you can see below and in our photography post about the Valley of the Kings.
Pro Travel Tip: If you only want to visit the extra tombs (Tutankhamun, Seti I, and Ramesses V and VI), you will still have to purchase the main entry ticket into the Valley of the Kings.
Here are the prices for the three extra tombs:
KV9 – Ramesses V & VI 100 EGP per person (50 EGP for students)
KV17 – Seti the First 1,000 EGP per person (1000 EGP for students; no discount)
KV62 – Tutankhamun 300 EGP per person (150 EGP for students)
The rules for this are changing constantly. During our visit, photography was allowed for free in all of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, including the extra tombs. This rule applies only to cellphones.
If you want to take a photo with something other than a cellphone (a DSLR, Go Pro, camcorder, point and shoot camera, etc) you will need to purchase a photo pass. This photo pass is priced per device and costs 300 EGP. It covers all of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, with the exception of Seti I and Tutankhamun.
If you plan to shoot video with your cellphone, you will also need to purchase a photo pass.
If you want to take photos of Seti I or Tutankhamum with a camera, you need to purchase a commercial pass. I do not know the exact cost of this ticket, but I have heard that it can cost up to 5000 EGP, which is an enormous price to pay.
We were able to get amazing photos with our iPhones, so I don’t think it is necessary to purchase the photo pass. I recommend upgrading your phone before your trip to Egypt, in order to get high quality photos. This photography rule also goes for the Pyramids in Giza, the other archaeological sites near Luxor, and some sites in Aswan.
If you do not have a photo pass, you do not have to turn in your camera, as you might have read on other posts. Just don’t take it out of your bag.
The rules are changing frequently, which is another reason to hire a guide to help you keep all of the rules straight.
Adding It Up
If you simply want to visit three tombs, your total cost is 244 EGP per person (the entrance ticket plus the tram). This is roughly $15 USD.
If you want to visit three tombs plus the three extra tombs, your total cost is 1644 EGP per person (about $100 USD). Adding on a photography pass costs an additional 300 EGP.
Pro Travel Tip: Add up your total cost before your visit and take out enough Egyptian pounds to pay for your tickets. During our visit, the credit card machine was not working at the visitor center, so we had to pay for everything in cash.
Pro Travel Tip #2: You will need to withdraw your cash while in Luxor. We did not see any ATM’s while on the east bank or at the visitor center.
Inside the tomb of Ramesses III
Best Tombs to Visit in the Valley of the Kings
Of the 11 tombs that were open to the public during our visit, we visited nine of them. Six are on the included entrance ticket and three are tombs with an extra ticket.
Of the eight available tombs to visit on the main entry ticket, our three favorites were Ramesses IV, Ramesses III, and Tausert and Seknakht. The tomb of Ramesses IX is also very nice.
The tombs that require an extra ticket are amazing, each for a slightly different reason. Since you pay extra to visit these tombs, they tend to be less crowded than the included tombs. Plus, the artwork on the walls and ceiling are dazzling, with vibrant colors, intricate carvings, and well-preserved artwork.
The tomb of Seti I is one of the most beautiful temples in the Valley of the Kings. The walls of the passageways and the pillared rooms are decorated high and low reliefs. The massive burial chamber is adorned with colorful scenes on the walls and an astronomical scene on the ceiling. The cover photo for this post was taken inside the tomb of Seti I.
The tomb of Tutankhamun is one of the smallest and least decorated tombs in the Valley of the Kings, but the highlight here is seeing the mummy of King Tut.
The tomb of Ramesses V and VI was my personal favorite in the Valley of the Kings. The pillared hallway, at about the midpoint of this tomb, is breathtaking. The burial chamber is enormous and the astronomical ceiling is decorated with the book of the Heavens, showing the daily regeneration of the solar disc.
For many more photos of these tombs, with suggestions on how to narrow down the long list of tombs that are available to visit, take a look at our article Best Tombs to Visit in the Valley of the Kings.
The Tomb of Ay in the West Valley
All of the tombs listed above are located in the East Valley of the Valley of the Kings. There are several tombs in the West Valley. Of these tombs, only the tomb of Ay is open to the public.
To enter this tomb, you will need to purchase a separate entrance ticket. You can purchase this ticket at the visitor center for the Valley of the Kings. The ticket costs 60 EGP.
To get to the tomb of Ay, it is a long, hilly walk from the parking lot of the visitor center of the Valley of the Kings. Since it is a hike to get here, this tomb tends to have very low crowds. If you like the idea of hiking to a quiet tomb, this could be worth adding on to your tour of the Valley of the Kings.
Do You Need a Guide?
You do not need a guide to visit the Valley of the Kings, but I think that it is worth it to have one. This is an amazing historical site and to get the most out of your visit, I think it is worth it to hire an Egyptologist.
With that being said, guides are not permitted inside of the tombs. Ali, our guide, gave us an overview at the start of our visit, with tips for what to look for in each of the tombs, and then we toured the tombs on our own.
However, if you just want to snap a few photos, a guide is not necessary.
What to Expect on Your Visit
You will arrive at the Visitor Center. In the center of the room is a large 3D map of the Valley of the Kings, with each tomb labeled. If you look under this map, you can see the long tunnels that lead to each tomb.
There are restrooms here and these are a lot cleaner than the restrooms located within the Valley of the Kings.
Walk through the building. Once outside, you will see the road and the trams taking visitors to the Valley of the Kings. Turn right to purchase your tickets at the ticket booth and to purchase your tram tickets.
Pro Travel Tip: You can only purchase tickets at the visitor center. Once you ride the tram to the Valley of the Kings, you can no longer purchase tickets. If you change your mind and want to add on an extra tomb, you will need to ride the tram back to the visitor center to purchase your ticket.
A 3-minute ride on the tram takes you to the Valley of the Kings. A guard will check your ticket here and allow you through the entrance gate.
Just past this entrance is a covered area with seating. To the right there is also a small trailer with restrooms. From the entrance, it takes about 10 minutes to walk to the farthest tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
A view of the Valley of the Kings from the second level of the cafe
If you are traveling independently, take a photo of the map of the Valley of the Kings (these maps are posted at several locations), so you know the location of each tomb. If you have a guide, they can point you in the right direction to the tombs you plan to visit.
Each tomb has a sign labeled with the tomb name and a map of the interior of the tomb.
At the entrance to each tomb, the attendant will check your ticket and punch a hole in it. Once you have three holes in your main entrance ticket, you have used up your three tomb visits. If you have a photo pass, show that as well, since they will also punch a hole in this.
Each tomb features an entrance hallway that ends in a larger chamber. Some hallways are very long and covered with intricate artwork while other tombs may have short hallways or almost barren walls. You will walk downhill and on series of staircases to get to each tomb, so expect an uphill walk to get back out of the tomb.
The tombs tend to be hot. The farther you go, the warmer it gets. We were here in December and even then, some of the tombs felt very warm inside.
There are attendants walking through the tombs, keeping an eye on visitors, keeping noise levels down, and checking photo passes, for those people who are shooting photos with something other than a cellphone.
Sometimes, the attendants will offer to take your photo or show you small room or sanctuary located off of the main hallway. If you do this, you will be expected to pay a small tip for the service. If you don’t want a photo, simply say la shukran, which means “no thank you” in Arabic.
The tombs that require an extra ticket tend to have low crowds. There could be a long line for some of the popular tombs on the included entrance ticket. To get to the tomb of Ramesses IX, we waited almost 10 minutes in line.
Inside the tomb of Ramesses IV
We typically spent 10 minutes inside each tomb. We spent longer in Seti I and Ramesses V and VI simply because they were spectacular.
If you get hungry or thirsty, there is a small café centrally located in the Valley of the Kings.
Once you are finished, walk back to the entrance and ride to the tram to the visitor center. To get back to the parking lot, you will walk through a large gift shop. The salesman can be aggressive in trying to get you to purchase their items. Simply keep walking and so “no thank you” or “la shukran.”
How Long Does It Take to Visit the Valley of the Kings?
If you are a speed demon and simply want to snap a few photos in three tombs, you can visit the Valley of the Kings in about an hour to an hour and a half.
For a more leisurely experience, or if you have a guide, plan on spending two hours here, with a visit to three tombs.
If you add on the three additional tombs (for a total of six tombs), a visit to the Valley of the Kings can last a total of three hours.
Inside the tomb of Ramses V and VI
Best Time to Visit the Valley of the Kings
Here are the hours of operation for the Valley of the Kings:
Winter: 6 am to 4 pm
Summer: 6 am to 5 pm
The most crowded time to visit the Valley of the Kings is between 10 am and 2 pm.
If you arrive by 8 am, your visit should be relatively uncrowded. I recommend visiting the tombs on the included ticket first, and ending with the tombs that require an extra ticket, if you plan to visit these. Not only will this help you avoid the crowds, but you are saving the best tombs for the end of your visit.
One to two hours before closing is also a great time to visit the Valley of the Kings.
We visited the Valley of the Kings at two different times. The first day we arrived at 9 am. Crowds were relatively low, but they did pick up a lot by 10 am, and our visits to the included tombs were packed with other visitors. On our second day, we arrived at 2:30 pm. Crowds were low and we shared the tombs with just a handful of other people.
So, my advice is to go early or go late if you want to have low crowds.
Inside the tomb of Seti I
Bring enough cash to cover your entrance tickets to the tombs. You will need additional money if you plan to purchase snacks or drinks at the café. You will also need small change to give the bathroom attendant.
Bring sunscreen and water. You will be outside in the sun quite a bit as you walk from tomb to tomb.
The closest bathroom is at the entrance near the tram stop. From the tombs, it is a five to ten-minute walk to the restroom.
Make sure you purchase all of the tickets you will need (including the photo pass) at the visitor center. Once you enter the Valley of the Kings, you cannot purchase tickets. If you need an additional ticket, you will need to ride the tram back to the visitor center.
If you missed it, here is the link to the best tombs to visit in the Valley of the Kings. This article includes lots of photos and handy information to help you pick out which tombs to visit.
If you have any questions about how to visit the Valley of the Kings, if you want to share your experience, or if you have any tips that you think would help our readers, comment below.
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