Mar 082013

Abu Simbel is a fascinating destination for every traveller to Egypt because of its two giant rock temples that was saved by the rising water of Nile due to the construction of High Dam in Aswan, Egypt. It was a joint effort of many countries led by UNESCO to relocate and preserve these temples of old-Egyptian era and and that relocation was considered as one of the greatest challenges of archaeological engineering in history.

Massive Temples of Abu Simbel

Massive Temples of Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel is located about 290 kms southwest from Aswan and just 40 kms north of Sudan-Egypt Border in the middle of desert. Although there is a well-paved modern highway going to Abu Simbel from Aswan and it also has an airport, that was built specifically for tourists just 6 kms away from the temples, but still reaching Abu Simbel appears very tricky for many tourists, specially to them,  who don’t want to fly there.  Since, I just completed this trip in a cost-effective way, I hope this post will help you to plan your trip in a proper manner.

Abu Simbel from Cairo: For those, who have lot of money but less time, the best way to reach Abu Simbel is by a flight of EgyptAir Express, a subsidiary of state-owned EgyptAir , from Cairo Airport. These flights depart from Cairo Airport Terminal-3 and take 3 hours with 40 minutes stop-over at Aswan. There is no direct flight between Cairo and Abu Simbel without this stop at Aswan. The return ticket cost will depend on the time of booking and seat availability and generally vary between 2000 EGP to 3000 EGP, if you book 15 days to 30 days in advance.

After arrival at Abu Simbel Airport, Egypt Air buses will take you to Abu Simbel temple entrance without any cost (However, giving tip to the driver and helper is a tradition). They wait there for two hours, which is sufficient time to visit both the temples and then take you back for your return flight.

If you want to do this trip in a cost-effective way, then best method is to use Aswan as your base for Abu Simbel trip.

About Aswan: Aswan is located  about 290 kms north of Abu Simbel and it is the last big city before Abu Simbel. It is also a major tourist destination with some of major attractions situated on both banks of the Nile River including Philae Temple, Nubian Museum, St.Simeon’s Monastery, Noble’s Tombs etc. There are various method to reach Abu Simbel from Aswan:

1. By Air: The Aswan Airport is located kms 16 south of the city and there is daily 2-3 flights operating between Aswan and Abu Simbel. These flights cost you about 1200 to 1800 EGP depending on the time of booking and seat availability.

Reaching Aswan Airport from Town: There is no public bus service between Aswan City and Aswan Airport. Also, There is no metered taxi in Aswan. There are two type of taxis, one is big cars like Mitsubishi Lancer, Hyundai Verna, that fall under the category of Limousine services and from Airport to El Corniche Nile, their rates may fall in the category of 100-150 EGP. There is another type of taxi at the airport that can cost you from 40-80 EGP depending on your bargaining skill, However, I found the second type of taxi from Airport to El-Corniche Nile in 40 EGP.
You can also use Egypt Air buses to reach to the airport, but by paying some charges for the service.  Egypt Air buses depart from the Egypt Air office at El Corniche Nile.

Again, After arrival at Abu Simbel Airport, Egypt Air buses will take you to Abu Simbel temple entrance without any cost.

2. By Train: There is no train services to Abu Simbel from anywhere in the Egypt.  In fact, there is no railway line in that area.

3. By Nile Cruises: This is also a popular way to reach Abu Simbel. These cruises are mainly popular among honeymooners and luxury travellers and hence the most expensive method to reach Abu Simbel. These cruises operate float over Lake Naseer from Aswan to Abu Simbel and their full itinerary may take 4 to 5 days from Aswan-Abu Simbel and back to Aswan trip. Typical price range starts from 2500 EGP onwards per person depending on the class of luxury.

Nile Cruise

Nile Cruise

4. By Road:  Best method to reach Abu Simbel in a cost-effective way.  But for this you have to book your trip one day before. There are two methods to book this trip:

Using services of any reputed travel agency/tour operators:  They will book your tour easily without any hassle. They just need your passport copy a day before to complete some formalities. But there cost can vary from 600 EGP to 900 EGP. When I tried to book my trip and searched the available information, I came to know that a reputed travel operator was asking for 600 EGP (excluding temple entry ticket of 100 EGP) and another one 200 USD (including temple entry ticket of 100 EGP). I had a reference of a tour operator through a friend, and he quoted 120 USD or 850 EGP(including temple entry ticket of 100 EGP).  Later, he was ready to book it in 800 EGP. Then I informed him that another operator is charging 600 EGP. He told me to arrange an extra fellow to get the price of 600 EGP. These prices were quoted on an individual basis in an air-conditioned bus with some other tourists.

Then, incidentally, I came across the most cost-effective method:

Using Services of Budget/Mid-Range Hotels: Without no hope of booking less than 600 EGP, I called my booked hotel in Aswan to know if they also had any tour to Abu Simbel. I wanted to book this tour in 500 EGP (excluding temple entry ticket of 100 EGP). But, when I asked him the tour prices, he said for Short Tour ( Abu Simbel only) it is 75 EGP and for Big Tour (Abu Simbel including Philae Temple, High Dam and Unfinished Oblisk), it is 85 EGP (excluding temple entry ticket of 100 EGP). I was amazed with the offered prices and  told him to book it immediately. He informed me that it would be booked after my arrival at the hotel. When I arrived there next day, I paid 85 EGP and confirmed  my trip to Abu Simbel.

Updated on Sept.30, 2015: El Salam Hotel in Aswan arranges this trip to Abu Simbel in 150 EGP now. A separate trip to High Dam, Unfinished Oblisk and Philae Temple costs extra 150 EGP.

The best way to book your trip to Abu Simbel is to book through any small or mid-range hotel. They have a collaborative arrangement and a single nodal point to collect the information of interested people from each hotel. Then they book it collectively on a single van or bus to reduce the cost without any prior availability of documents and all other things. They even do not ask for the passport copy. In my group, there were people from El Salam Hotel, Memnon Hotel, Nuba Nile Hotel etc.. So every budget hotel in Aswan is arranging this trip in the same way. This is a win-win situation for all.

Regarding Safety Issue/Convoy: There are two convoy leaving timings for Abu Simbel trip from Aswan. One is in early morning at 4:00 AM, which return back by 1:00 PM. Another is at 11:00 AM, which return back by 7:30 PM.  Both convoy allow two hours to explore these two temples of Abu Simbel, which is enough time in my opinion.

Tourist Buses in the Convoy

Tourist Buses in the Convoy

Mini-Buses in the Convoy..Some from Reputed Travel Operators

Mini-Buses in the Convoy..Some from Reputed Travel Operators

While booking the morning 04:00 AM tour (majority of tourists book this), the condition is that you will reach your hotel reception at 3:00 AM in the morning.  In my hotel, a person even came to check whether I woke up or not at 2:50 AM. They provide you a packet of breakfast and by 3:15, a van arrives to pick up you from your hotel. One by one this van picks up people from all other hotels to reach at a common assembly point for all vehicles at 04:00 AM.  This assembly of vehicles, that generally include big tourist buses or 14-seater vans, is known as a convoy.  But, once they leave the convoy assembly point on the road to Abu Simbel, I did not notice any vehicle which remained a part of convoy.  Every vehicle moved at their own speed without any restrictions.  So, after that assembly there is no convoy type of thing.

Comfort level of cheaper Vans: You can see the picture of vehicles at Abu Simbel. Whether you pay 600 EGP or 75 EGP, all vehicles are nearly the same. So, there is no issue of your comfort or vehicle safety.

Our Mini-Bus..Same as others

Our Mini-Bus..Same as others

After reaching Abu Simbel, these vehicles stop nearly 300 meters away from the temples. You have to buy your ticket before the entrance by 100 EGP, which also include the service of an English guide there. If you are from US or Europe, you can expect that these guides  approach you in hope of some big Baksheesh (tips), but if  you are from Asian countries like I was, they may never turn towards you.

Two hours is enough to explore the temples and surrounding area. There is no such type of arrangements that allow you to arrive with first convoy and to leave in second convoy. For that you can arrive with first convoy by paying full charges and then again you can check with any driver in second convoy, if he have any vacant seat by paying at least 60-70 EGP. It will be depend on your luck. or else you always have an option to return by an Egypt Air flight.

Photography is allowed outside the temple, but not inside the temple. There is bascially two temples at the site. First Big Temple was dedicated to the gods Amun, Ra-Horakhty, and Ptah, as well as to the  Rameses himself . This is considered as one of the most impressive temple in whole Egypt. Second small temple is temple of Hathor and Neferati; was dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Ramesses II’s chief consort, Nefertari.

Big Temple

Big Temple

Small Temple

Small Temple

If you want to stay in Abu Simbel, there is also a good hotel, Neferati Hotel,  located about 200 meters away from the entrance and parking area of the temple. There is also a 5-star hotel Seti Hotel located in nearby area.

Mirage in the Desert

Mirage in the Desert

Expansion of Lake Naseer

Expansion of Lake Naseer

The road-journey to Abu Simbel was one of the memorable experiences of life. Passing through the Great Sahara Desert, watching one of the most beautiful sunrise in the desert, walking along the shore of Lake Naseer, Moving around the impressive temples of Abu Simbel and experiencing the phenomenon of Mirage in Desert in the return trip were some of the unforgettable moments…

If you are enjoying the travel tips from Solo Backpacker, let us celebrate this journey together. Follow us on Facebook as well as on twitter.

  60 Responses to “How to Travel from Aswan to Abu Simbel?”

  1. El salam just quoted me 235 for the Abu Simbel trip.

  2. Hi Avinash,

    Thanks for the detailed information you have provided and your patience in responding to comments. I am planning the exact same trip as yours except for Hurghada. 3 days in Cairo, 2 days in Alexandria and the remaining time in Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel.

    From Cairo or Alexandria would it be better to fly to Aswan first, spend 2 days there, go to Abu Simbel and make my way back to Luxor via Edfu, Kom Ombo and Esna, then spend a few days in Luxor with side trips to Abydos and Dendera and then fly back to Cairo from there. Or should I fly to Luxor first from Cairo, spend a few days in Luxor and then make my way to Aswan, Abu Simbel and fly back to Cairo from Aswan.

    Either way I will be landing in one city and taking off from another because of limited time but I don’t know if one is one better than the other and if there are any advantages. I am unable to find much information. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    P.S. I am more excited to learn that you are an ATC. Any time I find myself on a plane waiting on the tarmac or circling in the air to land I immediately think of the ATC’s and thank them quietly for keeping us safe and on schedule. I have alway wondered how stressful the job must be but as you said everyone handles stress differently 🙂

  3. it is always possible to do things for free, always 🙂 I crossed Africa on a bike..on this stretch was able to put my bike to the police convoy car and it was fun travel with AK-47 armed soldiers, one sitting on my left, another on my right…loud music, lots of conversation which didn’t make any sense to me 🙂 so it costed me zero cents..and from Abu Simble also got a free ferry to Wadi-Halfa…zero money to cross it from Aswan to Egypt! try do make your journeys adventurous way 🙂 peace

    • That’s really an amazing experience, Josh. You did it in a great manner. Hats off to your spirit. Though the life threatening experience in Sudan was really a sad affair. But I hope you will keep going strong. Best of Luck, Mate ! Thanks for sharing your experiences. 🙂

  4. Hi, I’ll be in Aswan from 17 to 19th April. I wanna go to Abou Simbel by myself (a public bus, or a common transport or anything cheap and simple. I just wanna avoid tourist tour, etc.) and stay there overnight. On both the go/return way, I wanna visit archaeological sites situated between Aswan and Abu Simbel. What would be the best choices for transport and what would not be possible to do? Thank you in advance for your answer.

    • Hi, There is nothing between the vast distance of Aswan and Abu Simbel, but the great desert. There is no archaeological site before Abu Simbel. No public transportation is available, except the group tours offered by the tour operators with huge price differences. The best thing that you can do independently is to board a flight from Aswan to Abu Simbel. 2-3 hotels are available at Abu Simbel for the night stay. You can roam around the small village. Have a nice trip. Do share your experience with us. 🙂

      • There are small temples and monuments between Aswan and Abu Simbel (I am keeping Kabalasha Island out since it can be visited from Aswan, without any plans for Abu Simbel). Unfortunately due to current safety restrictions you cannot visit them by land since the route between Aswan and Abu Simbel is subject to escort convoys and no stopping and speeding down whatsoever as we all know. These small temples and monuments are reachable only by Lake Nasser, either with Cruise Boats or smaller boats that can be rented from Aswan Port at the Aswan High Dam. These minor sites are like smaller ones you can see in Kabalasha Island, namely temples at Wadi Seboua, Temples at Amada (Amada, Derr, and monument of Pennut), These are wothy only if you are really into antiquties, Egyptology and notice the differences on the time line, other wise these are small temples you would call “I had seen enough of these” 🙂 Another site is Nabta Playa, west of Abu Simbel but this site again is important for history diggers, older than Egypt itself, maye a start stone, well a couple of small stones in the middle of nowhere most would say. Wheter it is worthy or not unfotunately access to the area is strictly limited to professionals with military permissions from Cairo 🙁 I worked a lot to visit that place but my luck didn’y go well.

  5. Hello,

    I am planing my trip to Egypt in May and currently considering of staying overnight at Abu Simbel and found a flight from Cairo to Abu Simbel with a 30min transit in Aswan. Anyone has any idea if a 30min transit time is possible to make it to the connecting flight? Also, do you think it is worth it to stay there overnight to catch the light show? Are you able to catch the sunrise if you travel there by car leaving at 3 a.m?

    Thank you!!

    • Hi, It’s possible to make for the connecting flight in 30 minutes at Aswan Airport. It’s a small airport. But, I think the same flight will go to Abu Simbel also, so no need to step out form the aircraft. I don’t have the experience of light and sound show at Abu Simbel. If you travel by a car leaving at 3 AM, you can catch a beautiful sunrise across the desert on the way.

  6. Hello. I am in Luxor now and also planning to go to Aswan and then get to Abu Simbel. Does anyone have their nr so that I can call and be sure they can prepare the trip ?

  7. Hi Solo Backpacker,

    We just arrived from our Egypt trip. Your website was a great help. We went to Abu Simbel and booked our tour with Philae Hotel for 150LE/pax, like what you mentioned here. It was a great experience. Big thanks to your writtings. I will be posting our Egypt adventures and expereinces soon on my website.

    More powers and travels, cheers !

  8. Hello do you have any recommendation for the cruises from Aswan to Abu Simbel ?? thanks in advance

  9. Hi,
    Thanks for the valuable information. Planning to travel in October 16.

  10. Thanks for this post. Im off to Egypt next week!! I still have yet to book Abu Simbel, but want to do this as budget as possible, just as long the bus is not a wreck lol. Im staying in a nice hotel (Movenpick) and they quoted me 1250!!. Can I just go to another cheaper hotel and get the 150 you mentioned in your post??
    Thanks again

    • Movenpick is really a nice hotel and It was visible from my hotel in Aswan. But, they are charging too much. Just roam around on the Nile coast and check if a small hotel can arrange a group tour at lower cost, as I mentioned in the post.

    • Hi Ben. I was staying in Movenpick as well and yes….their prices are to expensive… I went to Philae hotel (once you’ll get to the shore turn right and it’ll be on the left hand side) you can see it from the pool area I’ve paid 150 EGP for the bus to Abu Simbel. It was in September last year so I don’t think the price was changed 🙂
      Have a nice time mate

      • Did the bus pick you up at Movenpick or did you have to go to Philae hotel at 3am? Will Movenpick still prepare the breakfast box for you if you don’t take their tour bus? Thank you. I will be staying at Movenpick in mid-September.

  11. Thank you very much Mr Solo I went for 9 days 8 nights yo Egypt and back in one peace your site was my inspiration,
    first time out in SA and was nice experience thanks again for you site.

  12. Hello! Myself and my best friend are travelling to Egypt in October and visiting Abu Simbel is on my bucket list. We are staying in Aswan a few days specifically to go to Abu Simbel, but we are budget backpackers. Is there a tour bus that we can book online or do we have to wait until we get there and ask to locals?

    • Hi, for cheap offers, try to book from Aswan only. Otherwise, you can also book over telephone. Ask to your hotel/hostel in Aswan, if they can provide you a cheap package to Aswan. Many packages are available in 120 EGP per person for Abu Simbel Tour. Online packages may cost you much more. Have a nice trip.

  13. Wow, this post is incredibly helpful! I have one question… You mentioned that the entrance fee to Abu Simbel includes an English speaking tour guide. What is the quality of these guides like?

    • Hi, They are the official English speaking guides available at Abu Simbel. So, you can pretty much rely on them. They are good with the information. Since, the price is already included in th tickets, there isn’t any choice also. 🙂

  14. Hey…Thanks for the details. If I flew into Abu Simbel, can I get a bus back to Aswan in the same day? If so, how much and what are the times?

    I don’t want to get stuck in Abu Simbel because I didn’t book a trip from Aswan.

    • It seems a bit difficult. Almost all the tourists in Abu Simbel belong to some tour groups. There is no bus service between Abu Simbel and Aswan, except these tour vehicles. Locals also travel by these vehicles, because most of them know each other. You can try your luck with these vehicles, else flying out is the only option. Most of the vehicles leave Abu Simbel between 10-11 AM for Aswan.

  15. Hai.. can I Have el salam hotel contact number or email?. Tq

  16. Solo Backpacker,
    I don’t know how to thank you enough. I’m leaving for Egypt in 2 days and you’ve basically put together my entire trip plan for me with tips on how to save money and what to see.
    Really excellent work, can’t thank you enough my friend.

    Best regards,
    Canadian Man

  17. Hi,

    Just to confirm that I had recently checked a price for two for Nubian Village, Transportation for Abu Simbel, and Nile Cruise from Aswan – Luxor for 3 nights and 4 days for USD$290 for two. It is excluding entrance fees.

    Am guessing that this is a good deal but still wondering should I agree with this or make my deal upon arrival there?

    Appreciate your feedback.

    Thank you.

    • Hi, On-the-spot deal is always good, specially in Egypt. But, it seems a good price, because of the Nile Cruise. Normally, they offer Abu Simbel trip without entrance fees. I think, you should go for this deal.

      • Hi,

        Thanks. On the spot deal is upon arrival is that? did u tried the Nile cruise during your visit? I doubt it that Nile Cruise could be that cheap though.. I supposed to clarify on this before I proceed for an arrangement.

        • Dear Travellers,

          If any of you guys would like to visit Aswan, Abu Simbel Temple, Nubian Village and a Nile Cruise from Aswan – Luxor you may want to contact this guy called Mahmoud at +201001339220 as I got a very good deal to visit all the above including tour guide and 3 Nights in Nile Cruise it cost us $140 each.. I went in end of November… The price might be change based on seasonal.. You can just give a try! Hope that helps!


  18. Hi. Thanks for this information – it’s really useful. I will be in Aswan and am arranging the £E150 tour with my hotel to Abu Simbel. However, it seems that the cost does not include an entrance fee? Is this correct? Also, in your experience, was there any danger of the bus not leaving because it did not reach a minimum number of travellers? My hotel is saying a minimum of 8 people is required (we’re travelling in peak season – January so hopefully this won’t be a problem). Any suggestions / info with regards to these two questions gratefully received.

    • Hi, It’s correct that 150 LE tour price doesn’t include the ticket price to Abu Simbel. You have to buy a separate entry ticket at temple premises. I think, they normally get 8 travellers, because when 3-4 hotels run this business in collaboration, they normally match that number. Have a nice trip. 🙂

  19. Hi guys I visiting Cairo 2016 February 27 & 28 I need someone to share the cost of the Taxi which is going to cost 550 egp a day and there after take a train to Aswan 29/02/2016. Thanx

  20. Hi,
    I’m planning to visit Abu Simbel from Aswan, do you know if I book shared tour by bus or minibus though a small-mid range hotel they can pick up at Aswan port as well? Thanks a lot!

    • Hi, you can book the bus through the budget hotels. They can arrange a pick up from the port, and then you can board the buses going to Abu Simbel. Please note, that the buses to Abu Simbel depart only in the early morning around 3 o’clock. Plan your trip accordingly. Have a nice trip 🙂

      • Hi, nice to hearing from you!
        I have tried to book though a budget hotel, but they informed that can’t accept ‘online’ or pre-bookings for Abu Simbel due a new regulations. Anyway, do you have any suggest of a budget hotel? I have also checked with cruise company and I can disembark at 3am. Thank you very much!

  21. Hey, hi.. its the best post on Abu Simbel i have seen.. the big tour package you told “Abu Simbel including Philae Temple, High Dam and Unfinished Oblisk”.. they cover all this in a single day??

    • Hi, Thanks. Yes, they try to cover it in a single day. Actually, the group return back from Abu Simbel by 1 PM typically and then, they go direct to Aswan Dam. There is nothing interesting in the dam, so it hardly takes 15-20 minutes for everybody to visit that place. The next should be Philae Temple, where you have to go by a boat. Now, in our case, we take more time to visit Philae Temple at our own pace, so by the time, we came back from the temple, Unfinished Oblisk was closed for the day. So our tour ended at Philae Temple that day. You have to arrange separate transport for Unfinished Oblisk on the next day.

  22. Thank you for this excellent guide. One request, however, could you please date your entries? In 10 years I imagine the prices will be different. It is now 2015 and you could have written this in 2005.

    • Hi, Sorry for the delayed reply. I was on a long trip in the remote Himalayas. I visited Egypt in March 2013. Prices shouldn’t change much by now.

      • Hi. Could you tell me please in which hotel you were staying in Aswan? I’m going to have a trip there in September but want to be sure the hotel I’ll stay in will have the trip to Abu Simbel. Thank You.

        • Hi, I stayed at El Salam Hotel in Aswan. Its a very basic budget hotel. Many other hotels (almost all) also organize the trip to Abu Simbel.

        • Hi Jack will be in Aswan as well on Sept 20-22 & planning to go to Abu Simbel on the 21st… hope to see you there.

          • Aww. I’ll be there from 25-27 of September 🙁

            • Hey guys am going Aswan in November 2015. Planning to visit Abu Simbel Temple too. Keep me posted of your experience there.
              Thank you.

              • Hi,
                I will be visiting Egypt in November but as i will be travelling with my family i will be spending most of my days in Hurghada to enjoy sea shore activities.
                One quick question, I booked my stay in 4 star hotel but can i go and book my travel in 1 * or 2* hotels, will they entertain me?
                Manoj Jagdale

                • Yes, you can surely do that without any problem. You can also book them online. I booked my hotel online.

                  • I am following you for last one or two years.
                    Planning for a trip to Egypt with family members. (me(54) wife(48) son (15).Another 2/3 friends may also join. Can you suggest any budget hotel at Cairo (please give me the name where you stayed along with the price).

                • I was in Aswan a month ago. Was staying in 5* hotel but booked my Abu Simbel trip in Philae hotel for 150 EGP. Entry to Abu Simbel is additional 115 egp. Departure is 3am so you need to book your trip before 18.30 so they can put you on the list as they have to register all tourists to the police as it’s a police escorted trip…
                  Have a nice time

Your Valuable Comments, My Inspirations...