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Lisa Owen

Aswan is Egypt’s southernmost city and has a prime position on the River Nile.

River Nile

While there’s not much to see in Aswan itself, it serves as a base to explore some of Egypt’s key sights including Abu Simbel, and the temples of Edfu and Philae. But if you’re keen to do some shopping, the Aswan Tourist Market is a good place to visit. It’s a lot quieter than the Cairo Bazaar and you won’t be hassled quite as much. But you are likely to be the only foreigner there so may get your photo taken by locals. Goods on offer at the market include clothing, spices, pastries, fruit and souvenirs.

Aswan Tourist Market

I was lucky to find a shop that sold traditional clothing that could be altered to fit. I liked the colors and embroidery of the traditional Nubian dresses but not the sack like fit. But in only a couple of minutes, the dress was altered to a slimmer fit.

Aswan in Egypt

Abu Simbel

One of the jewels of Egypt’s crown is the monuments of Pharaoh Ramses II and his favorite wife queen Nefertiti.

Abu Simbel

The two temples of Abu Simbel are located about a three hour drive south of Aswan, near the Sudanese border. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for the desert mirage and camel herds coming up from Sudan. The first temple you come to in the complex is the Great Temple, which depicts four large figures of Ramses II seated on his throne. The temple stands at an impressive 33 yards high. The Small Temple to the right of the Great Temple is 13 yards high and depicts figures of Ramses II and Queen Nefertiti.

Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel borders the Aswan Dam and was originally cut into a solid rock cliff. But it was moved over an eight year period due to the building of the dam that threatened to submerge it. The monument was cut into pieces, moved to higher ground and set into a man-made mountain. But don’t worry, you will still be in awe of the grand temples when you see them.

Felucca Sailing

One of the most popular activities in Aswan is to sail on a felucca on the River Nile. Feluccas are traditional Egyptian sailing boats. They are very basic with seating on the top deck and powered by sails only. There are many touts peddling felucca cruises along the riverside but it’s best to organize one with your hotel or through your tour group. The best time to take a felucca ride is close to sunset.

Felucca Sailing

Many cruise ships also depart from Aswan and head up the Nile to Luxor.

Temples of Edfu and Philae

Edfu Temple is located between Aswan and Luxor near the banks of the Nile River. It is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt as it was buried under metres of sand for centuries. The temple was dedicated to the falcon god Horus and was completed in 57 BC. Highlights of the temple are the façade and the sanctuary at the rear of the building. 

Philae Temple is located on Agilka Island and you need to take a speedboat to reach the temple. The temple was moved to Agilka Island piece by piece over a 10 year period after the Aswan Dam threatened to submerge the temple’s original location on Philae Island. Parts of Philae Temple date back to 370 BC. Highlights are the great Temple of Isis and the Hypostyle Hall with its 10 striking pillars. Entry to Edfu and Philae temples costs USD $4.

Philae Temple

Things You Should Know:

  • Tipping is a way of life in Egypt. It’s customary to tip your driver and waiter.
  • Just like tipping is customary in Egypt, so is bartering and it’s commonplace in tourist markets and city bazaars.
  • At tourist sites, toilets cost 1 Egyptian pound and it’s preferable in coin form rather than the 1 pound note. Often toilet guards may ask you as you leave for more money but ignore them once you’ve paid.
  • Be wary of guards at tourist sites. They are often hoping for tips and will take any opportunity such as posing for a photo then asking you for money. They will often step into photos with you and your friends in the hope of a tip.
  • All tourist sites require you to pass your belongings such as handbags or camera bags through an X-Ray machine. Their machines are old equipment and may damage your phone, camera or GoPro. You are allowed to pass these devices over the top of the machines so they don’t go inside.
  • Do not drink the water in Egypt. Bottled water is readily available and is best bought from supermarkets.
  • Foreigners will get a lot of attention in local street markets. Tourism is still at very low rates in Egypt and it’s rare to see foreigners out and about in the cities so you will stand out. Be prepared to ignore the vendors unless you are interested in their wares.
  • Due to the fluctuating value of the Egyptian Pound at the moment, it’s very hard to change Egyptian Pounds back to other currencies even at the airport – you can only change money into Egyptian Pounds. So essentially you have to use up all your Egyptian Pounds before you leave the country.
  • Egyptian food can be hard on sensitive stomachs. Make sure you pack plenty of Imodium and GastroStop just in case. If you know you have a sensitive stomach, avoid salads and fruits you can’t peel as they may have been washed in the water.


Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @_thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.