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Getting There

By Plane -- Unless you're particularly fond of train travel, or on a tight budget that makes time less important than money, flying is the best way to get to Aswan. There are upwards of ten flights a day out of Cairo, and the 1-hour 25-minute flight costs about LE1,375 ($250/£127). The surprisingly pleasant and modern airport is some way outside town. If you haven't arranged a transfer with your hotel beforehand, negotiate the 25km (15-mile) ride with one of the waiting taxis. You may be able to do better, but I would expect to pay upward of LE50 ($9.10/£4.60).

By Train -- The train is the most pleasant way to arrive in Aswan, which is only about 3 hours up the rails from Luxor. From Cairo, the fares are LE94 ($17/£8.70) for first-class seats and LE47 ($8.55/£4.35) for second-class seats. The sleeper is the same price as for Luxor, and departure times are the same as well. Arrival is 3 hours later. As with any train travel in Egypt, take a warm sweater (even in the summer); the air-conditioning is always set to arctic. The train station is at the edge of the souk, and there are several hotels within an easy walk as well as plenty of taxis.

By Boat -- Aswan is the southern terminal for the numerous cruise boats that shuttle between here and Luxor. The cruise from Luxor can be done in as little as 3 days, and usually includes enough discretionary time in Aswan to fit in a visit to Abu Simbel by air if you want.

By Bus -- The bus station is around 4km (2 1/2 miles) from the middle of town. There are plenty of taxis around the station to negotiate your trip into town, which should cost you about LE20 ($3.60/£1.85).

Getting Around

By Taxi -- Aswan is stuffed with taxis, usually old Peugeot station wagons that can be guaranteed to wallow gently over the creased and pitted tarmac. Prices are on a par with Luxor, which is to say higher than Cairo, but drivers are a lot more mellow when it comes to negotiation. Expect to pay LE10 to LE20 ($1.80-$3.60/95p-£1.85) for longer distances within town and LE5 (90¢/45p) for shorter distances.

By Bike -- Biking is a great away to get around Aswan. There are rental places scattered about -- look for clusters of bikes near a kiosk -- but around the train station, heading up Souk Street toward downtown, is a good place to start. Expect to pay LE10 to LE30 ($1.80-$5.45/95p-£2.75) per day for the use of a rattling, squeaking single-speed with bad brakes.

By Foot -- If the weather is reasonably cool, Aswan is eminently walkable.

Orientation

Aswan is pretty simple to get around. There are just three main streets, and they run parallel to the Nile on its eastern bank. Corniche el Nil, as the name suggests, runs along the water. Abtal al Tahrir Street, a mixed shopping and residential street, is the first street inland, and then there's Souk Street, which is where the shopping is. The famous Old Cataract Hotel could be considered the southern end of the town, while the train station is almost at its northern end.

A number of sites on the West Bank of the Nile across from the town are worth visiting, including the Valley of the Nobles, Deir St. Simeon, and the mausoleum of Aga Khan. Getting across to the sites by boat is somewhere between one-third and half the fun.

Around 5km (3 1/2 miles) south of the city lies the original Aswan Dam, now more than 100 years old, and another 7km (4 1/2 miles) south is the famous High Dam, built in the late 1960s with a combination of Soviet money and expertise and Egyptian muscle. Between the two dams lies the little island of Agilkia, site of the transplanted temples of Philae. Almost 300km (186 miles) farther south lies the famous Temple of Ramses II, lifted out of the Nile Valley and repositioned at Abu Simbel on the edge of Lake Nasser.

The tourist information office (tel. 097/2312811) is immediately to your right as you emerge from the train station, or, if you prefer, directly ahead of you as you come out of Souk Street heading north into Midan Mahatta (Station Square). The affable and helpful manager, Hakeem Hussein, is a font of information about hotels and transport and speaks excellent English. The office is open daily 8:30am to 2pm and 6 to 8pm; Fridays it opens midmorning.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.