Asmant al Gharab -- East of the modern town of Asmant lies Ruined Asmant, or Asmant al Gharab, which is the site of a major Roman city that began to emerge from the sand in the last few years. Visible ruins include a Roman aqueduct and an amazingly well preserved 4th-century church. A wealth of documents -- ranging from business documents to private correspondence to religious tracts -- found at the site indicate that it was inhabited at least from the 1st century B.C. to the 5th century A.D., and reveal information about everyday life in the Roman era. Interestingly, they also indicate the presence of many Manicheans. Manichaeism was officially frowned on by the Romans, and the tracts found at Asmant al Gharab pose some puzzling questions about why it was apparently tolerated here and who the tracts were intended for.

There is no office or official facility for visitors, but the site is guarded. The resident guard will probably let you look around, however, for LE5 (90¢/45p).

Balat -- This little town on a hill about 30km (19 miles) east of Mut is one of my favorite sites in all of Egypt. Like the old town in Qasr, at the other end of the oasis, Balat has been abandoned relatively recently, with its younger generations moving to more modern dwellings that now ring the ancient site. Where the Ottoman houses of Qasr rise as much as five stories above the streets, Balat's are considerably more modest (but, in my opinion, more beautiful), and everything is low and rounded. Doors are ovoid, and sit in bowl-like sills. Many of the narrow streets are covered to protect residents from sun and sand, but also supposedly as a defensive measure to stop cavalry from penetrating the town. Though it was a vibrant community even 100 years ago, only a handful of residents remain in Balat and it's slowly disappearing. The mosque in the center of the town, though obviously in a state of collapse, is still used occasionally. If you're lucky, you'll slip into Balat without attracting the attention of the local children. If not, the best policy is to go with the flow and let them show you around.

Hot Springs -- Soaking at night in one of the many hot springs in the oasis is a popular local pastime, and as soon as you try it, you'll see why: The stars shine, the breeze whispers, and the mineral-rich hot water undoes the knots and bows put there by the day's bumps. Mind you, most of these facilities are little more than irrigation tanks designed to catch well water and distribute it efficiently. Don't get your hopes up for a cabana and a cold drink (unless you bring it yourself), and be prepared to appreciate the rough-edged aesthetic for what it is. Your guide will whisk you off to his favorite spot, but here are some basic suggestions.

The best place for women to bathe in Dakhla is at the Sol y Mar Mout 3. It may have the romance of an irrigation tank in the middle of a field, but this swimming-pool-like facility has the advantage of a high wall all the way around it. Entrance is LE5 (90¢/45p). There is another walled spring facility just east of Qasr, at Bir Jebel, next to the Bir Gebel Hotel and Camp. Admission fees are flexible, but generally LE5 (90¢/45p) is about right. Food can be brought from the hotel and eaten in the garden, and though maintenance isn't what it could be (avoid the toilets), the color of the water is nothing to worry about: It's constantly running through the pool, and that's just the color it comes out of the aquifer. There's also a pretty good irrigation tank across the road from the Dohous Bedouin camp, which is actually my favorite place for a dip in the oasis. You're going to have to change in the vehicle (if you brought one) or balanced on the edge of the tank -- the ground around the spring is pretty muddy.

Qasr's Old Town -- Behind the rather unprepossessing new town of Qasr is a whole Ottoman village that's been gradually abandoned over the last two generations. Fortunately, residents have seen the value of their history in this instance, and the old mud-brick houses are being preserved. Reckon on at least an hour to wander through the narrow old streets among the four- and five-story buildings. The depths of the town are deeply shaded and cool even in the middle of summer. Don't miss the tomb of Sheikh Nasr el Din, the Ayyubid mosque, the restored house of Abu Nafir, or the ancient olive press. Keep your eyes open for the beautifully inscribed acacia wood lintels; 37 of them remain, and each bears the signature of the craftsman who made it. Though you can see much of what there is to be seen in Qasr on your own, this is one place where it's probably worth picking up one of the "guides" that you'll inevitably encounter around the entrance -- not only is it extremely easy to get lost inside the old town (not that this is dangerous, but you simply won't be able to find the best parts), it also takes some nerve, and knowledge, to push into some of the old houses. An LE5 (90¢/45p) tip at the end of the tour is appropriate.

Rock Paintings -- The village of Teneida marks the end of the oasis, but if you head out about 8km (5 miles) farther, to the first bend in the road, you'll find a group of rocks, one of which looks like a camel and two others that are said to look like the sphinx. (The camel, viewed from the right angle, really does. The sphinx rocks, however, disappoint.) The real reason for coming out here -- or stopping on the way to Kharga -- is to check out the prehistoric rock paintings of giraffes and antelopes.

Enjoy a Late-Night Dip in a Hot Spring

The whole length of Dakhla is dotted with hot springs. Almost any time a well is drilled for irrigation, the water comes out hot and mineral-rich from aquifers as much as 1km (2/3 mile) below the desert. Wherever it gushes from the pipe, a large pool inevitably forms. Generally, these days a cement tank is built, with a sluice system to control the flow of the water into the irrigation channels.

The experience of bathing in one of these, particularly at night, can be unforgettable. With no bright city lights to interfere with the view and only infrequent clouds, the stars shine exceptionally bright.

Etiquette demands that you wait your turn if the spring is occupied, and they frequently are. In fact, you may find yourself joining a queue. Women should bathe in a one-piece suit with a T-shirt on top and should certainly not bathe alone. Also, keep in mind that the minerals in the water can -- and probably will -- stain whatever they get on; consider it a free souvenir of a night to remember.

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.