Jordan, the country in the Middle East with limitless landscapes of desert, full of historical, cultural and nature spots. Do you need some practical information before going there? You’ll find them in this post!
My trip to Jordan, or the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as it is called, was part of my two-month stay in the Middle East, mainly in Israel, and in Jordan I was from July, 26th to August, 3rd. The last time I visited this country was in 2002 and only for a short time, this time I wanted to visit here a lot more.
So I had to prepare myself for the trip again, and in this practical post I put for you all the information gathered before and during the journey. If you have any questions or opinions, please write them in the comments box below and I will add them to the text.
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1. Why go to Jordan? What you can do or see in Jordan?
Jordan probably connotes the endless deserts and Petra, which many people visit during their stay in Israel. It is worth to spend in Jordan more time to get to know this country better. Especially if you like active rest in the midst of severe nature – I would never have thought that Jordan can provide so much excitement! Deserts, the Dead Sea, canyoning, trekking on camels, coral reef… and so many historical places (Petra, Jerash, the castle of Karak, Madaba are just some of them). Let’s add some Arab cuisine and sweet tea and no one, but no one will persuade me that we should not go to Jordan. This country is wonderful!
2. Jordan: is it safe to travel?
Speaking about security in the Middle East must distinguish two issues: the threat of terrorist attacks and common crime.
Due to its location in a region with very precarious situation, Jordan is exposed to terrorist attacks, so it’s definitely worth following travel information given on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and even better to compare it with the information given by the MFA of other countries. When I planned my trip, Polish Ministry of FA advised against travel to the whole of Jordan, while British dissuaded only travel in the vicinity of the border with Syria and refugee camps. And honestly I believe that no going somewhere because you are afraid of a terrorist attach is like waiting for winning the lottery – it is not sure whether it ever happens to us. [And please, don’t compare it to Egypt or Tunisia. Situation in Jordan is more stable.]
Speaking about common crime, Jordan is very friendly country for tourists and thefts and harrasment practically do not happen. However, you should be careful in downtown of Amman for pickpockets and avoid defiant appearance or behaviour on Friday afternoons in the area near mosques.
I admit that I felt very safe in Jordan, even walking at night through the streets of Amman. I dressed properly and didn’t act defiantly, and it certainly will make our journey through this country easier. Defiant behavior is also about showing affection in public, for example kissing. During Ramadan do not eat or smoke in public places.
3. How a woman should dress in Jordan?
Modestly. Cover your legs, arms and chest. Especially in Amman and rural ares or places where Western tourists are not common. You can wear more European clothes by the Dead Sea, in Petra and Aqaba, where the locals have almost become accustomed to seeing women’s legs in shorts (however, I recommend to take shorts that are covering at least half of thigh).
My typical set is: long, loose and airy pants, top and a shirt on it – as in the picture below.
About covering your head – you don’t have to cover your hair but it’s good to have something for sun protection. Personally, I hate hats and caps, and head under them terribly sweats (particularly in summer, when the temperature can be really unbearable), so I tied a headscarf that during the tour of Petra and all-day camel trek I additionally soaked with water (when the wind blows, scarf seems almost cold – according to me this is the best way to cool the head). If you decide to do that, remember not to tie scarves in a manner typical for Muslim women, only in a more masculine way or just loosely throw it over your head. From what I’ve learned, when Western women wear a headscarf in a Muslim way, Muslim women can feel ofended as making fun of their culture.
4. When to go to Jordan?
High season starts in March and lasts until the end of May, when the Jordanian desert flowers bloom and the north of the country is green (Jerash looks really amazing during Spring!). If you decide to come to Jordan at this time, remember to pre-book accommodation and local tours as there is really a lot of tourists.
Winter is good if you want to focus only on holiday by the Red Sea, but it happens that torrential rains flood Petra and it can be closed for tourists. Travel to Jordan and not seeing Petra is a huge loss.
During the summer (July-August) it’s very hot during the day but also dry, so it is bearable. In addition, the nights are warm enough to sleep in the desert of Wadi Rum in the open air. In Aqaba it can be terribly stuffy. Don’t expect green landscapes, as Jordan is burnt with the sun. Because it is virtually low season, prices are lower than during Spring.
5. Jordan: how to get there, visa, entry requirements
Two main airports in Jordan are in Amman and Aqaba. If you find the flight connection directly to Jordan too expensive for you, try going to Tel Aviv or Eilat in Israel and drive to Amman. Sometimes costs of the flight + accommodation + transport + visas (and departure tax in Israel, which per person is approx. $31) for 2 people might be the half of the 2 direct tickets to Jordan.
If you plan to get into Jordan from Israel there is plenty of bus connections from that country to Amman, every hotel and guesthouse should have such information.
As for the visa, you don’t need to fill in any special documents to get it. Just buy it in a special window at the airport or when crossing the border by land. If you want to be in Jordan less than 4 nights, visa costs 40 JD and if more than 4 nights fee is… 10 JD. Fees are payable in Jordanian dinar, but always next to a window with visas there is a currency exchange.
Entering the Jordan, remember that for possession of any drugs threatens up to several years in prison. The export of items older than 100 years old, means antiquities, is illegal.
6. Electricity in Jordan
Before coming to Jordan would be best to have an adapter into an outlet and precisely in two types – different plugs are used in the north and south of the country. In the hotels they should have the adapter to the loan, but usually better to rely on yourself.
7. Jordan: accommodation, transportation, food
I booked all accommodation through Booking.com or directly through the website of the hotel.
Amman – I recommend searching for accommodation in Amman’s Downtown, the closer to the ruins of the Roman theater, the better. Amman is a good base for discovery north of the country, and when after a whole day of sightseeing in Jerash or resting by the Dead Sea you go back to Amman, it is not worth to stay at the hotel. Amman lives at night, and Downtown is the center, where you can drink Arabic coffee, tea or… do some shopping at the fruit market. Yes, at night.
I spent three nights at the Hamoudah Hotel (75 JD / twin room with breakfast), but frankly I would not recommend it to anyone. I do not mind extreme conditions (funny, Hamoudah does not belong to the extreme), but a super cramped bathroom with a shower above the toilet and air conditioning that broke down last night were too much. Hamoudah, however, was one of the cheapest options near the Roman theater. I have also seen Pasha Hotel, that looked really nice, and if I had to go to Amman again this time I would stay in Pasha, also near the theater.
Petra – I can recommend Sunset Hotel, located just 5 minutes walk from Petra with big and tasty breakfasts. 3 nights in a 2-bed room with no air conditioning (but nights in Petra are pretty cool and sleeping with the window open is quite pleasant) costs 75 JD.
Aqaba – before booking an accommodation in Aqaba think what is the purpose of your stay there. You can stay in the city, where are shops etc. or in the hotel part (South Beach) outside the city, where we can relax on the hotel’s swimming pool, but to get to the city and to the coral reef you should probably get a taxi at any time of the day or night, or a bus (limited number of connections). I showed up at South Beach in a bikini once, and actually on the bikini I still had a shirt, because I did not want to look nude or rude. Honestly, I didn’t feel comfortable and after half an hour I went back over the hotel’s pool. However, the choice of hotels in Aqaba is really big.
As for transportation around the country, I moved practically all the time with a private taxi. It allowed me to see more (and that was my plan, after all) in less time. If you choose this form of traveling, remember not to organize a driver through the hotel, because they usually charge a commission of 15 JD. Taxi drivers can be found for example at the entrance to the Citadel in Amman. For full-day tours of Jordan and rides I paid:
– 45 JD: Madaba, Mount Nebo, Bethany (the place of the Baptism of Christ), the Dead Sea
– 45 JD: castle Ajlun, Jerash or 65 JD if we add Umm Qais (Gadara) near the border with Syria
– 105 JD: from Amman to Petra, on the way visiting Wadi Mujib canyon and the Karak castle
– 50 JD: driving from Petra to Wadi Rum
– 25 JD: driving from Wadi Rum to Aqaba
For those who are interested, I give the contact to my driver Jamal: jamal_salamah68 [at] yahoo.com or phone +962 79 6008501 / +962 78 8385367.
Using public transportation, of course, reduce our travel costs (for instance, travel from Amman to Jerash costs just 1 dinar, and from Amman to Petra 10 dinars), but many connections are only 1x per day, so be aware of that.
Food, of course, I recommend local street food. My favorites dishes are Arabic rice with spices, everywhere you can get shoarma, Arabic sweets, coffee or tea. Large portions, like dinner for two should cost no more than 5-7 dinars.
Alcohol in restaurants is very expensive, a can of beer can cost as much as 7 JD. Not surprisingly, in the end it is a Muslim country.
8. Jordan: money, cost, sample prices (2015)
The currency in Jordan is the Jordanian dinar (JD, Jordanians say dinars or jd)
1 JD = 1,45 usd / 1,25 eur / 0,90 gbp
Theoretically, big hotels accept credit cards, but all other opportunities of using it ends here. I haven’t found a single pub or restaurant where I could pay by card (not saying, however, that this is not possible, only maybe in the more expensive restaurants). In Amman we can find, of course, ATMs, Petra and Aqaba as well, but if you’re going to Wadi Rum carry with you a supply of cash.
10 days in Jordan (without flight and transport from Israel) for 2 people costed us 1065 JD.
Sample prices in Jordan:
– Hamoudah Hotel in Amman: 3 nights in a twin room with breakfast 75 JD
– Sunset Hotel in Petra: 3 nights in a double room with breakfast 75 JD
– Darna Village Beach Hostel in Aqaba: 1 night in a double room with breakfast 35 JD
b. Transport / Visa
– Bus from Nazareth to Amman: about $20 pp
– Departure Tax from Israel: about $31 pp
– A visa to Jordan: 10 JD pp
– Taxi from Aqaba to the border with Israel: 13 JD
– Departure Tax of Jordan: 10 JD pp
– 45 JD Madaba, Mount Nebo, Bethany (the place of the Baptism of Christ), the Dead Sea
– 45 JD: castle Ajlun, Jerash or 65 JD if we add Umm Qais (Gadara) near the border with Syria
– 105 JD: from Amman to Petra, on the way visiting Wadi Mujib and Karak castle
– 50 JD: drive from Petra to Wadi Rum
– 25 JD: drive from Wadi Rum to Aqaba
– Arabic rice with spices for two with drinks: 8 JD
– shoarma for two people: 5 JD
– Fruits at the market (cactus, grapes): 5-6 JD
– Freshly squeezed fruit juice: 3 JD
– A bottle of water: not more than 1 JD (depends where)
– A beer at the restaurant: up to 7 JD, in a shop should be cheaper… if you find any
d. The admission fees / tours (per person, unless otherwise stated)
– The Citadel in Amman 4 JD
– Madaba 1 JD
– Mount Nebo 1 JD
– Bethany at the Jordan (place of baptism) 12 JD
– The Dead Sea, Amman Beach, with the option of catering for two people: 55 JD
– Aljun castle 1 JD
– Jerash 8 JD
– Canyon of Wadi Mujib 21 JD
– Karak castle 2 JD
– Petra for 2 days 55 JD (one day costs 50 JD, 3 days is 60 JD)
– Wadi Rum whole-day camel trek, overnight in the desert and jeep tour the next day with food for two people: 210 JD
Are you going to Jordan? Do you have any additional questions? Or maybe you have already visited the country and would like to add something? Write all questions or opinions in the comments box below!