Geographically, Jordan sits in a rather unfortunate position in the Middle East sharing borders with Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank. Yet despite being sandwiched between some of the biggest conflicts in the world Jordan remains relatively stable and safe to live and visit.
Jordan only became an independent nation in 1946. The land dates back many thousands of years and had numerous rulers including the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians and later the Arabs who still inhabit the region today.
Jordan is a Muslim-majority country; about 92% are Sunni Muslim. So while it is a religious country, there is no law that Muslim woman must cover their head, nor do non-Muslim tourists. It is advised to dress modestly, even in the summer.
The tour I went on:
However, in my honest opinion this tour felt very rushed. Travelling from Tel Aviv to Eilat takes at least five hours, which is where the only border crossing from Israel into Jordan is. Then the border crossing itself took hours, so by the time we got to the Wadi Rum for our jeep tour it was already 3pm and the day was basically over. You also need at least two days to explore all that Petra has to offer, and we only had a few hours to see the top highlights. We also missed many of Jordan’s attractions which I would have loved to see such as Amman, Mount Nebo and Jerash.
If I had been able to take time off of my internship and spend at least 4-5 days touring around Jordan I would have much preferred that option as it wouldn’t have been such an exhausting 2 days. We woke up at 3:30am the first morning, and 5am the second morning to not arrive home until 1:30am the second day.
Petra’s top sites:
If you choose to visit Jordan and more specifically Petra on your own, it’s a good idea to compile an itinerary so you can prioritise what you want to see as it is MASSIVE.
If you only have one day to visit Petra I’d make sure to visit the Siq, the treasury, the theatre, Colonnaded Street and the Qasr al-Bint temple, and then on the way back I’d try to save enough time to climb to the top to view the treasury from a different angle (wish I’d had time for this!)
Siq: The Siq, a dramatic passage between two towering rock walls, is the most common way to enter Petra.
Treasury: At the end of the Siq, you’ll be welcomed to Petra by The Treasury, an impeccably preserved example of Nabatean rock-cut architecture.
Theater: This huge, Hellenic style amphitheater near the Street of Facades has a capacity for 8,500 people and was built before the Roman occupation in the first century AD.
Colonnaded Street: Petra’s main drag.
Qasr al-Bint: One of the only free-standing buildings in Petra, this imposing temple was once the primary Nabatean place of worship.
Royal Tombs: A collection of particularly large and ornate tombs, thought to be reserved for monarchs and high-level aristocracy.
Street of Facades: This row of more than forty tombs and other structures lining the cliff walls of the Outer Siq is noteworthy because a few of the tombs are easily accessible.
Monastery: A hilltop temple, the largest structure in Petra. Requires a strenuous trek up 800 stairs, with plenty of tranquil spots along the way to rest and admire the views.
When to visit Jordan:
Jordan gets very hot in the summer and has unpredictable rain showers in the winter, so it is best to visit through the spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November).
However, like anywhere in peak travel season be prepared for the crowds, especially in Petra. Try to go in the early morning to beat the crowds.
Some basic Arabic phrases:
min faDlik: Please.
shukran: Thank you.
äafwan: You’re welcome.
aläafw: Excuse me.
sabaaH alkhayr: Good morning.
tuSbiH äalaa khayr: Good night.
hal tataHaddath al’ingiliiziyya?: Do you speak English?
- English: While it is good to have some basic Arabic sayings up your sleeve, generally most tourist places speak English.
- Toilet paper: Jordan appeared to have a toilet paper shortage… so maybe bring some toilet paper or tissues with you incase!
- Passport: To pass through the border crossing you will need your passport with your Israeli visa in your passport (if crossing the border from Israel)!
- Currency: The Jordanian currency is Dinars, however, the main tourist attractions and restaurants around Aqaba take US dollars and Euros. Although this may work out to be more expensive for you.