A Week in Jordan
Jordan is becoming a top destination in the Middle East, opening its door to more and more tourists. Especially in 2018, various low-cost airlines are adding new flights to Amman in the north, and Aqaba in the south of the Jordan Kingdom. This comes as great news for Jordan’s hospitality industry as the country was until now mostly visited by one-day or two-day tours from Israel. It is definitely not enough time to explore the country, as the tourists‘ favourite – Petra, one of the Seven Wonders, is not the only site worth visiting.
We had spent seven magical days in Jordan and still didn’t see everything we wanted. Anyway, we tried to visit at least the main spots.
Welcome to Jordan!
You will hear this greeting quite a lot, but don’t be scared, locals are very welcoming and happy to see you, because travellers bring significant profit to their country. Jordan’s plant and animal production is limited, so they have to rely mostly on tourism.
This begs the question "What is the weather in Jordan and when is the best time for visit?“ Anytime. It depends only on your preferences. We went there at the end of January and had nice and warm weather. In the winter months the weather can be unpredictable, but you will benefit from avoiding crowds of tourists. Even Petra was peaceful. I would definitely avoid summer months because of scorching heat and throng of hasty tourists trying to take the best shot. In that case the gold mean would be spring and autumn. ☺
The local currency is Jordanian dinar (JOD, or informally JD). 1 JOD is approximately 1.4 USD.
Jordan Pass and exit fees
If you plan to stay in Jordan for at least 3 nights and visit Petra, you should definitely purchase Jordan Pass before you get there. You can buy it online here. This is not a tourist trap or a clickbait, we tried it, and this is the REAL DEAL! Having the pass you are even more appreciated guest in the country! The pass covers visa and the entrance fee to over 40 attractions all over the Jordan. Moreover, you can skip the queues. Amazing!
If you are coming to the country by land border crossing from Israel, like we did, be prepared to pay 105 shekels exit fee (28 USD!), what we didn’t expect. Thankfully, they accepted euros, because we didn’t have any Israeli money. When leaving Jordan by land, you will have to pay exit fee 10 JOD (14 USD) unless you stayed at least 3 nights. When leaving by air, the exit fee is included in the flight ticket price.
Jordan offers more than you think...
Undoubtedly, Jordan is best known for Petra – the rock city. Petra is not just the ancient Treasury (the most famous picture you will find on Google), but there are trails where you can explore the whole area and see dozens of tombs and temples. I think that one day for Petra is enough, but if you want to absorb more atmosphere there are also two-day and three-day tickets. I would recommend visiting Monastery, which is at the end of the main trail. It is an easy hike and using donkeys waiting under the hill is not necessary. We’ve seen how one of them got stuck on the trail. Poor beings. I would also recommend "Petra by Night“ which is not included in the Jordan Pass. It is not breath-taking, but still worth it. Ask yourself: "When will I come here again? Probably never.“ Just check the date; it doesn’t take place every day!
Amman, almost half of the Jordan population lives in the capital and surrounding parts. The city is huge and crowded but different from the rest of Jordan. Personally, I love Amman as it draws the real picture of Jordan, people are authentic, there is mess on the streets, markets at each corner, and fantastic local food that will blow your mind. However, if you prefer quiet, tidy place to relax, this is most likely not the right choice.
Historical sites, museums and tourist spots are in walking distance. Otherwise, I would recommend using the taxi which is quite cheap, because public transport can get confusing. Taxi drivers will usually offer their service and possibility to drive you near historical cities like Madaba, As-Salt, Jerash etc. We took advantage of cheap taxi ride and went to Jerash for 10 JOD (14 USD) per person. It was one-hour ride and the driver waited for us for one and half hour so we could visit the ancient ruins of Greco-Roman city. It’s worth it if you are traveling in group, otherwise you’re overpaying.
Both Amman citadel and Roman Amphitheatre flaunt beautiful view. Jordan museum displays interactive exhibitions that are suitable for the adults and children alike, and if you are lucky you will find rainbow stairs on the hill below the Mosque Abu Darwish. Foodies will enjoy the best Jordan food for the lowest prices by visiting Hashem Restaurant in the city centre – surprisingly, this thrifty eatery is amongst favorites by the royal family.
Aqaba, the coastline city in south has summer vibe all year round. It was January and people were swimming in the sea. But Eilat in Israel is probably more popular considering summer vacation. Just don’t try to swim to Eilat from Aqaba and cross the borderline because you can get yourself into trouble. :D
Wadi Rum is an awesome desert in the south of Jordan. The whole group agreed that this was the best part of our trip. You can go there by yourself, but I strongly recommend a tour guide, just don’t accept the first offer. We were in many tour agencies in Aqaba and the prices varied wildly: 53 JOD, 70 JOD, 105 JOD!!! Too much. Luckily, we found the best offer in our hotel in Wadi Musa (Petra) for 42 JOD/person + 30 JOD taxi from the desert to Aqaba (taxi shared by 5 people). What was included? Transport to desert, three-hour jeep ride, sunset ride, dinner, breakfast and one night in a tent. Even more, our guide was so nice that he took us to a cave in the evening and we made a bonfire. Awesome experience with locals.
I’ve tried swimming in the Dead Sea only from the Israeli side, but I heard that the Jordan coast is even nicer. Swimming should be possible regardless of season, so if you like salty water don’t hesitate. As you may know, the sea is safe also for non-swimmers, just don’t drink too much water because even one or two sips may cause tornado in your stomach. There are also spots with healing mud so don’t be boggled by people covered cap-a-pie with mud.
Although Jordan is very dry country, they have several nature reserves and national parks available for nature lovers. Probably the most-known are Dana Biosphere Reserve and Mujib Nature Reserve. We didn’t have time to visit them, but check it out online and you will see the hidden beauty. I’ve seen various guided tours for these reserves in Amman promo, just find one which suits you the most.
So, if you want to ride on the dunes of Wadi Rum, swim in Dead sea, soak in the history in Petra, eat delicious hummus and falafel, or meet the Bedouins, just don’t hesitate and visit Jordan.