A country that is beautifully untouched, full of culture and some of the most hospitable people in the world, my experience in Jordan was unmatched. It was my first time visiting the Middle East and I traveled solo. Contrary to popular belief, I felt perfectly safe there. When I was planning this trip, I got a bit of concern from friends and family due to the negative stigma created by the media. I understood the concern but I must say I did not feel like I was in harms way in Jordan. Jordanians are very hospitable people and they all treated me with respect. I got lucky and came across a pretty good flight deal for a round trip flight to Amman, Jordan for $600USD. Typically a flight to Jordan will run between $800USD- $1000USD. Please allow me to share some things I did in Jordan as well as a few tips.
Amman Ancient Ruins:
Not many modern cities have ancient ruins still standing which is what makes Amman special. Jordan once formed part of the Roman Empire. So throughout the country, you’ll find quite a few sites with Roman ruins. Just a quick cab ride from my hotel, the ancient ruins of Amman trace back to the Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad periods. The most notable structure remaining here is the temple of Hercules. This view point here will also give you good panoramic views of the modern city and was a 15 minute cab ride from my hotel in Amman.
A few of the tips before going to Jordan:
Visa required for US citizens: You can either get your at the airport (Amman) or purchase it online with the Jordan pass here for $100USD. The Jordan pass covers your visa and entry to many popular tourist sites including Petra. I recommend purchasing this prior to arrival. It’s a quick and easy process.
Dress Conservatively: It sounds like common sense but to respect middle eastern culture, wear loose fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs.
Extra layers: Pack a sweater and light scarf with you. Temperatures can drop at night.
Be financially prepared: Jordan is not a very budget friendly country (1 Jordanian dinar is $1.41USD). So please be prepared financially. I changed a small amount of money at airport (80USD) and then again at a local place in Amman.
The Lost City of Petra:
The top tourist site in Jordan is the World Wonder of Petra. I can’t imagine anyone coming to Jordan without making their way here. I loved every bit of Petra’s history and how untouched the city looked despite all of its tourism. I arrived to Petra by bus from Amman. Tours can be pretty expensive so I opted for the budget option which was taking the JET bus. Thanks to a fellow traveler who suggested this option to me. It took 3.5 hours and leaves everyday at 6:30am from the JET bus station. There is only 2 stations in Amman and taxis will know which one to bring you to if you’re visiting Petra. Sometimes bus tickets can sell out so I recommend going to the station the day before you depart for Petra and buy your ticket. The cost is 18JOD or around $25USD. While exploring Petra I didn’t realize there were so many other temples besides the famous treasury landmark. Getting to these other temples require some effort due to all of the hills, but they are worth the trek and not normally photographed. The last stop in Petra is the Monastery. It’s a good three hour walk from the treasury. It was very long and challenging but I was happy I did it. I enjoyed being in Petra but I wish I was able to get there a bit early. There are a lot of hotels in the area so I suggest spending a night at one of them so you can arrive when Petra opens. This way you can avoid crowds.
Tips for Petra:
Get there early: Petra opens at 6:30am and if you want to beat the crowds this is the time you should arrive.
Be prepared to walk: Petra is a HUGE city and it’s impossible to cover in one day. I made the mistake of thinking I could and my experience was rushed. I don’t recommend doing this at all. Take at least 2 days to explore this site.
Entry fees: Petra’s entry fee is $70 USD but it’s included in the cost of the Jordan pass linked above. I advise to get the pass so you can just walk right in instead of waiting to pay.
Try not to use the donkeys or camels: You have the option to take a horse or camel instead of walking. I recommend you not do this as I am against animal cruelty.
The Dead Sea:
Another top site I enjoyed thoroughly was the Dead Sea. It gets its name because no living thing can survive here due to its high salt content. It also has great natural minerals for our skin and joints. I spent a day here with Movenpick Resorts using a day pass. You can review the packages and make your reservation here. My day at the Dead Sea was surreal due to the amazing views from the different pools around Movenpick. I highly recommend catching the sunset at the infinity pool (a “pinch me” moment).
Tips for the Dead Sea:
Getting there: It’s only an hour away from Amman. I took an Uber that was 27JOD (about $35).
Visit Movenpick Resorts: I only got to spend a day here but I recommend staying at Movenpick Resorts for a night or 2 if you have the time.
Limit your time in the Dead Sea: You cannot sit in the Dead Sea for more than 20-25 minutes. After around 15 minutes you will see the difference in your skin.
Local Experience with AirBnb:
I always saw “local experiences” on AirBnb but never looked into them. While I was planning this sort of impromptu trip I decided to try one. This local soap experience stuck out to me because I always love to bring home local products as souvenirs so I jumped on it. I loved that we got to understand how soap is made and actually got to make it from scratch. Using ingredients like olive oil, coconut oil, natural fragrances, etc. I was able to take some tips to actually try this at home.
Aside from the experience being unique, I was happy to support local businesses which is something I try my best to do when traveling. Lara was a Syrian refugee who started a new life in Jordan. Her story was very inspiring and I was happy to help support her venture. This experience was right in Amman just 10 minutes from my hotel via Uber. It only took around 2.5 hours which was great for me as I didn’t have a lot of time. The cost was $25 USD and you can find the listing here.
Even though my trip to Jordan was short lived, I got to see some amazing sites and I’m already planning another visit for the near future. The rich history and culture is so beautiful that one can get lost in it and become easily addicted. I highly recommend adding Jordan to your bucket list.