Jordan was never on our radar, but when the opportunity popped, we jumped for it. We only heard about the UNESCO World Heritage Petra, the Dead Sea, and the snorkeling possibilities at the Red Sea, so we traveled without expectations! But, in the end, Jordan surprised us in so many ways, and I’m glad we had the chance to visit it. Without a doubt, it should be on everyone’s bucket travel list, so here is a list of things to know before traveling to Jordan!
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What to Expect from Jordan
Jordan is a small country in the Middle East, covering about 90,000 square kilometers. What impressed me the most was the rich history, the gorgeous landscapes, and the diverse climates.
You’ll get the chance to visit one of the world’s seven new wonders, Petra, float at the Dead Sea and wave to the people in Israel. Discover the less known hidden gem Little Petra and hike through the canyon of Wadi Mujib. Then, get on a boat, take some scuba diving lessons at the Red Sea, stroll around one of the many castles, or enjoy a specialty coffee in Amman. Want more? Hop on a Jeep safari at Wadi Rum, indulge in traditional food, and dance with the bedouins.
Best Time to Visit Jordan
While Jordan is a year-round destination, I would skip the winter season. The temperature drops below freezing in the north, and you won’t get to experience everything this unique country has to offer.
On the other hand, the summer months can be scorching as the temperature can rise to 45 degrees, and visiting sites like Petra or Wadi Rum might seem impossible.
Spring and autumn are the best options for traveling to Jordan. This is because the temperatures tend to be around mid-20 degrees with lots of sunshine, not too hot for hiking and not too cold for swimming.
Interesting fact, different areas deal with varying weather conditions due to their landscape. For example, while the Dead Sea area might be too hot, you could quickly need a sweatshirt on Wadi Rum or Petra during the evening. And sometimes you can encounter some chilly rainy days.
How to Get Around in Jordan
The easiest and most obvious option would be renting a car and discovering the country on your own terms. Traffic is accessible outside the big cities, and you’ll ve driving through empty highways or scenic mountain drives. Sometimes you’ll get on some bumpy roads, but nothing dramatic. Parking is easy and free. And fuel is also cheap.
If driving in Jordan is not an option, you could join a private or organized tour. Another option is to take a tourist bus. The JETT – Jordan Express Tourist Transportation Company operates tourist buses across the country on a fixed schedule. I know travel fellows who took shared taxis everywhere and hitchhiked through the desert, so the possibilities are endless even if you don’t rent a car.
Should I purchase the Jordan Pass?
The Jordan Pass is an approach of the Ministry of Tourism to make it easier for tourists to visit the country. Still, you’ll only have access to Jordan Pass if your stay involves a minimum of three nights.
The Jordan Pass is a sightseeing package that includes the cost of the tourist visa and the entrance to over 40 tourist attractions such as Wadi Rum, Petra, Kerak Castle, Citadel of Amman, and Jerash. However, some popular sites such as Mount Nebo, Wadi Mujib, or Petra by Night are not included in the Jordan Pass.
You’ll get to choose one of three packages: Jordan Wanderer, Jordan Explorer, and Jordan Expert. The only difference between the three is the number of consecutive days you plan to spend at Petra: one, two, or three. The number of attractions you get free access to is the same, over 40.
Is it worth it? Think about that: even if you only get to visit Petra, you would still save money by purchasing it. The more tourist attractions you visit, the more it is worth it.
How to Purchase the Jordan Pass
First thing before traveling to Jordan, you should consider purchasing the Jordan Pass, and buying it online before the flight would save you from wasting time in line once you arrive. Once the payment is done, you’ll receive a confirmation email with a QR code, which is pretty much it. After that, you can print the PDF copy or show it on your phone. After that, you need to validate your Jordan Pass on arrival, and you’re good to go.
As a tip, you’ll come across the Jordan Pass counters at the airport. If there are only a few people, wait in the line to validate the email, but if you see a massive crowd in front of you, pass this area. Next, you’ll come across other counters, with no one waiting in line, where you can validate your confirmation email. Only now, you should get to a custom counter, where you’ll show your passport and visa.
From now on, all you have to do is show the Jordan pass at any tourist attractions across Jordan, and you’re free to roam.
For more about the Jordan Pass, click here.
Currency in Jordan
The Jordanian Dinar is the country’s national currency, and JOD indicates the abbreviation. The Dinar, or Jay-DEE as the youngsters call it, has smaller denominations such as 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50.
Interestingly, the Dinar became the official currency in July 1950 after replacing the Palestinian pound, a currency circulating between the Emirate of Transjordan and the British Mandate of Palestine since 1927.
The Dinar is pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 0,70 per one dollar. Thus, by pegging the Jordan Dinar to the US dollar, the country benefits from a stable currency regime.
It is easy to change money once you arrive at the airport. Or you can do it in Amman malls or exchange offices on the main street if you’re heading to the capital.
The easiest option to travel in Jordan is by using ATMs. You’ll find them everywhere, even in the smaller towns. However, do expect a fee every time you withdraw some cash.
Credit Cards are widely accepted at restaurants, hotels, travel agencies, and shops, but it’s always good to have local currency on you.
Safety in Jordan
Among the things to know before traveling to Jordan is that it’s considered one of the safest countries in the Middle East. Crime rates are low, but be aware of pickpocketing in tourist areas. Also, avoid religious or political demonstrations, which can turn violent. Finally, leave your valuable belongings at your hotel and always be aware of your surroundings. But, of course, those are things applicable worldwide, so nothing new.
We traveled as an independent couple around the country, in a rented car, for two weeks, and we never felt insecure. On the contrary, we made quite a few stops during our road trip in remote places and left all our belongings inside the car’s trunk. We visited many locations packed with locals, and we were greeted with smiles and waves. We know people who took shared taxis, camped on the beach, hitchhiked through the desert and felt safe everywhere.
If safety is your main concern, forget about it. Instead, buy those flight tickets and visit this incredible country!
How Long do I Need to Visit Jordan?
Before traveling to Jordan, the first question that comes to your head is, how long do I need to visit? Well, the answer is so individual! It depends on how much time you have, how much you want to see, how high your budget is, or how many kilometers you wish to drive.
You can get a sense of this great country in only one week. As an idea, reaching Aqaba, the most southern point in Jordan, from the airport in Amman, takes nearly 4 hours. So during one week, you can float in the Dead Sea, visit the ancient town of Petra, take a Jeep safari in the Wadi Rum desert, hike through the water at Wadi Mujib, and snorkel in Aqaba.
While this is totally doable, don’t rush over the country in only one week, so adding a few extra days to your itinerary would be much better!
We did it slowly, as we had enough time, and we didn’t want to hurry and having done that was the best decision! Therefore, we chose to travel around Jordan in two weeks, which is more than enough to cover the main sights and also have some leisure time.
People in Jordan
The first thing you’ll hear from a Jordanian will be “Welcome to Jordan.” The big smile on their face will make all your worries disappear in a minute. So be ready to meet wonderful, respectful, decent, courteous, helpful people around the country.
Jordan is one of the most friendly countries I have ever visited. Most people were ready to answer my questions, solve my problems, and help whenever the case was.
Of course, there are some exceptions, like everywhere else in the world. I found those exemptions at Petra. We’ve seen some local guides acting disrespectful and aggressive towards foreign tourists. Mainly when the police were not around. But as I found from a local from Wadi Musa, the police are not interested in those acts and take no action. Those guys’ main frustration comes from the fact that you do not need their service to get you up to the Treasury viewpoint. And I encourage you not to go with them as there is an easier although longer path to get the best view of the Treasury. Just let them be, don’t react, and they will leave you alone.
Dress Code in Jordan
Before traveling to Jordan, the first thing to know is that this Middle East country is Muslim-majority, with an Orthodox community in Madaba and Jews. And what the Jordanians do not like about foreign tourists is the lack of respect, the public sample of affection, and the inappropriate dress code.
So women should cover their chest and shoulder area and wear long skirts or pants, especially when entering a restaurant or museum or strolling the local sites. Also, if you’re planning to visit a place of worship, remember that both women and men must cover their shoulders and knees, and women also need to cover their hair and neck.
What to Eat in Jordan
The food is always a part of a trip, essential to better understand a country. You’ll fall in love with Middle East cuisine as soon as you arrive and find out soon that eating is a social experience here.
The ingredients in Jordan cuisine tend to be the same: chicken, lamb, muting, rice, and salad. But they are prepared using traditional cooking methods, like sand in the Wadi Rum desert.
The starters are essential for Jordanians and accompany every meal. HUMMUS is definitely a must when traveling to Jordan. You’ll find FALAFEL, the golden balls of chickpeas, everywhere. Just dip them in one of the many sauces on the table.
MUTABBAL is a cream mix of tahini sauce, baked eggplant, lemon, garlic, and olive oil. You will love it!
MANSAF, the national dish of Jordan, a plate of slow-cooked lamb over rice accompanied by fermented yogurt sauce, chopped parsley, and Baharat spices, is a must for anyone traveling to Jordan.
MAGLUBA is another exciting meal for you to try. The meat, rice, and grilled vegetables are cooked in a pot and reversed when ready. Season it with yogurt and almonds; it’s more than tasty!
You can’t leave Jordan without savoring the KNAFEH– the famous pastry filled with mild white cheese, topped with kataifi, and soaked in a sugar syrup! Simply delicious!
Can I find Alcohol in Jordan?
Before traveling to Jordan, remember that this is a Muslim country and finding alcohol is not easy. For example, I noticed a couple at a resort at the Dead Sea, blown away because the on-site restaurant wasn’t offering alcohol. So they asked themselves, what will we do the entire week?
Try LIMONA – a non-alcoholic drink made from lemon, ice, spearmint, water, and sugar if this happens to you. This drink is standard on hotel menus, so you could try it at least once.
If you step outside the resorts, you’ll find restaurants offering alcoholic drinks, especially in Amman and Aqaba. In Christian towns like Fuheis and Madaba, you’ll discover alcohol easily and even a craft beer brewery.
The most important thing to remember is that if you’re visiting the country during Ramadan, it’s illegal to sell alcohol so that you won’t find it.
Best Places To Visit In Jordan
The UNESCO World Heritage PETRA
The most exciting site in Jordan and why many tourists visit this country is no doubt Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the Modern World! The most famous spot is the Treasury, followed by the Roman Theatre, the Royal Tombs, the Street of Facades, and the Monastery. This place can be seen in only one day, but for the best experience, two days would be enough.
Everyone heard about Petra in Jordan but did you know there is a similar ancient city called Little Petra, only 6km away? It is another incredible place to see in Jordan and is well worth visiting! Although not as huge as Petra, this place only requires a couple of hours to fall in love with.
Another fantastic place on your itinerary should be the Wadi Rum desert, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’ve watched the movie “The Martian” you should know it was filmed here. Spend the night in a Martian tent, admire the stars, and go on a guided jeep tour to discover the gorgeous landscape, enjoy a bedouin dinner, dance with the locals, and indulge in the atmosphere.
Did you know that the deepest hypersaline lake and the lowest point on Earth are also in Jordan? The Dead Sea is the border between Israel and Jordan, to be more precise. What makes this place so unique? You can’t swim, but you can float, and it’s once in a lifetime experience.
The only coastal city in the country, Aqaba, is the place to be if snorkeling or scuba diving is high on your list. The water is always warm and clear, so water activities are guaranteed.
Finding a hotel with beach facilities should also be high on your list if you don’t fancy that. Or spend some days at the public beaches, and you won’t be disappointed. After that, get lost on the streets, try local food, buy souvenirs and try the most delicious local desserts! Aqaba won’t disappoint for sure!
The capital of Jordan, Amman, is a modern city with many ancient ruins to visit. Not really the kind of place to stay longer than a couple of nights, but seeing the Amman Citadel and Jerash ruins, further north, should also be included in your itinerary.
South of Amman lies the ancient market town Madaba. Unfortunately, visitors often overlook the home to Jordan’s most important religious landmark, the City of Mosaics. The city is large, but all the sights are concentrated in the historic center.
First, find a boutique hotel in downtown Madaba and visit the Greek orthodox church of St. George and witness the mosaic flooring representing the Holy Land.
Next, head to Madaba archeological park to catch more mosaics in Jordan, and for the largest mosaic floor, head to the Apostles church.
After so much sightseeing, find a coffee house and relax under the shade of the olive trees!
The lowest nature reserve in the world, Wadi Mujib, is the perfect place for those looking for some adventure activities. Also known as the Grand Canyon of Jordan, Wadi Mujib is known for its Siq trail, a 3-hour self-guided hike between towering sandstone cliffs against the river’s current.
Before traveling to Jordan, you should know that this trail is accessible from April 1 to October 31. The water level can be pretty high with some challenging sections, so some fitness skills are required.
Interactive Map of Useful Things to Know Before Traveling to Jordan
Underneath, you’ll find a customized map that includes all the locations you will visit. Just open up this article on your phone and click on the frame in the upper right corner of this map. Google Maps app will open up, and you can check all the details. I hope it helps!