Are you visiting Jordan soon? Great! In fact, I am jealous. But not to the point that I wouldn’t share my top Jordan travel tips with you!
Jordan honestly exceeded my expectations. This small country in the Middle East has more landscapes and climates than you may know; its culture is incredibly rich – a reflection of its long history.
But there’s more! People in Jordan are as welcoming as it gets. Wherever you go you’ll be greeted by the smiles of children; and women will go above and beyond to help out whenever you are in need. And what about the food? Oh – that’s reason enough for traveling to Jordan!
If you are planning your first trip to Jordan, there are some things you should know before you go. In this post, I will share all the best travel tips for Jordan and tell you everything you need to know before visiting.
The Best Jordan Travel Tips
The best time to visit Jordan
One of the most important tips I have is to pick your travel dates wisely – both when it comes to the weather and to local events.
Jordan gets cold in the winter, and unbearably hot in the summer. The overall best time to visit is in the fall – October and November; and in the spring months, between March and May. I went between the end of March and the beginning of April and the weather was always pleasant, never too hot, and the days were nice and sunny.
Traveling to Jordan during the holy month of Ramadan is certainly possible, though keep in mind that it may affect your overall experience of the country. Muslims fast from dawn to sunset during Ramadan, and fasting (which for the strictest ones include drinking water) can affect their mood – especially when Ramadan falls in the summer months, when the days are longer. This means that you may find the atmosphere a bit more electric than it’d normally be.
Other than that, you should be aware that the operating hours of tourist sites change during Ramadan, with places opening later and closing earlier than usual. Furthermore, it is typically recommended that, as a sign of respect for the locals, you avoid eating and drinking in public during Ramadan.
How long should you stay in Jordan?
Many people visit Jordan during a larger tour of the Middle East and spend just 3 days in the country, flash-packing between Petra and Wadi Rum. It is a real pity, because there are many more places to visit.
I suggest a minimum of 10 days, and up to 3 weeks for your trip to Jordan. With that amount of time you can cover all the most important landmarks – Amman, Jerash, the Dead Sea, Dana Biosphere Reserve, Shobak Castle, Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba.
Make sure to read my post The Best Places To Visit In Jordan.
A guided tour may be a good idea
Jordan is incredibly geared to tourism, so you can easily travel around independently. On the other hand, if you have little time to plan your trip, you may be better off joining a guided group tour and leave the organization bits to the experts.
How to cross the border and get a visa to Jordan
If you get to Jordan by plane you can get a visa on arrival upon landing: it costs JD 40 (around $56 USD).
If you are traveling to Jordan as part of a larger trip across the Middle East, you may be crossing from Israel. In this case, there are two land borders where you can get a visa on arrival: Wadi Araba, between Eilat and Aqaba, and Sheikh Hussein, located in the North of the Jordan.
The King Hussein / Allenby Bridge (closest to Amman and Jerusalem) requires a pre-arranged visa and it is factually only used by tourists who exit the country.
If you enter Jordan via a land border and spend a minimum of 3 consecutive nights there is no visa fee to pay, but just a JD10 (little over $14) fee once you exit. The Jordan Pass (more about that below) is normally considered proof of spending sufficient amount of time in the country.
Get the Jordan Pass
One of the most useful tips when visiting Jordan is to get hold of the Jordan Pass before you travel there. This is a tourist pass – similar to the city passes you may get in New York or Rome. In addition to covering a bunch of must-see attractions, including Petra – it also covers the cost of your visa.
Once you buy the Jordan Pass online you will receive an email with a PDF which contains a QR code. Show this whenever you visit one of the 40 attractions included – Petra; the Roman Ampitheatre and Citadel in Amman; the ruins of Jerash; Wadi Rum; the Church of the Apostles in Madaba; and more.
The starting price for the Jordan Pass is JD70 (that’s around $99 USD), which includes a one-day admission for Petra. The Jordan Pass with a two-day Petra admission costs JD75 ($106 USD). With a three-day admission, it costs JD80 ($113 USD).
If you think that the visa costs JD40 and add that admission to Petra costs JD50, JD55 and JD60 for 1, 2, and 3 days, you can easily conclude that a Jordan Pass is the way to go!
For more information about the Jordan Pass, click here.
How to move around
You have three main options to move around Jordan:
PUBLIC TRANSPORT – If you are visiting Jordan on a budget and time is not an issue, you can count on public transportation to reach the main tourist destinations, and where there are no buses, you can opt for guided day trips that include transportation, or local taxis (though you will have to haggle the fees).
HIRING A CAR WITH A DRIVER – This is how I did it, and it probably is the best option – though also the most expensive. A local driver will know the best roads to take; you won’t have to worry about parking, speed limits, etc. Besides, having a local driver is a good way of getting insights into the culture and life of the country. Mine shared lots of tips!
RENTING A CAR – If you enjoy driving and a bit of a challenge, you won’t have issues dodging the traffic and the sometimes reckless drivers of Jordan (think drivers who “forget” to indicate they are changing lanes, speeding and overtaking without much care for safety). Roads aren’t always in the best conditions, but totally doable. Renting a car can cost anything from $35 to $60 and more per day. Check out the prices of car rental in Jordan here.
It’s more expensive than you imagine
The Jordanian Dinar (JD) is the official currency of Jordan. Cash payments in Jordan are the norm, though larger businesses also accept cards. ATMs are easy to find. Try to keep change on you for small expenses such as snacks, water, tipping etc.
One thing to consider before visiting Jordan is that it’s not a cheap country. Many tourists are taken completely by surprise by what things cost in Jordan, and that would have to include me to be honest. Just to give you an idea, a meal in a basic local eatery – think hummus and falafel – will be in the range of JD4 (short of $6). If you want something more elaborate, you will end up paying up to JD20 ($28).
At the time of writing, the exchange rate is 1.4 USD to a JD, and about 1.2 Euro to a JD.
Don’t just visit Petra
There is so much more to Jordan than just Petra! Granted, this site is truly marvelous – not to mention so wide that if you want to explore it thoroughly you need at least 2 full days. But there are some other incredible places in the country that deserve to be seen.
Check out my post A Complete Guide To Visiting Petra.
Don’t be afraid of traveling to Jordan solo
Tell your friends that you are thinking about visiting Jordan, and they’ll raise an eyebrow and ask you if it is actually safe. Though Jordan’s neighboring country Syria and Iraq have a recent history of civil war and unrest, Jordan is perhaps the most stable and safest country in the Middle East, even for solo female travelers.
People in Jordan are generally welcoming and helpful. Many speak English and if they don’t, they will still be kind and helpful. I traveled around Jordan solo and used the typical precautions I’d use anywhere, and had no issues whatsoever.
You should get a good travel insurance to cover you during your trip. You can find a good one here.
Watch out for scams
While Jordan remains a safe country for travelers, scams against tourists are a common issue.
The most typical scam in Amman is from taxi drivers, who may suggest you go to a different hotel or restaurant from the one you asked to be taken to. A polite and firm “no, thank you” works well in this case. Women should beware of Bdouls targeting women in Petra. Never accept an invitation for tea, coffee, dinner or to visit a cave or go off the beaten path in Petra.
Dressing up conservatively is the way to go
Jordan has a reputation of being a much more liberal country compared to other countries where the majority of people are Muslims. However, while you may come across some women not wearing a headscarf in the most modern neighborhood of Amman, most people dress conservatively.
While female travelers won’t need to cover their head, it’s always best not to go around wearing shorts, minidresses or tank tops – and the same goes for male travelers. Opt to wear long skirts and pants and to layer up with light shirts and – depending on the season – a sweater or a jacket.
Bikinis are acceptable at Dead Sea beach resorts and – in theory – also at public beaches where locals go, but keep in mind they will go in the water practically fully dressed.
The use of animals in tourist attractions
Stray cats and dogs are a common sight in Jordan, and if you are as much of an animal lover as I am you’ll be heartbroken at seeing the conditions in which they live. Shelters exist that work to improve the life of animals in the country.
The Jordan Tourism Board is making an effort to prevent the exploitation of animals in Petra and other places, but you will see lots of animals being pushed to their limits by their owners, and unaware (or simply uninterested) tourists gladly riding donkeys, mules and horse carriages despite the explicit request of the tourism board not to do so if able to walk.
Don’t engage in the use of animals in tourist attractions. There really is no need for that.
Make sure to read my posts The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler and A Guide To Ethical Animal Tourism.
Eating and drinking in Jordan
One of the best things to do in Jordan is eating and there is no shortage of good restaurants. Mansaf, one of the most traditional dishes consisting of lamb and rice, is commonly found on the menu. Hummus and falafel are great choices for vegans and vegetarian. On a typical meal in Jordan (or at a buffet restaurant) there’s a really large selection of fresh delicious salads.
You will definitely enjoy drinking local tea and coffee. Jordanian tea is typically an infusion of black tea with added herbs – it can be sage, mint or others – for a truly fragrant taste. The typical coffee is a strong infusion of boiling water, coffee and a pinch of cardamom. Jordanians drink their tea and coffee super sweet. Ask for no added sugar if you don’t want any.
Alcohol is quite expensive in Jordan, as it is subject to heavy taxation, and the majority of locals don’t drink it anyways.
Be prepared to see lots of garbage
Unfortunately garbage and plastic waste are a common sight in Jordan – both in the countryside and in cities. You may want to consider carrying your water bottle with a filter to help reduce plastic waste. Consider getting this one.
Beware of smokers
Smoking is allowed pretty much anywhere, and I am sure that 100% of men smoke – and sometimes even children. Hotel rooms may be non-smoking, but with smokers happily enjoying their cigarettes in the lobby, even rooms reek of smoke. The same goes for restaurants, where people are legally allowed to smoke inside.
Don’t waste water
Water is a precious good and wherever you are in the world you should make it a point not to waste it – even more so in Jordan, where there are considerable water shortages.
Are you planning a longer trip to the Middle East? Make sure to read my other posts:
- A 3 Day Itinerary For The Jordan Trail
- The Best Things To Do In Amman
- Where To Stay In Amman
- The Best Places To Visit In Israel
- 29 Things To Do In Jerusalem You Can’t Miss
- 21 Absolutely Unmissable Things To Do In Tel Aviv
- A Guide To The Things To Do In Haifa, Israel
- 17 Truly Unmissable Things To Do In Eilat, Israel
- Everything You Need To Know To Hike The Jesus Trail
- What You Should Know Before Doing A Hebron Tour
- Everything You Need To Know Before You Visit Palestine