My Journey Through Jordan’s Top 5 Destinations
If you’re ready to dive into a world of ancient wonders, surreal landscapes, and incredible experiences, then Jordan is calling your name. Let me take you on a ride through my unforgettable journey as I uncovered the 5 best places to visit in this captivating country.
Map of Jordan
Map Showing Jordan Location in Asia
Countries Bordering Jordan
Jordan is located in Southwest Asia at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe, within the Levant region, on the East Bank of the Jordan River, and is bordered on the north by Syria, to the east by Iraq, and by Saudi Arabia on the east and south. To the west is Israel and the West Bank (Palestine), while Jordan’s only outlet to the sea, the Gulf of Aqaba, is to the south.
Amman is Jordan’s capital and largest city. The 2023 population of Jordan is estimated at 11.3 million people.
Our Top 5 Best Places to Visit in Jordan
1. Petra: Unveiling the Lost City of Stone
Picture this: you’re walking through a narrow canyon, and suddenly, as if by magic, the towering façade of the Treasury emerges before your eyes. This is Petra, a place that feels like something straight out of a movie. The intricate carvings, the hidden tombs, and the ancient amphitheater made me feel like an adventurer in a real-life Indiana Jones film.
And guess what? I found a little gem here. Tucked away from the crowds, a local woman offered me a taste of traditional Jordanian tea, complete with a story about the history of Petra. What a treat!
2. Wadi Rum: A Desert Dreamland
Next stop: Wadi Rum, a desert valley that seemed like another planet altogether. We hopped into a jeep and roared through the sandy expanse, feeling like explorers on a mission. The sandstone mountains, the vast dunes, and the ancient inscriptions on rocks had me in awe.
At sundown, we gathered around a campfire in a Bedouin camp. I kid you not, the starlit sky above Wadi Rum was like a blanket of diamonds. Sipping warm Bedouin tea and listening to stories from the locals was an unforgettable experience.
3. Dead Sea: Floating in Wonderland
Okay, I couldn’t contain my excitement at the Dead Sea. Floating effortlessly on its super salty water was just too much fun. And here’s a tip: I covered myself in the mineral-rich mud before soaking, and my skin felt like a million bucks afterward. Breakfast by the Dead Sea?
Oh yes! A local eatery served us falafel wraps and freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. It was the perfect way to start the day.
4. Amman: Where History Meets Hip
Amman, the buzzing capital, was a whirlwind of experiences. We explored bustling markets, snacking on shawarmas and falafels like true locals. The Roman Theater offered Instagram-worthy views, and I scored some cool handmade souvenirs in Downtown Amman.
But here’s a gem: a hidden café in the heart of the city served the most aromatic Arabic coffee. It was like a caffeine hug!
5. Aqaba: Red Sea Bliss
Aqaba was our beachy paradise. We swapped our hiking boots for flip-flops and dived into the Red Sea. Snorkeling here felt like entering a world of color and wonder.
For sunset, we headed to a beachside spot with swinging hammocks and enjoyed sundowners. The soft breeze, the sound of waves, and the fiery sky created a dreamy atmosphere.
Did we mention the food? EAT!
Indulging in Jordan’s Culinary Delights
A trip to Jordan is not just a feast for the eyes but also a feast for the taste buds. The country’s culinary scene is a delightful tapestry of flavors, blending tradition and innovation. From the sizzling aroma of shawarma being prepared on bustling streets to the fragrant spices that infuse each dish, Jordanian food is a journey in itself.
I savored tender lamb mansaf, a traditional dish served on special occasions, and relished the harmony of flavors in mezze spreads—hummus, falafel, and smoky baba ganoush. The Jordanian twist on classic dishes, like the aromatic maqluba with layers of rice, vegetables, and meat, left me longing for more. And oh, the sweet knafeh, a dessert made of crispy pastry layers soaked in rose or orange blossom syrup, was a delightful end to every meal.
Exploring Jordan meant immersing in its culinary heritage, connecting with locals over shared meals, and discovering the heart and soul of the country through its delicious offerings.
Essential Things to Know Before Traveling to Jordan
Before embarking on your journey to Jordan, it’s important to be well-prepared and informed about the country’s culture, customs, and practicalities. Here are some essential things to know before traveling to Jordan:
1. Visa Requirements:
Check the visa requirements for your nationality before traveling to Jordan. Some nationalities may require a visa to enter the country, while others might be eligible for visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry.
2. Respect Local Customs:
Jordan is a conservative country with Islamic traditions. Dress modestly, particularly in religious sites and when interacting with locals. Women are advised to cover their shoulders and wear knee-length or longer skirts or pants.
The official currency of Jordan is the Jordanian Dinar (JOD). Currency exchange is available at banks and exchange bureaus. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and larger stores, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for smaller purchases and in more remote areas.
The official language is Arabic. While English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas, learning a few basic Arabic phrases can go a long way in connecting with locals.
5. Safety and Security:
Jordan is generally considered safe for tourists. However, like in any destination, it’s important to stay vigilant, follow local advice, and be aware of your surroundings. Check travel advisories before your trip.
6. Health Precautions:
Ensure you have up-to-date vaccinations and consider bringing basic medications such as pain relievers and stomach remedies. Drink bottled water and be cautious with street food to prevent foodborne illnesses.
Public transportation is available, but taxis are a common mode of getting around. Negotiate taxi fares beforehand or ensure the meter is used. Private drivers and guides can be hired for more comfortable travel.
8. Local Etiquette:
It’s customary to greet people with a handshake and direct eye contact. When offering or receiving items, use your right hand, as the left hand is considered less clean. Always remove your shoes when entering someone’s home.
9. Time Zone:
Jordan is in the Eastern European Time (EET) zone (UTC+2). Daylight Saving Time might be observed, leading to changes in time.
10. Religious Sites:
When visiting religious sites, respect local customs. Dress modestly, remove your shoes before entering mosques, and avoid taking photos of people in prayer without permission.
Tipping is appreciated in restaurants, hotels, and for services like guides and drivers. A standard tip is around 10% of the bill.
SIM cards are available for purchase, providing you with local phone and data coverage. Major cities and tourist areas usually have good network coverage.
By keeping these essential factors in mind, you’ll be better equipped to navigate Jordan with respect for its culture and traditions while enjoying the wonders the country has to offer.
How to Get to Jordan
Getting to Jordan is relatively easy due to its central location in the Middle East. Here are the primary ways to get to Jordan:
1. By Air:
The most common way to reach Jordan is by flying into Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) in Amman, the capital city. The airport is well-connected to major cities around the world. You can find direct flights to Amman from many international airports, including those in Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East.
2. By Land:
Jordan shares land borders with several countries, making it accessible by road if you’re in the neighboring regions. The most commonly used border crossings include:
- Allenby/King Hussein Bridge Crossing: This crossing connects Jordan with the West Bank and Israel. It’s a major entry point for travelers coming from Israel or the Palestinian territories.
- Sheikh Hussein Crossing: Located near Lake Tiberias in Israel, this crossing is another option for travelers coming from Israel.
- Wadi Araba Crossing: This crossing connects Jordan with Eilat in Israel and is popular for tourists visiting the Red Sea resorts.
- Al Mudawara Crossing: This crossing connects Jordan with Saudi Arabia.
3. By Sea:
Although not as commonly used as air or land routes, Jordan does have a small coastline along the Red Sea. Aqaba, a coastal city, has a seaport that accommodates cruise ships and some cargo vessels. If you’re on a cruise or plan to reach Jordan by sea, Aqaba might be your port of entry.
Once you’ve arrived in Jordan, the country’s efficient transportation system, including taxis, buses, and domestic flights, can help you explore its various attractions. Remember to check entry requirements, such as visa regulations, based on your nationality before you travel.
How to Get Around Jordan
Getting around Jordan is relatively straightforward due to its well-developed transportation network. Here are the main modes of transportation you can use to explore the country:
Taxis are a common way to get around cities and towns in Jordan. In cities like Amman, you’ll find both regular taxis and service taxis (shared taxis with specific routes). Make sure to negotiate the fare or ensure the meter is running before getting in.
Public buses operate within cities and between major towns. They are an economical way to travel but might not always be the most comfortable or punctual option for tourists. Some private bus companies offer more comfortable intercity travel.
3. Domestic Flights:
If you’re traveling long distances within the country, you can consider taking domestic flights. Jordan has a few airports, and domestic flights are available, especially between Amman, Aqaba, and other major cities.
4. Rental Cars:
Renting a car is a great option if you want the freedom to explore at your own pace. Roads in Jordan are generally well-maintained, and there are signs in English. However, driving styles might be different from what you’re used to, so exercise caution.
5. Tour Buses and Guides:
Many guided tours and buses operate in Jordan, particularly for popular tourist destinations like Petra and Wadi Rum. These options provide convenience and often include transportation, guides, and entrance fees.
6. Shared Services:
In tourist areas, you might find shared shuttle services that transport visitors to popular attractions. These can be a convenient and cost-effective way to explore the sights.
Jordan has a limited train network, primarily running between Amman and Zarqa. While trains might not be the most comprehensive mode of transportation, they can offer a unique travel experience.
In cities and towns, walking can be a pleasant way to explore local neighborhoods, markets, and attractions. Just be prepared for some uphill walking in places like Petra and Amman.
9. Camels and Horses:
In certain tourist areas, like Petra and Wadi Rum, you might have the opportunity to ride camels or horses for a more traditional and memorable experience.
When traveling in Jordan, it’s a good idea to plan ahead, especially for longer journeys. Make sure you have a map, GPS, or a local SIM card for navigation. Always consider the local customs and dress appropriately, especially when using public transportation.
FAQ – Our Top 5 Best Places to Visit in Jordan and Traveling to Jordan in General
Traveling to Jordan: Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I need a visa to travel to Jordan?
- Most nationalities require a visa to enter Jordan. You can obtain a visa on arrival at most border crossings and airports, or you can apply for an e-visa before your trip. Be sure to check the specific requirements for your nationality before traveling.
2. What is the best time to visit Jordan?
- The best time to visit Jordan is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is pleasant, and outdoor activities are comfortable. Summers can be scorching, while winters can be cold, especially in the desert regions.
3. Is Jordan safe for tourists?
- Jordan is generally considered safe for tourists. It has a stable political climate and a strong security presence. However, like any other destination, it’s essential to stay informed about the current situation and follow local advice. Exercise standard precautions, especially in border areas.
4. What should I wear when visiting Jordan?
- Jordan is a predominantly Muslim country, and it’s respectful to dress modestly, especially in more conservative areas. For women, this typically means covering shoulders and knees. In Amman and other major cities, Western-style clothing is acceptable, but in rural or religious areas, it’s best to dress more conservatively.
5. What are the must-visit places in Jordan?
- Jordan boasts several incredible attractions, including Petra, the Dead Sea, Wadi Rum, Jerash, and the capital city, Amman. Each offers a unique cultural or natural experience, so plan your itinerary based on your interests.
6. Can I drink alcohol in Jordan?
- Yes, you can drink alcohol in Jordan. It’s available in many restaurants, hotels, and bars, especially in more touristy areas. However, it’s important to note that Jordan is a predominantly Muslim country, so it’s respectful to consume alcohol in moderation and in designated areas.
7. Is it safe to drink tap water in Jordan?
- It’s generally not recommended to drink tap water in Jordan. Stick to bottled water, which is widely available and affordable. You can also use bottled water for brushing your teeth and avoid consuming ice in your drinks in areas with questionable water quality.
8. What is the currency in Jordan, and can I use credit cards?
- The currency in Jordan is the Jordanian Dinar (JOD). Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities and tourist areas. However, it’s a good idea to carry some cash for smaller establishments, rural areas, and markets.
9. What are the local customs and etiquette I should be aware of?
- Jordanians are known for their hospitality. It’s customary to greet people warmly, with a handshake and a friendly smile. When visiting someone’s home, it’s polite to bring a small gift. Respect local customs, especially during religious holidays, and always ask for permission before taking photos of people.
10. Can I explore the desert areas independently, or do I need a guide?
– While it’s possible to explore some desert areas independently, hiring a local guide is highly recommended, especially for remote locations like Wadi Rum. Guides not only enhance your experience but also ensure your safety in the challenging desert terrain.
11. What vaccinations do I need before traveling to Jordan?
– Routine vaccinations like measles, mumps, rubella, and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis are recommended. Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations are also advised. Consult your healthcare provider before your trip for the most up-to-date information on vaccinations and health precautions.
12. Is English widely spoken in Jordan?
– Yes, English is widely spoken in Jordan, especially in urban areas and the tourism industry. You should have no trouble communicating with English-speaking locals and navigating the country.
Remember that travel requirements and conditions can change, so it’s essential to check with your country’s embassy or consulate for the latest information and travel advisories before your trip to Jordan.
Best Places to Visit in Jordan: FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions – Places to Visit in Jordan
1. What are the top must-visit attractions in Jordan?
- Jordan offers a wealth of attractions, but the top ones include Petra, the Dead Sea, Wadi Rum, Jerash, Amman, Mount Nebo, and the Red Sea resort of Aqaba.
2. How long should I plan to visit Petra?
- Plan to spend at least one full day exploring Petra. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is vast, and there’s a lot to see, including the iconic Treasury and the Monastery. Many visitors opt for two days to thoroughly explore the area.
3. Is Petra safe to visit?
- Yes, Petra is generally safe for tourists. It’s a well-preserved archaeological site, and there’s a noticeable security presence. However, exercise standard safety precautions, like staying hydrated and respecting local customs.
4. What should I know about visiting the Dead Sea?
- The Dead Sea is famous for its high salt content, which allows you to float effortlessly. Be cautious not to get the water in your eyes or mouth, as it can be extremely painful. Also, apply sunscreen generously, as the sun’s rays are strong in this area.
5. Can I swim in the Dead Sea?
- While it’s possible to float in the Dead Sea, it’s not suitable for swimming in the traditional sense due to its high salt concentration. People often describe it as more of a “floating” experience.
6. How do I get to Wadi Rum, and what can I do there?
- Wadi Rum is accessible by road from various cities in Jordan, including Amman and Petra. Once there, you can explore the stunning desert landscape on jeep tours, go hiking, rock climbing, stargazing, or even spend the night in a Bedouin camp.
7. Is it safe to visit Wadi Rum, especially for solo travelers?
- Wadi Rum is generally safe for travelers, including solo travelers. It’s a popular tourist destination, and the local Bedouin community is known for its hospitality. However, it’s always wise to inform someone about your plans and take necessary precautions when exploring remote areas.
8. What are the historical sites to see in Jerash?
- Jerash is known for its exceptionally well-preserved Roman ruins. The must-see sites include the Oval Plaza, the Temple of Artemis, Hadrian’s Arch, and the impressive South Theater. Jerash provides a fascinating glimpse into ancient Roman life.
9. What can I explore in Amman, the capital of Jordan?
- Amman offers a mix of modern and historical attractions. Visit the Amman Citadel, the Roman Theater, the King Abdullah I Mosque, and explore the bustling markets and local cuisine in downtown Amman.
10. Can I go scuba diving in Aqaba on the Red Sea?
– Yes, Aqaba is a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. The Red Sea is known for its vibrant marine life and clear waters, making it a fantastic spot for underwater adventures.
11. Are there any religious sites in Jordan worth visiting?
– Yes, Jordan has several significant religious sites. Mount Nebo is where Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land. You can also visit the Baptism Site of Jesus at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
12. Can I travel independently in Jordan, or should I join a tour group?
– You can certainly travel independently in Jordan, especially if you’re an experienced traveler. However, some visitors choose to join tour groups, particularly for the convenience and local insights they offer. The choice depends on your preferences and travel style.
Remember to check the latest travel information and conditions for specific destinations in Jordan before your trip, as circumstances can change.
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Our Top 5 Best Places to Visit in Jordan – Final Thoughts
Jordan is a treasure trove of experiences that left me with memories I’ll cherish forever. From savoring traditional tea in Petra to floating in the Dead Sea’s embrace, every moment was like a page from a storybook.
So, pack your sense of adventure, curiosity, and a camera, because Jordan’s magic is waiting to be discovered by you. Until next time, fellow wanderers!
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Our Top 5 Best Places to Visit in Jordan – By David John
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