4 days detailed travel guide in Jordan on all the DOs and DONTs
Maybe until now, you haven’t considered Jordan as your next destination in your bucket list. But, boy, this country will leave you in awe. Its diversity is astonishing, from the unique phenomenon of the Dead Sea to the treasury of Petra. You have so many to discover and so much more to surprise you that you won’t believe it.
Jordan is one of my favorite destinations and actually it was the last trip before Covid-19 took over the tourism industry. So I always remember this trip to Jordan with nostalgia for the old good days.
Is it safe to travel to Jordan?
Yes, definitely. We were in Jordan in February, 2020 and we traveled as a couple while renting a car. We never felt threatened during our trip. On the contrary, we felt welcomed by the locals, who were doing their best to speak English.
It’s a justified concern if you contemplate travel in the Middle East. Certainly Jordan’s neighbors Syria and Iraq and even Israel lately are not ideal peaceful destinations. However, Jordan itself has been a peaceful kingdom and stayed under the radar.
Plan of Trip
Late arrival in Aqaba Airport
Dinner at Aqaba city
Drive to the Dead Sea
Enjoying the Dead Sea
Drive to Petra
Drive to Wadi Rum
Camel ride and Jeep Safar
Flying from Aqaba Airport
Travel Period: 14-17/2/2020
Expenses: 360 euro/person
The currency in Jordan is the Jordanian Dinar. 1USD is equivalent to about 0,7 JD or 1euro is 0,82 JD (rates of 3/10/2021)/
There are exchange offices in all the major cities like Amman and Aqaba. Better don’t exchange a large amount at the airport because there the rates are the least favorable.
Another choice is withdrawal from ATMs, where most of the time before the transaction is completed, the extra fee will be displayed to accept or decline it. Credit cards are not widely accepted in the country. You can use them in hotels, shopping malls and museums but restaurants and open markets usually don’t accept them.
Buy a local Sim card at the airport. Internet and GPS will be essential for the trip. So spend 10JD (12euro) to buy a tourist 10day 10GB package from Umniah Company whose store is located at the arrival hall in Aqaba Airport.
Clothes to pack.
Jordan is a Muslim country but not as conservative as expected. As a woman, it would be wise to avoid anything that shows too much cleavage in order not to draw too much attention. It’s not expected for a western woman to wear a headscarf, unless at a place of worship. Even Jordanian younger women were wearing skinny jeans or tank tops. Do wear your bikini freely at the Dead Sea but don’t’ walk around the premises of the hotel like that. In general, be discreet and respect the different cultures.
Weird fact: Don’t go out with your hair wet. It has connotations of a sexual nature and you will get lots of unwanted stares.
When to travel
Jordan’s summer is extremely hot, almost unbearable and you should better avoid it. The best time to visit Jordan is Spring (Late February- May) and Autumn (September- November)
When the weather is warm and pleasant during the day and cool at the night.
We visited Jordan in February and we had pleasantly 25 grades of Celsius in the midday but at the night especially in the desert of Wadi Rum there were 8 grades.
Check the updated policies for the different countries at the embassy of Jordan.
There is a special benefit when arriving at Aqaba Airport. Because Aqaba City is a Special Economic Zone, “All visitors from all countries (except restricted countries) who arrive Jordan via King Hussein International Airport at Aqaba, will be exempted from the visa fees and will get entry visa valid for one month. If arriving at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman will be exempted from the visa fees and will get a simple entry visa for a month, if they declare that they intent to visit Aqaba while staying in Jordan. It’s a MUST to get a Stamp proof within 48hours of his/her arrival for the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority.
In general there is a fee of 75$ which you can avoid simply by flying to Aqaba Airport, which is also served by the low-cost Airline of Ryanair.
Jordan Pass is a discount program offered by the Jordan Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. So first of all it’s official and not a scam. It combines the fee of the tourist visa (which as mentioned above you can avoid) and admission to 40 tourist sites (including Petra).
There are 3 price ranges: Jordan Wanderer (7OJD= 85euro) that gives you 1-day access to Petra, Jordan Explorer (75JD= 91euro) which includes 2 days in Petra and Jordan Expert (80JD=97euro) which covers 3-day entry to Petra.
Other popular attractions included in Jordan Pass are the Citadel of Amman, the Wadi Rum desert, the archaeological site of Jerash, the Roman theatre in Amman and Kerak Castle.
If you do the math, the entrance ticket to Petra for 1 day, 2 days and 3 days is 50JD, 55JD and 60JD. We visited Petra in one day and I think it was ideal. So 50JD (60euro) and 5JD (6euro) for the Wadi Rum desert entrance was 55JD (66euro) in total for each, less than the Jordan Wanderer Pass of 70JD.
Tip: Always search the fee of the individual attractions you wish to visit and add them all up to check if existing passes actually save you money.
Rent a car
After reading pages after pages about car rental in Jordan, I ended up contacting several trusted companies, such as ReliableCar, MonteCarlo, Layan, Avis. My advice is to rent a car with full insurance. I read stories about how locals even caused a car accident to trick you to pay more money to get away with it or to replace the broken mirror of the car. Although we didn’t face any of this mischief in Jordan, it’s wiser to enjoy your vacations stress-free.
In February 2020, for a decent Hyundai i10 which we fetched and returned at Aqaba airport, we paid 110euro (86JD) for 3 days with RealiableCar. Also no deposit was asked.
Visit Aqaba City
Aqaba is Jordan’s most important harbor and the only access to the sea for this country. Because of the port, Aqaba has a more international character, a more western lifestyle than the rest of the country.
If you want to hang out for a longer time and enjoy your vacations, Aqaba has to offer you beaches, world-class diving sites and a laid-back atmosphere. You can even have Aqaba as your base, choose one of the five-star retreats and do some day trips.
For us the first night had Aqaba as a quick stop for dinner before heading out to the Dead Sea. I would highly recommend Khubza & Seneya for dinner. The prices are great and the food was amazing and plentiful. It was a perfect tasty start. Actually considering food, this was the best I’ve tried in Jordan. Do try the chicken with lemon and garlic (4,5JD= 5,5euro) and the lamb with vegetables (5,5JD = 6,6euro).
Kings Highway to the Dead Sea
That was an adventure.
The distance normally was about 3-3,5 hours from Aqaba to our hotel, Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa. My plan was after landing at 9 pm at Aqaba Airport and having dinner until 11 pm at Khubza & Seneya in Aqaba to arrive around 2 am at Hilton.
We ended up showing up at the reception at 4 am. And thankfully we manage to at least show up at that time.
Usually when you rent a car in Jordan, the gas tank will be almost empty or half-empty. And you should fill it as soon as possible and don’t expect because of its name Desert Highway to actually have many chances to find a gas station.
Especially in the night when we were traveling there was no gas station for more than 250 kilometers. We were fortunate enough to manage to drive with no ac, with the minimum consumption of gas. Finally finding a gas station which was open in the middle of the night, just 50km from our hotel.
Dead Sea & Hilton Hotel
After our first adventurous night, this was a day to relax and enjoy the facilities of the most luxurious hotel I have stayed.
For only a fraction of the price of what you would have paid in Europe, only 60 euro/night, it was certainly a bargain.
If you have the budget, do stay at this hotel which has one huge-huge breakfast (wake up earlier to explore and taste all the freshly made local delicacies). Hilton Hotel like most 4 and 5-star hotels in this area also has its private beach in the Dead Sea.
Actually it’s a made-up beach since the banks of the Dead Sea are rather rough with spiky rocks.
Tip: After checking out, you still can enjoy the facilities. No one is checking.
From the Dead Sea the trip to Wadi Musa, the city which has developed near Petra is 3 hours drive. Better choose to drive when there is still light, particularly for the first part of the journey, to enjoy this scenic road passing by the Dead Sea and some smaller villages, where you will witness the authentic daily life in Jordan.
Tip: Α good point to stop and get near the unspoiled shore of the Dead Sea is marked on Google Maps as “Point de vue”. Park there and explore the surroundings, it’s just near Wadi Allhujib. Wadi Allhujib is a canyon that towers above the Mujib River and stretches for 70km. Many excursions offer visitors the chance to trek beneath towering canyons and through the river. The excursions are on the pricey side but it’s fair if you consider your safety. Check https://international.visitjordan.com/wheretogo/wadi%20Mujib for more.
Stay in Wuda Musa
Wadi Musa is nothing extraordinary. Just a village which has grown up to cater for visitors coming to Petra. The town has numerous hotels of all types and budgets, which you can find from right next to the entrance of Petra to up into the hills. The urban sprawl and the mediocre restaurants don’t let them set you back from what will follow the next day though.
We stayed at a decent hotel, Oscar Petra Hotel, which was climbed at the top of Wadi Musa for 31JD= 37euro.
Other budget places to check are Nomads Hotel Petra, Cleopatra Hotel and Relaxing Oasis Villa.
This is and will be the highlight of your trip!!
Petra usually appears on top travel lists and for a good reason.
Tickets to Petra are sold on-site and you can even hire your guide, which I advise you against. It seems too expensive for something that you can easily do on your own, even if you end up wandering around Petra as we did.
Petra’s ticket office is open every day, from 6 am to 6 pm in the summer and from 6 am to 4pm during winter. You should also check beforehand and avoid the rainy days, as Petra may flood really easily and even with a small amount of rain they close the whole sight.
If you have one day to spare to this Rose City as Petra is called, then start early to avoid the crowds and the hot weather. Wear breathable light clothes and comfortable shoes.
Start by taking your time through the Siq and eventually coming to the famous façade of the Treasury building (approximately 1 hour).
Take fabulous instagrammable photos from the rocks on your right, where there is an opening free of charge. Just above there is a rock platform where you have to pay the Bedouins to be taken a photo.
Continue to Colonnaded Street and the Qasr al-Bint temple.
Take a snack break. Remember to bring your own lunch box from Wadi Musa. There are some as expected-expensive kiosks inside Petra. After having fueled up, take the climb to the Monastery. The monastery is the largest structure in Petra. Unfortunately, it requires a strenuous trek up 800 stairs but you will have many spots to rest and admire the view.
Tip: Petra is certainly a place to avoid in the hot summer. Temperatures rise to 40 grades and there is little shade to protect you. Also avoid Petra when pouring, as the trails will be muddy and there is also a high chance of flood.
Taking one day to experience Petra is manageable and comfortable. Yeah, you won’t see every inch of the 264 km2 but still you can check the highlights and create beautiful memories.
1hour 40 minutes later from Petra, you will find yourself at the entrance of Wadi Rum Desert. Pay the 5JD for each to enter, or don’t, no one check really.
Booking the perfect Camp in Wadi Rum is another tricky part.
There are so many camps scattered in the desert and most of them are just the same, offering the same food, tours and lodging. Exceptions are only some luxury camps with glass windows and a Jacuzzi.
Not sure if worth the price difference but it’s in you if you want to have a luxurious experience in the desert.
We booked through email the Bedouin LifeStyle Camp after having read very good reviews on TripAdvisor. The deal was for 60JD/person for a double tent with a private bath and 10Jd/person for a 40minute camel ride. The price included dinner and breakfast, entertainment in the evening and a morning jeep safari.
What you should be prepared for is the cold during the night. There is actually no heat in these poorly constructed tents and we slept with thermal clothes and 3 blankets and still we were freezing.
The private bathroom was an unbroken condition from my boyfriend but the truth is it didn’t have any door and the water was also cold. It didn’t offer too much in the end compared to the shared one.
The food during the dinner and breakfast was basic but tasty and we really enjoyed the “traditional” Bedouin feast and the camel ride.
The jeep safari tour takes you through some standard points like Jebel Umm Fruth rock bridge, Khaz’ali Canyon and some big red dunes to sand skate.
In the afternoon we headed back to Aqaba city to explore it a little more before flying home.
We picked Alshinawi restaurant for lunch, just opposite our favorite Khubza& Seneya restaurant. Alshinawi was decent and tasty but less compared to Khubza.
Have a stroll at Aqaba’s port and Al-Ghandour beach where you can admire locals and tourists sunbathing, diving or playing volleyball. It was a relaxing end to this trip filled with diverse landscapes, UNESCO heritage sights and warm and welcoming locals.
Jordan is a safe country offering you world-class archaeological sites, spectacular desert scenery, friendly people, and delicious food.
Think no more and book this trip to an off-beaten destination and prepare to go bananas.