touring | jordan | '17 - much more than petra...
'the middle east at its best. from bedouins & bio reserves to unesco sites,
jordan is truly a magical place'
petra has alway been on my list ever since i was young. its a place that i first seen in the movie 'indiana jones and the last crusade'. ever since then this place has been etched in my mind capturing my imagination as a place of true historical worth. 'the hashemite kingdom of jordan' as its offically known has so much more to offer than just petra as i was to find out on my 5 day driving tour of jordan.
i rented a car while i was in jordan as its really reasonably priced and jordan is a safe country to drive in as outside of the cities the roads are empty. the other reason i decided to rent a car was the fact that even though they have public buses here they run intermittently and don't go to all the places that you may want to visit on your trip. i arrived in jordan crossing the border in the north of israel then onto amman where my journey truly started.
now jordan has a tourist pass called the 'jordan pass' this pass gets you into nearly every tourist attraction that you would want to visit including petra. it starts at 70jd ($100) and since petra for one day is 50jd you have already saved after just a few days but what this pass enables is the ability to pay no visa fees when you enter the country that is normally 40jd ($55) so you can already see that just visiting petra and entering the country you have already saved 20jd let alone all the other attractions that you can visit for free. its defiantly worth it, you can buy it here (you must purchase before arriving in the country).
this is the bustling capital of jordan that has some true gems to visit. i only had one day in the city so i cannot give you a full picture but i did go to the main attractions and they are defiantly worth the visit especially the citadel ruins right in the heart of amman. also i would say that the roman amphitheater is something really special, try to go at midday when the light is upon it as it makes for great photos.
now amman has some great food and my favourite place was a restaurant called hashem in the centre i went with two friends and we had five different dishes including drinks for 6jd ($8) total so if your on a budget then this is the place for you. for something a little more upmarket that also gives you the option of shisha the jafra cafe is great with fantastic food but poor service unfortunately. the best things is to look where the locals are eating i found a great baklava and sugar cane store just by having a walk around you have plenty of options. just a quick note use uber if you need a taxi as you will get ripped off every single time i have a promo code below.
now this is truly a place of wonder. as i said earlier i have wanted to visit here since i was a kid and this unesco world heritage did not disappoint. my tip is to arrive early and i mean early at opening 6am when it the gates first open as you will have it to yourself as most of the tour groups arrive around 11am and from then its hard to get those epic photos. we decided to head to the monastery that takes around 2 hours up hill so you have to be reasonably fit or take a donkey. this is a fantastic area to view the valley as its one of the highest points in petra so as you can imagine the views are spectacular, take your time to discover petra and while you can visit for more than one day i found that when you arrive at 6am until 6pm when it closes this gives you enough time to experience the site to its fullest.
now for something a little special and technically not allowed its the photo at the top of this article where i am standing looking down at the treasury in petra. this spot is dangerous to get to. when you arrive to the treasurey take a left past the cafe and some locals will ask you if you want to go up top. they will make up some crazy price but don't pay more than 10jd for upto 4 people. the climb its self is very challenging and takes are 20mins but you need to be very fit to do it and also know that this is supposedly off limits so if you injure yourself no officials will be around to help you but once your up top its possibly one of the best views in petra. well worth it so push yourself and get up there.
aqaba is the only seaside city in jordan. its an industrial place with a lot of container ships but i stayed in a hotel about 15mins south on the road to the saudi border called 'bedouin garden village' now its not the newest place but at around 25jd per nights its worth it as the area has a beach that super empty with some great diving at the japanese coral gardens around 1 min walk from the hotel. it has its own diving shop onsite to book your guide. the old town of aqaba its self has not much to offer but its nice to take a walk to the castle near the centre.
dana biosphere reserve
now this place was such a surprise i heard nothing about dana before i visited but its the biggest national park in jordan with the most bio diverse wildlife in the country. i arrived here as i organise to stay in an eco hotel called 'feynan ecolodge' it was voted one of the top eco lodges in the world by national geographic. the lodge is 100% run by the local bedouin community giving you the opportunity to experience the local culture through walks, workshops and the opportunity to meet locals. i can honesty say that i love this place and its one the the best hotels that i have ever stayed in, such a peaceful experience. you can book here. the biosphere is famous for its walks throughout the reserve so i would recommend taking at least 3 days here to truly enjoy this fascinating place. you may even catch sight of the wolves that roam the reserve.
jordan is a magical place that will surprise and delight you in every way. its a country that is very very safe and easy to travel in a group or alone. the people are super friendly and helpful and the food is something special, especially the veggie food. jordan is opening up making it easier to visit here as a tourist and explore this amazing place, they are doing a great job. i guarantee that if you decide to visit you will not regret it.
my recommended places to visit
- wadi rum
- feynan ecolodge and the dana biosphere
- the dead sea
- karak castle
places to eat
- hashem (amman)
- local falafel places
- goat with bedouin family
- fish (aqaba)
how to get around
- rental car
-uber (super cheap here) (use code; carlm5078ue for a free ride)
where i stayed
- (amman) sydney hotel
- (dana biosphere) feynan ecolodge
length of stay
- a week is enough time to explore the country but if you want to do it in depth then a month would be best.
- they use jordanian dinar.
- if you a european citizen and you travel often see my blog post on the curve card its the best travel card around i have saved hundreds of euros using it. download the app and enter my promo code to get a free card & €/£5. click here to see the post
country travel tips
atm: any is fine they all charge a small fee.
taxi: can be expensive here take an uber
sim card: orange seems to be the best
uber: use code; carlm5078ue
airbnb: get $20usd off your booking here: www.airbnb.com/c/cmuies