Jordan should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’. Why? Well, read my blog here and I imagine (post-coronavirus) you’ll be booking a flight to the Jordanian international airports of either Amman or Aqaba quicker than I can say “Petra”.
Before you get on that flight though, here’s a few things you should know before arriving in Jordan:
1) The main tourist sights in Jordan are completely scattered around the country. Aqaba and the Wadi Rum desert are in the south of the country. By car, Petra is an hour and a half north-west from Wadi Rum. The Dead Sea is almost three hours north in a car from Petra and then Amman (the capital) is an hour north-east from the Dead Sea. Thus, the best way to explore all that Jordan has to offer is by hire car. It is reasonably cheap to hire a car – approximately £150 GBP for four days. The main roads are largely of a good quality, aside from a few potholes, stray dogs and the odd shepherd taking a flock of sheep across the highway! It is also worth noting that there are randomly placed speed bumps located all over the main roads, which aren’t always easy to see. Smaller roads are not very well lit, so you may wish to do your driving by day, rather than night.
2) Continuing on the theme of car travel, it is important to note that along the roads in Jordan you will find a number of police checkpoints. Given Jordan’s location in the world, this is for your safety only and you should not be concerned if the police call you to one side. Make sure you have your passport/identification documentation at the ready if you see a police checkpoint, along with the vehicle registration license card that the hire company will provide you with.
3) If you want to experience Petra to yourself, stay overnight at Wadi Musa (the closest town to Petra) before your trip to this incredible wonder of the world. Wake up early and get to the Petra entrance by 7AM in order to avoid the coaches of day trippers that arrive around 9AM. You will reach the Treasury by 8AM and therefore will be one of a handful who are able appreciate the historical sight without huge swarms of other tourists around.
4) There is nowhere along the Dead Sea that you can stop and have a little dip (or float) in the water without having to pay for the privilege. As such, I would suggest staying the night at one of the many hotels along the water’s edge. These hotels offer free access to the Dead Sea and it is very nice to have that little bit of luxury (with gym and spa facilities and some lovely restaurants) while on holiday. We stayed at the Hilton and found that a one night stay was sufficient, especially as the hotel included a 12pm check-out as standard. I know that the Dead Sea is allegedly supposed to be very beneficial for the skin but, for me, a few splashes of the water on my face caused my skin to go bright red and very sore for 12 hours. If you have sensitive facial skin, bear this in mind! I would also recommend that you do not shave for at least a week before entering the Dead Sea. Ladies – trust me, you will not care about having hair-free legs/armpits in the Dead Sea when they are stinging from intense saline pain!
5) Jordan is often referred to as a ‘safe haven in the Middle East’. While the country is fairly liberal for the Middle East, you should still respect local customs. Dress conservatively and try to avoid consuming alcohol (which is pretty easy to do, as there are very few establishments that serve alcohol).