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Jordan including Petra – impressions and tips for traveler

June 7th, 2009 · No Comments

In this article I’ll write about my trip to Jordan, give some tips and suggestions and my overall impressions.
I’ve been there as a backpack, with 2 more friends, on a budget trip, for 4 days – Sun to Wed on the 31.5 to 3.6.2009.

If you need further help, feel free to contact me via e-mail. Comments (bottom of page) are welcomed too.

A bit about Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan:
It’s a monarchy ruled by a King, Islamic and quite religious. Population of Jordan is slightly over 6,000,000 as of the year 2007. Major cities include the capital Amman in the northwest, Irbid and Az Zarqa, both in the north. Karak and Aqaba in the south.

Stuff you will probably need for your trip:

  • Voltage is 230 V in Jordan;  sockets are for two-prong plug, known as the Europlug. You will need a voltage converter, and plug adapter in order to use U.S.A 110V appliances.
  • Sunscreen – this is the middle east, so unless you want to look like a tomato after two hours, use high number sun screen. It works!
  • Wide hat
  • Map – besides knowing where you’re headed, will give you rough time estimates when you travel from city to city.
  • Comfortable walking shoes are better than sandals for climbing and tracking, but bring sandals too.
  • Comfortable cloths.
  • Can opener. Isn’t it nice to stop somewhere along the trail, and have a nice meal? (bring pita bread, tuna, corn, maybe even humus spread, a few vegetables you bought at the city (you can cut with the top of the can you just opened) – be simple – it feels good! and it’s cheaper too!
  • Insect repellent
  • Money – better to exchange before you enter or in Jordan. Exchange at the border crossing is more expensive. If you’re planing a budget trip, prepare 80 Jordanian Dinar (JD) for a start, it’s not a lot, giving the fact you will later need 22 JD just to ENTER Petra archeological site. You can always withdraw later at an ATM or money exchange. My 4 day trip cost from border entry to exit was 90 JD overall.  Exchange rate from the Jordanian Dinar is 1.41$ for 1 Dinar (accurate for June 09. Check latest rate here).
  • Simple foam Ear plugs – a taxi with no air conditioning, open windows, goes 100-120 KPH. for the first 15 minutes you enjoy the wind and freedom, but after 90-120 minutes drive, it’s a hearing damage 😛 . You can use the cheap foam ones that work great, or upgrade to noise canceling headphones to cancel noise, and hear music at the same time.

Visa to Jordan:

Countries not requiring prior visa clearance (in alphabetical order):

Antigua and Barbuda , Argentina ,  Armenia ,  Australia , Austria , Azerbaijan , Bahamas , Bahrain , Barbados , Belgium , Bella rouse , Bhutan , Bolivia , Brazil , Brunei , Bulgaria ,  Canada , Chile , China (Taiwan) , Costa Rica , Croatia , Cyprus , Czech Republic , Denmark , Dominica , Dominican Republic , Ecuador , Estonia , Federal States of Micronesia , Fiji , Finland , France , Georgia , Germany , Greece , Grenada , Guatemala , Guyana , Haiti , Holland , Honduras , Hong Kong , Hungary , Iceland , Indonesia , Iraq , Ireland , Israel , Italy , Jamaica , Japan , Kazakhstan , Kiribati , Kuwait , Kyrgyzstan , Latvia , Lebanon , Liechtenstein  , Lithuania , Luxembourg , Malaysia , Maldives , Malta , Marshall Islands , Mexico , Monaco , Myanmar , New Zealand , Nicaragua , North Korea , Norway , Oman , Palestine/ PNA Passport Holders , Panama , Paraguay , Peru , Poland , Portugal , Qatar , Romania , Russia , Salvador , Samoa , San Marino , Saudi Arabia , Singapore , Slovakia , Slovenia , Solomon Islands , Solomon Islands , South Korea , Spain , Surinam , Sweden , Switzerland , Syria , Tajikistan , Tonga , Trinidad and Tobago , Turkey , Turkmenistan , Tuzpakistan , Ukraine , United Arab Emirates , United Kingdom & North Ireland , U.S.A , Urughuay , Vatican City , Yemen, Yugoslavia (Serbia &Montenegro)

Countries requiring prior visa clearance:

Afghanistan  ,   Belize  , Cambodia  , China  , Colombia  , Cuba  , India  , Iran  , Laos  , Mongolia  , Nepal  , Pakistan  , Papua New Guinea  , Sri Lanka  , Thailand  , Uzbekistan  , Vietnam

Alcohol in Jordan:

There is almost no alcohol in Petra city and other small villages/towns (like Dana village for ex). In AMMAN and larger cities there are alcohol shops. You can bring your own alcohol ,  carry alcohol from “alcohol-cities” to “non-alcohol-cities”, it is OK.
During Ramadan, drinks are only available to visitors in their hotels.

Trip Log:

DAY 1-


Crossing the border from Israel to Jordan

From the Yitzhak Rabin border terminal, we took a Taxi to Aqaba city, its a 20 minutes drive and the taxi cost us 7 dinars. Now it is likely that the taxi driver will ask for your plans – he is not doing so cause he is curious, he wants you to take him as a private driver. You will probably hear stuff like “I’ll take you to the beach, and after an hour get back, take you again, we will go to the city, etc etc etc”. If you know where you are headed tell him so. Be assertive.


Public beach in Aqaba

If you want to go strait to Petra, tell him to drop you at the Aqaba central bus station. We told him we want to swim, so he took us to the public beaches which are located more south, 10 minutes drive from the city center. On the way we passed two nice beaches, but he said to us “these have no showers , ill take you to another one, better”. In retrospect we should of got off at one of the first two beaches, and not the third he took us to, which was more far and lesser nice looking. overall from the border and to the beach it cost us 13 JD (7 JD from border to Aqaba city, and extra 6 JD to the beach) . To get from the beach back we only paid 3 JD….

moral lesson that is valid in all Jordan: taxi drivers all around Jordan will give you the highest price they can think of.  In 99.9% of the cases you can lower it by 20%-100% if you negotiate.
Yellow taxi’s are registered and are more expensive. White taxi’s are  far more cheap but are only available locally. Sometimes difference can be 800% (yes, that happened too in Amman, I’ll talk about it further on)

A bottle of 1.5 L mineral water will cost you about 0.5-1 JD (Jordanian Dinar) – drink up!

In Aqaba city we walked around, bought nuts and cashew, ice cream, drinks, soap, and asked for a nice humus and falafel restaurant. I don’t remember the name, but it was a few minutes walk from the central bus station, not more than 300 meters away. 3 humus plates that were very good (I have PHD in humus 🙂 so trust me), and 2 Ful (middle eastern dish) plates (less good, and one was burnt a bit) +  pitas and falafel (that was cold and not so so tasting) and water pitcher (we did not use, you are advised to drink mineral water), all this cost us 3 JD. Overall it was nice.


Humus in one of Aqaba's restaurants - close to the central bus station

On the way to PetraWadi Musa
Petra is the famous archeological site very near to the small town of Wadi Musa. We waited for the minibus to Wadi Musa, it was already about 16:00 pm. The driver told us to come in, but the bus was waiting to get filled, and that took a bit of time. After roasting in the minibus we went to seat outside on the sidewalk.  Driver told us its 5 JD for each, to Petra. After about 40 minutes the minibus was full so he looked at us and said “you know what, if you want to drive now, I can, but it will be 7 JD, OK? let’s go.”. He didn’t even wait for us to reply and it an obvious cheap trick to extract 2 more JD from each of us. That was kinda rude and unfair, but we didn’t argue… (in retrospect we should of insisted of the original price he told us at the beginning).
Drive to Petra is about 2 Hours from Aqaba, the driver made several stops to drop and pick passengers. Close to Petra he made a nice gesture and stopped near a sight seeing spot, that also had a Bedouin altered souvenir table… (what a coincidence ha?) anyway it was nice.

DAY 2 –

In Wadi Musa
Wadi Musa, ( “Valley of Moses” in Arabic). It is the nearest town to the archaeological site of Petra and hosts many hotels and restaurants for tourists visiting this place.
I was recommended staying at the VALENTINE hotel (which is more of a guesthouse) and there we went. When we got there we saw a nice and colorful place, with lots of photos, suggestions, an outside tent which you can seat and relax/eat/drink/photograph the view below. The hotel also has alcohol to buy at the front desk. As I said before you won’t be able to buy alcohol at the city shops, cause they don’t have any.

jordan wadi-musa valentine hotel and guesthouse

Valentine hotel/guesthouse was very nice and clean and had a nice balcony with a great view.

We got a nice room, 3 bed including a bathroom and toilet. The room was quite nice and clean. Price is 7 JD. This includes a FREE back and forth ride to Petra visitors center (located 5 minutes drive down) and back to the hotel. Rides from hotel are available at 7:00 and 8:00 AM and rides from visitors parking lot, back to the hotel are  at 17:00 and 18:00. Simple Breakfast is an extra 2.5 JD. Dinner which included lots of salads and meat, looked much nicer -cost 3 JD, we didn’t have any cause we planned to eat outside, in retrospect we should of eaten at the hotel.

At evening we went for the city center which is 3 minute walk… we sat in one of the restaurants and had a light dinner. The salad was nice, the coke was cold (though no ice available) but the eggplant dish (Baba ghanoush) was not so good and the humus was bad 🙁 tasted like something from a can. I forgot the name of the restaurant but it’s the first one from your left when you get to the square from the hotel (it’s next to a mini market on it’s left side) .
I got a recommendation for the Al-Arabi restaurant neighboring to the one I just told you about, it’s the third shop , from left of the square. For 3 JD you can have a nice dinner , so I been told. Can’t verify it, but you can try it and tell me how it was.

Surrounding the main square are lots of shops : Internet cafe, mini market, bank and ATM, tools, the village restaurants and more.

Valentine hotel and simple map

Valentine hotel and simple map

DAY 3 –

jordan petra visitors center

Get your Petra entrance tickets at the visitors center.

Petra archaeological site
Before Entering Petra archeological site, purchase a 1 day ticket at the visitors center, it’s 22 JD. 1 Day ticket is enough for 99.9% of population unless you’re an archeological freak or Indiana Jones. You can see all of the main structures in 1 day.

There are no restaurants along the trail, but only snack spots. Water inside the site is 1.5 JD, as opposed to 1 JD at the city. In hot season be ready to drink at least two 1.5 L water bottles.

Restrooms – I saw only one or two along the trail.

Transportation inside the site is only by foot or with a horse carriage or a donkey. I’m a real animal lover and felt quite sorry for the donkeys and horses. They go up and down the Vally all day in heat, carrying tourists, if they slow down, they get whacked quite hard. I would never hire one. But that’s just me…

The main attraction is of course the first structure you bump into at the end of the narrow Vally. It is quite amazing and attracts the largest number of tourists. Quite a buzz…
There is no real reason to plan a route, because it’s pretty self explanatory, not a lot of options, in basic its a circle, you end at the same spot you started. You can how ever use a map or ask the locals which are all around.

jordan petra al-khazneh

Petra archeological site - beautiful Al-khazneh (left), and the Vally you walk through, to get to it.

Leaving Petra to Dana Village-

When leaving for a different city by taxi, don’t wait for the last minute, give yourself some time to find a taxi  with a good price. The taxi driver of the Valentine hotel wanted 30 JD to get us to Dana Village (1.5 hour drive) We met a taxi driver the evening before and asked him for the cost, surprisingly it got down to 25 JD, and after a minute of negotiations, he went down to 21 JD (7 JD for each of us three), 30% difference between two taxi owners.

We arrived at Dana village at evening time, last light. There are aprox 4 hotels/guesthouses there. Three are quite the same at center of the small village, and one is 200 m farther, and charges about 50-60 JD a night, which is very expensive. We asked the second guesthouse for a price he said 21 JD for all three of us. We then went to Tower Hotel (last one on the main “street”) and asked, the young guy in charge asked for a high price (I think 15 JD each…) but after we told him we will look around and think about it, the price dropped to 6 JD (yes…) a night including breakfast, I think that’s a very good price, even if it was a shared bathroom that was on the first floor. There is no lunch at the hotel, so you are advised to buy some conservation cans from the shop near by. If you ask nicely, The hotel owner will give you pita bread to go with it.

jordan dana village

Tower Hotel was a nice choice, it's rather clean, good atmosphere and nice people and good food served.

What to do in Dana Village? First of all relax, this is a very small and quiet village, situated next to a Vally, surrounded by high mountains with interesting rock textures , natural spring water and trees. It’s not quite super clean (you can see old brick rooms with trash in them for ex…), but overall it’s pretty and authentic. It is good for trackers and long walkers, but also good for just lay in your hotel balcony, or walk in the village and relax. What more, you meet nice people from all over the world, that stay in the village, some strange, some nice, people :).

FOOD – in the little village there are aprox two food stores that are very minimal (tuna cans, humus cans, etc, candy, soaps, cold beverages but not much more). There is one more bigger mini market at the upper village, where the Jordanians live – the Dana village is only for tourists. Buffet dinner served at 20:00 at the Tower hotel cost us 5 JD each, not so cheap Jordanian wise, but very tasty.

Communication – there is cellular reception all around the village and pay-per-hour internet at the owner’s office.

Contact info

Contact info

DAY 4 –

Going to Amman (capital)
There  is a minibus that comes strait into the dana village (you can’t miss him) that goes to Amman, one leaves quite early at 6AM, and one at around 12 noon. Ask your hotel owner for details like exact time etc. Price is 5 JD to Amman. The minibus driver stopped in some gas station to use the bathroom and when he came back he told us we should take a taxi now.
Jordanian drivers will often try to do that. The reason is probably giving work to a colleague or friend they know. We insisted not to take a taxi, cause we knew he was going to Amman central and stopping at a big taxi parking lot. And after a few minutes we did arrive there.
The first spot we wanted to visit is the “MAT’AM HASHIM” restaurant (“Dedicates Hashim” in Arabic – a humus-ful-falafel restaurant, said to be the king of Jordan choice).
As expected… our mini bus driver “connected” us with a yellow taxi that wanted 3 JD each, then came down to 2 JD each. We said politely no, and walked 50 m to the other side of the parking lot where a white taxi took us there for 1 JD overall, for 4 people (1 tourist we met along the way joined us for a while). In any spot in Amman you can take either white or yellow taxi. White is always much cheaper.

We got to the restaurant and had 4 humus plates that were heavenly, very tasty pita bread along, pickles, onions, sliced tomato and drinks – all were very good, for a total of 7 JD .

Jordan - hashim humus restaurant in Amman

Jordan -"Mat'am Hashim" humus restaurant in Amman. Recomended!

Amman city is quite crowded,  a hardcore Arab city (meaning, no makeup for tourists, busy, loud, grayish, not so clean) where you will most likely feel the Arab vibe. It was quite a contrast after our stay at Dana. Most people on the street were men (a fact that can tell you a lot about the place, culture and religiousness) and surprisingly, there were only few tourists around. Maybe that’s the reason the only female in our group, got lots of staring from the men. For the protocol she was not dressed boldly, but quite normal, but note that the few number of women you’ll see on the street, are covered in some way or another, some only the elbows and some are fully hidden behind a black vale. You can dress normal as you like (unless normally you wear a mini skirt, high heels and a topless shirt – I wouldn’t recommend that:)

Street corner in Amman city.

Street corner in Amman city.

Shopping in Amman

  • I was planning on buying an OUD (string musical instrument) but the only ones I saw in 3 shops were kinda cheap looking (in other words, crappy for real playing). If you want to buy it as a decoration, you can, should be about 25 JD for a cheap one.
  • You can go to one of the herb shops and buy some grounded black coffee (1JD for 200 gr).
  • Kaffiyah (5-10 JD), which can be used on the head, or as scarf, or just as a decoration on the wall.
  • Baklawa (sweet middle eastern pastry).
  • Music
  • There are plenty of souvenir shops around, I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

Leaving Amman- on the way to the Jordan River Crossing

We raised a hand for a yellow taxi, and told him the name of the central bus and taxi station we needed. I’m sorry to say I do not remember the name but you can ask around which bus station you need,  if your destination is the Jordan River Crossing, better known for Jordanians as Sheque Hussein border crossing in the town of Irbid, which is the 3rd and farthest to the north crossing, between Israel and Jordan. I will talk about this later.
By the way there are 3 border crossing between Jordan and Israel. One in the – south : Aqaba, one in the middle, but exits to the west bank, so only non Israeli can cross there, and last one is the
Sheque Hussein, where any passport can exit.

"Sheque Hussein border crossing" in Arabic. If you tend to exit there, you can print this and show around.

"Sheque Hussein border crossing" in Arabic. If you tend to exit there, you can print this and show around.

So, taxi took us to the bus station, where we were told the fare is 50 JD. A bit of negotiations and the price dropped to 25 JD. But we had little time, it was 17:45 and the Sheque Hussein border crossing is open only until 20:00 (doesnt matter where you’re from). So we told him to rush, and that he did 🙂 , he went an average of 110-120 kph.
We got to the border at around 19:30, and were very happy we tipped the Driver who by the way was very nice.

Important thing  regarding Sheque Hussein border crossing – If you do not have an Israeli passport, you are strongly advised to arrive at least a few hours before 20:00 . Time issue is mostly important if you happen to have a SYRIAN (or other countries which have no peace treaty with Israel, see list below)  stamping in your passport. In this situation , security checks on the Israeli side will be very thorough and if you come close to closing time, you will probably be sent back to Jordan, and be told to come the next day.

The Syrian government rigidly enforces restrictions on prior travel to Israel, and does not allow persons with passports bearing Israeli visa or entry/exit stamps to enter the country.  Syrian immigration authorities will not admit travelers with Israeli stamps in their passports, Jordanian entry cachets or cachets from other countries that suggest prior travel to Israel. So as you can see, Israel crossing puts some tough restrictions, but it at least fare, and almost anyone can come in.

Partial Solution – Israel is aware of the sanctions that some Muslim countries apply on tourists visiting Israel, so if you want to visit Israel and still be able to visit Iran or Syria, you can request that the Israeli border authority, supply you with a special passing document.

Muslim countries that do accept Israeli passports and stamps include:

Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Turkey, and former Soviet republics with Muslim majority: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Arab and Muslim countries not accepting Israeli passports or Passports with Israeli stamps allegedly are :

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Comoros, Djibouti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia (except with written permission from the Malaysian government), Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (Jewish persons are not allowed entry, regardless of nationality), Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates (sources conflict over whether or not passports with Israeli stamps are accepted), and Yemen.

The route from Israel to Jordan to Israel. South to North. Click to enlarge.

The route -Â Click to enlarge.




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