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We have been to Jordan 3 times in the last 2 years. Once, we went via Tel Aviv (there was a $179 mistake fare posted by Air Canada) and twice via the nonstop from New York. All the trips were relatively short (3 days, 4 days, and 6 days)
Here is our practical advice if you want to go. We think you should go.
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The first time we saw anything remotely related to Jordan was in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Indiana Jones went searching for the Holy Grail. We were mesmerized when Indiana Jones and his crew rode their horses through the Siq and then the first thing they saw was the Treasury. Ever since the release of that movie in 1989, we have been wanting to visit and finally made it.
Jordan uses the Dinar. The exchange rate is 1 USD to 0.71 Jordanian Dinar (JOD). Many places take credit cards – we didn’t have issues paying with a credit card in restaurants and shops; however, taxi drivers will require cash payments.
We organized private transfers from the airport to our hotels. We were traveling in a group and the cost of the private transfer was approximately 3x the cost of ride in public transport. It was worth it for us to take a taxi versus the bus due to schedule.
WiFi / Data
The following carriers have no issues with roaming on Google Project Fi and Sprint. Everyone else is on a per megabyte basis. We had no issues with finding WiFi hotspots in restaurants and hotels during our stay. Those with T-Mobile may experience very spotty service, if any at all.
Arabic is the official language of Jordan. We had no issues with English everywhere we went.
We recommend you go and get yourself the Jordan Pass if you are staying more than 3 nights as it will save you cash. Jordan Pass includes the visa fee for Jordan as well as entrance fees for all the major tourist sites. You have to apply before you leave and the response is almost immediate. When you land in Amman airport, there’s a special line for Jordan Pass holders. Make sure you print out the confirmation for the visa officer.
Wadi Rum has been used in many movies from The Martian to Lawrence of Arabia. The vistas are pretty amazing and for city dwellers who don’t often go to the great outdoors, the stargazing is pretty amazing. We recommend you start here first – it is the southernmost part of the tourist circuit. It is about 4 hours from Amman airport.
Wadi Rum is in a valley in the desert. This means it will be hot during the day and extremely cold during the night. So pack accordingly – we highly recommend bringing layers! There are various kind of campsites to choose from should you choose to stay overnight in the desert, ranging from more budget to luxury glamping.
From Wadi Rum to Petra is about an hour and half by taxi. The park opens everyday at 6AM. We recommend going in early – you will avoid the crowds and the temperature is the best. It got progressively warmer as the day went by – all three times, we went during the winter. In the morning, we were in a shell and layers but by noon, we were in a t-shirt. However, during one of our trips in February, it was surprisingly cold! We were bundled up in fleece, scarves, and sweaters. Again, we always recommend layers so you are prepared.
The park is big and you should wear good walking / hiking footwear. A few tips:
- The Treasury is the first major site you will see in the park. It is a downhill walk from the park entrance to there. If you are not in physical shape to walk the approximately 1.5km trail to the Treasury, you can hire a horse or donkey cart to get you into the park.
- If you want to hike up to the top of the Treasury, you will need to pay an additional fee – we paid 15 JOD. The hike can be a bit scary.
- The other major site is the Monastery. To get up to the Monastery is approximately 825 steps. If that sounds daunting, you can hire a donkey to get you up there. To hire a donkey, we would recommend you hire it at the base of the mountain. You will see it when you reach the restaurant run by Crowne Plaza. Once you reach there, that will be the last chance for you to hire a donkey ride. If you start there, negotiate hard and you should pay approximately 10 JOD for the ride. Donkey rides are one-way; you will have to hike back down yourself.
- Petra at night – it is available only on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. It is an additional 17 JOD and you need a full day pass, which the Jordan Pass will suffice.
- Hotel – there are 3 hotels right by the entrance of the park
- The Movenpick – the nicest hotel in Petra and also most expensive. On sale, you can find it for under $200 a night with breakfast and lunch or dinner included. The Movenpick is literally outside the park.
- The Petra Moon – up the hill from the Movenpick but for about half of the price.
- The Petra Guesthouse – right by the ticket office in the park and is cheaper than the Petra Moon.
- For those who collect points, there is a Marriott and is about a 8 JOD taxi ride to the entrance of the park.
We recommend visiting the Dead Sea as your last stop. It is approximately 1 hour by taxi to the Amman airport. There is a strip of hotels that will have direct access to the Dead Sea. We stayed at the Hilton, which had a pontoon platform. One thing to do is to swim in the Dead Sea and then get a mud treatment. Fun!
We wish we had more time to explore more of Jordan. But for now, short trips will have to do.
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