Jordan is a country that has been on our travel list for a long time! We already planned to visit it in November last year, but in the end, it turned out to be a 14-day trip in February/March 2020. Jordan really is a country that has so much to offer, starting with breathtaking landscaping and ending with an incredible history.
Before traveling to Jordan, we had many things in our mind that we would have loved to know in advance. We now tried to summarize them for everyone who is about to travel to Jordan in the future! So, here are our top 10 things you need to know before traveling to Jordan:
1. DRIVING A CAR
Yes, renting a car in Jordan is recommended! Actually, Jordan really is the perfect road trip destination as it is easy to drive, and the distances are not that far! For sure, it is also possible to get around with public transportation, but a rental car is a more comfortable and familiar way. Driving in the big cities of Jordan (Aqaba and Amman) can be quite fun and challenging; if you do not feel that comfortable driving in chaotic surroundings, then we recommend you avoid cities. The roads between the main attractions Petra, Wadi Rum and Dead sea are super deserted and easy to drive.
Car rental in Jordan: We would recommend you to book a car in advance to get the best deal possible (daily rates are between 20-30€). We usually book our cars via rentalcars.com or billiger-mietwagen.de around 3-4 weeks in advance. Have in mind to always book full insurance, or, if you often rent a car, then it is also possible to get a credit card with rental insurance as this is cheaper long-term (we do have the Miles and More Gold card). To be able to rent a car in Jordan, you need a valid credit card (debit cards are not accepted), a valid driver's license, an international driver's license, and your ID/passport.
2. STREETS OF JORDAN
Generally, it can be said that the streets in Jordan are in good condition. If you are used to driving in countries like Germany, Switzerland or Austria, then be aware that the street conditions in Jordan are not the same. We experienced many potholes in the streets, so never drive too fast to be still able to dodge them. Furthermore, be aware that speed limits are fundamental in Jordan! Never drive faster than the allowed speed, as the fines can be very high, and police controls are widely spread all over the country. Always have an eye on the signs next to the street. Additionally, to avoid high speed, the government build many speed bumps into the street. Compared to German speed bumps, they are very high and sharp, so it can really damage your car when you are too fast!
3. SAFETY & POLICE CONTROLS
Jordan is located in the middle east, but compared to the other countries around, the country is very safe! Many people do have in mind that Jordan is not safe at all as it is in an area with many conflicts, but from our experience, we never felt unsafe in any situation! The police is very represent in the country, and you will not drive for 1 hour without passing a police control. Generally, the police are very friendly and helpful! All the rental cars have a green sign on their license plate, so the police immediately know you are a tourist. Most of the time, we got asked where we are from, and at the point, we mentioned we are from Germany, they smiled and welcomed us in Jordan. From all countries we have been to, the police in Jordan has been the friendliest one!
4. JORDAN PASS
The Jordan Pass is an online ticket that gives you free entry to 40 different sights and attractions during your trip to Jordan. We highly recommend you to buy a Jordan Pass in advance online as the document also gives you free visa entry when you arrive at the airport. Jordan offers three different kinds of passes; the main difference is the number of days you are allowed to visit Petra. We chose the expert pass with three consecutive days in Petra; you can book your pass here: https://www.jordanpass.jo.
Jordan is not a cheap, backpacking country! The prices are about the same as in Germany or Austria. For example, lodging is possible from around 15-20€ per night per person with no limits up, and a cheap meal is around 15€ per person. We listed all our expenses during our trip, and in total, we spend 824€ per person for 14 days, including everything (flight, food, accommodation, entry, car, and fuel).
6. THE PEOPLE
The people in Jordan are one of the friendliest and kindest people from all countries we have been to so far. Everyone we met was giving us the feeling that we are more than welcome in their country! It does not matter who you are asking; they will always help you! The only negative experience we had was the tourism in the ancient city of Petra. Unfortunately, some people can be very rude there, and they will try to rip you off when you're asking for the way there.
7. THE DEAD SEA
A place that simply has to be on your travel list for Jordan! On average, the lowest point on earth (400m below sea level) contains 33% of salt, which makes it possible to float in it. It really is a once in a lifetime experience to once swim in the dead sea! Furthermore: Did you know that you will not get sunburned at the Dead Sea? Because of the location below the sea level, there are less harmful UV rays. We spent in a total of 3 days at the dead sea and tried to explore as much as possible around the area.
Tip 1: Jordan also has some incredible salt formations, they can be found south of the Wadi Mujib canyon (point de vue, you can also park there). These are the GPS coordinates for the photo spot 31°27'04.9"N 35°33'45.7"E where we took the pictures below.
Tip 2: We actually had much luck with the weather conditions as it's been quite calm. The weather forecast for the day we went our shooting at the dead sea predicted around 4 km/h wind that day. All the other days we explored the dead sea have been quite windy, so in case you are not quite sure yet when exactly you'd like to see the dead sea, have a look at the wind predictions and choose the day with almost no wind (3-5 km/h).
The first thing you need to know about Petra - the ancient city is vast and takes much time to explore! Petra is not only the famous treasury; it's so much more! It takes you hours to walk around the area, and every niche has something interesting to explore! We would recommend you to have 2-3 consecutive days to explore Petra. To get into the ancient city, you have to enter via the Petra visitor center in Wadi Musa. The gates open at 6 AM, and if you'd like to see the treasury empty, be there at 5.45 AM. After getting through the ticket control, you will have to walk for around 20-30 minutes to get to the treasury. The walk here is quite impressive as you'll pass through a canyon and the so-called Siq. As soon as you arrive at the treasury, you'll realize very quickly why Petra is this famous! This place really is beyond incredible!
Hint: Even if you have the Jordan pass, you do have to get in line at the place where you can buy tickets, to get yours, the Jordan pass itself is NOT a ticket. At the entry you then have to show both, your ticket and your Jordan pass (also take our your passport with you).
As we spend a total of three days in Petra, we managed to see a lot! On all three days, we got in at 6 AM, sprinted to the treasury to see it empty (only possible before 6.30 AM), and after that, we hiked around. On the first day, we explored Petra's viewpoints (there are three in total). The first one is accessible directly from the treasury, the path upstarts on the right side of the treasury (from the perspective when you look at the treasury). The second viewpoint is from the left side all the way up (we did not visit that one), and the third viewpoint is on the right side all the way up.
9. WADI RUM
Wadi Rum feels like being on another planet! The landscape is beyond incredible, and the area has so much to offer! Wadi Rum is located in the south of Jordan, close to Aqaba. To visit Wadi Rum, we can recommend you to book a traditional Beduin camp there. The area of Wadi Rum is enormous and has many accommodations to offer. Mainly there are two options, to either stay in a traditional (cheap) Beduin camp within the protected area or to book one of the high price luxury tents outside of the protected area (most of them are outside the protected area). Generally, we would recommend you to spend 1-3 nights in Wadi Rum as it is an unforgettable experience to sleep in the desert.
We decided to spend four nights in a traditional Beduin camp within the protected area (Wadi Rum Quiet Village), which we can highly recommend! To get there, you have to drive to the Wadi Rum visitor center (this is where you get tickets or a stamp on your Jordan pass). From there you can drive further to the Wadi Rum village where you can park your car for free. Usually, the camps will pick you up there and bring you to the camp with their jeeps. Within this protected area, you'll find almost of the famous sights of Wadi Rum, so when you book a camp, be aware of booking it within the protected area and not in the Wadi Rum village. In Wadi Rum, you can either hike around (we did that for two days), or you can rent a jeep and a guide. As it is not possible to hike to all sights, it makes sense to rent a jeep for one day/half a day (around 80 JOD). Typically, all camps offer this, and you can book it in your camp!
10. SEASONS AND JORDAN IN WINTER
Jordans seasons are the same as Europe - November until February are winter and June until August is summertime. The main travel times are from March until Mai and from mid of September until mid of November. During summer it is not recommended to travel there as it is too hot and during winter it is also not recommended as it can be too cold (yes, snow is common in Jordan). We traveled to Jordan end of February as during this season; the prices are still lower than during the main travel times. According to the seasons, it has been winter in Jordan, and we really could feel that! In Wadi Rum, it has been around 0 degrees during the night and not more than 17 degrees during the day. Nevertheless, we can recommend traveling to Jordan in February, but we would not recommend traveling there in January as it is supposed to snow in Petra during that time (Wadi Musa is located in the mountains). If you do plan to visit Jordan in winter/spring/autumn, bring warm clothes with you as the nights are getting very cold, especially in Wadi Rum! Well, those are our personal 10 things you need to know before traveling to Jordan! In case you do have some more questions, feel free to contact us at any time!
Maja & Chris