If you love history, and seeing remarkable preserved structures and monuments, you must go to Petra, Jordan! My friends and I went on a long weekend adventure to see one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. UNESCO describes Petra as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. Read on further on my suggested 5-day itinerary to see Petra and Jordan’s must-see surroundings.
The major airport in Jordan is Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), named after their queen after a helicopter incident occurred. This airport is equipped with free wifi, business lounges and popular franchised restaurants. Prior to arrival, ensure you purchase the Jordan Pass for 70 JOD which will include the visa fee and entrance to over 200 attractions in Jordan. Else, the visa fee alone is 40 JOD. 1 USD = 0.70 JOD
A hard-copy of this pass is useful but not necessary.
We arrived in October which is suggested to be the best time of the year to visit Jordan. The weather in the day was around mid 20 degrees Celsius and the nights were high 10s.
The best way to get around Jordan in the most affordable way is to rent a car. When I went, we decided to hire a driver but later realized that driving and getting used to the traffic is totally feasible. Once you get out of the major city (Amman), there are very few cars on the road and you should have no issues with parking. I had a friend who recently rented and drove her family around with ease. Car rentals are approximately $25 USD per day and there are tons of rental companies available right at the Alia International Airport. It is recommended to reserve your car in advance via expedia.com or your preferred booking company.
After arrival in AMM, head to the Dead Sea Hotel Spa for a relaxing and rejuvenating afternoon. Call ahead to reserve your day-pass and ask about any in-hotel promotions. We paid approximately 35 JOD for a buffet lunch with access to the pool, the beach and free mud. Expect to spend 3-4 hours here where you can go swimming in their pools, and make sure you spend ample time at their beach where you will float (for sure) in the Dead Sea. Make sure you DO NOT get any water in your eyes as it can be very severe. You may want to get a waterproof camera/case to capture the most amazing float of your life. Towel rentals were 3 JOD and Locker rentals 3JOD extra with a 20JOD deposit.
There is also a free public beach nearby with access to the Dead Sea if you do not care for any of the amenities.
After the long float, prepare yourself for a 3 hour drive to Petra. Once you get to Petra, check in and settle into your hotel of choice. My friends and I enjoyed our nights at Petra Palace Hotel. This is a 3-star hotel with all the basic amenities. If you do decide to book here, ensure you reserve a newer double hotel room, it will make a huge difference (we stayed in newer ones on the 3rd floor, the older ones seemed to be on the 5th floor). I thought the hotel stay was comfortable and sufficient as we did not spend a lot of time in the room. We did however, enjoy the location, it was super close to the Petra entrance so no driving or car hire is required once you get to Petra. Petra Palace is around $60-70 USD per night. Other hotels that were in walking proximity to the Petra entrance were also Petra Moon, La Maison and Movenpick.
After check-in book your group in for the Petra at Night Tour. The Jordan Pass does not work with this tour and it cost around 17 JOD and begins around 8.15pm. Also, Petra at Night does not run on Friday evenings. It was a lovely experience and I recommended to see Petra at Night AND by Day. They lit up the pathway to the Treasury (2km) with candles and suggested people to be peaceful during the walk. Once you get to the Treasury, they have a hot tea, some stories and music to end the night. This is not an informational tour. Recommended to wear comfortable walking shoes (4km walk) and bring photography equipment which can capture night shots.
Meals – there are several places for a sit-down lunch or dinner along the main road leading to Petra entrance. We ate a lovely place called Sandstone Restaurant near Movenpick Hotel, the owner offered us a special dinner with selection of meats, apps and desserts for 9 JOD. Else, there were other Arabic restaurants along the way as well as a fragrant pizza parlour.
Day 2 & 3
The next few days are all about Petra – the two thousand year old red-rose city. The Jordan Pass should give you free access. You can either walk on your own via the main trails or you could hire a guide to take you to the back paths (fee required). Guides are available at the visitors centre & may haggle you on your way. There are approximately 8 mapped trails, only the Main Trail is deemed to be easy. Where as, the other trails indicated on the Petra map are anywhere from moderate to hard. My group of friends and I completed the Main Trail as well as the Al-Khubtha Trail to see the Royal Tombs and a glimpse of the Treasury from above.
This specific trail is suggested to have a guide required however, we ended up doing this trail ourselves. Its suggested to go with a guide as the trail is not outlined clearly, however, the vendors and local people always pointed us the right way.
From the Main Trail (8km) you will see Bab Al Siq, The Dam, The Siq, The Treasury (Al Khazna, The Street of Facades, High Place of Sacrifice, The Theatre, The Royal Tombs, The Nymphaeum, The church, The Colonnaded Street, The Great Temple, Qasar Al Bint, The lion Triclinium, and Ad Deir (Monastery). I especially loved the Treasury – when I got here it was before noon it was packed with tourists and vendors, but on the way back it was empty and you could get a clear picture after 5pm.
Soft drinks available at cafes and kiosks, hot food available at Basin and Nabataean Tent 10JD and 15 JD for lunch buffet) Horses, carriages, camels available. Donkeys on the Ad-Deir Monastery Trail (you must haggle but it is roughly 10JD for return, 5JD for 1 way). We also ate sandwiches at the Café where the Monastery was located. It had wifi up there too!
It was a tough climb up but we still had enough energy to do jumping photos 😂 The Monastery, what a beauty! 🏛️ I think even more gorgeous than the famous Treasury, less tourists and vendors around so you can get the perfect photo. 📸We sat at a cafe right opposite to it and guess what, it has wifi! 📶 PW: HLBHE2FRHA5 if you happen to need it. 😂 #monastery #petra
Tips for Petra: make sure you wear comfortable walking/hiking shoes. Apart from the main trail, the other ones can be quite hard and rocky – climbing up and down steep hills and dusty paths. Wear layers – as mentioned the days can be hot but as the sun sets it can start to get chilly. Pack snacks, food and water. There are only limited spots inside Petra with food. Café’s water charge is around 2 JOD for a bottle. Apart from the main trail, there are limited washroom facilities. As well, once you walk through a trail, the only way to get back is through the same path – so leave some time for walking on the way back (yes, the main trail can get repetitive) as there is no shuttle service or road access.
Take a 2-hour drive from Petra to the Wadi Rum village. My friends and I enjoyed a full-day jeep 4×4 tour of Wadi Rum with an overnight sleep under the stars experience in tents. Here you will get impressive views of the desert and see ancient inscriptions and natural sandstone bridges. We also visited the Red Sand Dunes where our guide told us they filmed the Martian here.
Other Sites of interest were: Lawrence Springs & House, Khaz’ali Canyon, Burdah Rock Bridge and Canyon, Alameleh Inscriptions, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Siq Um Al Tawaqi, Little Bridge, Anfashieh Inscriptions, Nabateen Temple, Al Sallaleh, Um Ad Dami, Um Frouth Rock Bridge
We watched the sunset on a high mountain top. A picnic lunch and hot bedouin dinner is provided along with a tent with a bed, mattress, blankets and electricity. There are shared washrooms with showers, be sure to bring your own towel. This experience can be anywhere from 50JOD – 100JOD per person. You will need to negotiate as well depends on the size of your group. There are a number of tour providers at Wadi Rum. The level of intensity for this tour is moderate. There is some hiking and climbing required to get to the Bridges, Sand Dunes, Canyons etc, however, you can always opt to skip and wait on the open top jeep.
The last day is a final day to explore Jordan. Head to Jerash, the Roman city in Jordan. It is approximately a 4-hour drive from Wadi Rum, however, it brings you closer to the Amman International Airport for departure. Once you get to Jerash, the Jordan Pass will give you complimentary access. The main highlights include large free-standing ruins such as – Hadrian’s Arch, Hippodrome, Oval Plaza, Colonnaded Street, the Cathedral, Nymphaeum & the Theatre. It is recommended to spend at least 2 hours here.
Amman Eats – along the way we stopped in Amman for some amazing eats Shawarma at a small cafeteria called Al Mousalli (2JOD for large). We had the best driver, Ibrahim (from Jordan Memory Tours) who brought us to the best Kanafah (1 JOD) in town at a pastry shop called Hala Bazaarr on Zahran St. in Amman.
The BEST cashew Kunafah (Arabic cheese pastry) in Amman – حلويات نفيسة السابع. Our driver Ibrahim reccommended some of the best foodie spots! He made a couple detours and gave us a mini – foodie tour on the way to Jerash! Yum! Apart from their Kunafah, you must also get Sharwarma and Hummus at a local shop. We ate at a Jordanians home where they cooked us Mansaf. While in Wadi Rum, they served meat and veggies cooked in the ground for 4+ hours. I witnessed them digging the steaming pot up!
You can find so many souvenir shops set up in Petra with vendors trying to sell all sorts of Indiana Jones merchandise. I purchased a hat myself for 3-4 JOD, along with magnets (2 for 1 JOD) and postcards (10 for 1JOD). In Jerash, there are all sorts of accessories like silver bracelets and earrings. There are sand jars and other Arabic paintings. Of course, Arabic pastries and sweets are another popular item to share at home.
Hello from Petra! Going to be uploading a series of photos from my recent Jordan trip. 📸 Here we were riding donkeys up to the Monastery. 900 steps or so! 🐴 It was so bumpy I could only take my hands off the reins for a second to snap this photo. But in the back, our local guide was able to ride his donkey while playing his flute!