In 2018, I travelled to Israel for my friends’ wedding and I had the opportunity to extend my stay. Luckily, one of my side trips was a 3-day whirlwind trip to Jordan. For many years, I had wanted to visit Petra. However, I knew very little about the history and other sights before my travel to Jordan. Due to the limited time and also the complications of arranging travel, I chose a tour company called Tourist Israel. Unfortunately, I cannot say that I would recommend this company.
To start with, we all waited in the dark from 3:50 until 7:50 in the morning outside of a hotel to be picked up. No one answered the 24-hour emergency help line until after 6AM… but 15 of the 19 of us stuck it out and finally boarded a bus around 8AM. There was also quite a lot of disorganisation and lack of information throughout the trip. However, despite the big hiccup at the start of the tour and other smaller glitches, it was a wonderful and unforgettable experience to travel to Jordan. It was made even better by the amazing tour members and our guide Sam! In fact, I still have two friends from the tour who I keep in touch with.
This post is a brief guide to visiting some main sights in Jordan via a tour. I hope TripAdvisor or another website can recommend a reliable company!
- Petra – obviously this tops the list! I recommend finding the tour that gives you the most time actually at the site as it is huge and it is worth walking to the Monastery. We had 5-6 hours, and still did not have time to visit some of the other caves and areas. The tickets for entry cost 50 Dinars each which was about $70
- Jarash (or Jerash)- impressive ancient ruins with an amphitheater and plaza
- Mount Nebo, where Moses is buried
- Wadi Rum is a beautiful expense of red desert and rocks which has been the setting for a number of films including “The Martian” – the jeep ride through the desert and running up a hill of sand were highlights
- Beach time at Eilat, swimming in the Red Sea
Before you go
- You most likely need a visa to enter Jordan but it is possible to get this at the border. In 2018 it cost $65 and we had to have that ready in cash.
- In general it is good to have some shekels for the border crossing, and US dollars.
- You will also need 10 Jordanian dinar to exit Jordan
- The border check to re-enter Israel was very intense and I had to answer many questions. I even had to give the professions of the friends who were getting married at the wedding I would attend
- Take a swimsuit so you can take a dip in the Red Sea, as the border crossing to the south between Aqaba, Jordan and Eilat, Israel is along the Red Sea
- I went with a tour because it seemed too complicated to get around between the highlights with local transport. You may be able to travel on your own with some more time and research.
- At the border entering Jordan from Israel, we had to pay 5 shekels cash to take the shuttle between the Israel and Jordan checkpoints. The shuttle was absolutely packed sitting, and standing. The entire shuttle journey took 5 minutes and was walkable, but we had to take the shuttle.
- We stayed at the Hotel Panorama, which was not far from the entrance to see Petra the next day. However, I would say it is about 1.5 stars rather than the 3 stars it claimed. There was no hot water so I took a cold shower. Also, the bed wasn’t clean and there were little hairs in it
- In Wadi Rum we stayed at the Sand Rose Camp (Hillawi Camp). I had expected to rough it this night but was pleasantly surprised. We were two people to an individual tent with real beds in it and even a shower! However, we did have some funny incidents where we could not remember which tent was ours and got lost because everything looks the same.
In Jordan the currency is the Jordanian dinar. We also needed dollars to cross from Israel to Jordan, and Israeli shekels for the shuttle at the border.
I recommend to check the currency conversion just before you leave as this fluctuates
We had some of the most amazing falafel pittas that I have ever eaten, just from small restaurants on the side of the road. However, I have no idea what they were called!
After visiting Petra, we had a buffet lunch at the Sandstone restaurant. The food was good and there was a lot of variety. I ate hummus, pitta, yoghurt and salad, then meatballs, chicken rice and stewed vegetables. It was quite touristy but we were tourists and it had a lot of space.
At the Wadi Rum Bedouin camp we had fun watching them dig out dinner out of the ground. It had been cooking there in hot coals until we arrived. The roasted lamb and potatoes were flavourful and tender. Additionally, there was hummus, salad, and sweet coconut cake soaked in honey. Delicious! The next day we had breakfast with an amazing view of the red desert and rocks
Q: Do I need a tour guide?
A: No it is not completely necessary, but it seems like a good idea. For example, they know some tips and tricks for crossing the borders and visiting the sights. They also arrange safe transport.
Q: Do people speak English?
A: Yes at the hotels and tourist destinations. I did not really go into any rural areas. My friend from Amman tells me most people in the city speak English.
Q: Can I travel solo?
A: I am sure it is possible but I quite enjoyed the experience with a group. In addition, the tour made it easier to get around between the sights, which are far apart.
Q: How easy is it to send postcards?
A: Despite being a tourist destination, it was not easy to send postcards. It was possible to find them at a shop in Aqaba. And I also saw people selling them to tourists around Petra. However, stamps were much more difficult to find. See Sending Postcards from Abroad for details on cost and the time it took to reach the USA.
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