The small country of Jordan, nested between Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, is extremely attractive by its majestic natural scenery, diversity of cultures, long-standing traditions and rich history, gentle and hospitable people. The arid climate and dust do not detract from the wonderful, spectacular beauty of Jordan. Before, I never thought I would love this country so much, so during the trip, every day I was delighted with surprises. Jordan owns so many great things that I can’t tell them all in one post. I will detail each destination in Jordan such as the ancient city of Petra, the Wadi Rum desert, the Dead Sea… trekking in the Dana Biosphere Reserve in the following articles. In this note, I will guide you on how to travel between tourist attractions, accommodation, trip costs, and firstly introduce of some famous places to visit and suggested 5, 7 or 10 day itineraries for those of you planning a trip to go to Jordan. So, what to do in Jordan and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Jordan for the first-time? Let’s check out our Jordan travel blog (Jordan blog) with the fullest Jordan travel guide (Jordan guide, Jordan tourist guide, guide to Jordan) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit, what to eat as well as suggested Jordan itinerary to find out the answer!
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Before coming to Jordan, I didn’t think I would love this country so much. The arid climate, dust, and harsh weather do not obscure its charming beauty, on the contrary, increase the appealing of this place. Jordan is like a magnificent princess in the desert that anyone who comes here must be overwhelmed and feeling joyful.
Jordan travel blog: Overview of Jordan
Jordan is an Arab country of Southwest Asia in the Middle East, stretching from the Syrian desert to the Gulf of Aqaba and located on the eastern bank of the Jordan River with the population of nearly 10 millions and covering an area of 89,342 km2. Jordan shares borders with Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the northeast, Syria to the north, and Israel and Palestine to the west.
The territory of Jordan is mainly surrounded by desert, but the land along rivers and near the sea is also very fertile. In the history of Jordan, there have been many civilizations, and it was also a colony of many other nations.
Referring to the Middle East, many tourists still have a feeling of apprehension because it is a place where war has never stopped. In the Middle East, however, there is still one country – a chosen land, for peaceful coexistence among ethnicities and religions. That’s the country that opened its door to welcome more than 1 million Iraqis as refugees in 2003. It’s the country that continued to open its doors to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in 2014… It’s the country of the people who love peace and extremely friendly, that is Jordan – the destination that I want to introduce today.
Jordan allows citizens of most European and American countries to apply for a visa at the airport (visa on arrival). List of countries here.
Visa fee at the airport is 40 JOD (about 56.42 USD) (the fee for 2022) for single entry visa. This fee is also waived for those who have purchased a Jordan Pass in advance. When applying a visa at the airport, travelers just show the pre-printed Jordan Pass with your passport to get a visa very easily and quickly.
See more information about the visa here.
Jordan Pass, newly issued by the state of Jordan a few years back to encouraging its tourism sector. However, this type of pass is not applicable to tourists with Vietnamese nationality. Foreign nationals can refer to.
This is a type of prepaid ticket that gives you get a visa-free and can access to more than 40 tourist attractions, landmarks, places across Jordan, including Petra. Using this ticket, you will save a lot, because the entrance ticket to Petra will cost you from 50 to 60 JOD and the cheapest visa fee is also 40 JOD.
There are 3 types of Jordan Pass, priced at 70, 75 and 80 JOD (equivalent to 99, 106 and 113 USD), corresponding to 3 lengths of time to visit Petra (1 day, 2 days or 3 days). From the 4th day onwards, you can enter Petra for free ;).
Jordan pass must be purchased before paying the visa fee. Buy online here.
When talking about my intention to go to Jordan, many people have told me that I am crazy because Jordan is located in a rather unstable surrounding area, bordering Iraq, Syria, Sinai peninsula… But in all the time I’ve been here, I haven’t felt any danger or threat. In addition, the 3 itineraries which I suggested below are located quite far from the volatile northern border area.
If you want to spend a night in the Wadi Rum desert, you should definitely sleep in a tent. The tent has a toilet outside, a bit far away but very clean.
Jordanians are very gentle, friendly and hospitable. They enthusiastically help, show tourists the way without asking for compensation like some other places I’ve been to. In addition, I feel Jordan is a safe country with little theft. At first, I was quite surprised to see shops and supermarkets closed at night and still left their goods on the street, without having to chain or carry them inside. That’s why I had a very relaxing trip.
Exchange and withdrawal money
Jordan uses the JOD (Jordanian Dinar) currency, which has a fixed exchange rate with the USD. This is one of the strongest currency in the world, 1 USD equals only 0.71 JD.
1 JOD = 1.41 USD = 1.29 € (exchange rate at the early of March 2022)
Most ATMs in Jordan charge an additional service fee of 3 to 5 JOD for each withdrawal. Right in the airport, there are ATMs of many different banks, of which Bank of Jordan has the cheapest service fee (3 JOD).
The exchange rate in the airport is usually not as good as outside, you should only exchange a little at the airport and then go to the city center to exchange again. Of the places where I have withdrawn and exchanged money, Madaba city center has the best exchange rate, and withdrawing there is no extra service fee.
At hotels, large restaurants, and ticket counters at the entrance to relics, ruins, they can accept USD but the exchange rate is very low, so you should exchange it to Jordanian currency JOD to pay conveniently. You should exchange money at banks and have lots of JOD coins, so you can buy souvenirs, pay for toilets, and tips.
The national religion of officially the the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is Islam. Sunni Islam is the most influential religion in Jordan and is practiced by the majority of the population. Christianity and other religions are also joined by a small portion of the population.
Coming here, it is advisable to wear discreetly, limit open-armored shirts and short skirts to the street to show respect for the indigenous people. If it’s too hot, you can bring a thin, long, large scarf to wear instead of wearing a shirt with sleeves.
The official language of Jordan is Arabic, in addition, English is also widely spoken. Other foreign languages such as French, German, are also taught at schools at different levels. However, in tourist spots, sales persons, restaurant waiters, taxis, hotel receptionists all speak English.
Jordan blog: When is the best time to visit Jordan?
You can travel to Jordan at any time of the year without worrying about weather obstacles. Even though it is the peak month of summer , the temperature is not too hot harsh and the nights are still quite cool. Areas near the sea are quite warm in winter, but in summer they are hotter than other areas. In the eastern deserts, winters can be quite cold and dry, and summers can be a bit muggy. High-altitude areas can experience snowfall in winter.
From March to May and September to November is the best time to go to Jordan when the weather is not too cold and not too hot, suitable for going out. The summer from June to September is very hot, with little rain, and daily temperatures can reach more than 40 degrees Celsius, especially when the Sirocco wind – hot, dry southerly winds blow through. From December to February next year, there will sometimes be snow and rain, so you must prepare clothes carefully if you come to Jordan at this time. Winter is also the rainy season in Jordan, usually short but cool.
Jordan travel guide: How to get to Jordan?
There are many airlines flying to Amman or Aqaba city along the Red coast such as Gulf Air, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airlines, Emirates Airlines… with reasonable prices and various time frames.
The easiest way to get to Jordan is by plane to major cities such as the capital Amman, or the Red Sea coastal city of Aqaba.
From major European cities, there are many airlines that fly directly to Amman, such as Alitalia (now as ITA Airways), Turkish Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines…
If you want to combine visiting Jordan and other countries in the region, you can getting to Jordan by road.
If you are in Israel and want to go to Jordan, there are 3 international border gates for tourists. However, if you want to enter Jordan from Israeli border gates, you must have a Jordan visa stamped in your passport.
- Yitzhak Rabin Border Terminal/Wadi Araba: Located in Southern Jordan, between Eilat resort town of Israel and Aqaba city of Jordan. This is the most “comfortable” border gate between the two countries in terms of strictness with regard to entry procedures and waiting time.
- King Hussein Bridge Terminal: This is the closest border crossing between Jerusalem and the capital Amman. Note that Jordan does not issue visas at this border gate.
- Jordan River/Sheikh Hussein Crossing: This is the border gate that tourists often pass through when traveling from the North of Israel to visit Petra.
See more information on how to crossing the Israel – Jordan border here.
Jordan guide: How to get around Jordan?
While searching travel information in Jordan, I struggled through the websites but still found very little useful information. Later, when I got there, I realized it was actually very simple. There are 5 main ways to travel between cities / tourist places in Jordan: Rent a self-drive car, rent a car with a driver, taxi, bus or mini bus, and finally buy a full tour (I have not tried this way yet).
Rent a car
Before coming to Jordan, I consulted many travel forums and saw visitors who had been to Jordan (mostly Americans) alert traffic in Jordan. When I got there, I saw European tourists renting cars so much :D.
Except the capital Amman with a slightly high population density, so the traffic is a bit messy (but still better than in some Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam or Thailand), all other places are fine. Between the cities, Jordan’s road network is very good, wide, beautiful, smooth, and especially is quite deserted. So if you have a good budget, you should rent a car to traveling around without having to worry much.
The cost of renting a 4-seater car is around 170 JOD (240 USD) for 5 days and 300 JOD (430 USD) for 10 days.
I often rent a car on Rentalcars website.
Rent a car with a driver
If you don’t want to drive yourself, because of don’t have an international driver’s license, or don’t want to have to worry about finding a parking spot at night, for example, you can rent a car with a private driver. They will take care from A to Z, fuel, parking, dining and accommodation… You do not need to pay any extra costs, except for tips.
Car rental with driver is about 100 JOD / 1 day, 270 JOD / 3 days.
I have tried the services of these two drivers and I was very satisfied, highly recommended:
- Bassem Amarneh (Speaks English well). Tel: +96 27 98 87 79 62. Email: [email protected]
- Ghasan (Speaks English and French well). Tel : +96 27 95 76 18 16. Email : [email protected]
Due to the Jordan itineraries below are divided into different areas, you can hire a taxi for each route, for example, from Amman to Jerash and vice versa, Amman to Petra, Petra to Wadi Rum… Although taxis in Jordan have meters, you will usually have to bargain in advance with the driver is how much money for a specific journey. For example, from Petra to Wadi Rum will be about 40 JOD for a 4-seater vehicle. If you go alone, please contact the hotel reception or right in any restaurant or tea shop, you will easily find someone to go with to share the rental cost.
At the end of the trip, if you stop at Petra and Wadi Rum for as many days as the itinerary I suggested below, then a taxi or bus is the most reasonable choice because you will not have to pay for the car rental for the remaining days that you do not use it.
Refer to taxi prices in Jordan as follows:
- Dana Biosphere Reserve – Petra : 30 JOD
- Petra – Wadi Rum : 40 JOD
- Petra Gate to hotel in the center of Wadi Musa, 2 km uphill: 3 JOD
- Wadi Musa Center to Petra Gate, 2 km downhill: 1 JOD
- Wadi Rum – Aqaba (bus station to Amman): 25 JOD
- Wadi Rum – Aqaba (Israel border or South Beach): 30 JOD
A taxi for 4 people is just nice. But if you’re alone, don’t worry. When you arrive at the resort, hotel, you just need to tell the receptionist that you want to find someone to accompany the taxi to the next point. Or simply strike up a conversation with other tourists in a cafe, restaurant and easily find someone to go with the next day. Jordan is very small country and doesn’t have many “must-see” spots, so if you meet someone at the beginning of your journey, chances are you’ll see that person again in all the days that follow. Tourists coming to Jordan are mostly young people, but almost all of them have been around the world (several times), so they are extremely interesting and easy to get to know. We only went with 2 people and it was easy to find someone to share the taxi fare for all routes.
The taxi fare for 4 people is usually the same as the bus fare.
Bus, mini bus
Except the route from Amman to Aqaba, there is a large bus route, the rest of the bus information is quite messy and inconsistent. So, if you want to take the bus in places like Jerash, Petra, Wadi Rum you should ask the hotel reception for the most detailed information.
In addition to the routes with large buses, running regularly like Amman – Aqaba, Jordan’s bus system is quite obscure, with very little information on the internet. But if you need to use the bus, then you should ask the hotel receptionist and ask them book the bus for you.
One of the reputable bus companies: JETT bus.
For example, the mini bus from Petra to Wadi Rum runs at (about) 6 am. Ask the receptionist to book a car from the day before, then in the morning next day you go to the hotel door to wait. The bus will go through all the hotels which guests booked its service to pick up them. This service has a fare of 10 JOD/person.
Particularly, the mini bus will only run when the bus is full, so if you choose to take the mini bus, you should prepare to spend much time for it.
The way I chose
Self-drive car rental: The roads in Jordan are quite good, spacious, paved and not too crowded so you can rent a car to go around the country. The average price for renting a 4-seater car is 50 USD/day. You can contact travel agencies in Jordan or rent your own on https://www.rentalcars.com/
If you are traveling in a large group, you should rent a private car with an accompanying guide is the best option. Car rental price depends on the type of car you rent, ranging from 300-400 USD/day for a 24-seat car.
We chose to rent a car with a driver for the first few days (from Amman to Dana) for 3 reasons:
- Every day passing through many small attractions on the way, have to stop many times.
- These places are rarely reached by public transport, so I don’t want to waste time waiting at the bus stop.
- On travel forums, there was feedback that Jordan road is difficult to go (later found that is not the case), so I was not confident enough to rent a self-driving car (regret it).
The remaining days of the journey, I took a taxi because I stayed for a long time at each place (2, 3 days). If you go with a few people and want to save money but can’t find anyone to share the taxi fare, you can take the bus :).
If I take this 10-day itinerary again, I will rent a self-drive car for the first 3 days, pick up and drop off the car at Amman airport. Then take a taxi or bus for the rest of the remaining days.
Buy tour in Wadi Rum
During my journey in Jordan, I only bought a land tour once to get to Wadi Rum. This is the desert region of southern Jordan, with breathtaking scenery. The beauty of thunderstorms, sunrises and sunsets in Wadi Rum can be said to overwhelm all the impressions of other deserts that I have ever been to. My feeling when standing in front of Wadi Rum is both strange and familiar, like when I look at an old postcard, have seen it hundreds of times before, then accidentally find it clamped in a book on the corner of the shelf, and again, this one with me in the picture.
Wadi Rum is not too large but completely wild and without any road. Therefore, you should buy a tour from a local to avoid getting lost. Tours usually start at 9-10 am at Wadi Rum village, ranging in length from 1 to 3 nights. I chose the 2 night sleep tour in the desert and still feel “craving” and want to come back.
This time I was very satisfied with the service of Rum Star (http://www.rumstars.com), which is one of the largest tour agencies in Wadi Rum. They are one of three tour companies whose camps are located in the desert. Rum Star’s camp is located in the deepest part of the desert, with tents for 2, 4, 6 people, optional. New and large hot and cold bathroom, clean and beautiful shared dining room. Super delicious dinner. The drivers and guides are enthusiastic and funny. Tour 2 nights costs 120 JOD / 1 person. If you want to ride a camel to watch the sunset, pay an additional 20 JOD / 1 person.
Jordan travel blog: Where to go and what to do in Jordan
Amman – the capital of Jordan is located on 7 hills with bold ancient and modern imprints. Here visitors can visit the Roman Theater built during the reign of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, with a capacity of 6,000 people used regularly for theatrical and entertainment activities. The Umayyad Palace as well as the massive castles located in the desert were built during the period of the Umayyad Caliphate.
Address: XW4M+5MC, Amman, Jordan
Hours: 9AM–11:30PM/Friday: Closed
The Umayyad Palace located on the Citadel Hill of Amman is also known as Al – Qasr dates back to the 8th century, it is known as the best preserved and magnificent site of the ancient citadel in Amman. Most of the materials used to build the palace are limestone and basalt. In the dim, sacred light of the palace, the paintings on the walls appear vividly, which are the reproduction of the life of the people of the 8th century associated with the images of farming, hunting, etc.
Ancient Roman Theater
Address: Taha Al-Hashemi St., Amman, Jordan
One of the most magnificent landmarks in Amman. The impressive stone structure, built during the reign of Antoninus Pius, dating back over 2,000 years. The inclined and sloped theater has amazing reverberation, ingenious design and can accommodate more than 5,000 audiences.
Address: XW3P+R32, Amman, Jordan
The construction built in the architectural style of the Byzantine period is still preserved to this day. The church was built around the 6th or 7th century during the Byzantine Empire’s invasion and occupation of this land. The most prominent in the structure of the church are the towering stone pillars that are stacked from stones of similar size without the need for any adhesive materials.
Temple of Hercules
Address: Museum St 132, Amman, Jordan
The temple located about 100m from the Byzantine church, today is also known by another name the “Great Temple of Amman” in Amman capital. The temple was built to worship the god Hercules in Greek mythology. This is the place to keep the people’s belief about a powerful god who will protect the people to live in peace and happiness. The temple was built during the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Jordan Archaeological Museum
Address: XW3M+MP9, Amman, Jordan
Hours: 8AM–6PM/Friday: Closed
The Archaeological Museum is located at the top of the Amman Citadel in the heart of Amman, built in 1951. Here you can view an impressive collection of artifacts found at archaeological sites in Jordan, dating from prehistoric times to the 15th century such as Dead Sea Scrolls, 6,000-year-old skull and unique sculptures of Ain Ghazal, etc. You can also visit another place nearby is Jordanian Museum of Popular Traditions which displays ancient jewelry and traditional foundations of Amman.
Located 50 km from the capital Amman and taking an hour traveling by car, Jerash is an ancient city over 2000 years old with Roman architecture still relatively intact. Jerash was founded around 1200 BC, by 63 BC the Romans occupied the city, making it a Roman territory in Syria. By the first century AD, Jerash reached the peak of wealth and prosperity with a series of works such as a racecourse, a theater with a capacity of 4,000 people, a temple of Zeus and a temple Goddess Artemis.
North of the city of Amman is the ancient city of Jerash, which is considered a Roman ruins, to this day, it still preserves Roman architecture outside of Italy, Jordanians are always proud of the region. This ancient land with the architecture was built over 2000 years ago.
In 106 AD, the Roman emperor Trajan built highways to connect the cities in the plan together and focused on developing a separate commerce for the city of Jerash. In 749 AD, a few earthquakes destroyed a large number of structures in Jerash, what remains today are really structures that have stood the test of time.
Every year in the summer, “Jerash Festival” is usually held for three consecutive weeks by members of the Jordanian royal family to attract tourists. The activities that take place in the festival include: singing, dancing and performances on the Hadrian stage. This festival is considered as one of the biggest festivals in the Middle East.
A lot of tourists liken Jerash to the Pompeii of the Middle East but to me Jerash is Jerash and Pompeii is Pompeii. Each place will have its own beauty. I haven’t been to Pompeii, I don’t know how beautiful or majestic it is. But Jerash is right in front of my eyes, I can stand in the middle of the Oval and admire, walk between the Corinthian Columns featuring Roman architecture and watch the magnificent theaters, so impressive and overwhelmed!