In the arid land of the Arabian peninsula, Jerash is like a cool and pure rain. Just like that morning, I walked in a daze in the rain, sometimes big, sometimes small, sometimes sunny to feel the golden past still lingering in this place.
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Petra was once the ancient capital of the Nabataeans period (between the 4th century BCE and c. 106 CE) and is known as the “rose city” because of its beautiful architecture sculpted on massive red sandstone cliffs. The city was built around the 2nd century BC, so the architecture here has the appearance of Greece, Rome and Egypt. Petra flourished until the 7th century, when it was forgotten under the dust of time. It wasn’t until 1812, the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt accidentally discovered Petra. Since then Petra has become famous worldwide, attracting many archaeologists and tourists as well.
This place is the setting for many famous movies such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, One Thousand and One Nights, Passion in the Desert, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Address: 8FC2+VM5, Wadi Musa, Jordan
Hours: 6AM–5PM/Friday: 6AM–9PM/Sunday: 9AM–5PM
Petra stretches over tens of kilometers with temples, monasteries, theaters, tombs, complete aqueducts. The most famous of which is the Al-Khazneh (The Treasury). Treasury temple was built according to Greco-Roman architecture in the early 1st century AD, with 40m high carved straight into the giant red sandstone cliff. The Treasury is a collection of the popular architecture at that time such as Greco-Roman style mixed with elegant and intricate local architecture. At dawn, when the red sun shines on the rocky mountains, you will see the whole Treasury glow in a surreal pink. This place is so magnificent that it will take your breath away and you will understand why it has become the symbol of Jordan.
In addition to the Treasury, Petra also has many unique works with timeless beauty such as Ad-Deir monastery (Address: 8CQJ+79X, Uum Sayhoun, Jordan/Hours: 7AM–7PM; Wednesday: Open 24 hours) with a height of 47 m (154 ft), the Street of Facades, theaters system, tombs, temples… In Petra you will feel the time seems to stop here. More than 2000 years have passed away, but it seems that Petra is still as brilliant and magnificent as its beginning. This place will make even the most demanding person fall in love.
Petra was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1985. On July 7, 2007, Petra was recognized as one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Petra is one of the most visited cities in the Middle East.
In Petra, there are horse and camel riding services, going deep further, there will be horse-drawn carriages. If you want to save energy, you can also ride a horse or donkey / mule to the top of the mountain – where the “Best view in the world” sign is posted because it’s really tiring to climb up, a little sweaty, if taking photos, it will be less pretty.
Narrow Canyon (Siq)
Address: 8FF4+5FW, Wadi Musa, Jordan
In Petra, there are some must check-in spots, the first one is Siq Canyon (Narrow Canyon) with orange, red and rainbow colored cliffs… It is a narrow canyon and the main entrance to the ancient city of Petra. About 1.2 km long and more than 3m wide, it was formed naturally. You will surely go from surprise to surprise by the magnificence of the natural landscapes here.
Tips to visit Petra
Due to it’s a ancient city, it takes time to explore all of it. The sightseeing area opens from 6am, so you should try to come from 5:30am, queue up to buy tickets at 6am, won’t be crowded and have more time to visit before the sun rises too high, take pictures won’t be stunning anymore. From the entrance to the end of the city is 8km, going in and out is 16km, if you intend to climb to the top of The Monastery to see the panoramic view of the stone city, you have to spend another 45 minutes. That day, our group went from 5:30am but it took 3 hours to go out, so you need to prepare drinking water, food and shoes carefully and fully.
The end point of the journey that also gives me the most emotions is the 30 million year old Wadi Rum desert. The sand in the desert is orange, the rocky mountains are brown or crimson, and the high sand dunes curl in the afternoon sun. Sitting in the back of the truck, which has been remodeled with seats for tourists of a Toyota pickup truck, we enjoy the feeling of freedom like birds in the sky and lean in front of the spaciousness of nature.
Surreal and majestic is my feeling when standing in front of the Wadi Rum desert. I’ve seen a lot of movies shot here like Prometheus, Star Wars, Martian… but when I saw it with my own eyes, I still couldn’t believe my eyes. This place is both intense and gentle but spacious and peaceful as well.
Wadi Rum is the largest desert in Jordan, more than 300km from the capital Amman and just over 100km from Petra. This area including a series of giant red sandstone mountains, rocks with strange shapes, the sand layer in the desert is also a pale pink in the sunlight. Wadi Rum is very large, it is not possible to go on your own, so I bought a tour of the local people. Swinging in the dedicated jeep, I leaned over in the car to take pictures because the scenery was so beautiful, I didn’t want to miss any photo. Walking in the middle of Wadi Rum was like being lost in an unreal scene on earth, like I was walking on Mars.
A wood stove is lit, a pot of hot tea is boiled, a mellow music plays from the cell phone of a groupmate, and a peaceful and cozy afternoon tea amidst the cool, windy sand dunes, there is nothing more wonderful in life?!
Here I also enjoyed the most romantic desert lunch of the journey in Jordan when the two sides were mountains, camels right next to me, a rich meal and a cup of hot and sweet Bedouin tea on the tip of my tongue. But the memory that reminds me the most is sleeping in the middle of the vast desert in a cozy room, the moonlight shining through the window. I stepped outside, looked at the sleeping mountains, felt the interference of earth and sky. Clear and quiet. The whole desert seemed to be holding me in its arms, letting me see a mysterious but passionate beauty in this land.
Burdah Rock Bridge
Address: FFFX+CX7, Wadi Rum Village, Jordan
Hours: Open 24 hours
The highest bridge of this sunny and windy desert is an unforgettable impression for those who love to explore. Coming here, visitors will be surprised when we can still see many traces of nomads from thousands of years ago.
Al Maghtas (The Baptismal Site of Jesus Christ)
Located close to the Israel-Jordan border on the easternmost edge of the country, Al Maghatas is one of Jordan’s most important biblical ruins and has gradually become an important pilgrimage site for Christians. It is famous for its Roman ruins and orthodox monasteries from the Ottoman era.
Another destination not to be missed when coming to Jordan is the Dead Sea. Everyone knows that the name of the dead sea is because the salt concentration here is too high, not any single species can survive here. Those of you who do not know how to swim and cherish the desire to go to the dead sea to swim, please.. just give up that vain dream! Because in the dead sea you can only float, and floating is the only thing you can do. It’s really hard to swim around when your butt and belly are floating… accidentally take a sip of water or get water in your eyes… it will shocking you. The sea water here is very salty!! And dead sea mud contains an abundant amount of minerals, many tourists prepare bottles to bring mud to apply their faces as a spa treatment.
Visit the sacred Mount Nebo, 800m above sea level, where the prophet Moses was pointed by God to the promised land (Holy Land) according to biblical legend and also where Moses, the first Prophet of the Judaism was buried, who led the Israelites escape the Egyptian domination, this place was also visited by many Popes. From here you can see in the distance the Jordan River valley, the Dead Sea, as well as the undulating roofs of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Dana Biosphere Reserve
Dana is the largest biosphere reserve in Jordan, with a rough surface, covered with limestone, granite and sandstone. Coming here, you should take the time to go hiking and explore the amazingly beautiful nature here.
Jordan travel blog: What and where to eat?
Jordanian food is suitable for Asian, especially Southeast Asian taste. Rice, bread, vegetables, soup are all delicious. Some of my favorite dishes include:
- Mansaf: Jordan’s traditional Bedouin rice dish, mixed with roasted peanuts, drizzled with yogurt sauce, served with lamb or chicken.
- Maqluba: Chicken rice cooked in a pot and then “upside down” when poured onto a plate.
- Warak Enab: Rice and meat wrapped in grape leaves.
- Tabbouleh: Tomato salad mixed with herbs, lemon juice and olive oil.
- And you definitely not to miss hummus, a dish of finely ground chickpeas mixed with olive oil and served with bread.
Jordanian cuisine bears many similarities to Middle Eastern cuisine while European dishes are still very popular on menus at restaurants and eateries. Eggplant and legumes are ingredients that often appear in every meal. Chicken and lamb are popular foods, with a variety of ways to prepare them along with unique spices.
One of the delicious dishes that you must try in Jordan is Mansaf. This is a dish cooked from lamb with herbs and yogurt, served with rice, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and a special sauce with a sour and spicy taste. Jordanians use Mansaf not only to fill their stomach, but it is also an indispensable “spiritual” dish in their daily life.
The dish is a unique combination of bread that has been soaked in broth and hummus sauce, tahini and lemon juice. A delicious fatter hummus must have a smooth, creamy foam and a moderate consistency that makes diners can eat forever.
Moutabel is a combination of tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and especially yogurt. The pieces of fragrant eggplant are grilled on fire and dipped with moutabel sauce to create an irresistible delicious taste.
Manakish is a variation of pizza with a thin base and topped with a mixture of herbs and olive oil. In addition, in some places, people can also add halloumi cheese, eggs or meat to the pastry to create a novelty for the dish.
Falafel is a great appetizer made from seasoned green beans that are deep fried in oil until golden brown. You can eat them on their own or in sandwiches. When eating, you will immediately feel the aroma of beans, coriander and the rich taste of yogurt sauce.
I also love drinking tea in Jordan. The Bedouins boil black tea with fenugreek leaves and thyme, adding a bit of sugar, slightly sweet and fragrant.
Jordan travel blog: Where to eat?
One thing that cannot happen when traveling to Jordan is leaving with an empty stomach. Nowhere is this more evident than in the “food capital” Amman, with a wide range of mouthwatering dishes that can satisfy the most demanding diners. Rainbow Street is the first spot for foodies. Al Quds (Address: Complex No 8, King Al Hussein St 8, Amman, Jordan/Hours: 8AM–11PM) is famous for the best falafel in the city for about 2.8 USD. A competitor to Al Quds is Hashem restaurant (Address: King Faisal Street Amman, ʿAmman, Jordan/Hours: Open 24 hours) with its savory dishes.
For dessert, try the ubiquitous Knafeh made with savory white cheese, drizzled in sugary rose water syrup and finished with crispy pistachios. You will find the best Knafeh in Habibah Sweets (Address: K. Hussein St., Amman, Jordan/Hours: 8AM–12AM). If you want to make it on your own, sign up for a cooking class at Beit Sitti (Address: #16 Mohammad Ali Al Saadi Str.، Amman, Jordan/Hours: 10AM–10PM) to experience it.
Jordan travel blog: What to buy
Keffiyeh scarf: Keffiyeh is a traditional Jordanian head scarf, usually in two colors white and red. This will definitely be a great souvenir after your trip to Jordan. You can buy a keffiyeh at most tourist places, souvenir shops, local markets… and will be shown how to wrap it like a real Jordanian.
Ajloun olive oil: Located in western Jordan, Ajloun is a famous olive growing region, pressed from freshly picked olives to produce extra virgin and slightly cloudy olive oil.
Osh al bulbul: Osh al bulbul is a dessert cake made from thin dough fibers wrapped around like a tiny basket-shaped, then stuffed with pistachios inside and baked until golden. You can buy these cakes box as a gift at Zalatimo Sweets (Address: Jawhara Al Quds Commercial Complex King Al Hussein St، Amman, Jordan/Hours: 8:30AM–7PM) in Amman.
Dead Sea Mud: Mud from the Dead Sea is one of the true Jordanian souvenirs. Mud is stored in sterilized jars to ensure better quality of mud and minerals. Besides pure mud, you can also buy mud products such as mud masks or mud soaps… However, you should ask the locals about the location and price to buy the best quality mud.
In addition you can also by spices, or olive soap…
Jordan blog: Where to stay
Prices of hotels and resorts in Jordan vary very much. The most expensive is in Petra. In Amman, Jerash prices range from 30 – 60 USD/night/double room. While in Petra, the prices from 90 – 300 USD/night. If you go in the peak season, especially in Petra, you should book a few months in advance to have good accommodation and the most reasonable room rates.
During the high season, especially in Petra (Wadi Musa), you should book early, months to weeks in advance, to reserve good hotels and cheap prices.
Hotel prices in Jordan fluctuate greatly, depending on the location. For example, in Madaba, I found a double room with air conditioning, hot and cold shower for only 27 JOD / 1 night, but in Petra (also partly because of booking close to the departure date) the price of a nice room has climbed to 60 JOD.
But in general, because it is a tourist country always crowded with tourists, Jordan has no shortage of resorts and hotels, hostels from budget, mid-range, upscale to luxury 5 stars.
In Jordan there is a chain of accommodations run by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN). Their stays are usually located in the best position in each destination. However, you have to book very early to reserve a room. You can rent directly on their website at www.rscn.org.jo. If their website is down (very often), you can book their room through Airbnb.
On my trip, I only prepared for 1 week before departure. The reviews of the specific hotels that I have stayed in, I will write more detailed in separate articles about each destination.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- InterContinental Jordan, an IHG Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
Jordan guide: Suggested Jordan itinerary for 5, 7 and 10 days
I think the time you should spend for Jordan itinerary is about 10 to 15 days, just enough to feel a little bit of the soul of the desert and leave without regret because It’s also enough to visit some famous places. But if your time is limited, you can make a Jordan itinerary 5 days to visit 4 must-go spots of this country. Below is the 5-day summary itinerary and then suggested a 7 and 10-day itinerary that is almost the same as I went, with a bit change.
Recommended Jordan itinerary 5 days
Highlights are UNESCO heritage sites.
- Day 1: Arrive at Amman airport. From Amman to Jerash – located in the north of the capital Amman, one of the largest and most intact Greek and Roman archaeological sites in the world.
- Day 2: Dead Sea, the lowest land area with salt water, can float without swimming.
- Days 3 and 4: Petra, the jewel of Jordan, an ancient city carved from sandstone.
- Day 5: Wadi Rum, the majestic sand and sandstone desert of Southern Jordan.
Jordan travel blog: Recommended Jordan itinerary 7 days
It takes 10 to 15 days to explore Jordan thoroughly. However, if you are tight on time, you can go about a week to the most famous places. Below is the 7–day itinerary in Jordan.
- Day 1: Fly to the capital Amman. Visit the Amman Citadel and Jerash – an intact Roman Greek archaeological site, a two-hour drive from Amman.
- Day 2: From Amman to the Dead Sea, take a mud bath and relax in a place where you don’t need to know how to swim. In the afternoon, heading to Petra.
- Day 3: Visit Petra, Treasury, Monastery and the Street of Facades.
- Day 4: Continue to explore some of Petra’s hiking trails.
- Day 5: Morning, go from Petra to Wadi Rum desert and start exploring the desert tour 2 days 1 night.
- Day 6: Continue to explore the Wadi Rum desert.
- Day 7: End of desert tour at 8 am. Traveling to Amman city to catch a return flight or to other countries such as Egypt, Israel.
Recommended Jordan itinerary 10 days
- Day 1: Arrive at Amman airport. From Amman to Jerash, located in the north of the capital Amman, one of the largest and most intact Greek and Roman archaeological sites in the world. Afternoon and evening, return to Amman.
- Day 2: Morning, visit to the desert castles in the east of Amman: Qasr Amra, Qasr el Kharaneh, Qasr el Azraq. Afternoon, visit Madaba city with its famous stone mosaics. Spend a night in Madaba.
- Day 3: Morning, visit Um er-Rasas, Mount Nebo. Afternoon, go to the Dead Sea, stay overnight at a hotel on the shore of the Dead Sea.
- Day 4: Morning visit to Karak Castle (Karak Castle), afternoon visit to Dana
- Day 5: Trekking Dana Biosphere Reserve, at the end of the trek, drive straight to Petra.
- Days 6, 7: Explore Petra, the jewel of Jordan, the ancient city carved from sandstone.
- Days 8, 9: Wadi Rum, the majestic sand and sandstone desert of Southern Jordan
- Day 10: Aqaba, a coastal city of the Red Sea. Return to Amman to catch the return flight, or crossing through Yitzhak Rabin Terminal/Wadi Araba to Israel.
Jordan blog: Trip cost
Although JOD is a valuable currency, but if you go on your own (don’t take any tour on the whole trip, except the Wadi Rum tour), you will find Jordan is not as expensive as rumored. Compared to the places I have been to, the trip cost in Jordan is only about the price of Southern Europe.
- Round-trip airfare from Europe: 400 – 500 USD
- Hotel: 30 – 60 JD (equivalent to 40 – 85 USD) / 1 night in a double room in a 2 star hotel for 2 people, 150 JOD ( 210 USD) / 1 night in a 5 star resort on the Dead Sea coast.
- Food: 6 – 8 JOD (9 – 11 USD) / 1 person / 1 meal at delicious, clean and nice restaurants.
- Entrance ticket: 80 – 150 USD for all entrance tickets.
- Rent a driver and private car: 100 JOD / 1 day / 1 car.
- Self-drive car rental 40 – 50 USD / 1 car / 1 day.
- Taxi depending on the trip, I listed above.
The total trip cost is about 1600 USD (excluding airfare) / 10 days for 2 adults if you rent a self-drive car and don’t stay at the resort.
If you hire a driver for the first 3 days, the rest take a taxi, stay at a 5-star resort on the Dead Sea shore for 1 night, the cost will be about 2000 USD / 10 days for 2 people (not including airfare).
If you go in a large group, buying a land tour including hotels, meals, and entrance tickets, it will cost about 800 – 1200 USD/person.
Tips: The entrance ticket to Petra is quite expensive, 50 JOD for 1 day, 55 JOD for 2 days and 60 JOD for 3 days. Please note that you must keep your tickets carefully because every day you have to go through the ticket gate to check.
Jordan travel blog: Things to prepare
- Need to prepare cotton clothes absorb sweat well. If you go in late autumn or from February to March, you need to bring 2 layers, 3 layers, thermal clothes, gloves, scarves, wool hats to keep your body warm.
- Raincoat and backpack cover for February and March weather.
- Trekking sticks if you plan to trekking the trails in Petra.
- Sunscreen, cap/wide brim.
- Sports shoes and specialized shoes for trekking.
- Camera and backup battery.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Jordan, Petra, Amman you can refer to
- Amman: Petra, Wadi Rum, and Dead Sea 2-Day Tour
- From Amman: Petra, Wadi Rum and Dead Sea 3-Day Tour
- From Tel Aviv: Petra 2-Day Tour
- From Amman: Jerash, Ajloun Castle or Umm Qais Private Tour
- From Amman: Private Day Trip to Petra with Pickup
- Petra and Wadi Rum: 3-Day Guided Tour from Tel Aviv
- From Amman: Dead Sea and Madaba Tour with Hotel Pickup
- Transfer from QAIA to Amman (& v.v.)
- Petra Full-Day Private Tour from Amman
- From Amman: Petra Private Tour
- Amman to Petra Half-Day Transfer