All You Need To Know About Traveling in Jordan
Jordan has a very low crime rate, and given that tourism is the main source of income for Jordan, security is excellent at all hotels and tourist sites.
Jordanians are known for their warm hospitality, making Jordan not only a safe place to visit, but also extremely welcoming. Although there is unrest in other areas of the Middle East, Jordan is peaceful and often referred to as “the quiet house in the noisy neighborhood.”
You will be pleasantly surprised by the sense of security you will find in Jordan – it is one of the safest places to travel in the world. Jordan maintains good relations with ALL of its Neighbours and is truly an oasis of peace in this region. The country is fairly liberal, westernized, and alcohol is freely available.
This depends largely on the season and the activities you’ll be doing. As Jordan has a desert climate, expect high temperatures and a lot of sunshine in the summer; comfortable temps and some rain in the spring and fall; cold weather, shorter days, and much more rain (and occasionally snow) in the winter. The best way to prepare is to bring breathable layers (natural fabrics are recommended) that can be added and removed throughout the day with the changing conditions. If you will be hiking, be sure to pack appropriate footwear. And of course, you’ll need sunscreen and a hat.
Jordan is a primary a Muslim country, although the freedom of all religions is protected. Muslim women’s clothing often covers their arms, legs and hair. Western women are not subject to these customs, but very revealing clothing is never appropriate, and conservative dress is advisable for both men and women in the old part of Amman (Downtown), and outside the cities. Shorts are rarely worn by either sex, and would be out of place in downtown Amman area. Topless sunbathing is prohibited and one-piece swimsuits are preferred, although two-piece swimsuits are acceptable at hotels pools.
Even in summer, evenings can be cool, so a sweater or shawl is advisable. Winters can be extremely cold, especially in Amman and the east; you will need a raincoat.
Walking shoes are advisable since Petra and most of the archaeological sites are unpaved and sandy.
Targeted at the independent traveler, the Jordan Pass gives you access to over 40 main tourist sites – yes, including Petra – and will help save you money, especially if you’re staying for a minimum of 3 nights in Jordan.
Never drink tap water! It is okay to wash, shower, and clean your teeth with it, but not advised to drink. Bottled water is cheap and plentiful; use it instead!
Most hotels have their own private filtration plants, and should not cause any digestive problems.
In brief, Jordan has hot, dry summers, and wet, relatively cold winters. The peak season is between March till May, and from September till November, though summers are nowhere as hot as the gulf. Nights are relatively cool in all the highlands. Jordan averages about 310 days of sunshine per year. The rainy season starts at the end of November and continues into March. Snow occasionally falls in Petra, Amman and some of the western mountain ranges during December- February.
Local daytime temperatures in Amman range as follows for the year (°C). The Dead Sea and Aqaba are around 8-10 degrees higher on average:
January (4-13°C) – February (4-13°C) – March (6-17°C) – April (10-23°C) – May (15-28°C) – June (17-31°C) – July (20-32°C) – August (19-32°C) – September (18-30°C) – October (14-26°C) – November (9-20°C) – December (5-14°C)
Jordan’s currency is the Jordanian Dinar, or JD. It is subdivided into 1000 Fils, or 100 qirsh or piasters. It appears in paper notes of 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 JD denominations. Coins come in denominations of 0.5 JD, 0.25 JD, and 100, 50, 25, 10 and 5 Fils. The rate of exchange is 1 JOD = 1.41 USD.
Currency can be exchanged at major banks, exchange booths and at most hotels. Street money-changers are best avoided. Exchange rates are set daily by the Jordanian Central Bank.
There are a large number of banks and exchange offices that can change cash and travelers’ checks in Jordan. Moreover, many touristic shops, restaurants, and bars will actually accept dollars or Euros at rates that are relatively close to the official ones. Makes sure you know the current exchange rate of dollars or Euros to Jordanian dinar.
In the main cities and most hotels throughout the country, all major credit cards are accepted although some, not all, stores may charge you a 3-5% service fee if paying for your shopping with a credit card. ATM machines are available around Jordan should you need to use them. However, you are likely to find that Bedouin camps, smaller shops, and restaurants are cash only. It is recommended that you keep cash on you, so you don’t find yourself out in the desert, far from an ATM!
It depends. If you are on a budget, you can find affordable local meals — like a falafel sandwich — for a couple dinars or less, and stay in budget accommodations, like hostels in Amman and Bedouin camps in Wadi Rum for around $20-30 USD per night. If you’d prefer more upscale dining options and creature comforts, you will find an array of restaurant options with extensive local and international menus in Amman. Luxury hotels in Amman, Dead Sea, Petra, and Aqaba run around $100-$300USD+ per night. There are mid-range options and lovely boutique hotels as well, for around $100USD per night. Whether you are traveling on a budget or planning to indulge, keep in mind that the typical cost per day for a tour is about $125-300USD per person.
Tipping is not compulsory, but is expected. If you were satisfied with the services of your driver or guide then it would be a nice way to show them your appreciation. It’s about 5- 10 USD Daily.
In restaurants, a 10% service charge is often added. In a taxi, you can round up to the closest Dinar and give them a few extra dinars if they help with heavy bags. For porters, 1-2 dinars per bag is expected. Leave the housekeeping staff at least 2 JD per night and the room service 2-5 JD.
Your driver will not be a certified guide. Drivers have a lot of information about the country, traditions and the sites in general, but they are not professional certified guides. In sites such as Jerash and Petra, there are local guides that can be hired on spot. Should you require an accompanying professional guide instead, we will arrange for one at a supplement.
Three major mobile network operators offer services across Jordan including Zain, Orange and Umniah, as well as an MVNO, Virgin Mobile MEA. The market is highly competitive with the three major operators all having over 30% market share each, in terms of mobile subscribers.
You can also buy prepaid GSM cards (you will need to show an ID to purchase a sim card). You will also find Wi-Fi facilities in most hotels. Besides Arabic newspapers, there is an excellent daily English-language newspaper, the Jordan Times. Major hotels also offer a wide variety of foreign newspapers and magazines.
The electrical system in Jordan is based on 220AC volts, 50 cycles and requires two-pronged wall plugs. Visitors from North America will need an adapter, which is available at most hotels.
Jordan is generally a flat desert plateau, east and west, as the western edges of the Syrian and Ard As Sawwan deserts stretch across the land. In the west, the Great Rift Valley (high hills and mountains) separates the East and West Banks of the Jordan River. Significant bordering bodies of water include the Dead Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Sea of Galilee.
Jordan currently has a population of around 6 .3 million people, nearly 2 million of which make their home in the capital Amman. Jordan also has a young population, with 41% falling below the age of 15. Education and literacy rates and measures of social well-being are relatively high compared to other countries with similar incomes.
Nearly all the people speak Arabic, the country’s official language. There are various dialects spoken, with local inflections and accents, but these are mutually intelligible and similar to the type of Levantine Arabic spoken in parts of Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. There is, as in all parts of the Arab world, a significant difference between the written language—known as Modern Standard Arabic—and the colloquial, spoken form. The former is similar to Classical Arabic and is taught in school. Most Circassians have adopted Arabic in daily life, though some continue to speak Adyghe (one of the Caucasian languages). Armenian is also spoken in pockets, but bilingualism or outright assimilation to the Arabic language is common among all minorities.
Jordan is a small country with limited natural resources. The country is currently exploring ways to expand its limited water supply and use its existing water resources more efficiently, including through regional cooperation. Jordan depends on external sources for the majority of its energy requirements.
Jordan is classified by the World Bank as a “lower middle-income country.” The GDP per capita of $ 5,749.
- Queen Alia international Airport
Located 35 kilometers from the capital Amman, it was established in 1983. Queen Alia Airport has been named the best airport in the region, and won third place of its size worldwide by the Airport Council International (ACI) based on the results of the 2016 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Survey, in terms of passenger satisfaction and quality of service. It extends across 19 million square meters, includes two parallel runways of 3,660 meters in length and 61 meters in width, with a separation of 1,446 square meters.
- Aqaba King Hussein Airport
Aqaba king Hussein Airport is the nearest airport for visiting the valley / desert of Wadi Rum and Petra, Jordan’s main tourist attraction. Aqaba itself is not a special destination, nevertheless it has some nice hotels with a private beach. The airport is small and old, but has grown in passenger numbers in recent years thanks to low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet. The airport is located north of the city, close to the border with Israel.
Land entry into Jordan is possible through Egypt, Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. at any other border crossing (except the King Hussein Bridge and the ferryboat from Egypt). departure tax fees are 10 JD / $ 14 for single entry and 40 JD / $ 56 for multiple entries to be paid in local currency.
From Israel: there are three borders to cross to Jordan…
- North border (Sheikh Hussein).
- Allenby border (King Hussein Bridge).
- South border (Eilat – Aqaba border) (no visa fees).
The Port of Aqaba is situated in southern Jordan on the north shore of the Gulf of Aqaba. It can accommodate ships handling a wide variety of cargos, from Aqaba port you can travel by sea to Taba and newbie in Egypt.
WHEN TO GO
The best time to visit Jordan is between the summer and winter season in spring or autumn when the sun is no longer baking hot. Winters can be very cool in most parts of the country but Aqaba and the Red Sea area are still quite nice at this time of year.
Weather will be warm in Amman (average Fahrenheit temperatures range from 60-70 during the day to 40’s at night) and it will be warmer at the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley (70-80 degrees during the day). Possible rainfall occurrence in the northern regions.
Weather will be hot and quite dry in Amman (average Fahrenheit temperatures range from 70-90 during the day to 60’s at night) and it will be very hot at the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley (80-100 degrees during the day).
Weather will be warm in Amman (average Fahrenheit temperatures range from 60-70 during the day to 40’s at night) and it will be warmer at the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley (70-80 degrees during the day).
Weather will be cool in Amman (average Fahrenheit temperatures range from 40-60 during the day to 30’s at night) and it will be warmer at the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley (60-70 degrees during the day). Sporadic rainfall can occur, with possible snow showers
About 95% of the population is Muslim, but there is an important Christian minority of 5%. Jordan is home to Bedouins, Palestinians, Armenians, Circassians and Kurds amongst others.
The younger generation has created a unique local pop culture, and Jordan is considered the IT capital of the middle east, and home to the best educated population in the Levant.
There will be many opportunities to shop during your trip. The weekly days off are Friday and Saturday. The stores are generally closed except for the large supermarkets and malls. The “souk” of the downtown remains open.
The official Jordanian weekend is now Friday and Saturday. On these days, banks and most offices are closed. Post offices are open on Saturdays and also on Fridays until 12 noon. These days, many ordinary shops are open 7 days a week. They may close on Friday mornings, and only open after midday Friday Prayers.
On Fridays, with the exception of the long-distance services, buses usually run in the mornings only, and many buses do not run at all. You should check this if you are planning on traveling on a Friday.
New Year Jan 1st
Islamic New Year, Aug. 30th
Al Mawled Al Nabawi Nov. 9th
Labour Day May 1st
Jordanian Independence Day May 25th
Al Isr’a wal Mi’raj April 2ndEid al Fiter (3-day holiday) May 3rd*
Eid al Adha (5-day holiday) July. 11th
Christmas Dec. 25th
Governmental offices: 08h00 – 15h00, from Sunday to Thursday
During Ramadan: 09h00 – 14h00, from Sunday to Thursday
Banks: 08h00 – 15h00, from Sunday to Thursday
Trade organizations: 09h00 – 19h00, from Saturday to Thursday
Stores: 09h00 – end of the day.
Certain supermarkets are open 24h.
FOOD AND DRINKING
Eating is one of the most popular national pastimes. Traditional Jordanian cuisine leans heavily on fresh produce (we grow a lot, and availability is seasonal), chicken and lamb, yoghurt and rice. Most dishes are prepared from fresh ingredients. In Amman you’ll also find international restaurants of every stripe, including (horrors!) McDonald and the ubiquitous KFC. Now in Petra you can even learn to cook your own Levantine goodies at the Petra Kitchen. And you can buy beer, wine and spirits except during Ramadan, the holy month of Islam when alcoholic beverages are not widely available. Jordan wineries produce some outstanding table wines, mostly around Madaba and Ajlun but sold throughout the country. You should also try arak, the local anise-flavored fire water.
Alcohol is widely available at bars and hotels across Jordan. During Ramadan, drinks are only available to visitors in their hotels. Alcohol can also be bought from supermarkets.
A (MUST DO) ACTIVITIES:
- Visit the amazing ancient rose-red city of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World “UNESCO World Heritage Site”
- Visit Petra by Night – When the sun goes down, visitors follow candles lining the Siq all the way to the treasury where we watched a traditional Bedouin performance.
- See the beautiful architecture of obelisks, temples, sacrificial altars and colonnaded streets of the ruined Roman city.
- Sleep in a Bedouin camp. Experience a true Bedouin experience as you camp in the middle of Wadi Rum in yurts made out of wool. Walk by candlelight, enjoy a Bedouin meal cooked in the earth and ride a camel at sunset
- visit Jerash, the most well-preserved ancient Roman city outside of Italy. Jerash dates back 6500 years and was an important city on Rome’s ancient trade route.
- Visit Mount Nebo, known to be the spot where Moses saw the promised land before he died. Looking out over the valley, you too can witness spectacular views of the Holy land.
- Spend a day at beautiful Aqaba city. Scuba diving presents some world class diving opportunities. If you are not certified but have been “scuba curious” Aqaba would make an excellent spot to start. The cost to scuba dive was cheaper here than in the Caribbean and many reefs are in shallow water accessible from the shore.
- Early Christian mosaics at Madaba City. It is home to the famous 6th century Mosaic Map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. With two million pieces of vividly colored local stone, it depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns as far as the Nile Delta.
- Float in the salty Dead Sea. The Dead Sea truly is filled with salt and you can float until your heart’s content. People have been known to lay on their backs reading a newspaper in the Dead Sea and it’s true! You really float on top!
- Try “Falfal”, a traditional Jordanian breakfast dish. Crisp balls of falafel shaped from spiced, ground chickpeas are a street food staple across the Levant.
- Try Mansaf, the Jordanian traditional meat dish. It is a dish of tender meat layered with paper-thin flatbread and great piles of aromatic rice. The meal is garnished with toasted nuts, then eaten with more flatbread and bowls of jammed, a tangy yogurt sauce.