There are a lot of beautiful and exciting places to visit in the Middle East, but few are as full of wonderment as Jordan. Found on the East Bank of the Jordan River and bordering Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Israel, and the West Bank of Palestine, it is a hub of history stretching back thousands of years. Despite its relatively unknown status as a travel destination, it has plenty of offer curious and adventurous travelers.
While other backpackers and holiday-makers choose to spend their time off exploring Southeast Asia or road tripping through the USA, Jordan offers something a little different but no less rewarding. For those hoping to jump off the traditional tourist trail, here’s what to expect when making Jordan your next travel destination.
When to Visit
The prime time to visit Jordan is from March to May, during the Spring as this is when the wildflowers bloom and the desert countryside is replaced with lush washes of greenery that you don’t often expect from a country in the Middle East.
Real-life commitments may not allow this possibility, though. But have no fear. You can also visit during Autumn, from September to November. While the colors may have faded, it’s ideal for divers, with the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba are perfect, and the temperature has lowered to a bearable level, too.
What to Bring
As Jordan is a hot and often humid country during the day, it’s essential to bring breathable clothes. This includes a sunglasses to cope with what will no doubt be on of the 300 days of sunshine and a scarf that will protect your neck from sun exposure and your face from the sand when you head out into the desert.
However, as hot as it can get, it can also get cold, especially out in the desert at night. For this reason, it’s also wise to bring a set of long trousers and long sleeve shirts, which you can layer with your other clothes and add or remove as needed.
You’ll also need two pairs of comfortable shoes: a regular pair for everyday activities, and a decent pair of walking shoes to easily navigate hiking trails and offer your ankles superb support.
What to Do In Jordan
The best Jordan Tours available will give you all the information you need about your trip, but to give you an idea of what to expect, here are some of the must-see places to visit.
You’ll fly into the capital city of Amman and enjoy authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, sample the local wine, and then check out the city. The Citadel art the top of Amman’s highest hill is a great place to start, and you can also catch the sunset at the King Abdullah II’s famous mosque before getting your head down ready for tomorrow.
Jerash and Ajloun
Jerash offers Roman ruins and Greco-Roman architecture to wow any history lover, while on the way back, you can stop off at Ajloun Castle, which is a near-thousand-year-old structure overlooking the Jordan Valley and was once upon a time a stronghold against European crusaders.
The famous Dead Sea gives you a chance to lie back and relax in the hyper-saline waters. Afterwards, you can wash off in a mineral mud bath that’s good for the skin and the soul, while on the way, stop off at Mount Nebo to relive what Moses saw looking at the Promised Land.
The large and stretching red rocks of Wadi Rum look like something from another planet. Take a jeep tour around the area and visit springs, canyons, and Red Sand Dunes, among other places. At night, end your day in a Bedouin tent and devour Zarb, a barbeque dish cooked underground.
The Red Sea is perfect for divers, especially during the autumn months. Here, you can witness sharks, turtles, and colorful fish right up close. There are also coral reefs that glitter under the water, so if you don’t feel like diving in, you won’t miss out too much.
The undisputed jewel of Jordan, the Lost City of Petra boasts thousands of years of history and stunning architecture that looks like it was built for a film set. Visit in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds and enjoy all the hidden treasures that the 60-mile area encompasses. You’ll need two days to see it all, though, so don’t rush if you don’t have to.
There is also the Treasury at Night attraction which guides you through the gorge illuminated by over 1500 candles, certainly a sight to behold.
Dana Biosphere Reserve
The Dana Biosphere Reserve is the perfect spot for anyone who loves to get their legs moving and hike through the lush wilderness. There are over 700 species of plants, 190 birds, and nearly 40 mammals and reptiles to encounter along your journey through.
One of the most popular attractions in all of Jordan, you need to arrive as early as you can, as admittance is on a first-come, first-serve basis. It’s like a natural adventure park, and you’ll battle through rushing water, climb jagged rocks, and waterfalls which is sure to get the adrenaline pumping.
Things to Remember
Currency – Jordan uses the Jordanian Dinar (JOD), and 1 dinar is equal to 1.1 GBP / 1.41 USD at the time of writing. There are plenty of ATMs in the city, but further-flung areas will require to withdraw cash before visiting.
Getting Around – Buses are plentiful within the city, but they are not as reliable as you might be used to. However, locals can help direct you where to catch a bus. If you’re short on time, you can also take a plane, but only from Amman to Aqaba.
Safety – Jordan is one of the safer Middle Eastern countries to visit, and it’s fine for solo travelers. Still, much like any other country, there is safety in numbers, even if it’s people you’ve just met at the hostel.
Not a Secret for Much Longer
While Jordan may not be top of everybody’s must-see travel destination list, there’s no telling how much longer that might be for. With this in mind, it’s best to get out there now before it becomes just another place to visit like so many previously wonderful and secluded places before it.