15 things to know before you travel to Jordan

Floating in the Dead Sea, beautiful hikes at mountain areas, the road trip of your life and age-old monuments … If you have booked a trip to Jordan, you will for sure have a special trip ahead of you. But first the preparation! These are the things you should know before you travel to this magical country.

Jerash | Jordan | Jordanië | The Orange Backpack
Dana | Jordan | Jordanië | The Orange Backpack
Petra | Jordan | Jordanië | The Orange Backpack

#1 Is it safe

Jordan borders on troubled countries such as Israel / Palestine, Syria and Iraq. Many travelers therefore think that Jordan is not safe to travel as well. But it actually is! Jordan is one of the countries in the Middle East where it has been peaceful and safe for years. The country is therefore not only popular among travelers, but also has a large influx of refugees from neighboring countries. At the moment (2019), the Dutch government’s travel advice therefore only recommends to avoid the northern borders with Syria and Iraq. But as a tourist you will probably not be visiting anywhere near these borders anyway

#2 You can pay with your debit card almost anywhere

In the Netherlands we are used to paying everywhere with our debit card and usually have almost no cash in our pocket. We very much like that; what you don’t have with you cannot be lost or stolen. And you don’t need much cash in Jordan either, as you can pay with your pass in almost all places! The accommodations where you cannot pay with card often mention this in the booking. Nevertheless, we recommend that you always check this in advance and have some amount of cash in your pocket to get you through at least one day.

#3 Jordan isn’t cheap

In the Middle East you may think of great cheap prices, but make no mistake. Jordan is not a cheap country. Our cheapest place to sleep was 13 JD (approximately € 15), but this was really a budget hotel with only little comfort. Our most expensive place to sleep for 76 JD (approximately € 95) was a beautiful location right on the Dead Sea. We enjoyed the most beautiful sunset in the country, so it was worth the price. Most good places will cost you about 30 to 40 JD.

The prices for water and food vary greatly. We bought six bottles of water in a supermarket for 2 JD and we paid less than 1 JD for two sandwiches with hummus and falafel. But do you buy a small bottle of water at a tourist spot, such as Petra? Then you’ll probably pay 2 JD for that as well. Budget for at least 10 JD for a meal, including the buffets you’ll usually use at the sleeping places in the middle of nowhere.

Tip: buy as the locals do. The prices at a supermarket or fruit stall along the road are a lot cheaper than at a stall in for example Petra.

#4 Jordan is best explored by car

Public transport is scarce and irregular, so a rental car is the best way to explore the country. Are you worried about the roads? No reason! In the Netherlands we may be used to safe and tightly paved roads. The roads in Jordan are also surprisingly good too. Almost all roads are asphalted and of good quality. Just pay attention to the many thresholds. These often have the same colour as the road and are not indicated, though dangerously high.

#5 Bring all your travel plugs

There is not a standard outlet type in Jordan. We have seen all of them during our trip. The Lonely Planet writes about this: “Jordan takes a mix-and-match approach to electrical sockets. European round two-and three-pin plugs along with British square three-pin plugs are all used across the country, with frequency seemingly determined only by what the electrician had to hand during installation. ” In short: just bring all your travel plugs with you.

#6 Get a Jordan Pass before you arrive

A Jordan Pass is for sure the best investment for your trip to Jordan. Depending on the number of days you want to spend in Petra, prices range from 70 JD to 80 JD. Besides Petra, the costs for your visa and the entrance to almost all museums and places of interest are included in the pass. Yes, also your visa! So make sure you buy the Jordan Pass in advance. If you buy the pass later on during your trip, you will miss a free visa. You can buy the pass with this official site.

#7 You can easily travel in Jordan during Ramadan

We traveled to Jordan during Ramadan and that was really no problem at all. Guides and travel blogs often advise against traveling through the country during Ramadan, but that was not our experience. Supermarkets are opened during Ramadan as well, so you can buy food and drinks during the day without any problem. Just remind that is respectful not to eat and drink in front of the locals during their fasting hours. You should also count on the fact that many restaurants are closed and only open in the evening after sunset. That does not apply to Amman though, where many restaurants and coffee shops are also open during the day. So plan ahead and make sure you get some lunch and snacks from a supermarket.

Tip: is Ramadan in the warm summer months and do you want to do a specific hike with a guide? Then check in advance if that is possible. As some hikes are too difficult without drinking any water, guides are sometimes temporarily unavailable during Ramadan.

#8 It’s a traditional country, but you don’t have to wear a veil

Jordan is one of the most traditional countries we have been to. Almost every woman outside the capital Amman was (heavily) veiled. We therefore recommend to dress respectfully as a traveler and perhaps to leave your crop tops and short shorts at home. You can use a scarf to wear as a veil, but this is certainly not customary or expected.

#9 Jordan is a mecca for the vegetarian

Though meat is used in many dishes in Jordan, there are always a lot of vegetables on the menu. Whenever I asked for a vegetarian meal, that was nowhere a problem. Either a vegetarian meal was put together for me without any problem, or I already had a good meal from the many vegetarian side dishes from a buffet. And did I mention the great hummus and falafel? You can find them on almost every street corner.

#10 The Jordan people speak with many languages

With the exception of English-speaking countries, you will rarely communicate with locals as easily as in Jordan. Not only do they almost all speak English fluently, also languages like Spanish and French are often spoken.

#11 Prepare for a lot of tea

I am a tea lover, but I have seldom drank as much tea as in Jordan. You will rarely be received and welcomed anywhere without a small glass of traditional tea. During our desert trip in Wadi Rum, there was a local with some free ‘hospitality tea’ in a large kettle on the fire at pretty much every stop. Each time with different local herbs!

#12 Hello, bidet shower!

Did you get to know the famous ‘bum gun’ during your travels through Asia? Or: the bidet shower? We too became a fan of this toilet shower in Asia – it is actually much more hygienic than the toilet paper we know. What a nice surprise that we also saw this ‘bum gun’ again in almost every toilet in Jordan as well!

#13 There is so much more than just Petra

Many travelers only think of the age-old and monumental city of Petra when they hear about Jordan. A visit to beautiful Petra was indeed one of the main reasons why the country was on my travel wishlist. But there is so much more! Jordan is a diverse country with beautiful landscapes, a rich history and so many beautiful sights. How about a visit to Amman, one of the oldest cities in the world? Beautiful hikes at the Dana nature reserve? Canyoning in a gorge near Wadi Mujib?

#14 Jordan is a hiker’s paradise

I never thought of Jordan as a hiking country, but the country very much surprised us. You can make beautiful hikes in the Dana nature reserve. And did you know that you can also make beautiful hikes along ancient monuments and impressive mountains in and around the ancient city of Petra? The hiker’s highlight of the country is the 650 km long Jordan Trail across the country.

Tip: are you planning for some hikes in Jordan? Then you might want to travel in the winter and at least not in the hot summer.

#15 Jordan is the most hospitable country in the world

We never met people so warm and welcoming as the people in Jordan. It is impossible to park your car along the raod for a minute to look at your map without a local stopping to show you the way. The highlights of our trip were the moments we stopped at shops next to the road to buy some fruit, water or tea. All sellers wanted to have a chat with us, gave us travel tips and always wanted to give us with all kinds of fruit to try.