Jordan is a captivating destination that offers a rich tapestry of history, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality. From the ancient city of Petra to the otherworldly beauty of Wadi Rum, this Middle Eastern gem has something to offer every traveler. Being well-prepared and informed is essential before embarking on your journey to Jordan.
Here are some key things to know before visiting Jordan and helpful tips to ensure a memorable and smooth travel experience.
Most visitors to Jordan require a visa to enter the country. Fortunately, obtaining a visa is a straightforward process. You can get access on arrival at the airport or land border crossings, or apply for an e-visa before your trip. It’s advisable to check the latest visa requirements and regulations with your country’s Jordanian embassy or consulate.
Currency and Money matter
The official currency of Jordan is the Jordanian Dinar (JOD). While credit cards are widely accepted in larger establishments, carrying some cash for smaller vendors, local markets, and tipping is always a good idea. ATMs are readily available in major cities, but may be limited to more remote areas. It’s advisable to inform your bank about travel plans to avoid card issues.
The official language of Jordan is Arabic. English is widely spoken in tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants. However, learning a few basic Arabic phrases can go a long way toward connecting with locals and enhancing your cultural experience.
Dress Code and Cultural Sensitivity
Jordan is a predominantly Muslim country, and respecting its cultural and religious customs is essential. While Jordan is relatively liberal compared to other Middle Eastern countries, it’s still recommended to dress modestly, especially when visiting sacred sites or conservative areas. Both men and women should avoid wearing revealing clothing. Additionally, removing your shoes when entering mosques or private homes is customary.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Jordan experiences a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and cool winters. The best time to visit is in the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), when temperatures are pleasant and outdoor activities are enjoyable. Summers can be scorching, particularly in the desert regions, while winters can bring cold temperatures and occasional rain.
Health and Safety
Taking necessary health precautions before traveling to Jordan is essential. Check with your healthcare provider for recommended vaccinations and ensure you have adequate travel insurance covering medical expenses. Jordan is generally a safe country to visit, but it’s always wise to exercise caution and follow standard safety practices. Be vigilant with your belongings, especially in crowded tourist areas, and avoid displaying valuable items.
Public transportation in Jordan is well-developed, with options such as taxis, buses, and shared mini-busses called “service taxis.” Taxis are widely available and relatively affordable, but agreeing on a fare before starting your journey is advisable. Renting a car is also a popular option, particularly for exploring remote areas or embarking on a road trip. However, driving in Jordan can be challenging due to local driving habits and road conditions.
Jordan has several iconic attractions that should not be missed. The ancient city of Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is undoubtedly the highlight. The vast desert landscapes of Wadi Rum, with their towering sandstone cliffs and enchanting Bedouin culture, are also a must-see. Other notable destinations include the Dead Sea, the Roman ruins of Jerash, the Crusader castle of Kerak, and the vibrant capital city of Amman.
Etiquette and Customs
Jordanians are known for their warm hospitality and friendly nature. It’s customary to greet locals with a nice “Marhaba” (hello) and “Shukran” (thank you). It’s also polite to accept offers of tea or coffee when visiting someone’s home. When interacting with locals, being respectful and avoiding sensitive topics such as politics or religion unless invited to discuss them is essential.
Tap water in Jordan is generally considered safe in significant cities. However, it’s advisable to drink bottled water, especially in more remote areas and during your visit to the desert. It’s also a good idea to stay hydrated by carrying a reusable water bottle, particularly during the hot summer.
Jordan has a good telecommunications infrastructure, and you can quickly get a local SIM card upon arrival at the airport or in significant cities. This will provide you with affordable mobile data and allow you to stay connected throughout your trip.
Respect for Archaeological Sites
Jordan is home to many archaeological sites, and treating them respectfully is essential. Follow the rules and guidelines at each location, avoid touching or climbing on the ancient structures, and refrain from littering. By preserving these sites, you contribute to the cultural heritage of Jordan for future generations to enjoy.
Tipping is customary in Jordan, particularly in restaurants and for services such as guides and drivers. A service charge is often included in larger establishments, but leaving a small tip for exceptional service is still appreciated. In smaller establishments, a 10% to 15% tip is customary.
Jordan offers incredible opportunities for photography enthusiasts. However, it’s essential to be mindful of local customs and seek permission before taking photos of people, particularly in more conservative areas. Some sites may also have specific restrictions on photography, so it’s advisable to respect any signage or guidelines provided.
Jordanian cuisine is a delightful blend of Middle Eastern flavors and influences. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor traditional dishes such as Mansaf (a Bedouin dish with lamb and yogurt sauce), Falafel, Mezze (a variety of small plates), and Jordanian tea with fresh mint. Vegetarian and vegan options are also available in many restaurants.
More Tips to Consider:
Jordan offers a vibrant shopping scene, from bustling markets to modern shopping malls. The famous Souk Al-Madina in Amman is a treasure trove of spices, handicrafts, jewelry, and traditional clothing. When shopping in local markets, haggling for the best price is advisable. However, in malls and larger stores, fixed costs are typical.
The electrical voltage in Jordan is 230 volts with a frequency of 50 Hz. The standard plug types are Types C, D, F, and G. It’s advisable to carry a universal travel adapter to ensure your electronic devices can be used without issues.
Jordan operates on Eastern European Time (EET), UTC+2. It does not observe daylight saving time, so the time remains the same throughout the year.
Wi-Fi is readily available in most hotels, restaurants, and cafés in urban areas. However, it might be limited or not available in more remote regions. If you rely heavily on internet access, consider purchasing a local SIM card with data or using a portable Wi-Fi device for continuous connectivity.
Guided Tours and Local Guides
Engaging a local guide or joining guided tours can significantly enhance your experience in Jordan. They provide valuable insights, historical context, and access to lesser-known sites. Local guides are well-versed in the country’s culture, history and can offer recommendations for the best local experiences.
Respectful Photography in People’s Homes
If you can visit a local home, being respectful when taking photographs is essential. Always ask permission before capturing images of individuals, especially women and children. It’s necessary to be considerate and sensitive to cultural norms and privacy.
Jordan is blessed with natural wonders and diverse ecosystems. As a responsible traveler, respecting the environment and minimizing your impact is crucial. Avoid littering, stick to designated hiking trails, and be mindful of water usage, especially in desert areas. Support eco-friendly initiatives and local conservation efforts whenever possible.
Cultural Events and Festivals
Jordan hosts various cultural events and festivals annually. The Jerash Festival, held in July, showcases Jordanian music, dance, and theatrical performances in the ancient Roman ruins of Jerash. The Al-Balad Music Festival in Amman and the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Aqaba are highly anticipated events. Check the local calendar to see if any festivals align with your visit.
If your visit coincides with the holy month of Ramadan, respecting local customs and traditions is essential. Many restaurants and cafés may have limited operating hours during the day, and the pace of life may be slower. It’s advisable to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours out of respect for those observing the fast.
Embrace the Hospitality
Jordanians are renowned for their warmth and hospitality toward guests. Embrace the genuine friendliness and kindness of the locals. Don’t hesitate to engage in conversations, ask for recommendations, or accept invitations. Engaging with the local community will enrich your experience and leave you with lasting memories.
By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on an incredible journey through the wonders of Jordan. From exploring ancient ruins to breathtaking landscapes, this country offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that will captivate your senses.
So get ready to create unforgettable memories and immerse yourself in the magic of Jordan!
Visiting Jordan is a remarkable experience that will leave you with lifelong memories. By being aware of the cultural customs, preparing adequately, and respecting the local traditions, you can fully immerse yourself in the beauty and hospitality of this enchanting country.
So pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and get ready to discover the wonders of Jordan!