Unlike the turmoil felt in its neighbouring countries, Jordan is an island of tranquility in an area of instability. While I had some apprehension before visiting this country, it surprised me in so many ways. Take a read of these 6 things I wish I knew before visiting Jordan.
1. Get the Jordan Pass
I didn’t hear about The Jordan Pass until 2 days before I arrived, but once I stumbled on the website, I bought it straight away.
The Jordan Pass gives you free entry to 37 sights in Jordan including Petra and waives the tourist entry Visa fee (60 USD). The only conditions are that you need to purchase before you arrive, and stay for at least 3 consecutive nights in Jordan.
The question of ‘is it worth it?’ has a very simple answer. Yes. Yes it is worth it, even if you plan to spend just one day in Petra. If you need a little more convincing, take a read of my “Is the Jordan Pass worth it?” post.
Just make sure you have the PDF either printed or on your phone when you land and go through customs, and for entry to all sights.
2. Jordan is Safe
There were two main concerns on my mind ahead of my trip to Jordan; 1. Male advances and 2. Terrorism attacks.
I knew that in Jordanian culture women should be wed
And the fact that I was unmarried, travelling to Jordan could be misinterpreted as seeking company.
In regards to Terrorism attacks, despite being in a tough position geographically, I never felt any concern for my safety. High security presence is seen in all major sites, hotels and public buildings, the police are fair and just, and there seems to be a collective understanding by all locals to build up Jordan’s reputation as a safe and secure destination.
The conclusion? I felt just as safe in Jordan as I do in Italy, Japan, USA…
I've written more in a full post which also includes a few watch outs; How to stay safe in Jordan.
3. You Don’t Have to Pay to Float in the Dead Sea
If you’re heading down from Amman, every organised tour company will want to take you to Amman Beach. It’s the closest beach when driving and has all the facilities there.The entry fee is around 20 JD. There is also a long list of resorts at the top of the sea that provide day passes to access to their private beach and facilities. These passes can cost anywhere from 20 JD to 50 JD.
But. If you’re on a budget, you don’t have to pay to swim. Keep heading south along the main highway on the edge of the sea, and you’ll find plenty of places where you can dip in the sea for free. About 10 km south of Amman Beach is Herodus Spring where access is free and it even features a small fresh water waterfall to rinse off the salt (trust me, you’ll want to).
Read more in my full post: How to take a day trip to the Dead Sea - on a budget!
4. There is more to Jordan than Petra
Petra is, in its own right, incredible and of course worthy of a trip to Jordan. But are you planning to just fly in zip straight to Petra then out again? (Yes, that was my plan). Now I know, there is so much more to explore! The Dead Sea, Wadi Rum, plus over 30 sights free with your Jordan Pass. Also, Amman is such an overlooked city. Most capital cities are filled with “you’ve got to” and you can’t miss” while Amman quietly exists. Take a walk around the city and watch where it blooms in the most unlikely places.
5. It is home to the friendliest people
During our time in Jordan, we met some of the nicest people I have ever encountered. We received free baked goods from a pastry chef, freshly cut watermelon from an upholsterer on his lunch break, people would run across the street just to ask if we needed any help. Everyone we met beamed a smile and welcomed us to their country, thanked us for visiting. Jordan’s government is trying to address this perception, while also suffering under the burden of support towards refugees and the negative press surrounding the conflict in neighbouring countries. As Lonely Planet puts it, “it’s both surprising and refreshing that so many Jordanians remain optimistic about tourism in the current climate.”
6. Amman is also home to some amazing locally brewed craft beer
In a country where over 90% of the population are Muslim, we definitely didn’t expect to find a bar selling local craft beers. Stumbling upon the bar Dali was a surprise, and after we ordered 2 locally brewed Carakale beers and some pita and hummus we could see why the bar was packed. Carakale is the first internationally recognised Jordanian beer, and their main aim is to create a beer culture in Jordan. A tough mission, but with a taste like their blonde pale ale, they’re on their way.
They were perfect to enjoy at Dali, who pride themselves on being a unified space that evolves throughout the day; a quiet coffee shop to work peacefully through the day, to a lively bar in the evening.