It doesn’t take long to realise the extent of Jordan’s beauty. It strikes even before you’ve touched down – as glittering lights and rippling dessert slowly come into focus, it’s hard not to be captured by this ancient, delightful land of mystique and magic. Travel here is a delight – tourism is well organised, hotels are good and gastronomy is refined – Jordan has it all. Add in some heart-stopping archaeological sites, otherworldly historic monuments and intriguing Middle Eastern culture, and you’re all set for a holiday made in heaven.
The currency of Jordan is the dunar, and one dunar is the equivalent to around £1, although this fluctuates a little above and beyond. There are ATMs scattered around the country, but they’re not always in working condition. Credit cards are accepted in almost all hotels, upscale restaurants and bigger shops. Bargaining is expected in Jordan and its meaning is much more than simply monetary – it’s an important social exchange and almost a sign of respect. A 20% discount from the price is a good starting point, although 50% less is not outrageous – it depends on the original price, which can be inflated for tourists. The higher the price often the longer the negotiation, so make sure you spare the time when shopping – Jordan brings new meaning to the phrase ‘time is money’.
Tips are also a part of life and almost all actions result in a tip of some sort. A guide can expect to receive around £5 per day per person, a driver £3. Adding 10% to the total of a bill in restaurants is the norm. Always agree with locals before taking a photo and street performers or sellers may ask for a small tip for the pleasure.
Jordan is a tolerant, yet traditional culture with and there are a few etiquette rules to follow to ensure a smooth and respectful trip. As a Muslim country, clothing should be modest as many people are offended by clothes that do not cover legs and shoulders. In general, shoes should be removed before entering a room – take cues from any shoes lined up at the doorway. If you’re invited to share a family meal, wait until the host had said ‘bismillah’, which means ‘in the name of God’ before starting. Ramadan is practiced by many Jordanians and during the month of fasting, Muslims are prohibited from drinking, eating and smoking from sunrise to sunset. During this time, travellers should avoid eating and drinking in public. Evenings during Ramadan are marked by the breaking of the fast and there’s a festive atmosphere in contrast to the sometimes lacklustre daytime.
Driving in Jordan is relatively straightforward – roads are good, although signs are in Latin and Arabic. Police are often present on the roads, so it’s wise to always carry your papers and respect speed limits. If you are stopped, don’t make the mistake of attempting a bribe (or ‘baksheesh’) as it won’t work and you’ll undoubtedly end up at the police station. Stay calm and cooperative and you’ll likely receive a fine. Most taxis have meters, but if you get in one that doesn’t, make sure to agree to the price before getting in.
Compared to many of its neighbouring nations, Jordan is a very safe country to travel to. There are very few pickpockets, less than in many European cities. You’ll be amazed at the large sums of cash that some Jordanians carry with them without concern. Terrorism is often cited as a fear for visitors to Jordan, but it has actually been given the same risk level as the UK for a terrorist attack. It is also ranked higher than the UK, USA and many other western nations on the Global Peace Index.
During your stay in Jordan, a night in the desert is a beautiful, magical way to get under the skin of the country. Enjoying a delicious Mansaf, a barbecued dish of lamb, yoghurt and bulgur is all part of the fun before settling down under the stars. Jordan is an enchanting nation that will undoubtedly capture your imagination, and your heart.
If you are traveling with three of four people, it’s not guaranteed you’ll be given two connecting rooms.
It’s normal for the hotel to request a credit card upon check in to guarantee the settlement of extras at your departure.
Your guide in Petra will not accompany you to the Monastery or the High Place of Sacrifice, both of which include a gruelling climb.