Are you planning a trip to Jordan? START HERE
Jordan was my first ever trip to the Middle East. I loved it so much that I came back just 5 months later and rented a small apartment with my two boys. This gave us a chance to explore everything that Jordan had to offer and in many visits since, this Jordan travel blog was born! I have put everything I know into this comprehensive Jordan travel guide and I am always happy to talk about Jordan. If you ever have questions or cannot find what you are looking for on my site, feel free to reach out! I am always happy to answer emails! You can also check out the Jordan Facebook group to ask your questions there as well!
Rest assured that Step into Jordan has everything that you need to plan your trip to Jordan from start to finish. I have tried to put this guide into a logical order for someone who has never traveled to Jordan before. I know when I was going on my first trip I wanted to know everything I should expect! Here you can start with the basics of a visit to Jordan and then dive deeper into in depth destination guides and itineraries and everything you need to know.
Jordan Travel Guide
Jordan is one of the top adventure destinations in the world. I love that you can be exploring the wonders of Petra one day and then scuba diving stunning reefs off the coast of the Red Sea the next. In Amman, you can be enjoying street food downtown for lunch and then floating on the Dead Sea in the afternoon before retiring to one of the resorts on its shores! Wadi Rum is probably my favorite part of Jordan, but that should not take away from Petra or the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea. I always encourage everyone who visits Jordan to at least spend a night in Wadi Rum because my first tour to Jordan only had us there for an afternoon and I think that was a big fail on their part.
The Best Time To Visit Jordan
March until May and September to mid-November are the best time to visit Jordan. It offers the best temperatures and avoids the busy (and hot) summer travel season which sees locals as well as tourists from the gulf region spending their summer break in Jordan. You can read more about each season in Jordan in the link above. The only time I do not recommend traveling to Jordan is December to February as the poor weather can dampen many of the outdoor adventures Jordan is famous for.
What to Expect in Jordan
Visas: The vast majority of nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival in Jordan. Check before you visit. If you are planning on visiting Jordan independently, the Jordan Pass can save you some money as it waives the visa fees for entering the country if you are staying at least a few nights in the country.
Safety: Jordan is a safe country to visit and is known for its friendly locals who are very proud Jordanians. Visitors are unlikely to go a day in Jordan without a smile and a “welcome to Jordan” from a local. Women traveling solo are often questioned by locals about a “where their husbands are?” but it is most often polite small talk and curiousity. Smiling and chatting with locals can be considered flirting and it is reccomended women not take invitiations to visit caves in Petra at night with local tribes. Car accidents are typically the most dangerous part of Jordan.
Language: The official language is Arabic but English is widely spoken in the tourist areas. Road signage is in Arabic and English as are most menus, receipts and money.
Religion: 95% Muslim 4% Christian
Currency: The official currency is the Jordanian Dinar, which is tied to the USD. 1 USD is about JOD 0.71. When shopping you will often hear the currency referred to as “JD” such as “one JD” or “dinar” such as “one Dinar.”
Main Tourist Sites: Petra, Wadi Rum, Mount Nebo, Madaba, Dead Sea, Jerash, Jesus Baptism Site
Budget: While many countries in the Middle East are quite inexpensive to travel, Jordan is not one of them. A 1 JD bottle of water costs about USD1.41. Luxury Hotels and Resorts will run guests about USD150-200 and a bottle of wine in a liquor store will cost patrons about USD30. Taxi’s and street food are two things that are inexpensive in Jordan. There are ATM’s in almost every major hotel and in Amman there are plenty of currency exchange options. However, cash is still king in Jordan. Locals use cash for everything from grocery store purchases to roadside tea to hotel rooms. While you can use credit cards at major hotels and tourist shops, it is best to have cash on hand each day.
Electricity: The plugs in Jordan are Type C, D, F, G, and J. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50Hz. Use a universal adapter so you can adapt to the changing plug situation in the kingdom.
Airports: Jordan’s main international Airport is Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) located outside of Amman. Aqaba International Airport (AQJ) is located in the south of the country on the Red Sea in Aqaba. European Low Cost flights often fly into Aqaba on a seasonal basis offering the resort area as a getaway for Europeans looking to escape winter.
Tipping: Tipping is a big part of the service culture in Jordan, but unlike other countries (Egypt for instance), genuine tips such as driving directions are given without a second thought. When it comes to restaurants, it is common to add 10% to the bill, tip 1 JD for luggage service and round up to the next dinar for a taxi. Guides and drivers also work for tips and a base line guide for a group tour is JD3 per day for the driver and JD5 per day for the guide (per person in the group). A private guide JD25 per day is a typical tip for the group.
Cuisine: Jordanian food is a big part of a Jordan visit and taking advantage of the arabic flavors is part of the experience. From sweet Bedouin tea, hummus and bread to mansaf, make sure you enjoy all of the popular dishes in Jordan.
Alcohol: Although over 90% of the country is made up of Muslims, drinking is acceptable in Jordan, but not widespread. All 5 star hotels will have a well-stocked bar and there are plenty of liquor stores in Amman and Aqaba, but you will be hard-pressed to find much in places like Petra unless you are staying in a 5 star hotel like Movenpick or Marriott.
Water: You will read conflicting reports about tap water being drinkable or not. It really depends if the tap has a filter on it (which is hard to tell unless you have rented an apartment and look under the sink.) Most locals use tap water for washing and have a separate filtered tap. Stick to bottled water just to be sure. Generally hotel water in restaurants has been filtered.
Toilets: All hotels, rest stops and most restaurants have western toilets, but almost none of them have toilet paper. If you are not comfortable using the bidet sprayer, ensure you have some packed. Some rest stops have a bathroom attendant who will supply you with paper for a small tip. The same goes in Petra.
Insurance and Medical: Jordan has modern hospitals and plenty of doctors if needed. I even took my son to a local doctor while in Jordan and the experience was one of the most authentic things you can do in Jordan (not that I am recommending you visit a doctor, but you really get a sense of the locals when you end up doing things that people who live in Jordan do everyday! With that being said, I highly suggest you buy travel insurance for Jordan. It is an inexpensive peace of mind for when those big accidents happen. You can get a quote on travel insurance for Jordan from this site.
Jordan Dress Code and Local Customs
What to Wear in Jordan
While Jordan has modern cities, Jordanians have a typical conservative dress code. Men wear pants even in the hottest summer days unless they are at the beach. You will never see a Jordanian man topless, unless at a pool, on a boat or at the beach. Women should not wear low cut shirts or tank tops. Local Jordanian women generally wear tshirts or long sleeves and long pants all year round.
When visiting in the summer months, avoid short shorts unless at the beach resorts and pack a swim cover up to walk to and from the pool. I have plenty more advice on this post on what to wear in Jordan. Overall, locals are unlikely to comment on your dress, but it is best to dress respectfully.
Greetings: When it comes to greetings in Jordan, you will often see men hugging and cheek kissing (at least twice!) and women will often do the same. However, you will rarely see men and women in such an embrace. Shaking hands between men and women is totally fine. However, if you are a man greeting a conservatively dressed woman, let her be the first to extend a hand in greeting. Public displays of affection are frowned upon in Jordan. While in a resort you may see a couple holding hands, but that is about as much physical affection you will see from locals. When traveling in Jordan with your partner, keep your physical contact to a minimum.
Respecting Religion: It is normal for Muslims to pray in public. Be mindful of those praying outside and do not walk right in front of them or stare. You will see most drivers, even police officers with a prayer mat with them during the day. If you are visiting Jordan during Ramadan, it is advised to not eat in public. Locals will not say anything if you are drinking water, but if a local was to do it, they would likely be scorned by those who are choosing to fast.
Photos: Always ask permission before taking photos of locals in Jordan. Especially women. Also, if you are a women traveilng in Jordan and happen to run into a school group, do not be surprised if the students want to take photos with you! Jordanian children love interacting with guests to their country and practicing their English.
Visiting Jordan with Kids
Jordan is very kid-friendly and children are welcomed everywhere. My first trip to Jordan, my boys were just 5 and 3 years old. Jordan offers plenty of outdoor adventure that is perfect for kids! They rode camels, hiked in Petra, tried floating at the Dead Sea, snorkeled in Aqaba, rode a 4×4 in Wadi Rum and ate mansaf! Do not be put off visiting Jordan with your children. Locals love children and while Jordan is not Disneyland, it is definitely a destination that can be enjoyed as a family!
Jordan Travel Guide Planning Resources
Ok so now you have the basics, what you need to decide now is if you want to have someone else plan your trip and take a guided tour, or if you want to see the country on your own. Both ways are fine and both suit a different style of traveler. I have done it both ways and I enjoyed getting to meet other liked minded people on a group tour. I love having a private guide with my kids so they can pepper him with their hundreds of questions and I do not have to worry about other guests. I also love renting a car and hitting the road!
How Long Should You Spend in Jordan?
This is one of the first things you need to figure out. Many people just come for 3-4 days but you really need at least 7 days to be able to see all of the high lights without spending every day rushing from place to place. If you are flying from the other side of the world, see if you can allow 10 days as that will give you the best amount of time to see what makes Jordan so special.
If you are combining Jordan with Egypt or Israel you can pick your must-sees and work around those. For many visitors it is a long way to go and stretching your vacation will get you the best bang for your buck.
Ready to Plan your Trip to Jordan?
If you have decided when you are going to Jordan and have a general idea on how long you have to spend in the country you are ready to move onto the next steps.
Almost every day I get asked if visitors should rent a car. Because of the lack of infrastructure, renting a car is the best way to get around. I generally suggest using RentalCars.com to compare prices across various rental agencies.
Most trips start in Amman but increasingly there are more low cost airlines from Europe flying into Aqaba on Jordan’s south coast! You are going to want to read the top things to do in Amman and the best things to do in Aqaba.
While in the low season the hotel inventory is high, in the busy seasons hotels can sell out. Sometimes there are NO HOTELS AVAILABLE IN PETRA and on Jordanian holidays, Aqaba can be all booked up! If you are traveling in peak periods you should book your accommodation as soon as you have set your dates. Check for flexible cancellations. I generally suggest using booking.com as their policies are easy to read.