When planning a trip to Jordan, you are likely seduced by the alluring photos of the Petra Treasury lit up by candles. This is Petra by Night!
Petra by Night is a light show in Petra after dark. It is not included with your standard Petra entrance ticket and it needs to be purchased separately as it is put on by a private company.
The Petra by Night experience occurs three times a week at 8:30pm until 10:30pm. It takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays each week
Petra by Night Entrance Fee
The Petra by night cost is JD17 (about USD24 or 20 Euros) and you can purchase tickets from the Petra Visitor’s Centre or ask your Petra hotel, as they may be able to sell you tickets. It is not included with the regular Petra visitor day pass sold by the Ministry of Tourism nor is it part of the Jordan Pass.
What to Expect at Petra by Night
We walked in silence, most of us slowly taking in the candle-lit Siq. I could imagine what it would have been like to be a Nabatean trader, entering the city through this naturally created chasm.
There were no clip-clops of shoed horses carrying passengers on carriages, no donkey’s braying and no tour guides with groups of tourists taking in the secrets of the Siq. It was just me and my thoughts, eager to get to the Treasury.
When we arrived, most people were already seated, sweet, aromatic bedouin tea being passed out as we marveled at the lights in front of us.
The performance at Petra by night is not too long, a few melodies on a traditional flute, the rababa, and a story of Petra, and it is over sooner than I had wished. After finishing my last glass of “shai” we walked back along the siq. taking in each shadow, each curve until we arrived back at our hotel.
While some people might tell you it is a waste of money, I loved the silence of the Siq and the magical feeling of walking down its winding path with just my own thoughts in my head. there were no distractions around and only a few others, who were taking the evening in with me.
My candlelit visit to the ruins of Petra was one I will not forget, and I encourage you to spend one of your evenings in Wadi Musa, doing the same. You can rest your weary legs another night.
Is Petra by Night Worth It?
This question gets asked often. In my opinion, enjoying an evening wandering the giant walls of the Siq lit only by candles hearing only your own footsteps and those of others is something you should not miss. For me personally, I got a babysitter while we were staying at Movenpick and it was a welcome break from my boys for 2 hours.
I am often asked what to do in Petra at night, and besides resting your weary hiking legs, there is not too much to do. Wadi Musa is a pretty dry town and hit and miss whether or not your hotel has a bar or restaurant selling alcohol. There is not even a liquor store in town, so I would much rather experience a light show in Petra than sit in my hotel.
With that being said, I did visit Petra for three days. After the first day, we did quite a bit of hiking and I was happy to put my feet up and relax. But on our second night, we went to the Petra by Night show and was happy I did.
Many people arriving to Jordan on a guided tour have the option of buying a Petra by Night pass. If you are one of these people, I recommend adding it to your itinerary! It is a short performance, but if you have a good camera and tripod you can take some really cool images!
FAQ About Petra by Night
Unfortunately, Petra by Night is not part of the Jordan Pass. the Jordan Pass is for regular hours Petra visits only (between 6am and 6pm). As mentioned above, you need to purchase an additional ticket to attend Petra by Night as it is put on by a private company not the Ministry of Tourism.
Petra by Night occurs three times a week. It takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Petra by Night experience goes from 8:30pm until 10:30pm. Arrive at the visitors center for 8pm if you want to be one of the first to arrive at the Treasury. (Do not worry if you are not first, many will leave after the show giving you a few minutes to capture the candles and the Treasury backdrop).
Petra by Night is accessed through the Petra Visitor’s center! Once you have your tickets, you can go through the main trail towards the Siq. There are no horses or carts available during the evening Petra performance and guests will need to be able to walk the 1.2km Siq to the Treasury and back.
If you have children, they are welcome at Petra by Night. Children under 10 are admitted free of charge. Children 10 and over pay the same rate as adults 17JD (about USD$24)
I will warn you that those out-of-this-world images of Petra by Night with the Treasury and the Stars above are not taken by ordinary travellers with a camera. They are taken by professional photographers who not only know a great angle when they see one, but also are well versed in exposure, depth of field and have lots of practice exposing for stars. They probably have those camera’s mounted on a tripod that costs more than your camera!
With the limited lighting, your cell phone will probably get a shaky image of the candles and the Treasury. Do not expect much more.
Where to Stay Near Petra?
I have a whole post on a range of hotels near the Petra site entrance. You can find it here: Where to Stay in Petra. For a quick snapshot these are three popular options that are right outside the entrance to the archaeological site.
Mövenpick Resort Petra
Mövenpick Resort Petra is the most opulent of all the 5-star hotels near Petra. It is also located on the other side of the street from Petra’s entrance, making it a perfectly convenient place to stay. Arguably the best hotel in Petra, the rooms at Mövenpick are exquisite; large and airy, and elegantly decorated. Thanks to the large windows, the rooms stay bright and filled with natural lights. The beds in each room are soft and comfortable, making residents want to spend their days sleeping in them. Even the pull out couches have comfortable mattresses and are perfect for families! The hotel also has a pool, it can be quite cold in fall, winter and spring.
Petra Palace Hotel
The Petra Palace Hotel is located just a few minutes walk from the Petra Visitors Center and the best three/four star option near the site entrance. Its rooms are warmly but simply decorated and some have walkouts to the pool. Every room has a seating area. The rooms also have a well-stocked minibar, a mini-fridge, a television set with cable, and a spacious bathroom that comes with all the necessary toiletries. Breakfast is complimentary and served in the restaurant of the hotel, which is on the first floor.
Petra Moon Hotel
Located just above the parking lot for the Petra Visitors Center, Petra Moon Hotel is one of the best hotels in Petra for travelers with a midrange budget who want to be close to the site. Petra Moon hotel is reasonably priced and is definitely worth the money spent to be very close to the site entrance. The rooms of this 3-star hotel are roomy, excellently cleaned, and simply decorated. The beds are simple and comfortable. Breakfast is served buffet-style in the restaurant and afterward. When you return in the evening, feel free to head up to the rooftop pool, where you can rest and think fondly about your full day of Petra exploration.
More Jordan Travel Resources
In order to help make your visit to Jordan as memorable as possible, I have created a number of resources from planning guides to local eats.
If you have just begun the planning, check out 101 Things to do in Jordan to give you some inspiration on the places you want to make sure you have time to see. Maybe these interesting Facts About Jordan interest you as well. Are you a backpacker? Or like to travel like one? Check out my guide to backpacking Jordan.
If you are working on a self-drive itinerary or plan to see the country independently, there is a guide on getting around in Jordan.
If you are thinking of booking a tour, or wondering how much hassle a self drive itinerary can be, check out this post I have on the best Jordan tours to book.
5 Things to Bring with You to Jordan
I have always been a guide book person and physically having that book in your hand as you plan your day, in addition to blogs like this one, can help immensely. Pick up a Lonely Planet Guide to Jordan (or the kindle version) before your trip to Jordan.
Whether you want to keep the sun off your head or want to show a little modesty, a scarf goes a long way in Jordan any time of the year. You can bring one with you or pick up one when you arrive, but don’t leave your hotel in the morning without it! It can serve as a hat to keep the sun off your head and neck in the summer and can add some warmth in winter and can offer modesty to cover shoulders for women.
Chap Stick (and lotion if you have dry skin) – Let me tell you, I do NOT have dry skin, but Jordan and much of the Middle East has a dry climate that many are not used to. Bring a good lip balm (I like this one) and your lips will thank you! Unless you are staying in five star hotels, do not expect much in the way of bathroom amenities, so if you like a good body lotion, bring your own. There are great travel sizes here
A Grayl Water Bottle is something I recommend for every traveller, not just those going to the Middle East. Some people say the water is safe to drink from the tap, others say it is not; it is not something I am going to chance. And Jordan has a HUGE garbage problem. The streets, the forests and even the desert are littered with plastic bottles.
If you consider drinking at least 1-2 big water bottles a day while you are there, think of how much plastic that creates when every visitor and the population’s 9 million people do the same. With a Grayl, you can filter any tap water (or actually any water source) and have clean drinking water in seconds. Since most people travel with water bottles already, consider one like this with a filter so that you are not just pouring from big water bottles to small. It might sound expensive, but when you compare it to spending a few dollars per day on water while you travel (and do not forget how expensive the water is inside airports), you will pay for this very quickly.
An inexpensive Universal Travel Adapter is another must for Jordan. You will find an assortment of 220V plugs, from European 2 pin, another style of 2 pin and UK Plugs. While European 2 pin is most common, it is best to carry one of these adapters with you. With a handy USB input, you do not need to bring your plugs from home.
Kleenex or Wipes are another thing to put on your list. Jordan’s public washrooms (and even restraint or hotel lobby washrooms can often be unstocked. Unless you are good with a bidet sprayer, bring yourself some kleenex or wipes just in case! You will find that most washrooms in tourist sites and rest stops have an attendant that will give you toilet paper and paper towel for a small tip. Usually half a dinar is fine.
In Jordan, the plumbing is not set up to handle toilet paper. Every bathroom (even hotels) you should use the garbage can beside the toilet for your toilet paper and any sanitary products.
Travel Insurance for Jordan
There are a few other things to think about when it comes to travel. The first thing is travel insurance. Whether it is an emergency room visit for something as simple as strep throat, or an emergency appendix surgery, or an unfortunate moped incident things do go wrong when people travel everyday.
I highly suggest travel insurance and a good policy. I personally never travel without it, and I even checked into my policy about care for my children if I am ever in an accident or hospitalized. There are just too many things to think about.
You can find out more information and buy your travel insurance here.