If you are planning a trip to Jordan, there is a lot to consider. Depending on how long you plan to spend in Jordan, it will affect the time you have to explore each place you want to visit. Instead of telling you all about how to plan your trip to Jordan, this guide is designed to tell you what NOT to do when it comes to planning and executing your plans, and what to do instead.
Traveling overseas to a new country and a new culture can be daunting for some, and this guide to planning a trip to Jordan is designed to help make the process easier and ensure you know the cultural norms of the place you are visiting.
In order to fit in with cultural norms when visiting other countries, it is important to take a bit of time to understand the best practices for behavior and fashion. But this guide to Jordan goes farther than that, it will help you execute the perfect plan, avoid common planning errors and maybe give you a few ideas of things you did not even know you wanted to do!
Mistake #1 When Planning a Trip to Jordan is Not Budgeting Properly
One of the uncommon facts about Jordan is that it is a very expensive country compared to its neighbours. It is similar in price to Israel, less expensive than Western Europe, but more expensive than Eastern Europe or Egypt. Jordan’s official currency is the Jordanian Dinar (JOD) and is often spoke as “JD” or “Dinar”
1 USD = 1 EUR = 0.71 JOD
1 JOD = 1.41 EUR = 1.41 USD
The Jordanian Dinar is a strong currency and 1 JD can buy something like a bottle of water or can of pop from a street vendor (its cheaper in grocery stores).
A rental car is about 25 JD per day.
Entrance fees to Petra is 50 JD for one day.
But that is not to say that everything in Jordan is expensive, it is just more expensive than other parts of the world.
Mistake #2 Is Packing Short Shorts
Jordan is a culturally conservative Muslim country. You will see most locals wearing long sleeves shirts and long pants all year round. Some women will wear short sleeve shirts in the hot summer, but overall, most Jordanians are very modest when it comes to dress.
When planning a trip to Jordan, there are two reasons why you should leave your short shorts at home.
First of all, it is to respect the culturally conservative nature of the country. Just because other tourists might ignore what is considered appropriate in the country does not mean you should too. The exception to this is in any of the Beach Resorts or Beach clubs at popular Jordan beaches on the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. Shorts are fine in any place that you would also wear a bathing suit.
The second reason why you should leave your short shorts at home has to do with climate. If you are visiting between November and March, it is going to be cold. You are going to want pants. Even at the Dead Sea and Aqaba, where the climate is much warmer, you will still feel a cool breeze in the winter months.
Mistake #3 Not Packing Comfortable Shoes
Another packing mistake for Jordan is not bringing comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking and perhaps some hiking , whether it is in Petra, Jerash or in Amman. If you have shoes that you cannot stand to wear all day, leave them at home. You do not really need hiking boots unless you are planning multi-days hikes, but if you are more comfortable in them, they might be a good idea if you plan to explore Petra for a few days.
I have plenty more packing list tips and information on my what to wear in Jordan post.
Mistake #4 Bringing a Drone
If you are planning on packing a drone when you visit Jordan, take it out now. While you will see commercial photo shoots with drones, there are strict permits that are required and generally, they need to be applied for in advance. If you are a hobbyist hoping for some cool footage you are likely to have it confiscated on arrival, as luggage is scanned before you leave the airport, or when you arrive by land from Israel or by sea from Egypt.
Mistake #5 When Planning a Trip to Jordan is Forgetting to Check the Muslim Calendar
Ramadan is the month of fasting for most Muslims around the world, including those in Jordan. While there is nothing wrong with visiting during Ramadan, there will be some restaurants that are closed during the day and most tourist sites have their schedules adjusted. This is because most people are up late after the sun sets, so a lot of places will open later than usual.
If you are a night owl, this can be great, as there is lively nightlife and the malls are open very late during Ramadan.
During Ramadan, you will not see people eating, smoking or drinking even water on the street. Whether they are fasting or not, everyone respects those who are fasting. As a tourist, no one will say anything to you if you have a drink of water on the street, but be mindful of others when you do do it.
Mistake #6 Is Expecting Vast Public Transportation
Jordan DOES have public transportation, but it is not a vast network, nor does it cater to tourists. The main tourist bus line, JETT, actually stands for “tourist transport” but it only offers service to Petra once a day and one bus. It has frequent trips between Amman and Aqaba and actually moves a lot more locals than tourists. That is not to say that you should not try and use public transport. You just need to plan it well.
Besides coach busses, there are also mini busses that are private and have set routes. These busses are affordable and often wait until full before leaving.
If you are looking to get somewhere specific like “Wadi Mujib” or “Jerash” you will have a hard time finding many busses that service these places. Even getting to Wadi Rum from Amman by charter bus is almost impossible! I will have plenty more info coming on getting around the country as this website expands but for now, here is some information:
Mistake #7 Is not Checking Visa Rules in Advance
Most nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival to Jordan. The cost at most entry points is JD40 for a one month, single entry visa. In Aqaba, if you arrive from Israel or Egypt, these visas are issued at no charge, as Aqaba is a special economic zone.
However, certain nationalities, such as Philippinos and Egyptians, need to obtain a visa in advance. This has been problematic when groups are arriving from Israel on biblical tours and they have no pre-arranged their visa at the Jordan Embassy in Israel or their home country before arrival.
More information on which nationalities can get visas on arrival can be found here.
Mistake #8 When Planning a Trip to Jordan is Planning on JUST seeing Petra!
So many visitors to Jordan just come for a few days, visit Petra (the most famous site) and leave. And if that is all you have time for, well then you saw Petra, but I cannot say you saw Jordan. There is so much to explore in Jordan and hundreds of things to do. Of course, Petra gets all the fame as one of the best places in the world to visit (with good reason) but ensure you give yourself at LEAST 5 days to see more of the country. Seven to ten days is perfect to soak up everything Jordan and give you time to find all of the best things to do.
Mistake #9 Is Planning to Bring Home Ancient Artifacts
Exporting anything over 100 years old is illegal in Jordan. Removing anything from UNESCO sites is also not allowed. Although you may see kids selling rocks in Petra, you should not buy them and remove them from the site. Check out these souvenir ideas instead.
Mistake #10 Is Planning on Paying with Plastic
Jordan is very much a cash-based country. Most restaurants will not accept credit cards and having cash to pay for food, souvenirs, and taxis is essential. Things like hotels and rental cars can be charged to credit cards. ATM’s are widely available in Jordan. You do not need to bring a lot of cash with you. If you do bring cash in your home currency, there are plenty of exchange shops in Amman. Hotels will also exchange major currencies for you, but the rate is not always favorable.
Before you do travel to Jordan, let your debit card and credit card companies know that you will be abroad so your card is not blocked while you are trying to use it.
Try and ensure you have small bills for vendors. It can sometimes be tough to break large bills.
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. If you are an avid reader, I also have a list of books about or set in 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.
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.
Kleenex or Wipes are another thing to put on your list. Jordan’s public washrooms (and even restaurant 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.
Motion Sickness Pills might be needed if you are prone to motion sickness and plan on traveling by bus or in the back of the car. There are many windy, hilly and bumpy roads in Jordan. Sea Bands might work for you if you are prone to motion sickness.
Check out Travel Insurance when Planning a Trip to Jordan
There are a few other things to think about when it comes to planning a trip to Jordan. 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.
More Travel Resources for your Trip to Jordan
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.
Rental Cars are very popular in Jordan, get a quote on renting a car before you arrive.
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.