Jordan, the latest addition to my wanderlust, is an Arab country located on the bank of the river Jordan. The river is famously known as the place where Jesus was baptised. Ever since 1946, when Jordan became independent, it was just another
unknown Arab country that few people knew about. Even after the discovery of one of the most compelling archaeological sites in the world, Petra, Jordan remained one of the least travelled countries because of the instability in the Arab region. Thanks to Indiana Jones, the lost city of Petra and Jordan came back on the world map and became one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. I was fortunate enough to be able to explore the ancient over the last few days. I will write more about my experience in Petra, Dead Sea and the capital Amman later. In this post, I want to share some of the practical information that you might need before planning your trip to Petra.
My relationship with the visa is well known to anyone who has read my earlier posts. Thankfully, after some research on the Internet, I came to know that Indians get the visa on arrival in Jordan. It was not that straightforward, though: the weird requirement for Indians was that I had to carry 1000$ cash with me along with return ticket and hotel booking documents. However, when I got there, no one checked those things and all I was asked was where I am coming from. Visa fee was 40 JOD (Jordanian Dinar) and I was given two weeks’ visa.
People from UK, US, Europe and some other countries do not need any visa. Please find more information here:(Link)
The official currency is Jordanian Dinar. At the time of writing this, the exchange rates were 1 JOD = 1.09 GBP.
Tip: Jordan is an expensive country; try keeping as much as change possible.
There are two major transport options in Jordan:
- Bus: There is local bus and then there is a private bus. Amman has few bus stations, so don’t be confused. If you have to take a bus to Petra, you need to go to South bus station called Wahedat. It costs 7 JOD from Amman to Petra and the last bus leaves at 4 pm. If you miss that, then the only option is to take a taxi. On the other hand, if you need to go to Roman city Jerash in North of Jordan, you need to go to the North bus station called Tabarbour. It costs 1 JOD to Jerash and it takes about 1.25 hours.
Petra and Jerash are two major points of interest in the region, so I am using them as examples. Buses to North Jordan leave from North Bus station and same for South.
Local buses are the cheapest mode of transport in Jordan, but the issue is they are unscheduled. They move when the bus is full not as per the scheduled time, so don’t rely on their timing. It’s only advisable to take them if you have enough time. The most famous and trustworthy private bus service is JETT (official link) buses, but they have scheduled buses so check the time on their website before planning the trip.
- Taxi: Major intercity transportation in the country is by local taxi. Painted yellow/green and white/green, these are also the most expensive part of the trip if you don’t drive. Within the city, it might not cost you too much depending on if the driver agrees to use the meter in the taxi. If you take the taxi to Petra or Dead Sea, they are going to rip you off. It’s always better to share the taxi if you can find more people to travel with you. I will make another post another about the famous Jordan backpacking route, which will give you a better idea why sharing will be a better idea. Amman to Petra by taxi costs 75 JOD and Amman to the Dead Sea by taxi costs 30 JOD.
Internet and SIM:
As I have mentioned before, whenever I land in a new country, I prefer to buy a local SIM card from the airport to stay connected and use the Internet to find out places and maps in the city. It’s also good for security, as my acquaintances always know where I am. I bought the SIM card in Jordan from a network called ZAIN. I was told this had the best network coverage in the country and it turned out to be true. It even worked on the Petra Mountain. It cost me 9 JOD for 3 GB worth data with instant activation. This SIM also saved me a lot of money; I will talk about that later.
Jordan is not a place where hostel culture is fully developed yet. It’s rare to find a good hostel in the city, but that does not affect the overall budget because cheap and comfortable hotels are available everywhere (except the Dead Sea). In Amman, I stayed at Jordan Tower Hotel, which was 16 JOD and also happened to be the only hostel in downtown Amman. You cannot be more close to the Citadel downtown, which is one of the major attractions of the city. In Petra, I stayed at Candles Hotel, which cost about 24 JOD. It was very close to the Petra visiting centre, which saved a lot of time and money. During my visit to the Dead Sea, I chose to treat myself the first time in the history of my travel with a luxury accommodation. I booked the Crown Plaza Hotel because, after two days of extensive travel, I needed some pampering before heading back to work. It costs about 156 JOD per night. I will write about the Dead Sea experience in detail later, where I will talk about how to save money by not booking the hotel on the Dead Sea.
Two places recommended by my travel companions (and that I tried) were Hasem Restaurant for its famous falafels and Shawerma Reem on the 2nd circle for its shawarma.
I will be writing a more detailed account of my experience and information regarding my trip in later posts, so keep following the series and keep wandering.