Land of biblical stories, lost cities and Lawrence of Arabia, Jordan is a magical and little explored country that emanates romance and mystery. If it were located in another region of the world, there is no doubt that Jordan would be flooded with tourists. But precisely the source of its fantastic wealth of sites of interest is largely due to its isolation. The Middle East’s reputation for being a dangerous and unstable place makes everyone, except the most intrepid travelers, wear it. But the big surprise is that Jordan, in general terms, is a very safe, peaceful and friendly country.
In a territory that lacks the oil wealth of its neighbors and with limited natural resources, Jordan has created one of the most energetic and progressive societies in the Middle East. The opportunities for tourism to become one of the most important engines of the country’s economy would be enormous if peace were finally achieved.
Despite being a small country, Jordan has always been at the heart of Middle Eastern power struggles because of its strategic location at the crossroads of what Christians, Jews and Muslims call the Holy Land, and this is precisely what It attracts a lot of travelers. Jordan is home to cities that were in full swing since before the birth of Christ. By visiting it, you can walk on the same roads mentioned in the Old Testament, in the middle of a landscape that has changed very little in the last 2,000 years. Visit the city of Petra, considered the eighth wonder of the world, or attend the chariot races at the restored Roman Hippodrome in Jerash. Visit the same place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia from his barracks in Azraq to the inhospitable valley of Wadi Rum.
In Jordan there are numerous world class hotels that offer luxury, excellent facilities and entertainment. If you prefer something less extravagant, there are also many mid-range hotels that offer good facilities and services that are ideal for the whole family.
The attractions of the country are abundant and the best thing is that they are not visited by many tourists and therefore retain their original atmosphere. You can ride camels in the desert with Bedouin nomads and then dive in the stunning underwater world of the Red Sea. It is this variety of activities that makes Jordan a wonderful tourist destination and travelers who dare to visit it will receive a great reward. Do not let Middle Eastern conflicts in general discourage you from exploring the relatively safe and quiet land of Jordan.
The climate of Jordan is extreme and varies in each region of the country. The Jordan Valley is below sea level, so it stays warm during the winter and incredibly hot during the summer. On the other hand, the area of the Plateau occasionally registers snowfall during the winter months. In Amman it is a little cold during the winter and even registers a good amount of freezing rain.
In general terms, Jordan is a desert country and, therefore, experiences a typical desert climate. This means that the sun shines constantly, the temperatures are warm all year round and the sand sprinkles the cities. The hottest region in Jordan is the Jordan Valley, where temperatures of 40 ° C are generally recorded during summer days, but clear skies at night cause a large part of the heat to dissipate and weather conditions are created nice and ideal for a good night. The other main region of Jordan, the Plateau, is warmer and drier throughout the year. Their temperatures fluctuate in a range between 20 and higher levels of 30 ° C.
Although 75 percent of Jordanian territory is considered desert, with little rainfall, regions such as Amman record constant rains from November to March. Be sure to bring appropriate clothing for rain if your visit takes place during this period. The Aqaba spa, in the Red Sea, is a warm and dry paradise during the winter, just as the desert region is. The lowest temperatures are recorded from December to January throughout the country, at which time it is advisable to have some warm clothing at hand. On the other hand, if your visit takes place between May and September, wear light clothing. Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons in Jordan. The skies remain relatively clear and the temperatures pleasantly warm.
Until the early twentieth century, Jordan was part of Palestine, one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The archaeological sites along the Jordan River date back to 9000 BC and are evidence of its antiquity. From 3000 BC, the region was inhabited by Canaanites and Amorites, and later by Sargon, the great king of the Sumerians. Abraham led a group of nomads from Mesopotamia to the mountains that currently occupy Israel in 1800 BC, thus beginning the history of the Israelites, who here established their first kingdom in 1023 BC.
The historical legacy of the region that currently occupies Jordan is one of the most important in the history of mankind. The Roman Empire annexed Israel in 63 BC and was under the control of consuls like Herod and Pontius Pilate. Jesus lived and preached in this area, giving rise to one of the greatest religions of humanity: Christianity. The region reached great prosperity in 331 AD, when the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and began to promote the Holy Land. Suddenly, Palestine became a place of pilgrimage and many religious buildings were built there.
The Christian dominion of Palestine ended in the year 638, when Jerusalem fell into the hands of Caliph Omar and was declared Holy City of Islam. This religious conflict led to the Crusades and a great military activity between the two factions. But for most of modern history, Palestine has been under Islamic control. During the next 500 years, the control of the Holy Land changed hands regularly and in it several empires arose and vanished. Finally, a large part of the region fell under the control of the Ottoman Empire, although the desert area occupied by Jordan today was spared all these changes and remained a Bedouin stronghold.
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Britain assumed control of Palestine and created the state of Transjordan, whose leader was King Abdullah. In 1953, King Hussein changed the name of the country to Jordan and took control of the entire nascent country. This gave way to a period of prosperity due to the increase in tourism and aid from the United States. In 1967, the Six Day War with Israel put an end to the growing tourist industry and witnessed the loss of Jerusalem and the West Bank. The conflicts between the Palestinians and King Hussein created tensions in Jordan, but these ended after the transfer of radical forces from the PLO to Lebanon.
In 1944, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel. This resulted in outrage from the Palestinians and many Arabs, but King Hussein was determined to establish peace in the region. He also made efforts to bring democracy to the country, but his murder in 1999 left the scene uncertain. King Abdullah II is currently the monarch of Jordan and enjoys the popular support of his citizens and the respect of a large part of the Arab community. Despite the permanent tensions in this region of the world, Jordan continues to try to establish peace. Due to the lack of oil revenues, Jordan relies heavily on tourism to strengthen its economy. For its wealth of historical sites and the few tourists that visit them, Jordan is a great destination and much safer than most people imagine.
The currency in Jordan is called the dinar (JD). It is divided into 1000 Fils and 10 fils equals 1 piaster. Tickets come in denominations of JD1, 5, 10, 20, as well as in 500 fils. There are silver coins of 25, 50, 100 and 250 fils, as well as copper coins of 5 and 10 fils.
All foreign currencies can be easily exchanged at banks and currency exchange offices. Most hotels also offer a currency exchange service, although with a not very favorable change. The main credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants and large stores. ATMs can be found in most of the largest cities and spread throughout Amman. Travelers checks are accepted by banks and currency exchange offices, although it is advisable to obtain traveler’s checks in US dollars.
The banks are open from 08:30 to 15:00. During Ramadan they only open from 08:30 to 10:00.
There are no restrictions on the amount of money you can import or export, whether in dinars or other foreign currencies.
Visitors can import up to 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars, as well as one liter of alcohol. Visitors under the age of 18 are not qualified to obtain duty-free items. Edible products made with animals, flowers, fruits and vegetables are only allowed with a certificate issued by the Department of Agriculture of the country of origin. To find out what you can take home from Jordan, contact the Customs Service Office in your country.
Jordan uses 200 V, 50 Hz; with two pin plugs with round tip.
Jordan represents few health risks to visitors. Hepatitis B is endemic and hepatitis A is also present, so it is advisable that all travelers make sure they are vaccinated against these diseases, as well as tetanus.
The worst health problem that visitors can experience is a case of bad stomach due to the exposure of new microorganisms in food. Tap water is not safe to drink in Jordan, so you should drink only bottled water, available throughout the country. Avoid dairy products and raw vegetables. The food in most restaurants should be fine, although always check that all the meat has been well cooked. The intense sun and dry environment of Jordan is another thing to watch. Apply enough sunscreen and wear a hat to avoid being toasted by the sun. Wherever you go, take plenty of water and stay hydrated.
If unfortunately he falls ill, Jordan’s hospitals and clinics are up to international standards. There are excellent hospitals in major cities and decent clinics in many towns. Most doctors in Jordan speak English, although the cost of medical care can be expensive. Visitors should ensure that they have full medical insurance before starting their trip. Also keep in mind that an AIDS test is mandatory for anyone planning to stay more than 14 days in the country.
Medical Emergency Number: 193
Despite the proximity to Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Jordan is as safe as any country in the world. Most tourists in Jordan have a pleasant experience and without any worries on their trip, nothing more than the usual precautions, such as not showing large amounts of cash in public or walking through dark alleys at night. Just be aware of what is in your environment and keep in mind that in Jordan, there is little animosity towards foreigners.
Travelers to Jordan should be aware of the daily political situation in the country and neighboring countries. Avoid public demonstrations and in general be prudent in public places such as bus stations.
The Jordanians are very proud of their Arab heritage and hospitality consider it a matter of great importance. Visitors always feel welcome to the Jordanians and will act as the perfect hostess. Handshakes are the common form of greeting in Jordan. Islam plays an important role in Jordanian society, so it is essential that visitors learn something about the customs and norms of Islam before visiting this country. It is important that you respect local Islamic traditions. Arab coffee is normally served in social functions. Your cup will be constantly refilled unless you slightly tilt the cup when you return it to your host. It is considered a nice detail to bring a small gift in exchange for the hospitality served. Women should always dress modestly and beachwear should be worn only on the beach or in the pool. You should always ask someone for permission before taking the picture, since in some areas it is prohibited.
There is an exit tax of $ 10, although this is normally included in the ticket rate. Most restaurants add a small service charge to the account. Otherwise, it is considered polite to leave a 10% tip to the waiter. The taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped, although once again 10% is something they value a lot.
The country code of Jordan is 962. Phone cards are the most common way to call abroad and can be found in most cities and major tourist attractions. Phone cards can be purchased in many different types of stores. There are cybercafes across the country with fast connections.
All foreigners must have a visa to enter Jordan. You can obtain a visa upon arrival at the border or at the airport, as well as at the consulates of your country of origin. Visas are valid for two weeks after entry, but can be easily extended for up to three months at any local police station. Travel agencies can also handle visa extensions. The visa price of all nationalities is $ 10 for a single ticket. Always keep your passport with you when you move around the country.
VISITS AND EXCURSIONS
Although Jordan was created some 60 years ago, the land where it is located is one of the most historically important regions on earth. If you are a fan of Bible stories, or a history enthusiast, you will be impressed by the amount of important historical events that happened here in the Jordanian desert. You can follow the path of Moses, see the place where Jesus was baptized by John and visit Herod’s fortress, where Salome danced the dance that caused John the Baptist to be beheaded. There is also the lost city of Petra, considered the eighth wonder of the world, the fortress where Lawrence of Arabia lived and the natural beauty of the Red Sea. The only dilemma that visitors have in Jordan is where to start.
The capital of Jordan will never win a prize for being the most beautiful city in the world, but this is where most visits begin, so it is best to see what it has to offer. Amman is at least 5,000 years old and is dotted with Roman ruins, such as the Citadel and the Forum. Just east of the center of the city is the restored Roman theater, an impressive vestige of the city when it was called Philadelphia. The Citadel, used by Roman garrisons for centuries, is also an interesting place to visit.
A steep path up the hill from the Roman Theater you can find an acropolis and the fortress of the ancient Rabbath-Ammon. The views from the top of the hill, which cover the entire city of Amman, make the ascent worthwhile. There are Byzantine ruins and Islamic principles to explore, as well as the impressive Archaeological Museum, which houses found objects from all over Jordan. The museum also has a selection of the Dead Sea Papyri.
The Christian Crusaders occupied this entire region during their crusades and created a number of castles and fortresses. Although this castle has seen better days, it still emanates a sense of eternal Arabian mystery and knights in armor. Informational panels help visitors understand the history of the castle and the crusaders who fought here.
The Roman ruins of Jerash are one of Jordan’s main attractions and are both easily accessible and well-compacted. This very well-preserved city is an incredible mix of Roman and Middle Eastern culture. The entrance of the city is marked by the Arc de Triomphe and once inside you can explore the impressive Forum, the Temple of Zeus, the Theater of the South and walk along the street lined with columns of the Temple of Artemis. The Hipódromo de la Ciudad has recently been restored and offers an opportunity to see chariot racing shows on a daily basis, just as they were in the Roman era.
If you get tired of Roman ruins and desert landscapes, you can take a look at this tribute to the “total artist” Erik Satie. Although Satie was mostly famous for his music, he was also a painter who inspired the likes of Picasso and Debussy. This unofficial museum in Amman is a fascinating multimedia experience, where the exhibitions incorporate light, sound and compositions written by Satie to create harmony. Visitors can use a high-tech helmet that allows an interactive experience with the works of art.
This interesting museum in Amman is full of amazing examples of traditional embroidery and regional costumes of Jordan. As part of the restored theater complex, visitors can learn more about the culture of Jordan before it became a nation, and then enjoy a theatrical performance.
If there is only one place to stand out in Jordan it is this surreal city carved from the rock tower that surrounds it. Places like this are usually reserved for children’s stories and reality is no less surreal. Once the capital of the powerful Nabateans, an ancient dynasty of Arab merchants, Petra was completely lost to the world until it was rediscovered by a European explorer in 1812. Famous for the Indiana Jones movie and the Last Crusade, Petra already It is not a secret hiding place of the Bedouins. Up to 3000 visitors come every day to marvel at what is considered the eighth wonder of the world. To fully understand the Petra experience, you will need more than one day and memory cards to save photos. From the moment you enter the narrow cleft of the rock, you will feel transported to another time and place. The most famous ruin is the Khazneh (Treasury), but the monastery is equally impressive and offers the best views. Other interesting places include the amphitheater with 8,000 seats and the Temple of the Lions with Wings.
This modern museum is an excellent complement to the ancient historical site of Petra. Its three exhibition halls present the history of Petra and Nabateans, archaeological discoveries of the area and artifacts such as jewelery, lamps, bronze statues and coins.
Near the center of Amman is this ancient theater built by the Romans in the 2nd century. This is the most famous archaeological site and the most easily accessible. Since its restoration in the 1950s, the theater has accommodated up to 6,000 spectators during special events and other shows.
The Best Things to Do
One way to get around the Jordanian desert is to hire a 4×4 Jeep. A faster but more hectic way than with a camel ride, these tours will take you to a number of places that most tourists never see. Popular destinations include the isolated canyons of Burrah and Um Tawaqi, Anfashieh and other secret oases that only your Bedouin guide can show you. Wadi Rum is the best place to organize a 4×4 tour, since the local Bedouins have created a very good network of vehicles and trails.
Jordan has 10 specially designated wildlife reserves where visitors can see the birds and animals that consider this region their home. Some of the exclusive animals that can be seen include hyenas, red wolves, gazelles, gerbils, ostriches and Arabian onyxes. The Wild Animal Reserve of the Azraq Marsh and the Wild Animal Reserve of Shaumari are two of the best parks in the country if you want to see how animals live in the desert.
One of the exceptional places in the world is the Dead Sea, which not only has deep roots in historical issues, but is also the lowest point on the planet located 392 meters below sea level. Visitors can float effortlessly in the Dead Sea, thanks to the incredibly high density of salt levels. Since it can not sustain life, and has no way out, it is a natural wonder that will eventually dissolve from the history books, so come and see it while you still can.
Wadi Rum encompasses some of the most magnificent desert landscapes on earth that should not be missed. Lawrence of Arabia spent time here during the Arab revolt, although at present this area is inhabited by Bedouin and a few villagers who maintain the local tourism trade. Wadi Rum is not a land of large sand dunes. It is a desert landscape that is characterized by strange and exotic rock formations called jebels. Around the village of Ron there are a few ruins worth visiting, but the real attraction is the desert itself. Hire a guide and go trekking in the surrounding area, where you will quickly leave civilization behind and enter an eternal and mysterious world.
There are not many places on earth where you can ride a camel in the desert, but Jordan is one of them. An essential component of any trip to a Middle Eastern desert is a camel excursion, with which you can experience the impressive terrain in the most authentic way possible. This popular excursion can be organized through a series of local safari companies. Trips can last from one hour to seven days, depending on how far you want to go. Wadi Rum is the most popular area for a camel trip, although Aqaba and Petra also have good services.
This slow-moving relic of the Ottoman Empire offers one of the best train journeys in the world. If you have any interest in trains or classic rail networks, then this is a trip that should not be missed. The train station in Amman is the place where you can get on board one of the steam locomotives of the railway network of Hejaz, where some of the trains go back to the era before Lawrence of Arabia. Be sure to stop by the small railway museum before you start your trip.
Much quieter than the neighboring neighborhood of Eliat, Aqaba is the main destination of the Red Sea in Jordan if you need to get rid of the desert sand of your body. The waters are warm and clear all year round and the beaches are soft white. The city has become a beach resort complete with all kinds of fun excursions to the water that you can imagine. Many visitors come only to rest in the sand, but diving in this area is the real attraction. This is one of the best undiscovered dive sites in the world, with ancient coral reefs and waters replete with marine life. The visibility can be up to 150 meters and the hot water makes diving a real pleasure. If you do not want to worry about the diving equipment, you can practice snorkeling, which offers an experience that is almost as good as diving.
This is one of the best natural parks in Jordan where visitors can enjoy guided tours through the beautiful desert landscape. In addition to admiring the unique flora and local fauna, visitors can also enjoy the history and geology of the place. In Wadi Feynan, organized excursions lead visitors to the ancient copper mines that were worked by the Romans. Local residents still live in a medieval village and the Bedouin nomads manage an ecological hotel in the area, so you can experience a bit of culture while admiring the desert environment.