Do-it-yourself trip to Jordan: the complete itinerary
Jordan is an extraordinary country, famous for its thousand-year history, the breathtaking landscapes of the desert and the Dead Sea (even the sea of the Gulf of Aquaba is not far behind).
Contrary to what many say, it is a very simple country to visit without the help of tour operators or guided tours.
Before listing the destinations in our opinion unmissable, below you will find some very useful information to consider if you are organizing a DIY trip.
To enter Jordan you need an entry visa, obtainable in the diplomatic / consular offices present in Italy or upon arrival (airport or land borders) at a cost of about 40 JOD. We, instead of the simple visa, strongly recommend buying the Jordan Pass that will allow you to get visa and entry to 40 archaeological sites across the country ( including Petra ) at a cost between 70 and 80 JOD, depending on the formulas.
To obtain it, simply follow the online procedure and show the document that will be sent to you by e-mail when you arrive in the country.
To move easily you will have the opportunity to rent a car at a great price, but if you are looking for savings (like us), here are some good alternatives:
- Regular taxis: on average cheap, but you will have to explicitly ask to activate the taximeter, or to agree in advance the price to pay. Prepare to bargain a lot (haggling on prices is part of the local culture) and consider that generally a fair price will be on average one third of the amount initially requested by the taxi driver (rule that applies to any sale in Jordan). Show him the Uber app with the competition rate, if you are facing a hard bone. The drivers often also cover long journeys, we have rented a taxi even for trips of almost two hours.
- Uber: very cheap, we have used it very much for short / medium range travel. Preferable to traditional taxis because it offers the ability to view the reviews of driver and car (often of higher quality than traditional taxis) and because you do not need to haggle, the price will be shown even before the booking is confirmed. Of course you will need internet, consider the idea of investing a 15in euro in a local simcard with 3 or 4 Gb of traffic. IMPORTANT : Despite being legal, he is disliked by regular taxis. At the airport you will find several drivers waiting for you to "tampin" at the exit trying not to attract attention. Do not be suspicious, often Uber drivers who prefer to keep a low profile to avoid problems with "colleagues".
- Private buses: For long-distance journeys we have always used the coach company Jett Bus . We have always bought tickets at the moment in their stations, without running into files or problems. Alternatively, online you can see which connections are covered and book your ticket if necessary.
Do not miss a visit to the archaeological site par excellence, one of the 7 wonders of the modern world.
If you have purchased the Jordan Pass (as we recommend above), you do not have to worry about paying entrance fees. We have purchased the option to have access two consecutive days, so you can visit it better without running too much (which we did however anyway), and we were satisfied.
the site is huge, get ready to walk a lot if you want to see everything. We recommend making a selection of points on the map that attract you more, the most important are:
- Treasure: the famous palace carved into the rock that also appears in Indiana Jones. We will pass you obligatorily, it is at the end of the Siq (the rocky gorge at the beginning of the path).
- Monastery: is the furthest point from the entrance, about 7 km from the entrance, the last part is uphill (1000 steps). Considering that all the way back to the contrary will require at least two hours and that the site closes between 16 and 18 for Petra By Night (attraction with extra payment), organize your time carefully.
- View of the Treasure from above : The photo instagram par excellence, you can get there by following a short and forbidden way (to unaccompanied tourists) who, paying a donation to the Bedouins who guide you, will become magically legal (all under the eyes of the police). At the top you will find a Bedouin tent to block your way, it is a bar / shop of souvenirs. To see the Treasure for more than a minute you will have to buy something. The free option and much, much more difficult (we tested as hardened stingy) is to follow the official way, longer and well indicated only in the first part of the path ... in fact we are lost. Despite all this we recommend this second option, the view is extraordinary and the path is very little attended.
These are the 3 key points of the site, but it must be said that there are many other constructions and incredible scenic routes for lovers of trekking, not to be underestimated at all. At the entrance you will be given a very clear map (there is also an app, but the internet inside most of the archaeological site does not take), this will allow you to clearly orient yourself choosing the next stage from time to time.
Important note about the Bedouins who work / live in Petra: for anything, including the horse ride that should be included in the ticket ( IMPORTANT : The only really authorized horses and theoretically free, are those with a number written on the saddle) for the first 100 meters of the archaeological site, will ask for a tip. You will be surrounded by wagons and kids with donkeys who will offer you a ride at very high prices; our advice is to plan your itinerary well and move independently, with a little 'effort you can reach everything on foot (there are two that have gone in the summer with the hot weather, not to mention that Giulia is asthmatic as well as lazy). If you really want to try a donkey ride, horse or camel, do the sustained. Really, keep saying that you're not interested. In just a few minutes the price will drop by 70%.
For the rest enjoy it by walking a bit 'randomly. Petra is beautiful, especially in the morning at dawn and the evening before closing, when there are fewer tourists (most of the organized tour buses arrive after 9am).
If this article has intrigued you and you want to see us collapse lost in the Jordanian mountains click HERE to see the video we shot in Petra.
It seems to be on Mars (in fact among the films shot here there is also Red Planet and The Martian ) . It is possible to book day trips with different organized tours, we advise you to take advantage of them to sleep at least one night in one of the many tented camps. Be careful, however,
Read reviews on specialized sites such as Tripadvisor and find out about which excursions the camp offers and at what cost (the idea of spending the whole day closed in tents at torrid heat without seeing anything is unthinkable). For example, we made the mistake of booking a tent in the most economical area, but more expensive than average for excursions and meals (clearly we have been told on the spot). Not least, they tried to cheat us by proposing a final account crazy, but fortunately we managed to get by and not let us "rob" ( HERE the video). Choose any field, but NOT the Jamal Rum camp. Yes, the reviews are definitely positive, but you might notice with amazement that 90% of reviewers have published only that review. We were offered a 50% discount, in exchange for a false positive review. Mystery? I do not think so.
One aspect not to be underestimated is that here comes only one road leading to the Visitor Center, so to reach your camp you will have to make you come to take or have available an off-road equipped for the desert. If you ask for a transfer to the tented camp managers, ask if the transition from the visitor center to the field and vice versa is included in the price or not. Ask is always necessary, even better via email or whatsapp to keep a written record.
Capital of Jordan, if you arrive by plane you will easily land here. Take the opportunity to go for a ride in the downtown , with its characteristic shops and clubs on the way to eat and spend very little.
Do not miss the citadel located on the highest hill in Amman, with its characteristic ruins. Finally we recommend to also see the Roman amphitheater, very nice and easily accessible.
Amman is a good place to use as a "base" to visit cities that are not very far. We recommend the impressive archaeological site of Jerash, the Mount Nebo (place where Moses would have a vision of the promised land and where he would be buried), Madaba , the city of mosaics and the Dead Sea , which can be visited on the same day.
To visit the salt water Dead Sea you have two options, each with advantages and disadvantages: take advantage of paid structures or go to a free beach . We advise you to lean on a private beach, although not very cheap, for these reasons:
- Because of the very high concentration of salt it is completely impossible to swim, at the most it floats (a sensation never experienced before!). The water is quite cloudy and on the bottom there is not much to see (it's called Dead Sea for a reason). Having a structure with pools, bar and mud at your disposal will make you live a better experience. After a quarter of an hour you will have the family jewels on fire, a sign that it is time to get out of the water.
- As soon as you leave, you should wash yourself as soon as possible with fresh water to avoid skin irritation. Unless you have bottles of water or a skin used to salt water, having a shower available will make you comfortable (we have not seen showers on the beaches).
- We went in June, without the shadow offered by the structure we would be burned for sure (if you do not have a sunshade behind, absolutely avoid the free beach during the hottest hours)
- If you have not rented a car, finding a ride from a free beach will be very difficult.
- If you have low pressure problems, consider that it will take time to get used to the depression of the ground, and it is possible that you may feel bad at first. In the paid structures you would have the help of the staff on site.
We used the Jett Bus to reach the Dead Sea, but it is a feasible route even by taxi for about double the price. If you choose a paid structure, inquire and protect yourself by calling to ask them the price for the day! The drivers will want to take you to the facility that gives them a percentage on your entry (usually Amman Beach - expensive and dirty).
We had to discuss to get us to the bathrooms of the Holiday Inn we had previously chosen, and to pay the price agreed on the phone with the Hotel and that on our arrival was magically leavened, after the driver had stopped to chat with the parking attendant. The Holiday Inn offers for 25 JOD (or 30 with lunch included) 3 swimming pools, all the facilities of the hotel, the famous purifying black muds, fresh water and unlimited towels. All of this at Amman Beach is to be paid as extra, over about 30 JOD for entry.
If you are curious to see the video we shot in Amman, Jerash and the Dead Sea, click HERE .