Discover the magic of Jordan Petra. Here are my tips on how to plan a tour of Jordan to see the best highlights like Petra, Wadi Rum and the Citadel in old Amman.
Magical Ad Deir - The Monastery - Worth the 900 steps!
In September 2019, we finally managed to get to magical Jordan, Petra on a short 45 minutes flight from Paphos.
We only had 4 days available, but managed to see the best of what Jordan has to offer including Petra, the magnificent ancient kingdom built by the Nabateans, Wadi Rum and its breathtaking natural desert beauty and old Amman, the perfect spot for a great meal and visit to the Souks for spices and other bargains.
We even managed a float in the Dead Sea - a surreal experience indeed!
The Treasury in Petra
If Petra is the only place you have time to visit in Jordan do NOT miss the opportunity. You need to spend at least 2 nights in Petra, otherwise all you will get to see is the Treasury, which is spectacular and a very moving experience to witness after approaching the temple through the steep-sided gorge called the Siq.
I requested a guide called Sami that I had read about on SAS's Trip Advisor page and he met us on the evening of our arrival in Petra.
We did a 3 hour early morning tour of Petra starting at 7am, learning the amazing history of how the ancient Nabatean kingdom was built and visiting many high spots within Petra that few others get to see without using a knowledgeable guide.
We then explored the rest of the vast site of Jordan Petra, trekking up the 900 steps to the Monastery and visiting most other temples before hiking back to the entrance - a total of around 20km so you need to be reasonably fit!
We stayed in the comfortable Tetra Tree hotel in Petra with magnificent views over Wadi Musa. The highlight is the roof terrace bar/restaurant, where listening to the Call to Prayer, resonating around the town while sipping a refreshing beer is really moving.
Tip: The Monastery is more spectacular than the Treasury and there are FAR fewer people there. Day trippers on coaches only have time to do the Treasury, so if you plan to do the same, START early by 7.30am. Allow a FULL day to hike the entire site and return the following morning to hike to other spots like the Place of High Sacrifice.
The other MUST-DO when in Jordan after Petra is to spend a night in the desert at Wadi Rum.
Sunrise over Wadi Rum after a camel trek
Wadi Rum is a 2 hour drive from Petra taking in the scenic Kings Highway with amazing views en route. There is time for an afternoon 4x4 jeep safari in and around the sheering dunes and intricate carved rock faces before finding a quiet spot to just take it all in and watch the sun go down.
4x4 Jeep Safari Wadi Rum
If you have a crazy jeep driver like us, he will take some great photos for you. He taught me how to use the camera on my phone properly for trick photos including some where we were in two places at once!
Fun in Wadi Rum
You can enjoy a traditional Bedouin-style meal afterwards where they effectively BBQ the meat underground. Don't miss the chance for an early morning camel trek to see the sunrise too!
Many people stay in Amman and just do day trips to the other sites like Jordan Petra.
Tip: Do NOT do a day trip to Petra. It's a 3 hour drive and even with an early start, the crowds are usually HUGE by mid-day when you arrive and you won't appreciate its beauty.
As we only had one night in Amman after floating in the Dead Sea en route back from Wadi Rum, we chose to stay in the old city in a lovely boutique hotel called La Locanda. Close to the centre of the old town, we were able to spend our final morning exploring the amazing Citadel and shopping for spices in the Souk markets.
The Citadel in Amman, Jordan's capital
Amman is a busy city with a complicated road network of multiple rings around the old part of the city, so a driver is highly recommended! The old part of the city has real character, unlike the large featureless big hotels on the outskirts, built there due to limited space elsewhere.
I can't recommend a trip to Jordan highly enough and will leave you with a few last tips:
Final Tips: 1 Don't bother with Petra by Night - it's a rip-off as other travellers informed us.
2 Don't stay by the Dead Sea unless you like glitzy expensive hotels with no character; the same applies for the big hotels in Amman.
3 Take a good pair of walking shoes for Petra and PLEASE don't use the poor donkeys to trek up to the Monastery. 4 Prior to Covid-19, Petra had record numbers of visitors especially the young desperate to find that unique Instagram shot. Please respect the ancient kingdom of Jordan Petra and only climb to way-marked high points to prevent destruction of the delicate stone facades.