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Home » Jordan: Your Ultimate Guide to the Jewel of the Middle East

Jordan: Your Ultimate Guide to the Jewel of the Middle East

Known for its rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality, Jordan offers a unique blend of modernity and antiquity. Whether you’re an adventure junkie, a history buff, or a seeker of exotic cultures, Jordan has something for everyone.

 

Quick Facts About Jordan

Capital

Amman is the capital and largest city of Jordan. Known for its modernity and ancient ruins, it serves as the political, cultural, and economic center of the country.

Language

Arabic is the official language of Jordan. However, English is widely understood and spoken, especially in urban areas and among the younger population.

Currency

The Jordanian Dinar (JOD) is the official currency. Credit cards are widely accepted in cities, but it’s advisable to carry cash when traveling to rural areas.

Jordanian Dinar current exchange rates

  • 100 JOD = $141.06 or $1 = 0.71  Jordanian Dinar
  • 100 JOD = €130.30 or €1 = 0.77  Jordanian Dinar

Other currencies:

  • 100 JOD = 110.93 British Pounds
  • 100 JOD = 212.83 Australian Dollar
  • 100 JOD = 193.23 Canadian Dollar
  • 100 JOD = 1,513.26 Swedish Krona
  • 100 JOD = 555.04 Polish Zloty
  • 100 JOD = 3,222.47 Czech Koruna
  • 100 JOD = 192,753.80 South Korean Won
  • 100 JOD = 1,003.08 Chinese Yuan
  • 100 JOD = 22,154.85 Japanese Yen

Time Zone

Jordan operates on Eastern European Time (EET) during standard time and Eastern European Summer Time (EEST) during daylight saving time.

Plug Type

Jordan uses Type C and Type F electrical plugs. The standard voltage is 230V, and the standard frequency is 50Hz.

Religion

The majority of Jordanians are Muslim, with Islam playing a significant role in daily life and culture. However, the country is known for its religious tolerance and diversity.

Cuisine

Jordanian cuisine is a blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors. Key dishes include Mansaf, Falafel, and Hummus.

Driving

In Jordan, driving is on the right side of the road. An international driving permit is recommended for travelers wishing to rent a car.

Tipping

Tipping is customary but not obligatory in Jordan. It is generally appreciated in restaurants, taxis, and hotels.

Unique Experience

From the lost city of Petra to the salty waters of the Dead Sea, Jordan offers a wide array of unique experiences that cater to adventurers, history buffs, and culture enthusiasts alike.

Why Visit Jordan?

Unique Historical Sites

Jordan is a treasure trove of historical landmarks, from the rose-red city of Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, to the well-preserved ruins of Jerash. These sites offer a fascinating glimpse into ancient civilizations, such as the Nabateans and Romans.

Natural Wonders

The country boasts an array of stunning natural landscapes. Float in the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea, or explore the breathtaking scenery of Wadi Rum, also known as the “Valley of the Moon,” which has been featured in numerous films and documentaries.

Rich Cultural Experience

Jordanian culture is a harmonious blend of ancient traditions and modern influences. From the warm hospitality of its people to the delicious fusion of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, Jordan offers a cultural experience like no other.

Adventure Activities

For the adventurous at heart, Jordan provides various opportunities for activities like scuba diving in the Red Sea, hiking in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, and camping under the stars in Wadi Rum.

Religious Significance

As part of the Holy Land, Jordan has numerous biblical sites that attract religious pilgrims. Places like Mount Nebo, where Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land, and the Baptism Site of Jesus at Bethany Beyond the Jordan are deeply significant.

Safety

Jordan is generally considered a safe destination for travelers. Its political stability in a turbulent region and friendly locals make it an appealing option for solo and family travelers alike.

Accessibility

With modern transportation facilities, including an international airport and well-maintained highways, Jordan is highly accessible. Visas on arrival are available for many nationalities, making the entry process smooth for most visitors.

By visiting Jordan, you’ll not only enrich your understanding of history, culture, and nature, but you’ll also have the adventure of a lifetime. Whether you’re a history buff, adventure seeker, or someone looking for spiritual enlightenment, Jordan has something to offer you.

Best Time to Visit

Spring and Autumn – The Ideal Seasons

Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November) are widely considered the best times to visit Jordan. The temperatures are moderate, and the landscapes are at their most vibrant, providing excellent conditions for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

Best Time to Visit Jordan in 2024: Historical Sites, Desert Adventures, and City Exploration. Jordan Weather Guide

Summer – Hot but Manageable

If you don’t mind high temperatures, summer (June to August) is a viable option, especially for visiting coastal areas like Aqaba, where you can enjoy water sports in the Red Sea. However, keep in mind that some desert areas can get extremely hot.

Winter – A Different Perspective

While winter (December to February) can be cold, especially in the evenings, it offers a different perspective on Jordan’s attractions. For instance, Petra with a light dusting of snow is a rare but awe-inspiring sight. However, some areas might be less accessible due to weather conditions.

Tourist Crowds

If you prefer avoiding crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons in late spring (late April to early June) or early autumn (late September to early November). The weather is still pleasant, but tourist sites are less crowded.

Local Festivals and Events

Festivals like the Amman Jazz Festival in April or the Jerash Festival in July and August offer unique cultural experiences. Check the local calendar for events that might coincide with your visit.

Holiday Seasons

Be mindful of Islamic holidays like Ramadan, as some services may be limited during this time. However, experiencing Jordan during a religious holiday can offer a unique cultural insight.

Getting There

International Flights

Jordan’s main international gateway is Queen Alia International Airport, located about 30 miles south of Amman. Major airlines from Europe, Asia, and North America frequently operate flights to and from Jordan.

Visa Requirements

Many nationals can obtain a visa on arrival, but requirements can change, so it’s advisable to check the latest visa regulations before you travel. Some travelers might also be eligible for the Jordan Pass, which includes visa entry as well as access to many attractions, including Petra.

Land Crossings

Jordan shares land borders with several countries including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iraq. However, due to regional tensions, not all borders are open or advisable to cross. The most commonly used land crossing is between Jordan and Israel at the King Hussein Bridge.

Sea Access

The port city of Aqaba offers another entry point via the Red Sea. Ferries from Egypt regularly dock here, providing an alternative to flying.

Public Transport

Once in Jordan, public transportation is fairly accessible. Buses are the most common form of public transport, and they cover most cities and tourist destinations.

Car Rentals

For greater freedom and flexibility, renting a car is a viable option. Most international car rental companies operate in Jordan, and roads are generally well-maintained. Note that driving is on the right side of the road in Jordan.

Local SIM Cards and Internet

Upon arrival, consider purchasing a local SIM card for mobile data and calls. Internet service is generally reliable in cities and tourist areas.

Currency Exchange

While ATMs are widely available and credit cards are accepted in most places, it’s a good idea to carry some cash in Jordanian Dinars for smaller expenses and in case you visit remote areas where digital payment options might be limited.

Getting to and around Jordan is quite straightforward, thanks to its modern infrastructure and multiple entry points. Whether you are arriving by air, land, or sea, you have several options to consider based on your travel needs and itinerary.

Top Attractions

Petra

Known as the “Rose-Red City,” Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Carved into the rose-colored cliffs of southern Jordan, this ancient city is famous for its intricate architecture, including the iconic Treasury and the Monastery.

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, allowing visitors to effortlessly float on the surface. Known for its therapeutic mud and mineral-rich waters, it’s a must-visit for wellness and nature enthusiasts.

Wadi Rum

Also known as the “Valley of the Moon,” Wadi Rum offers breathtaking landscapes that have inspired numerous films. Visitors can explore the desert either on a 4×4 vehicle, by camel, or on foot, and also enjoy camping under the stars.

Jerash

One of the best-preserved Roman cities in the world, Jerash is home to ancient ruins that include the Oval Plaza, the Temple of Artemis, and a well-preserved Roman theatre. The city offers a glimpse into what life was like under Roman rule.

Amman

The capital city of Jordan, Amman offers a mix of modernity and ancient history. Key attractions include the Amman Citadel, the Roman Theatre, and the King Abdullah Mosque. The city also offers vibrant markets and delicious food options.

Aqaba and the Red Sea

Aqaba is Jordan’s window to the Red Sea. Known for its coral reefs, it’s a paradise for divers and snorkelers. The city itself offers a mix of modern luxury and traditional charm.

Dana Biosphere Reserve

For nature lovers, Dana Biosphere Reserve offers hiking and wildlife watching opportunities. It is Jordan’s largest nature reserve, home to a variety of plants, birds, and animals that are unique to the region.

Mount Nebo

An important pilgrimage site, Mount Nebo is believed to be where Moses saw the Promised Land before he died. The site offers panoramic views of the surrounding areas, including the Dead Sea and parts of Israel.

Al-Karak Castle

This crusader castle is one of the largest in the region and offers stunning views of the surrounding valley. Its history spans multiple eras and cultures, including the Crusaders and the Mamluks.

Baptism Site of Jesus at Bethany Beyond the Jordan

One of the most significant religious sites in the world, this is believed to be the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The site has churches, baptismal pools, and ruins that date back to Roman and Byzantine times.

Jordan is home to a wide array of attractions that cater to all kinds of interests, whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or someone looking for spiritual enrichment. Each attraction offers its own unique experience, making a trip to Jordan a rich and diverse adventure.

Cultural Insights

Traditional Hospitality

Jordanians are known for their warm and welcoming nature. It’s common for locals to greet visitors with tea, coffee, or even a meal. The Arabic phrase “Ahlan wa Sahlan” (“You are welcome”) is frequently heard.

Culinary Delights

Jordanian cuisine is a mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors. Key dishes to try include Mansaf, a traditional dish of lamb cooked in fermented dried yogurt, and Mezze, an assortment of appetizers like hummus and falafel.

Dress Code

While Jordan is relatively liberal compared to some of its neighbors, modest attire is recommended, especially when visiting religious or rural sites. Women should consider carrying a scarf for such occasions.

Language and Communication

Arabic is the official language, but English is widely understood, especially in urban areas. Learning a few basic Arabic phrases can go a long way in making connections with locals.

Religion and Daily Life

Islam plays a significant role in Jordanian daily life. You’ll hear the call to prayer five times a day, and many businesses close on Fridays, the Islamic holy day. Non-Muslim visitors are generally welcome to visit mosques, but there are usually specific visitor hours and dress codes to adhere to.

Music and Dance

Music and dance form an integral part of Jordanian culture. From traditional Bedouin music to popular Arabic pop, the country offers a rich tapestry of musical experiences. The Dabke is a popular traditional dance performed at celebrations.

Arts and Crafts

Handicrafts like pottery, embroidery, and Bedouin jewelry are popular cultural products. The town of Madaba, for example, is famous for its intricate mosaics.

Festivals and Celebrations

Jordan hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, such as the Amman Jazz Festival and the Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts. These events provide an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture.

Architecture

Jordanian architecture is a blend of ancient and modern styles. From the Roman ruins in Jerash to the modern skyscrapers in Amman, the architecture tells a story of a nation at the crossroads of history and modernity.

Social Norms and Etiquette

Respect for elders is highly valued, and traditional greetings often involve a handshake and sometimes a kiss on the cheek. It’s also customary to offer and receive items with the right hand only, as the left is considered impolite for such interactions.

Understanding the culture of Jordan enriches your travel experience and helps you connect more meaningfully with local people. Whether it’s the food, the arts, or the daily life, immersing yourself in the culture offers you a more comprehensive understanding of this fascinating country.

Accommodation Options

Luxury Hotels

For those looking for a high-end experience, Jordan offers a range of luxury hotels, particularly in tourist hotspots like Petra and Amman. These establishments often feature top-notch amenities like swimming pools, spas, and fine dining options.

Mid-range Hotels

Ideal for most travelers, mid-range hotels provide a comfortable stay with a decent array of amenities, such as free Wi-Fi, breakfast, and air-conditioned rooms. Many are centrally located, offering easy access to attractions and public transportation.

Budget Hostels

Budget-conscious travelers can find a good selection of hostels, especially in larger cities and near major tourist sites. These accommodations often offer shared dormitory-style rooms and basic amenities, making them ideal for backpackers and solo travelers.

Bed and Breakfasts

For those looking for a more intimate setting, bed and breakfasts offer personalized service in a homely atmosphere. This option is particularly popular in smaller towns and rural areas.

Eco-Lodges

A growing trend in Jordan is eco-friendly lodges, particularly in natural reserves like Dana Biosphere Reserve and Wadi Rum. These accommodations focus on sustainability and often provide unique opportunities for connecting with nature.

Camps in Natural Reserves

For an authentic desert experience, consider staying in a Bedouin camp in areas like Wadi Rum. These camps offer various levels of comfort, from basic tented accommodation to luxury “glamping” options with amenities like private bathrooms and gourmet meals.

Apartments and Vacation Rentals

In larger cities and tourist areas, you can also find a range of apartments and vacation rentals. These options are ideal for longer stays or for those who prefer the conveniences of home, like a fully equipped kitchen.

Religious and Pilgrimage Accommodations

Near religious sites like Mount Nebo and the Baptism Site, there are often accommodations specifically for pilgrims, ranging from simple guesthouses to more comfortable hotels.

Jordan offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different tastes and budgets. Whether you’re looking for the luxury of a five-star hotel, the affordability of a hostel, or the uniqueness of an eco-lodge, you’ll find something that fits your needs and enhances your travel experience.

Useful Websites

Jordan is a destination that offers an enriching blend of ancient history, natural beauty, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re drawn to the archaeological wonders of Petra, the therapeutic properties of the Dead Sea, or the untouched landscapes of Wadi Rum, Jordan promises a diverse and memorable travel experience. With a wide array of accommodation options and a culture rich in tradition and modernity, the country caters to travelers of all interests and budgets.

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