Expat Travels: Jordan, finally!

Friday, August 24, 2018

This trip had been such a long time coming.

I've wanted to visit Jordan since seeing the magnificent Petra Treasury in one of my favorite movies, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade! 

After extensive research and perusing Instagram, I (knew) learned that there was much more to Jordan than Petra. I had five full days to explore as much of the country as I could.

Quick Points:

  • Though I'm a mere three hours away from Jordan, it still cost close to $500 for me to fly into Queen Alia. Sheesh! This would've been one of the first trips that I made upon arrival to the middle east but the flight prices were a huge deterrent; believe it or not the $500 is the least expensive I've seen the flight, and it wasn't even direct. Hmph 😤
  • The Jordanian dinar is killing the USD  I did not find anything to be affordable: lodging+ food+ transport=all pricey. Yet and still, Jordan is adamant to increase tourism.  Perplexing.
  • Speaking of transportation: taxis rule and they're uh, interesting. To avoid the ridiculousness that I faced when trying to hail one, download the Careem app and grab a taxi from there. You will have the option to choose a car like Uber (currently pending licensure in Jordan) but don't do this. The regular drivers are afraid of the taxi drivers here; the taxi driver won't get harassed and will adhere to the rules of the app. This is your safest and most affordable bet.
  • Purchase the Jordan Pass to avoid visa on arrival fees. For U.S. citizens, that's $60 single entry. If you purchase the JPass and your stay is at least 3 days and 3 nights, your fees will be waived. They will check that you adhered to this on departure; if you shorten your stay you'll be made to pay on exit. The JPass also covers entry to most major sites including Petra, The Citadel, Roman Theater, all museums, the Baptism Site, Jerash Ruins, pretty much everywhere except The Dead Sea. For perspective, one day entry to Petra is $71pp. It pays for itself and more.
  • Out of all the places I've visited, this is the first where I paid a company for an organized tour. Besides the JPass, it's the only other way I saved some money. I used Jordan Private Tours and I recommend them. Their two-day package was enough for me.

Day 1

My hotel was a quick taxi ride away from Amman Citadel and the Roman Theater. You can visit one and walk to the other. If you're not in top shape I'd recommend going to the Citadel first, as it sits on a hill over the city. From there, you can walk down hill to the Roman Theater, it took me about 10 minutes.

At the Amman Citadel, the world's oldest and most consistently inhabited place

The Temple of Hercules at the Citadel

Part of the Roman Amphitheater
The Romans controlled the region for over 700 years, and left their mark via architecture

Day 2:

Day trip to the Jerash Ruins.

I did this one on my own and it started off okay, but getting back is tricky. Take a taxi to the Tarbarbour Bus Station and jump in a jetty headed to Jerash. It costs 1 JOD each way, and there are several; the ones with the most passengers inside will leave first. The buses don't pick up at the same spot going back to Amman. I went in literal circles trying to find the pick up spot. You have to walk a couple blocks in the opposite direction of the ruins to get the bus back, and it may look different from the one that got you there. You will hear the drivers yelling out "AMMAN!" on whatever block they decide to depart from. Whew! Of course you could just book a tour. 👀

Jerash Ruins, a 45 minute trip from Amman, and covered with the JPass

Day 3:

(lazy day)

Day 4-5:

My tour guide picked me up early in the morning and our group set out for Petra. The weather was surprisingly cool and the trip there was pleasant. I walked everywhere though there are horses and camels available for those with limited mobility.

Photos won't do it justice

Petra is actually massive and I highly recommend toughing it out and seeing all there is to see. Don't just visit the Treasury and leave.

After Petra, we camped overnight in Wadi Rum. This was NOT originally part of my itinerary and I'm so glad I added it on.

At Wadi Rum, we trekked around the dessert in a 4x4 and saw some of the most amazing formations. Though camping and hiking are soooo not my thing, I am so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone to experience this! It would have been an absolute shame to miss this magnificent place. Do not skip Wadi Rum!

Inside one of the many gorgeous enclaves within Wadi Rum
I can't believe I almost missed this!

The crew on the go
The Martian, starring Matt Damon, was shot here

We ended our journey with a trip to the Red Sea and Dead Sea, respectively. While I found both to be extremely overrated, I'm happy to say that I got to experience seeing them.

The Red Sea
Across the way: Egypt on the left, Israel on the right

Floating in the Dead Sea, an anticlimactic experience 😜

Before the blockade, it was more affordable to fly to Jordan, and lots of people would make a weekend trip out if it. But with less airline competition in Qatar it's become a destination that you have to plan carefully for, time wise and also financially if your currency isn't as strong as theirs.

I immensely enjoyed my time in Jordan. I hope to return to visit more sites, and to see Petra again.

Until next time...

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