Jordan is a land steeped in history. It has been home to some of Humankind's earliest settlements and villages; harboring hidden relics from the world's great civilizations.
As the crossroads of the Middle East, the lands of Jordan and Palestine have served as a strategic nexus; connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe. Since the dawn of civilization, Jordan's geography has given it an important role as a conduit for trade and communications; connecting the orient with the west. Jordan continues to play a critical role in geopolitical affairs.
Jordan is a small Middle Eastern country that occupies under 100,000 square kilometers including the Dead Sea, which makes it similar in size to Portugal and Austria. However, what will really surprise you (among many things) about Jordan is the array of climates and landscapes, as well as the country’s rich history all the way back to the Paleolithic period and spanning through the Hellenistic period, Ottoman rule and eventual establishment of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Pro-Tip: Jordan’s Independence Day is on May 25th.
1. JORDAN AT A GLANCE
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a place which once captivated ancient travelers, continues to enthrall a new generation with its eclectic mix of modernity and tradition. From the enchanting starkness of Wadi Rum, to the restless city centre of urban Amman, and the majestic ruins of civilizations once forgotten. Jordan is a unique destination offering breathtaking sights, charming accommodations, and exquisite cuisine. Jordan is home to countless wonders that are sure to leave you in awe. Quietly becoming a premier destination within the region, Jordan has witnessed an emergence of luxury hotels in Amman, Petra, Aqaba and the Dead Sea. Whether you’re looking for the authentic backpacker experience, or the casual refinement of 5-star service, the Hashemite Kingdom is fit for both the aristocrat and the modest.
2. GETTING AROUND
Resurrected atop of a mountain or “jabal” with various district and neighborhoods that can help you navigate the chaotic streets; Amman is a bustling amalgamation of the old and the new. With high rise buildings erecting from the newly constructed Abdali complex to quaint shisha spots in the downtown al-ballad area; you’re only a 2JD taxi ride away from whatever suits your mood. Though Amman has many well-known streets most addresses are rarely used and mail is typically delivered to neighborhood post offices. Because of this people will typically us nearby landmarks to describe locations. Don’t worry, this if far more efficient than it sounds, so don’t be afraid to ask a local.
No matter where you come from you are going to need a visa to enter Jordan. The vast majority of nationalities are able to have theirs issued on arrival into Amman airport or at the Jordanian border. However, there are several others that will be required to obtain their visas ahead of arrival. Be sure to check out the Jordanian Tourist Board website for full details. Whilst it often pays to be prepared, acquiring your visa from the Jordanian embassy in your home country can actually prove significantly more expensive than doing so on arrival. Try to resist the urge to do this if you don’t need to. A single-entry visa is valid for a month and costs 40 JOD (Jordanian Dinar) or around 56 USD.
4. JUST THE FACTS
To ensure you get the most from your visit to Jordan, it is important to have a few basic facts on hand before you arrive. From currency to transport, from newspapers to business hours, you'll find the information you need by clicking the links below.
Jordan is a primarily Muslim country, although the freedom of all religions is protected. Muslim women’s clothing often covers their arms, legs and hair. Western women are not subject to these customs, but very revealing clothing is never appropriate and conservative dress is advisable for both men and women in the old part of Amman (downtown), and outside cities. Shorts are rarely worn by either sex, and would be out of place in the downtown Amman area.
Visitors with a valid passport may obtain a visa at any Jordanian embassy or consulate abroad. A visa can also be obtained at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport (for unrestricted nationalities) or at any other border crossing except King Hussein Bridge and the ferryboat from Egypt. Visas are valid for one month, but can be extended at any police station.
• CREDIT CARDS
Credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants and larger shops, including American Express, Visa, Diners Club, and MasterCard. Please note that many smaller shops still prefer cash payment in the Jordanian currency, and it’s essential for shopping in the local souks.
The official language of Jordan is Arabic, but English is widely spoken especially in the cities. Many Jordanians have traveled, or have been educated abroad, so French, German, Italian and Spanish are also spoken, but to a lesser extent. When Arabic is written in Jordan using the Latin alphabet, English spelling is applied; however, these spellings can be interpreted in various ways - the spelling, for example, of street addresses can vary widely. For this reason, the sounds of the words are a much better guide than the spelling. Speaking Arabic is easier than you might think; attempting a few basic words will gain you respect from the locals and is a good way to break the ice. The Jordanian people are extremely understanding and will help you whenever they are able.
• ELECTRICAL CURRENT
220 AC volts, 50 cycles, requiring rounded two-prong wall plugs. Visitors from the US will need a transformer, which most hotels can provide.
Wherever you go in Jordan you will find plenty of opportunities to shop. For visitors there is a wide range of locally made handicrafts and other goods available at all the popular sites, as well as within the boutiques of the leading hotels and at the various visitors' centers. There you will find hand-woven rugs and cushions, beautifully embroidered items and clothing, traditional pottery, glassware, silver jewelry embedded with semi-precious stones, Bedouin knives, coffee pots, narghiles (hubble bubble), marquetry work, antiques and other artefacts. The list is endless and about as varied as you can imagine. Take time to visit the souks in Jordan’s larger towns and cities. These are treasure troves for those seeking something a little bit out of the ordinary. Within the souks are also excellent gold and silver outlets, where some great bargains can be found. Also worth visiting are the busy market shops, especially for exotic spices, herbs and seasonings. Pro- tip: Shopkeepers are helpful and friendly. Most speak at least a little English but even if they don’t, there is usually someone around who will only be very willing to assist you. After all, this is Jordan!
• LOCAL TIME
October – March: Greenwich Mean Time plus 2 hours (G.M.T. + 2). April – September: Greenwich Mean Time plus 3 hours (G.M.T. + 3). Jordan is seven hours ahead of US Eastern Time.
Water is a precious resource in Jordan and visitors are encouraged not to waste it. Hotels rated 3 stars and up have their own water filtering systems and their water is considered safe to drink. Elsewhere, bottled water is inexpensive and readily available.
The local currency is the Jordanian Dinar, symbol JD, also pronounced as “jaydee.” There are 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 JD notes. The dinar is divided into 100 piasters (pronounced “pee-asters”) of 1000 fils (“fills”). The fils is the unit most commonly used and you will usually see prices written as 4,750 (which is 4 JD and 750 fils). Currency can be exchanged at major banks, exchange booths and at most hotels. Street money-changers are best avoided. Exchange rates are set daily by the Jordanian Central Bank.
5. VALUES & TRADITION
Jordan can be regarded as a typically Arab country for its people are very warm, friendly and hospitable. Jordanians are typically happy to forgive foreigners who break the rules of etiquette. However, visitors seen to be making an effort to observe local customs will undoubtedly win favor. Joining local people for a cup of tea or coffee can be a wonderful way to learn more about local culture. If you are invited yet are unable to attend, then it is perfectly acceptable to decline. Place your right hand over your heart and politely make your excuses.
6. Food & Drink
For most the pull of Jordan comes from the chance to witness ancient Petra or to experience desert life in Wadi Rum – but the cuisine here should also play a part. Aside from chickpea-packed goodies like hummus and falafel and meaty morsels such as shish kebabs and shawarma, you have to try mansaf. Known as the national dish of Jordan, mansaf offers up a hearty meal of rice, slow-cooked lamb and jameed (a fermented yoghurt sauce) – simply delicious! Even though 90 percent of Jordanians are Muslim, drinking alcohol in moderation is widely accepted. You’ll find beer and wine is often listed on hotel and restaurant menus, and there are even a few bars in popular tourist spots and some of the big cities, especially those with a significant Christian contingent. But, if you’re looking to avoid the booze altogether, limonana is a zingy alternative made from lemon, spearmint, ice and sugar. This might surprise you but the tap water in Jordan is generally considered safe to drink. However, when travelling on a shorter trip it’s probably better to play it safe and stick to bottled water to avoid a sensitive stomach putting a dampener on your adventure.
Tipping is not included in our tour price as it is something for our guests to choose whether to give or not. Tipping is something traditional in Egypt that foreigners are used to doing for a very long time as long as they are receiving satisfactory services from the others whether they are drivers, waiters, porters, guides, etc. So in case, you found that you are receiving valuable services while being in Egypt, feel free to give gratuities to whomever you want at any time with no specific amount of money to be given, it is all about you and what you want to give.
8. Dress Code
As was previously mentioned, Jordan is a predominantly Muslim country and so dressing conservatively acts as a sign of cultural respect. Shoulders and knees should be covered at the very least, and midriffs or cleavage should never be on show. Remember to dress particularly modestly when visiting sites of religious significance or else you may be denied entry. Yes, Jordan is always warm, but you’ll soon discover that covering up with loose, lightweight and long clothing is not only a great way to keep cool but also to stay protected from the sun. If you’re going to be outside for large portions of the day, a sun hat wouldn’t go amiss either.
9. Cultural etiquette
Jordanians are very welcoming, so expect to be greeted warmly with an animated handshake and a barrage of questions. Coming from countries where strangers tend to stay that way, it’s often easy to be skeptical of such friendliness but trust that this is genuine curiosity and avoid being dismissive. Don’t be surprised if you’ve been invited to tea countless times and even for a full-blown meal at someone’s house by the time your trip comes to a close. Certain parts of the country and Wadi Rum, in particular, are also heavily influenced by Bedouin culture. Amongst these nomadic folk, hospitality is thought of as an honor and a duty. As a guest, you can expect to be totally absorbed into the household by your host and treated as one of the family.