Ultimate backpacking guide for Jordan

Jordan is a wonderful country. Not only for hosting Petra, one of the 7 wonders of the modern world, but for everything Jordan means. It is a country that has welcomed millions of Syrian and Palestinian refugees, this fact makes the hospitality of the locals something unique in Jordan. Wherever you go they will offer you tea, they will try to talk to you and they will always show you a smile.

Not to mention all that Jordan has to offer on a cultural level, from the lost temples of Petra, feeling on another planet, in the Wadi Rum desert, floating in the Dead Sea (30% of which is salt) and for the more devout visit Mount Nebo where Moses glimpsed the Promised Land or the place of Baptism in the Jordan River.

Everything you need to know for your trip to Jordan:

  1. Best time of the year to visit Jordan
  2. Basic tips for backpacking Jordan
  3. 9 Day itinerary around Jordan
    1. Day 1: Amman
    2. Day 2: Dead Sea, Madaba and Mount Nebo
    3. Day 3: Dana Biosphere Reserve
    4. Days 4 and 5: Petra
    5. Days 6 and 7: Wadi Rum Desert
    6. Day 8: Aqaba
    7. Day 9: Back to Amman and Jerash
  4. Daily budget for backpacking Jordan
  5. Where to stay in Jordan
  6. What to do in Jordan if you have more time

Official exchange rate 1EUR = 0.78JOD

Best time of the year to visit Jordan

Jordan is a very dry country with a desert climate, although unlike its neighbor Saudi Arabia, it has short, but quite harsh winters with the possibility of snow in the north with the border with Syria and in the Wadi Dana area, while Aqaba in The Red Sea enjoys a mild climate during these seasons and very hot summers from March to October.

The best time of year to visit Jordan is definitely March and April or September and October. It is when in the most central areas of the country and the desert of Wadi Rum there is neither the suffocating heat of summer nor the icy nights of winter. On the other hand, you can find rainy days and some places like Wadi Mujib are closed due to the danger of precipitation.

Basic tips for backpacking Jordan

Here are some tips that may be useful on your trip:

  • Public transport: Public transport leaves a bit to be desired due to the few frequencies and the poor connections to reach certain places. To give an example to get to the Dead Sea you need two taxis and a bus and the same to return. In some places they will prioritize locals before tourists (Wadi Rum)
  • Jett bus: It is the transport for tourists mainly. It is very expensive, it costs about 10 times what it would cost by public transport and with the exception of the Aqaba-Amman route, the connections are very bad.
  • Renting a car: Renting a car is a very valid option for Jordan, it is an easy country to navigate, with little traffic and more or less organized. It will save you the headaches of thinking about buses. You can rent a car for €20 a day and gasoline is very cheap due to its proximity to Saudi Arabia.
  • Jordan Pass: It is worth buying if you visit Petra, since for 70JOD it includes a visa, day entry to Petra and up to 40 different attractions throughout the country including the Wadi Rum desert. Just the separate Petra ticket is already worth 60JOD.
  • Aqaba: It is a free port, there are no taxes and if this is your gateway to the country you are exempt from paying a visa.
  • Petra at night: In my opinion the worst investment I’ve ever made in my life. The treasure was poorly lit and it was not easy to see, they put four candles on the ground and a man plays the flute while the false Bedouins behind him do not stop making noises and disturbing.

9 Day itinerary around Jordan

Jordan was one of the first countries in the Middle East that opened to tourism, extremely safe to travel and with many places and history to discover. It is an ideal destination for those who want to start discovering Arab culture and great architectural gems such as Petra or the wonderful desert of Wadi Rum.

Day 1: Amman

After arriving at Amman airport at 3 in the morning and passing the necessary controls, PCR, visa, etc… A transfer (25JOD) picks me up to take me to the hostel. At other times I usually use Uber or public transport, but the Uber ride to the airport is more expensive and public transport does not work at night.

After resting a bit and having a good breakfast, hummus, falafel, baba ganoush and of course a cup of tea, I head towards the historic center of Amman and its main attractions. Not without first getting lost in its bazaars and souks full of life and places in its busy days in the Jordanian capital.

Amman is a city that you can see perfectly in one day and despite being full of ancient Roman and Greek temples, everything is relatively close. I recommend you start with the Roman theater, the Roman forum and the Odeon temple. Which are preserved in perfect condition and from where you will have unbeatable views of Amman and its hills.

Before heading to the citadel go to eat at Hashem restaurant where for 1.5 JOD you will have a perfect gastronomic dose in this iconic restaurant that is frequented mostly by locals. Right next to it you will find Habibah Sweets one of the best sweet shops in Amman. My recommendation melted cheese with angel hair and honey. You won’t taste better.

With your dose of sugar through the roof and batteries charged, it is time to head towards the Amman Citadel, about 15 minutes up a hill, where you will find the temple of Hercules, the Byzantine church and the Umayyad mosque. This vast complex of ruins has been demolished over the years by different civilizations that settled in Amman.

Finally, to close the day in Amman, I recommend that you go to the most beautiful and largest mosque in the city, the King Abdullah I Mosque. Large white marble walls and blue tiles make it one of the most beautiful mosques I have ever seen. . If you are not Muslim you can visit it for 2 JOD.

Day 2: Dead Sea, Madaba and Mount Nebo

Few things are as peculiar as swimming in the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is both the lowest point on the entire planet earth and the saltiest sea in the world. Its extreme salinity will make you find cuts and wounds on your body that you did not know about and will make it impossible for you to sink into it. This same salinity makes life impossible in it, hence the name Dead Sea. Getting to it is a bit complicated if you don’t have a private vehicle, since public transport is relatively scarce in that region. Most of the beaches are private or you must access through hotels with high prices to swim on their beaches. At the next spot you can park your car and enjoy the beach and its hot springs for free.

Its low elevation and high temperatures cause the water to evaporate faster than it is evacuated, thus generating a sea of high salinity.

After floating for a long time in the Dead Sea, exfoliating my skin with mud and salt and taking a bath in a hot spring, I head towards Madaba. My recommendation is that you take the road that goes towards Dhiban. The landscapes seem taken from another planet, that is if it is not a route for those who are afraid of heights and narrow and steep roads.

After visiting Madaba, to end the day I go to Mount Nebo 3 JOD, for those more devout it is where the prophet Moses passed away and from where I glimpse the promised land. Other religious attractions that you can visit nearby is the baptismal area in the Jordan River, where it is said that Jesus Christ was baptized.

Most religious tourism sites are not usually included in the Jordan Pass.

Day 3: Dana Biosphere Reserve

Dana is a little gem that usually goes unnoticed in Jordan, if you go with a lack of time it is very likely that you will end up doing without her, but if you are one of those who like slow traveling, you definitely have to stop by here.

Dana is a small prehistoric town where only two families live and is the gateway to the Dana Biosphere Reserve with unique flora and fauna in its region. You can take long walks from 1h to 8h and go deep into the valley to see species of native birds, gazelles or simply chat or have tea with the goat herders who frequent the region.

To get there by public transport you will have to take a bus from the south station to Tafileh 3 JOD and another minibus to Al-Qadyssia 1 JOD and finally walk about 30 minutes downhill to the town of Dana.

Yes or yes, you should stay at Dana Tower Hotel, by far the best and most varied food I have tried in all of Jordan and Hazem and his family will make you feel at home.

This is where I met Jake and Paula, two great friends that I made, who by chance of fate shared the same itinerary and went together for much of the trip that we had next. Dana is a great place to meet other travelers as everyone dines and eats together and Hazem goes to great lengths to create that hospitality and bring travelers together.

Days 4 and 5: Petra

I have to admit, with Petra I had my reservations. I was afraid that it would be the typical place that had been growing in my mind and that it would not live up to my expectations.

Petra is a unique site and well worth a two-day visit, putting it in perspective I didn’t understand it either, but the archaeological site is gigantic and very scattered. Purchase the Jordan Pass for two days.

The first day of my visit was dedicated mainly to the easternmost part of Petra. You will start with the As Siq, the narrow gorges that find their way through the rocks until you reach the Treasury. Yes, the Treasury is the temple of Indiana Jones. At the exit of As Siq you will begin to glimpse a pink temple, carved by hand in one piece on the same mountain. I spent a few minutes without being able to stop contemplating all its details.

Fake Bedouin ”gypsies” as the real Bedouins call them can be quite annoying, ignore them with a polite ”La’a Shukran” and continue on your way. Another recommendation is: don’t go to Petra at Night, it’s a cash grab and it’s not worth it at all, by far the worst expense I’ve made in a long time.

Once past the Treasury you will enter another gorge that will take you to the route of the facades, where although less spectacular you can climb mountains to the left and right and discover countless tombs and other temples in worse condition. In my case I focused on the slope of the mountain to the right from where you will have unbeatable views of the Roman theater.

The second day is the day to avoid the masses and the Bedouins. With your ticket for two consecutive days you can access the archaeological park through the back door. A somewhat hidden secret that 95% of visitors do not know and do not visit. Take a taxi for about 7 JOD to have Petra to yourself solX.

It is a route of about 4-5 hours depending on your pace where you will be able to avoid the stairs that go up to the Monastery of Petra and you will have an architectural jewel practically for yourself.

Days 6 and 7: Wadi Rum Desert

The pace I was taking to date was a bit intense so in order to rest after 5 days with an average of 20km a day I decided to spend two nights in Wadi Rum, and what a great success!

I was in the best camp I could find. Tawfiq the owner of Desert Bird Camp welcomed the three of us with open arms, he was extremely hospitable and we were lucky to have his company for two great nights. Once again the experience could not be more authentic and local than the one we live.

We were only three people in the entire camp (low season) and Tawfiq told us that he had to go see his father to see how he was doing, so without hesitation we told him that we would be happy to accompany him. We got into the pick-up and headed to the possible places where his father could have set up camp that day, because the Bedouins change their location from time to time depending on the weather.

When we finally found them we saw that they had just come from walking the camels and were just gathering the whole herd because it was starting to get dark. Very politely he received us in his Haima, where we were drinking Bedouin tea and coffee non-stop while we listened as they spoke in Arabic without understanding anything they said. Being there with them was already more than we could have hoped for, we were able to experience that Bedouin hospitality that I had heard so much about.

On the way back Tawfiq showed us his qualities driving at 120 km / h through the desert with the lights off back to the camp.

The Wadi Rum desert was the setting for great films such as Dune, Martian and several movies of the Star Wars saga.

The next day we woke up quietly, had a good breakfast and his brother came to pick us up to start the Wadi Rum desert tour. It is well worth the one day tour about 60 JOD, including the three meals, night and transport to the town.

Throughout the day you will go through different emblematic places of the desert, mountains, gorges, sand dunes (you can sandboard) until the sun goes down and the entire desert is illuminated by a blanket of stars that you will not be able to see anywhere else than not be the desert.

Public transport in and out of the town of Wadi Rum is practically non-existent, most likely you will have to take a Jett bus to Petra, Aqaba or Amman.

Day 8: Aqaba

Aqaba is the southernmost city in Jordan, Aqaba per se does not have any relevant tourist attractions. It is usually the port of entry to Jordan for passengers coming from the Red Sea and all those who fly into its airport.

The main tourist attraction of Aqaba is its seabed. Like its neighbor Dahab (Egypt) it is one of the best spots for diving. Its rich marine ecosystem full of corals and different marine species make it one of the main diving destinations in the region. I can recommend Aqaba Adventure Divers, the school with which I did my two dives. The first was a ship wreck that is about 17m deep, the Cedar Pride, a 72m-long merchant ship in which you can enter its hull and discover it in great detail.

The second dive, although somewhat less interesting, was in the Japanese garden, from my point of view the corals and views were very similar to those we saw on the first dive and later, talking with other colleagues, they recommended the Military Museum. The Military Museum houses a tank, plane and other items that were sunk in the Gulf of Aqaba to help develop marine life and corals around it. The two plus dives to and from the center of Aqaba cost me 65 JOD. To keep in mind, these diving sites are located about 20 minutes from the center of Aqaba.

Day 9: Back to Amman and Jerash

To return to Amman, the best option if you do not have a private vehicle is to take the Jett Bus, it takes about 5 hours and stops halfway and costs 10 JOD. If you travel on a Saturday afternoon, it is better to buy it 1 day in advance.

Once I arrive in Amman, I head to the last place I think I still have to visit, Jerash. To get to Jerash by public transport you must go to the north bus station, the first buses leave at 8 in the morning, from there you will have to wait until they fill up to leave. The trip costs 1 JOD and takes about 45 minutes if you are not traveling during rush hour.

I estimate that your visit to Jerash can take about 3-4 hours, the archaeological complex is gigantic and is one of the best preserved that I have been able to visit. Mostly Roman temples, two amphitheaters, the largest and best preserved circus to date, much of its structure is still standing. Jerash will not leave you indifferent.

Daily budget for backpacking Jordan

Jordan is not an expensive country to travel to if you are a little careful with your personal expenses and do not fall into tourist traps and are able to tighten the nuts of the locals when it comes to negotiating and socialize enough with other travelers to share expenses .

The main expense is leisure, a good way to not bleed to death on tickets is to buy the Jordan Pass that includes the cost of the visa, so for €40 in exchange you will have access to the main tourist attractions in the country, Petra and Wadi Rum included. . What does the Jordan Pass not include? Entrance to religious tourist sites, Baptism in the Jordan River, Mount Nebo, Mosques, etc… and the Dead Sea (public beaches) do not come within this pass. But account minimum 50-60 JOD for the Jeep Tour in Wadi Rum, 60-70 JOD for diving, etc…

The next item of expenses is transportation, due to the infrequent public transportation in the country, you will have to take buses first thing in the morning or wait long hours for the buses to fill up. Renting a car is a good option, for 20 JOD a day + gasoline you can rent a car, and try to share expenses with other travelers. Bus journeys usually cost 1 JOD for each hour of travel. Example: Amman to Jerash 1 JOD and 45min, Amman Dana 3h30 and 4 JOD.

Presupuesto diario Jordania

The food is very cheap, from street food, 0.50 JOD for a falafel, 2 JOD for a shawarma box with fries or 4 JOD to sit in a local restaurant. Eating will not be an effort, neither for the prices nor for the flavors, all the food I tried was delicious. In addition, many accommodations include breakfast in their prices.

The network of hostels in Jordan is somewhat scarce, although in the main tourist places you will be able to find accommodation from 8 JOD in central places and with clean facilities. More information in the next section.

Where to stay in Jordan

I think that 5/5 is a difficult score to beat but in this case all the decisions were quite right and all the places where I stayed were highly recommended. Clean, well located and perfect for those who travel alone and want to socialize.

  • The Wanderers Hostel // Amman: Very central and well located in the 2nd circle, 25 minutes walk from all the attractions, its attentive workers do different activities every night and try to put their guests in contact so that everyone knows each other and socialize . The bathroom could be a bit cleaner.
  • Dana Tower Hostel // Dana: In Dana you will only really have three options to stay, but apart from being the cheapest it is also the best of all. It is a rustic and homely place where you can try endless local dishes for dinner and breakfast. The location on top of the hill is unique with unbeatable views and Hazem and his family will go out of their way to make you feel at home. Very clean although a bit cold and somewhat rustic.
  • Petra Capsule Hotel // Wadi Musa (Petra): Good to spend the night, personally it lacked a backpacker atmosphere and the owners were a bit lazy and uninterested, although very clean. I understand that in Cabin hostel there are more travelers.
  • Desert Bird Camp // Wadi Rum: The best camp you can find, relaxed pace for those who go slowly and want to enjoy a local experience, many of their workers do not speak English and you will have to try to communicate however you can. Tawfiq’s hospitality and dedication is unique. Extremely clean and hospitable.
  • Hakaia Community // Aqaba: Perfect hostel ideal for backpackers and digital nomads, it has several bedrooms with excellent breakfast and a room with tables and chairs to work and concentrate, excellent Wi-Fi and great staff. Very clean.

What to do in Jordan if you have more time

The eastern desert is without a doubt the spinet stuck in me after my time in Jordan. Remote, little touristy and yet to be explored. Where to discover Castles from the Umayyad period along an arid sand desert that stretches towards the border with Saudi Arabia.

Despite this, it is a very easy country to visit all its tourist highlights in a relatively calm and leisurely way due to the short distances in the country.

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