Getting There + Visa On Arrival
Queen Alia International Airport in Amman will most likely be your point of entry if you’re coming via air. Most nationalities will require a visa on arrival but the best option here is to purchase the Jordan Pass. This will grant you access to a 30-day visa (granted you stay for more than 4 consecutive days) as well as entry into the main sites including multiple entries into Petra, entrance to Wadi Rum, Jerash & more.
Amman Queen Alia International Airport was one of the nicest airports I had ever been in. The Wi-Fi was easy to access, there were regular buses into the town centre, as well as easy access to Uber & Careem.
Using Car Sharing Apps
Jordan has two car sharing apps that visitors can take advantage of when in Jordan. While taxis are relatively cheap, the use of car sharing apps helps you avoid the common scenario of a taxi driver refusing to use the meter. It is also a safer option for females travelling solo.
Both Uber & Careem are a great way to get around Jordan’s capital. However, it is worth noting that the apps don’t run across the whole country and are only available in Amman. It cost me 18JD ($36AUD) to get to the city centre from the airport. There is also a shuttle bus which is much cheaper.
New to Uber? Sign up here and get a discount on your first ride.
As a solo female traveller, I always get a SIM card when I enter a new country. I travel with an unlocked phone so I can swap sims easily. At Queen Alia International Airport, you can find mobile phone shops on the main floor of the arrivals section. I was told Zain was the best option and I can agree, I had 4G coverage almost everywhere in the country.
Responsible Travel in Jordan –
Jordan was not one of the easiest places to travel sustainably. I could sense a lack of awareness surrounding anything eco, especially outside of Amman. Plastic usage is very rampant and there is not much focus on alternative solutions to reduce plastic waste. I did find that some hotels had a water refill station so I refilled my water at any opportunity I could. Plastic straws are also very popular so I learned how to say “no plastic straw” in Arabic. See below for reference –
No plastic straw: بدون مصاصات لو سمحت [Bidoon mas-sa-sat lao sa-mahit]
If you know any places in Jordan that offer water refill please list them on the Refill My Bottle website so other travellers can find them.
Responsible Travel Resources in Jordan –
Wild Jordan –
Wild Jordan is committed to sustainability and promotes the protection of Jordan’s landscape, people and wildlife. They are Jordan’s largest eco-tourism provider and offer a range of eco-tourism activities on their website. Click here for more information.
Eco Hikers –
The Jordan Eco Hikers are a group of eco-warriors who organise regular hikes throughout Jordan with the primary objective to clean up places and recycle garbage responsibly. These “Clean as we Hike” trips are generally organised on weekends. Visit their Facebook page for more information.
Shams Community –
Shams is a community group of individuals who regularly come together to connect, inspire, and empower individuals to create positive change in their lives and their communities. They run regular events that trigger thought-provoking discussions about positive change. If you’re in Amman check out their list of community events on their Facebook page.
Day 1 & 2 – Amman
I arrived in Amman at about 10 in the evening and decided to get a Careem into town. The city is the capital of Jordan and quite a large metropolitan that has a European feel. The areas are divided into what they call “circles”, with a mixture of business districts, residential areas and touristic areas. The best place to base yourself is downtown or close to Rainbow Street, about a 20-kilometre ride (30 mins) from the airport.
Where to stay –
I chose to stay near Rainbow Street in a quaint, homely hostel that I grew to love. The name was 1930 Hostel, a family-run business located just 5 minutes walk from Rainbow Street and 20 minutes walk from Downtown Amman.
The venue had both female and mixed dorms, a great rooftop where I could do my own yoga, access to a kitchen, fast Wi-Fi, water refill, clean and modern bathrooms, and friendly staff. There was also daily breakfast included, as well as coffee and tea. I used this as my base while I was in Amman and can highly recommend staying here.
There are a few other options for budget travellers including the Sydney Hotel & Nomads Hostel. If you prefer a private room, the Sydney Hotel has good reviews and is a lively place where you can meet other travellers.
Use this link to get $20 off your booking.
Where to eat –
As it was Ramadan during my visit I didn’t have as many options to choose from. I would take advantage of the hostel breakfast and bread and then visit the local market to buy fruits to snack on during the day. You must try the fruits from the market! They are so fresh and so affordable e.g. 1KG punnet of apricots for only 1JD ($2AUD), plus you can store them in the fridge at the hostel for later.
When I did have the chance to explore Amman’s restaurant options these were the ones I would highly recommend:
This is one of Amman’s only LGBT-friendly cafes and was the first internet café in the Middle East that cultivated a reputation for liberating local cultures and intellect while promoting peace, equality and tolerance. While homosexuality isn’t illegal in Jordan, it is still widely unaccepted by society and many members of the LGBT community face discrimination.
Hashem Restaurant Down Town –
For an authentic local experience, you can’t miss Hashem’s, especially during Ramadan. Locals flock to this restaurant at Iftar for a Middle Eastern feast that consists of hummus, falafel, babaganoush, pickles, flatbread and more. All for only 3JD ($6AUD).
Amman Pasha Hotel –
This was one of the only restaurants open during the day and would be frequented by tourists, however, the local food is top notch. Try the Mansef, Jordan’s traditional dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt called Jameed and served with rice or bulgur.
Related reading: The best vegetarian cafes in Amman
What to do –
Take the Amman Free Walking Tour –
This is the perfect opportunity to get your bearings around this city. The Amman Free Walking Tour is a 3-hour tour that runs twice daily throughout the high season. The starting location is the Amman Pasha Hotel, as mentioned above. This English-speaking tour takes you through the backstreets of Amman, you visit a local market, the oldest building in the city, a spice and gold street, as well as one of the ancient ruins. The guides are very knowledgeable and will answer your questions about, not only Amman but Jordan as well. The Roman Theatre and Citadel are not included in the tour so I would recommend taking a half day for this tour and a half day for the other sites.
Roman Theatre and Citadel –
Both these Bronze Aged ruins are fascinating and well worth the visit. They are in close proximity to each other so you could do them on foot. The Citadel is located at the top of the hill so if you are not fit to walk up the hill you can also take a taxi for about 2JD. The Jordan Pass will give you entry to these sites. If you don’t have a pass you can purchase tickets at the entry gates.
Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Association –
Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Association is a women’s co-operative that exists for the benefit of the women and girls from Wadi Al-Seer villages. The co-operative aims to keep the local culture alive through fair-trade handicrafts programs that provide meaningful employment for local women in the villages. The women from the association invite you to share special skills like traditional weaving, ceramics and cooking.
You can book this experience through Lokal Travels using this link.
Take a self-guided street art tour –
Amman is famous for street art and the walls of west Amman’s Jabal Weibdeh are a canvas for some gorgeous murals. Take yourself on a self-guided tour and wander the colourful streets.
Related Reading: A guide to Amman’s street art
Visit Wild Jordan –
Wild Jordan is a social business that focuses on the sustainability of Jordan’s protected areas and supports the socio-economic development of local communities. Their headquarters is in Amman and here you will find information about their eco-tourism activities, a shop selling locally made, fair-trade products from Jordanian artisans, as well as an on-site cafe and restaurant serving up locally sourced foods.
Day 3 – Jerash
I decided to take the local bus from Amman to Jerash instead of going on a tour. The local bus is very affordable – 5JD for a return ticket. The bus can be reached by going to the Tabarbour BUS Station in the city’s North. The only issue about the public bus is that it only goes when it is full so you can’t necessarily plan your journey on an exact time. We were lucky as we arrived at the station at about 9 AM and the bus was almost full and ready to leave. I’d recommend to aim for this time or earlier so you can have time to explore Jerash. I would recommend at least 3 hours because there is a lot of walking. If you are visiting in summer I would recommend arriving as early as possible to avoid the heat.
Jerash was a magnificent city, with ancient ruins dating back to the Bronze Age. I would definitely not miss a visit to this city if you have time.
Take a cooking class in Jerash –
The women of the Bait Khayrat Souf Association offer a hands-on workshop for making (and eating) delicious artisanal jams and a traditional lunch. The association is famous for serving guests authentic Jordanian food in a beautiful outdoor setting, and profits empower local women in the community.
Book one of these tours through Lokal Travels using this link.
Day 4 & 5 – Petra
Getting from Amman to Petra –
The 1930 Hostel organised a JETT Bus for me to go directly from Amman to Petra. I arranged this the night before and it was very simple to organise. This trip can be done in one day with a return ticket or you can choose to stay in the villages surrounding Petra for a few nights.
Where to stay in Petra –
While you cannot stay inside the valleys of Petra, the area around has been built to accommodate tourists. If you prefer a more local vibe, the village of Wadi Musa offers many Airbnb-style accommodations. We chose to stay in the Bedouin Pink EcoHouse located closeby to Little Petra. Jo, the owner was very kind and helpful and accommodated us in the house. Before the afternoon came he asked us if we would like to instead sleep in a cave that he runs as another form of accommodation. The 3 of us agreed and so we took a day pack and went with Jo out to the cave. The experience was one of the highlights of my time in Petra. We cooked food over the fire and slept under the stars. It was magnificent.
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Important Note: At this point in time I had teamed up with 2 other travellers in Amman. We decided to travel together as I felt safer travelling with others rather than on my own. It also helped to break down the transport and accommodation costs. I would strongly advise against staying in a cave as a solo female traveller. The cave we stayed in was very remote and there have been reports of women staying in caves (a common experience offered here in Petra) and then being sexually harassed by their host. If you want to experience staying in a cave please do it with a friend or travel buddy.
Exploring Petra –
I would recommend getting the Jordan Pass that allows for 2 days in Petra because there is a lot to see. On the first day, we explored the southern section of Petra that includes the Siq and the corridors. On the second day, Jo took us trekking through the Northern section to the Monastery, which is actually more magnificent than the Siq.
Related reading: Everything you need to know about camel trekking
Beware of the Bedouin scam –
While wandering throughout the ancient city you will come across many Bedouin men, either in shops or riding horses through the terrain. They may seem charming but there is a hidden agenda amongst some of the locals here which has earned its name as the “Bedouin romance scam.” The scam has received social media outcry with pages like “Stop the Petra Bedouin women scammers” and “Shakira The Donkey” created to warn women about the scams.
Related reading: Everything a woman travelling alone in Jordan needs to know
Day 6 & 7 – Wadi Rum Desert
Getting from Petra to Wadi Rum –
There are a few options here. We decided to get a taxi because we could split it 3 ways and so that worked out cheaper. The other option is to get the JETT bus that leaves from the main town of Petra. It’s recommended booking through your hotel or through the ticket office because I have read negative reviews about the JETT Bus online experience.
Where to stay in Wadi Rum –
Most people stay in what they call ‘Desert camps’. These are camps spread across the whole of the Wadi Rum desert. A package usually consists of dinner, breakfast and accommodation under the stars. Jo organised our stay in one of the camps and it was pleasant. I wouldn’t recommend staying more than 1 night, as there is not much to do out in the desert aside from taking a jeep tour.
What to do in Wadi Rum –
At first, we were going to opt out of the jeep tour but then we realised there isn’t much else to do. We were glad we did choose the jeep tour because we got to see much more of this beautiful desert and take some fantastic photographs. The jeep tour ended at the main bus station where you can either go back to Amman or continue to Aqaba. Jo also helped us organise our jeep tour but you can also organise it from your camp or prior accommodation.
Day 7 & 8 – Aqaba
Getting from Wadi Rum to Aqaba –
Again, we chose to share a taxi to split costs. We even teamed up with another traveller and split the costs in 4 – this is where travelling in a group in Jordan can really be beneficial. I believe there is also a bus from Wadi Rum to Aqaba but I am not certain of this.
Where to stay in Aqaba –
Aqaba is a town that was really brought to life by the diving opportunities in the Red Sea. There is the main centre and then South Beach, which has a number of dive resorts to choose from. We stayed in the Bedouin Moon Village because we wanted to be closer to the beach.
The problem with Aqaba –
Sadly, Aqaba was very disappointing for me. The sand was completely littered with cigarette butts and the sea had lots of rubbish floating in it. I mustered the courage to go snorkelling on one of the days where the wind was not blowing the currents in. I must say, the snorkelling was fantastic and I saw so many fish but the ecological state of the sea saddened me too much to return. The sea sits in between Egypt, Israel and Jordan. I heard that a lot of rubbish is tossed from boats and also coastal towns. Hopefully, this improves in the near future.
Female safety in Aqaba –
While Aqaba has been popular for tourists for many years, it’s still a Muslim area and swimming in a bikini may still be a foreign concept to some of the locals. On the first day, I had no issues and there were many other tourists swimming in bikinis. However, on the second day while I was swimming alone a young boy at the shore started videoing me in my bikini using his phone. I yelled out and an older man came over to see what was going on, he chased the boy down and deleted the video.
On a separate occasion, I was approached by a man who asked if I wanted to go in the water with him. He told me he knows all the good snorkelling spots and that he can show me where they are. I declined his offer as I was alone. I then researched about this and there have been cases of sexual harassment here, by these men who offer to take women out and snorkel with them.
Be careful in this area as a woman. For more information about safety for women in Jordan you can read this post.
Day 9 – Amman
Getting from Aqaba to Amman –
The JETT Bus leaves from Aqaba to Amman several times a day. You can book a ticket at the office in town and the ride is about 4 – 5 hours long.
The Dead Sea
I didn’t visit the Dead Sea on this journey because I arrived in the month of June and was informed the region attracts a lot of flies at this time. If you insist on visiting I would recommend leaving one day for this in between Amman and Petra. Read the below guide for everything you need to know about visiting the Dead Sea.
Related reading: An Epically Muddy Day at the Dead Sea – How to Visit the Dead Sea
Watch my Instagram story highlights of Jordan for a deeper insight into my Jordanian adventure.
Have any questions about travelling to Jordan? Contact me via my contact form.