Why travel to Jordan – Reasons to choose Jordan as your next travel destination
Two months ago I would have believed that Jordan didn’t have much else to offer beyond Petra , it lies silently between countries where tensions are high, it borders problematic countries: Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Palestine and Israel, it had all the cards in order to be avoided or considered a not particularly attractive destination, at least for me who knew a lot about the Middle East
, and still today I am certainly not an expert, nothing. The location on the one hand, my total ignorance about it on the other, had never made me consider the country as a possible travel destination. Until I went there!
Jordan joins the list of destinations that have literally surprised me and that I would recommend to anyone who wants an exotic destination not too far from home and has a few days available.
You don’t necessarily have to fly 20 hours to reach a country as different as it is varied and with numerous attractions really close at hand, capable of offering 360 degree travel experiences , including snorkelling or coral reef diving (surprised eh? I am It was also the first time I dived with a mask and fins in South Beach!).
The trip began in Amman and ended three weeks later in Aqaba on the Red Sea.
I traveled rather slowly, given the truly small size of the country, so as to be able to enjoy the corners of this land which presents itself as an incredibly interesting destination for anyone who has little time available but doesn’t want to give up a complete trip that has everything to offer that you look for when traveling: adventure, relaxation, history, monuments and archaeological sites of incredible beauty following the epic adventures of Lawrence of Arabia, excellent food and, last but not least, a friendly and generous population!
Why travel to Jordan? I listed 10 reasons!
1. The people – Welcome to Jordan!
I’ll start with what always makes my travels unique and makes me lean towards one destination over another: the people.
The Jordanians are nothing short of wonderful, sociable, very kind and always available. Whether you’re in the middle of Amman or in the ruins of Jerash, it’s easy to meet someone who stops us, just for the pleasure of knowing where we’re from and finishing with a smiling “Welcome to Jordan.”
This has also happened several times when stopped by the traffic police, who are numerous especially along the Dead Sea, who probably also due to the fact that they don’t speak English dismiss them with a generous greeting and a classic: Welcome to Jordan!
Starting from the owners or those who work in the hotels, ending with the falafel sellers, the trip is dotted with wonderful people, always smiling and ready to help. A bonus therefore for those who, in addition to places, are thirsty for human interactions.
2. Size and compactness of the country
It is rare to find such small countries in which so many wonders are concentrated. Ideal even if you only have 8 days available. Exotic charm, among other things, a 3-hour flight from Italy, easily reachable with direct flights from Rome or Milan (around €350 return, you can check the flights from this link ).
The country extends mainly in length, just around 400km, practically little larger than Sicily. Not only that, a large part of the country is deserted, so the journey is usually concentrated along a straight line that connects Amman to Aqaba with some, not too long, detours.
So it is an ideal nearby country for those who have 8 or 10 days available but don’t want to fly too far or not be the victim of demanding time zones (only one hour difference).
Everything at your fingertips. Within an hour you go from the coral reef 15 meters from the shore to the Wadi Rum desert and its fantastic rock formations. Two more and you’re in Petra and a little further on in the Dead Sea.
3. The Wadi Rum desert
Majestic plateaus, sandy valleys and suggestive canyons and the desert give life to the mighty desert of Wadi Rum in which particular ecosystems and Bedouin culture mean that a few days in this wonderful desert bring you back to nature and the grandiose beauty of the great silences and majestic stretched out.
Wadi Rum is located about 1000m above sea level, which is why the region, despite being desert, is quite cool compared to other Jordanian deserts . What makes this desert unique and beautiful lies in the sandstone mountains which can reach altitudes of 1700m, heights which mean that during the rains they can collect enough water to give life to small springs of fresh water hidden among the mountains.
Once an important trade route, it lost its importance during Roman times, when trade was diverted to Syria and the sea route began to be followed, and the semi-nomadic Bedouins returned to nomadism. Until the Jordanian government encouraged them to re-establish themselves in 1970, a choice from which they were the first to benefit.
A magical place where, if with a full moon, the moonlight illuminates the immense expanses, ideal for 4×4 rides, or even camel rides, climbing the sandstone mountains or climbing, drinking the famous “desert tea” all the shadow of some large rock, and be amazed in front of the “bridges” made of stone smoothed by wind, sand and water.
4. The Dead Sea and the Kings Road
Floating with a newspaper in hand on the very salty waters of the Dead Sea , covering yourself with mud and letting its beneficial effects, a natural cosmetic remedy with healing qualities, have an effect on our skin, is one of those experiences to try at least once in your life .
Read also – Tips for organizing a visit to the Dead Sea in Jordan
It is therefore not surprising that this is an obligatory stop for anyone traveling to Jordan, and even more so for those who want to do natural treatments in these waters which have a 30% salt concentration heading towards the lowest point on earth, -400 meters above sea level. sea level.
Of incredible beauty and absolutely worth doing is the King’s Highway , which was a trade route but which today runs along the graceful hills along the Dead Sea. This route includes destinations such as Madaba , Mujib Canyon , Karak and Shobak Castles , the Dana Nature Reserve , small towns and farmlands, so this route gives an excellent insight into rural life in contemporary Jordan.
It seems that this road is already mentioned in the Old Testament, Moses was in fact forbidden to travel there by King Edom, while the Nabataeans used it as a trade route between Saudi Arabia and Syria. It was equally important for the Romans, so much so that Trajan renewed it to facilitate connections between Aqaba and Bosra, in Syria, as it was for the Crusaders, so much so that they fortified the strongholds in Karak and Shobak, which can still be visited today.
It was with the Ottomans that this road, once so important, lost its connecting function favoring an alternative road to the east, so as to give us today a piece of the history of the past and an almost marginal piece of the present, making driving from below the level of the sea up to Petra surrounded by lunar landscapes and archaeological and historical sites of incredible grandeur.
5. Petra the pink city
When you think of Jordan probably the only site that comes to mind is Petra .
With good reason, this wonderful site is probably the most visited in the entire country, to the point that even those who travel to Israel always find a couple of days to dedicate to the pink city.
Petra was an important part of the trade route that connected Mesopotamia with Egypt , yet its history remains somewhat mysterious today. It is not known exactly when it was built, but it is known that it began to prosper in the 1st century BC thanks to the trade in myrrh, incense and spices.
The city, capital of the Nabadean Arabs, also prospered during Roman domination, until an earthquake in 365 AD destroyed a large part of the city.
The city was slowly abandoned, due to the earthquake but also to the changes in trade routes and the development of maritime trade, but it was not abandoned by everyone, in fact the local Bedouins remained there, and still live there today.
In 1985 it was declared a World Heritage Site, and in 2007 it was one of the new seven wonders of the world .
If you think that Petra is just the facade of the Treasure…. you are wrong! Consider a day or two visit and don’t miss the climb up the 800 steps to the Monastery. Petra, goes far beyond the first magical vision you will encounter!
Read the post – How to organize a visit to Petra in Jordan
For those who want to know how I got up here, where I am in the photo.
We were accompanied by a Bedouin guide, a boy who surely asks everyone right in front of the Treasure, for 10JOD.
We climbed and climbed some rocks. Walking time approximately 15 minutes. Fairly simple difficulty but you need a bit of agility, there are large stones and the road is not signposted, so it is not suitable for everyone or not suitable for those with movement difficulties. Absolutely worth the price paid (definitely better invested than the 17jod paid for the Petra by Night).
Petra by Night si o no?
I literally went to great trouble to get there on time since the show only takes place 3 nights a week. Many have asked me whether I think it’s worth it or not.
It is a show in total darkness with candles on the ground, which DO NOT illuminate the façade of the Treasure, while a Bedouin plays the flute and in somewhat broken English tells something which, among other things, is due to the very large number of people, it was not clear to understand. Only at the end is the facade illuminated, somewhat haphazardly, with different colours.
The cost and effort made to reach the Treasure, however you have to walk in the dark inside the park, in my opinion it’s not very worth it, I’m not sure I would have avoided it but I certainly would have had less problems arriving for the occasion.
So I think that those traveling on a budget can avoid it, but for those who walk 4km in the dark and 17Jod don’t make a difference, then it may be an option to consider. However, please do it before seeing it during the day. Petra during the day is unbeatable, there will be no artificial lights that will ever make it more fascinating than it is! And above all, don’t worry about arriving first, the last arrivals will have the best seats!
For those who still want to attend this show, tickets can be purchased at the visitor center in Petra or at the tourist agencies in Wadi Musa or through your hotel (I did so since I arrived just 2 hours early), they cannot be bought online or in advance, there are no limited places (in fact I must say that there were too many people).
The show only takes place on: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday . I remind you that the entrance ticket is NOT included in the Jordan Pass.
Official website: Petra By Night
Note: I know that looking at this photo you might wonder why I don’t speak well of this show. The truth is that looking at it it actually seems like a very beautiful event, except that I remember very well the feeling of having witnessed a very poor performance that added no value to my visit to this wonderful site which I fully enjoyed the next day!
6. Coral reef 2 steps from the beach – Aqaba
Of all the beauties of Jordan, snorkeling in the Aqaba coral reef is probably the one I least expected, and which therefore surprised me, to the point that I decided to stay on the border with Saudi Arabia, longer than expected.
Aquaba , which extends over the Gulf of Aqaba, right on the border with Eliat, the Israeli city across the street, is a very pleasant Arab seaside city, full of local restaurants, very lively in the evening, with a nice beach not far from the area of hotels, but where the snorkeling isn’t great and especially women might feel uncomfortable putting on a swimsuit.
But to do memorable snorkeling, and maybe even meet a sea turtle, or swim among wrecks (a tank or sunken ships) you have to go a little further south, about 10km, and there a dive will be enough to reach a barrier with a few strokes corralina full of colorful fish, molluscs and corals less than 20 meters from the shore.
7. Security in an unstable and unsafe Middle East
Unfortunately, a large part of this part of the world cannot be visited, but Jordan offers a safe country that gives the opportunity to experience the Middle East in total safety and without any limitations.
It is pleasant and is also absolutely suitable for families with children. It is a moderate Muslim country with a Catholic minority, in which their desire to remain a peaceful and harmonious country in which tourists will never feel uncomfortable is evident. However, travel to the borders with Syria and Iraq is not recommended.
For more information on the safety issue I recommend always checking on viaggiosicuri . The Middle East area is prone to turmoil, despite the King’s moderate policy, so it is always advisable to inform me before booking a trip.
8# Food and markets
Oh the Giordano dishes, an incredible variety that does not leave the most refined palates indifferent. Middle Eastern food is excellent, whether you eat in restaurants or street food, there is always something to try so you can offer a new dish every day!
Starting from the typical breakfast based on falafel, hummus, mutthabel (white cheese), lebaneh and the inevitable pita, to then enjoy some delicious street snacks, Mu’ajanaat, a sort of pizza filled with potatoes (my favorite ), cheese or spinach.
The evening is the best time to get lost in the Jordanian menus. Hummus cannot be missing, and I recommend the slightly more elaborate variant called Fatteh, but above all the national dish Mansaf , rice cooked with yogurt and lamb, is worth trying.
For a detailed list of typical Giordano food, which would deserve a separate post, I refer you to the complete list of this post which specializes in food from around the world and which I believe has made an excellent selection: 25 of the best dishes you should eat .
Obviously, as a predominantly Arab country, the souks cannot be missing in all the cities, meeting places but also places of contact with the daily life of Jordanians, where I have never missed the opportunity to do great business (but the Arabs are always better at this of me!).
9# Travel costs
I admit that coming from Israel, Jordan also brought joy to my wallet, suddenly what in Israel cost as much as €15, a kebab for example, here magically became €3, daily expenses, which for long-term travelers like me have a strong impact, in Jordan they have dissolved so as to make the month of travel less economically burdensome than what happened in the neighboring country.
On average the hotels, of medium category, cost between 30 and 40$ per night, for a double room, the most expensive was in the Dead Sea, S$90 per night, where the options are only in resorts, the food among the 4 and 17JOD for two, depending on where you are and how much you eat, sometimes even the evening shisha was included.
The entry costs for the attractions have practically all been amortized by the JordanPass which can be bought online at different costs, depending on the days you want to enter Petra and which also includes the entry visa!
10 # UNESCO sites
Lovers of UNESCO sites in Jordan will find it worth their while, in fact not only Petra is included in the list but others as well, an interesting number if we consider the small size of the country: Petra , Wadi Rum desert , the Baptism site along the Jordan River (place of pilgrimage for Christians and containing Roman and Byzantine artefacts), Quseir Amra , first a fortress and then a royal palace in the desert, on the way to Azraq, Um er-Rasas in Madaba, a Roman military camp later inhabited by Christian communities and Muslim which today contains numerous Roman fortifications but above all churches with beautiful mosaics that can still be admired today. I’m surprised to know that Jerash is not part of this list, but it doesn’t matter, absolutely an archaeological place to visit and easily reachable from Amman.
Jordan’s image predominantly revolves around its best-known site, Petra. But, although it is certainly to be counted among the most magical and mysterious sites in the world, I leave the country from Aqaba certain that Petra is just one of the many pieces that make Jordan an excellent travel destination for backpackers, families, those who are search for a complex country that offers a lot in a small territory.
But also for those looking for the exotic and not wanting to go too far, for those who want to try their hand at culinary delicacies and don’t have too many problems putting on a little weight. For the curious and lovers of history and archaeology.
For anyone who has a time to step away… but not too far. For those who want to know the Arab world for what it is, fun, chaotic, noisy and welcoming.
In a period in which traveling is simpler and within everyone’s reach, and in which some sites, such as Machu Picchu , cities of art such as Venice, National Parks, such as the Galapagos , the Greek islands, which due to an increase of mass tourism which can be the cause, even if involuntary, of a not always positive impact on the environment or on sites of historical and archaeological interest which are too delicate to support exaggerated arrivals, Jordan offers places of incredible beauty but visited by very few , tourism it’s bland and never too much, if anything the opposite is true.
A worthy alternative to better-known or more publicized destinations, which I recommend taking into consideration for a next adventure.
Recommended books and readings
Jordan – This guide will take you through ancient cities and timeless deserts, among the scents of hookahs and the aroma of cardamom coffee. And then to the ancient and magical “pink city” of Petra, among the rocky peaks of Wadi Rum and the salty waters of the Dead Sea. And between climbing, excursions on foot, on camel back and off-road you will experience unforgettable adventures and emotions.
The Tamer (A. Christie) – Petra is a fascinating caravan city in Transjordan and here fate has brought together a heterogeneous group of tourists: a French psychiatrist, a recent medical graduate, a lady member of the English Parliament, a middle-aged lady age and a large American family that gravitates around the “tamer”, an omnipotent matron who loves to exercise her power over her family. When one of the members of the group is found dead, she immediately suspects that it was a crime. However, the killer miscalculated her. In fact, he did not foresee the presence of Hercule Poirot, who will find the culprit in what is already, in itself, a very mysterious location.
A Sage Tea for Selma (Fadia Faquir) – Sentenced to death in her Bedouin village for becoming pregnant before marriage, Salma must leave her newborn baby in the hands of the villagers and flee into exile in England. Here she will build a new life, in a completely different world, where everything is allowed, where sex is even encouraged, where nothing should make her regret her Arab and Muslim past. But Salma doesn’t forget. The cry of her abandoned baby continues to resonate in her ears as a now Westernized woman, married to a perfect Englishman from Exeter. When she can no longer bear those echoes that reach her from afar, Salma will decide to return to her old village. And it will be a journey that will change everything.
Black Flags – The Birth of ISIS – When, in 1999, the Government of Jordan granted amnesty to a group of political prisoners held in a maximum security prison in the middle of the desert, it had no idea that among them there were it was also Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist capable of becoming in just a few years the architect of the most dangerous movement in the Middle East first, and then in the entire world. Joby Warrick’s “Black Flags” shows how the determination of one man and the strategic errors of American presidents George Bush and Barack Obama allowed ISIS flags to be raised over Iraq and Syria, before shedding blood throughout the world. Based on information inaccessible to others, obtained from both Jordanian and CIA sources, Warrick weaves a detailed chronicle – moment after moment, fact after fact – of the birth and growth of a monster who has followers all over the world, and who is attacking both Europe and the United States, as well as the Middle Eastern area and beyond. A story told from the point of view of spies, diplomats, secret service agents, generals and heads of state, many of whom understood the threat in advance, saw its greater danger compared to that of al-Qaida, and tried to arrest it in time. violence, but they were not listened to.