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Why Travel to Jordan

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In contrast to the serious turmoil of many of its neighbors, Jordan stands out as a peaceful oasis in the Middle East. Despite its financial difficulties, the country conveys a feeling of stability and is ruled by a king beloved by Jordanians. This is a great thing for anyone who wants to experience Jordan's amazing sites, food and culture. Here are six reasons to travel to Jordan as an introduction to the Middle East.

Why Travel to Jordan

1. Incredible archealogical ruins

Jordan has been at the crossroads of humanity for thousands of years. Nearly every major civilization has passed through, conquered or ruled this area—the Canaanites, Assyrians, Nabateans, Romans, Ummayads, and Ottomans. Many locations in modern Jordan were prominent in the Bible, including Mount Nebo (Moses), and the location of the baptism of John the Baptist and Jesus at the Jordan River. As a result, Jordan is filled with incredible archaeological ruins.

The most famous and important historical site is Petra, the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom. This ancient city was carved into the rose-red rocks of Petra and is incredibly preserved. Nothing will prepare you your first glimpse of the 2,000-year-old Treasury building, which comes into view after you walk through a narrow siq entrance pathway. While breathtaking, it's just the first of many amazing buildings, amphitheaters and caves in the massive Petra complex.

Over 2 million people live in Jordan's bustling capital city, Amman. At the top of one of seven of the city's hills, the Citadel showcases many of the civilizations that have come and gone in the area, including Roman and Umayyad. A walk through the local souk showcases beautifully arranged fruits, nuts and spices that tantalize your sense of smell.

One hour north of Amman lies Jerash, an ancient Roman city. The ruins are very well-preserved, and highlights include the Hadrian's Gate, the Nymphaeum, Oval Plaza and Temple of Artemis.

Petra the Magnificent: the Treasury building (Photo credit: Claudia Laroye)

Petra the Magnificent: the Treasury building

2. Natural and cultural wonders

Located in southern Jordan, the Wadi Rum Desert is home to local Bedouin, who operate an impressive array of tourist activities including rock-climbing, hot air ballooning, horse and camel-riding, and camping out under the stars in a traditional desert camp. Wadi Rum's Valley of the Moon is an other-worldly place of sandstone and granite rock rising from the desert valley floor.

Aqaba, Jordan's only coastal city, sits on the northern tip of the Red Sea. Aqaba has grown into a bustling seaside and diving resort for tourists, and is also a popular weekend destination for locals. It offers a wide variety of restaurants and hotels, and lively evening souks. Shop the Souk by the Sea for local, handmade products that make wonderful souvenirs.

The Dead Sea is the lowest place on Earth at 423 meters below sea level. Floating in the waters of the Dead Sea is bucket list-worthy. Coat your body with the mineral-rich mud before entering the water. This therapeutic experience results in baby-soft skin. Beware: the water is so salty it's almost unbearable; you really do not want to get it into your eyes!

The lowest place on earth: the Dead Sea (Photo credit: Claudia Laroye)

The lowest place on earth: the Dead Sea

3. Delicious food

Jordan's cuisine tends to be fresh and healthy, with a focus on vegetables. Regular menu items include hummus, baba ganouj (eggplant dip), pita bread, salads, olives, yogurt, honey, dates, falafel (chick-pea fritters), and spicy lamb sausages. There are certainly other food options available in restaurants and hotels that cater to European and North American visitors. You can find familiar Western items like eggs, bacon or croissants for breakfast, and pasta for lunch. However,  you shouldn't miss out on enjoying the delicious Mediterranean cuisine that's available all around you. For lunch in Amman, I recommend stopping at Hashem for the best falafel and hummus I've ever tasted. Top off your meal at nearby Habibah with a knanefeh dessert (Levantine cheese pastry soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup).

Jordanian lunch of hummus, falafel, baba ganouj and addictive mint tea (Photo credit: Claudia Laroye)

Lunch of hummus, falafel, baba ganouj and addictive mint tea

4. It's safe

Despite the strife in the Middle East, Jordan kept itself out of local area conflicts in recent decades. The country plays an important part in humanitarian and refugee assistance, particularity in the most recent conflict within Syria. The crime rate in Jordan is very low, even in its largest city, the capital of Amman.

Security measures at Jordanian hotels involve bag x-rays and checks, but aren't overly intrusive. Like anywhere, tourists should travel smart use common sense. Always maintain a secure hold of your luggage or day bag. Keep important documents, credit cards and cash in interior pockets or money belt to avoid being targeted by pick-pockets. You'll be more comfortable to walk in groups on busy, narrow streets than exploring Jordan alone. Many tourists employ guides to navigate through cities, towns and souks (markets).

While many women ‘cover' (wear a headscarf), it is not a requirement for non-Muslim visitors like in other Middle Eastern countries. Respectful attire is appreciated; save the halter tops and cut-offs for the Dead Sea or Aqaba.

Amman - a city in white (Photo credit: Claudia Laroye)

Amman – a city in white

5. English is widely spoken

Arabic is the official language of Jordan and most of the Middle East but luckily you can typically get by using English in this country. Many people speak English in Jordan, particularly in the urban areas, and certainly in the hotel and tourism establishments. Despite a difficult economy, Jordan's King Abdullah and his government have made good public education a national priority, and it includes English instruction from an early age. In a country that depends heavily on tourism, this wise strategy works well in encouraging foreign visitors. Of course locals appreciate your attempts to learn at least a few Arabic words; for example, shukran means thank you. 

The delights of the Amman Souk (Photo credit: C. Laroye)

The delights of the Amman Souk

6. The Jordanian people

In my experience, the Jordanian people are among the most friendly and welcoming in the world. People of all ages will wave from cars as you walk past in downtown Amman, or from sides of the road as you rumble through the desert in a bus. Wherever you go, you will hear, “Welcome to Jordan!” They haven't been programmed to greet you in this way, the people of Jordan are very proud of their country and are genuinely happy to have you as a visitor.

Should you be invited into someone's home, whether a house or Bedouin tent, you'll experience incredible hospitality. Upon entry, you will be offered three cups of tea or coffee as a welcome. According to Jordanian tradition, even unexpected guests are hosted without question for three days. After that, the host will ask why you're paying them a visit. The country's gracious spirit is memorable and adds to the magic of Jordan.

Would you like to travel to Jordan? If you have visited Jordan, what did you enjoy most about this country? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from Travel Mamas: The Curious Travel Mama visited Jordan as the guest of the Jordan Tourism Board. As always, her opinions are her own and an honest expression of her experiences.

All photos by Claudia Laroye.

About Claudia Laroye, The Curious Travel Mama

Claudia Laroye lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two sons (ages 18 and 20). She started travelling at a very young age, and has never stopped. She’s had the fortune of visiting more than 20 countries on four continents, and has also lived abroad in Sweden. Claudia is passionate about family travel and about educating children through the travel experience. She is the author of the thetravellingmom.ca, and contributes to many online and print media publications. Connect with Claudia on Twitter as @travelling_mom.

Comments

  1. Great list and read! I was trying to get to Jordan on my current round the world trip but couldn’t swing it. This makes me want to go that much more now!

    • Plan your own picnic and tourist activities program says:

      You are very welcome to Jordan any time although in the summer will more fun and enjoyable.
      We are a team of Jordanian touristic and picnic organizers who look at tourism in Jordan from a different vision in the light of the fact that there are 300 touristic and picnic distinguished sites distributed all over the country. Not more than 10% of these sites are considered by the traditional touristic companies in the country. Cost, profit making, and unsuitable promotion are some of the factors that withdraw touristic attention away from those sites. In our vision we deal with tourism as fun, desire and interest to know more. The tourist can easily be eligible to plan his/her own touristic activities and picnic events stemming from family desire and likelihood away from profit making or undesired expenses.
      We are glad to provide our services to you whilst visiting Jordan

  2. Claudia Laroye says:

    Thanks for your comments, Shaun. You must plan a new RTW trip and spend at least a week or more in Jordan. It is spectacular!

  3. Ellen Lanin says:

    Great write-up. I could picture what it would be like to visit Jordan while reading this. Could a tourist get around using public transportation or taxi or did you book a guide and driver before you arrived?

    • claudia Laroye says:

      Thank you for your comment, Ellen. While I’m not sure about public transportation, you can absolutely get around via taxis. They are reasonable, and you can even use them for longer journeys from city to city. Just negotiate the fee ahead of time so there are no surprises when you arrive. We had a guide (and driver) during our visit, and our guide was a true gem. I would very happy to pass along his contact information should you wish. You can get by without a guide – my husband backpacked in Jordan without one many years ago. However, I will say that our guide added immeasurably to our experience of Jordan. I do highly recommend hiring one, if only for part of your journey.

      Professional guides must be registered with the country’s Tourism Ministry, and must have passed a year-long, intensive course (including 44 different subjects), to ensure they can speak to all issues of Jordanian history, culture, religion, archaeology, nature, food, the list is endless!

  4. What a nice read! Heading to Jordan for two weeks this summer with my nine year old for our annual father-son adventure. Any off the beaten path highlights or things that will excite or amaze a young aspiring world traveller; or his father for that matter?

    • Claudia Laroye says:

      Thank you for your comment, Ken. What an exciting trip you’ve planned for you and your son! It will be a trip of a lifetime to be sure.

      There are so many highlights to note! I trust you’ll be visiting Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea, as you should of course. If you have time to see Petra by Night, book those tickets. I regret that I did not get to experience this, and have heard it is truly amazing – don’t miss it.

      Watch the sunset in Wadi Rum, camp out under the stars in the desert and take a camel ride too. If you’re up for it, book a hot-air balloon ride in Wadi Rum as well – those I know who’ve done it love it!

      Spend time in Amman, going through the souk, eating in local haunts and enjoying the vastness of this capital city. Do visit Jerash – the Roman ruins are in very good condition and what 9-year-old doesn’t love Roman history?! (Mine were crazy for anything Roman at that age.)

      If your budget allows, do visit the Ma’In Hot Springs. It is an amazing, relaxing resort and the hot springs, pool and spa are fabulous. This resort is near the Dead Sea.

      If you religious or interested in religion in any way, a visit to the Jordan River would be very interesting and moving. You can tour the reported baptismal site of Jesus and John the Baptist, and dip your feet in the river Jordan. Amazingly, Israel is across the river, just 20 feet away. It’s a bit surreal!

      Have a wonderful trip to magical Jordan!

  5. Hamish Healys says:

    I’m sure Jordan and the Jordanians can be pretty interesting. There’s just so many other places I’ve never been to, but dreaming of them constantly. I’ll have to give Jordan a second thought.

    • Claudia Laroye says:

      Thanks for your comment, Hamish. Our world is indeed filled with amazing places to experience, it’s hard to figure out how to see everything. Do give Jordan a second thought – you won’t regret it.

  6. Marcello Arrambide says:

    Having been to Jordan myself, I would agree with EVERYTHING you said in here! It really is an incredible place, and the people are awesome. Plus, you can’t beat those awe-inspiring ruins! They alone make visiting Jordan WORTH IT.

  7. I just got back from traveling in Jordan with my 7 month old son and highly recommend it for all of the above listed reasons, but would have to add “Jordanians love babies” as the final reason. Everywhere we went, men and women alike went out of their way to come see our baby and play with him. They made us feel welcome everywhere we went with him (including Petra, Amman, and the Dead Sea). Would also highly recommend the Kempinski on the Dead Sea for a splurge as there are tons of activities for both kids and adults alike. Totally worth the $. Thanks for posting!

    • Claudia Laroye says:

      Thanks so much for your comments Lindsay. I’m very glad to hear that you enjoyed Jordan with your son and were so well received! I totally agree with you about the Kempinski on the Dead Sea. It is a magnificent resort. I wish I could have stayed there for a week! Happy travels.

  8. Would you still recommend a visit with a baby given the recent escalation of tensions? It’s hard to read all the warnings on .gov travel recommendation sites without getting a pit in my stomach!

    • Claudia Laroye, The Curious Travel Mama says:

      Hi Erin, Though Jordan is remarkably safe, the recent tensions in the region have certainly given people pause to consider traveling to Jordan itself. It’s a very personal decision based on your own comfort level. For my part, I would go there, and yes, I would bring my kids. Do you plan to travel on your own or with a guided tour? If you need guide advice, please let me know, I can give you some contacts.

  9. Hi.
    Can you recommend a private tour for Jordan pls. I am travelling with my husband and 2 kids age 4 and 8 months old. Thank you.

    • Claudia Laroye, The Curious Travel Mama says:

      Hi Aiza, Having a tour guide for visiting Jordan’s sites is a wonderful way to visit the country. I would highly recommend Mohammad Qamhiya. Please message him directly on Facebook. Cheers!

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