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An 8 day road trip in Jordan

The BEST way to experience Jordan is by doing a full fledged road trip starting from Amman! And to see the best of the country, 8 days are a minimum. 

 

The lost city of Petra is Jordan's most remarkable attraction

 

 

An idea of how much a trip to Jordan can cost:

The average cost for a road trip for 2 adults on a sharing basis was about USD 2,500 (INR 180,000) for the full 8 days, all inclusive (Jordan is definitely expensive)

 

For a detailed idea of our expenses from our visit in December 2017 (for two):

  • Flights (Bangalore to Amman, Oman Air): USD 1,000 or INR 65k
  • Visa (on arrival): INR 0 if you have the Jordan Pass.
  • Jordan Pass: USD 250 or INR 16k
  • Car rental from the Airport, including fuel for the 1,000 km road trip (8 days): USD 360 or INR 23k 
  • Hotels: USD 340 or INR 22k
  • Food: USD 230 or INR 15k
  • Tickets (where the Jordan Pass was not accepted) and souvenirs: USD 100 or INR 7k

 

Currency:

The Jordanian Dinar (JOD or JD) is actually pegged to the USD at about 1.41 times - which means that you don't have to endure conversion losses - the spread is quite low. At the time of our travel in December 2017, one JOD was worth about INR 91 - so all of our expenses which have been translated to INR here, are of that month.

 

VISA:

Jordan offers visa-on-arrival besides the traditional stamping VISA in the Jordanian consulate/embassy in your country. The VOA process is straight-forward and the fee is actually quite reasonable. Some travellers have been asked to actually show if they are carrying sufficient money with them (USD 1,000 per visitor), but in most tourists' cases, they don't (these days, plastic money is so much more popular, right?).

However, there is another way to get in to the country for FREE! How? Just get the Jordan Pass. The visa fee is waived off at immigration, when you present a valid Jordan Pass (or "JP" as we like to call it)

 

Best time to visit Jordan:

Summers (June to September) are extremely hot and make it nearly impossible to explore Petra and Wadi Rum, and even Amman. Winters (January and February) can be quite strong here, considering that it even snows further up north in the country. So the best time?

  • March-April and October-December are the best months to visit - if you can manage between 10ºC and 30ºC
    (in fact, we loved our experiencing Christmas Eve on The Biblical Trail, read under Day 2 below)
  • Aqaba is almost ALWAYS in perfect weather because of the climate control the Red Sea brings with it
  • December-January does see some rainfall, but it isn't a deal-breaker - however watch out for flash floods in Petra or the deserts

 

What to wear in Jordan:

Jordan is an Islamic Kingdom, however, a very liberal one at that. People have a strong western fashion sense, but within certain boundries - shoulders remain covered in many places and knees too. Beaches are mostly bikini-friendly in Aqaba (both public and private beaches) and at the Dead Sea (only private beaches). If you are travelling in Winter like we did, dress in layers, because the mid-morning and afternoon sun, coupled with extensive walking around Petra or Wadi Rum, can be quite uncomfortable! 

 

 

Ready to get on the road in the Hashemite Kingdom?

 

 

Here's a day-wise detail of how you can spend your 8 days in Jordan!
More posts are linked at the bottom of this article

 

 

Day 1: Madaba

  • Arrive at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman (it is actually about 35 kilometres outside the capital city of Jordan, to the south.
     
  • There is a great variety of car rental companies you can hire your rental car at. 
    We rented a Kia Picanto with Auto Nation (link may be used to book direct) 
    We used EconomyBookings.com (which helps you compare and get a better deal) to make the reservation. 
     
  • Madaba:
    • Drive to the old city of Madaba (only 20 kms) to the west. This city's existence dates back to before the biblical times! 
    • Visit the St. John's Cathedral or the Museums in town and wander through the streets exploring the mix of greek and islamic architecture.
    • Spend the night at Madaba - stay at the old town, it is quite beautiful - we stayed at the Saint John Hotel

 

 

Madaba is one of the oldest cities in the upper Middle East

 

 

Day 2: Madaba - Biblical trail - Dead Sea

  • After breakfast, head to the St. George Greek Orthodox Church to admire the oldest map of the Middle East (made in mosaic on the floor of the prayer hall)
     
  • Mount Nibo:
    • Drive westward for about twenty minutes to reach the hill, the second stop on the classic Biblical trail: 
    • The remains of the Monastery and the Byzantine Church at the hill, have a very interesting story to tell - Moses was shown the Promised Land by God (pointing towards Jerusalem, which can be seen on a clear day).
    • Expect to spend about one hour there. Tickets must be bought to enter the site - you can use the Jordan Pass too.
       
  • Bethany Beyond the Jordan:
    A northward drive takes one to one of the holiest places in the world - the Baptism site of Jesus - the final stop on the trail:
    • Tickets for the tour are available at the tourist centre, where parking facilities are also available
    • A guided bus tour is the ONLY way to the site - it is a militarised zone since it borders Israel-Palestine
    • You can redeem the "Bethany beyond the Jordan" add-on on the regular Jordan Pass to redeem it for tickets here.
    • The river Jordan flows as a natural boundary between Jordan and Israel-Palestine.
      Expect to see a lot of military personnel here, since it is the official international border! 
    • At one particular spot, there are some ruins of the step well where the Baptism was administered upon Jesus by St. John the Baptist. 
       
  • Dead Sea: A 20 minute drive southward leads to the most interesting natural region in the Middle East (and the lowest land point on the planet)!
    • The Dead Sea is, in fact, dying - it has been reducing in size on account of very little water inflow - something that affects inland water bodies. 
    • The extremely high salt content (over 30%) makes it effortlessly easy to float!
    • The health benefits the mineral mud boasts of, are definitely worth visiting for - say goodbye to dead cells and hello to smooth, soft skin! 
      Cover-up with the mud for about 15 minutes and wash off in the sea
    • There are many luxury hotels on the banks of the Dead Sea (Jordan being on the East and Israel on the West) - we stayed at the impressive Dead Sea Spa Hotel.
      Since we spent Christmas there, we absolutely enjoyed the decorations and the music!
    • The rest of the afternoon and evening is best spent on the beach (most hotels have their own private beach access to the Dead Sea).
    • In the late evening, venture out to the mall nearby, or visit one of the Irish taverns in the neighbourhood, before calling it a night.

 

 

The Greek Orthodox Church at Bethany

 

The mysterious Dead Sea, and its incredible colors!

 

 

Day 3: Dead Sea - Kerak - Petra (through the King's Highway)

  • The drive from the Dead Sea valley to Petra is about 200 kms long (about 3 hours) - so starting before 9 am helps - that way, we were able to visit Kerak enroute.
     
  • Kerak:
    • It is home to a massive Islamic Crusaders' Castle and has been maintained as a museum today
    • ‚ÄčThe castle offers commanding views over the western valley and is at an absolutely impressive altitude!
    • The Jordan Pass can be used here too; expect to spend one hour here, at the least
       
  • The drive from Kerak to Petra can be done on the faster Desert Highway or the more scenic Kings' Highway
     
  • Petra:
    • The lost city of the Middle East is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and an exemplary UNESCO World Heritage site
    • Shouldered by Wadi Musa, a predominantly tourist town - this is where all hotels, restaurants and businesses are located. 
    • Luxury and boutique hotels are abundantly available, as are hostels and budget BnBs
      We stayed at the La Maison, a budget-midrange hotel - the gates to Petra are only a five minute walk from there
    • After a quick lunch, it is best to head into Petra (redeem the Jordan Pass for the entry tickets) and start exploring!
    • A 45 minute walk from the tourist centre to 'The Treasury' building leads through 'The Shaft'.
      Read about it here.
    • If you are feeling adventurous, request one of the Bedouins to take you up to the 'viewing point' near the Treasury (tips: USD 5 per traveller). 
    • If it is the day of the show (three times a week), make sure you witness 'Petra by Night' - its quite amazing!
    • Have dinner at one of the restaurants in town (check out the Mystic Pizza cafe, Yaldar Coffee house, or the restaurant at La Maison);
      you can even attend a cooking class at Petra Kitchen

 

 

The Desert canyons on one side, and the calm Dead Sea on the other

 

The Al-Khazneh (the Treasury) at Petra

 

 

Day 4: More of Petra (Wadi Musa)

  • Petra:
    • Start the day early, preferably before 8 am (Petra opens at 6 am)
    • There are many walking trails to take (ranging from easy to hard) - but you can also ride a horse or a donkey on some parts of these paths - especially if you are visiting the Monastery
    • There are a few restaurants inside the city
      Carry water bottles (preferably re-usable)
    • Bedouin souvenir stalls dot the main walkways near the royal tombs and in the stairway to the Monastery - cheapest prices you'll get them at!
    • Read this for the complete low-down on Petra
    • Spend the night relaxing (most people walk about 16 kms in a full day at Petra) and re-energising!

 

 

The Monastery at north western corner of Petra

 

 

Day 5: Petra - Wadi Rum (through the Desert Highway)

  • Wadi Rum:
    • This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a 1.5 hour drive from Petra, Wadi Musa - through Kings Highway and the Desert Highway (100 km)
      Usually, most desert camps start the new trip by 10 am, so it is best to leave Petra by 8:30 am, to reach on time!
    • Wadi Rum is a beautiful protected desert area, and is known for its excellent Mars-like landscape - in fact, "Transformers 2" and even "The Martian" were actually filmed here, and of course the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" was entirely based on the Soldier's experience in this desert.
    • Two, three, four, five hour tours and half day, and full day tours (both with and without overnight stays) can be arranged quite easily at the Wadi Rum village.
      We booked with Bedouin Lifestyle Camp and it was a full day tour with overnight stay at the camp.
      These tours generally include all meals, transport (to and from the parking area in the village and inside the desert)
      Plus, guide services along with unlimited tea!
    • The full day tours cost around JD 70 and upwards (about USD 100 or INR 6,500 or more) per person on a sharing basis.
    • Read about our experiences and what to expect in Wadi Rum here.
    • Spend the night in one of the Bedouin tents or sleep under the stars - its a wonderful experience either way!

 

 

4x4 drives and "DUNE-ing it" in Wadi Rum

 

Camping in a Bedouin Tent is one of the best experiences we've had till date!

 

 

Day 6: Wadi Rum - Aqaba

  • Overnight Wadi Rum tours finish at 9:30 am with a drop off to the village (or the parking area)
     
  • The drive from Wadi Rum to Aqaba takes less than an hour, it is only 70 kms apart.
     
  • Aqaba: A beautiful, modern port city on the Red Sea, famous for its idyllic beaches and coral reefs.
    • Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel (the city of Eilat) and Egypt (the Sinai Peninsula) share the gulf of Aqaba - so they are all visible from Aqaba!
    • Aqaba's heritage dates back over 2,000 years and is officially regarded as the oldest islamic settlement of the ME.
    • Visit at any time of the year, and you'll find this a wonderful spot to be in, thanks to the temperature control brought in by the sea!
      When we visited in December, it was warm enough for us to swim and play in the water and it was perfect to go snorkelling - something you can do by walking 50 metres into the sea from the beachside (gear rented in almost every hotel or shop)
    • Apart from the beaches and the snorkelling sites, you can even consider going into the old town and visit all the interesting sights in a couple of hours - just take the Red Bus tour from here.
    • For lunch and dinner, the neighbourhood around Ayla Circle offers great variety. 
      There are a few public beaches and parks there as well.
      Visit the market on Humaymah street - you'll find clothes and souvenirs at some unbelievable prices
    • Most of the accommodations in Aqaba are actually dive centres with BnBs. We stayed at the Bedouin Garden Village

 

 

The quiet, palm tree lined beach on the Red Sea - perennially in brilliant weather!

 

 

Day 7: Aqaba - Amman (through Desert Highway)

  • This is a very long drive (about 450 kms) that is best done in the first half of the day (there is also an international airport in Aqaba)
     
  • Start at 6 am from Aqaba (your hotel will gladly pack some breakfast parcel for you) and drive on the Desert Highway - expect to reach Amman by noon
     
  • Amman - what to see:
    • King Abdullah Mosque (Blue Mosque)
    • Roman Amphitheatre (use JP here)
    • Amman Citadel (use JP here too) 
    • Royal Automobile Museum and the gardens
    • Amman is a modern city and navigation can be challenging with speedy city traffic, numerous one ways, flyovers and grade separators
    • Accommodation ranges from BnBs to exquisite luxury hotels. 
      We stayed at the Caravan Hotel, a family run BnB across the street from the Blue Mosque - and totally loved it!

 

 

Amman, the city as viewed from the Citadel

 

 

Day 8: Amman - Ajloun - Jerash

  • The 7th and 8th days can be interchanged, depending on your capacity to drive and how much time there is! 
    There are many tour agencies that organise day trips inside and outside Amman, for sightseeing - you can check with your hotel desk - driving in upper Jordan can be quite strenuous considering the traffic and the winding roads
     
  • Ajloun:
    • 1.5 hour drive through the hills, via Jerash takes one to one of the largest Crusaders' castle in upper Jordan.
    • Expect to spend about an hour here
       
  • Jerash:
    • This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an hour's drive from Amman
    • Expect to spend about three hours here
    • The Jordan Pass can be redeemed for tickets here 
    • Guides are abundantly available (official, and "unofficial" ones who you can bargain with, for a good deal)
       
  • The drive back to Queen Alia International Airport takes about two hours from Jerash or 50 minutes from Amman (where you can return your rental car)

 

 

The sheer size of Jerash's monuments is quite amazing - do you know how old they are? 

 

 

If you are looking for more information, or want help in planning your Jordanian road trip, just write to us here.

 

Must reads, whilst planning your getaway to the most interesting country in the Middle East:

 

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