Having spent a long time in Jordan I get a lot of questions about Jordan travel, in particular, Petra. And of course why not? Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the “new world wonders”, and really one of the most incredible places I’ve visited. But here are a few tips to help you in planning out your trip.
Cost and Times
Petra is expensive. It is probably more expensive than every other tourist site in Jordan combined. For one day it is 50JD, 2 days 55JD, and 3 days 60JD. If you are only in Jordan for 1 day, it is 90JD for the visit. If you are a local (or have a local or student ID) it is 1JD.
Given the expense, you should definitely go for more than 1 day, really. It is a city, there is a lot to see and do. Most people only come and spend a few hours and only scratch the surface of the place. Get your money’s worth and also see a lot of really cool things.
If you want to do Petra at night, pay attention to the days you are there. It is not held every night, it is held only Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 830pm, so if you are planning to visit for just the weekend you’ll end up missing it.
Enter Petra early if you can. The park opens at 6 am (630am on the off-season), and it is worth getting there early. You will have Petra nearly all to yourself (save for the local Bedouins). Get the rare view of Petra without all the crowds. But if you go early, make sure you carry a torch, it can be really dark.
Pay attention to the bus times (and how far you’ve gone). It is easy to get really far from the entrance with not enough time. If you take the Jet Bus there is only 1 bus per day back to Amman. There are also mini-buses however too, but don’t get there too late or they might stop (times vary wildly depending on the season, unfortunately).
Lodging and Food
There is a lot of lodging options in Petra, but pay attention to where your hotel is located. There is an upper city and lower city. The lower city is close to the bus stop and the entrance of Petra (easy walking distance), the upper city you will probably have to take a taxi or a car to get there. Most of the budget hotels and even a lot of the expensive hotels are in the upper city. When booking hotels look for where the Movenpick is on the map (it is located close to the entrance), so if your hotel is near there it is near the entrance too. We stayed at the Petra Moon hotel and can highly recommend it and it is located next door to the Movenpick.
There are hostels available too. But these tend to be fairly far from the entrance. You will likely need to take a taxi to get to the entrance. Don’t worry you won’t likely do much back and forth to the hotel in a day anyway as the entrance to the beginning of the Siq is quite a bit of a hike anyway.
There is food available in Petra. There are a few cafes and even a real restaurant (run by the Crown Plaza). I’m not a huge fan of all the stuff inside the city but that is the way it is. But honestly, it is a lot cheaper to buy food outside and bring it in with you. There are a few cheap sandwich shops to grab a picnic lunch before heading in.
Bring water. The temperatures will get hot during the day and you will want to walk a lot. Outside of the main areas you won’t find water so make sure you have some with you as you venture up and down trails.
Pay attention to distances. If you plan to see Monastery it is nearly 2 hours from the main entrance to Petra, so you’ll have to come back out after doing a pretty exerting hike out to it. If you have to there are plenty of locals offering donkey and horse rides though if you need to rest a bit. Outside of the main track though you won’t find these options, so again wherever you venture, remember you will need to walk as far to get back out.
Get off the main track. There are a lot of tombs dotting the landscape of Petra. Most people seem to just take the well run path from the Siq to the Treasury and then on to the Monastery. You can easily escape the crowds by venturing a bit further to the sides and have some amazing Nabataean ruins and tombs all to yourself.
Go high. There are some great viewpoints from up high. If you go up the stairs behind the Royal tombs, you can find an amazing viewpoint for the Treasury. Take the stairs up, and then keep to the left on the trail, past the little building, and down and up some trails. At a few points it will look like the trail ends but keep going, and you’ll soon find the most remarkable view of the Treasury and likely have it all to yourself as well.
The horse ride from the entrance to the Siq is technically free. However good luck not being bilked out of a bunch of money for it anyway. They wouldn’t push so hard for you to take it if there wasn’t a financial incentive. Honestly seeing how they treat the horses I opted against taking it.
Wear comfortable shoes. I saw several women dressing like they were going to the club, it is definitely umm not recommended. You will walk a lot. You might as well enjoy your time and see a lot of this incredible place.
Getting there and away
The main bus station is located near the entrance of Petra. There is also another entrance to Petra that is not well traveled (and I’ve been told you can’t buy your ticket there).
If you are coming from Amman, Jett Bus is an easy great way to get there. They only have buses once a day each way 630 am (Amman – Petra) and 4 pm (Petra – Amman). The trip is approximately 4hours. If you want to see a lot, do consider staying overnight.
There are mini buses available too for other times. They leave from the south bus station in Amman when they fill up or whenever they seem to feel like it. They also seem to stop more often too as locals take these.
There is no public transportation between Petra and Wadi Rum. Actually its not easy to get to wadi rum by public transportation from anywhere. But it is easy to reach there if you are going on to Wadi Rum by taxi. It takes about an hour.
Some places to try
I enjoyed a nice relaxing time in the Cave Bar. It is a bit pricey but an interesting experience having a restaurant inside an old Nabataean tomb. They bill it the “oldest bar in the world”.
Also enjoyed lunch in a place called Dreamland, located in the lower village area. Cheap and decent food and the owner is really nice.
If you can afford it, I would also recommend Petra Moon Hotel. For a mid-range hotel it is great, very clean, well run, and easy walking distance to the entrance of Petra.
I would not recommend the hammam in Petra, though. I don’t recall the name off hand but it was in the lower village close to Dreamland restaurant. It was overpriced and really not a good value for the money. You’ll have a better experience in Amman or Aqaba in my opinion.
Feel free to send me any other questions you might have. Or other advice you think other travelers could use as well. If you found the information interesting, please let me know. And if you found it useful, please +1 or “like” it so other travelers can benefit from the info too.
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