Welcome to the Around the World Interview series on Ordinary Traveler! Every so often we have a new guest who has either lived or spent an extended amount of time in a particular country. Each guest will give valuable insights and tips to a different destination around the world.
This week, Michael from Go, See, Write shares his Jordan travel tips!
How long did you travel in Jordan?
I have been through Jordan three different times. In 2009, during my RTW trip. Again in April of 2011 as a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board. Then this January to do some work in Amman.
Budget travel tips for Jordan?
Well there aren’t really any hostels in Jordan, but you can certainly find some very reasonably priced rooms in any of the normal discount websites like HostelBookers and HostelWorld. You can also find some reasonably priced day tours at those hotels to locations like the desert castles, the Dead Sea and Jerash. Going to Petra is more expensive, since the hotels down there cost more and the park entrance fee is hefty, but I strongly recommend you plan two days for it regardless.
Favorite places or favorite experiences in Jordan?
Well, the no-brainer is Petra. Its a top 10 location in the world. That being said, I was a huge fan of the Roman ruins at Jerash and also the town of Madaba, which has one of the oldest mosaic maps of the Holy Land.
What is the food like in Jordan?
I love Middle Eastern food. Jordan does not disappoint in the cuisine realm. First off, biggest and most meaty olives I have seen anywhere in the world. Amazing. You will also need to try mansaf, which is the Jordanian national dish. It is a rice and tender goat dish. You will also find that the plates upon plates of mezze (appetizer) can fill you up on your own. One last pitch that is dear to my heart: please try some of the fine wines of the Zumot Winery. First off, they are wines that would cost a great deal if you could find them back home, based on their quality and secondly, Omar Zumot is one of the nicest people on the planet. Drop in at his store in Amman and tell him I sent you. Then get ready to be regaled with some of the best stories you will hear on your entire trip.
Dos and don’ts regarding customs in Jordan?
Aside from the typical note that you should cover yourself appropriately, I can’t think of too many customs you might run aground on. One thing to know though is that Jordanians are quite hospitable and friendly. Be prepared to be invited into people’s homes for dinner and perhaps even to spend the night. And don’t pass up on great opportunities like that.
Favorite place to stay in Jordan?
Only because I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board, I was able to stay at some amazing hotels that I normally wouldn’t budget for. One that still stands out in my mind as one of the best hotels I have stayed anywhere in the world is Evason Ma’in Hot Springs, near the Dead Sea. I’d go back there tomorrow and spend a week, if I could.
Must-do activities or must-see sites?
Petra is the must-see sight. I can’t imagine anyone going to Jordan and not seeing it. The other must-see sight for me is Wadi Rum. I am a huge Laurence of Arabia fan, so it was a special place for me to just sit and reflect. So beautiful and quiet.
Safety tips, warnings or things to be aware of?
It’s safe. I absolutely love Syria and hate to see what is going on there, but none of it has rolled over to Jordan. Likewise, none of the upheavals in Egypt have crossed the border. Personally, I feel the most safe of any places I have ever been in the predominately Muslim countries. You won’t get hassled by vendors, like you do in Egypt. These may be the most honest cab drivers I have run into anywhere in the world. Basically, I wish they’d export more of their manners and kindness to the rest of the world.
Best and cheapest times to visit?
I am not at all sure on the cheapest times. I have been in both the winter and the summer and let me say — both are more extreme than you’d guess. Winter there actually gets quite cold. It snowed a few days after I left in January. I also walked around Petra, which is a lot bigger than you’d expect, during the summertime one year and it can be tough.
Packing tips for Jordan?
Hmmmm. Nothing unusual that I can think of. Comfortable walking shoes for sure. Some clothing that breathes easily and a good hat, especially in the warm months. Obviously, a camera. Bring a good appetite and willingness to meet welcoming strangers. You’ll need those for sure.
Here is Go See Write’s Jordan travel guide.