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Seeing Petra in Jordan

Hi, I'll be extending a vacation that includes Turkey to include around 5 days in Jordan as my wife and I would really like to see Petra. Don't worry, we'll get a guidebook to hammer out details, but I wanted to get a sense for how others have handled their visit to Petra. I anticipate that we will fly into Amman (flights to Aqaba seem to be fairly infrequent and more expensive by several hundred dollars) and get public transportation of some sort to get us south to where Petra is. I'm not sure where the usual base of operations is around Petra. From there, I'm not sure how we'll roll. Did you take a tour? Did you hire local transportation to get you to Petra? Did your hotel/hostel/B&B (whatever lodging you used) have transportation options available? Where did you stay? Thanks for any details of your experiences you'd like to share.

Also, I'm assuming we'll have an extra day available for a day trip from Amman. Is Jerusalem a realistic day trip? It seems nearby in geography, but perhaps the border crossing is difficult? Perhaps a day trip to float in the Dead Sea? Something else you'd recommend? Thanks in advance!

Posted by
977 posts

I'm sure you will get some very helpful replies from our well travelled forumers. Another option Google
'How to get to Petra Jordan'. This search will give you all the transport and accommodation options.

Posted by
14905 posts

First of all, Jerusalem is not a realistic day trip because delays at the "Allenby" border crossing do occur. They are unpredictable and can be very long. You may have to take a taxi from the border to Jerusalem (I don't know if there is regular bus service). If you do decide to chance it: [1] the crossing closes at 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; [2] you will pay an exit tax of around $40-45 per person on leaving Israel (this is apparently true even for a day-trip); [3] I am not sure that you will get an Israeli visa on the spot; [4] be sure you have a multiple entry visa for Jordan. They do not issue visas at the Allenby crossing. This crossing is not really for tourists and is rarely used by them.

I suggest you add Jerash to your itinerary. There are lots of hotels in Petra that are easy walking distance to the historic site. In additional to the daytime visit (you can easily spend an entire day), the site is open some nights for after-dark visits (recommended). There is a resort area on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea for a float. Also very good is the beach in Aqaba, well worth spending a day. Another attraction is a tour of Wadi Rum for some beautiful desert scenery. You could fly back to Amman from Aqaba.

Posted by
1386 posts

This is from Spring 2008.

We were a family of 4 traveling from Syria. Took a cab from the Damascus surburbs to Amman. Got the visa at the border crossing without any issues. Spent a day in Amman and then another one in Madaba which is only about 45 mins away from Amman. From Madaba, we hired a taxi for half a day and visited the Jordan river, Mt. Nebo (from where Moses is said to have seen the promised land), and the dead sea. We bypassed the resorts on the dead sea and just went to a place where one could swim (this is where all the locals were - you can probably find more about this in the Lonely Planet guidebook) which also had a hot spring nearby to wash off the salt.

From Madaba we just organized a taxi to take us to Petra via a stop at Kerak castle. We used the King's Highway - though there is a less scenic route (I think). Stayed at the Marriott which is about 4 km outside of Petra since I was using points for a free stay. Lots of other hotels close by.

Advice: Stay overnight in Petra and hit the ruins first thing in the morning (i.e. 6:30 or 7 am when it opens) - you will have the place to yourself without the hordes of tourists. Take water and plan for a long day of hiking if you want to see a lot of stuff. There can be a fair bit of uphill climbing and even scrambling if you are adventurous. If you intend to go all the way to the Monastery (google it) -it is at least a few km and uphill which can get tiring if you are not in shape and hiking in the hot sun. Wear sturdy shoes.

From Petra, we headed South and spent a night in the desert camping with the Bedouins at Wadi Rum. I'm guessing this won't be an option for you since due to time constraints.

Enjoy Petra - definitely a special place.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks everyone! It's great to hear about your itineraries and Petra tips.

Posted by
8293 posts

One more tip: if the weather is hot take plenty of water with you. My husband passed out from the heat and dehydration so we saw only the Treasury before he was flat on the ground. The tourist police came to the rescue and hustled us into one of the horse drawn buggies and sent us on our way to coolness and water.

Posted by
14905 posts

Norma is so right. Hats and sunscreen too. Drink often. It's so easy to dehydrate without noticing. Because of the extremely low humidity, you don't feel the heat as much, but the water gets sucked out of you.

Posted by
16 posts

So, you're saying I should bring an IV, strap it to my shoulder, and plug that into me for the day I go hiking around Petra. Got it. ;)

Posted by
1386 posts

Wanted to add that I just viewed a great NOVA documentary on Petra that aired on PBS in the last couple of weeks. Look for it and view it if you haven't already taken this trip.

Posted by
9 posts

Petra is a special place! Good comments above.

Jerash is worth a drive to the north. If you go that far, I would also include a visit to Um Qais. It was a Decapolis city in Roman times and was named Gadara. (It was the home of the demon possessed guy that Jesus healed and the demons went into the pigs.)

If you are close, a float in the Dead Sea is a MUST! You don't have to take long - an hour total is enough - but you need to do it.

The Red Sea is a great place to see coral and spectacular fish, but the better places to swim/snorkel are outside of Aqaba. Without a car and your own equipment, it might not be such a good experience.

As noted, crossing the Allenby is a challenge. There are shared taxis that offer economical transport to Jerusalem (Nijmeh Taxi). I would not go to Jerusalem for less than two nights.