One of the best experiences I have ever done was travelling to Jordan to visit Petra, one of the world wonders. People tend to under-estimate the time it takes to visit and explore Petra. It’s quite a big place and I spent the entire day exploring nearly every inch of it, and I could have happily come back the next day too (and it’s better value if you buy a two-day pass). There’s more to Petra than just the treasury, there are tonnes to see. So if you’re prepared enough then you will be able to make the most out of your time there. Here are 8 top tips if you’re visiting Petra in Jordan!
1. Go early
When is the best time to visit Petra? I would recommend you are at the entrance around 7 am or 8 am. This way you will get to explore before the mass crowds come and you will get to enjoy the place with minimal people around. Not only will you miss the mass tour buses but also the heat. It gets hot in the desert so get up early and make the most out of the day before the sun blares down on you. Or you can do what I did and visit in the winter! It was snowing only 15km away but it was kind of nice exploring Petra in the cold!
2. Take the hike up to Monastery
It may seem too far away but trust me it’s worth it. In my opinion, it was more impressive than the Treasury. It’s much larger and there wasn’t a lot of people up there enjoying it either! You also get the most amazing views of Petra from up high. I would recommend the viewpoint furthest away. It has jaw-dropping views of the Jordan canyons and villages down below. There are a few small cafes where you can have a beverage and enjoy the view – highly recommend it!
3. Don’t get scammed
Unfortunately, nearly every tourist spot you go, there is the possibility that you may get scammed. The biggest scam I have heard, fortunately, I never encountered this, is the fake Bedouins who claim they are the original people that lived in the caves. Yes, Bedouins were the ones living in the Petra cave until the government moved them into a village down below so Petra could be saved and preserved. Unfortunately, there are people faking their Bedouin status and offering to show women to their caves. If you have a conversation with one of these people just be polite, cut it short and pretend you must meet back up with your partner or something.
4. Visit Marguerites stand
Marguerite van Geldermalsen (from New Zealand) visited Petra in the summer of 1978 and fell in love with a Bedouin. She experienced living in the caves and living life as a Bedouin for many years. She has written a book on her life as a Bedouin called ‘Married to a Bedouin’. You can buy a copy of her book at Petra. She usually has a stall there selling her book so if she is there you should totally say hello! Unfortunately, she was in the village when I was in Petra so I missed her.
5. Don’t ride the animals
Like most of the tourism industry, animals are caught up in the show. The donkeys, camels and horses are overworked and poorly treated so I would not recommend using them to get anywhere. Everything is walkable. Even though the monastery is far and uphill I would not recommend riding a donkey up there. Please think twice before supporting them! You will also see horse and carts taking people from the entrance to the Treasury. It’s only a short walk so I would not bother! Save your money to support something else in Petra like the local handicrafts.
6. Dress respectfully
This goes anywhere in the Middle East, you need to dress respectively. Don’t wear tight clothing and make sure you cover your legs. Most of the country’s population is Muslim so dressing respectively, especially as a woman is a given. It will attract less attention and you will be more respected in the community. The key is to look less touristy and more local if you don’t want to be harassed all the time.
7. Bring your lunch with you
If you can, bring your own lunch and some snacks with you. There are restaurants there but they are incredibly overpriced and the food is average. Make sure you bring a hearty lunch to keep you going for the day. You will need the energy, trust me! Some of the accommodation options actually offer to packed lunch for an extra charge which is a great option!
8. Buy a two-day pass
A one-day pass is 70JD (about $99USD) and a two-day pass is 75JD (about $106). I would opt for the two-day so you can make the most of the experience. After all, how often do you get to go to Petra? It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity! The hike to the monastery will take up a majority of the day so it’s a great idea if you can come back the next day to check the rest of Petra out.
Where to stay near Petra
Budget – Al Anbat Midtown ($20USD per room)
Luxury – Petra bed and breakfast ($127USD per room)
There are my top tips for visiting Petra. I visited Jordan alone and I felt safe always. I was blown away by the Jordanian hospitality and would happily visit Jordan again in the future! Tell me below when you are planning to visit Petra.
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