The desert kingdom of Jordan is a place of wonder and majesty. With a history stretching back thousands of years, past civilisations and peoples have left Jordan with an incredible cultural heritage. Walk through the streets of lost cities, and gaze upon the mighty ruins of bygone empires. Join Odyssey Traveller as we take you on an unforgettable journey through this fascinating country.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Buses are the most common way of getting around Jordan, and are inexpensive, though Jordanian buses tend not to run by set timetables. Taxis are common in the capital Amman, and operate outside Amman, though bear in mind taxi meters are displayed in fils, rather than dinars, so keep this in mind to avoid overpaying. Passenger train services do not operate in Jordan, so unfortunately taking the train is not an option.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography environment and weather
Jordan covers an area of 91,880 square kilometres and is almost entirely landlocked apart from 26 kilometres of shoreline along the Gulf of Aqaba. Jordan is generally a flat desert plateau, with more than four-fifths of the country’s territory comprised of desert. In the west of the country, the Great Rift Valley seperates the East and the West Banks of the Jordan River. The Rift Valley contains numerous geological depressions, with the area around Dead Sea dropping to about 1,410 feet below sea level, the lowest natural point on Earth’s surface.
Jordan has a Mediterranean style climate, with hot, dry summers, and cool, variable winters. Rainfall happens almost entirely during the winter months, so depending on when you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.
World Heritage sites
Jordan has 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can view the official list of the sites here (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/jo). The listed sites include:
Quseir Amra, a remarkably well-preserved desert castle featuring richly-decorated murals and artwork
Um er-Rasas, an archaeological site containing the ruins of a foritified Roman camp and remains from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods
Wadi Rum Protected Area, a 74,000 hectare property containing thousands of ancient rock carvings, inscriptions and petroglyphs.
Festivals and events
Jordan has numerous festivals and events throughout the year to celebrate its traditions and culture. The Jerash Festival is one of largest festivals in Jordan – held every July in the city of Jerash, the festival brings thousands of participants and visitors to its shows and performances, including performances of music, dance, and literature, with workshops and seminars also held for attendees. The culture of Jordan’s native Bedouin people is celebrated in the Aqaba Traditional Arts Festival in February, with the handicrafts and wares of Bedouin craftsmen put on display and sold on the streets of Aqaba. Muharram is a time of great celebration in Jordan as it marks the start of the Islamic New Year, and the occasion is marked with feasting and dancing.
Petra: The True and Surprising History of the Lost City of Stone, by Patrick Auerbach
The making of Jordan, by Joab B. Eilon
Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace, by Avi Shlaim
A Pilgrim’s Guide to The Holy Land: Israel and Jordan (Pilgrim’s Guides), by Raymond Goodburn
Eating and Drinking
Food in Jordan bears many influences from the cuisines of the wider Levant, as well as some influences from Turkey and the former Ottoman empire. The national dish of Jordan is Mansaf, lamb cooked with ferrmented dried yogurt powder and served with rice. Mezze dishes are a mainstay of of Jordanian cuisine – a selection of small dishes often served at the beginning of multi-course meals, mezze include a variety of different dishes including fattoush (a salad of garden vegetables and pieces of pita bread), tabbouleh (a dish made of bulgur, tomatoes, parsely, mint and onions) and hummus (chickpea puree with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and salt).
Tea and coffee are central to any social occasion in Jordan, with coffeehouses functioning as social hubs in Jordan’s towns and cities. Although Jordan is a Muslim-majority country, alcohol is not a social taboo, with arak (an aniseed-flavoured alcoholic beverage) often served with meals. Many different varieties of delicious fruit juices are produced and consumed throughout the year to deal with Jordan’s often scorching heat, including pomengranate juice, apricot juice, and lime-mint juice.
Health and safety
As of writing, smartraveller.gov.au advises travellers to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to Jordan. There is a possibility of protests in Jordan due to domestic and regional developments, so avoid demonstrations and large gatherings as the situation may become unpredictable. Border areas around Syria and Iraq may be unsafe due to ongoing conflicts in those countries, so it is recommended that you avoid travelling to these particular areas.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. Jordan’s electricity supply runs at 230V and 50Hz. Jordan uses a multitude of electric plug types, including Types C, D, F and J plugs, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.
Armenia has a single time zone, Armenia Standard Time (UTC+4). Armenia does not observe daylight savings.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is important in Jordanian culture, especially in restaurants and hotels where staff wages tend to be lower. A tip of around 10% is standard in Jordan.
Wifi should be freely available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Jordan. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Jordan
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although some locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums and galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of dinars in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.