- Visited August 2018
Welcome to Jordan. You will hear this phrase uttered hundreds of times a day if you choose to visit, a stock phrase all taxi drivers and shop keepers have learned to welcome the throng of tourists who flock here for Petra, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum. Be warned if you come – Jordon’s delights do not come cheap. The entry visa costs 40JD (you don’t need a return flight to enter – I just had to say where I was staying) and it is easy to burn through your holiday spending money here. Definitely buy the Jordan Pass. This costs between 70 – 90JD depending upon which package you choose and if you buy it online before you arrive, it includes the cost of the entry visa (you need to stay a minimum of 3 nights) and grants you free access to over 40 attractions in Jordan. As a one-day entry to Petra costs 50JD and the entry visa is 40JD, it is obviously well-worth it.
To be honest, the best reason to visit Amman is for the day trips. I didn’t much care for the city itself but I was fortunate to meet lovely people at the hostel I stayed at. On my first day in Amman I went on a Dead Sea day trip booked with my hostel. Myself and another girl paid 25JD each for a driver, Jameel, who was brilliant and very knowledgeable. Entrance fees to the various places we stopped at were not included in the price we paid. He took us to Amman Beach to swim in the Dead Sea. The entrance fee was 15JD which gave us access to the beach, two pools and showers and we enjoyed two and a half hours there. Floating in the Dead Sea is an amazing experience – just be prepared for the salt to get everywhere (eyes, mouth etc) and keep a bottle of water nearby as you swim. From there we drove to Mount Nebo (2JD entrance) with great views of the Holy Land and St George’s Mosaic Map Church (1JD entrance) and had a cheap/tasty lunch at Ayola Restaurant opposite St George’s Church in Madaba. The driver also kindly stopped off at places that offered stunning views throughout the journey. Though you pay a lot for the day trips, the drivers will also expect to be tipped.
On day two, a guy at my hostel asked if I’d like to split the cost of a driver to Jerash, the second most visited site in Jordan after Petra. Jerash is about an hour’s drive from Amman, the driver cost us 20JD each and we paid 10JD each entrance fee. A brochure is included in the price but you will have to ask for it. The Roman ruins at Jerash are fantastic and well worth a visit. It wasn’t very crowded when we went so we were able to enjoy roaming the site. Take a hat with you as there is very little shade.
As for Amman itself, main sights include the Citadel and the Amphitheatre. The Citadel closes at 7pm daily but the Amphitheatre is lit up at night and rooftop restaurants, such as the Amman Pasha Hotel Tourist Cafe, offer great views. Speaking of the Tourist Cafe, you have to check this place out. It has decent food, alcohol and a mini zoo! As you eat your meal on the terrace you will find rabbits, a duck and a chicken wandering around. The staff are very friendly here. Rainbow Street is an area full of restaurants and bars and I had a nice meal with hostel buddies at La Calle. There is also some interesting street art to be found dotted about which gives the city some character.
I’ve heard some horror stories relating to taxi drivers ripping tourists off but I avoided taking taxis altogether so can’t personally comment.
Note for Solo Females: Although I felt safe enough walking around with buddies from my hostel, I didn’t feel very comfortable when walking about alone, even in the day. Blondes definitely attract attention. Dress modestly (long trousers and t-shirts with short sleeves will be ok) and ignore the men calling out at you. I was actually called a bitch by one guy as I walked down the street minding my own business and he was pretty surprised when I responded with f**k you’ as I think he thought I hadn’t heard him or didn’t expect a response. The men here will either openly call out to you things like ‘hey baby, where you from’, particularly from passing cars or just stare or mutter things as you pass by. I didn’t feel unsafe but it wasn’t enjoyable and I won’t come back to Amman if I can avoid it….
Selection of pictures from my stay: