Jordan is an extraordinary country. Although small in size and young in terms of the nation-state, it is blessed with some of the regions having most revered historical treasures; some of its most spectacular scenery; and with some of its kindest and most hospitable people.
It also features delicious cuisine, a good tourist infrastructure – with some great accommodation and knowledgeable guides – and under the much respected royal family, a stable government.
Throughout its short history, Jordan has bucked the trends of its neighbors; by welcoming the foreign traveler with open arms, and gallons of sweet mint tea, in many ways it continues to do so.
Amman is a lively, liberal city, modern in character, yet with one foot rooted firmly in the past. With a history dating back to Neolithic times, its journey travels through the Greeks and Romans – when it was known as Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love’ – before being abandoned for almost a thousand years only to rise again in 1921 as the country’s modern capital.
Today, it carries an air of dynamic self-assurance and is an easy place to hang out for a day or two. Things not to be missed are the downtown area, the fruit and vegetable market, the Roman theatre, and the citadel with the capital’s most famous monument, the Temple of Hercules.
Sites to check out here are the Temple of Zeus, the South Theatre and it’s impressive, and renovated, Hippodrome – which has seen a revival of the Roman sport of chariot racing.
Traveling south, you’ll pass Mount Nebo, the site from which Moses showed his people the Promised Land and take a look around Madaba, where, among other things, on the floor of St George’s church you can see the first map of the Holy Land in the form of a wonderful mural. But Jordan isn’t just about sites of antiquity, it also has some stunning natural wonders to experience.
Just to the east of Madaba you can go for a float in the Dead Sea – and, if you so desire, cover yourself in the rejuvenating mud, or treat yourself to a spa or swim at one of the regions, smart 5 star hotels – before enjoying remote, offbeat locations like the tiny village of Dana, which has recently been reinvented as an eco-village for travellers looking to explore the nearby reserve.
Some Travel Tips In Jordan
1. Be aware of dress codes
Jordan is day by day becoming a modern cultural center, and it is reflected in its rapidly modern clothing styles. However, in terms of dress codes, freedom will always be limited; It is important to know that there are still some codes for both genders, and there is a misconception that what is appropriate to wear is the biggest reason for resistance between locals and tourists.
To respect cultural norms, women should wear loose clothes and avoid anything which is revealing. For men, it is important to keep in mind that walking topless at any time is not acceptable.
2. Always pack a scarf
In addition to the dress code, a scarf is welcomed for completely different reasons. On a hot day, covering your head to avoid heat stroke – this is especially while visiting desert tourist sites like Wadi Rum or Petra. Women visitors may need a scarf when visiting a religious place like the glorious King Hussein Bin Talal mosque.
3. Vegetarians, be alert!
Vegetarian food is widely accepted in Jordanian culture. However, those who don’t eat meat will still be left with limited options when you talk about traditional recipes.
Almost all of Jordan’s dishes contain animal products in one way or the other. So, be prepared – if invited to lunch – to stare at the table filled with meat dishes, and keep in mind that showing hatred for food in Jordan is very insulting.
4. Good news for smokers
Many Jordanian people enjoy smoking, and this is a practice that is allowed almost everywhere and anywhere including taxis, public transport, roads, and shopping malls. And people who haven’t heard about the most favorite smoking apparatus, the hubby bubbly – or the argeeleh, called in Arabic. You will find an argeeleh in almost every cafe in Jordan.
5. Don’t drink water from just anywhere
Tap water in Jordan is not potable. Unlike western countries, tap water in Jordan is used only to wash things. However, you can get potable water at your doorstep at any time of the day, or you can get bottles in corner shops or large stores.
6. The Arab ‘five minutes’ rule
Jordan’s people like to go smoothly and easily, especially when it comes to plans and appointments. People can just show up and roam outside, invite you to come at a specific time, or plan for road trips and leave immediately. On the other hand, punctuality, time is overlooked.
When you plan with a local and they say they’ll accompany you in five minutes’, it is best to presume that they will arrive at least 20 minutes late – so you too can be late too!
7. Never say no to food
People of Jordan are very generous and hospitable. The comfort of their guests is a priority and they go very far to make you feel at home. It is also a known fact that they enjoy sharing their food with everyone. Always smile and accept the offer of food, because repeatedly telling them that you are full, might annoy them.
8. Photography permissions
Jordan is undeniably one of the most photogenic spots in the world. Local people are often happy to click pictures with you. But before trying to take any photographs with them, always ask for permission first, especially when women are there.
9. Love is not in the air
You might get surprised seeing male locals greeting each other with hugs and kisses on the cheeks – the same goes for females, as this is a socially acceptable method of greeting.
On the other hand, it is not acceptable for couples to show affection in public, from holding hands to kissing. It is worth keeping in mind that homosexuality, while legalized in 1951, is still a forbidden or taboo concept.
10. Taxis are cheap
In Jordan, the famous yellow taxi can be found everywhere. It operates on one meter, which is counted as the amount of fare required to pay until your destination is reached; they are considered very cheap. Unluckily, it is common for the drivers to play with the innocence of foreigners and have them pay double or triple amount, or simply telling them, the meter is broken.
To avoid these situations, just ask them to turn on the meter and when they arrive, indicate that you want to see numbers on the meter before paying them.