"Half an hour after arriving I knew that I liked Jordan, I couldn't put my finger on why and still can't but it just has a feeling, an atmosphere, a way of life that puts you at ease."
"I relaxed in Aqaba with a constant supply of unbelievably good fresh fruit juice, snorkelled in the Red Sea, wandered around the incredibly well preserved Roman site of Jerash dodging imaginary chariots and discovered the natural beauty of Jordan in the therapeutic qualities of the Dead Sea and the expanses of sand scattered with rocky outcrops in the peaceful desert of Wadi Rum. And then there was Petra. Whatever your feelings before seeing this Nabatean stronghold, I promise you, you won’t leave disappointed. Although by the end of the day I felt like I’d walked 10 marathons (it's a big site!), it is worth every single step. In front of your own eyes Petra is not only outstanding in terms of the vision and sheer labour necessary for its creation, but is the finest time machine you will ever travel in."
Jamie Mason, Traveller
Official Language: Arabic. Others: English
Religions: Muslim 93%, Christians 5%
Voltage: 220 volts. Sockets are of the European, two-pronged variety.
Visas are required by all non Arab nationals. They are usually valid for up to three months. The cost of the visa will be variable depending on your nationality. Please obtain your visa before commencing your trip as gaining them on arrival or in another Arab country can be time consuming, frustrating, and not always possible.
Note: It is possible for many nationalities to purchase a Jordanian single entry visa on arrival at Aqaba port. However as these regulations may change at any time without prior notice, the Jordanian Authorities recommend you obtain your visa in advance.
Multiple Visa Entry
If you plan to leave Jordan and return later, or your tour makes two or more entries into the country, you must clearly request a multiple entry visa when you make your application.
If you apply for a multiple entry visa, check your passport when it is returned to you to make sure that you have been issued with the correct visa.
The monetary unit in Jordan is the Jordanian Dinar (JD), which is divided into 1000 Fils.
Approximate exchange rates (as at April 2008) are as follows:
There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that a visitor may bring into Jordan, however very large sums should be declared on arrival.
XE.com is a useful site for currency conversion.
Banks and ATM's can be found almost everywhere in Jordan. Credit cards are accepted in most shops, restaurants and hotels (with the exception of American Express cards which are not widely accepted). We recommend that you take either US$ or GB£ currency. Travellers cheques are not widely used and can be difficult to change.
The Pre Departure Booklet that you will receive once you have booked your tour contains general information about organising your spending money. Your Tour Leader will be able to advise you on local facilities.
The Pre Departure Booklet contains general information about the things you will need to consider when budgeting for your holiday. Below are some specific notes relevant to our tours in Jordan.
Although Traveller trips include entrance fees to all sites specified in your itinerary there are additional ancient sites that you may like to visit. Adventurer trips do not include any entrance fees. The average entrance fee is approx US$2, with the most expensive being US$40.
Entrance to Petra costs US$40 which includes compulsory guiding fees and a horse ride to the beginning of the siq (gorge). You must pay this fee whether you intend on taking a horse or not.
Jerash is one of the best examples in the Middle East of a Roman provincial city and is remarkably well preserved. If your tour does not include a visit to Jerash it will be possible to visit in your free time. The entrance fee is US$12 and transport costs US$5 for a local bus and US$40 return for a private taxi.
Entrance to the Citadel and the Amphitheatre in Amman are free but there are museums inside both sites which you may wish to visit. In the Citadel, entrance to the Archaeological Museum costs US$3 and in the Amphitheatre, entrance to the Folklore Museum and the Popular Museum cost US$2 each.
The Imaginative Traveller recommends: Remember to bring your student card if you have one or are entitled to one as you can save as much as 50% at many of Jordan's ancient sites and museums.
All of our itineraries include some free time, the amount of which usually depends on the style of tour you are travelling on (Adventurer trips generally have more than Traveller). If you wish to take optional excursions your Tour Leader will be able to advise you of the possibilities in each area.
Approximate costs (per person) for popular excursions are as follows:
You will find the meal plan for your tour clearly indicated in the brochure and on your Trip Dossier. Breakfast is provided each day on most tours, and many tours also include a number of dinners. Lunches are rarely included to give you more freedom.
Approximate costs for meals and snacks not included are shown below:
For a guide to the type of food you will find in Jordan see the Local Food & Drink section of this dossier.
Tea and Coffee are always provided with breakfast. All other drinks (i.e. bottled water, soft drinks) are at your own expense.
Approximate costs for drinks bought in a shop in the street are shown below:
Note: Prices in restaurants, hotels, and cruise boats can be as much as double those specified.
It is not recommended that you drink the local tap water in Jordan. However, bottled water, carbonated soft drinks and fruit juices are widely available throughout the country.
Taxis are the most effective method of local transport, and recommended for all journeys within a city. They are very modern, and run on a meter system. All private taxis are yellow. Most drivers are fairly honest but you should make sure that the meter is on before your journey begins. They also have day and night meters so check you are on the correct rate. It is also possible to negotiate a set fee for a longer journey.
Note: Taxis at hotels tend to charge more than those you can hail in the street but hotel taxi drivers usually speak more English.
The Pre-Departure Information that you will receive once you have booked your tour contains a comprehensive list of items that you should consider bringing with you. There are certain items of equipment (e.g. sleeping bags, towels) that you will need on some tours and not on others. Please note that you DO NOT need a mosquito net on any of our tours in Jordan. Check your Trip Dossier for any special requirements.
As a general guideline, clothing should be lightweight, loose fitting, hard-wearing and easily washed. In Jordan's hot summer months, cotton clothing is much more comfortable than man-made materials like nylon.The winter is normally quite mild but in the north and especially in the hilly regions it can get quite cold with rainy spells. These, though, are usually interspersed with periods of brilliant sunshine. You should bear in mind that Jordan has conservative attitudes towards dress, particularly in remote areas such as Wadi Rum and Dana Nature Reserve. Women, and also to a certain extent men, will find that the way they dress will often determine the degree of respect they receive from both men and women. The issue is not nearly of such importance in ‘touristy’ areas, such as the Red Sea coast, where you can be just about as casual as you like.
The Imaginative Traveller Recommends: Make sure you bring lots of clothing that covers shoulders and knees and also more than one outfit which covers your legs to ankles and your arms past the elbows. A sarong is an invaluable item to carry as it can be used to instantly cover any exposed areas (i.e. head, legs).
In certain areas and religious sites your Tour Leader may ask you to dress conservatively. Out of respect for local values, we ask that you follow your Tour Leader’s advice at all times.
Make sure you allow for climate changes and remember that even in very hot countries, night-time and early morning temperatures can be extremely cold. You will generally find it is better to have several thin layers rather than one thick layer as it gives you more flexibility and warmth. A fleece can be invaluable and double as a pillow.
Whilst few of our tours can be described as physically demanding you will find all activities more enjoyable if you are reasonably fit and active.
Whenever you use a western or squat style toilet please place your toilet paper in the rubbish bin provided – DO NOT flush it down the toilet as this may block the sewerage system. You may also want to carry your own toilet paper as not all toilets will supply it.
The Imaginative Traveller Recommends: You may find it useful to take along a supply of antiseptic wet wipes and plastic bags to put your toilet paper in if it can not be placed in a bin.
The Red Sea
We use environmentally friendly diving and snorkelling schools but we also ask travellers not to touch or walk on the coral or pick any up as a souvenir. It is also important to not feed the fish or throw cigarette butts into the sea or on to the beach.
We encourage travellers to experience religious festivals, such as the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, as a visit to the Middle East during this time will give you a whole different perspective. If you would like to know more about Ramadan or you are travelling at this time please consult our special Ramadan Information Sheet (this can be found on the download pages of our website).
When visiting tombs and temples don’t give in to the urge to touch. You may think that your fingers can do no harm but the natural oils present in your skin can do serious damage – particularly when you consider how many visitors there are.
Begging is a way of life in the Middle East. Ultimately donations are a travellers personal choice, however in line with initiatives and government policy in many of our destinations, our recommendation is NOT to give money, pens, gifts or sweets as this encourages a begging mentality and is largely ineffectual. If you do want to help it is probably better to give to a recognised charity. If you choose not to give simply say no with a smile and keep on walking. If you learn nothing else of the local language, learn to say ‘no thank you’!
Haggling is a way of life in the Middle East. In the shops there is no fixed price so the shop keeper will start with a high price which you are then expected to haggle down until you reach a fair price. Haggling should always be relaxed and can be a lot of fun – you will find most shop owners are very friendly and will probably invite you in for a cup of tea to break the ice before the haggling starts!
Upon arrival at Amman's Queen Aliya International Airport, please look for our representative who will be holding an Imaginative Traveller/Atlas Travel & Tourism sign. He should be waiting for you, in the area after Customs and Immigration.
The Meeting Point for your tour should be clearly marked on your travel vouchers
Government licensed taxis operate from Queen Aliya International Airport and are recommended for making your own way to the hotel. Before beginning your journey make sure that the taximeter is switched on. The cost of a taxi to our hotels in Amman should be approx. US$25.
Most people find that Jordan is a very friendly and hospitable country and feel quite comfortable wandering around alone during the day. However, as with any country you are not familiar with (and in particular in large cities such as Amman), it is recommended that you exercise more caution at night and generally take taxis rather than walk.
Your Tour Leader's role is to ensure all aspects of the trip run smoothly. He/she will share their local knowledge, advise on how to fill your free time and co-ordinate the day to day running of the tour – although occasionally he/she may need your understanding if things do not go according to plan. If you have any problems on the tour, please let your Tour Leader know so that steps can be taken to put it right. Tour Leaders are supported by our regionally based office staff and, in most cases, a locally based manager.
On Traveller & Connoisseur tours the group will also be accompanied by a qualified Jordanian guide throughout most of the trip. On Adventurer tours we use the services of specialist guides at sights of particular historical interest such as Petra.
Please note that some styles of trip, such as Imaginative Escapes or Imaginative Honeymoons, do not have a Tour Leader. However, there will be representatives on hand who will be able to assist you in arranging any excursions that you wish you take.
Our main criterion for choosing hotels is cleanliness. On Adventurer tours hotels are simple, but comfortable. Bathroom facilities may sometimes be shared and rooms may sometimes be multi share rather than twin. Hotels on Traveller tours almost always have private bathrooms, air conditioning and bar / restaurant facilities. Please bear in mind that hotels can sometimes suffer from minor problems and technical difficulties.
At each hotel your Tour Leader will try to organise the rooming arrangements to suit everyone's requirements. If you are travelling alone you will be allocated a room with another group member of the same sex (unless you have paid a single supplement). If you are travelling as a couple please note that we cannot guarantee the availability of double beds.
Note: Single supplements are only applicable to single travellers who wish to have their own room. Single supplements are not applicable on overnight boats, trains and while camping.
A laundry service is available in most of the hotels we are use (especially in Amman and Aqaba).
Food in Jordan tends to be a mixture of Arab and Lebanese cuisine. A standard Jordanian meal will consist of a main dish supplemented by a number of appetisers such as tahina (sesame seed puree) and baba ghanoug (tahina, garlic and charred aubergines) dips, salads and side-dishes.
Mensef is the national dish of Jordan. This traditional Bedouin meal consists of lamb (or goat) cooked with herbs in a yoghurt sauce with rice and bread. Other favourite dishes include meat stews, meatloaf and kebabs.
Throughout the Middle East, the taking of tea is almost a national pastime. Jordan is no exception, especially if you are shopping or meeting people for the first time. In Jordan mint, thyme, or saga are often used to flavour the tea. Coffee is served Turkish style - very strong and sweet. If you don't normally take sugar, make sure you mention this to your host. Freshly squeezed fruit juice is readily available from street stalls and kiosks, and makes a refreshing change from the carbonated drinks.
Although Jordan is a Muslim country, most of the hotels we use do serve alcoholic drinks (although during Ramadan, some hotels will close their bars). Local wine is fairly palatable, as is the local beer, Amstel, a mild lager. You might also want to tray Araq – an aniseed flavoured liqueur.
Although meat is often not the main feature of a meal, it can be found in many dishes, even if only as a stock. Therefore, if you are a vegetarian you may experience a distinct lack of variety in the food available at meal times. Your Tour Leader will do their best to offer a vegetarian alternative, but your patience and understanding is requested.
If you have food allergies or preferences, please make them known to your Tour Leader who will do their best to ensure that your requirements are met.
Please note: Unfortunately we can give no guarantee that special requirements can always be met.
Internet cafes can now be found in most parts of Jordan. The cost for an hour is approx US$5.
A 3 minute call (to the UK) will cost approx. US$12 from a hotel and approx. US$5 from a telephone centre.
The postal service is good and stamps are available everywhere. An overseas stamp will cost approx. US$1.
Availability of Film
Camera film can be found in Amman and at major sites such as Petra but it is best to bring your supply from home.
Summers are long (from April until October), hot and virtually rainless with high levels of humidity on the Red Sea coast. Although it does get extremely hot in the desert in the summer, at night temperatures can fall significantly. The winter can be severe in the hills of northern Jordan with temperatures often dropping to below freezing and frequent rainy spells. Even as far south as Petra snow in December and January is not uncommon. Although winter can be cold in most of the country, the Red Sea area and Aqaba are still very pleasant.
The general climate is most pleasant during spring and autumn when hot days do at least cool off in the late afternoon.
The following shows average daily temperatures (in degrees celcius) in Amman:
Islamic Holidays are fixed in accordance with the Lunar Calendar. 2008 dates are:
Notes: Many words contain the sound ‘Kh’. The ‘K’ is not pronounced. Instead the sound is like the ‘ch’ in Loch.
(M) - when addressing a man
(F) - when addressing a woman
[m] - when said by a man
[f] - when said by a woman
Note: Although Arabic script reads from right to left, numbers are read from left to right.