When you’re planning a vacation, you’ll have plenty on your mind - what clothes to bring, whether to rent a car and what kind of accommodation you’re looking for. But there’s something else that’s often on people’s minds before they fly - the question of eating and drinking in another country.
Making a trip to Jordan
can leave a lot of people anxious - will it be very hot? will I find food to my taste? and - as often as not - will I be able to drink the local water?
And this is a great question - which we’re here to answer today.
How is the water in Jordan?
Before we get going, however, we’d like to point out that if you’re traveling to this part of the Middle East in the warmer months, you’re going to need to be drinking water constantly. Temperatures can be scorching and, without even realizing it, if you’re not glugging down fluids constantly you could end up exhausted, bad-tempered, and - worst case scenario - so dehydrated you can barely move!
Let’s take a look at the water supply in Jordan - where it originates from, whether is it safe to drink, and where you can buy bottles of the stuff when you’re not in your accommodation. Because when it comes to staying in shape on your holiday, drinking water is a top priority!
Is the water in Jordan safe to drink?
It’s one of the most frequently asked questions by our customers; The basic answer is ‘yes’ insofar as the local water supply in parts of Jordan you might be visiting - Amman
, Wadi Rum
- have clean and safe supplies.
The nation itself is grappling with major water scarcity issues (it’s the second most water-scarce country in the world) but when you’re traveling around, you probably won’t be aware of it.
The Beautiful Wadi Mujib
In general, a lot of Jordanians will tell you that whilst you can drink the local water, it doesn’t always taste as pleasant as you might like - sometimes a little salty. Now this doesn’t mean it will make you sick - but it does mean that, as a result, many locals use bottled water for drinking and tap water for brushing their teeth and you might want to consider doing the same.
Should I boil the water in Jordan before drinking it?
Anyone who has ever camped in the great outdoors will tell you that a tried-and-tested tip is to boil your water before you drink it. Now, of course, this can be a bit time-consuming but it’s not difficult - and the chances are that you might be in a hotel or Bedouin camp where there’s a kettle to hand. Once you’ve boiled the water, you can let it cool down and then store it in your room for future use.
Desert Glamping in Wadi Rum
Something else we always tell prospective clients is to bring a reusable water bottle or thermos flask with them. This means you fill it up before you leave for the day. If you forget it, don’t worry - just reuse a plastic bottle you’ve purchased on arrival.
The other good thing is that many of the hotels in Petra and Wadi Rum have installed water purification systems for their guests, which means you can drink water from the tap that isn’t just safe but tastes pleasant.
Nevertheless, if you want to buy bottled water that is an option too…
How much is a bottle of water in Jordan?
This very much depends on where you’re buying. The world over, it’s common to find that in tourist attractions, prices of things like water can rise to eye-watering prices, which is why - if you want to be kind to your wallet - it’s good to plan.
The cheapest place to buy bottled water in Jordan is in supermarkets or local stores. There, you can buy not just one bottle but packs - and if you buy in bulk, you’ll save money.
Jordanian Water: Camel-approved, and that's official
As a rule of thumb, expect to pay about 0.35 JOD (Jordanian dinars) for a large bottle, which is $0.50. Of course, if you buy a pack of six or twelve, the cost will drop even further. Whilst you might balk at this (because you’ll think that carrying around all these bottles will weigh you down). remember that you should be drinking a minimum of two liters a day wherever you are in the world. So, if it’s spring or summer in the Middle East and you’re trekking in Petra or exploring the Wadi Rum desert, temperatures are high. chances are you’ll want to be consuming far more.
Finally, once you’re inside Petra, you’re going to pay a premium for the stuff - and you really will be at the mercy of local vendors, so do consider bringing as much as you can carry before you arrive at the Visitors Gate. On the bright side, as the day goes on, your backpack will become substantially lighter!
How much is a bottle of imported or mineral water in Jordan?
Tourist areas in Jordan cater to all kinds of tastes, so you can be sure it’s possible to buy imported water, both in stores and at hotel bars and local restaurants. Israel exports a great deal of water to Jordan so don’t be surprised if you see Israeli brands, alongside a couple of European brands.
Local or imported, the water's great
If you’re going out to dinner in a restaurant, also bear in mind that ordering water (whether it’s tap or from a purification system) is not free. Any drink that you order will have to be paid for - so check the prices carefully. To give you a general idea, a six-pack of mineral water in Jordan’s Carrefour supermarket will cost about 4 JOD. but the same bulk buy of Evian or Volvic will cost almost three times the price.
What’s the water supply like in Jordan?
As we mentioned above, Jordan is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world - there’s only 97 m3 of available water per capita each year - and the absolute water scarcity threshold is 500 m3 per capita per year.
All of the country's large water sources are close to the country’s borders, which means it need to be brought long distances inland - this is expensive, particularly with the recent rise in fuel costs.
Even more troubling, climate change is threatening the livelihoods of many Jordanians who work in agriculture, and depend entirely on the success of their crops. Rainfall has decreased precipitously in recent decades and warmer temperatures mean that when rain does fall, it often evaporates incredibly quickly. So, yes, water is a precious commodity in this country.
What are Jordan’s water sources?
Because much of Jordan is desert terrain, the country receives only 100 mm of rainfall a year - and this is very little, compared to most of the world.
In the meantime, groundwater makes up over half (54%) of its supply. There are 12 groundwater basins in Jordan and 80% of this water is contained within just three aquifers; Disi, Amman-Wadi Es Sir, and the Basalt aquifer.
The Jordan River in ancient times
Of this supply, over three-quarters goes to the agricultural industry. The major surface water resources are the Jordan River and Yarmouk River, but these are shared with Israel and Syria, so what is left is never really enough.
What Else Can I Drink in Jordan, save for Water?
Whilst Jordan is not as rigid in its social attitudes as many other countries in the Middle East, it is still quite conservative when it comes to its drinking culture.
You’re much more likely to see local people drinking mint tea, Arabic coffee, and soft drinks than you are alcohol - in fact, religious Muslims abstain from alcohol altogether.
The local Bedouine make the herb tea you'll ever drink
Moreover, throughout the month of Ramadan, many Jordanians will be fasting from sunrise to sundown and not touching any fluids at all. This means that if you are visiting the country at this time, you really should refrain from eating and drinking in public (at least sip from your water bottle discreetly).
Fruit juices are also in good supply - and a great source of vitamin C.
Where can I drink alcohol in Jordan?
Many restaurants in Jordan do not serve alcohol - either they have no license or there is not sufficient demand. But in most of the big hotels in Amman and Petra, it will be possible to indulge - either some local beer and wine or hard liquor in the form of imported gin, vodka, and whisky. Of course, it won’t be particularly cheap, since it’s heavily taxed, so bear this in mind.
Tourists and young locals drink beer, but most of the Jordanian population avoid alcohol
And finally, an important word of caution - that public displays of drunkenness are very much frowned upon - especially at beaches, tourist spots, and in the street. So if you do want to live it up a bit, then drink in a hotel bar or restaurant - and remember that ‘moderation’ is the word of the day.
If you’re looking to travel to Jordan, then why not consider booking a trip with us? Established almost 40 years ago, we offer a range of organized packages, day trips, and privately guided tours, including day trips and overnights to Petra, glamping, jeep tours, camel riding, and hikes around Wadi Rum and a ‘classical Jordan’ package for those who want to take a deep dive into the country’s history.
For more information about the tours we offer, feel free to contact us by email or phone and if you’re curious about our country, take a look at our blog, where we discuss all aspects of life in Israel.