Jordan Travel Guide

Your trip to the Holy Land can include a short tour of neighboring Jordan. Israel and Jordan have friendly relations, and the two countries share a border and three border crossings - Jordan-King Hussein Bridge Allenby Crossing (closest to Jerusalem and Amman); Jordan River Sheikh Hussein Crossing (near Beit Shean), and the Wadi Arava Rabin Crossing in Eilat (the closest crossing to Petra). Some nationalities can get a visa to Jordan at the border, while others need to prearrange their visa with the Jordanian Embassy.

The top attraction in Jordan is the ancient city of Petra. This stunning archaeological site encompasses a desert city created by the Nabataean people over 2,000 years ago. The ingenious Nabataeans carved Petra out of red-hued rock cliffs. Merchant caravans stopped in Petra, along the ancient trade route through Arabia.

The easiest way of traveling to Jordan from Israel is with a group tour. There are Petra trips from Israel that depart from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Eilat. Longer package tours from Israel to Jordan can include a visit to the Jordanian capital Amman; Jordan’s Red Sea port, Aqaba; the archaeological sites of Jerash, and the mosaics of Madaba. Among the popular things to do in Jordan is a safari adventure in the rugged desert canyons of Wadi Rum.

Wadi Rum Camping: The Complete Guide [2023 UPDATE]

If you’ve decided to visit Wadi Rum, in Jordan, you’re in for a treat: otherworldly views, Bedouin hospitality, and loads of activities will make sure you'll return with a huge smile and plenty of stories to tell.And where you'll lay your head at night is an experience in itself: you see, this beautiful part of Jordan is situated in the heart of the desert, which means that the accommodation on offer is a little bit different to what you might be used to. Fear not though - what awaits you isn’t just different from your average night away, but incredibly special:Wadi Rum Glamping!Wadi Rum Campsite. Check out the Martian landscapeWhere to Stay in Wadi Rum?The first thing that we should say is that there are plenty of options from which to choose if you’re looking for an overnight stay. These range from basic, budget affairs to high-end luxury tents with all mod cons, including WiFi, private terraces and en-suite bathrooms with western-style toilets and plenty of hot water.If you’re travelling in Jordan on a budget, it’s quite possible to find a campsite where for just a few dollars a night you can enjoy a night out in the middle of nowhere. But for those who prefer more comfort, there are some very fancy options.Martian scenery? Martian tentsFrom beds that are like army cots to beds that wouldn’t look out of place in five-star hotels, all you need to do is figure out your budget beforehand. Campsites have easy access to bottled water and breakfast is almost always included (and often a buffet dinner too).One thing you can be sure of, however, is that whichever camp you choose to stay at, you won’t have to put the tent up yourself!The Basic Option: Budget Campsites in Wadi RumIf you’re watching your money, the good news is that there are quite a few campsites out there that won’t break the bank. Whilst you might have to share a bathroom, and you won’t be treated to ‘extras’ like toiletries, hairdryers and air-con, many of these Bedouin camps have all the essentials - and, of course, the view at night is free!The standard tents in a Wadi Rum CampIf you’re not travelling on an organised tour to Wadi Rum, then expect to pay around $20-30 for basic accommodation (as well as entry to the site at a cost of 5 Jordanian dinars, unless you have the Jordan Pass, in which case it is free).The Better Choice: Wadi Rum Luxury CampIf you really want to push the boat out, then there’s nothing better than staying in a ‘Martian Dome’ (also known as ‘Bubble Tent’ or ‘Star Pod’) at an upscale camp.Arguably, this is the ultimate way of spending the night since, not only are they extremely comfortable, they actually give you the opportunity of having an ‘outer-space experience’ in private. The view from a Bubble TentHow? Because parts of the tent (be they a panel or sometimes the entire roof) are transparent, which means you can lie in bed and gaze up at thousands of twinkling stars in the clear desert sky.Even better, because the tents are well spaced-out, you’ll have plenty of privacy and won’t hear a peep from your neighbours!This kind of accommodation is a lot more costly - you could pay close to $250 per night - but it really is an extraordinary and quite magical experience.Bubble Tents at nightDesert Attractions: What to Do in Wadi RumOne of the reasons some of the camps are so reasonably priced is that visitors to Wadi Rum are often looking for day-time activities to enjoy in the area, and many of the camps offer ‘add-ons’ for which you have to pay an additional charge.Some are more costly than others but all are great fun in their own way and, depending on your stamina level, and how much you want to shell out, there are few people who leave the area feeling that they’ve missed out.1. Sunrise Camel RidingSince the dawn of time in the Arabian peninsula, camels were the primary means of transport between Europe and Asia (passing through the Middle East) so what better way to start your trip in Wadi Rum than with a journey on one of these graceful animals?Camel Ride at sunriseSetting off before dawn breaks, then watching the sunrise whilst you’re atop a camel, really will make you feel like a real nomad. And trekking across a sandy wilderness, just like Lawrence of Arabia did, isn’t only a wonderful way to see the desert, but it also gives you a window into Bedouin life.2. StargazingIf the best things in life are free, then this has to be one of them. Since Wadi Rum is in the midst of the desert, there’s little pollution so you’ll be able to stare up at the night sky and lose yourself amidst thousands of twinkling lights. And, yes, it’s definitely possible to see the Milky Way!Wadi Rum Stargazing3. Taking a Jeep TourYou can’t visit Wadi Rum and not enjoy a jeep tour of the desert - at least that’s what many visitors say. And, with an experienced Bedouin driver behind the wheel, you’re free to enjoy the spectacular scenery and really explore the area.Whether you book a two, four or six-hour jeep tour, make sure to take plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen (in the warmer months, these things are imperative!) And whilst the roads are quite bumpy, this gives you the opportunity to visit a lot of the above activities - just tell your driver what you want to see most!Jeep Tour in Wadi Rum4. Trekking in the Khazali CanyonThis narrow canyon (with two fig trees marking its entrance) might appear quite nondescript from the outside but once you’ve squeezed through the narrow passageway, which is less than 100 metres long, you’ll be rewarded by the sight of some extremely well-preserved petroglyphs. These impressive rock carvings date back to the Stone Age and, made using stone chisels and hammerstones, depict animals, humans and Islamic inscriptions.Wadi Rum Rock Carvings5. Hiking around the Rock Bridges and Sandstone ArchesThe Rock Bridges and sandstone arches in Wadi Rum are wow-factor geological formations - and whether you take a tour here at sunrise or sunset, you’ll be bowled over by them.If you are reasonably fit and don’t suffer from vertigo, you are going to be able to climb up one of them and enjoy magnificent views.The three most popular to visit are Burdah, Um Fruth and Little Bridge. Burdah is one of the largest of its kind in the world and provides particularly good photographic opportunities.Wadi Rum Rock Arch6. Visiting the Lawrence Springs and Lawrence HouseGiven its name by Lawrence of Arabia, who purportedly rested there during the Arab Revolt, this is a spring that Bedouins have visited for generations, to stop and sip clear water whilst they heard their goats.The view from the spring is beautiful, overlooking the valley. All around you, you’ll see red, ochre and white rocks, and the bright green moss around the spring itself contrasts magnificently with the desert hues.Nearby is the Lawrence House, where the man himself is supposed to have slept, and whilst it is nothing particularly special, it was built on an original Nabatean structure and exudes mystery!Marvel at the view!7. Sandboarding on the DunesGreat for those seeking a thrill, Wadi Rum is home to quite a few sand dunes - small and large. And it’s not just incredibly fun to slip down these slopes, whilst attached to a board - it’s also a fine opportunity to take photographs.Whether you’re a beginner - in which case the smaller ones will be your friends - or more experienced and looking to pick up your speed on a bigger dune - this might be one of the most adventurous activities you’ve undertaken in a while!The Red Dune of Wadi Rum8. Enjoying a Ride in a Hot Air BalloonIf you really want a bird’s eye view of Wadi Rum, then why not splash some cash (around $200) and jump into a hot air balloon that, as it rises slowly above the ground, treats you to breathtaking views of the desert?Stunning landscapes, combined with desert serenity, make for a spectacular two-hour trip and although it’s a bit of a splurge, this is a popular activity and you’ll have to book it in advance if you want to be sure of securing a spot.Hot Air Balloon in the desertIf you’re thinking about visiting Wadi Rum, then probably the most convenient way to do it is with an organised tour. This means that everything’s taken care of from start to finish - transport there, accommodation and food. The various camps all offer an array of activities (some of which we’ve mentioned above) and you can also book trips via the Wadi Rum Visitors Centre.Bein Harim offers you the opportunity of seeing both desert landscapes and the ‘Rose City’ on a two-day Petra and Wadi Rum tour, which departs from Eilat in Israel, just across the border from Jordan. Feel free to contact us; tours depart daily and include an overnight stay in a Bedouin camp
By Sarah Mann

Can You Drink the Water in Jordan? [2023 UPDATE]

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, Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba - 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 MujibIn 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 RumSomething 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 officialAs 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 greatIf 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.A water canal along the Siq, a smooth gorge that serpentines on the way to the Petra TreasuryEven 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 timesOf 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 drinkMoreover, 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 alcoholAnd 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.
By Sarah Mann
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