A to Z Guide to Enjoying Jordan
Planning a trip to Jordan? Consider this A to Z guide to getting the best out of your Jordan journey.
Amman Citadel. Perched on top of Amman, Jordan’s capital city, the Citadel (or Jabal al Qala’a) is one of the most unmissable sights featuring the ruins of bygone Roman settlements and fortresses. Pose for a snap between towering columns of Hercules’s Temple while admiring the panoramic view of old and new Amman from the hilltop.
Bethany Beyond Jordan. Jesus’s Baptism site is one of the most sacred places you ought to visit. You might be disappointed to find the excavated site completely dry (during Summer) and cemented, but press on to see an actual baptism rite (of Israelites) being performed at the Jordan river. Note that this river separates Israel and Jordan territories so you will not be allowed to cross it.
Castle Ajloun. Picture yourself a king or queen of this fortified castle on top of a mountain. The interior of the castle reveals intelligent medieval Arab military architecture and an impressive view of Jordan’s towns down below.
Dead Sea. Swim and never sink in the world’s deepest hypersaline lake in the world. Scrub the mud on your skin and prove the healing wonders this landlocked body of water boasts of. Spare some funds for Dead Sea products to bring home to your friends and family.
English. Be aware that English is not a widely written nor spoken language in Jordan. Prepare to mime (like in charades) or keep a handy book of Arabic survival phrases at all times. If you can afford an English-speaking tour guide, hire Raed from Petra Nights Tour.
Fauna and Flora. Take pleasure in long, silent road trips – and you will be amazed at how many delightful things you can find. Donkeys, camels, sheep, and horses are a common sight around Jordan. Meanwhile, cedar, eucalyptus trees, pine trees, fig trees, apple trees, pomegranates, and grapes surround the front and back yards of most houses. To someone who grew up climbing mango and santol trees and munching guava, kamias and tamarind, these sights are rare gems.
Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. John the Baptist. Stop by this church to get a glimpse of religious fine arts and souvenirs. In every discovery, there is a true story: we actually went to this chapel to revive our parched soles scorched by the midday heat as we were exploring the Jordan River.
High Place of Sacrifice. As the name suggests, the High Place of Sacrifice is a mountain summit at Petra offering a grand view of the vast rose red city. This open-air altar made by Nabataeans is only accessible after climbing up terrifyingly steep and small flight of steps cut into the rock.
Israel – Almost. Tracing the pathways where Moses, Elijah, Jesus and his disciples used to walk brings an indescribable sensation – an inexplicable epiphany. Jordan gives that “almost Promised Land” experience.
Jerash. The ancient city of Gerasa proudly shows ruins of Graeco-Roman urbanism. If you do not want a tour guide, make sure to capture the highlights of the 3km-walk around Jerash: Hadrian’s Arch, Hippodrome, Colonnad Street, Cathedral, North Theatre, South Theatre, and Jerash Archaeological Museum.
Kazneh or The Treasury of Petra. After navigating the breathtaking pathway of hemmed cliffs soaring up to 80 meters, Petra dazzles visitors even more with its most beautiful monument – Al Kazneh or the Treasury. This colossal, elaborately carved facade of Al Kazneh is indisputably Nabataeans’ ultimate proof of engineering and architectural genius.
Lamb and Labneh. Mansaf is the national food of Jordan. As our guide said, “Jordan is mansaf; Mansaf is Jordan.” Soak tender lamb into goat milk, add special yoghurt (labneh) and then mix these with rice – it sure is one fantastic gastronomical exploration!
Madaba. Dubbed as the “City of Mosaics”, Madaba enchants visitors with top class mosaic artworks using various materials- yes, even shells of ostrich eggs! Camel bones and colorful stones are intricately assembled on a canvas depicting places, things, religious figures, popular artists, even common people like drunkards and prostitutes.
Nebo Mountain. Mt. Nebo is widely known among Christian pilgrimers as the exact spot where God showed Moses the so-called promised land, which he failed to reach because he was dying. If you’re on top of this mountain, imagining the promised land of flowing honey and milk would not so be tough. As for Non-Christians, this mountain only serves as a memorial for the Prophet Musa (Moses).
Outfit. Wearing shorts at outdoor tour sites is allowed. But wear casual dresses for a twist. If you want to avoid sunburn, wear long sleeves and pants. Whatever outfit you decide to put on, wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 15 and re-apply it on your exposed skin after two hours.
Petra. Petra welcomes even those who are not seasoned mountaineers nor geologists. Ancient and lofty peaks, varying plateaus, as well as grotesque to magnificent rock formations await the adventure-thirsty traveler. More than a thousand candles are lit at Petra’s night show – a marvel we missed and you ought to try and share with me the experience (so I could eat my heart out in silence). Schedule your visit on Mondays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. Reconfirm the candle show timings with your tour guide.
Quotes. ”Experience is priceless.” ”Conquer your fears.” “You’re about to reach the top.” “You can make it.” “Make gravity your best friend.” If you plan to cover a great part of Jordan, you want to make sure you are keeping your team or friends inspired or energized. Think of and say out loud happy quotes and they will lift you into the air.
Roman Theater in Amman. Mind your geography lessons so you won’t be so surprised when you find Roman ruins in Jordan. The Roman Amphitheater is a fun historical stopover before heading to the Citadel. I got very excited when the tour guide revealed mysteries hidden in the smart design of this ancient theater. The Romans must be really clever!
Souvenir Shopping. What to buy in Jordan? Popular products include Dead sea beauty products, decorated sand bottles, earthenware articles with designs of Petra and other popular tourist sites in Jordan, mosaic artworks, accessories, and religious items like rosaries, holy water, etc. I hoarded some hats, mud and salt beauty products from the Dead sea, and drawer magnets with “Jordan” engraved on them.
Turkish Bath with Massage and unlimited internet connection. Amra Palace hotel offers Turkish bath, massage, pool access, and UNLIMITED internet connection for 13 JD only. My friends who felt the need to pamper themselves after the exhausting hike to Petra, easily nodded and paid. I unthinkingly gave away 13 JD for the “unlimited internet connection” offer. The ending? Whena and Girlie wished the bath and massage had lasted longer while I bitterly yearned the internet connection had been faster. Do not expect too much after paying too less.
Umm Qays. Previously called “Gadara”, Umm Qays offers Greek-Roman and Jesus followers bits of interesting ancient history. Beautifully situated on top of the mountain, Umm Qays is a home for poets and philosophers like Theodorus and Menippos. If you haven’t heard of them, maybe you would remember the bible scene when Jesus drove away bad spirit from mad men to the swine – that miracle happened in ancient Gadara or Umm Qays.
Valley of Jordan. My ears felt numb as we descended to the Jordan Rift Valley. The landscape was intriguing alone for being the lowest point (on land) on the face of the earth. Some checkpoints might be a bit scary as they imply unresolved territorial disputes between Palestine and Israel.
Wadi Rum. I made Whena proud when I successfully climbed a rock bridge at Wadi Rum despite the registered horror on my face. Before this trip, I kept mentioning to the girls that I wanted to see and climb the Burdah Rock bridge (perhaps 10x bigger than the cliff we climbed) but after the first terrifying hike, I zipped my lips about this topic.
X GULF Air as a Flight Option to Jordan. Our connecting flight from Bahrain to Amman was delayed. S*It happens. This frustrating situation could have been eased had their staff been reassuring and courteous. Whena and Girlie reached their boiling point (so did I) when the agent at the counter refused to give us boarding passes after queuing for 30 minutes just because… well… we are Filipinos. The respectable-looking guy at the counter dismissed us as if we did not pay for our tickets.
YOLO: You Only Live Once. When you get the chance to travel, make the most of it. Max out your camera’s memory card limit by taking photos that will bring back delightful memories. Share your adventures for your friends to experience vicariously or personally -someday.
Zeus’ Temple. Built to captivate the hearts of those who have a queer fondness of ancient ruins, have a glimpse of the remaining columns of Zeus Temple at Jerash. Remember to take great shots to commemorate your visit to the temple erected for the god of the sky and the ruler of the Olympian gods.