Jordan is an amazing country to visit for any traveller. It has great historical places, natural wonders and stunning sea life. Based on our recent travel to this beautiful country, here are some points that can act as guide for travelling to Jordan.
Places to see
Jordan is a small country. It is possible to travel anywhere in Jordan within a day. For people interested in history and architecture, Jerash, Amman and Petra are must to see. There are also several desert castles like Al Kerak and Ajloun that are interesting. Wadi Rum is the place to view desert landscape. Dead Sea and Aqaba for water activities. You can view my previous post here for more information here.
Jordan has visa on arrival policy for Indians. The cost of visa is 40 JOD and the visa is valid for a month. Immigration officials accept credit cards or you can get money from the ATM in front of immigration. If you browse in internet, there are many stories shared by Indians about the harassment by immigration people in Jordan. There is also mention of 1,000 USD in cash requirement for visa on arrival. That is history. The process now is very easy and simple. You only need to have a return air ticket and hotel bookings. In our case, we were not even asked a single question!
The immigration officials were also very cool. I looked at the visa stamp and could not find information about its validity. When asked them about the same, they mentioned that it is valid for a month. Jokingly they said, “Just relax and take your time to see the place”!!
The archeological sites of Jordan has high entry fees for non Jordan people. It makes sense to buy Jordan pass that covers most of the attraction. We took 70 JOD pass that allowed us to visit Petra for one day. The other major advantage is that you also get a visa fee waiver by showing Jordon pass. While soft copy of pass on mobile is accepted at all sites, it is required to bring paper copy for immigration. For information on Jordan pass, visit their site.
We used rental car for our entire duration. It was cheaper than hiring a car with a driver or taking a taxi. Indian driving license is valid. Jordon follows right side driving which would take some time for Indians to get used to. Roads are decent for most parts though you can expect pot holes and speed breakers at regular intervals. People also pay less attention to traffic rules. But due to less number of people and vehicles, it is not stressful to drive in Jordon, especially for Indians. Two wheelers are completely absent.
After some research, I chose a local car rental company Monte Carlo. They had very good reviews and their price was also very competitive when compared with global providers. My experience was mixed. Their customer service was very good and efficient. But their maintenance of vehicles was not up to the mark. More on that in a later post. It is very important to buy full insurance as small accidents are quite common in Jordan.
Fuel price is comparable to India. Frequency of fuel pumps is less on highways. It is good idea to refuel whenever the fuel tank reaches 25%.
There are frequent police check posts on most of the roads. Occasionally, they may ask some questions and asked us to show passport, driving license or vehicle registration card. But they were always friendly and did not face any harassment.
Even though Jordan is modern when compared to other Arab countries, it is still conservative when it come to dress. Local women normally wear head scarf or burqa or similar dress. I think it is not a legal requirement but people just follow the customs. But there are no such restrictions for tourists. The rules are much more relaxed in the beaches of Aqaba.
The currency of Jordan is Jordanian Dinar. 1 JOD = 103 INR. It is hard to get JOD in India. I found it easier to draw cash from ATM using debit card. Many places require cash to be paid so it is good to have some cash at hand always.
Though Jordanians consume meat, there are lot of vegetarian options in their menu. I did lot of research on this and based on the information, the cruise looked very exotic. But in reality, we felt that the “variety” was less. The same food appeared for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While it looked great on the first day, we were bored with the same bread, falafel, hummus and other stuff. Tap water is not recommended to drink and we used bottled water.
Summer months can be very harsh in Jordan with high temperatures. The sites like Petra and Jerash and to a certain extent Wadi Rum requires good amount of walking. October was very pleasant in Jordan with temperature around 25 degrees. On the last day, we were caught in the severe dust storm. At first, we enjoyed it as it was a new experience but suddenly at one point of time the visibility reduced to less than a meter. I was driving on the desert highway and had to bring the car to a sudden halt. I was lucky as I could take the car to the side road. But there was a chain reaction where the vehicles hit each other in that zero visibility.
I had my own stereotype about Arab people based on the information available in public forum. But people in Jordan turned out to be very friendly and helpful. We did not face any issue at all. Even when we got stranded at one place (More on that in a later post), people helped us without any expectation for money. Many people got excited when we told that we were from India. They seem to rekindle their memories of some Bollywood movie they watched sometime back!! Amitabh and Shah Rukh Khan seemed to be the popular figures from India!!
As of now, Jordan is a very safe country. Though it houses huge number of refugees from neighbouring Syria, law and order is very well maintained. Heading to the border of Syria or Iraq is not recommended and there are also no significant places of tourist interest in that area. People are generally very friendly and don’t demand gratitude for each and every service.