At a Glance
When to Go
The main gateway into the country is Queen Alia Airport, 35km south of Amman. Most nationalities can purchase a one-month tourist visa on arrival. Passports need to have at least six months validity upon entry.
The best way to explore Jordan is to rent a car. Jordanian roads are well-maintained and well-signposted, making this one of the easiest countries in the Middle East to self-drive. Jordan’s public transport system consists of a ragtag collection of buses and shared taxis that run, mostly, to no fixed schedule. Fares are cheap and as long as you’re not in a rush, it’s fairly efficient for trips between the bigger centers. In some regions, though, public transport is severely limited, meaning you have to hire a private taxi to fill in the gaps.
Food and Drink
The glut of ruins and remnants strewn across the land cement Jordan’s center-stage role in history’s major acts. For history buffs this land is a goldmine while for pilgrims it is the holy land, where you can journey in the footsteps of prophets. The culture of contemporary Jordan, though, is just as fascinating as its archaeological remains. Whether you’re sharing sage tea with a Bedouin host in Wadi Rum or watching a shepherd herd goats over the Jordan Valley’s rolling hills, traditional culture is proudly maintained and very much a part of modern Jordanian life.
The Jerash Festival is Jordan’s big annual arts event, bringing a packed program of theater, music, and dance to both Jerash and Amman during July and August. Both Muslim and Christian holidays are celebrated in Jordan. For Orthodox Christians, Easter is the most important religious date while for Muslims the holy month of Ramadan (when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset) is the major annual festival. Traveling during Ramadan doesn’t throw up major problems, though visitors should refrain from smoking, eating, and drinking in public during the day, and be aware that some restaurants close during daylight hours while some tourist sites keep shorter hours.
What the Locals Know
Jordanians are naturally hospitable. Those constant offers to sit and drink shay (tea) are genuine. Take time out to sup the syrupy brew with the locals and chat.
Making the effort to dress modestly, covering both shoulders and knees (for both male and female travelers), garners respect and is very much appreciated.
Jessica Lee is a travel writer who specializes in the Middle East, Turkey, and North Africa. She likes deserts and mountains, and is on a constant quest to find the perfect hummus.