Accomodation – Amman has an abundance of 5 and 4 star hotels. In addition there is good number of 3 star hotels and there are plenty of 2 star and 1 star hotels in downtown Amman which are very cheap, and there are plenty of tourists, especially those that are passing by stay in these hotels. Be advised that there are two scales of rating the hotels in Jordan. There are the standard, Western-style 5-star hotels such as the Sheraton, Crowne Plaza, etc, and then there are the local 5-star establishments. The local establishments that are considered ‘5-star’ in Jordan would be more like 3-star hotels in the West. That being said, a traveller will pay top dollar for a Western brand-name 5-star hotel in Amman or Petra and less for the local 5-star hotel. Furthermore, for longer stays it is possible to get furnished apartments from around 200-600JDs a month.
Stay safe – Jordan is very safe. There is virtually no unsafe part of Jordan except at the Iraqi border. Although the rural parts of Jordan have limited infrastructures, the fellahin (or village people) will be happy to assist you.
Jordan is one of the most liberal nations in the region. Women may wear regular clothing without harassment in any part of Jordan. Western fashions are popular among young Jordanian women. However, modest clothing should be worn in religious and old historical sites. Keep in mind Jordan is a Muslim nation and western norms may not be accepted even by Jordan’s western educated elite, such as public displays of affection. Jordan is not a place where homosexuality is taken as lightly as in the West, although is not illegal as is the case in most other Arab nations. Adultery, including consensual sex between unmarried couples, is illegal and can be punished by a maximum of a 3 year jail term.
Stay healthy – As in all urban areas in the world, Jordan’s cities have some health concerns but also keep in mind that Jordan is a center for medical treatment in the Middle East and its world-class hospitals are respected in every part of the world. Just remember to have caution with buying food from vendors, the vendors aren’t trying to hurt you but the food might be unclean. Hospitals in Jordan, especially Amman, are abundant. Jordan is a hub for medical tourism.
Also, the biggest risk to your health in Jordan is being involved in a road traffic accident.
Ancient coin, mister? – The Bedouin tradesmen around the area will display artificial “ancient” Roman or Nabatean coins which are rather large in size. If pressed further, they will generally have a hidden stash of small, authentic coins from various periods. However buying these coins encourages the illegal looting of archaeological sites. To supply you with a souvenir the local inhabitants destroy graves, tombs and buildings in searches for coins and other antiquities. The Antiquities Law of 1988 states that individuals who engage in illicit excavations and/or trading in antiquities are criminals.
Respect – Jordan is a very hospitable country to tourists and foreigners will be happy to help you if asked. Jordanians in turn will respect you and your culture if you respect theirs. Respect Islam, the dominant religion, and the King of Jordan.
Wear modest clothing to important religious sites. Respect the Jordanian monarchy which has strong backing by the people. The Jordanian monarchy is very pro-Western and very open to reform, as are the Jordanian people.
Standing in Lines – Jordanians have a notable issue with standing in line-ups for service. Often those near the rear of a line will try to sidle forwards and pass those in front of them. The line members being passed, rather than object to this tactic, will often instead start to employ this same trick themselves, on the line members in front of them. The end result is often a raucous crowd jostling for service at the kiosk in question.
No one, including the person manning the kiosk, is happy when this situation develops, and often tensions in the jostling crowd seem high enough that violent disagreements feel moments away. However, there is no violence and the sense is that Jordanians recognise common distinct limits as to what was reasonable in line jostling.
Nonetheless, due to this common Jordanian phenomenon, several strategies are suggested.
- Arrive early, allow for time, and be patient. Since a degenerate line-up is rarely an efficient line-up, allow in your travel plans for the fact that it will invariably take longer than expected to deal with any service booth arrangements, whether that means customs, buying tickets, waiting to get on a bus, etc.
- Don’t get upset about the line-up yourself or get caught up in the emotions of the crowd. You will keep moving forward, even if a few people sneak in front of you. No one in the ‘line crowd’ is entirely unreasonable, and you will not keep getting pushed back indefinitely. Often, at most, you will end up being served at the kiosk three or four turns later than expected. Just try to relax and take it in stride.
- Avoid the line-up entirely when possible. Often, kiosks handle groups in bursts, such as a customs kiosk that deals with a bus load of people at a time. In these cases, if you do not start already at the front of the line, find a comfortable spot away from the crowd, and just wait for the rest of the group to make their fractious way through before you. Then, make your way up to the kiosk once it’s clear. The advantage of being last is that often the kiosk attendant will appreciate your patience and be happy to deal with you now that they do not have a clamoring crowd jostling for their attention.
Note also that during Ramadan, and particularly on the Eid al-Fitr holiday, schedules will change. Many restaurants, particularly those outside Amman, are closed during the daylight hours of Ramadan, only opening at sunset. This does not affect major restaurants near tourist destinations, however. Also, during Eid al-Fitr it is impossible to get a servees (minibus) in the late afternoon or evening in many parts of the country. Plan in advance if you are taking a servees to an outlying area; you may need to get a taxi back. However, JETT and Trust International Transport usually add more buses to their schedules during this time period, especially those going from Amman to Aqaba.
Ancient City of Petra • Mythic Journeys Travel