As you can imagine, a little research goes a long way, especially if you plan a trip to a country you have heard about from other travelers but are not too familiar with personally.
Looking into a few specific topics such as local etiquette, costs, or language can ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible, and your ‘Destination Expert’ can help when it comes to this. So, to make sure you are fully prepared, or as much as you can be, for a trip to this historic Middle Eastern country, here are a few things you need to know.
One of the biggest things you need to know when planning a trip is the costs that you will face because, after all, you may have a budget that you need to stick to, so a bit of planning in this area will make a difference to your expectations. For example, as of March 2022, $1 was equal to 0.71JOD, but it is always good to check before your trip, as exchange rates constantly fluctuate. To give you an idea of the costs of daily items in Jordan, you can expect to pay around:
- Budget Room (10-40JOD)
- A meal in a local restaurant (5-10JOD)
- Public Transport (5JOD) or Car Hire (50JOD)
Tipping is not mandatory or customary in Jordan, so don’t feel like you are obliged to tip for every service you get. There may be times when you want to leave a gratuity, and it is recommended to tip around 10% in such places as high-end restaurants, taxis, or tour guides. It is customary to leave any loose change that has been returned after you’ve paid the bill at a café or petrol station, or round up the bill if you would like. Like many countries in the region, haggling/bargaining is customary, and not only will you get a good deal, but it is part of the local culture and is expected of you, so don’t be shy to get a bargain.
ATMs are widely available in Jordan, and many things can be paid for with a credit card, but as you would in any country, always bring change for small tips or street vendors and some extra money just in case you have issues with your card.
Arabic is the official language of Jordan, so you can expect to hear and see the language all around you, but if you speak English, you will be happy to know that it is widely spoken throughout the country, especially in tourist areas and by well-educated locals. In addition, TV, Radio, and other media sources happen to broadcast in English in Jordan, so you will hear it spoken around you once in a while, although perhaps not in rural areas.
It is always wise to have a pocket translation guide or an app that allows you to translate offline for certain circumstances, and if you would like to integrate with the culture, you can pick up a few phrases before you leave home. One of the best ways to learn the language and the local customs is to take a cultural tour in Jordan, such as the ‘Feel like a Jordanian Family tour‘.
One of the best ways to get around Jordan is by guided tour, which takes all the hassle out of scheduling the routes and getting stuck in traffic, but there are many other ways to travel around the country, for example, by bus. Buses are an excellent option for traveling as the locals do, getting an authentic experience and saving money. Still, you need to be aware that the Jordanian buses don’t have timetables and tend to leave when the bus is complete; but it is worth it once you know this in advance.
To give you an idea of the local bus prices, a half an hour ride should cost approximately $1.
Taxis are readily available and are not likely to rip you off like some parts of the world, so don’t hesitate to take one for a short or a longer journey. On the other hand, if you are planning a long day out, you might consider car hire (approx. $30-40 per day), especially when you know that the quality of the roads in Jordan is outstanding, and you can stick to your schedule.
If a tour is for you, and you fancy sitting back, relaxing, and taking in the sights, then here are a few tours to think about:
The people of Jordan are hot, welcoming, and helpful, so don’t ever feel shy to ask for help. Plus, they would never dream of ripping off a foreigner, which is always nice to know. The main religion is Islam, which you should be respectful of, and in return, the locals will be respectful of you and your culture.
Always dress modestly when visiting religious sights, and it is worth knowing that during Ramadan, it is frowned upon to eat in public, as you can imagine. Unlike some other Middle Eastern countries, Jordan has a very European feel. You will notice this in the people’s attitude and the atmosphere in the cities, especially the capital city of Amman. Other customs worth noting are that you should always leave your footwear at the door when entering a home or religious site and always eat with your right hand.
When it comes to alcohol, you should know that it is legal here, so you can easily enjoy sundowners in the desert or a glass of wine with dinner in Amman. However, it can be pricey, considering it carries heavy taxes. Jordan produces its wine, especially in St George and Jordan River. Still, it is good to know that if you find yourself in Jordan during Ramadan, you won’t be able to buy alcohol anywhere, and if you visit the Wadi Rum desert, it is best to bring your own if you would like a beer at sunset, as nowhere will sell alcohol there.
Jordan is a safe country to travel to, especially solo or female travelers. Jordan is well used to seeing all types of travelers there without taking a second look. Jordan is known to have a relatively low level of crime, and this can be due to the presence of police and military, which can be spotted from time to time.
Like anywhere, it is always good to take precautions and be vigilant, especially in areas unknown to you, so make sure you keep valuables hidden, avoid walking alone at night, and keep your luggage close if taking a crowded bus.
Safety in terms of health is also something to think about, so be aware that water is not drinkable in Jordan, so bring a portable water bottle filter for refilling bottles, which is a much more environmentally friendly way of staying hydrated than buying plastic bottles.