Nothing beats the advice from travellers who have visited Jordan and gleaned first-hand knowledge. These experience globetrotters share their very best tips on navigating the country's top attractions, like Petra and Wadi Rum, what to pack and exploring favourite destinations in new ways.
Claudia Laroye, travel writer and founding editor, TheTravellingMom.ca; Vancouver, B.C.
Learn a few words of Arabic. The Jordanian people are incredibly friendly and hospitable. If you're able to greet strangers with “Salaam Alaikum” (Peace be unto you) or say “Shukran” (Thank you), they will be delighted and you will make friends quickly.
Don't dive head first into the Dead Sea. The hyper-salinity of Dead Sea water doesn't just sting; it burns. Wade carefully and gently until you're bobbing comfortably on the slick surface. Follow up your soak with a mineral-rich mud bath. This is nature's best exfoliant.
Take a guided tour of Petra. There are many stories and secrets behind the red sandstone monuments of the Nabataeans. Their trading culture brought much of the ancient world together, and a visit to one of the world's wonders is greatly enhanced by a knowledgeable local guide.
Jen Murphy, writer and editor, JenRunsWorld.com; Boulder, Col.
Travel agency Experience Jordan offers a fantastic seven-day trek from the village of Dana to Petra. Ayman Abd Alkareem, one of their head guides, shares his wealth of knowledge during the journey.
Meet Marguerite van Geldermalsen, author of Married to a Bedouin, who can often be found in Petra selling signed copies of her memoir and gorgeous silver jewellery.
Most people enter Petra through the Siq, a narrow gorge leading directly to the site's famous treasury. Avoid the tourists and opt for the “back door” to to view the equally awe-inspiring monastery.
Anja Mutic, writer and founder, EvertheNomad.com, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Don't miss a float in the Dead Sea. Then follow it up with a medicinal mud wrap at one of the spas lining this natural wonder. Kempinski Hotel Ishtar and the Crowne Plaza along the Dead Sea feature amazing spas.
The sun at Petra is among the harshest anywhere, so come with ample sunblock, a wide-brimmed sun hat and plenty of liquids.
The star-sprinkled night skies of Wadi Rum provide a magical touch to the desertscape. For a luxurious experience, book a tented suite at the Bespoke Hideaways Desert Camp. Spend a night in the village of Umm Qais in the northern part of Jordan, which is home to a community-based tourism project featuring a sweet B&B and various activities, like hiking, beekeeping and basket weaving.
Michaela Trimble, travel writer, Miami and Buenos Aires
Discovering the warmth of Bedouin culture on the Dana-to-Petra hike with Experience Jordan is my most treasured memory. Hiking a portion of the new Jordan Trail provides unmatched access to seldom travelled areas.
Travellers shouldn't miss a stay in the candlelit Feynan Ecolodge in southern Jordan's Wadi Feynan. The 26-room property runs on solar power, and you will enjoy sunset hikes with the lodge's Bedouin guides. Make a toast with cups of sweet mint tea as the sun dips below the hills.
Tim Johnson, freelance travel writer, Peterborough, Ont.
I absolutely love the Royal Automobile Museum in Amman. It tells the history of the country in an unexpected way through the collection of vehicles owned by King Hussein. You can see the cars that were present at key pivot points in the country's formation.
Dana Wilderness Camp is wonderful and worth booking. I don't think I've ever seen stars shine so bright, and visiting Bedouin people in their homes was a great opportunity to learn about their culture.
Ilona Biro, travel writer and editor, Toronto
The new Jordan Trail, a 650-kilometre-long hiking trail, spans the length of the country. It passes through Biblical, Roman and Byzantine historical sites before ending at the Red Sea. Hikers can do one of the seven sections, the entire 40-day trek or a day hike.
After a day spent exploring Petra, book an evening class at Petra Kitchen, a locally run cooking school. Get a hands-on experience creating classic Jordanian dishes with assistance by local chefs. Then sit down for a family-style feast and conversation with your new friends.
Scott Wilson, star and co-creator, Netflix travel show Departures; Hamilton, Ont.
On the surface, it may be obvious; however, some may not realize you can experience Petra at night under a huge blanket of stars, with the site's treasury lit by hundreds of candles.
Down in the port city of Aqaba, you can enjoy some R&R but you can also dive some fantastic wrecks. Ships, tanks and, as of this month, the newest local dive site is a C-130 Hercules military plane.
While visiting the Dead Sea, add some time for a hike through the canyon area of Wadi Al Karak. The canyon walls help shelter you from the searing heat as you go. Even if you do overheat, the hike ends at a beautiful waterfall, where you can cool off.
There is perhaps no better way to take in the breathtaking scenery of Wadi Rum than with a morning balloon flight. Drifting in silence above the endless sand and stunning rock formations gives you a true appreciation of this incredible part of the planet.
Jennifer Dombrowski, founder, LuxeAdventureTraveler.com; Bordeaux, France
Jordan is an excellent destination for a traveller's first foray into exploring the Middle East. Organized tours aren't necessary since Jordan is an incredibly safe country. Just rent a car and take a road trip across the country.
Floating in the Dead Sea is a must-do in Jordan. The water is a bit slippery from the high salt content, so bring an old bathing suit to wear when you go swimming. Then toss it when you are done. The salt crystals can be quite sharp, so pack water shoes for your visit. And finally, don't shave your legs on the same day you go into the sea. They will sting.
Know before you go*
- Canadians must obtain a visitor visa, which is valid for 30 days. If you arrive by air or through the Sheikh Hussein border crossing, you may get your visa upon arrival. If you enter by land via the King Hussein Bridge or Wada Araba (Aqaba) border crossing, you need to get your visa online prior to travelling.
- The local currency is the Jordanian dinar (JOD). ATMs are available in major cities like Ammam but may be limited elsewhere. Canadian currency and traveller's cheques are not widely accepted.
- Drinking alcohol outside approved venues is illegal and could result in fines and/or imprisonment. Public intoxication is a criminal offence, regardless of where the alcohol was consumed.
- Visitors should dress conservatively and behave discreetly out of respect for Islamic practices and traditions. Women should avoid revealing clothing such as miniskirts, shorts and sleeveless or backless tops. Couples should avoid physical contact, including holding hands, in public.
- LGBTQ travellers should be aware that, while not illegal, homosexuality is not socially tolerated.
*As per Government of Canada website: travel.gc.ca/destinations/jordan
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's Globe Edge Content Studio. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.