They say about Petra: “Pink city, half as old as time itself.” This is by far the most famous attraction in Jordan. Petra is the ancient capital of the Nabataean kingdom, carved right into the rocks more than 2 thousand years ago. Due to its rich history, mesmerizing, almost mystical beauty and excellent preservation of monuments, at the end of the last century it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and in 2007 it was chosen as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
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Once prosperous and luxurious, after the conquest of the Middle East by Saladin in the 12th century, Petra was abandoned, and the memory of her in the West was erased. The dilapidated city remained a hidden gem until 1812, when the Swiss explorer Broekhardt found himself here. His stories inspired many other travelers, but serious excavations in Petra did not begin until 1929. Steven Spielberg played an important role in popularizing the city as a world tourism destination with his “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”: the film showed Petra on wide screens in 1989 G.
How to get to Petra
Petra is 3 hours drive from Amman if you drive along the modern “Desert Highway”, or 5 hours if you follow the picturesque “Royal Road”.
Jett operates daily Amman-Petra flights from Abdali Bus Station. Departure is at 6:30, travel time is about 3.5 hours, ticket price is 10 JOD one way. The return bus from Petra leaves at 17:00. The prices on the page are for August 2021.
If you are vacationing in one of Jordan’s neighboring countries, you also have a chance to visit Petra. Numerous travel companies organize day trips from Eilat, Taba, Sharm El Sheikh and other resorts in the Sinai Peninsula.
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A minibus ride from Wadi Rum will take about 1.5 hours and cost 8 JOD. The minibus usually leaves at 8:30, but the schedule is subject to change on any day. Therefore, you need to agree in advance: ask the hotel employee to contact the minibus driver and clarify the time and place of departure.
Shuttle buses from Amman depart from the Wihdat bus station. On the road – about 3 hours, ticket price – 5 JOD. In some cases, the driver may ask you to pay separately for luggage.
Taxis are more expensive, but much more comfortable. The trip from Amman to Petra and back will cost approximately 75-85 JOD, including waiting for the driver. Travel from Aqaba – 55 JOD one way.
On the way from Petra to Aqaba, you can visit the Wadi Rum desert to enjoy unique landscapes that are not like anywhere else on the planet. And the village of Dana on the top of the mountain resembles a bird’s nest.
You should always agree on the cost of the trip in advance, if you wish, you can save a lot: bargain with the driver or find fellow travelers and share all the expenses with them.
The only vehicles allowed in Petra are horses, donkeys, camels and horse-drawn carts. The choice of means of transportation depends on which section of the path you are overcoming. From the entrance to the city, the Siq Gorge can be reached either on foot (in just 15 minutes), or on a horse or a light horse-drawn carriage. The cost of travel depends only on your ability to bargain. Local grooms often claim that the trip is free, but at the end of the journey you will most likely be in for an unpleasant surprise: you will have to pay generous tips to the drovers. Do not believe promises and clearly stipulate the price in advance.
Previously, horses were treated so badly here that a veterinary clinic had to be opened near the entrance. Today, wounds are still visible on the bodies of many animals, and horses harnessed to wagons are forced to gallop even in unbearable heat. Therefore, caring tourists often prefer to spare the animals and overcome the first section of the path on foot.
Once at the Treasury, get ready for a decisive onslaught of numerous owners of camels and donkeys, vying with each other offering their services to tourists. Feel free to bargain and in no case pay more than 10 JOD per trip.
Sometimes drovers cut the price by almost half, just by hearing at least a couple of phrases in Arabic.
Camels are perhaps the only animals in Petra that are respected by their owners, and therefore kept in relatively good condition. The reason for this is their high cost and obstinate nature. Camels are less docile than donkeys or horses, but riding them is one of the most memorable local attractions.
It is better to choose donkeys for moving along the mountain slopes: it is on them that it is most convenient to get to the High Place or the monastery of Ad-Dair. However, conservationists are unlikely to be satisfied with the trip: all the way, Bedouin teenagers drive the unfortunate animals with cruel blows with a long piece of electric wire. If patience is running out, shout “Bass!” (“Enough”): The hitting is likely to stop.
If you are in good physical shape, take a walk to the monastery. After 15:00, the path leading up is almost completely hidden in the shade, so the ascent at this time is as comfortable as possible.
7 things to do in Petra
- Climb 800 steps to Ad-Dair Temple.
- Count the bullet holes in the urn on top of Al-Khazneh Palace.
- Take some great pictures in the Siq Canyon.
- Climb the highest peak in the region, Mount Aaron.
- Ride a camel from Kazna to the foot of the mountains.
- Buy a bottle filled with colorful sand with your own name inside.
- Admire Petra at night in the light of hundreds of burning candles.
December and January are the coldest and rainiest months. This period is also characterized by a large temperature difference: during the day it is very warm, in the evening and at night it is cold. So, if you are planning a trip during this time, bring warm clothes with you. And be sure to check the weather forecast: if showers are predicted, it is better to postpone the trip, because there is so much precipitation in winter here that rescuers have to evacuate tourists due to floods.
It is best to go to Petra in the summer, but even in this case it is necessary to take into account several important nuances. First, stock up on water beforehand to avoid dehydration. Secondly, do not forget a panama hat, which will save you from heat stroke, and vaseline ointment, which will help stop nosebleeds (which can be provoked by the hot and dry air of the valley).
What to bring
One of the most popular souvenirs is decorative bottles filled with colorful sand. You can find these at almost any resort. The difference between the local ones is that they are filled with natural (and not artificially colored) colored sand mined in the canyons of Petra. Inside, a camel is most often depicted against the background of the desert, but skilled artists can make any name out of grains of sand in just a couple of minutes.
There are a lot of jewelery dealers in Petra: they walk literally everywhere and offer all kinds of rings, bracelets and necklaces. A fair price for most jewelry is 1-5 JOD, even if the seller stubbornly claims that they are made of pure silver.
Magnets, camel figurines, pottery and other traditional souvenirs are best bought not at the entrance, but on the territory of Petra: here they are 2-3 times cheaper.