Jordan, officially named the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is a small Middle Eastern country nestled between Israel and Iraq. Home to one of the new 7 wonders of the world, as well as the site of Mount Nebo—the place where Moses stood and saw the Promised Land—this mostly desert country is high on travel bucket lists for travelers young and old.

And while it may be small, there is a lot of ground to cover. For travelers who want to see and learn as much as possible during their visit, utilizing a guided tour company like Insight Vacations is your best option. Insight Vacations offers a 7-day itinerary packed with stops to the country’s most sought after sites, including: Mount Nebo, Petra and Wadi Rum—which means that all the hard planning and logistics is completely out of your hands, leaving more time to prepare for and ultimately enjoy your vacation.

For those who prefer to do things on their own, that’s completely okay, too. Either way, there are a few things you’ll want to know ahead of time to ensure your visit runs smoothly. From what to expect in Petra and Wadi Rum to currency and etiquette, here’s your guide to exploring Jordan.

Visit the Village of Petra

Once you land in Amman, the country’s capital city, spend a day or two exploring the shopping bazaars as well as delicious local cuisine. From there, you’ll make the nearly 3-hour drive to Petra.

Petra is a unique village that was completely formed in the rocks within Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses). For centuries this once fully functioning ancient city was lost from Western civilization until it was rediscovered in 1812, preserved, and now it attracts millions of tourists each year.

There are over 60 hotels and accommodations around the village—including a Marriott—so no matter when you visit, you’ll have plenty of choices on where to stay. The same goes for dining.

You will need to pay an entrance fee to enter the gates of Petra City, and once inside, you have the option of being driven by golf cart or horse carriage, or you can make the 1-mile trek down to the iconic Treasury on foot. The walk is mostly flat, but parts are not shaded, and it can get very warm. Be sure to pack or buy bottled water, wear sunscreen and bring your sunglasses or a hat. 

The Treasury in Petra. Image: DeAnna Taylor

The Treasury is the most popular spot in Petra City, which means the crowds are inevitable as everyone seeks to get the perfect photo. But, keep in mind that Petra City spans well beyond that one building. There are local vendors set up all throughout the attraction, and many will try to bargain with you to purchase items. It is best to have cash, preferably Jordanian dinars, and you’ll want to keep smaller bills on you. There are a couple of restaurants and cafés within the city, as well as locals selling ice-cold bottles of water from coolers.

Many travelers will opt for a camel or mule ride back to the entrance, as the journey can be almost 2.5-miles back, depending on how deep into Petra City you walked. Finally, keep in mind that the area is very sandy. So, wear shoes that are not only comfortable, but those that you don’t mind getting dirty.

A camel in Petra. Jordan. Image: DeAnna Taylor

Visit the Wadi Rum desert

Behind Petra, Wadi Rum is the second-most visited attraction in Jordan. A 2-hour drive from Petra—5 hours from the capital city of Amman—this otherworldly town is a must-see. It’s been the backdrop for several movies, including Dunes, which is currently filming the second installation in Wadi Rum now.

The name of town translates to "valley of the moon” in English, and indeed you will feel as though you’ve been transported to an otherworldly planet. The highlight of the excursion, though, is being able to stay at the one of the many luxury bubble tent camps. The earth-toned bubble tents, set against the deep red-orange rock formations and glowing sun, is surreal to see.

There are dozens of camps in the area and while bubble tents are the most popular accommodation, there are also standard glamping tents—both options have full bathrooms and air conditioning inside. 

Being in Wadi Rum brings the perfect opportunity to unplug for a night or two. Wi-Fi signal isn’t the strongest at the camps, so keep this in mind as you map out your stay. To complement your glamping adventure, you can also choose other experiences such as hot air balloon rides, camel rides, sunset off-road drives, stargazing as well as helicopter rides. Even if camping isn’t something you normally do, this once-in-a-lifetime experience is worth a try for at least one night.

Bubble tents in the Wadi Rum desert. Image: DeAnna Taylor

General etiquette and things to know about Jordan

Overall, Jordanians are very friendly people. English is the second language behind Arabic, so be patient when trying to communicate. It’s a 96% Muslim country, but most are very liberal so a lot of the rules followed in more strict Islamic countries, aren’t necessarily followed here.

The local currency is the Jordanian dinar, and while the U.S. dollar is widely accepted in the country, at times it is much easier to use the local Jordanian currency. If you happen to visit without a tour company, you’ll need to secure a traveler’s visa to enter the country. You can do this in advance online through Jordan Pass, or you can pay for a visa on arrival once you land. 

Uber is available in Amman and Petra, and it is typically very cheap. The local cuisine is not to be missed and is very rich in Mediterranean flavors. Think freshly made hummus, thinly baked bread similar to pita, olive oil, fresh herbs, grilled lamb and more.

Beyond Petra and Wadi Rum, Jordan has a large market for religious tourism. Considered holy land, you can get baptized in the Jordan River as well as spend a few days at the Dead Sea.