When you think of Jordan, I’m sure the first thing that springs to mind is Petra. The ancient city that is a wonder of the world, drawing people from around the globe to visit. However, there is so much more to be discovered in Jordan. From incredible landscapes that have been the backdrop in Hollywood movies to the famous Dead Sea where you can float to your heart’s content. Not to mention the rich culture and ample heritage sites open to explore. Although Jordan can seem like a world away from the UK, it’s actually only a quick 5 hour flight! With this in mind, my friend and I decided to take an extended weekend and I’m sharing my tips on how to see as much of this incredible country in only five days.
I booked a flight from Manchester in the UK because it had the best connecting times for me, however, there are several airlines that offer direct flights to Amman. I would recommend using a flight comparison site to figure out which airline will be preferable for you before booking.
Once you touch down in Amman, you can either arrange a transfer with your hotel, hop in a taxi at the airport or pre-arrange a driver for your trip – this is what we opted for. I researched before the trip and we decided that hiring a driver for the duration of our time in Jordan was the best decision for us. It took any hassle out of arranging transport between destinations and they were able to help us decide on our itinerary in advance, optimising our time in each destination.
We booked with Local Jo Tours and I can highly recommend them. Our driver was always on time and super friendly, he provided us with water and snacks during the drive (apart from when Ramadan began, which changed the dynamic slightly but that’s a whole other story…). The car was maintained to a high standard, it had aircon and wifi which is everything you need for those slightly longer drives.
We decided to begin our time in Jordan with a relaxing experience, before the more adventurous activities began. So, our first stop was about an hour from the International Airport at Ma’in Hot Springs Resort and Spa.Set in dramatic landscape, the resort feels like an oasis in the desert. The resort has its own natural thermal mineral hot spring water source that creates a stunning swimming pool. Although, it was arguably too hot to enjoy during the daytime, the incredible view and soothing sounds of the waterfall make lounging by the pool a therapeutic experience.For a truly divine experience and to fully enjoy the benefits of the hot springs, the exact same one that Herod the Great was said to have visited for its medicinal properties, head to the pool early in the morning or later in the evening when the direct sunlight is not so strong. As the resort has an incredibly secluded feel, we decided to dine there for lunch and dinner. The food was delicious, the perfect introduction to Middle Eastern cuisine. Try the dinner buffet, so you can try a lot of the local dishes and treat yourself to the sumptuous desserts.
After one final dip in the hot springs, our driver collected us, and we headed off to our next destination. A perk of organising our driver via Local Jo, was that they were able to confirm we would be able to visit Wadi Rum ‘en route’ (with a slight detour) to our accommodation near Petra. We initially were unsure that we would have enough time to visit Wadi Rum, with only a long weekend in Jordan, but it is absolutely possible and arguably a highlight of our trip.
Once we arrived in Wadi Rum, we were greeted by our tour guide for the desert jeep safari and switched our luxury car for an open-top jeep. We headed out into the deep red sand dunes of the desert for an afternoon of exploring. Wadi Rum is spectacular, I cannot put into words, nor do I think my photography does this place justice, it truly feels other worldly. It’s a huge expanse of vibrant sand with incredible rock formations appearing from nowhere. The sand is so warm and soft, it makes it incredibly difficult to walk to the top of the dunes, but this is a must! The views are awe-inspiring and not to be missed. We spent hours driving in the warm afternoon sun with the wind in our hair and I’m sure we barely scratched the surface of the beauty this unique desert region has to offer. We finished our desert jeep safari at a Bedouin tent where we enjoyed a cup of Arabic tea, the perfect end to such a special experience. After this, we drove to our accommodation for the night. We opted to stay at a Glamping Resort which was incredibly unique. Unfortunately, I don’t think it offered value for money and we had several issues with the accommodation, therefore I’m not going to share the link. I will never recommend anywhere I feel is not worthy of spending your hard-earned money on. Especially where there are multiple different options available.
Instead, I would suggest looking at Luxury Bedouin Camp options if you are wanting an authentic experience or one of the main resorts in Wadi Musa (the nearest town to Petra) look to be a great base for your Petra adventures.
The ‘Lost City’ of Petra is undoubtedly the main draw for anybody visiting Jordan, the incredible temples carved into the natural sandstone backdrop are iconic. It feels like you’re witnessing artwork from a lost civilization, left for us to discover. Arriving early is paramount for exploring Petra, firstly you will avoid the crowds of tourists that arrive on tour buses in the late morning and most importantly you will miss the desert heat which can become unbearable in the afternoon. This is really important to note, as you will be walking a lot when you are exploring Petra and you don’t want to risk suffering under the blistering sun when it’s not necessary. Once you arrive at the gates of Petra, which open at 6am you can purchase a ticket to enter the ‘attraction’. There is a standard ticket, or you can pay extra which includes a tour guide. We opted to go with the standard ticket but as always with tourist areas, there were people approaching us as we walked around offering their services as guides. We decided to go up to a viewpoint with one of the Bedouin guides, although the route we took was well traversed by Bedouins it was definitely dangerous. I must admit the views over the city are worth the intense hike up and it’s truly incredible to view the Treasury from above – however, when we made our way back down, we were informed that you aren’t supposed to take that route. It is supposed to be closed to tourists due to previous incidents where people have injured themselves – so do keep this in mind if you go to a viewpoint. It’s definitely at your own risk!
After the adventurous activities of the previous days, we wanted to end our Jordanian journey with a little bit of luxury relaxation, thus we decided to head for the Kempinski Ishtar Dead Sea Hotel.The Dead Sea is a natural phenomenon which is located between Israel and Jordan. If you aren’t familiar with the Dead Sea, it’s like no other place on the planet. Thought of as one of the natural wonders of the world and located at the lowest point on earth – the high concentration of salt in the water means that it allows anything to float with ease. In Jordan, there are a number of hotels in the area which all have their own access to the waterline. We opted for the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea due to its incredible grounds featuring multiple swimming pools, lagoons and waterfalls, all influenced by the hanging gardens of Babel. It is a beautifully designed hotel with opulent features and impeccable service. When we were relaxing at the infinity pool overlooking the Dead Sea, we were offered complimentary water, fruit and sunglasses cleaning. The pièce de résistance is the private sandy beach area with direct access to the Salt Lake and complimentary access to freshly sourced Dead Sea mineral rich mud. The salt content and unique floating experience is not the only draw of the Dead Sea. It has long been renowned for its therapeutic properties, even recognised by Cleopatra as the oldest natural spa. People often travel here with the hopes to cure their ailments. No trip to Jordan would be complete without floating around in the Dead Sea – just remember not to shave a few days before, otherwise you will be in for a stinging experience!
Take the morning to indulge in a Middle Eastern breakfast, the buffet at the Kempinski is second to none. Then head out for another float in the Dead Sea or swim in the infinity pool with views of Jerusalem in the near distance, before packing your bags to go home.
The Dead Sea is within easy driving distance to the International Airport, depending on your flight time, you may be able to visit a few places in Amman. Or head to the River Jordan where Jesus was baptised.
Make the most of the time you have left, before hopping on your flight home feeling rejuvenated and content having explored such a magical and historic country.
Have you ever visited Jordan? Or is Petra still on your bucket list? Let me know.