Three Awesome Nights in Jordan: An Itinerary & Guide

Jordan was one of my favorite places on the trip, and I already can’t wait to go back. It’s a surprise of a country! As an American, I think it’s easy to lump it in with the “Middle East” and “Next door to Syria: Don’t Go!” but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

My experiences with Jordan were that the country is safe and welcoming. In fact, as much as renting cars in foreign countries terrifies me – I’d rent a car in Jordan next time I go. The traffic is not bad, the roads are incredibly well-maintained, and the signage is good (and largely translated to English). And if that’s not enough, there are military checkpoints around with friendly soldiers who will give directions to tourists. (Seriously! I don’t know that they advertise it, but the ones I ran into were friendly, polite, and excited to help tourists.)


Why spend three nights in Jordan?

Jordan’s tourist visas are actually fairly pricey – for a US citizen, they work out to about $56 US. That’s just for the privilege of entering the country!

However, the country has built something called the Jordan Pass – it’s a bundled pass that includes entry to many of the places you’d want to go in the country, and includes the tourist visa fees as long as you stay three nights. (To note: you MUST buy the Jordan Pass before landing in Jordan to have the visa fees waived. And they check to make sure you’ve stayed the three nights on your way out – if you haven’t, they’ll charge you for the visa when you leave.)

So it’s win-win: spend three nights in an incredible country that’s fun to discover, and save money on your visa fees! The Jordan Pass is between $100 US – $113 US, and the price difference is based on the number of days of entry you want to Petra.

So what should you do with your three nights?


For the Person who Wants to Explore Petra:

Day 1: Arrive into Amman, drive to the Dead Sea (float in the Dead Sea, enjoy the mud, etc), drive to Petra, spend the night in Petra.

Day 2: Spend the day exploring Petra, go to Petra by Night (not included in the Jordan Pass), spend the night in Petra.

Day 3: Spend the day exploring Petra, go to Wadi Rum early afternoon. Enjoy Wadi Rum for the afternoon, spend the night camping in Wadi Rum.

Day 4: Spend the morning in Wadi Rum, and then head out in the afternoon (back to Amman to fly out, or over the border into Israel or Egypt).


For the Person who Wants to Relax in Nature:

Day 1: Arrive into Amman, drive to the Dead Sea (float in the Dead Sea, enjoy the mud, etc), spend the night at the Dead Sea (schedule a few spa treatments!).

Day 2: Go from the Dead Sea to Petra, spend the day exploring Petra, spend the night in Petra.

Day 3: Spend the day exploring Wadi Rum. Go Jeeping through the desert, meditate in the silence, and consider taking a hot air balloon ride over the desert, spend the night camping in Wadi Rum and enjoying the stars.

Day 4: Spend the morning in Wadi Rum, and then head out in the afternoon (back to Amman to fly out, or over the border into Israel or Egypt).


For the Person who Loves Adventure:

Day 1: Arrive into Amman, drive to Aqaba. Spend the afternoon enjoying the beach and the Red Sea. Spend the night in Aqaba.

Day 2: Go SCUBA diving or snorkeling in the Red Sea in the morning, then head up to Wadi Rum for a night of camping in the desert.

Day 3: Spend the morning on a sunrise camel ride or hot air balloon ride in Wadi Rum. Head to Petra and spend the afternoon exploring the ancient city. Spend the night in Petra.

Day 4: Drive to the Dead Sea in the morning, and enjoy floating! (back to Amman to fly out, or over the border into Israel or Egypt)


There are many highlights of Jordan – you could easily spend two weeks or more exploring the country! Here are some of the primary highlights:

Petra

You’ll recognize it from Indiana Jones, and it’s an incredible place! It’s a lot bigger than you think it’s going to be – it’s about a mile walk just to get from the entrance to the Treasury! (the Treasury is the main place you’ve seen in pictures) From there, there are tons of other places to go – tombs cut into the rock, a giant amphitheater, an old Roman road with a temple they’re just excavating, and the Monastery. Pack your good walking and hiking shoes, because a day or two in Petra is going to be a LOT of walking. You can hire donkeys, but I’ve heard it’s just as easy to walk (it’s hard work to stay ON a donkey going uphill!).

Depending on your personality, you could do Petra in an afternoon or for three days or more! (Though I’d definitely cap it at three days your first time.) If you’re the kind of person who wants to see the main thing, it’s easy to go, get to the Treasury, and then leave. But if you’re the exploring type – Petra has many trails and different places to walk and see. If you’re going in the summer and want to see a lot of things, make sure to give yourself plenty of time.

I took two days in Petra, and it was enough for me, though I wouldn’t have minded a third. The first day I explored the site and made it up to the Monastery, and then headed into the hotel for the afternoon (it was the middle of summer, and you really don’t want to be out there in the heat of the day). I went back that night for Petra by Night, which meant even more walking!

The second day I explored more, and I went up to the path that lets you overlook the Treasury (the one where you see everyone’s Instagram from!). It’s a high path that takes some walking, so again, it’s worth having multiple days.

The Dead Sea

You can go to the Dead Sea from either Israel or Jordan, and it’s worth seeing and going to. Be careful if you have a sinus infection! Speaking from experience, flying in from India and then heading to the lowest place on earth in the same day while having a terrible sinus infection was not fun! I thought my face might explode.

But the Dead Sea is so worth it! I went in the middle of summer, and it was incredibly hot. Watch out for that – you’ll need amazing amounts of sunscreen, and don’t expect the Dead Sea itself to be what cools you off. The air temperature was well over 100 when I was there, and the water temperature wasn’t far off of that. While it was fun to be swimming, it was not the cooling effect you might expect!

You’ll want to spend time covering yourself in the famous Dead Sea mud, and then you wait a few minutes for it to bake before washing it off. I didn’t put the mud on my face – I tried it, and a small drop of water got into my eye and was so incredibly painful I didn’t want to try it again!

To be honest, the Dead Sea does not need a full day unless you want to spend a lot of time at a spa. To go, enjoy the mud and the sea, and then head back to the hotel pool (which will be slightly cooler but still might not be totally refreshing), you can easily fit it all in in an afternoon. And even if you think you want more time there, be careful with it – there really is not much to do besides relax. If you want a place where nobody can find you, the WiFi is pretty shoddy, and you have nothing to do but R&R, then consider a 2-3 days at the Dead Sea!

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum is famous for being where they filmed the movie The Martian. It’s definitely an other-worldly type of landscape, and it’s incredibly beautiful. There are many campsites out there that let you spend the night, and some even have views of the stars from inside your tent! Almost all of them have plumbing in the tents as well as beds (but not necessarily air conditioning), and they all have a variety of activities to enjoy.

You can go on a Jeep ride or dune buggy tour to see lots of the rock formations, and you can also go on camel tours or even a sunrise hot air balloon ride! Some camps also offer ethnic dinners, or sunrise/sunset yoga! Others offer stargazing with pointing out the constellations.

Wadi Rum is the first place I’ve ever seen the Milky Way! It’s amazing by day and night, and worth spending time in.

SCUBA Diving in the Red Sea

The Red Sea is home to amazing and unique marine life, and is one of the best diving places in the world! Jordan has the port city of Aqaba that has many dive resorts and dive shops to take you out either SCUBA diving or snorkeling. Because Jordan is fairly expensive (especially compared to other options), I wouldn’t recommend getting certified there. But diving there – absolutely! The underwater life is just breathtaking.

Madaba & Mt Nebo

Madaba and Mt Nebo are easy to get to on the way to or from the Dead Sea (or as a day trip if you’re staying at a resort there). Both are sites with strong relationships to early Christianity, so if you’re a big history buff (especially if you’re a religious history buff), both are fun places to go!

Dana Biosphere Preserve

Dana Biosphere is a giant preserve near the Dead Sea that has a ton of hiking and outdoors adventure options. If you love the outdoors, going to both Dana and Wadi Rum will give you an idea of the incredible breadth of outdoor landscapes in Jordan!


Is Jordan Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

I found Jordan to be extremely safe, even for solo female travelers. As with everywhere, you have to be smart – don’t be dressed in a bikini on a public beach, be respectful, and you’ll generally be just fine! Stay in populated areas, and consider group activities – if you can find a hostel in Amman, Aqaba or Petra, you’ll be in a better place to find a group to go to Wadi Rum with, etc.

There is not good public transit in Jordan – even for tourists. There aren’t tourist busses from place to place, so to get around, you’re going to need either a car, a taxi, or a private driver. This is one key reason a group is a good idea – these are all quite expensive (and the Jordanian Dinar is over $2USD to the JOD), so splitting costs is a good plan!

I stuck to the tourist areas, and I didn’t see anything related to Syria, refugees, or anything that would make me feel unsafe.

By and large, I also did not get cat called in Jordan. The men were respectful, though I did get stared at (and mansplained-to, but I think that’s a worldwide epidemic). People on the whole were friendly and helpful!

I only felt unsafe once in Jordan, and that was on the public beach in Aqaba where someone trying to con me into a boat ride sent their friend to ask for my passport. But it was more of a “oh gosh if I was really stupid something bad could happen right now” than a “I’m truly in danger.” I simply said I didn’t have my passport, walked away, and nothing was pursued.

The biggest safety tip – drink lots of water! I think dehydration is the biggest threat you’re going to run into.


Debating where to stay when you’re in Jordan? Here are a few options I either stayed at or had friends stay at that come recommended:

Dead Sea Hotel Recommendations:

I went to the Holiday Inn Dead Sea to go swimming and enjoy the Dead Sea mud. It was a great, family-friendly hotel (and extremely reasonably priced!). The food was really good, and there were lots of international options. The pool is large and I was surprised by how cool it managed to be even in the depths of summer (and insanely hot temperatures – the Dead Sea was probably over 100F when I was there, and the Holiday Inn’s pool was probably 85ish).

Note that the Holiday Inn is an older resort, and while it’s updated, the Dead Sea has retreated since it was built. So they have a shuttle that’ll take you down to the sea, but know that you’ll have to wait a bit on each side. Note that they also have day packages if you want to enjoy the amenities and the Dead Sea but don’t want to spend the night.

If you’re wanting a true spa getaway, I’ve been told the Movenpick Dead Sea has the best spa on the Sea!

Petra Hotel Recommendations:

I highly recommend the Movenpick Resort Petra. The Movenpick resorts in general are wonderful, and the ice cream is fabulous! And, generally speaking, the ones in Jordan are not obscenely expensive (the Movenpick Petra is about $150ish a night). In Petra, you’ll want a hotel that has a pool (it’s HOT, especially in the summer), and the Movenpick is directly across from the entrance.

If you’re looking for a cheaper option, La Maison is clean and also close to the Petra entrance (though no pool!)

Wadi Rum Camping (Glamping) Recommendations:

I “camped” at the Sun City Tent Hotel and it was an amazing experience. The stars were incredible, the staff cooks dinner in an underground, traditional bedouin oven, and is so incredibly welcoming. I took a sunrise camel ride, and that was a trip highlight!

Aqaba Hotel Recommendations:

If you want to swim in the Red Sea and you’re a woman (or have a woman with you), you should make sure to go to a private resort. Jordan is a very conservative country, and that shows in the public beaches. If you want to go to a public beach, a buqini (a burka bikini) is a must! For awesome private beaches, consider the Intercontinental Aqaba – this one is close to the center of town and is walking distance from many restaurants and other tourist activities.

If you want to go SCUBA diving, consider a diving resort. The best ones are near Tala Bay, which is a bit south of Aqaba. This can also be far cheaper than the big all-inclusive resorts, and can be better suited for diving instruction and trips.


Jordan absolutely has something for everyone, and is worth the trip! You can find hotels and activities for every price point (and if you’re looking for a luxury vacation on a budget, some of the incredibly nice hotels in Jordan are VERY reasonable (under $200 USD/night)). You can see what I spent on a moderate budget in Jordan and that was even with hiring a private guide/driver for the time I was there.

Take advantage of the Jordan Pass and the visa fees being waived, and spend at least three days exploring!


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One thought on “Three Awesome Nights in Jordan: An Itinerary & Guide

  • December 7, 2017 at 12:17 pm
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    Glamping – I love it. Do you have pictures of your tent? I’ll have to look back through your original post from Wadi Rum. Sounds like Jordan was incredible. I have to admit, I was nervous for you but so glad it was a worthwhile experience.

    Reply

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