How to Make the Most of a Visit to Petra, Jordan

How to Make the Most of a Visit to Petra, Jordan

how to make the most out of your visit to Petra

I’ve already written about how to DIY your way from Jerusalem to Petra, and about our visit to this incredible place; but I thought it might be a good idea to offer some tips and advice that came in handy for us, or that we learned from our experience.

Right now is probably the best time to visit Petra.

Since 2011, Petra has experienced a huge decline in tourism due to the Arab Spring and the issues going on in Syria, which Jordan shares a border with. Unfortunately these issues have resulted in people choosing to avoid visiting Jordan, and so Petra is practically empty compared to how it was 5 years ago. We found no evidence to suggest it was in any way unsafe to travel through Jordan, and in fact found our entire time here quite safe and laid back. While this is quite unfortunate for Jordan and those in the tourism industry, it presents an opportunity for anyone who has wanted to visit Petra because hotel prices are lower, food and taxis are cheaper (or at least easier to bargain with), and the site itself doesn’t feel like a tourist trap heaving with bodies.

the treasury, petra, jordan

On timing:

  • 1 day is not enough to properly see Petra. Not only is 2 or 3 days a much better value, it also means you can take your time and avoid being there in the middle of the midday heat.
    • a 1 day ticket costs 50JD
    • a 2 day ticket costs 55 JD
    • a 3 day ticket costs 60 JD
  • The site opens at 6am – it is absolutely worth arriving early at 6am, or even 7am, giving yourself 5 hours to explore before the midday heat becomes uncomfortable, especially given the amount of walking required.
  • If you’re a lover of photography, an early start means you will have the opportunity to shoot the monuments without tourists in your shot, and you can comfortably take your time to set the shot.
    • pro tip: take photos of the same monuments at different times during the day to see how the colours change.


petra, monastery

On Must-See’s:

  • You do not need to purchase the official guided tour (which is 50JD, a fixed rate) – the information on the plaques is exactly what the tour guide provides. For a great self-guided walk, this site guide really explains what you’re looking at in great detail.
  • It’s impossible to visit Petra without seeing the Treasury, but it’s entirely possible to accidentally miss the Monastery – and that would be a mistake! If you only have 1 day, be sure it includes a hike to the Monastery.
  • If you have 2 days, be sure to visit the High Place of Sacrifice

  • For more information on all the hikes around Petra, this backpacker report is an excellent guide

  • Petra by Night (17JD per person) is not worth the cost. It sounds like a great idea – but unfortunately with everyone using their phones as flashlights and constantly flashing their cameras, it completely ruins the mood. We spend 34JD to take one crappy photo of the Treasury lit by candles.


petra, jordan

On What to Bring:

  • Water. You’re in the desert, it’s going to get hot, and you’re going to be walking a lot. We drank 3 liters between the two of us in one morning.
  • Hiking shoes. Please don’t wear sandals – we saw one lady wearing them and felt so bad for her. This is the desert. There is sand. and rocks. and dirt. You will be walking a lot. You will trip. You will wish you wore hiking shoes.
  • Packed Lunch. You don’t want to buy anything while inside the site. It’ll be ridiculously expensive and not worth the cost.
  • Sunscreen, a hat, and/or an umbrella. Whatever you need to do to protect yourself from the sun – by 9am the heat starts to be noticeable, by 11 it’s just plain uncomfortable, and we can’t tell you about 1pm because we had the good sense to get out of there before then.
  • Lens wipe. My DSLR stopped focusing because all the dust/sand in the air got inbetween the lens and the body. I had to take off the lens and wipe the contacts. The lens also got dust on it, so having something to clean the lens was essential.
  • Bandaids. Both of us ended up needing them after 24km of walking over 2 days.



How to DIY a Trip to Petra from Jerusalem

How to DIY a Trip to Petra from Jerusalem

how to get to petra from jerusalem

Petra has been a bucket list item of mine since forever – so there was no way we weren’t going to visit it, especially since we were in Jerusalem and they’re neighbours.

So the only thing to figure out was how to get there. I looked at a lot of the tours to Petra from Israel. There are ones that leave from Tel Aviv, from Jerusalem, and from Eilat – all roads lead to Petra it seems, but they’re expensive!

The most popular companies were selling 2 days, 1 night – with 1 day of exploring Petra for $384USD per person plus $45USD border tax, so $429USD. There were two problems with this – the first was that 1 day at Petra just wasn’t going to cut it. When you’ve traveled this far, spending only one day in the lost city seems an utter waste – you didn’t even get to see Petra by Night, which I had read about and looked amazing. The second was that $429USD is $557.98CAD – so that would have been $1,115.96CAD – over a grand for 2 days for both of us! Ouchie. It had to be possible to do for cheaper.


And so the research began. And whatdyaknow – we managed to get ourselves from Jerusalem to Petra, spend 3 nights in Petra (2 full days of exploring) for a whopping $281USD per person. That’s $296USD less than the price of the tour (for 2 people), and we were staying in a nicer hotel for 2 more nights than the tour offered (the tour was sleeping in a camp), as well as getting 2 full days in Petra plus the Petra by Night experience.

So, Here it is – Our DIY Petra Tour from Jerusalem

This is for 2 people.

  • Bus from Jerusalem to Eilat: 140NIS
  • Taxi to Eilat/Aqaba Border: 35NIS
  • Exit fee for Israel: 207NIS
  • Entrance fee for Jordan: 120JD (this entire fee is refunded when you exit Jordan if you stay in the country for 2 nights, so I’m not counting it)
  • Taxi from Aqaba Border to Petra:47JD
  • 3 Nights in a 3* hotel in Petra with Breakfast: $208.05CAD
  • Entrance fee for Petra Site for 2 days: 110JD
  • Petra by Night: 36JD
  • Taxi from Petra back to Aqaba: 45JD
  • Exit tax for Jordan: 10JD

Total: $561.43USD or $730.22CAD

Total savings: $296USD or $385.74CAD


Notes & Caveats:

    1. If you want to compare apples to apples and stay only 1 night in Petra, and spend only 1 day exploring Petra, the price will drop by over $100USD. If on top of that you’re up for sleeping in a camp or hostel instead of a 3 star hotel, it goes down by another $50USD on top of that. So instead of saving almost $300USD, you’d be saving $450USD, or in other words, instead of the prepackaged tour which costs $429USD per person, it would cost roughly $205USD per person.

    2. Many tours stop through Wadi Rum (the desert) as well. You can absolutely do this – it’s quite easy to get a taxi to drive you around the desert or arrange a few hours of 4×4 exploring once you get to Petra.

    3. This isn’t including food for lunch & dinner, which the tour does include, but we found grocery stores in Petra and were able to make sandwiches as well as snacks, and spent 14JD for the 3 days, which is about $20USD

    4. Getting to Petra from Jerusalem, is quite easy, despite having numerous steps. This backpacker report explains it very clearly and is exactly what we did – complete with avoiding the “taxi mafia” at the Jordanian border by getting a cab first to Aqaba and from there on to Wadi Musa (Petra)


Jordan & Victoria’s Bucket Lists

Jordan & Victoria’s Bucket Lists

Bucketlists are a thing of beauty – everyone’s is slightly different, and everyone clings to them with the expectation that they will be completed before you, you know, kick the bucket. So when someone asks if you’ve been to X or if you’ve seen Y, a typical response is “not yet, but it’s on the list!”. Below are our bucketlists – they change as time passes, and we often will add more to them.

Victoria’s Bucket List

I’ve had a piece of paper in my wallet for over 10 years with my bucket list written on it. It’s been folded and unfolded so many times that it’s torn at every fold. It’s not just one piece, either – it’s 4 sheets with lists of places I want to see and experiences I want to have. I didn’t bring it with me on this trip (don’t ask me why) so below is what I could recall from memory.

  • Visit the Amazon Rainforest
  • Ride a camel through the Sahara Desert
  • Ride an Ostrich
  • Cage dive with sharks
  • Learn Italian
  • Visit Antarctica
  • Pet a Lion
  • Swing from a vine in a jungle
  • Take a cooking class in The Cordon Bleu
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Ride a Dogsled though the Iditarod
  • Take the Trans Siberian Express
  • Sleep in an Igloo
  • Walk the Great Wall of China (modified to Camp on the Great Wall of China)
  • Visit Jerusalem
  • Visit Petra
  • Cover myself in mud and swim in the Dead Sea
  • Take a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey
  • Photograph a long exposure starry nightscape
  • Trek through the Himalayas
  • Photograph reflections in the Salt Flats of Uyuni, Bolivia
  • Hike Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Watch the Russian Ballet in Russia
  • Do an African safari on horseback
  • Watch a live flamenco performance in Spain
  • Cross a country on a motorcycle
  • See the Egyptian pyramids
  • Take a trip through the Okavongo Delta on a makoro (dugout canoe)
  • See tigers in the wild


Jordan’s Bucket List

  • Trailrun Chamonix
  • Hike Machu Picchu
  • Tour the breweries in Prague
  • Visit Galapagos islands
  • Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro
  • Climb the apron of the chief
  • Hike west coast trail
  • Hike pacific crest trail
  • Hike in New Zealand
  • Visit Yellowstone
  • Visit Yosemite
  • Visit Jasper National Park
  • Hike the grand canyon