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