As history buffs, visiting Petra in Jordan to this date remains one of the highlights of our travels. To understand the magnificence of Petra, you need to know that this once prosperous city was built from nothing, in the most harshest climates on earth. Built at the intersection of two prominent trade routes, another mind boggling fact about Petra was its dexterity to harness its meagre rainfall to ensure fresh water supply all year round.
BEST TIME TO VISIT PETRA
The best time to visit Jordan is during Spring– March to May and Autumn– September to November. Though it rains sporadically in Jordan, if you are planning your travel in early March or end of November, its best to check weather forecasts.
When in Petra, you must experience Petra By Night. This show happens weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 20:30.
IS IT SAFE TO VISIT PETRA
Jordan is an extremely safe country for travelers. There is strong security presence at all tourist attractions and public places.
Solo female travelers will want to take standard precautions while in Petra. You will be approached by young Jordanian boys who work as freelance tour guides at Petra. Though harmless they are quite persistent and sometimes bothersome. Most of these boys have grown up in the area among tourists, so don’t be surprised by the American accent in which they speak.
VISITING PETRA ON A JORDAN PASS
The Jordan Pass unlocks free access to Petra among other attractions with no wait time at the entrance to Petra. This pass also exempts you from visa fees so it is a good investment. You need to purchase the pass online prior to your trip to make most of your Jordan Pass
The basic Jordan Pass is priced at $99 which includes a single day entry to Petra and the premium pass includes a 3 day visit to Petra and costs $113.
HOW MUCH IS THE ENTRANCE FEE TO PETRA
Cost of Petra by Day tickets -$70 per person, tickets can be bought at the counter.
Cost of Petra by Night tickets– $50 per person, tickets can be bought at the counter.
AMMAN TO PETRA BY BUS
You can take the JETT bus that departs Amman daily at 6:30 AM. The bus takes 4 hours. You can also find private mini buses from the city centre that take this route. Taxis are expensive and will cost $120 one way.
DAY TOURS TO PETRA FROM AMMAN/ DEAD SEA
Private day tours are most convenient while visiting Petra. Specially if you are on a short break and do not want the hassle of public transport. But as Jordan is a relatively expensive country, this does not come cheap
VISITING PETRA FROM ISRAEL
Tours depart every day from Eilat to Petra. These tours depart from Eilat because the journey to Petra from here is pretty fast, and the transfer process at the Arava Border Crossing is quicker and cheaper than at other borders (note that crossing is only possible at the Allenby Crossing near Jerusalem if you have a pre-issued visa, so tours do not cross here).
SELF DRIVING IN JORDAN
Driving in Jordan is safe and something you must experience. The legal age to rent a car in Jordan is 25. Like other countries in the region, you drive on the right side of the road. Find good deals on Izzirent & Kayak
WHERE TO STAY IN PETRA
We stayed at the Movenpick Resort Petra, a minute away from the entrance to Petra. If you plan to visit Petra multiple times during your stay, this is the most convenient option.
SHOULD YOU HIRE A GUIDE WHILE VISITING PETRA
You can tour Petra on your own. But if you want to know more about its fascinating history, local folklores and the top photographic spots, its best to take a licensed guide along. A tour guide will cost you $70.
HOW MUCH WALKING SHOULD YOU EXPECT
It is a 30 minute downhill walk from the entrance gate to the main monument- The Treasury. There are donkeys and camel riders everywhere in case you need a lift. A covered carriage ride from the visitors centre to the main monument will cost you $28.
WHY IS PETRA FAMOUS
Petra was founded over 2000 years ago by the Nabateans along the ancient trade routes between Arabia, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea. The Nabataeans were experts at surviving in the desert because they knew how to collect and distribute water.
Being in a strategic location along the trade route, the Nabateans lured traders with hospitality and water in return for a price. Petra even housed recreational pools which were unheard off in the region. They also charged a toll for crossing into the area. As a result, the capital became very wealthy and powerful.
In a desert climate so seemingly inhospitable and yet, the Nabateans created this glorious city into an oasis in the middle of a seemingly stark, dry desert.
WHAT TO SEE IN PETRA
THE OBELISK TOMB
A first century tomb built by the Nabateans, the structure has four obelisks with a human figure at the centre. This depicts the five people buried there.
The snaking path that leads up into the ancient city is referred to as the Siq. It is a delight to walk through this path with hidden inscriptions along the way.
The main monument, which is the Treasury (Khazneh) is located 3-4 Kms from the entrance. You can either hike or take a carriage to this main monument.
There are various trails including the popular Indiana Jones trail that gives you unique views of the treasury. To find these trails, it is best to get a guide.
THE ROYAL TOMBS
Overlooking the center of Petra are the majestic Royal Tombs, a series of large mausoleums with impressive facades hewn into the rock massif.
THE MONASTERY/ AL DEIR
This is as impressive as the Treasury but will require a 20 minute climb up 800 steps. There are various vendors along the way selling local carpets and other memorabilia that makes this climb bearable.
THE GREAT TEMPLE
This is the largest free standing structure in Petra.
PETRA BY NIGHT
This is a magical experience you must not miss. Three nights a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 20:30) the Siq and the area around the Treasury are lit by 1500 candles. The light show is accompanied by live folk song performances, transporting you back in time
TIPS WHILE VISITING PETRA
- The best time to visit Petra is from sunrise until 11 AM when the sun falls on the face of the treasury, making it the perfect time for photographs.
- The area is quite dusty and dry so do carry plenty of water.
- Try not to hike the off beat trails alone as you will not find anyone nearby in case of an emergency.