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Jordan: Petra and the Jordan Highlights 3 - FAQ
With such a rich and varied itinerary and so many aspects to touring Jordan, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start preparing for your Petra and the Highlights of Jordan tour. We are here to help. Below, you'll find some useful information that you'll need as you get ready for your Jordanian adventure.
Jordan is two hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Daylight saving time is observed from the last week of April to the last week of September. While we're traveling, Jordan will be 7 hours ahead of EST (Eastern Standard Time), so when it's noon in Jordan, it's 5am in New York and 2am in San Francisco.
There are some beautiful things to bring back with you from Jordan, so make sure you have space left in your suitcase. Since we'll be taking 2 international flights to and from Jordan, we will need to adhere to the Royal Jordanian luggage restrictions which allows 50 lbs. for checked-in luggage and 17lbs. for carry-on luggage. You will not need any formal clothing on this tour. Please keep in mind is that the dress code for women in Jordan is more conservative than Western standards, so having a light shawl or a scarf with you will be useful. A scarf will also be helpful in the desert to protect you from sand. You will need comfortable walking shoes on this tour, preferably the kind that will allow you to shake out the sand quickly.
Visitors to Jordan require a current passport, valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry and with a minimum of two blank visa pages. Visitors to Jordan require a visa, which you will get on arrival. The cost of the Jordanian visa is included in the tour cost if arriving and departing with the group. Before traveling it's a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and your credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted person and another one in your suitcase.
To avoid jet lag (common when crossing more than five time zones) drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Upon arrival, get exposure to natural sunlight, exercise and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep and so on) as soon as possible.
The Jordan travel group is limited to the maximum of 16 women + the tour leader. The minimum group size is 6 women + the tour leader. In addition to an experienced Sights and Soul Travels' tour leader, the travelers will be accompanied by professional guides and drivers.
In general, you will not require any special vaccinations or medication for Jordan. However, the Center for Disease Control recommends being up-to-date on all routine vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, etc. Hepatitis A & B vaccine is also recommended, as well as typhoid. As always, we recommend visiting a travel clinic 4-6 weeks before your travels for a medical recommendation. Most health issues in Jordan are easily avoided by only drinking bottled water from a sealed bottle. Street food should be avoided, as well as green salads, fruit that you have not peeled yourself, and eggs that have not been thoroughly cooked. You should use a good insect repellent, and wear closed-toe shoes to avoid poisonous insects and snakes. Other common sense rules also apply, so it's best not to go reaching into nooks and crannies in the desert.
Tap water in Jordan is generally safe to drink, but for a short trip it's better to stick to bottled water. This is readily available but check the seal has not been broken. The tap water in southern Jordan, particularly Wadi Rum, comes from natural springs at Diseh and so is extremely pure. Eating is the most popular national pastime hence the Jordanian cuisine is quite refined. Most hotels offer continental breakfast and buffet dinner with a choice of western and Arabic foods. Restaurants at sites usually offer traditional Arabic food or buffet lunches. You are allowed to consume alcoholic drinks freely. Standards of hygiene in Jordan are high and the main risk to visitors is exhaustion and heat, and of course the changing life style. Most 4 or 5 star hotels contain additional purification systems. But, whatever the technique used, it does not eliminate the slight percentage of chlorine in the water.
Most establishments geared towards tourists will have Western-style toilets. Toilet paper (the use of which is considered an unsanitary practice in most Middle Eastern countries) is seldom available, except in the midrange and top-end hotels and restaurants. Local people prefer to use the hose and then deposit any toilet paper (used for drying purposes) in the basket by the side of the toilet bowl; these baskets should be used to avoid blockages as the sewer system is not designed for paper. Please keep in mind that some public toilets may require payment, so you should always have some coins in the local currency with you to pay for them.
Jordan is one of the safest countries in the world! The first thing you will notice when you arrive to Jordan is that the people are very warm and welcoming to tourists. Jordan maintains good relations with all of its neighbors and is truly an oasis of peace in this region. The country is fairly liberal, westernized, and alcohol is freely available. While it is true that Jordan shares borders with rather rambunctious neighbors, you would never know it while traveling there. The Bedouin culture is deeply embedded in this society, meaning their inherent tradition of welcome is alive and well. A high percentage of the population speaks English, as it is taught in public schools from an early age, and many Jordanians study abroad. It’s relatively easy to ask questions and feel comfortable getting around.
Plenty of women travel each year through Jordan alone and enjoy the experience. That said, there are bound to be times when you will have male company in Jordan that you would rather do without. This may involve nothing more than irritating banter, proposals of marriage and declarations of love. Where possible, it’s best to ignore such behavior or pass it off as part of the experience, or a few sad individuals will spoil your whole trip. Nothing gives more offence in Jordan – a country with largely conservative and Islamic sensibilities – than baring too much flesh. To minimize harassment and to be respectful of local customs, it’s imperative to dress appropriately, especially in small towns and rural areas.
When planning your clothing needs, remember that you will be travelling in a Muslim country, albeit not a very conservative one. Too much body should not be displayed. Women can wear shorts, though it’s preferable for women to avoid wearing them while walking in Amman’s city center. Make sure you bring with you comfortable walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen. The weather is usually warm in summer, but winters can be very cold, evenings are cool year round, so bring adequate warm clothing with you.
During the Petra and the Highlights of Jordan tour, we will travel by a private bus, by plane, and on foot. To be able to enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you need to be able to walk, at a leisurely pace, up to 4 miles throughout the day, including steps, and quite often on uneven surfaces and on sand. You need to be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you need to be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. This trip is not strenuous, but you should be of at least average fitness to enjoy all scheduled activities. This tour is busy, and we will be moving a lot from one location to another. You must be prepared for full days and early starts.
Jordan has a hot, dry climate characterized by long, hot, dry summers and short, cool winters. The climate is influenced by Jordan's location between the subtropical aridity of the Arabian desert areas and the subtropical humidity of the eastern Mediterranean area. January is the coldest month, with temperatures dropping at night to 40°F / 50°F. Daily temperatures can be very hot, especially in the summer; on some days it can be 90°F or more, especially when the Shirocco, a hot, dry southerly wind blows. These winds can sometimes be very strong and can cause Sandstorms. About 70 percent of the average rainfall in the country falls between November and March; Rainfall varies from season to season and from year to year. Precipitation is often concentrated in violent storms, causing erosion and local flooding, especially in the winter months.
Internet and WiFi are quite popular throughout Jordan, especially in the major cities. Wi-Fi is available at all the hotels where we'll be staying during the tour.
Electrical current is 220 volts in Jordan. Plugs are European-style, with two prongs. There are very few grounded circuits in Jordan. Adapters are readily available for two-pronged North American plugs.
While Arabic is the national language, English is surprisingly often heard, even in rural areas. Many Jordanian children learn rudimentary English as early as 6th grade, and many families of even modest means may send their children abroad to study for a year or two. Having said that, learning a few words in Arabic will help pave the way to smiles and open hearts as you travel the country.
The official currency of Jordan is the Jordanian Dinar (JOD). US currency is not widely accepted, but most large hotels or restaurants will accept credit cards. Service fees will apply. The Jordanian Dinar is divided into 1,000 fils, although many people refer to piastres. You will get the best exchange rate at exchange shops and banks, although the banks at the borders and in the airports charge a small commission. If you carry travelers’ checks, you will be charged a commission ranging from JD 3 to JD 8 even at a bank, sometimes for each check, so carry larger denominations.
All restaurants', drivers' and guides' gratuities are included in the tour's cost. When you are on your own, waiters should receive a percentage of the bill that reflects the quality of the service, as in American restaurants. Hotel bellhops are generally tipped around $2US per bag, and hotel maids get $1US per day.
Duty free is available at most ports of departure from Jordan, offering a full array of goods. Items to bring back from Jordan as souvenirs include: Bedouin tribal jewelry, Kajal or Kohl make-up, Dead Sea salt-based cosmetics, Bedouin gowns usually in black with intricate embroidery in red, sand art in a bottle, mosaic works, ceramics, inlay work boxes, Aladdin lamps.