General Information

Weather

Jordan has a long and pleasant spring and fall, from mid-March through May and from mid- September through mid-November. Rain falls from November to March sometimes. In the Jordan Valley, around the Dead Sea and in Aqaba on the Red Sea the winters are warm and pleasant.

Here’s a chart with the average high/low temperatures (Celsius) for several popular cities around the country:

Weather

Visas

Any non-Arab visitor to Jordan, whether for business or tourism, needs an entry visa.  Single-entry visas can be obtained on arrival at any airport, port or land border except at the King Hussein/ AllenbyBridge, where you must have your Jordanian visa in advance. The visa costs JD 40 or $57 US. Some nationalities require visas in advance. Please check with us for the latest information.  At present, all guests arriving through the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZA) receive a gratis visa on arrival.  This would include entries through the Aqaba port, Aqaba land borders and the KingHusseinInternationalAirport in Aqaba.

Departure Tax (*airport departures tax is normally included in the flight ticket)

 Non-Jordanians Jordanians
By Land 10 JD 10 JD
By Air* 40 JD 40 JD
By Sea 10 JD 10 JD

Shopping

There are a wide variety of traditional handicrafts, and no lack of shops selling them. The best are cross-stitch embroidery, rugs, Bedouin jewelry, pottery, Dead Sea products, hand-blown glass and faked antiquities.  Please don’t buy the real antiquities…..what are your grandkids going to see when they visit Jordan?  You’ll probably buy at least one sand bottle in Petra just to show everyone back home the amazing natural colors, and you won’t believe the designs these artisans can create in a sand bottle.  Don’t buy the bottles outside Petra–the sand is dyed.

Try to make sure that the Jordanian articles you’re buying are really Jordanian.  As with the rest of the world, Jordan’s handicraftmakers are facing stiff competition from cheap knock-off “souvenirs” being imported from China.  Look around–ask your guide or your driver where the best shops for authentic Jordanian goods are to be found.  Question the sellers about the provenance of their merchandise.  If you insist on paying bottom dollar, chances are you’re not going to get the real thing.

Buying directly from handicraft workshops or cooperatives or from their retail outlets is a safe way to insure authenticity.  Most of the handicraft cooperatives and the NGO-sponsored workshops have very distinctive tags which make it easy to spot their goods wherever they are sold.  The made in jordan gallery & giftshop in Petra (above the Petra Kitchen) sells only genuinely Jordanian products.  The “Souk Zara” shops in the Movenpick, Intercontinental and Hyatt hotels feature Jordanian handicrafts, as do the  “Art Zamaan” shops in Kan Zamaan restaurant and the Taybet Zamaan and Bait Zamaan hotels in Petra.   Haret Jdoudna, the restaurant in Madaba, has some interesting handicrafts, all local.  The Wild Jordan center in Amman retails products from all the RSCN nature reserves, and the Jordan River Foundation (not far from Wild Jordan) sells the products from the Beni Hamida weaving cooperative as well as all the Jordan River’s many social development workshops throughout the country.

Ramadan

One of the pillars of Islam requires Muslims to fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan, the month which commemorates the divine gift of the Koran to the Prophet Mohammed.  From sunrise to sunset, those who fast must refrain from eating, drinking and smoking.  There are good and bad aspects of visiting the country during Ramadan.  On the bright side, people hit the streets after the sunset “breakfast” ready to sing, play cards, enjoy some of the special musical and theatrical entertainments and just generally have fun.  Shops re-open until the wee hours, and many hotels create special Ramadan Tents where they offer traditional holiday snacks and drinks, live entertainment, water pipes, backgammon boards, card games and the like.  It’s fun, and a great festival atmosphere.

The other side of the coin is that many aspects of “business as usual” don’t apply during the month.  Banks and offices all have shorter working hours, some restaurants close for the entire month, and about an hour before sunset the roads and streets will be full of crazed demons racing to buy last-minute supplies and get home in time for Al Iftar.  If you plan to visit during Ramadan, you should understand that the touring day will be shortened.  There will still be plenty of restaurants open and serving lunch, especially in the tourist areas, but it would be very bad manners to eat, drink or smoke in the sight of passers-by.

Do remember, if you visit during Ramadan, that your dress should be a bit more circumspect that usual.  Some women who do not normally cover their heads do so during Ramadan, and often feel that make-up, perfume and other “vanities of the flesh” should be given up during this month. d

Language

Arabic is the official language.  English is widely spoken throughout the kingdom.  Road signs and many business signs are in English. If you need to communicate in a language other than English or Arabic, you may just get lucky to run into a student in one of the country’s excellent language programs. Or you can wave your arms to sign. That usually works very well.

Do I Have to Tip

Rated hotels and restaurants will add a gratuity of 10% to your bill, but the lion’s share of this is not going to the people who will serve you.  You might want to add another 5-10% for the servers.  Smaller establishments usually expect you to leave a tip in line with the service you received.  Tipping is a way of thanking the people who take care of you.  The average income here is $210 a month, and the average family has over 7 children, so your money is going for a worthy cause!   Tourist guides and drivers will expect to be tipped.   If you bring along as much luggage as we usually do, it’s nice to tip the hotel porter about one dinar to put into his truss-fund.

Getting to Jordan

Jordan has land borders with Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and a seaport with daily connections by ferry to the Sinai in Egypt.  Royal Jordanian Airlines is the official carrier for the kingdom, but the international airports in Amman and Aqaba also serve carriers including KLM, British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, Delta, Alitalia, Middle East Airlines, Egypt Air, Pakistan Airlines and all major carriers from the Persian Gulf states, among others.

Weekends

The official Jordanian weekend is now Friday and Saturday. On these days, banks and most offices are closed.  Post offices are open on Saturdays and also on Fridays until 12 noon. These days, many ordinary shops are open 7 days a week. They may close Friday mornings, and only open after mid-day Friday Prayers.

On Fridays, with the exception of the long distance services, buses usually run in the mornings only, and many buses not at all. You should check this if you are planning on traveling on a Friday.

Can I Stay in Touch?

Sure, if you want to. There are mobile,  telephone,  fax and telex facilities. You’ll find Internet cafes everywhere in all cities. Most of the hotels provide clients the internet service for a fee.

But isn’t it dangerous?

No, Mom—in fact, people find Jordan one of the safest places to travel, to invest (please bring large cheeks), and to hobnob (witness the big-shot World Economic Forum meetings at the Dead Sea, or the conclave of Nobel Laureates in Petra). There is virtually no street crime. People will fall over each other scrambling to help you if you have a medical emergency, get yourself into trouble or just look a little confused. Visitors who forget their cameras, passports, wallets full of money, or whatever on busses or in taxis or in restaurants are amazed to get their belongings back intact, but it happens all the time. Really.

Food and Drink

Eating is one of the most popular national pastimes.  Traditional Jordanian cuisine leans heavily on fresh produce (we grow a lot, and availability is seasonal), chicken and lamb, yoghurt and rice.  Most dishes are prepared from fresh ingredients.  In Amman you’ll also find international restaurants of every stripe, including  (horrors!) McDonalds and the ubiquitous KFC.  Now in Petra you can even learn to cook your own Levantine goodies at the Petra Kitchen.  And you can buy beer, wine and spirits except during Ramadan, the holy month of Islam when alcoholic beverages are not widely available.  Jordan wineries produce some outstanding table wines, mostly around Madaba and Ajlun but sold throughout the country.  You should also try arak, the local anise-flavored fire water.

Hair dryer

Jordan’s electricity supply is 220 volts/50 cycles AC. Sockets are generally of the two-pronged European variety, but a variety of other sockets and plugs—especially the 13 amp square three-pinned plug—are in use.  To be safe, bring a multi-purpose adapter. American 110-volt equipment requires both an adaptor and a transformer.  Most varieties of adaptors and transformers are readily available in electrical shops throughout Jordan.  And great news for travelers–most laptop chargers, mobile phone chargers and other can’t-do-without accessories now are built to accept either 110 or 220 volt inputs…..hurray!

Time

Jordan is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Or three hours while we are on Daylight Savings Time (we change the clocks the last Thursday night in March, and change back the last Thursday night in October).  That means we’re seven hours ahead of New York, and eight hours ahead of Perryton, Texas

Other countries

Petra Moon offers programs which combine visits to neighboring countries. It is very simple to arrange extensions to Egypt, Syria, Israel, and Lebanon. A number of our specialized tour programs include one or more of our neighbors. Boundaries have been shifting in the Middle East since men learned to mark off turf, but there is no reason that should affect your holiday.