Travel Information - Jordan
For many people Jordan begins and ends with the magical ancient Nabataean city of Petra. And it's true, Petra is without doubt one of the Middle East's most spectacular, unmissable sights, battling it out with Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat for the title of the world's most dramatic 'lost city'.
The country also offers some of the wildest adventures in the region, as well as an incredibly varied backdrop ranging from the red desert sands of Wadi Rum to the brilliant blues of the coral-filled Gulf of Aqaba; from rich palm-filled wadis to the lifeless Dead Sea.
Jordanians are a passionate and proud people and the country truly welcomes visitors with open arms.
The city of Aqaba is situated at the most southern part of Jordan and lies on the most northern tip of the Red Sea, on a clear day you can see Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Aqaba International Airport is situated just 20 minutes from the town centre and services regular flights from Amman as well as from several European cities. From the town centre, the borders of Israel, Egypt’s Sinai and Saudi Arabia are no more than a 30-minute drive.
Aqaba’s greatest asset is the Red Sea itself. Here you can experience some of the best snorkelling and diving in the world. The temperate climate and gentle water currents have created a perfect environment for the growth of corals and a teeming plethora of marine life. Here you can swim with friendly sea turtles and dolphins as they dart amongst the schools of multi-coloured fish. Night dives reveal the nocturnal sea creatures, crabs, lobsters and shrimp, as they search for a midnight snack.
Time: +2 GMT (standard), +3 GMT (April - September)
Currency: Jordanian Dinar (JD), US dollar or Euro. Try to change larger notes as often as possible at larger restaurants and when shopping. One JD is made up of 1000 fils. You will sometimes hear piastre or qirsh, which are both 10 fils (10 qirsh equals 100 fils). Often when a price is quoted the unit will be omitted, so if you're told that something is 25, it's a matter of working out whether it's 25 fils, 25 piastre or 25 dinars!
Credit cards: Most major credit cards are accepted at restaurants, larger souvenir shops and bookshops. Be sure to ask if any commission is being added on top of your purchase price. This can sometimes be as much as 5%.
Language: Arabic and English
Visa: Maximum 30 days for tourists. Visas are required by all foreigners entering Jordan. These are issued at the airport upon arrival (JD10). At the airport immigration counters, join the normal immigration lines to get your visa. There are moneychangers adjacent to the counters; ATMs are only available after immigration.
Health: Jordan has a good standard of health. Most towns have well-stocked pharmacies, but always make sure to check the expiry date of any medicine you buy in Jordan. It is better to bring any unusual or important medical items with you from home, and always bring a copy of a prescription. The telephone numbers for pharmacies (including those open at night) and for hospitals in Aqaba are listed in the two English-language newspapers.
Water: Tap water in Jordan is generally safe to drink, but for a short trip it's better to stick to bottled water, or boil water for 10 minutes. **Remember not to drink water from anything but an unopened bottle! The tap water in southern Jordan, particularly Wadi Rum, comes from natural springs at Diseh and so is extremely pure.
Recompression chamber: Available in Aqaba
Climate: For a small country, Jordan has an extraordinary range of climates. The best time to visit climate-wise is in spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), when the daytime temperatures aren't too extreme. April is probably the best month, when temperatures are warm and wildflowers are in bloom. Aqaba's average daytime maximum temperatures in January is around 20°C.
Food: Street snacks like a felafel or shwarma sandwich are cheap and you can get a decent budget meal for JD1 to JD3. In any midrange restaurant, expect to pay JD1 for a starter and from JD1.500 to JD2.500 for most main courses.
Site seeing: One of the biggest sightseeing expenses in Jordan is the entrance fee to Petra (up to JD31 for three days, depending on the season), but it's so worth it! Entry to other popular sights such as Jerash costs JD5 but most places are free or cost just a dinar or two.
Tipping: Tips of 10% are generally expected in better restaurants. Elsewhere, rounding up the bill to the nearest 250 fils or with loose change is appreciated by underpaid staff, including taxi drivers. Hotels and restaurants in the midrange and, especially, top-end categories generally add on an automatic 10% service charge.
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