The Ultimate Petra Travel Guide

The Ultimate Petra Travel Guide

Everything you need to know before and when visiting this ancient city

 

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Was it a pink, a rose, or a salmon

that left a blush on my face, cheeks, and all over

as I left the city awe-struck

in its uniqueness and antiquity?

 

Visiting Petra in Jordan has been at the top of my mental bucket list for a long time. And rightfully so ~ it is an unbelievable sight to see! Witnessing the hidden beauty of one of the oldest metropolises of the world with its amazing history and cultural heritage left me speechless! And I know, just like me, you will return with beautiful memories of a land that is a great attraction to tourists from all over the globe.

Built by the Nabatean tribe, and rediscovered in 1812 by Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, Petra is also known as the Rose-Red city because of the colour of the stone from which it has been carved. Dating back to 300 BC when it was the capital of a Nabatean Kingdom, it is said to have once been a thriving trading centre with hidden secrets that are yet to be discovered. It comes as no surprise then that this UNESCO Heritage Site that is surrounded by mountains, passages, tombs, monuments, and sacred structures, has been named in the New Seven Wonders of the World.

I knew I’d be impressed by Petra. And was I ever. Here is my Ultimate Guide to Petra!

 

Forethought

Most tourists visit the Dead Sea {the lowest point on earth}, Petra {the lost city}, and Wadi Rum {Jordan’s desert} when they travel to Jordan ~ excluding the experiences of soaking in the essence of Jordan on the whole. In my opinion, Jordan offers a lot more apart from these tourist attractions and Jordan’s capital city, Amman {one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world} holds a lot of surprises for travellers.

My suggestion would be to take a longer trip where you not only cover the important attractions in Amman, and its neighbouring places but can also visit a nearby country; either Egypt or Israel along with it.

 

Travelling Season

The ideal time to travel to Jordan will be during spring and autumn as during the sweltering summer months the temperatures can go up to 40 °C. It is advisable to explore the place when the climate is cool and pleasant.

Visa

Indian passport holders traveling to Jordan are eligible for visa on arrival (VOA) provided they carry all the necessary documentation required for the visa process, i.e. valid passport, hotel stay details, return flight or onwards flight, and USD 1000 per person for a week’s stay.

Visa cost: JD 40 {* If a person purchases a JD pass, and is staying in Jordan for more than 3 days, then the visa cost is waived off.}

Accommodation

Petra by Night is an enchanting experience {more on this later} and staying overnight in Petra is recommended if you intend to visit the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum {as they are only a few hours away from Petra}. I would suggest staying at Wadi Mousa, a town nearby, where you can find hotels ranging from one star to a five star to suit the pockets of different kinds of travellers.

Vikram and I were hosted by Movenpick Resort Petra ~ located right at the entrance to the ancient city. It’s a lovely property with great amenities and what made it special was the stunning view of the entrance from our window.

On Being Safe

Although you can gather a lot of info regarding safety, entry requirements, and travel warnings online; I can assure you that Jordan is a safe place to travel to. Despite the ongoing problems of its neighbouring countries and the political instability of the region, Jordanians are polite and friendly to tourists. Public transportation is safe and I can say that there was not one untoward incident during my trip that made me question the safety of the place.

Dress Code:

Although there is no dress code while travelling in Jordan and locals are used to seeing tourists all over the place in all sorts of attire ~ it is always better to respect their culture and be covered appropriately. I felt happier covered up in an airy cotton top and trousers.

I would also advise you to carry a hat or a head scarf that will provide an escape from the sun because most of the tourist spots have hardly any shade. And of course sun glasses and sunscreen are must-haves on this trip. Also since you’ll be walking over sandy and rocky ground, I would recommend sturdy walking shoes/sneakers instead of sandals or slippers.

Language:

English is widely spoken hence language is not a matter of concern to travellers visiting Jordan.

Entrance Fee to Petra

The ticket rates are high. It would be more economical to get a 2/3 day pass and you will be able to see all the attractions at a slightly slower pace instead of rushing through. It will work out to a few dollars more than the one day rate of 50 JD, but will be worth it.

1 Day= 50 JD

2 Day= 55 JD

3 Day= 60 JD

If this is too pricey for you, then you can opt for the option of Petra by Night which is 17 JD but you will get to see only The Treasury. Moreover, this is available only on certain days and if you are not there on those days, then it will not work out.

Pointers

Walking around the ancient city can be draining and tiring, and will leave you thirsty. You will at least require two/three bottles of water and since prices inside the site are on the higher side I would advise you to carry your own water bottles. The place is dotted with many tea stalls, cafes, kiosks, and one proper restaurant near the museum called The Basin that serves buffet lunch along with a bottle of wine.

The site has portaloos, as well as toilets that are clean with running water and toilet paper.

Day Trips

There are two must-do trips; Wadi Rum and The Dead Sea which can be done as day trips from Petra. Vikram and I did both ~ at Wadi Rum we slept in a Martian Dome under the bright stars! A seriously amazing experience to remember! Both these trips can be arranged by the hotel you are staying at while in Petra.

 

Going to Petra

My recommendation is to start your day early because early morning would be the best time to walk, and it gives you enough time to discover these unique ruins at a leisurely pace before crowds start coming in. Also I noticed that our pictures came out well because they were taken in natural morning light before shadows appear.

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The Treasury

The Treasury or The Al-Khazneh is the most famous tomb in Petra. We made our way through The Siq which is a narrow gorge and as we marvelled at nature ~ the over 660 feet high walkway is filled with rock formations of all the vibrant shades of red and orange ~ and after about a 25 minute walk {which included multiple photo stops}, we reached the end, entering like minuscule ants into the mouth of the great canyon. As we caught our first glimpse of The Treasury through the slits of the rock formation, I was left awe-struck and looking at the grandeur of the structure, I couldn’t help marvelling at the architecture that prevailed during that period.

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We were lucky to have reached there early enough to beat the crowds. The structure looked spectacular in the morning light, and Vikram and I got busy clicking ~ taking in its beauty from different angles, and capturing the vibrant hues and radiance of the place.

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It was massive, very well maintained and seemed a little unreal.

 

It was a lovely day in Petra, so we enjoyed walking through the fascinating landscape. I should say, it lives up to its reputation of being called the Rose City as the entire place was tinted with shades of pink and the morning sun did a splendid job of highlighting the rose hue.

The road winding through the city lead us past a number of attractions including the Theatre, the Urn Tomb, the Corinthian Tomb, the Palace Tomb, the Cardo Maximus, the Great Temple, the Columbarium, and the Winged Lion’s Temple. But truly, words fail to describe the gamut of feelings that ran inside me while exploring the intricate carvings on sandstone cliffs, obelisks, colonnaded streets, fascinating water conduit system, and more such wonders ~ a lesson both in history and time.

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There are a few other sites around the place that can be explored by hiking to the top which gives sweeping views of Petra with Wadi Musa. I should say the finale was inviting; a quaint café that serves snacks, fresh juice, and Turkish coffee!

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The Monastery

Ad Deir {The Monastery} is again a beautifully carved building, similar to that of The Treasury but not as decorative and is quite a daunting climb of 850 steps on an ancient rock-cut path. Its hard work in the searing desert heat and you’ll want to plan for a few breaks to rehydrate along the way. I would suggest waiting till late afternoon to make the climb because then the path is mostly in shade.

What we did was to hike along with a guide on day 2, and we did a hiking trail from the backside of the mountain which as they say is the best and easier way to reach the top. The view is quite dramatic as the beautiful mountains and ancient ruins merge with the expansiveness of the place. Seeing Petra was something I had been looking forward to for ages and it sure delivered!

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Petra by Night

You can go to Petra at night and see this:

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The entrance fee is cheaper as it is only 17 JD. We didn’t go to the night viewing because Vikram and I weren’t there on the days that it was available, but I was told that you walk down to The Siq on a path lit by candles and you look at The Treasury in candle light. I have no doubt it’s a surreal and whimsical experience.

The night viewings are on Monday, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 8:30pm.

 

End note: Vikram and I had many magical moments during our trip through Jordan and now when I look back everything seems like an enchanting dream.  I hope you all experience the same kind of magic we did when you visit Jordan.

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P.S. We did go to a few other tourist attractions in Jordan. My post on Amman can be read here. Stay tuned for more on Wadi Rum, The Dead Sea, and Jerash!

 

* Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the Jordan Tourism Board. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review.

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

42 Comments

  • Petra is definitely the experience of a lifetime, but your blog really clinches it for me! Thank you for the detailed guide, Tanya – it’ll be very useful for later planning!!

  • This I learned about visiting Petra ~ the additional $$ to hire a site guide to take you through is especially justified. I am so glad that you had such a great experience, Tanya!

    • Yes, without a guide, you don’t really get the opportunity to acknowledge and learn about the history and effort it took to carve out such an amazing city.

    • It was anything but difficult to get great photographs; and I adored the local people who still live there. We were welcomed for tea with one of them… unforgettable!

  • I’m in love with your photos, Tanya ~ particularly the one when the Treasury initially appears. I have delighted in all of your travel articles up until now. And Jordan looks like a truly amazing place.

  • Great and comprehensive tips, Tanya! Loving the map guide… I am dying to visit and hopefully will make it there by 2020!

    • Thanks Pam. I wound up carrying a few map variations as none of them had everything on, so I thought I’d attempt to draw my own version!

  • Such an incredible place to visit! Jordan just skyrocketed up my must-visit list of destinations! Thank you for sharing!

  • Petra is definitely on my travel list, Tanya. I love your travel blog, and the pictures I see popping up in my news feed! You are an incredible travel writer and I truly welcome all the information you include.

  • What an absolutely amazing and beautiful adventure you’ve had, Tanya! Makes me want to hop on a plane and go this very moment!!

    • Thanks for visiting, Lindsay. Hope you get the opportunity to make it out there soon ~ I’m sure you’ll love it!

  • I’m so envious of your trip. Tanya. Petra has been at the top of my travel-list for some time now! It would appear that you had an incredible time!

  • This is amazing! I am so appreciative of these tips, Tanya! I will be visiting early November and am hoping to benefit as much as possible from my trip.

  • Much obliged for the exquisite post and photographs alongside the valuable tips and maps. This is a significant resource ~ great job, Tanya! Looks like you both truly enjoyed your time in Jordan!

  • Comprehensive yet concise, precisely the information I needed for our trip in October. Thank you for your time and effort in putting this together, Tanya.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Courtenay! I am glad that you found the post helpful. Make the most of your trip! 🙂

    • Thanks Minhthu! It’s an easy place to photograph, and an awesome place to visit and reconnect with people from long ago. It unquestionably leaves a mark on you.

  • Petra is my most loved of the ancient wonders, to some extent because there are some incredible hikes among the ruins that allow you to escape the crowds.

    • True.

      On that note, I think many people have been put off visiting ~ but Jordan seemed perfectly safe to me, and it would be a shame for people to miss out on an opportunity to visit Petra.

  • Thanks for this! You’ve abridged the information I’ve perused in one succinct article! Your method of writing is very easy to read, and I envision being there which is a talent. Looking forward to you next travel post, all the best!

  • Greetings Tanya,
    Love your blog and your enthusiasm for travel & adventure! Many thanks for sharing and I trust that you have numerous more exciting trips planned for 2018.

    • Hi Erin, so glad to hear that the article was valuable to you! I hope you get to visit soon ~ Petra is a really amazing place.

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