Petra a unesco world wonder is undoubtedly Jordan’s most valuable treasure, and greatest tourist attraction. Petra is visited by tourists from all over the world, and a independent visit is easier to plan than you think, keep reading for practical tips for your first visit to Petra.
Getting to Petra
Start by flying into Jordans capital Amman, and then depending on your arrival time you’ll need to spend the night in Amman before catching the Jett Bus down to Petra at the crack of dawn the next morning.
The Jett bus, leaves the bus station in central Amman at 6.30am every morning ( returns daily at 5pm from Petra ) for 11 Jordanian dinar ( JD ) pp each way (approx £11/ $15 ) . The journey takes approx 3 hours arriving at approx 9.30am , with a short bathroom break halfway. The bus pulls in right by the Petra visitor centre, and seats can be booked online on the Jett website in advance , or in their office in Amman.
Entry into Petra
Entry into the site of Petra is only permitted to visitors holding valid tickets. These are available at the Visitor Center and can be purchased on arrival. Prices differ for foreigners and locals and a range of ticket types are available depending on the length of stay and number of visits to be made into Petra.
A 3 day pass for 60 JD is the best value for money due to the sheer size of the place. if your just visiting for the a day it’s a steep 90 JD entry especially as its impossible to see everything in a day. ** Please note you will need to show your passport as id so don’t forget to take it with you. **
For more info check out the Petra visitor Centre website http://www.visitpetra.jo
Petra is not the place for the faint hearted, there is a lot of walking and step climbing to reach some of the attractions , the main trail is 5 miles long from the main gate and the attractions are all accessible off the main trail.
Licensed guides are available to hire at the visitors centre from 50- 100 JD on top of the price of your ticket (for the group not pp) as I was travelling alone, I couldn’t justify the expense, so I purchased a Petra easy guide via I tunes, which gave a short audio on each of the sights, a helpful map and it worked just fine for me.
The best time to visit Petra is as soon as the gates open at 6am. You’ll pretty much have the place to yourself, not even the Bedouin can be bothered to get up that early, to harass the unsuspecting tourist. It’s claimed that the ticket price includes a horse ride down to the Siq, what they don’t mention, is the horse owner will expect a hefty tip when its time for you to get off, so you have been warned.
From the visitors centre it’s a 15 minute downhill stroll to the Siq, then approx 20 mins to walk through the Siq to the Treasury . This is the main hang out for horses & donkeys owners plying for trade, once you get past the hustle and bustle of the Treasury area there are clear signs pointing out the main trails.
Due to well documented animal abuse that goes on at Petra, I do not recommend hiring any animals whilst in Petra.
Most sites are up steps from the main trail but there are 2 sites which require a bit of extra planning . The Place of High Sacrifice is an 45 min upward climb, challenging but doable at a steady pace. The main and biggest climb, is to The Monastery the big brother of the Treasury, noticeably harder than the Place of High Sacrifice, at around 90 minutes of a continuous upwards climb from the bottom of the steps , so lots of water and sensible walking boots with a good grip are essential.
As the start of the trail to the Monastary is the furthest away from the main gate (at least an hour ) , I suggest going straight to it when the gates open. Then you’ll get the place to yourself when you reach the top. There’s even a cafe where you can grab a mint tea, and take it all in, but be warned I didn’t see a toilet, so maybe best to stick to just the one tea.
The Bedouins do offer donkey rides to the top, which I wouldn’t recommend due to the sheer drops and narrow ledges of the path and the questionable health of the donkeys.
Along the trails , you will be invited by the bedouin to stop to drink tea, which out of sheer exhaustion I stopped for a while to catch my breath. To their credit they were hospitable and the tea was delicious , I made sure to leave a dinar or two for their troubles before continuing on.
Petra by Night Tour
If you are overnighting in Petra, it’s also worth doing the Petra by night tour, This is a magical way to see Petra by candlelight, the experience starts by walking the entire Siq to the Treasury, lit with over 1,500 candles. Petra by Night runs every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday starting at 20:30 from Petra Visitor Centre and delivers you back to the Visitor Centre around 22.30pm. The entrance fee for Petra by Night is 17 JD, children under 10 years are admitted free of charge.
Where to stay
With regards to accommodation, I stayed at the excellent Petra Moon Hotel, a solid 3 star hotel approx 5 minute walk from Petra’s main gates, and right next to where the bus from Amman pulls in . With free wifi , comfortable western standard rooms and a roof top pool, I highly recommend it rather than the pricier Movenpick next door. After a day at Petra, you won’t have the energy to do anything more strenuous than order room service for dinner anyway. http://www.petramoonhotel.com
For more information on Petra and Jordan check out the tourist board website http://www.visitjordan.com