What to Expect on Your First Trip to Jordan- A First Time Visitor’s Guide

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Jordan, in the heart of the Middle East, is a welcoming country known for its striking landscapes and historically significant ancient sites. 

Red mountains in Wadi Rum, a must-see on your first trip to Jordan.
Wadi Rum

Beyond its natural beauty and famous archaeological areas, I didn’t know a whole lot about what to expect from travel in Jordan, but was compelled to visit anyway.

What I discovered when travelling in Jordan for the first time was that Jordan is a wonderful destination for people looking to immerse themselves in history, culture, and tradition while also exploring nature and indulging in some self-care. 

Gateway to the Jerash archaeological site.

What to Expect on Your First Trip to Jordan

After my first trip to Jordan, I can tell you to expect a country with warm hospitality, interesting historic sites, and some impressive natural wonders.

Monastery at Petra.

Part of the joy of visiting Jordan is the variety of attractions it has to offer. There are mountainous deserts, ancient Nabatean cities, Crusader castles, Roman ruins, scenic hiking trails, informative museums, luxurious spa resorts, and a salty sea.

While I knew a bit about what there was to see and do, I wasn’t sure what to expect in Jordan when it came to actually travelling around the country. It turns out that most of the challenges I was expecting when visiting Jordan, such as a language barrier and crazy driving, ended up being non-issues.

Rock carved tomb at Little Petra.
Little Petra

To help you prepare to visit Jordan, here are some observations and things I learned from the 8 days I spent travelling in Jordan. I hope this Jordan travel guide, based on my first-hand experiences, will answer any questions you might have about visiting Jordan for the first time. So, here are my Jordan travel tips!

Dome tents at a luxury camp in Wadi Rum.
Camp in Wadi Rum


  • Arabic is the official language of Jordan. 
  • English is the second most spoken language in Jordan and is widely used in the cities and tourism industry. In my experience, guides, hotel staff, and many restaurant staff spoke fluent English so I had no trouble communicating.
Cobblestone street lined by columns in Jerash.


  • Jordan is predominantly an Islamic country so people dress conservatively.
  • For women, it’s best to dress modestly by not wearing tight and revealing clothing, especially in small towns and rural areas. Loose pants, knee-length skirts or dresses, and shirts that cover the shoulders and upper arms are appropriate.
  • I got the sense that it’s a little more acceptable to dress less conservatively at resorts and popular tourist attractions, like Petra.
  • Foreign women don’t need to cover their hair with a scarf- some local women do and some don’t. My guidebook said that in Jordan, it’s actually considered inappropriate for non-Muslim women to wear headscarves.
  • I wore a bikini at a high-end Dead Sea resort (by the pool and on the beach) and didn’t get stared at inappropriately. However, on public beaches, it’s recommended to wear a one-piece or swim with a t-shirt and shorts over your swimsuit.
Woman in a pool overlooking the Dead Sea.
Resort at the Dead Sea

Driving in Jordan

  • I hired a driver because I wasn’t sure what driving in Jordan would be like, but I could have fairly confidently driven myself around the county. In my experience, the road rules were mostly obeyed, especially when compared to the driving I saw during my first trip to Egypt. There was sometimes heavy traffic in certain areas of Amman, but I didn’t see any reckless driving (just drivers not using their turn signals).
  • Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. 
  • Road conditions were generally good. The main thing I noticed was that there were a lot of speed bumps, even on highways (and not always signed).
  • Most road signs are in English but the transliteration is inconsistent.
  • There are a lot of gas stations along the Desert Highway, but less on the King’s Highway. The Dead Sea Highway has very few services. It’s best to fill up at a gas station when you see one.
  • Be careful of dust storms that can reduce visibility. In a rural area while driving to Kerak Castle I encountered a dust storm so thick I couldn’t even see the hood of the car!
  • As a pedestrian, it was a little tricky to cross the road at uncontrolled intersections because drivers didn’t stop or even slow down to let people cross.
Black car in the Royal Automobile Museum.
Royal Automobile Museum in Amman

Currency, Credit Cards, ATMs

  • The currency in Jordan is the dinar (JD). 
  • Most major credit cards are widely accepted in Jordan and can be used at hotels, restaurants, larger shops, and travel agencies. 
  • ATMs are available throughout Jordan. I had no trouble with the machines accepting my bank card.
Ruins and hills at Umm Qais.
Umm Qais

Tipping in Jordan

  • Tipping is not compulsory in Jordan, but it is customary to tip taxi drivers (round up to the closest whole figure), tour guides (10% per person), and at cafes (round up to the nearest 500 fils) At restaurants, a 5-10% tip is expected if a service charge is not already included in the bill.
Ruins at the Amman Citadel.
Amman Citadel


  • I decided to stay at five-star hotels for my first time in Jordan and was happy with that choice. The rooms had Wi-fi, were comfortable and clean, and had extra facilities like swimming pools, fitness centres, and onsite restaurants. The staff were also very welcoming and helpful. Rates that included breakfast were available.
  • Jordan also has many midrange hotels that offer good value for the money. These hotels are often family-run establishments.
Inside a dome tent at Memories Aicha Luxury Camp in Wadi Rum.
Dome tent at Memories Aicha Luxury Camp in Wadi Rum

Drinking Water

  • Tap water in Jordan is safe to drink, but many locals prefer bottled water for the taste. I was told that most 4 and 5-star hotels have water purification systems installed.


  • Electricity in Jordan is 230 V/50 Hz.
  • In my experience, there were usually two different outlet types in hotel rooms. The outlets in Jordan take two round pins, three round pins in a triangular pattern, and three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern.
Electrical outlet in Jordan.


  • Jordan experiences four seasons. Summers are fairly hot, dry, and sunny with daytime temperatures in Amman ranging from 23-32 °C. Winters are relatively cold and wet, with some areas occasionally getting snow (including Petra). I visited in February and the temperatures were cool during the day, but a little chilly in the desert and at night. Winter daytime temperatures in Amman can range from 5-14 °C. 
  • The rainy season starts at the end of November and continues into March.
  • The peak travel season coincides with the most comfortable weather- March through May and September to November.
Ruins and hills at Jerash.

Public Security and Safety

  • I felt safe travelling in Jordan for the first time and didn’t feel any of the political and religious unrest of neighbouring countries. Jordan felt calm and has a reputation for being the most stable country in the region. 
  • Some of the hotels I stayed at had security checks with metal detectors. These checkpoints weren’t consistently manned with a security guard though.
  • I got the sense that tourists are treated with respect and fairness so I wasn’t worried about getting ripped off by anyone. Stealing is also frowned upon and punishments are harsh.  
Cobblestone street lined by columns at Umm Qais.
Umm Qais

Haggling and Hustles

  • Bartering is acceptable in Jordan, just don’t start your price too low or the vendor will be insulted.
  • The only place I was hassled and pressured to buy was in the market at Jerash. The vendor kept following me around and then threw a scarf on me. I very firmly told him to remove it immediately and that was the end of it. 
Rock cut theatre at Petra.

Public Restrooms and Toilets

  • All the toilets I came across were Western-style (no squat ones). Public ones weren’t always the cleanest though, especially in Petra, and didn’t always have toilet paper, so bring your own.

Travel Companies and Guides

  • Local travel agencies can arrange multi-day private tours of Jordan with a car and driver. I used a local agency to help plan my itinerary, book my hotels and activities, and provide me with guides at the main attractions. They also gave me a driver (who provided a lot of great information even though he wasn’t technically a guide) and a local phone to use in case of emergencies.
  • At some attractions, like Jerash and Petra, licensed guides can be hired at the entrance.
Theatre in Petra backed by hills.

Other Tips and Observations from Travelling in Jordan

Here are a few more observations from my trip and things to know before travelling to Jordan:

  • Jordan was a very welcoming country with friendly locals who seemed proud of their homeland. The hospitality was sincere and offered without the expectation of a tip (which I very much appreciated having just come from Egypt).
  • A car was definitely the most convenient way to get around Jordan because public transport is limited. There are intercity buses but they require patience and mainly serve the needs of locals. There are some tourist buses, but they only go to a few top spots so limit how much of the country you can see. 
  • The weekends are Friday and Saturday so many people are off work those days and businesses have shorter hours.
  • I saw several billboards with pictures of Saddam Hussein, which I thought was weird, but my driver said he was liked in the region because he did a lot for his people, even though he was a dictator.
Ruins backed by the city of Jerash.

Final Thoughts About My First Trip to Jordan

Travelling in Jordan was a pleasant experience and I enjoyed my time there despite not being as “wowed” by it overall when compared to other countries I’ve visited.

I really liked visiting Jordan in the off-season, even though the weather was cool some days, because I got to experience amazing places like Petra and Jerash without the crowds.

The Treasury at Petra.

It was also wonderful to have a car with a driver so that my first trip to Jordan could be stress-free. I had the freedom to see more of the country, could relax while travelling between places, and got to take my time exploring the sites. Plus it was nice to have a local to talk to and learn about life in Jordan.

Wall of Kerak Castle on a hillside overlooking a road.
Kerak Castle

What to See on Your First Trip to Jordan

If you need some ideas for where to go on your first trip to Jordan, check out my 8 day Jordan itinerary for some suggestions.

Ruined stone wall and columns at Jerash.

Accommodations in Jordan

For your convenience, here is a list of hotels in Jordan. Please consider booking your Jordan accommodations through the included link. It costs nothing extra and helps support this website. Thank you!

Search, Compare and Book Trips to Jordan

Here is a helpful and reputable site you can use to search for and compare tours of Jordan. There’s a variety of tour operators, travel styles, and itineraries all in one place for easy comparison. You can even read reviews from other travellers. Once you find a trip you love you can book it!

Tours and Activities in Jordan

Here is another trusted site that has a large selection of tours and tickets for activities in Jordan. You can book everything from day trips, private tours, adventure activities, and more.

Ruins of Shobak Castle backed by hills.
Shobak Castle

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