No amount of research is enough when you are traveling abroad. Hope my blog takes you a bit further on this endeavor and prepares you for a journey that would create memories for a life time.
Is Petra on your Travel List? If Yes, go ahead and read my adventures to this Rose city. For those who answered No, do start saving up as everything in Jordan is pretty expensive and worth every penny.
Petra is now listed in the new wonders of the world list and part of the world heritage site. It is indeed a Jewel of Jordan. I write this blog still awestruck of the huge structures carved on the soft sandstones, the memories of my walk through the Siq filled with intimidating rock structures and formations that captures your imagination. Your journey through the Siq will live up to the hype.
Where to Stay: We stayed in The Petra Guest House which is adjacent to the visitor’s center. It’s a boutique style hotel and the location certainly has its advantages. Other popular picks are Movenpick and Marriott. There are many budget hotels too in Wadi Musa. Our trip to Petra was from Amman city and it was roughly around 230 kms. We arrived late evening to this town and dinner was on everyone’s mind.
Best time to Visit: This is a multi level answer. Consider your fitness level when you are planning the day. There are many trails one can choose from and it can take anywhere from 4 hours to an entire day to cover even the most challenging trails. We chose to see Petra by day and you have an option to it by night too.
Our visit to Jordan was in January and it was close to perfect. There was no reason to hurry in the morning as harsh sunlight wasn’t a problem and neither did we had to face the undaunting task of beating the touristy crowd. We took the most direct and straight forward route called the Main trail. It is the most popular trail and starts from the Visitor Center and ends in the Girl’s palace. It’s roughly involves 4 kms of walking. Refer my map to see the highlights enroute.
The trail is filled with photo spots and don’t forget to create some memories. The most popular is the picture with the guards at the entrance of the Siq.
- Cost of Tickets: 50 JD for adults and the accomodated visitor. It is 90 JD for visitors who are not staying back in Petra for the night. For Children below 12 years it is free. If you are planning to visit Petra by night make sure to check the schedule as it is not available all through the week. Do check and see if your tickets cover the ride in a horse from the Treasury to the visitors’ center.
- Guides: I strongly recommend that you secure service of a guide as there is so much of history to absorb and so so many stories they want to share with you. If this wasn’t a reason enough, I will give you few more and at the top of the list is the amazing angels in which they click pictures and they also know the best places to capture them .
- Tips: Travel to Jordan by itself is quiet expensive and given the high currency exchange it would lighten your pockets quickly. Though we had paid for the services of an guide, you are expected to pay tips. 30 JD as tips didn’t make our guide happy.
The city of Petra was lost for centuries as it was well protected by the Siq and was not well known to the outside world except for the Local communities. It was rediscovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer by name Johann Ludwig Burckhardt by chance.
Siq is a narrow gorge of 1.2 kilometers long and at it’s narrowest path the walls of the Siq is just 3 ft apart. The walk from the entrance to the Treasury is around 45 minutes and is filled with suspense. Every turn you make you are filled with anticipation and hoping to get the first glimpse of the majestic rose colored Treasury. There is a misconception that within the treasury is a hidden treasure. But, in fact it is a 2 story high King’s tomb. Mainly Greek in appearance the Nabataeans carved massive figures, axe wielding amazons and griffins on the rock faces. At the top of the Treasury, in the center is a draped woman who may be a version of Isis.
Clothing: Make sure you wear comfortable clothes according to the season and it would be good to bear in mind that you are in a middle eastern country and it’s best to follow their customs and comfortable walking shoes for sure should be your choice of footwear.
Restrooms and Food: The availability of Toilets and Cafes are marked on my map. Don’t forget to carry some local currency with you. You may need it for food, tips or if you are brave hearted to ride on a donkey which will take you to the Monastery climbing some 822 odd steep steps.
What Else: There are many souvenir stalls and there was one Jewelry stall that was pointed by our guide. You will come across this stall before the Royal Tombs. This stall is managed by a lady by name Marguerite who settled down in Petra in late 1970’s and married a Bedouin. She has written a book by name “Married to a Bedouin” which encapsulates her experiences.
My best tips:
- Don’t forget to carry a sunscreen and a hat.
- Petra is huge and don’t underestimate the walking distance.
- Be weary of guides and there are many available inside Petra too.
- Two ways to see Treasury. One from the Siq and the other is atop a hill.
- Monastery is a place that you must visit, the guides would discourage you. I strongly urge you to visit it. We unfortunately did not visit the Monastery and regret the decision.
- Riding on a donkey is surely reserved for the brave hearted.
- If you want to see Petra by night, do it on 2 different days as you would be tired to walk back to the treasury again in the evening.
What would I do differently: I never got a chance to explore Wadi Musa. A chance to soak in the local culture or visit the popular eateries. Would certainly visit Petra by night and bask in the soft light lit by in-numerous candles along the Siq to the treasury and to enjoy the magical light show.