Last year on a long weekend three friends and I decided to travel to Jordan. We wanted to see the Dead Sea and Petra, we had just over two days to do so. We chose to rent a car and make a road trip out of our short trip. I really enjoyed the freedom of having the car. It seemed like much more of an adventure navigating through Jordan ourselves. In this post I’ll tell you everything you need to know if you plan to road trip through Jordan, and my tips and insights for Petra and the Dead Sea.
Planning to do a road trip?
We rented our car from Sixt Car Rental in Queen Alia International Airport. We had the car booked before we got there but still had to wait about an hour for it to be ready. We also had to put a rather large deposit and they would only accept credit cards. This was payed back in full about six weeks later. Make sure someone comes out with you and writes down all the marks already on the car, you should do it whenever you rent a car but especially in Jordan as the roads are not great so there will definitely be a few new marks added to the car.
We drove straight to Petra the first day. It takes about 2.5 hours to get there from Amman. We noticed pretty early on that Jordan doesn’t see the value in road markings, there were many surprise speed bumps, and lots of potholes too just for extra fun! We had fun stopping for pictures just in the middle of nowhere! We had a lot of cars driving beside us looking at us with open jaws, it was quite hilarious! I guess they’re not used to seeing a car full of white girls driving through the heart of Jordan! We also got pulled over by the police, that was less funny. Although they did invite us for coffee which I’m not sure was appropriate!
After we were finished at Petra we drove to the Dead Sea. This is about a 3.5 hour drive. We didn’t have data while we were there so we would load the maps while on wifi. This worked quite well as long as you didn’t take a wrong turn because there is no re-routing when offline! Google Maps failed us once very badly by taking us up the wrong way on a one way street in a busy town! I would recommend getting one sim card between your group so at least you have access to maps at all times, or have offline maps at your disposal.
Petra – Wonder of the World
We got to Petra in the late afternoon so it was closed for the day. It was open at night again for a special, at night experience. It was 17 JOD (23 USD). There was a huge crowd and we all walked through the canyons to the Treasury. It was pitch black and the Treasury was barely lit by hundreds of candles. Some traditional music started playing and everyone sat down on the ground while we were served hot tea. Honestly I didn’t enjoy this too much, the music was fine for the first five minutes but after that it got a bit annoying and the rocks started to hurt my bum! So we snuck out and headed to our accommodation.
We stayed at the severely hard to find Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp. It was essentially glamping, little ‘tents’ with big beds and lots of blankets. The place had fairy lights everywhere which was quite cute. When I woke up and popped my head out of our ‘tent’ I was taken aback by the landscape. The clear blue sky against the harsh rocks jutting out of the ground. I wish we could have stayed one more night!
So then we headed out for our day of exploring Petra. We were on a time limit though, to get enough time at the Dead Sea, we needed to leave Petra early afternoon! Petra is absolutely stunning and just incredible to look at. You’ll want to take loads of photos and maybe you’ll want to wear some cute clothes too but whatever you do wear covered shoes. No sandals, no flip flops! Petra is full of little stones and rocks and my friends were in agony the whole day from it! Most sites in Petra are quite close to each other, except for the Monastery which we were told was an hour trek away. We didn’t have time for that! You have the options of getting a camel or donkey ride up there too. I regret not seeing the Monastery so much..So definitely give yourself a full day and night for Petra.
We paid another 50 JOD (70 USD), it ended up being quite expensive with the Petra night experience too. I would suggest to skip the Petra night experience, especially if you’re on a budget.
Last thing for Petra is be prepared for lots of comments and shouting from the men there. Some of it can be quite vulgar and if you’re not used to it, it can be a little upsetting.
Dead Sea – Natural Wonder
The biggest thing I can recommend to anyone going to the Dead Sea is to book into a hotel at the Dead Sea. That way you have private beach access to the Dead Sea. This is not what we did. This is what I would have done in hindsight. We decided to stay in the nearby town of Madaba to save some money. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Madaba which was a lovely hotel with not so lovely service but that’s okay because you are going to stay at a hotel by the Dead Sea.
We went to Amman Tourist Beach and paid 12 JD (17 USD). This was by no means a tourist beach. There were no tourists to be seen. It was free for locals and there were many locals. I accept responsibility for what happened that day. We should have done more research. The locals were not very happy about us being there and wearing bikinis. We offended them so they offended us. So I cannot stress enough how much better it would be to just pay the extra money to stay at one of the hotels at the Dead Sea. The Holiday Inn there is supposed to be lovely.
The Dead Sea itself is quite the cool experience. You don’t trust yourself to float at first but eventually you get used to it. One thing I didn’t expect was the stinging. My body was stinging all over, particularly, in places I had shaved recently, it stung like crazy! We put the mud all over and it didn’t smell so great. Washed it off and my skin just felt really dry afterward! It’s definitely not the same stuff they sell you in those fancy bottles! We had about a 40 minute drive to our hotel after the Dead Sea. We were stinging, dry and the salt from the water was actually flaking off our skin!! Another great reason to book into a hotel by the Dead Sea!
Well these are all my tips for a road trip in Jordan! I hope you enjoyed, I really am starting to enjoy writing these posts so hopefully you are enjoying reading them. I’d love to know if you happened to go to that beach as well, what was your experience? Please free feel to leave a comment and follow for more travel posts to come. Thanks 🙂
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