Much has been written and documented in videos about Petra, the world heritage site in southern Jordan, also listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
However, nothing beats experiencing the Red Rose City personally. When I returned from my trip, a friend enquired if I was disappointed with Petra. Why should I be? Petra is simply breathtaking and if you love architecture, history, art or photography, this is a must-visit Jordanian destination.
In this article, I won’t be writing about “What is Petra?” I don’t think I can write better than this article by Jordan Tourism Board. Instead, what I share with you are tips that you should know when you plan your own trip to Petra, Jordan.
1. Do I need a guide?
Personally, I felt that it would be good to have a guide to point out certain attractions to me, although there are some attractions that are labelled in both Arabic and English.
2. How long does one require to spend in Petra?
I think the best would be three days or even more, to truly appreciate the vast site. Obviously, there are people who would have had enough of Petra by just visiting for a few hours.
As for me, it was just a short tour of about three hours, and I was only able to take in the first two major highlights of the site: The Treasury (Al-Khazneh) and the Roman-style main theatre.
You see, we had to leave the site latest by 4pm as we were required to return for dinner at our hotel in Amman, and it was a three-hour journey north.
3. What is the best time to visit Petra?
Petra was seriously hot when I was there. It was summer and I visited right after lunch. You can imagine the heat that I had to endure.
If you can’t change the season of your visit, perhaps you could at least adjust the time you are in Petra. Early morning or early evening would be more pleasant. However, do take note that visitors are required to leave the site before 7pm (summer) or 5pm (winter).
4. What should I wear?
A lot of people have advised us to wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes because it is going to be a long walk. Do remember, though, that Jordan is a Muslim country and it is better for us to cover our arms and legs, to respect our host.
5. A long walk? What if I’m unfit?
The Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) has posters to urge us to walk in Petra whenever we can.
Nonetheless, our entrance ticket has already included a horse ride, from the horse-riding station to Siq, a narrow gorge over 1km in length that leads one to the city.
Visitors may opt for a horse-drawn carriage, which would take them right to The Treasury, for a current fare of JOD28, inclusive of tips.
Those who hold a special permit, issued at the Visitors’ Centre for an additional fee, can have the carriage enter Petra to easier visit the deeper attractions.
6. Did you say tips?
Yes! Even though horseback riding is already inclusive in the entrance ticket, you are still required to tip your horse handler.
These handlers will try to make you tip more, either through harass or sob story. I tipped my handler JOD5. Whatever amount you decide, be firm but be fair.
7. What should I bring along?
You’d need whatever that helps to shade you from the sun (or heat). Hat, shawl, keffiyeh, long-sleeved tops, sunblock, umbrella and the likes. Of course, don’t forget to bring along a bottle of water.
Depending on how long you intend to stay inside, you would want to carry as light as possible. Yet, you must remember to stay hydrated. Don’t worry, as there are cafés that you can stop for food and drinks, but at a higher than normal price.
If you drink, you shouldn’t miss The Cave Bar, the oldest bar in the world.
8. Are souvenirs sold in Petra?
Certainly. There are several booths in designated areas within the site that sell all sorts of art and craft items either by artisans from the town of Wadi Musa (nearby village, Valley of Moses) or from the Bedouin settlement.
There are also kid-peddlers who try to sell you all sorts of items, from postcards to silver rings. It’s up to you whether you want to buy something that you don’t need, just to support their livelihood, although it constitutes as child labour and should not be supported.
9. Is the Bedouin Bezness love scam true?
I have read about this while doing my own research about Petra and Jordan in general. While I am not going to brush off everything and say these are just made-up stories, all I can say is that it did not happen to any of my female travel companions during this trip.
One can never be too careful, though, so be alert at all times and try to move in a group and don’t leave your common sense behind.
10. Make a difference.
You are advised to report mistreatment, either of visitors or animals, to make a difference in one’s visit to Petra. Provide feedback personally at the Visitors’ Centre or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Before I wrap up my article, I would like to put on record my appreciation to the following parties for making this visit to Petra by Kelab Sukan dan Kebajikan Media Perak (KSKMP), which I was a delegate, such a smooth undertaking. Thank you!
Mr. David Hogan Jr. of Malaysia Asia
Mr. Afanah Z. Afanah and Jordan Tourism Board
Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA)
Ministry of Tourism and Antiques, Jordan
Muhammad Hibatul Muqlis Badaruddin
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