The Do and Don’t listing is something that I have always enjoyed watching on travel specials and am throwing my hand into the style with this feature. While some of these features are often in the style of “you must do this” and “you might as well miss that,” this version will be formatted in a different way and in no way tell you not to do something major, as my misfortune might be someone else’s highlight. Instead, the “Do” will feature a specific place or thing to do in the destination that are great sites and experiences, and the “Don’t” will spotlight things to keep in mind during that activity that are not well known and publicized when planning the trip.
For all posts in this feature, check out the Do and Dont link in the category list on the side bar in the future for countries, cities, and regions! Now, onward to 5 Jordan Dos and Donts!
Do – Hike to the Monastery at Petra
Don’t – Expect it to be Quick and Easy
Petra is one of those places you see on television and movies and instantly dream of going there. The main thing that these images leave out is that the ruins of Petra are actually in a massive complex that is significantly larger than you would expect. In fact, before I went I had no idea that the hike from the iconic Treasury to the Monastery, the second most popular spot in the complex, was a several hour hike that had me practically climb a mountain to get there. In 100°F+ (38°C) weather, the hike is not for the faint of heart.
Luckily the Bedouin that live and work in Petra cater to tourists and offer donkey rides to the top. We made the trek, and no matter how difficult it was I was rewarded for the effort. Before giving up, make the extra few minute hike from there to the View of the End of the World. It is worth it.
Do – Stay a Night in Wadi Rum
Don’t – Forget to Take a 4×4 Ride in the Desert
Wadi Rum may sound familiar to you, and it is because it is the location of the history depicted in the Lawrence of Arabia movie (and the movie was filmed there as well, naturally). Much like any desert in the Middle East, you can go and camp with the Bedouin and really begin to explore the surrounding desert. A multi-hour 4×4 ride in the desert is one of the best ways to get out and really appreciate the scenery.
The reason this is a must-see is that the geography of Wadi Rum changes quite significantly in relatively short distances. Most rides to Bedouin camps give way to beautiful scenery like in the photo above, but a true exploration will bring you to large natural arches, ancient wall carvings, and beautiful rose colored rock formations to name a few. But for those not interested in a long day in the desert, a trip to the camel race track is another option that would be hard to pass up.
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Do – Swim in the Dead Sea and get a 3 Dinar Mud Wrap
Don’t – Put the Mud On Your Face for a Photo-Op
The Dead Sea is not only the lowest point on Earth, but the saltiest body of water out there. As up until recently it was thought that nothing could survive in the waters of the Dead Sea, the name becomes apparent. The most popular activity in the Dead Sea is taking advantage of its high salinity and floating for as long as you desire with absolutely no effort at all. The feeling is weird, and the Dead Sea is one of the few places on Earth where this is feasible.
One of the side activities you can do at the Dead Sea is get a full body mud bath for only a few dollars. It is said that the mud on the floor of the Dead Sea is rich in minerals due to the high salt content and offer a number of positive effects on the body. Since it is cheap, do it! But be sure to avoid putting it on your face, or else you will experience the pain that several of my tour members did while washing it off their face with the salt water from the Dead Sea. (A full account of the pain of the Dead Sea’s salt can be found in this post)
Do – Be Mindful of the Sharia Law Based Culture
Don’t – Go to Extremes to Follow Cultural Norms as a Tourist
Sharia law is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts that Westerners have when looking at Islamic culture. Yes, there are extremists who take it out of proportion, but what religion does not have that? Popular culture would have you believe that covered skin is necessary in all situations and that locals will be incredibly rude to you for insulting the religion if you do not. While this may be the case from a few locals, it is not the truth for the majority, and you may not have to be as strict as possible with your wardrobe as you think.
Prior to heading to Jordan, I made sure to only pack plain clothing (t-shirts, shorts, and pants) and was expecting to be stared at. After a week in the country, and only one fellow tour member having their appearance mentioned in poor light, I came to the conclusion that it is understood that foreigners must dress in shorts and t-shirts as we just cannot handle the weather. This does not give anyone permission to wear the smallest bikini top in the world or revealing shorts, but just means that the “rules” are less strict than you would believe. Yes, I am talking to you, bikini-top-wearing cruise-tourist at the Pyramids in Egypt; if only I had got a picture of the situation for proof.
Keep in mind; however, that long pants and covered shoulders are still required before entering religious buildings such as mosques, so pack accordingly and be prepared for a hotter than normal day when touring such establishments.
Do – Make Day Trips to Kerak and Shobak Castles
Don’t – Expect Much From the Sites in terms of “Castle” Remnants
Kerak and Shobak Castles are two of the many castles built during the Crusade period of the 1100s. Due to their notable history in the world, Kerak and Shobak are now popular attractions sitting in the Jordanian countryside. Unfortunately for the castles, time has not been on their side, as the compounds have fallen into a substantial form of ruin. Beautiful architecture still remains, but the original glory of each has been lost to the ages.
For what it is worth, a visit to these castles may be quick for some and longer for others. As much as exploring the ruins of castles from the Crusades is a dream for many, I much more enjoyed the views from these castles as they are perched high above the surrounding region. If you do decide to visit these castles, I highly recommend reading up on them before visiting as the history is not presented very well at either sight.
Jordan is an amazing country for both it’s history, natural beauty, and the wonder of the world Petra. In keeping these Dos and Donts in mind, you will ensure that your experience will be a great one worthy of remembering forever!
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Check back soon for more entries into the 5 Dos and Donts series as we further unravel the secrets of the most popular destinations around the world!
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