This is a guest post by Francesca Brooking.
Jordan is one of the safest countries in the Middle East for solo travelers wanting to dip their toes into the region. There isn’t a strict dress code for women like some of its neighbors, and Jordanians are some of the most hospitable people you’ll meet.
While it’s regarded as a slightly more adventurous destination for solo female travelers, it’s growing in popularity and for good reason. The country is an adventure-lover’s paradise. Hiking trails meander through lush green wadis, and the deserts look like the surface of Mars. Here, you can also travel to the earth’s lowest land point and float in an salty sea.
History buffs will by spoiled by the Crusader castles, some of the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy, and the Nabatean city of Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Plus, well-established private transfers and tours make getting to Jordan’s famous sites easy and safe. Read on to find out what to expect from a solo trip to Jordan:
Is Jordan Safe for Solo Travelers?
Yes, I found Jordan to be a generally safe country. Jordanians are warm and hospitable people who take a great interest in international visitors.
However, like anywhere, don’t go out at night on your own, and be wary of strangers. I did attract some attention from male bystanders, as they could see I was a tourist. It was mostly staring or a few shouts here and there, but they left me alone when I ignored them. They were mostly just curious, and I never felt intimidated.
The biggest dangers in Jordan are pickpockets and scammers. Be cautious when people approach you or try to distract you, and keep your valuables hidden. In fact, leave your flashy accessories at home, since they’ll only make you a target.
A common scam in Jordan is taxi drivers overcharging. Always agree on a price before you start your journey, and ask your hotel to book a reputable company. I recommend sticking to Uber in Amman — it’s very affordable!
As a solo female traveler, I chose to dress more modestly than I otherwise would. Jordan is a Muslim country, but it doesn’t have a strict dress code. I didn’t want to draw more unnecessary attention to myself, however.
How to Get Around Jordan
One of the biggest challenges of travelling solo in Jordan is getting around, as it’s not that easy. Here are your main options:
There are no trains in Jordan, but there is a bus network. The trouble is that the bus is a bit of an enigma. There’s no set timetable; they tend to depart when they’re full so you could be waiting a while. Intercity buses between Amman and Aqaba are popular and likely to be more frequent. For longer journeys or more remote destinations, there may only be one or two buses a day. If you miss the bus, you’ll have to return tomorrow. On the plus side, the fare is an affordable one Jordanian dinar.
To be honest, though, I wouldn’t recommend relying on public transport to get around Jordan.
Taxis and transfers
If you don’t want to drive but prefer to travel independently, taxis are a common way to get around Jordan.
Use Uber to get around Amman. It’s easy, safe, and inexpensive (I paid less than two Jordanian dinars for a 15-minute drive). Outside Amman, taxi fares can be around 27-48 Jordanian dinars a day.
It’s best to arrange taxis through the hotel or hostel you’re staying at, since they know which companies to use. Always negotiate your fare before you start your journey, as taxi drivers are notorious for taking advantage of those who don’t speak Arabic.
Renting a car
Renting a car gives you the most freedom and flexibility. The main tourist attractions are connected by well-maintained highways, so it’s generally safe to drive. However, I would be cautious about driving in Amman, since the traffic is often gridlocked and people tend to drive how they want.
The cost of hiring a car is around 26 Jordanian dinars a day through a reputable company. Compare car rentals through Discovercars.com, or pick up a vehicle from well-known companies like Avis and Europcar at Queen Alia International Airport.
Cellular signals are patchy in the desert, so don’t rely too heavily on it for directions. Download your routes to use offline if you can.
Guided tours are the most popular way to get around, since they’re super convenient and safe.
If you break out in a sweat thinking about enormous 56-seater coaches, though, don’t worry. There’s a combination of private and small-group day trips and multiday tours on booking platforms like Viator and GetYourGuide. They typically depart from Amman and Aqaba.
Another option would be group tours with operators like G Adventures and Intrepid Travel.
If you’re a wing-it type of traveler, the tourist desk at your hotel or hostel should have tour recommendations.
How to Meet Others When Traveling Alone in Jordan
Jordan is a very welcoming country, with lots of travelers passing through. You won’t have any trouble finding people to chat with. Some of the best places to meet people include the following:
As always, hostels are backpacker hots pots, and there are plenty in Jordan. If dorm rooms aren’t your cup of tea, you could book a private room and hang out in the lounge. I like to get a sense of how sociable a hostel is by reading reviews.
Organized day trips and tours
These are a great way to meet other travelers from a range of backgrounds. It doesn’t have to be a big, multiday excursion (as mentioned above). You could simply turn up to a free walking tour and get chatting with other people.
I love using GuruWalks for this. You can browse free tours by interest (there are a lot of food ones in Amman!) and tip your guide afterward.
If you build a rapport with the people on your tour, you could arrange to go for food afterward and go from there.
Coffee culture is huge in Jordan, so cafés are excellent hubs for meeting locals and tourists alike, even if it doesn’t go further than a chat. A good base for café-hopping is around Rainbow Street in Amman.
You’ll most likely encounter local residents who will want to know all about you and share their own stories. One café owner dressed me up in a fez hat and traditional outfit, which was fun!
Best Places to Visit and Things to Do in Jordan
Here are some of the best things to do for your Jordan solo travel itinerary:
No visit to Jordan is complete without seeing Petra. One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Petra is an ancient ruined city established by the Nabateans some 2,000 years ago. It’s dubbed the “Rose City” for the color of its hand-carved sandstone structures, among which you’ll find ancient Nabatean tombs, a monastery, and relics left behind by the Roman occupation in 106 CE.
It’s most famous for the Treasury, a grand piece of architecture carved into the sandstone, but there’s so much more to see than that. The city covers over a hundred square miles!
To make the most of your time here, I recommend staying in Wadi Musa (the closest town to Petra) the day before and getting to Petra’s entrance by 6 a.m. (6.30 a.m. in winter), when it opens. That way, you’ll have the whole day to explore, and you’ll be able to get a good photo of the Treasury without the crowds.
Petra is safe for solo travelers to walk around in, but you may find sellers being pushy about souvenirs or donkey rides. Just be firm and ignore them.
Speaking of animal tourism, Petra is enormous, so it’s common to see people advertising donkey, mule, or camel rides. The problem is, these animals aren’t treated well. They’re forced to carry tourists without a break in the scorching desert heat. They’re beaten and denied water, and sustain horrible injuries. So please try to avoid riding these animals.
If you have limited mobility, you can catch a ride on a golf buggy from the visitor center to the Treasury. It’s a 30-minute walk otherwise.
Jerash is an ancient Greco-Roman city north of Amman, nicknamed “the Pompeii of the Middle East,” as it was thought to be a thriving city before it was struck by a devastating earthquake in 749 CE. The site has been continuously inhabited since Neolithic times, but it’s most famous for having some of the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy.
There’s a Roman theater, a colonnaded street, Hadrian’s Arch, temples, and more to explore. I even encountered a Bedouin man playing a Scottish tune on the bagpipes, which was very surreal!
Float in the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is a saltwater lake between Jordan to the east and Palestine and Israel to the west. The shore is the lowest land point on Earth
It’s no ordinary salt lake though. It has a salinity of 34.2%, which makes it the fourth saltiest body of water in the world. Thanks to that, you won’t be able to sink in the water; you sort of bob on top. Always float on your back as the buoyancy makes it harder to right yourself in the water.
You’ll only be able to stay in the sea for about 20 minutes before it starts to irritate the skin.
Look out for barrels of mineral-rich mud on the beach. You can rub the mud all over your body before washing it off in the sea. It’s essentially a free spa treatment!
The easiest way to visit the Dead Sea as a solo traveler is to stay in a hotel with direct access to it. I went to the Dead Sea Spa Hotel, which has a private beach.
Take a tour of Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is quite possibly my favorite place in Jordan. This desert has been referred to as “the Valley of the Moon” thanks to its spectacular sandstone rock-meets-sand landscape. It’s located in the south, close to Aqaba and the Saudi Arabian border.
Wadi Rum is a protected area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You may already recognize the landscape, since it’s been a filming location for the likes of Lawrence of Arabia, Dune, The Martian, Star Wars, and more.
It’s also the home of the Zalabieh Bedouins who are able to preserve their way of life through the help of income from tourism.
I recommend staying in a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum (more on that later). From there, you can take a Jeep safari through the desert, listen to Bedouin music, enjoy a traditional feast, and go stargazing at night. It’s an absolutely magical experience.
Snorkel in the Red Sea
If you love snorkeling and scuba diving, make sure you visit Aqaba, a port city on the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba.
One of the most popular dive sites is the Yamanieh coral reef in the Aqaba Marine Reserve. It’s teeming with turtles and tropical fish. There are also some intriguing scuttled shipwrecks and planes and an underwater military museum to explore off the coast.
If you feel like just having a beach day, head to Berenice Beach Club. You pay a small fee, but you get access to a swimming pool and a beach, which is more comfortable than a public beach on your own. The beach club can arrange for complimentary transport to pick you up from your hotel. Plus, you can book watersports and snorkelling trips here.
Walk around Amman
Don’t miss out on exploring Amman, Jordan’s capital, during your trip. Most of the main attractions in the city are downtown, which is easily walkable, so you don’t have to worry about getting an Uber or public transport. It’s a busy area, but it feels safe to walk around during the day. You may get accosted by the odd taxi driver but again, just say no.
One of the highlights is the Amman Citadel, with its archaeological remains that date back to the Bronze Age. It is located on the summit of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Jebel Al Qala’a Hill, which has panoramic views of the city.
The citadel’s most iconic site is the Temple of Hercules. Once a grand Roman temple, only parts of it remain, including two intact pillars. It’s thought to have been constructed around 160 CE. An Umayyad palace and a Byzantine church can also be explored here.
The Roman Theatre is another cultural heritage site. Built in the second century CE, the 6,000-seat theatre is cut into the side of a hill. There’s a small museum to the side of it that showcases Jordanian culture through the centuries.
If you have time, I recommend taking an Uber to King Abdullah I Mosque, the only mosque in the city that allows non-Muslim visitors.
For cafés and souvenir shopping, Rainbow Street is your best bet. And for the best falafel in town, head to the no-frills Hashem Restaurant.
Where to Stay in Jordan
If you’re wondering about the best places to stay in Jordan for solo travelers, here are some of my top recommendations. I’ve chosen places that are close to the main attractions in the area to minimize complicated transportation arrangements:
Amman is a handy base for exploring the north of Jordan, since Jerash and the Dead Sea are only a few hours’ drive away. It’s close to Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan’s main hub, and you have the most accommodation options, including hostels!
I stayed at The Cabin, a low-key hostel in the heart of downtown. The beds were so comfy, and the staff at the reception desk helped me arrange transport for my onward journey.
The Dead Sea
While it’s possible to do a day trip from Amman to the Dead Sea, booking a night here gives you more time to relax, so you’re not worrying about getting back to the city.
The Dead Sea is famous for its spa hotels, so you’ll find big luxury names like Kempinski, Hilton, and Mövenpick. A good affordable option is The Dead Sea Spa Hotel, the first resort built on the Dead Sea. It also offers day passes if you don’t want to stay the night.
Wadi Rum is famous for its luxury bubble hotels and glamping experiences. More budget-friendly alternatives are the traditional Bedouin camps. They’re slightly less luxurious, but you’re treated to a comfy bed and a warm welcome — that’s what really matters, after all!
I stayed at Harb Eco Camp. It’s sheltered by sandstone cliffs, and each little cabin room has its own en suite bathroom. There’s a fire pit and a small restaurant serving breakfast and traditional Bedouin meals. Another great option is Bait Ali.
Aqaba is an ideal base for exploring the south of Jordan. Both Wadi Rum and Petra are reachable from here. It’s a popular city with tourists, so you have a decent range of accommodation options for all budgets, including hostels with co-working spaces.
My Luxury Hotel is a reasonably priced four-star hotel with a rooftop swimming pool. It’s well located, and the breakfast was decent.
From deserts that look like the surface of the moon to ancient cities carved from stone, Jordan is a country that will take your breath away.
If you’re a first-time solo traveler, you may (rightly) feel daunted by the prospect of getting around, but day tours and excursions make exploring this Middle Eastern gem much easier.
Once you do, you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping beauty, incredible Levantine food, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.
About the author: Francesca Brooking is a freelance writer and founder of Little Lost Travel, a sustainable-outdoor-adventure blog for solo travelers. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book, on a trip, or planning her next adventure.
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