I am sure everyone deciding to visit Jordan has Petra as main objective.This was also my case. Petra is the second of the 7th world wonders added on my travel list.
As I was saying in my previous post about Jordan (you can find it here), Petra is a place deserving a distinct post, because there are so many things to be said about it. In fact there will be two post dedicated for Petra.
Petra is huge and a really great and impressive place. The ancient city of Petra is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world but I won’t tell you its history now, because you can find it everywhere on the internet (Wikipedia).
I will tell you instead about my experience and maybe give you some advice on what you have to do or not while you visit Petra.
First, in order to visit Petra you have to stay in Wadi Musa, the closest city to the archaeological site. You will find here all kind of hotels and many restaurants.
The closest hotel to the Petra entrance is Movenpick (you just go out from the hotel and enter Petra) and near it there are other several 2-3 hotels.
Because of their location these are the most hunted even if they are not cheap at all. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any free room to any of them when we started to book our stay(more than 2 months in advance). So, if you want to be close to Petra book your room way in advance.
The season is also important, because October, when we were there, is a highly sought month and a lot of tourists are visiting Petra.
In consequence, we had to choose another hotel and since the possibility of staying close to Petra entrance was excluded we decided to go up, on the hill, so we can enjoy at least an amazing view over the city. We chose a pretty cheap hotel, for the view as I was saying but also because it had very good reviews on Booking, Rocky Mountains Hotel.
We found here advantages and disadvantages, still I don’t think I would choose it again.
– a great view over the city
– the restaurant and the terrace at the last floor. Here you could take the breakfast and dinner(optional) or just stay and spend some time to relax and admire the view from the terrace
– the very nice staff giving us useful information when arriving in Wadi Musa
– the price, a very good one for Jordan
– the supermarket near the hotel
– very small rooms, very small bathrooms and poorly maintained. The hotel is for sure in need of a renovation.
– non-sealed windows letting the wind inside, especially if you are less lucky and you get a bad weather. Considering the room was only heated by the air-conditioning (with extra charges) most probably the room will be cold.
– the big distance to the Petra entrance but also to the restaurants area.
If your hotel is far from the Petra entrance I would not recommend you to walk there. Even if the distance won’t seem long for you, just consider the following aspects :
1. you will walk a lot inside Petra, there is no need to add additional distance from the hotel to Petra and back,
2. Wadi Musa is a city located on the hills so you won’t have a straight road.You will always go up and down.
If you have a car, you will find a parking lot near to the Petra entrance. If you don’t have a car, there are taxis in the city and I would expect for the most of the hotels to provide shuttles to the archaeological site (our hotel did provide a shuttle).
Inside Petra, the best transportation is… your feet. There are also other options as a camel or a donkey. I personally prefer to walk, I don’t find it comfortable to ride a camel or a donkey.
If this is an option for you, you will have to negotiate. You will hear everywhere that going with a carriage drawn by a donkey between the entrance and the Treasury is included in the ticket price. This is true but this does not mean that you won’t have to add some extra pay for the carriage driver :).
How much time to spend in Petra
Well, once the accommodation issue is solved, another important aspect to be taken into account is how many days you will need to spend in Petra.
Most people spend in Petra 1 to 3 days, the tickets being perfectly fitted for this.
You can buy tickets for 1,2,or 3 days in Petra. You can find here more details about Petra tickets.
It would be better for you to buy the Jordan Pass (from here) which can also include 1,2,or 3 days access in Petra.
If you do the math and add all the Jordan objectives you want to visit, you will most probably end up concluding that buying a Jordan pass is much more convenient.
Not taking into account the prices, I think two days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Petra.
One day is enough for sure to see the main attraction points in Petra, even more if you start your day early in the morning.
In two days you have enough time to even hike 1-2 trails and enjoy the views,stop for a tea or coffee and in general not to be on the run.
In three days you most probably have enough time to see the entire Petra but personally I think after two days you are already tired and you will feel that is nothing more to be seen that will make an impression on you.
How we dress up
The clothes and especially the footwear must be comfortable in Petra. You will have to climb stairs, hike, walk through dust and sand.
And if you are lucky to catch some rain the things are even more complicated. Do expect to have some wind from time to time so be prepared for this.
What I am writing here will most probably seem funny since I visited Petra while wearing a dress.
The reason for this is that I saw a lot of pictures on Instagram before going to Petra and I found them spectacular if you wore a dress.
In fact, I was wearing leggings and a t-shirt under the dress and sneakers so the dress was not uncomfortable at all; I was even prepared to take it out if it would have annoyed me a lot.
Being a place where locals are used with tourists you don’t have to worry about the correct outfit, you can wear whatever you want.
Personally I did not have to worry about this aspect since the weather was cold enough for me to be pretty dressed up.But if it’s hot, you can basically wear whatever you like.
What to eat
You will find many places in Petra where you can buy tea, coffee, water, juices or snacks and at least one big restaurant (Basin by Crown Plaza) in an open buffet style around noon.
If you don’t want to stress about where and when to eat or you don’t want to buy food from there take a lunch box with you.
Our hotel offered lunch boxes for Petra and I expect this is the case for other hotels also. Or you can just buy your food from the supermarket.
In any case, you will not have any food related issue. I didn’t find the prices inside Petra more expensive than the rest.
While you are not inside Petra site, in Wadi Musa you will find plenty of restaurants. I would recommend Al-Wadi restaurant, the best in Wadi Musa, where the pita is fresh and delicious.
It will be crowded in the evening and it’s possible to have to wait for a table here. Our second time at AL-Wadi we didn’t want to wait so we went to the another restaurant, right on the other side of the street, and we were not very happy with our choice.
The souvenirs are expensive in Petra. If you plan to go through Amman during your stay in Jordan buy them from there, the variety is bigger and they will also be cheaper.
I won’t tell you not to buy a scarf to proudly wear it around your head in Petra. Or to have it in your pictures :). I actually bought two while in Jordan to match my outfits.
This is what I can say about the administrative part regarding a trip to Petra but stay tuned for the next post because I will tell you what you can visit and how to plan your days in Petra.