Solo Travel in Jordan
If you’re not comfortable with leering men then travelling solo in Jordan may not be right for you. As much as it is a beautiful country, visit Jordan alone as a Western woman and expect a few stares.
Being a very male dominated country, the women that you encounter on the streets cover their head with a scarf or a veil. However in the cities and the main tourist sites, Jordanians are used to seeing solo and Western female travellers and the facilities are generally set up with tourists in mind.
Get off the beaten track and you’ll encounter restaurants with separate areas for women to eat as well as a separation on public transport. Is it safe to travel to Jordan as a woman alone? Yes if you dress modestly and respect the culture, this mystical country is an experience that you won't forget.
Nestled in-between the war torn countries of Syria and Iraq, Jordan is the last neutral Arab state and solo travel in Jordan can be challenging but it is a fascinating country to explore. Its main attraction is Petra, the ‘Red Rose’ city which attracts hoards of visitors each year and is worth the flight alone. The year 2012 saw the 2000th year of rediscovery of this magical site that belonged to the Nabataean civilisation. It is a place of timeless beauty with a kaleidoscope of colours and royal tombs.
The Treasury itself is enough to leave you breathless before climbing the 800 steps to the Monastery that stands 50 metres tall. If the climb gets too much, donkeys are on hand to give you that well-needed ride. Visit Petra at night for candlelit tours, held on Mondays and Thursdays (12 JD) but being there at dusk is just as magical in this heritage site, half as old as time. Entry here isn’t cheap (50 JD for 1 day or 55 JD for 2 days) but the proceeds are given to the Queen Eilah humanitarian fund and the local Bedouins.
From here you can travel two hours to Wadi Rum desert and the setting for the film, Lawrence of Arabia. Red creamy dunes, basalt and sand stone mountains make Wadi Rum a truly magical destination and the definition of pure peace. Bedouin families live here in the Jordanian desert and some even have up to 2000 relatives! A four hour tour will cost 35 JD and take you through the Wadi Valley to the seven pillars of wisdom, Lawrence Spring and the ruins of his house.
You can also trek here – walking from Wadi Rum to the Saudi Arabian border will take five nights sleeping in Bedouin camps along the way. Wadi Rum is our favourite place on Earth and is one of Jordans’ most iconic destinations.
Amman is the capital and you can walk around the sites in less than a day or if you’re willing to part with some cash, pay a driver to take you as it’s a fair walk to the beautifully decorated Turkish Mosque. King Abudullah Mosque known as the Blue Mosque is also stunning. You can hire an abaya (black robe) to enter the mosque and gaze at its blue design. There’s also a great little bizarre selling jewellery, candles and embroidery.
The Roman amphitheatre sits within the bustling capital. There’s also a folklore museum which used to be the holding place for the lions in the gladiator days. For great views of the city walk up the crumbling steps to the peaceful Citadel which sits high on a hill above Amman. There is an Archeological museum on the site which has artefacts dating back centuries and will teach you all about the Islamic and Jordanian culture.
Even though it’s a muslim country you can find alcohol served in restaurants and bars along with shisha in the outdoor coffee shops of Rainbow Street, a funky street with artisan shops and modern bars. Don’t forget to try Knafeh, a traditional sweet made of cheese and sugary syrup and the cardamon coffee.
If holy sites are more your thing, Jordan is bursting with them. Visit Madabah, on the King’s Highway, one of the most revered holy sites known for its famous mosaics. Other Biblical sites are Mount Nebo, Lot’s Cave, Elijah’s Hill and Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan where Jesus is believed to have been baptised before the new Christian era began.
Head East for desert castles, examples of Islamic art and architecture. You can see five of Jordan’s castles within a day trip: El Halabad Palace, Esrock Palace, Umrah Palace and El Harrana Palace. But if you only have time to see one castle, Karak is the one to see and is an impressive insight into the ancient Crusader days.
Jordan will surprise you and if you have time, visit the North of the country with Mediterranean scenery, olive groves, citrus fruits and banana plantations to old Roman towns. Jerash is the second most popular tourist destination after Petra, (although we think it should be Wadi Rum) and is known as a ‘Rome away from Rome’ with its ancient Roman ruins. It’s also the highest producer of olive oil in Jordan.
Further north is the ancient town of Umm Qais, 378 metres above sea level which used to serve as a key trading route from Syria to Palestine. The route takes you near the Syrian border (30 minutes away). Umm Qais is the perfect viewpoint to see the surrounding borders; the Sea of Galilee in Israel, Jordan and Syria.
The old Decapolis city is made out of black basalt and is the only place that has a black and white amphitheatre and church. This area should definitely be on your itinerary and even the route past volcanic stones is worth seeing. But you don’t have to go all the way to Umm Qais to see Israel as there’s a viewpoint at Pella, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities.
From here you can travel south through Jordan Valley to the creme de la creme; the Dead Sea, bordered by Israel. This is the lowest point on Earth at 400 metres below sea level and you simply have to experience floating in the Dead Sea.
Going solo is no problem as everyone is happy and smothering themselves with mud packs that you can’t help but leave with a smile on your face. Once the saline waters have cleansed your skin, you’ll be looking and feeling good too. Unless you stay in one of the hotels along the Dead Sea, you have to pay to enter the beach area. Amman Beach is the cheapest at £15.
The very southern point of Amman is Aqaba, which borders Eilat in Israel. It was chosen as the Arab Tourism City of 2011 and although it’s Jordan’s only coastal city, you still may have to cover up if you’re on your own. It is very touristy with shops, markets, restaurants and bars and is an ideal place to explore the Red Sea coral reefs and wrecks.
Other places to visit in Jordan are: Dana, a preserved old stone village with simple living, wildlife and hiking routes through its nature reserve. The Dana reserve sits on the edge of the spectacular Great Rift Valley and is an eco dream. Explore other nature reserves at Ajlun, Mujib and Azraq Wetland Reserve.
Jordan has the added benefit of not being too crowded, except for peak times at Petra and if you like history, biblical sites, pampering and ancient ruins, it’s a great place to come.
The call to prayer takes place 5 times a day and you have to hire a black gown to enter the mosques which aren’t open to the public on a Friday.
Jordan is a nation of smokers so order a non-smoking room if you don’t smoke.
Taxi drivers may tell you that your hotel has burned down and try and take you elsewhere where they get commission. Pre-arrange a transfer or take the bus instead.
Avoid Ramadan where you are not permitted to eat or drink after dawn. This usually takes place in Aug/Sept but check dates before you travel.
Accommodation in Jordan
Jordan has a selection of accommodation whether you prefer budget, eco or luxury. You’ll find hostels in Amman, Petra and the beach resort of Aqaba as well as 2 to 5 stars hotels and resorts. Treat yourself to luxury and a spa at one of the posh Dead Sea Resorts, or spend an evening under the stars in a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum from just £10 a night.
You’ll also find all types of accommodation on Airbnb such as hotels, apartments and local’s homes with stunning views of Petra, the ‘Red Rose’ city. Save $20 off your first stay.
Solo Female Favourite – Petra Guest House
You can’t get any closer to the entrance of Petra than this gorgeous restored 1st century Nabatean House. With cocktails at night and dining in a Cave Bar for breakfast, we love this place. Prices from £62 p/n. Find out more...
Solo Female Favourite – Le Royal Amman
If you like luxury, Le Royal Amman offers elegance with panoramic views of the city. Plus there’s a hot tub to relax in after a long day's sightseeing. Prices from £110 p/n. Find out more…
Solo Female Favourite – Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp
Staying in a Bedouin camp doesn't mean that you can’t do it in luxury. Complete with mirrors, lamps and a comfy bed, camping will never be the same again at the Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp. Prices from £117 p/n including breakfast and dinner. Find out more…
Travelling Around Jordan
It can be difficult to get around the country unless you have a private car and driver as many places are off the beaten track. The roads are easy to navigate as signs are in Arabic and English and hiring a car is a cheaper option (although you may prefer company if taking this option).
If you take a taxi agree the price beforehand; white-painted ‘service taxis’ take fixed routes which you can share with other passengers but we suggest using the private yellow taxis. The Jett tourist bus runs the 4 hour journey from Petra to Amman and departs at 4pm. Local buses run other routes such as Aqaba and Wadi Mjusa. You can also fly between Amman and Aqaba.
If you’re using a taxi it is respectful to not sit in the front seat if you are a woman.
If you choose to hire a car we recommend pre-booking car hire with Avis so you can collect your car when you arrive at the airport.
From the Airport
Amman: An airport express bus runs to the North bus station (Tabarbour) in Amman and costs 3 JD for the 50 minute journey. Taxis are also available and prices are displayed near the taxi office at the airport.
Feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, a reliable and safe service for solo females.
How long do I need?
A week is enough time to see all the main sites. If you only have 5 days you can still see the best of Jordan: Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum and Amman.
Jordan Adventures & Tours
Jordan can be slightly challenging to get around by yourself so you may feel more comfortable in a group for either part of your trip or the whole duration. G Adventures is a responsible tour company which mainly caters towards budget travellers. Most tours have an average of 10 people and there is no upper age limit. Once you book your trip you pay extra for any excursions you want to do when you’re there.
Adventures start from a 4 day Explore Petra & Wadi Rum Independent Adventure, to a 22 day Best of Egypt, Jordan and Israel trip. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company.
Intrepid Travel is similar to G Adventures with an average of 12 people on each tour. Over 50% of people using their trips are solo travellers. They tend to use hotels instead of hostels and have a more comfortable style of accommodation hence the trips can appear a bit more costly than G Adventures.
Trips start from 3 days Petra Uncovered to a 24 day Middle East Discovery through Jordan from Egypt to Turkey. With both tour companies you share a room with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room.
Travelling onwards (check visas before you travel)
Flying into Amman then travelling onto Israel can actually be cheaper than flying directly into Israel.
Jordan To Israel: King Hussein Bridge: This is the best border if you are looking to return to Jordan within 14 days as you don’t need a multiple visa. From downtown expect to pay 25 JD for a taxi to the border or take a bus from Amman bus station. Exit tax is 10 JD payable at one of the 3 counters at the border (you need to go to all 3) before buying a ticket for yourself (4 JD) and your bag (1.30 JD) to board a minibus. Then it’s a 15 minute journey to exit Jordan and arrive at an airport style immigration in Israel.
There are 3 check points to get through so be prepared to wait and allow at least 3/4 hours. If you come late evening they may turn you away and ask you to return the next day. Interrogation is more probable for muslims and British passport holders. Make sure you have an itinerary pre-booked as they will ask you for address and how long in each place. Read here for opening times.
Sheik Hussein: In the North to Beit She’an in Israel. In Jordan buses run to Irbid then take a taxi from here for 20 JD or all the way to the border. Beit She’an is 5km from the border and is reachable by bus.
Wadi Araba crossing: Between Aqaba and Eilat in the south. From Aqaba take a taxi for 5 JD to the border. Exit tax is 10 JD and a taxi from the border into Eilat will cost around 35 NIS after paying 5 JD from Aqaba to the crossing.
Jordan To Egypt: Fly or take the fast boat from the terminal south of Aqaba. It only takes 1 hour to Nuweiba and leaves every day at noon apart from Saturdays and costs 26 JD. There’s also a slower car ferry which departs early evening (5pm).
Jordan To Syria and Iraq: Not recommended at this time.
Jordan ToSaudi Arabia: Three border crossings: Umari, Mudawara, Durra. You need to apply for your visa beforehand and it’s very difficult to obtain one.
Where can I go from here?
Israel – 40 minutes
Egypt – 1.5 hours
Lebanon – 1 hour
- Can I drink the water? Jordan says yes but we recommend bottled.
- Is tipping expected? Up to 10% but most hotels and restaurants will add this to your bill. For taxis just round up.
- Fixed price or barter? Barter.
- Any ATM’s? Yes.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Right.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes, plenty of falafel!
- Any seven wonders of the world? Petra.
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Capital – Amman
Population – 6.5 million
Language spoken – Arabic, English