Arriving in Petra
Petra is located in the country of Jordan in the Middle East. Tourist visas are easy to obtain, and travel to Jordan is usually quite cheap. Once you get to Jordan, local transport is usually very cheaply priced and most people speak English, or know someone who does. The Jordanian Dinar is worth more than an American. Most exchange places use the same rate and changing money is quite easy and risk free.
Jordan has a majority of Muslims, so in rural places, conservative dress is appreciated: long sleeves and trousers for both men and women. West Amman is very modern, but there are other areas of Amman and Jordan with very conservative Muslim cultures. Please don’t embarrass the local people by showing “too much skin.” You can wear your bathing suits and shorts at the beach or the hotel pool without any difficulty.
Travel to Petra
The ancient city of Petra is located near the Jordanian village of Wadi Musa. If you are driving, simply get on the Desert Highway from Amman (generally going south from 7th or 8th circle in Jebal Amman). This is a divided highway, or autostrad. Drive south and follow the signs. Generally, you are going to the town of Wadi Musa. If you are going by bus, take the JETT Bus. The JETT bus company runs an excellent daily service between Petra and Amman. They have air conditioned, clean buses, and a great service. Any taxi driver in Amman can take you to their office. If you want to take local transport, then follow these instructions. (They work, I’ve done it many times.) Take a taxi to Mujema Al Janoub, or the South Bus Station. From this station there are both small buses and Service Taxi’s going to Wadi Musa. The bus is cheaper, the Service Taxi is faster. In a Service you pay per seat. Most Services take 5-6 passengers. Public transport leaves the bus station when they are full, not according to any schedule.
The town of Wadi Musa has sprung up around the entrance to Petra. It has a very wide variety of hotels, restaurant, and other services, as well as a local market. You can find everything from five star comfort to places servicing back-packers.
The Visitors Centre
The first place you come to, is the Petra Visitors Centre. This is where all the fun begins. I suggest doing things in this order:
Next: Go to the bathroom! It’s a long ways to the next one! Petra has nice clean bathrooms! That’s important to some of us. There are bathrooms in the visitor centre, in the center of Petra across from the Colosseum, and also at the restaurant/museum at the very center of Petra. These are, what feels like a mile apart!
Go to the outside window, and pay your entrance fee. (Prices vary according to how long you are staying, if you are a student (with a valid student card) or child or adult, or if you are a Jordanian citizen or if you have a Jordanian Residence Permit.
Make sure you check out the shops, stock up on lots of sun block, hats, and drinks. You can change money, buy coffee, books, shirts, and tons of other stuff, but it might be a good idea to hold off on loading up the souveniers until you return. After all, you are going to be doing a lot of walking! On the other hand, you may be far too tired at the end of the day to spend much time shopping.
Near the guest house are several souvenir shops with a wide variety of souvenirs and gifts. Check out Jeff’s Bookshop. They have always been supportive in selling items produced and sold through Nabataea.net.
If you are staying overnight, ask about special events. Candle light walk through the siq (Usually Thursday nights if enough people are interested)
The Walk In
If you are in really bad shape, and do not want to walk a lot, take the buggy ride, but be aware that you will quickly pass through the scenic wonders of the siq, where the rest of us will be enjoying the spectacular wonders of nature.
While the horse riders and buggy riders go trotting past, those walking can stop and view the sites. The first thing to see are the silica quarries on the left, where Nabataeans may have mined silica for making water proof cement.
Thankfully the Jordanian government rebuilt the dam, and now there is no danger of flash floods. When you reach the dam, have a look around. On the mountain walls are some inscriptions, in the tunnel wall there is a statue of an eagle, and of course there are the ever square rocks that mark the boundary of the sacred area of the city. (above right) If you are riding a horse you will have to get off here and walk, while buggy riders zoom past and through the siq.