Petra, Jordan

Petra is the number one sight to see in Jordan and once you’ve visited, you’ll understand why. At JD55 for a two-day pass, it was the most expensive entrance fee we encountered in Jordan. Included in the fee is a map and a guided tour that takes off every 30 minutes from the visitors’ center. The men with horses and horse carriages just past the visitors’ center will tell you that a ride is included in your ticket price. This is true, however, they expect a hefty tip at the end of the ride. Horse, donkey, and camel rides once inside the site are not included in the ticket price.
Camels at Petra.

The entire length of Petra is 4.3 miles (7 km) and all the major sights can be covered in one day if you are in good health and are fairly active in your daily life. The main thoroughfare is rocky but generally flat. There is a steep climb up to the High Place of Sacrifice and natural rock stairs to get to a few other sites. Getting up to the Monastery is about 45 minutes worth of well-worn stairs without railings. The sights are absolutely worth the workout. Note that there is a cafe near the Monastery, but there are no bathrooms other than the au naturale kind.

The main passage through Petra is in a valley with tombs carved into the hills above. There are stairways up to these tombs and pathways that run on higher ground parallel to the main drag. I highly recommend walking these paths instead of staying in the valley walkway. There are fewer tourists, the vendors are less aggressive, and the views are amazing.

Ruins at Petra.
If you’re on a budget, go when the site opens at 6 a.m. and you will definitely be able to see Petra in one day (assuming that you do not want to hike the long trails that lead away from the ancient city center). We chose to buy the two-day pass and arrived the first day (a Sunday) around noon. It was somewhat crowded, but not overwhelming once we got past the Treasury. The second day (a Monday), we arrived at 6 a.m. and there was no one there. We were surprised and amazed that even around 8 a.m. it was still mostly empty. The tour groups seem to get there around 10 a.m. or 11 a.m.

I highly recommend going at 6 a.m. It’s well worth getting up early to be there alone. Every blog I read about visiting Petra mentioned arriving early but it seemed as though no one took this advice the morning we went. Or, if you absolutely can’t arrive early, stay late. When we were still there around 5 p.m., all of the tour groups were gone and only the individual stragglers were left to wander back through the ruins and the Siq. Also, bring snacks and water. Though the prices of these items are not outrageous in the park, you can save yourself some time and money by bringing your own. Here are a few blogs that I referenced and were really helpful.

http://www.zigzagonearth.com/travel-tips-planning-your-trip-to-petra-jordan/
http://www.ottsworld.com/blogs/escaping-the-crowds-in-petra

We stayed at the Rocky Mountain Hotel for two nights at JD32 a night. The hotel was somewhat dated (as many of the hotels in Wadi Musa are), but the staff was very helpful and the top floor dining room and terrace were nice amenities. This hotel is located up the hill away from the entrance to the park (about a 20 minute walk) and therefore we were able to eat cheaper because we weren’t eating in the tourist area just outside of the entrance to Petra.

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Petra, Jordan

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