Backpacking Jordan: Must-See Destinations and How to Keep Costs Low

Backpacking Jordan: Must-See Destinations and How to Keep Costs Low

Jordan, a land of ancient history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, is a dream destination for backpackers. From the ancient city of Petra to the serene waters of the Dead Sea, this Middle Eastern gem offers an array of experiences that cater to all types of travelers. However, exploring this captivating country on a budget requires some strategic planning. This guide will help you navigate your backpacking adventure through Jordan, highlighting must-see destinations and providing tips to keep your costs low.

Must-See Destinations

1. Petra

No trip to Jordan is complete without a visit to Petra, the legendary “Rose City” carved into the red sandstone cliffs. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and attracts travelers from all corners of the globe.


The Siq: A narrow gorge that serves as the main entrance to Petra, offering a dramatic prelude to the Treasury.

The Treasury (Al-Khazneh): The iconic façade featured in numerous films, including Indiana Jones.

The Monastery (Ad Deir): A massive structure located at the end of a challenging hike, offering breathtaking views.

Royal Tombs and Street of Facades: Explore the intricate tombs and ancient dwellings carved into the rock.

Budget Tips:

– Purchase the Jordan Pass, which includes your visa fee and entry to Petra and over 40 other attractions.

– Stay in budget accommodations in Wadi Musa, the town adjacent to Petra.

2. Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon, is a vast desert landscape renowned for its stunning rock formations, red dunes, and star-filled skies.


Jeep Tours: Explore the desert’s canyons, sand dunes, and rock bridges on a guided 4×4 tour.

Camel Rides: Experience the desert like a Bedouin with a camel trek.

Stargazing: Wadi Rum’s lack of light pollution makes it an excellent spot for stargazing.

Budget Tips:

– Opt for a group tour rather than a private one.

– Stay in a Bedouin camp, which often includes meals and activities in the price.

3. The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea, situated at the lowest point on Earth, is famous for its buoyant, mineral-rich waters and therapeutic mud.


Floating: Experience the unique sensation of floating effortlessly on the water’s surface.

Mud Baths: Cover yourself in the mineral-laden mud for a natural spa treatment.

Sunset Views: Enjoy spectacular sunsets over the sea’s calm waters.

Budget Tips:

– Public beaches offer access to the Dead Sea at a fraction of the cost of private resorts.

– Bring your own snacks and drinks to avoid resort prices.

4. Amman

Jordan’s capital, Amman, is a bustling city where ancient ruins coexist with modern amenities.


The Citadel: Home to the Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace, offering panoramic views of the city.

Roman Theatre: A well-preserved Roman amphitheater that still hosts events today.

Downtown Markets: Explore the vibrant souks and sample local street food.

Budget Tips:

– Use public transportation or walk to explore the city.

– Eat at local eateries and street vendors for affordable and delicious meals.

5. Jerash

Jerash is one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the world, offering a glimpse into ancient life.


Hadrian’s Arch: A monumental gateway built to honor Emperor Hadrian’s visit.

Oval Plaza: A unique, oval-shaped forum surrounded by columns.

Theatres and Temples: Explore the various temples, theatres, and public squares scattered throughout the site.

Budget Tips:

– Visit as part of a day trip from Amman to save on accommodation costs.

– Take advantage of the Jordan Pass for entry.

6. Aqaba

Aqaba, Jordan’s only coastal city, is a great spot for relaxation and water activities.


Snorkeling and Diving: Discover the vibrant coral reefs and marine life in the Red Sea.

Aqaba Fort: Explore this historic fort and learn about the city’s history.

Beaches: Relax on the public or private beaches and enjoy the warm waters.

Budget Tips:

– Use public beaches or stay at budget-friendly accommodations with beach access.

– Bring your own snorkeling gear to avoid rental costs.

How to Keep Costs Low


Hostels and Budget Hotels: Jordan has a range of affordable accommodation options, especially in major tourist areas. Websites like Hostelworld and can help you find budget-friendly stays.

Couchsurfing: Connect with locals through Couchsurfing for a unique experience and free accommodation.

Camping: In places like Wadi Rum, camping with Bedouin tribes can be an affordable and immersive experience.


Public Buses and Minibuses: Use local buses and minibuses for cheap transportation between cities. Companies like JETT Bus offer reliable services.

Shared Taxis: Share a taxi with other travelers to split the cost.

Walking: Many attractions within cities are within walking distance. It’s free and allows you to explore at your own pace.


Street Food: Jordanian street food is both delicious and affordable. Falafel, shawarma, and manakish are popular and cheap options.

Local Restaurants: Eat where the locals eat to get authentic meals at lower prices.

Self-Catering: Buy groceries from local markets and prepare your own meals if you have access to a kitchen.


Jordan Pass: Purchase the Jordan Pass to save on visa fees and entry to multiple attractions.

Free Attractions: Visit free sites like the Amman Citadel, Jerash’s public areas, and the public beaches at the Dead Sea and Aqaba.

Group Tours: Join group tours for activities like Wadi Rum jeep tours to share costs.

Recreating the Experience: FAQ

1. Do I need a visa to visit Jordan?

Yes, most travelers need a visa to enter Jordan. The Jordan Pass can be purchased online and includes both the visa fee and entry to over 40 attractions, making it a cost-effective option.

2. What is the best time to visit Jordan?

The best time to visit Jordan is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is mild and pleasant. Summers can be extremely hot, especially in the desert regions, and winters can be cold in the highlands.

3. Is Jordan safe for backpackers?

Yes, Jordan is generally considered safe for tourists. The country has a stable political climate and is known for its hospitality. However, it’s always wise to stay informed about current events and follow local advice.

4. What should I pack for backpacking in Jordan?

Comfortable Clothing: Lightweight, breathable clothes for the day and warmer layers for cooler evenings.

Sturdy Footwear: Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots for exploring sites like Petra and Wadi Rum.

Sun Protection: Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect against the strong sun.

Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated and reduce plastic waste.

Personal First Aid Kit: Basic medical supplies for minor injuries or illnesses.

5. How can I stay connected while traveling in Jordan?

SIM Card: Purchase a local SIM card for affordable data and calling. Major providers like Zain, Orange, and Umniah offer tourist packages.

Wi-Fi: Most hostels, hotels, and cafes provide free Wi-Fi.

6. What is the local currency, and where can I exchange money?

The local currency is the Jordanian Dinar (JOD). You can exchange money at banks, exchange bureaus, and some hotels. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas.

7. How should I dress as a traveler in Jordan?

Jordan is a predominantly Muslim country, and modest dress is appreciated, especially in rural areas and religious sites. Women should consider covering their shoulders and knees, while men should avoid wearing shorts in conservative areas.

8. Can I negotiate prices in Jordan?

Yes, bargaining is common in markets and with taxi drivers. However, prices in restaurants, shops, and supermarkets are usually fixed.

9. Are there any health concerns I should be aware of?

Jordan is generally safe in terms of health, but it’s wise to drink bottled or filtered water to avoid stomach issues. Make sure your routine vaccinations are up-to-date, and consider travel insurance for emergencies.

10. What are some essential Arabic phrases to learn?

While English is widely understood in tourist areas, learning a few basic Arabic phrases can enhance your experience and show respect for the local culture:

Hello: Marhaba

Thank you: Shukran

Yes: Na’am

No: La

How much?: Kam?

Backpacking through Jordan offers a wealth of unforgettable experiences, from exploring ancient ruins to marveling at natural wonders. With thoughtful planning and budgeting, you can enjoy all that this culturally rich and historically significant country has to offer without breaking the bank. Whether you’re floating in the Dead Sea or wandering the streets of Petra, Jordan promises an adventure of a lifetime.

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