Discovering Petra: A Budget-Friendly Guide for Young Travelers

Discovering Petra: A Budget-Friendly Guide for Young Travelers


Nestled in the heart of the Jordanian desert lies Petra, an ancient city that has captivated the minds of historians, archaeologists, and travelers for centuries. Known for its rock-cut architecture and stunning landscapes, Petra is one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world. While it may seem like an expensive destination, especially for young travelers on a budget, it is entirely possible to experience the magic of Petra without breaking the bank. This guide will take you through the essentials of planning a budget-friendly trip to Petra, from transportation and accommodation to food and sightseeing.

Getting There: Affordable Transportation Options


The first step in any international journey is getting there. For those traveling from abroad, the most convenient airport is Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan. To find cheaper flights, consider booking in advance, using fare comparison websites like Skyscanner or Google Flights, and being flexible with your travel dates. Additionally, flying into neighboring countries with lower airfares and then taking a bus or train to Jordan might save you some money.

From Amman to Petra

Once you arrive in Amman, you have several options to travel to Petra:

1. Public Buses: The JETT Bus is a reliable and affordable option, with daily routes from Amman to Petra (Wadi Musa). The fare is around $10-$15 USD, and the journey takes approximately 3-4 hours.

2. Shared Taxis: If you prefer a bit more comfort, shared taxis are available and can be cost-effective if you’re traveling with a group. Prices can be negotiated but expect to pay around $25-$35 USD per person.

3. Rental Cars: For those who want the freedom to explore at their own pace, renting a car can be an attractive option. Rental prices vary, but you can find deals starting at about $30-$40 USD per day. Just make sure to factor in additional costs like fuel and insurance.

Budget-Friendly Accommodation

Petra offers a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Here are some wallet-friendly suggestions:

Hostels and Budget Hotels

1. Valentine Inn: Known for its friendly atmosphere and budget prices, Valentine Inn offers dormitory beds and private rooms. It’s a popular choice among backpackers and young travelers.

2. Petra Gate Hostel: Located in Wadi Musa, this hostel provides basic but clean accommodations at reasonable rates. It’s a short drive from the Petra entrance and offers free shuttle services.

3. Rocky Mountain Hotel: A bit more upscale than a hostel but still budget-friendly, Rocky Mountain Hotel offers stunning views of the Petra mountains and includes breakfast in its rates.


For an adventurous and cost-effective stay, consider camping:

1. Bedouin Camps: Experience the local culture by staying in a Bedouin camp. These camps offer traditional Bedouin tents and hospitality. Prices usually include meals and can be surprisingly affordable.

2. Wild Camping: If you’re equipped with your own camping gear, wild camping is allowed in some areas around Petra. Just make sure to follow local regulations and practice leave-no-trace principles.

Eating on a Budget

Food is an essential part of any travel experience, and Jordan offers a variety of delicious and affordable options:

Street Food

1. Falafel: A staple in Jordanian cuisine, falafel is both delicious and cheap. You can find falafel sandwiches for as little as $1-$2 USD.

2. Shawarma: Another popular street food, shawarma is a quick and satisfying meal. Prices range from $2-$3 USD.

Local Restaurants

1. Al-Wadi Restaurant: Located in Wadi Musa, this restaurant offers a range of traditional Jordanian dishes at reasonable prices. Try the mansaf (lamb cooked with yogurt) or the maklouba (a dish of rice, meat, and vegetables).

2. Al-Arabi Restaurant: Known for its hearty portions and affordable prices, Al-Arabi is a favorite among budget travelers.

Exploring Petra: Tips and Tricks

Entrance Fees

The entrance fee to Petra can be a significant part of your budget, but it’s well worth the cost. Here are the current fees (as of 2023):

– 1-Day Pass: 50 JD (around $70 USD)

– 2-Day Pass: 55 JD (around $77 USD)

– 3-Day Pass: 60 JD (around $84 USD)

For the best value, consider the 2-day or 3-day passes, which allow you to explore Petra at a leisurely pace.

Timing Your Visit

Petra can get crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. To avoid the crowds and the heat, plan to arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The site opens at 6 AM and closes at 6 PM.

Must-See Highlights

1. The Treasury (Al-Khazneh): The most iconic structure in Petra, the Treasury is a must-see. Arrive early to avoid the crowds and get the best photos.

2. The Monastery (Ad-Deir): A bit of a hike to reach, but the stunning views and impressive architecture make it well worth the effort.

3. The Siq: This narrow, winding gorge is the main entrance to Petra and is an awe-inspiring start to your visit.

4. The Royal Tombs: Explore these impressive tombs carved into the mountainside.

5. The High Place of Sacrifice: Offers panoramic views of the entire site and a glimpse into the rituals of the ancient Nabataeans.

Guided Tours vs. Self-Guided

While guided tours can provide valuable insights and historical context, they can also be expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, consider a self-guided tour. There are plenty of resources available online, including maps and detailed descriptions of the main sites.

Recreating the Petra Experience at Home

If visiting Petra isn’t feasible for you at the moment, you can still immerse yourself in its wonders from the comfort of your home. Here are a few ways to recreate the Petra experience:

Virtual Tours

Several websites and platforms offer virtual tours of Petra. These tours provide 360-degree views and detailed descriptions of the key sites. Some popular options include:

Google Arts & Culture: Offers virtual tours and high-resolution images of Petra.

Petra National Trust: Provides virtual tours and educational resources about Petra’s history and significance.

Books and Documentaries

Reading books and watching documentaries can transport you to Petra and give you a deeper understanding of its history and culture. Some recommendations include:

Books: “Petra: The Rose-Red City” by Christian Auge and Jean-Marie Dentzer, “The Nabataeans: A Brief History of Petra and Madain Saleh” by Mohammed Al-Tarawneh.

Documentaries: “Lost City of Petra” (National Geographic), “Petra: Secrets of the Ancient Builders” (PBS).

Cooking Jordanian Cuisine

Experience the flavors of Jordan by cooking traditional dishes at home. Some popular Jordanian recipes to try include:

Mansaf: A traditional Bedouin dish made with lamb, yogurt sauce, and rice.

Falafel: Deep-fried balls made from ground chickpeas and spices.

Shawarma: Marinated meat cooked on a rotating spit and served in pita bread with vegetables and sauce.

Cultural Activities

Engage in activities that reflect Jordanian culture:

Music and Dance: Listen to traditional Jordanian music and learn some dabke dance moves.

Crafts: Try your hand at traditional Jordanian crafts, such as weaving or pottery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Petra safe for solo travelers?

Yes, Petra is generally safe for solo travelers. However, it’s always important to take standard precautions, such as staying aware of your surroundings, avoiding isolated areas after dark, and keeping your belongings secure.

What is the best time of year to visit Petra?

The best times to visit Petra are during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) when the weather is mild and pleasant. Summer can be extremely hot, and winter nights can be quite cold.

How many days should I spend in Petra?

To fully appreciate Petra, plan to spend at least two days exploring the site. This allows you to visit the main highlights without feeling rushed and to take some of the lesser-known trails.

Do I need a visa to visit Jordan?

Most travelers will need a visa to enter Jordan. You can obtain a visa on arrival at the airport or apply for one in advance through the Jordanian embassy or consulate in your country. Check the latest visa requirements before you travel.

Can I use credit cards in Petra?

While major hotels and some restaurants in Wadi Musa accept credit cards, Petra itself is a cash-only site. Make sure to carry enough Jordanian dinars (JD) for entrance fees, souvenirs, and other expenses.

What should I wear when visiting Petra?

Dress comfortably and conservatively. Lightweight, breathable clothing is ideal for the hot desert climate. Wear sturdy walking shoes, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking and hiking. Additionally, bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.

Are there facilities for food and water inside Petra?

There are a few small cafes and vendors selling snacks and drinks inside Petra, but prices can be high. It’s a good idea to bring your own water and snacks to stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up.


Petra is a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. With careful planning and budgeting, young travelers can experience the enchanting beauty and rich history of this ancient city without spending a fortune. From affordable transportation and accommodation to budget-friendly dining and sightseeing tips, this guide provides all the information you need for an unforgettable and cost-effective adventure in Petra. And if you can’t make the trip just yet, there are plenty of ways to recreate the Petra experience at home and keep the dream alive. Happy travels!

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