10 Out-Of-The-World Experiences You Cannot Miss When In Jordan

Aakanksha posted on 26 April

What happens when you’re bored of taking those quick trips to Thailand? Or when you know Sri Lanka better than most locals? Well, turn in the opposite direction and set your sights on Jordan. A truly magnificent country in the Middle East, Jordan is an oasis of calm, culture and natural wonders. How many countries can boast of having a Red Sea, a Dead Sea, endless deserts, mountains, and meal times that are celebrations? With a convenient Air Arabia flight to take you to the capital city via Sharjah, easy visa on arrival and sights and sounds to keep you in awe for about five to six days, this country is our new favourite ‘foreign getaway’. Here’s our to-do list for you when in Jordan – from ancient ruins and Bedouins to underwater marvels and top-of-the-mountain views.

Jerash

Oh what a marvellous introduction to Jordan this is. Predominantly a Greco-Roman city, north of Amman, it comes a close second to what most people flock to Jordan for, Petra. An extensive city of ruins, I was truly mesmerised by the way the architecture had been preserved. Almost better than most places in Italy and Greece itself! Hadrian’s Arch – the triumphant arch which you can also find in Athens, welcomes you to the city, and after taking plentiful photos, the Oval Plaza and the Collonaded Streets beckoned. Standing the test of time, they are marked by still-standing Doric pillars that lead you to the Hippodrome, Cathedral and the North and South theatres. Make sure to stand at the marked spot in the theatres and make your travel companions listen at the very top – crystal clear sound and winning acoustics!

For a whirlwind history lesson, swing by the museum for a glimpse of pottery, figures, precious stones, mosaic and even marble remains.

Eat, Shop, Love At Rainbow Street, Amman

While many flock to Al-Wakalat Street, neither time nor money was on my side. So I ditched the high street and the fancy brands in favour of Rainbow Street, downtown. A marvellous street filled to the brim with colour, character, hookah bars, coffee shops and handicraft stores, it was a real treat. Jordan is great for leather {expensive yet authentic}, hand-woven throws and rugs, pottery, silver jewellery and of course Bedouin artefacts. I found myself lost at Souk Zara. Naturally, I returned with interesting mosaic coasters, silver trinkets and even some embroidered cushion covers. End your evening of shopping at the Al Sufra restaurant. A chic place to enjoy Jordanian food, you’ll realise these people take celebrating mealtimes to the next level. From the magically appearing mezzes – which included hummus, labneh, mutabel, tabbouleh, fattoush, gallayet, beitinjan salad {eggplant with cheese, tomato and coriander}, koftas and kibbeh to the more filling sajeyat lameh {lamb with pine nuts} and pilaf, you’ll need a mint tea to finish off. If you’re looking for a good night’s sleep, the Crowne Plaza, Amman should do the trick. Plus, their breakfast will see you through lunch and tea, for sure!

Gawk At The Collection Of Cars And Bikes At The Royal Automobile Museum

If you’re done your research on the royal of Jordan, you’ll know that their love for automobiles in genetic. And this stunning museum is filled with only the private collection of the monarchs, past and current. From World War I era cars with armour and super-fast Ferraris to regal Rolls Royces and even the dreamy Bugatti Veyron, there’s over 70 beautiful cars in here. And then come the sight of 50 slick motorbikes that range from a futuristic replica of the Tron bike to Harley Davidsons and Hondas over the years. In short, it’s about a century worth of top-of-the-line cars and bikes. Wowzaaa!

Other

Al Madina At Tibbiyya, Amman, Jordan

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    Fall In Love With Petra Treasury By Night

    One word for this experience: magical. Whatever you do, don’t miss this. Sure the entire experience of Petra by day is different because, well, it’s a marvel. How often do you see a city carved into mountains and that too a pre-historic Nabataean caravan-city at that? But at night, the entire path or Siq, leading up to the main city entrance and the iconic treasury façade, is lit up with candles. A sound and light show follows, with a Bedouin musician and story-teller taking centre-stage. A glass of herbal tea is part of the evening as you sit on mats and marvel at the landmark. Don’t skip it during the day though, it’s a different kind of amazing. Oh! And try checking into the Petra Guest House. Not only is it a few steps away from the entrance of the site, it’s also got a Cave Bar resembling a Nabatean cave.

    Other

    Jordan

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      Climb Up To The Monastery And Place Of High Sacrifice

      Since it’s a tiny little town, waste no time in entering the archaeological park in Petra. In fact, start at about 7am. Climbing into and between the sandstone canyons, chasing the sun and echos of fellow travellers proved enjoyable. I suggest you even hike up a steep rock face and 800 steps to see the majestic Monastery. When up there, also look at Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Israel from a distance. If you have it in you, also climb up to see the Place of High Sacrifice. Both of these are underrated and overshadowed by the treasury’s fame but more than worth the effort. I came back with plenty of Instagram-worthy photos, and three marriage proposals from Bedouins. Win!

      Star-Gaze With Bedouins At Wadi Rum

      TE Lawrence got it perfectly when he described the desert as “vast, echoing and God-like…”. Almost intimidating in its unending rock and sand terrain, there’s a certain thrill in kicking up sand as you drive in the desert. Watching the sunset from sandstone mountains or atop a dune is compulsory. It’s also paradise for climbers with canyon and rock faces like no other. Since most of the people living in Wadi Rum are Bedouins, you’ll want to be more mindful of what you say and do, as their semi-nomadic lifestyle still keeps them from modern life. But they’re also wonderful people, who’ll happily welcome you to their tents for divine Jordanian tea and music and dance after. I luckily had a photographer in my group, and thanks to him, we watched the Milky Way shift, through the night, just outside our super cool camp called Al Captain’s Camp.

      National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuaries

      Wadi Rum Village, Jordan

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        Float (And Take A Photo) In The Dead Sea

        You simply cannot leave Jordan without getting into or rather onto the Dead Sea. As it’s 430 metres below sea level, in addition to being the only place where you float automatically on the water, you’ll also be at the lowest point on the surface of Earth. How cool is that. When you’re are the shore, feel free to slather yourself with sand and salt for that perfect glow. It burns a bit, so also don’t go overboard – you’re beautiful just the way you are. Also, holding a book or an iPad when floating isn’t as easy as people make it seem… just FYI. Most hotels in this area have direct access to the Dead Sea. Jordan Valley Marriot Resort And Spa was my home for the night, and thanks to the hospitality, the infinity pools that cascade into one another, and view of the Dead Sea, I never wanted to leave.

        Tourist Attractions

        Dead Sea, Jordan

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          Dive Into The Red Sea At Aqaba

          Since you’re in the area, you might as well tick off the Red Sea, eh? Often neglected by foreign tourists, Aqaba is a seaside town that Jordanians flock to any chance they get. While it’s got numerous fancy hotels {our favourite is the Mövenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba, with a private and four swimming pools, no less} which you may not want to ever leave, hop on a boat for a night dive. As magnificent as a day dive might be, there’s a mystical feel to the underwater world at night. If you time it for a full-moon night, chances are you’ll see crab, lobster, eel, lionfish, octopus and of course, the untouched reef. For seasoned divers, check out the many wrecks including the Cedar Pride and Taiyong. For non-divers, just snorkel along the reef during the day and you’ll still have plenty to rave about.

          Soak In The Ma'In Hot Springs Near Madaba

          Sure the Mosaic City of Madaba is known for, err, mosaic, but don’t miss the amazing experience of sitting under a waterfall of naturally hot water. You may spring out instantly because it’s really that hot, but the minerals and temperature will actually soothe your muscles, and add to the glow that the Dead Sea sand already, presumably gave you! Splurge and stay at the Ma’In Hot Springs Resort & Spa for the best views and access to the springs. Plus, a swimming pool on the edge, and a personal spring in that pool. Yup, I’m not joking! You get your own personal waterfall.

          Eat Mansaf – The National Dish Of Jordan

          Vegetarians, please look away. Meat eaters, welcome to what we hope heaven will be like! A dish that’s meant for a feast {at least three people can eat a portion}, Mansaf is made from lamb, rice and fermented yoghurt {which is called jameed} and as simple as it sounds, the flavours will create a riot in your mouth. Add to that shrak, a type of bread and similar to a roomali roti, which the dish comes covered with, and of course, the myriad salads and mezzes any meal is accompanied by, and you have a feast! In fact, this dish actually solves political problems within the country, and tribes have made peace over some mansaf. #lifegoals.

          The write was invited by Byond Travel on behalf of the Jordan Tourism Board.