Petra, the fabled "rose red city, half as old as time", is a well known ancient Nabataean city in the south of Jordan. Due to its breathtaking grandeur and fabulous ruins, Petra was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.
Petra was the impressive capital of the Nabataean kingdom from around the 6th century BC. The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire in AD 106 and the Romans continued to expand the city. An important center for trade and commerce, Petra continued to flourish until a catastrophic earthquake destroyed buildings and crippled vital water management systems around AD 663. After Saladin's conquest of the Middle East in 1189, Petra was abandoned and the memory of it was lost to the West.
The ruins remained hidden to most of the world until the Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as an Arab scholar, infiltrated the Bedouin-occupied city in 1812. Burckhardt's accounts of his travels inspired other Western explorers and historians to discover the ancient city further. The most famous of these was David Roberts, a Scottish artist who created a number of accurate and detailed illustrations of the city in 1839.
The first real excavations of the site were in 1929 after the forming of Trans-Jordan. Since that time, Petra has become by far Jordan's largest tourist attraction, partially due to the exposure by the Steven Spielberg movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in 1989. Due to the fantastic engineering accomplishments and well-preserved dimension of Petra, the archaeological site was chosen in July 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World .
Exit fee from Israel 96NIS ($23USD, May 2011), you can pay online or at a post office (for no fee); check to see if your country needs to purchase a visa in advance (the US does not). Eilat Border Info (Arava Crossing). Exit fee from Jordan, 5 JD. Border open most days 8AM-8PM.
JETT buses, both ordinary and all-inclusive guided tour, connect to Amman and Aqaba via the fast (but boring) Desert Highway. Other tourists come with organized groups, including daily trips from Eilat. Tours to Petra from Taba, Sinai and Sharm el Sheikh are also gaining popularity with charter tourism.
It would cost 24 JD for two persons to travel by JETT bus, and allow you to see almost the entire site in an (exhausting) day trip.
The minibus from Wadi Rum costs 3 Jordanian Dinars (JD) each. It takes 1.5 hours to get to Petra. Have the Rum Guesthouse or your tour operator call the bus owner the day before to arrange an exact time for pick up. The bus usually leaves from Wadi Rum at 8:30 in the morning, but may be delayed due to weather or tour groups coming the other way.
There are also minibuses from Amman departing from the Wihdat bus station - these leave when full, and tourists are charged 5 JD to get on. Do not allow the drivers to charge you for your luggage, as they might sometimes try to do. The ride is about three hours.
There is a daily bus to Wadi Musa from Madaba that travels via the scenic (but slow) King's Highway. This minibus leaves from outside the Mariam Hotel in Madaba.
There is a minibus going from Aqaba, for those that cross from Eilat and don't want to pay the outrageous taxi fare. The problem is, there's no timetable - it leaves early in the morning (6:45) from Wadi Musa towards Aqaba, then returns from Aqaba when it fills up etc. The trip was 5 JD in November 2010.
Taxi is also a viable option. For 75 JD or less (depending on how much you haggle) you may be able to get a private taxi from Amman to Petra and back, including the driver waiting around for 6 hours.
A taxi from Aqaba to Petra should cost about JD 30 one-way. If you arrange for a daytrip you should be able to find a taxi who is willing to go with you for the whole day for 45 JD (January 2010, round trip, including the wait for the driver).
If coming from Eilat (Israel), opportunistic drivers at the border will ask for much higher fares - upwards of 100 JD. They are all working for the same person and they are all in on it. You may be able to negotiate down to 75 JD. It's better to take one cab to central Aqaba and continue from there at the normal price, but don't mention Petra at the border or they will deliberately drop you somewhere their colleagues are waiting. Most hotels in Petra can also arrange to have someone pick you up.
If you get there renting a minibus with a driver in the hotel at the Dead Sea, the one-way price would be 140 JD.
As of Jan 2010 a day trip to Petra by taxi from the Eilat border crossing costs 50 JD return for 3 people and the driver will wait for you in Petra.
Camels are a common form of transportation in Petra
The only modes of transport allowed within Petra are on two feet or four (camel, donkey, or horse). When entering Petra, there is a brief hike down towards the Siq. Horses will be available for travel to the entrance of the Siq, or you can choose to take a horse-drawn buggy through the Siq (a distance of about 0.9 kilometers) and down to the Treasury. The prices for such rides are not set and are extremely negotiable, depending on one's bargaining abilities.
Once you arrive at the Treasury and throughout Peta, there will be many camel and donkey owners jockeying for your business. Be prepared to do some bargaining and don't pay more than 10 JD, a more reasonable price is around 3 JD a person. Often times the owner will drop his price in half simply by hearing a few phrases in Arabic.
Camel or donkey transport should be seriously considered. Riding a camel is a unique experience on more level ground, but a donkey is recommended for more ambitious climbs, such as the ones to the High Place or the Monastery. However if you are reasonably fit and the weather is good, the walk is quite nice.
Between your hotel and Petra entrance, you can either walk or take a taxi for 1-2jd. Most hotels have free shuttle to the entrance on fixed schedules.
A good idea is to stock up on high quality batteries for your digital camera, before you enter the site. You will need more photos than you think, and local batteries will often not last many minutes.
The urn atop the Treasury
Petra is an archaeological park, so the entrance fees are considered fairly steep compared to other Jordanian attractions. Visitors can purchase tickets at the Visitor's Center for 50 JD/person for a one day pass, 55 JD for a two day pass, 60 JD for 3 days (as of Nov 2010). Note, however, that one-day visitors are charged an impressive 90 JD (March 2011), so even if you want a one day pass, it will only be 55 JD (March 2011) if you can prove that you're staying in Jordan overnight (ask your hotel for confirmation and bring a passport to the Petra's ticket office). A valid student ID card used to allow cheaper entrance, however this offer has been discontinued, it is not sure if it will become available again. Do not attempt to purchase tickets from dubious scalpers around town! Time permitting, the two-day pass is recommended, as there is much to see and do in Petra. For more than one day, the ticket office can ask for your passport as the ticket has your first name on it.
Guides can be hired from about 10 JD and up (depending on what you want to see) at the Visitors Center. You may want to take advantage of the knowledge of the Bedouins who work in Petra. Many of them were born and raised in Petra, and will gladly share their knowledge with you for the price of a camel or donkey ride. Alternatively, major hotels can rent you a portable Easyguide  audio guide (JD 10/day) for commentary in English, Arabic, French and Spanish. Easyguide is also available as a mobile phone service on all Jordanian mobile phone networks, a map  is needed to use this service.
The entrance to Petra is a long, winding sandstone canyon known as the Siq (about 2km). There are minor carvings spotted here and there throughout the Siq, but the most impressive sights are the colorful and unusual sandstone patterns in the rock walls. There are also remains of terracotta pipes built into the sides of the canyon that were used in Roman times to carry water.
Upon exiting the Siq, visitors can view the jaw-dropping grandeur of the Treasury (al-Khazneh in Arabic). Be sure to note the urn atop the Treasury structure. It has been rumored that the urn contained a Pharaoh's hidden treasure, and the urn bears the bullet pock marks where Bedouin travellers throughout the years have tested the theory. Get there when the park opens at 6AM or 6:30AM (depending on the season) and you may have the Treasury all to yourself or with less than 5-10 people around.
Past the next bend is the outer Siq or Street of Facades, a large canyon lined with the facades of various tombs.
At the end of the Street of Facades is the 7000-seat Roman Theater. The theater was created by the Nabateans but later enlarged by the Romans. It is still used for occasional performances.
On the side of the valley opposite the Roman Theater and a short walk up the hill, are the Royal Tombs. The name was given because they are quite grand in scale compared to the others in the area, but it is unclear for whom the tombs were originally constructed.
The Monastery (ad-Deir), the largest carved monument in Petra, dates back to the 1st century AD. The interior, like that of the Treasury, is puny in comparison to the facade. The more than 800 steps up to the Monastery can take over an hour; Few visitors choose to ride donkeys up to the top. The donkeys are treated very badly, and it's quite depressing seeing this along the way.
Petra by night happens on Monday, Wednesday and Tuesday at 20:30. Entrance fee is 12 JD. Order your tickets at your hotel. It is only made of candles, you'll hear a short play of Bedouin music and be served some tea in plastic cups while you sit on mats at the Treasury. It's best to see this before you see Petra by day, as it becomes far less impressive if you already walked up to the Treasury during daytime. It's not amazing, but it's something nice to do during nighttime. There are really mixed feedback on this, see for example, TripAdvisor Reviews on Petra by Night
Princess Alia Clinic, Brooke Hospital for Animals located just inside the entrance to the park. As you can witness inside Petra, not all donkeys, horses and camels are treated right. A few are overworked, carrying overweight tourist or being excessively whipped. The Brooke charity educates owners about the treatment of equestrian working animals and treats the animals for free. The clinic is happy to tell you about conditions for working animals in Jordan. You can give a donation to the clinic.
Wadi Musa which is the city next to Petra doesn't have any big touristic attraction
For the terminally energetic, there are a number of popular hikes around Petra.
In order to understand what in reality Petra is, it is better to spend there two days. The first day: Siq - Treasury - City - Monastery. The second day: another way to Petra through Wadi Muthlim - see the Treasury from above on Jebel Al -Khubtha - High Place of Sacrifice. If you enter Petra through Wadi Muthlim do not turn left immediately after the small Siq, first go right to see Aqueduct, Tunnel and Al-Wu'eira Fort and only after that return to Petra center. It may not be possible to go through this route due to excess water in it. It's not recommended doing this route without a guide.
The High Place of Sacrifice - The site at the top of the mountain contains elaborate rock altars used for sacrifices. From the High Place, one can view much of Petra from above. Beautiful scenery. It can get cold and windy up there. The trek down the back side of the mountain reveals many interesting tombs and carvings that might be missed by the average tourist. The round trip generally takes 1.5-2.5 hours. Not many people go through the back route as it's not always clear where it starts - ask.
The Monastery is one of Petra's most impressive structures
* The Mountain of Aaron (Jabal Haroun) is the highest peak in the area. At the top you will find a small church and the tomb of Aaron, brother of Moses. The route to the top and back will take you past the Monastery and will take 4-8 hours depending on your chosen path.
Most hikes last about 2-3 hours both way.
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Ancient coin, mister?
The Bedouin tradesmen around the area will display artificial "ancient" Roman or Nabatean coins which are rather large in size. If pressed further, they will generally have a hidden stash of small, authentic coins from various periods. However buying these coins encourages the illegal looting of archaeological sites. To supply you with a souvenir the local inhabitants destroy graves, tombs and buildings in searches for coins and other antiquities. The Antiquities Law of 1988 states that individuals who engage in illicit excavations and/or trading in antiquities are criminals.
Throughout Petra, vendors will offer bottles of decorative sand art. While they may appear similar to other such souvenirs found in other Jordanian locations, these are unique in that the sand used to create the art is naturally colored sand scraped from the rock walls of various Petra canyons and not artificially colored.
Eat & Drink
There is only one restaurant in all Petra at the far end of the Roman Highway, which does a roaring trade despite steep pricing. It also has the valley's monopoly on beer.
For just snacks and hot & cold drinks however, there are a number of small stores and vendors scattered throughout Petra.
Shade is sparse in Petra, and on a hot summer day you can expect to go through at least 4 liters of water (and more if you can afford to carry it). The need for water in the winter months is much less. 1.5 liter bottles cost 0.5 JD.
In Wadi Musa, there are many more eating options.
Of particular note, is Al-Wadi Restaurant on Shaheed roundabout/Circle in the center of town. Reasonably priced, and the servers are extremely friendly. Also great food that you will be unlikely to finish. Expect to pay JD2-JD4 for a main dish.
Also, Cleapatra restaurant below Circle/Al Wadhi restaurant. About 1JD for a falafel or a tea.
Wrangler Bar, (at Petra Palace Hotel). cosy bar with alcoholic drinks and oldies but goodies musicJD 4 for beer and wine.
Si Wan restaurant has some good local food with fair prices. Also, there's a good and cheap bakery near it.
Al-Anbat 1, ☎ +962 (06) 215 6888 (email@example.com, fax: +962 (03) 215 6888), . Clean rooms with satellite TV (including BBC & CNN). All upstairs rooms have baths and the occasional balcony. Poorly located some 4 km from Wadi Musa, but breakfast and transport to Petra is included in the price. Internet cafe, restaurant and Turkish bath. In January 2009 the hot air from the air-conditioning system was being switched off at night and during the day ("when all the tourists are in Petra"), that caused extremely cold temperature inside the rooms, where you could stay only having your coat on or under two covers.From 45JD (January 2009).
Al-Anbat 2, ☎ +962 (06) 215 6888. All rooms have air-con and satellite TV.Single 5JD; double 10JD.
Cleopetra Hotel, ☎ +962 (03) 215 7090, . mid range hotel with common area with TV and couches. Recently refurbished (December 2010), all rooms have bathroom included. Located up the hill (near the bus station) but free transport is provided to Petra. Great reception with lots of advice and can organise trips to Wadi Rum. Mosleh will take care of you - he seems to know everyone in town. Breakfast is also included in the price which makes this hotel great value! Single: 25JD; Double: 30JD.
Petra Gate Hotel, ☎ +962 (03)215 6908 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Warm, welcoming, and friendly atmosphere; the rooms all with bath and toilet , offers free transportation to the site; free luggage storage; international telephone call service; laundry; wireless internet services; satellite TV; movies; tickets to Petra by Night; and a big buffet-style restaurant. English speaking, super friendly and helpful staff is there to answer all your questions, and they can organise trips to Wadi Rum and to the kings highway and Dead Sea and they will help you during your stay. Clean and quite cheap, breakfast included.11 JD per person.
Saba'a Hotel, Wadi Musa, Petra, Jordan (From the bus station, turn left and walk along the main road to the roundabout, cross over and walk 100yards up the hill on the left.), ☎ + 962 776250574 (Ibrahim)and +962 779730533 (Gail) (email@example.com), . This hotel opened late 2009 and the couple running it are really welcoming - he's from Jordan and she's from the UK and they really make you feel at home. The rooms are simple and clean, they are all ensuite. Wireless internet; packed lunches; laundry service, luggage storage; satellite tv; book swap;local information; trips to Wadi Rum are all available.Prices per person from: single ensuite 14JD, double ensuite 10JD, twin ensuite 10JD, triple ensuite 9JD, breakfast. is included.
Valley Stars Inn, ☎ ''+962'' 3 2155733 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Family owned and operated, and the manager's devotion to service and direct attention to details makes this two star hotel like a five star international quality experience. Bright and sociable living room/ eating areas with warm and homey atmosphere and unlimited free high speed wireless internet access. Clean and comfortable guest rooms. Manager speaks and writes (emails/ texts) English, graciously responds to all questions about your complete Petra vacation, and can arrange for local guided tours. Upon request, Manager will assist with travel plans to and from other points within Jordan, organize trips, and provide travel advice for Wadi Rum, Wadi Dana, Aqaba, Amman and other destinations, all for a fair and honest price (no need to haggle). Free shuttle service provided to and from Petra main gate. Free luggage storage upon check-out. Boxed lunches can be arranged for day trips with a local restaurant and delivered to hotel.JD 35 for double, includes international breakfast buffet, complete with eggs cooked to order. Half board for JD10 extra adds a superb dinner.
Valentine Inn, Wadi Mousa, Jabal Alzohour Str, Jordan. (At the main roundabout, head up the (steep) hill about 200mt, entrance on the right.), ☎ + 962 (03)215 6423, . checkin: anytime; checkout: 11am. The place where every taxi driver will attempt to take you, the Valentine Inn has become very popular with budget travelers and backpackers. They offer a generous and tasty breakfast and dinner buffet (2.5 and 5JD, feb 2011), clean and cool dorm rooms, and sociable dining area with great views of the town. Depending on which staff or owners, you can easily have help with directions or get tea. Like all places they can arrange everything, and offer a free minibus to the park entrance at 7 & 8am and returning at 5 & 6pm. The dorms may be cramped, but there is free Wi-Fi and pickup from the bus stand. Laundry is available at 2.5jdDorm 3JD (14 beds) 5.5JD (9 beds); Single 15JD, feb 2011; double 18JD; Triple 20JD.
Nawaf Bedouin Camp, ☎ +962 795 537 109 (email@example.com), . Very good way of getting to know the real Bedouin lifestyle. Nawaf is a warm and respectful person, and the way he manages his camp has very little to do with a hotel - he likes to work with small groups of tourists, so he can use all his energies to make you feel comfortable and spend time talking with you around the campfire. At night, in the magic atmosphere of the Bedouin tent, he will prepare on the fire (just in front of you) a very tasty dinner, following the old Bedouin traditions. The price also includes transportation to and from the Bedouin village next to Petra and to the desert camp in Wadi Araba.95JD/night, including dinner and breakfast.
Peace Way Hotel, (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +962 3 2156963). free wifi in the lobby, free transport to Petra in the morning (1-way only)18JD/night, single room including breakfast, feb 2011.
Amra Palace Hotel, P.O.Box 124 Wadi Mousa 71810 - Petra - Jordan, ☎ +962 3 2157070 (email@example.com, fax: +962 3 2157071), . wifi in lobby and bedroom (7jd for 1 day but often special unlimited offer mix with other things)24JD/night, single room including breakfast, feb 2011.
Cleopatra Hotel, P.O. Box 125 - Wadi Mousa - Petra, (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +962 3 2156963), . wifi (2jd for all your stay)25JD/night, single room including breakfast, feb 2011.
Moon Valley Hotel. Rooms for 22JD/night (April 2011). 20JD for additional nights. Room was decent for the price but not the cleanest. Air conditioning, Satellite TV, and hot water. Included in the price is a minimal breakfast. WiFi for 2JD/day. Staff was very nice and helpful. Walking distance to Petra's entrace, although it may take 10 minutes or so. It's near a bunch of cheap supermarkets, SiWan restaurant (great local food, fair prices, not the cheapest), and near a good and cheap bakery.
Sharah Mountains Hotel (email@example.com), Wadi Mousa (500 meters from the bus station), ☎ 00962779421440, . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Sharah Mountains Hotel is located in Petra (Wadi Mousa), One minute walk from Al-Shaheed roundabout. Offers free transportation to & from the gate of Petra at any time you want, deposit safe, reservation for other hotels in Jordan , Organizing transportation to any place in Jordan with very competitive prices.20 JOD per room per night.
Qaser Al-Bint Hotel (firstname.lastname@example.org), City Center (five minutes to The bus station), ☎ 00962776434952, . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Offers clean and comfortable rooms with air condition and private paths.18 JOD per room.
Mövenpick Resort & Petra, Wadi Mousa 71810 Petra, ☎ + 962 3 21 57 11 1 (email@example.com, fax: +962 3 21 57 11 2), . checkin: 14:00 hrs; checkout: 12:00 hrs. Located directly at the entrance to the historic city of Petra, the luxurious Mövenpick Resort Petra is certainly one of the most notable hotels in the Middle East. The Mövenpick Resort Petra is delighted to welcome its guests and visitors to the newly refurbished and tastefully decorated rooms and suites. The newly remodeled rooms and suites are elegantly designed and decorated with modern stylish furniture and fixtures that will satisfy the most discerning individual. All rooms and suites are equipped with the latest technological requirements such as wireless broadband internet connection and a 32/37 inch LCD flat screen television.Rates starting from JOD 99.00++. (30°19'32.48N,35°28'10.21E)
Grand View Resort, Queen Rania Street (Beside the Marriott overlooking Wadi Musa), ☎ +962 (3) 215 68 71 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . One of the top 5 hotels in Wadi Musa, the Grand View Resort offers excellent service with a fantastic view of Jabal Haroun (the Mountain of Aaron) and the surrounding area.Single: 75JD; Twin: 100JD; Studio: 150JD; Junior Suite: 250JD; Executive Suite: 450JD.
Taybet Zaman Hotel and Resort, ☎ +962 (06) 215 0111. Located in a renovated 19th-century village, this is quite possibly the best hotel and almost certainly the most stylish one in Petra, if not in all of Jordan. The 105 rooms are all located in individual houses decorated in Bedouin style. The inevitable handicraft shops are attractively camouflaged in a "souq", and there are good restaurants and even a Turkish bath on hand. The resort is a fair distance from Petra, but a courtesy shuttle bus is provided once a day: 9:30AM to Petra and 2:30PM for the return. This doesn't give enough time for exploration of Petra. If you have your own transportation, this is doable. If not, you end up paying 6JD each way for a taxi. Six percent of all profits go to the local community.Rooms start at $110.
Mövenpick Nabatean Castle Hotel, Wadi Mousa 71810 P.O BOX 184, ☎ +962 3 21 57 20 1 (email@example.com, fax: +962 3 21 57 20 9), . checkin: 14:00 hrs; checkout: 12:00 hrs. Mövenpick Nabatean Castle Hotel is a 10 minute drive from the entrance to the historic site of Petra, situated in a breathtaking secluded position on a hillside at an altitude of 1,400 metres. All the hotel's 90 rooms and suites are spacious and most have extraordinary views over the Great Rift Valley. Interconnecting rooms and non-smoking rooms are available on request.Rates starting from JOD 66.00++. (30°17'19.15N,35°27'23.70E)
The most cold and rainy months to visit Petra are December and January. In this time it is warm during the day and very cold in the evenings and at nights. That's why it is necessary to take coats, hats and gloves. And it could warm up your visit there if you take a thermos with hot tea with you. Avoid going if the forecast shows a lot of rain, as the guards may need to transport tourists out if the valley starts to flood (like on Jan 18th 2010). The hot, dry air sometimes results in nosebleeds. Carry petroleum jelly (Vaseline or other brands) or petroleum jelly based products like Vicks and apply liberally to the insides of the nostrils to avoid nosebleeds. Also, carry plenty of water and Oral Rehydration products like Electral if you are traveling to Petra in the hot summer months to avoid dehydration. A good cap and sunglasses will help you avoid getting a heat stroke.
Little Petra is accessible by taxi or from/to Petra. A fair price would be about 15jd to go there from Wadi Musa, stay about 1h and come back with the same taxi.
Wadi Rum, a stunning desert valley in southern Jordan, lies about an hour south of Petra. Buses leave in the morning and generally cost 5JD. Taxi for 25 JD and not more than 30 JD.
Mujib nature reserve
Buses to Aqaba also leave in the morning for 5JD (~ 7am).
It is recommended to do Kerak on your path between Petra/Amman as most hotels don't organized one day tour back to the initial place.
Most budget hotels have tours but the level of organization changes a lot and could block you to take a tour. Best to form a group yourself (at least 4 persons).
Example tour could be Kings way trip: hotel, shoubak castle, dana, tafilah, karak castle, dead sea, madaba, mount nebo, churches madaba, amman for about 30jd at Valentine Inn.
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