Wadi Rum is a spectacularly scenic desert valley (wadi in Arabic) in the southern Jordan.
Lawrence of Arabia spent a significant amount of time here during the course of the British-inspired Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War (1914-1918). Fans of the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia will be familiar with the landscape, which is not so much sand dunes as it is a mass of soaring cliffs and sandstone and granite mountains (jubaal in Arabic). The area is quite isolated and largely inhospitable to settled life. The only permanent inhabitants are several thousand Bedouin nomads and a few villagers. There is no real infrastructure, leaving the area quite unspoilt. Apart from the Bedouin goat hair tents, the only structures are a few concrete shops and houses and the fort headquarters of the Desert Patrol Corps.
Wadi Rum is a short detour from the Desert Highway between Amman and Aqaba (and not too far from Petra). A side road leads to the entrance where you will find little more than a parking lot, a police office and lots of would-be guides offering camel and 4x4 treks. The cost to enter into Wadi Rum is 2 Jordanian Dinars (JD) per person.
Private vehicles are prohibited past of the village of Wadi Rum. If you want to experience the grandeur that the Wadi has to offer, you will need to hire a guided camel or 4-wheel-drive tour. The costs may vary based on the guide, the length of the trip, and your willingness and ability to bargain.
The genuine attraction of the Wadi Rum is the desert itself, best accessed in a hired four wheel drive or on a camel. Some visitors only do a few hours in the Wadi, but it's definitely worth doing a guided trip of several days duration, staying overnight with Bedouin families or camping in the desert.
Picking up a guide at the gate is a hit and miss affair, and many of the best guides rely exclusively on advance bookings. Jordan Tracks is a reputable Rum-based family operation. You will pay a small premium for their services, but you will know for certain that you will have good meals, and an English speaking guide, both of which will greatly enhance your experience. Additionally, if you were planning on taking a taxi to get there, they will be able to arrange a better rate than would normally be offered to a foreigner.
Climbing is another popular activity: Wadi Rum Rock Page
Eat & Drink
The closest thing to a hotel in Wadi Rum is the resthouse in Rum village. It offers very basic accomodation - a matress on the roof - as well as selling food and water. There are several camping options, from a more formal camp ground, to riding out into the desert with a Bedouin guide and staying in a traditional Bedouin tent. The costs may vary depending on the option and/or guide you choose, but the stay is actually very affordable.