Floating in the Dead Sea! Image by Colleen Hagerty.
This month I decided to try something new and let you lovely Wanderful readers choose the focus of this column!
Cathy Williams was the first to respond to my post in Wanderful World Facebook group, requesting information on traveling to Jordan. This struck a cord with me, since I actually traveled there last year and had so many questions in the weeks leading up to my trip. Now, I’m happy to have some first-hand experience (and some research) to share with you!
I am also excited that, starting this month, each “Know Before You Go” column will include advice from Wanderful official sponsor Global Rescue. This organization is dedicated to providing people all around the world with critical information in times of crises. Having their input is an amazing resource!
Your Jordan Primer
- Jordan is located in the Middle East.
- Its neighbors are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Israel, and Palestine.
- Jordan is also bordered by the Dead Sea, which is the lowest point on dry land and famously hyper-salty.
- Jordan’s capital is Amman.
- Jordan is a constitutional monarchy led by King Abdullah II.
- Its currency is the Jordanian dinar.
- Jordan is home to Petra, UNESCO-recognized incredibly preserved ruins that provide a peek into prehistoric life.
Jordan itself has enjoyed government stability and economic success in the new millennium, and many tourists will rightfully tell you how safe they found their stay in the country — myself included.
Still, over the past two years, the country has seen a dramatic drop in tourism. This can be attributed to a few factors, including concerns over unrest in its neighboring countries and the growing threat of ISIS in the region.
The U.S. State Department does not currently have any advisories against traveling to Jordan, though it does warn that “the threat of terrorism remains high” in the country. Tourists are cautioned to remain vigilant throughout their travels and avoid any demonstrations. Both the U.S. and the U.K. also advise avoiding Jordan’s border areas with Syria and Iraq.
Jordan itself is extremely welcoming of Western visitors and is currently courting tourists through an extensive tourism push. Jordan’s Queen Rania al-Abdullah, who is a major advocate for women’s rights across the globe, has been vocal in promoting travel to Jordan in recent months, assuring that it is totally safe.
Global Rescue says…
“Though there is a threat of terrorist activity in Jordan, the risk of terrorism is not as high as in some of its neighboring countries.
Opportunistic crimes, such as petty theft and pickpocketing, are more common and present the biggest threat to travelers. These crimes are particularly common in tourist-oriented areas of Jordan, such as the old city center in Amman, banks or ATMs, and crowded shopping areas.
In addition, civil unrest can occur sporadically throughout the country and can occasionally turn violent. To minimize risk, travelers should avoid overt displays of wealth, steer clear of all demonstrations and protests, and maintain awareness of surroundings at all times.
Travelers should exercise caution in border areas and avoid the borders with Syria and Iraq due to outbreaks of sectarian violence and increased terrorist activity.
The country’s customs, laws, and regulations adhere closely to Islamic practices and beliefs. Travelers should dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions. Women should avoid traveling alone and after dark, and should sit in the back seat when taking taxis.”
In my experience…
I visited Jordan (specifically: Petra, Amman, and the Dead Sea region) in August 2014. The lack of other tourists was incredibly obvious—my travel companion and I were the only ones crossing the border! Even inside Petra, we only saw handfuls of people rather than the hordes our guidebooks had warned us about.
While it was awesome to not have to worry about crowds, this did mean we attracted a lot of attention. As a woman, that attention was not always positive. Specifically in Wadi Musa, the town surrounding Petra, I was constantly called after, honked at, stared at, and even followed for short distances, even though I was covered from head to toe.
Ultimately, I had a positive experience in Jordan and cannot endorse the awe-inspiring site of Petra enough. But based on the above experiences, I would hesitate to suggest traveling alone as a woman. Personally, if I were to return, I would feel safer in a group or on a tour.
What do you say?
Have you traveled to Jordan? Is it a place you would feel safe going? Share your experiences or questions below!