The exotic Nabataean Rose Red city of Petra is now in ashes; even so, the ancient charm of the city remains undiminished. Petra was a prosperous kingdom when the Romans conquered it, and it continued to be so until the disastrous earthquake hit in 663 AD.

Today, most people travel to Petra, a UNESCO Site, to experience the magic of a bygone era. It’s Jordan’s top tourist attraction, and often in the list of new 7 Wonders of the World.

Things To Do In Petra

In order to understand what 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.

Tomb Staircases

Just after the last tomb on the side of the Royal Tombs, there leads a staircase up the mountain which gives a good view of the Petra area. At the very end of this track there is a camp giving a great view from above the Treasury.

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 hr. Not many people go through the back route as it’s not always clear where it starts – ask or use OpenStreetMap to identify the track. You might even try to use the direct track to the Treasury, which is even harder to find and not official, even though the staircases are clearly visible from down the Treasury.

Mountain of Aaron (Jabal Haroun)

This 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.

Hiking

Those who love hiking, there are a number of popular hikes around Petra. Most hikes last about 1-3 hr round-trip.

Note: Guides can be hired from about 25 JD and up (depending on what you want to see) at the Visitors Center. Many of them were born and raised in Petra, and will gladly share their knowledge with you.

Siq

The entrance to Petra is a long, winding sandstone canyon (about 2 km). 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.

Treasury (Al-Khazneh in Arabic)

Upon exiting the Siq, visitors can view this jaw-dropping grandeur. 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 06:00 or 06:30 (depending on the season) and you may have the Treasury all to yourself or with fewer than 5-10 people around and no vendors.

Street of Facades

Past the next bend is this part also sometimes called outer Siq, a large canyon lined with the facades of various tombs.

Nabatean Theatre

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.

Royal Tombs

On the side of the valley opposite the Roman Theater and a short walk up the hill, are the 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.

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, and even if you take a donkey you will have to walk and climb for about 10 minutes near the end.

Petra by Night

Happens on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 20:30 (be there at 20:15!). Entrance fee is 17 JD and you do not need a day pass. 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. However, there are really mixed reviews of this.

Brooke Hospital for Animals

Princess Alia Clinic is 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

This is the city next to Petra, doesn’t have any big touristic attraction except for a great panorama from uphill.

Note: Major hotels can rent you a portable Easyguide audio guide (10 JD/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.

Other places to see

  • Byzantine Church
  • The Great Temple
  • Desert View (beyond the Monastery)If you follow the track further from the Monastery, you will reach a camp offering tea and stuff to sell, which offers a great view of the desert to the west.

HOW TO GO

After reaching Amman Queen Alia International Airport hire a taxi to reach Petra. The ticket price will vary depending on how long you are staying in Jordan, and how many times you wish to gain entrance to the archeological site.

If you are traveling between Israel, Egypt and Jordan then you should purchase the ticket which allows you to enter when you please, whether or not you are staying the night in Jordan. This ticket costs 90 Jordanian Dinar (JOD), or $127 USD.

The tickets are less expensive when you are staying at least one night in Jordan. For three days of entry to Petra, you need only 60 JOD or $85 USD. You do not need to pay an entrance fee if you have a Jordanian Pass. This pass allows you to visit 40 different attractions throughout the country, including Petra.

Furthermore, the nightly tours cost even less. The one downside to night tours is that they only give you a glimpse of the Treasury. If you book a hotel at the center of the town, you can take a 20-minute walk every day to the ruins. Mini-busses are the cheapest way to reach the site.

WHEN TO GO

Visitors from the tropics can probably cope with the heat of Jordan. But if you want to avoid the heat, then we recommend you visit during the springtime (March – May). If you do visit during the summer, note that the heat is more bearable in the early morning and afternoon. Dusk is the best time of day to capture a photo of the ruins since the sunset brings out the rosy tinge of the old rocks.

WHERE TO GO

The Treasury is undoubtedly the most popular part of Petra. Its popularity is mainly due to the fact that it was featured in one of the Indiana Jones movies. If you visit Petra, you absolutely must see the treasury. After you visit the treasury, then hike up the 822 steps that lead you to the intricately carved monastery. The view of the surrounding valleys from the monastery is spectacular. Hadrian Gate, Cardo, and the tombs are also on the must-see list.

WHERE TO STAY

There are affordable hotels at Wadi Musa which are just a short walk away from Petra. The Al Rashid Hotel and Rocky Mountain hotel are a couple of inexpensive hotels near the site. For a more traditional atmosphere, you can reserve a spot at a Bedouin camp. At these camps, you will stay in tents amongst other travelers. You will also cookout in the desert and share meals with each other. It is like a desert B&B. 

ELECTRICITY

Various types of sockets ranging from C to F are used in Jordan. You will most likely need an adapter to use the outlets. However, you may need to wait until you arrive to determine which size you need. Devices that function at 230V will work fine here. Otherwise, you will need a step-up transformer.  

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June 7, 2018 8:39 am Published by

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