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Top tips for visiting Petra!
There is a lot of think about when planning on visiting Petra, I know I was googling all sorts of questions about what time to arrive, what to wear, how much money to bring, what to bring. So I wanted to create a post which will hopefully answer a lot of these questions – Charlie’s top tips for visiting Petra.
What to wear
Let’s start with the obvious Petra tips – what to wear. We have all seen the images on Instagram of women in beautiful flowing dresses. Well, let me tell you, this is just not practical. Unless you want to just visit the Treasury then this will definitely be fine. But if you are going to want to hike to the view points, I would recommend something a little more, er, sensible.
It is going to be hot, so I would definitely recommend wearing something to cover the shoulders. I would also recommend wearing long, loose, cool trousers to avoid any rubbing! Alternatively a skirt with shorts underneath.
If you are going to arrive early, it can be a little cool first thing so a light jumper and scarf would be a good idea.
Although Jordan is a more liberal country, it is still advised to me slightly more covered. Most men were wearing trousers rather than shorts.
For footwear – go for comfort. Especially if you want to hike to some of the views! I wore trainers, but hiking boots would also be advised.
What to bring
There are going to be something things are really useful to take with you when you wander around Petra and these are key Petra tips!
Firstly – water. You can buy some from the stalls dotted around the site. But when you are on the hikes these are not so prevalent. And you are going to need a lot of water!
I would also recommend taking some rehydration sachets with you to add to your water. No matter how much you drink, you are likely to be walking a lot in intense heat and so do end up really dehydrated. There is also a limit to the amount of water you can carry. A sachet will reduce the risk of you becoming really dehydrated.
I would recommend bringing the following with you:
- Big bottle of water
How to get to Petra
You can book group trips from Amman and Aqaba in Jordan. But also from Eilat or Jerusalem!
But visiting as part of a tour is not the only way. Again you can get public transport from either Amman or Aqaba or you can hire a car and drive.
Driving from Amman to Petra takes about three hours, or if you are heading from Aqaba it is just under two hours.
If you’re wanted to public transport to Petra, JETT Bus leaves from Abdali station in Amman at 6.30am and gets to Petra around 10.30am. It then returns to the city at 5pm.
If coming from Aqaba, public buses leave from the central market and travel to Petra. You can find more infomation here.
When does Petra open and close?
The visitor centre is open from 6am – 6pm in the summer and 6am – 4pm in the winter. The visitor centre is where you can buy tickets, pick up maps and book tours. So this can be considered the ‘opening times’ of Petra. This s also the location of the entrance to the site. Regardless of the time of year however, you can only buy tickets until 4pm. There are instructions on the gate saying you need to leave the site by 7pm in the summer and 5pm in the winter.
How much is ticket
As of 2020, a one-day ticket to visit Petra costs 50 JD (£57 / 70 USD). However, if you have a bit more time, it is definitely worth taking advantage of the multiple day tickets. There is so much to see you might want to opt for a two day ticket which is 55 JD or a three-day ticket for 60 JD.
Children under 12 enter free. Petra By Night tickets cost 17 JD (but you have to have already purchased a day ticket). You will also need your passport to purchase the tickets (as listed in what to bring!)
If you’re a resident of Jordan it’s very affordable at just 1 JD!
When to arrive
Definitely it is best to set of first thing, as soon as the visitor gates open at 6am. This is going to give you the best chance to walk down the Siq when it is quiet, and have uninterrupted views of the Treasury.
If there is a large group ahead of you, don’t rush and try and beat them. Hang back, let them have a bit of head-start and you are likely to get that clear view!
From around 7am in the summer and 8am in the winter you can watch the early morning sun slide down the Treasury facade.
What to see
When researching a trip to Petra, you will hear time and time again how much there is to see and how it extends beyond the Treasury. This is of course true. So make sure you check out this post:
18 amazing reasons to visit Petra
This talks about the amazing things you need to see in the site. The key sights are the Treasury, the Monastery, the Siq and Royal tombs -but even seeing these would just be the tip of the iceberg!
Petra by Night
After you have seen Treasury during day you can then return in the evening to witness the facade lit up. As mentioned above, the cost of the ticket is 17JD, but you do need to have already purchased a day ticket.
Petra by night happens every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evening and there is a magical light show in front of the Treasury, with tales and singing from the local Bedouin. You arrive down the Siq which has been lit by thousands of candles.
The evening starts at 8.30pm and the silent walk down the Siq is magical. I would say the experience was special but not amazing. I would recommend to only do this after you have spent the day in Petra, not the night before. As the magical wow moment of seeing the Treasury for the first time is so much better in the daylight. You wouldn’t want your first view to be at night. The sight isn’t going to be as it looks on the front of the Lonely Planet guide.
How much money to take
This definitely depends on how much you want to buy! I was surprised at the stalls that can be found inside the site. There was a stall selling beautiful handmade jewellery, which were definitely more expensive than the amount of money I had on me. If you just want to buy some food, snacks and drinks, you would be fine with only a small amount. However there is a surprising amount you can in the site. The usual tourist wares of trousers, scarfs and magnets. But also books, jewellery and metal teapots and so on- if you wanted to take something home with you.
Should you get a tour guide?
This is always going to be a decision made on personal preference. I visited as part of a GAdventures tour, so had a built in guide. Personally for me, this was great. He pointed out sights I might not have seen, guided us to get the most amazing first view of the Treasury and provided so much extra personal context and history. After this, we then explored the hikes to the Monastery alone – so it was the perfect combination.
If you are interested, you can book yourself a guide from the Visitors centre for around 50JD. These will be for the main trail. If you want to book something in advance there are plenty of companies who you can arrange it through.
The animals in Petra
This is always a tricky topic, as no one likes to see the mistreatment of animals. Many tourists call for a complete ban on animals at the site. Though, the counter argument to this is that as the income of the Bedouin is already stretched it then would not support a ‘redundant’ animal leading to further neglect.
While there are a few locals who resent the interference of how they should treat their animals, the majority are aware that they are under scrutiny. The Visitor centre is now also taking a closer look at the treatments.
If you do choose to take part in animal rides, there are things you can do to help to encourage the humane treatment. Firstly, make sure are paying the correct amount and don’t haggle (this price is given at the visitors centre). By haggling over the price the handlers feel more pressure to return quickly to make the necessary income and thus push the animals harder.
Make sure the load for the animal is not too great. If in doubt walk. And finally if you do see inhumane treatment, it should be reported to the visitors centre. Ideally with photographic or video evidence.
How long does it take to get to the Treasury
If you walk at a reasonable pace, this should take about 30 minutes walking down the Siq. But make sure you stop and take a look at all the sights along the way.
If you are trying to get an uninterrupted view of the Treasury, make sure to hang back and let the group ahead of you go faster. Much better than trying to out walk them .
How long does it take to get to the to the Monastery
Hiking up to the monastery, is no easy feat. The 800 steps are carved through the mountain and with each turn you think you might be getting there, only to see more steps in front of you. The path actually follows the old processional route through the city. It is also lined with stalls selling all sorts of souvenirs. When you get to the top there is a cafe, which sells snacks and drinks and is also an excellent place to relax and view the Monastery.
Again at a reasonable pace, this should take around 1 hour 30 minutes.
How long does it take to get to the to the views of the Treasury
There are two viewpoints you can climb to – to see the most amazing views down over the Treasury. One is not always open and when it is, you are only allowed to climb with a guide. This should take around 45 minutes.
Taking photos of the Treasury
This wonder is best photographed in full sunlight between 9am and 11am. Make sure you get there in the morning to be able to take advantage of this.
One of the best spots to photograph is a small step where you can stand and with the photographer behind you, you have a shot of you looking forward towards the view. It can be found round to the right as you enter from the Siq.
How much time do I need to spend at Petra?
How long is a piece of string? If you want to see the highlights you can easily do this in a day. If you also want to take part in some of the longer hikes, then 3 days would allow you to cover some distance.
I was there for a day and saw all the key things and sights I wanted to see. Of course, I wish I could have spent longer, mainly just for time to sit and watch and take in the amazing sights around me.
Are there toilets in Petra?
Surprisingly, yes. There are some in the Visitors centre as you arrive. Then there are also some dotted around the site. The ones in the bowl are clean and well supplied, at least in the morning! By the end of the afternoon, they are slightly more used but still much better than I expected.
Where to stay
Camping in the site isn’t permitted over night, so you will need to stay in the near by town. Which is walkable to the site.
There are plenty of options to suit a range of budgets. Take a look at these:
Expensive (£70+ a night ):
Petra Guest House – Located the closest to the entrance of Petra
Mid-range: (£30 – £60 a night):
Budget (less than £30 a night)
Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp – 15 minutes drive to the entrance of Petra. Comfortable and warm traditional Bedouin tents.
Hope these Petra tips help if you are thinking about visiting Jordan in the future! If you are heading to the country, check out these posts as well:
18 amazing reasons to visit Petra
8 things to do in Amman, Jordan
5 easy day trips from Amman, Jordan
Staying in a Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp
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