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FACTFILE


Time: GMT+2
Dial code: 00 962
Area: 92,300 sq km
Elevation: Lowest point: Dead Sea - 408m | Highest point: Jabal Umm al Dami 1,854m
Population: 6,199,000 (2008)
Capital: Amman
Government: Hashemite Kingdom
Language: Arabic (official), English widely understood among upper and middle classes

JORDAN COUNTRY GUIDE


Jordan's beautiful desert landscape has seen its fair share of turmoil through the ages until the country finally achieved independence in its own right after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Since then many refugees from Palestine and Iraq have shaped the history and culture of the country and we have seen its borders change on more than one occasion. These days Jordan is a very safe country to travel to and offers plenty to anyone wishing to visit. With so many places of interest in such a small area and an excellent road network helping to visit the sites quickly, Jordan is a perfect holiday destination in its own right. However, the geographical location of the country lends itself perfectly for a tour that combines the secrets of Egypt or Syria with the beauty of Jordan.

Brief history

The recorded history of Trans-Jordan (the historic name for Jordan) revolves mostly around the fertile north and west of the country, with the history of the sparsely populated arid south and east surviving only through the oral traditions and culture of the nomadic Bedouins.

Evidence of human settlement in Trans-Jordan dates back to the Paleolithic period (500000 - 17000 BCE). While there is no architectural evidence from this era, archaeologists have found tools, such as flint and basalt hand-axes, knives and scraping implements. Read more...

Highlights

  • Amman – Jordan’s capital city with plenty of sites nearby
  • Petra - Nabataean rock hewn city
  • Jerash - former Roman city well preserved
  • King's Highway – Travel to Wadi Mujib, Mount Nebo, Madaba and Kerak
  • Wadi Rum – home to stunning desert scenery
  • Aqaba - Red Sea beaches and coral reefs, perfect for relaxing

When to go

As with most middle-eastern countries, Jordan can be visited at anytime of the year. The main component which determines when most people travel is the weather.

The peak months for western travellers, does tend to be March to May and September to November when temperatures generally range from 20-28°C, during the summer months temperatures can reach 40°C in Amman which many visitors may find uncomfortable. You shouldn't be put of visiting during the summer though as tourist numbers are much lower at this time of year and we always make adjustments to our tour itineraries to try and avoid the hottest parts of the day.

During the winter it can become quite cold in the north of Jordan and snow is not unheard of in Amman during the winter months, even Petra has been known to get a light covering! Aqaba is an exception to this rule and remains balmy throughout the winter with an average temperature of 20°C in January.

The Muslim festival of Ramadan last about a month and at this time of year tourist are discouraged from eating, drinking or smoking in public as this could be seen as a sign of disrespect. During Ramadan fasting takes places during daylight hours (for those of the Muslim Faith) and the evening meal (Iftar) is generally a very special occasion. During Ramadan some tourist sites may close earlier than at other times of the year and we will take this into account when arranging your itinerary. You certainly shouldn't be put off travelling to Jordan at this time of year as this can be a very interesting time to travel in the Arab World. Generally you will find that there is festival feeling within the country with decorations lining the streets.

Geography

The majority of Jordan’s towns are situated within the Jordan Valley which is located along the west side of the country and runs from north to south. The West Bank plateau lies to the west of the River Jordan and is now under Israeli occupation. The East Bank plateau turns into a dry, rocky desert that continues all the way into Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Weather and climate

The fact that Jordan is a desert country is reflected in its climate. Summers last from April to September and days can be very hot and dry while nights can get surprisingly chilly. Average temperatures at this time are 16-26C. From November to March, winters are cool and dry with average temperatures falling to 7.5-15C. Not all of the country is desert and the fertile Jordan Valley has much milder summers and warmer winters although still little rain. It’s only in the northwest hill regions where any significant rainfall occurs.

Light, airy clothes are essential in the summer but you will need something warmer at night when the temperature drops. Bring warm clothes for both day and night if visiting during the winter.

Click for Amman, JordanForecast
Amman
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Rain (mm)
69
74
31
15
5
0
0
0
0
5
33
46
Sun (hrs)
7
7
8
10
11
13
13
13
11
10
8
6
Temp (Max)
12
13
16
23
28
31
32
32
31
27
21
15
Temp (Min)
4
4
6
9
14
16
18
18
17
14
10
6
Days of Rain*
7
7
5
3
1
0
0
0
0
1
3
5
Hum (%)
68
65
50
43
33
34
35
37
42
42
53
65
* denotes number of days with at least 1.0 mm of rainfall

Money

Jordanian Dinar (JD)

1 JD = 100 Piastres
1 US$ = 0.71 JD (April 2017)
1 UK£ = 0.84 JD (April 2017)

Common coins

  • 1 Piastres
  • 5 Piastres
  • 10 Piastres
  • 0.25 JD
  • 0.5 JD
  • 1 JD

Common notes

  • 0.5 JD
  • 1 JD
  • 5 JD
  • 10 JD
  • 20 JD
  • 50 JD

It's possible to change money at any bank, exchange bureau or most hotels. Banks in Jordan tend to be open from 08.00am to 12.00pm Sun - Thu and again from 4.00pm - 5.30pm but exchange bureaux are usually open all day. If using traveller's cheques expect to pay a small service charge per cheque. ATM's are now available in most tourist areas and accept all major debit and credit cards. You can also use credit cards to pay for gifts, hotel rooms and other items. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted cards while banks and exchange bureaux will also give cash advances against most bank cards. It's worth remembering that payments in local currency are always preferred and that no black market currently exists in Jordan.

Holidays

New Years Day - 1st January
Labour Day - 1st May
Independence Day - 25th May
Ascension of HM Abdullah - 9th August
Army Day - 10th June
Birthday of late King Hussein - 14th November
Victory Day - 23rd December

Variable Muslim & Christian Holidays (2017 dates)*

Good Friday - 14th April
Easter Sunday - 16th April
Ramadan - 27th May - 25th June
Eid Al-Fitr (Feast at the end of Ramadan) - 25th June
Eid Al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) - 1st - 5th September
Al-Hijra (Muhammads Fight for Mecca) - 21st September
Milad un Nabi (The Prophet's Birthday) - 1st December

*These religious festivals have no fixed dates and vary each year.

For exact dates of holidays and festivals for the coming year please click here.

NB: Please bear in mind that banks and government offices will more than likely be closed during public holidays. During Ramadan, opening times for shops, banks and offices are somewhat restricted.

Religions

Sunni Muslim 96%, Christian 4% (1997 est). Jordan is an Islamic country with the 1997 estimate indicating around 96% of the population to be Sunni Muslim while 4% is Christian.

Vaccinations

We do always recommend that you seek professional medical advice when considering holiday vaccinations but the ones that are normally recommended for travel to Jordan are listed below:

  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Tetanus
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow (A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required when arriving from an affected area)

For direct, up-to-date information on vaccination requirements for Jordan please click here

Customs

  • Jordan is an Islamic country and therefore it is vital for all people to dress conservatively, particularly women. This is most important when entering mosques (shorts are not allowed), churches, synagogues and bazaars.
  • The conservative nature of the country extends to Jordanian women and they should never be touched without their consent. It's regarded as inappropriate to display public shows of intimacy and with the obvious exception of the beach, it's important to dress conservatively wherever possible.
  • When it comes to communal eating and social interaction, remember to always use your right hand. As with a lot of the Arab world, the left hand is for toilet duties. If you are lucky enough to be invited into a local's house to eat, you must remove your shoes before entering and make sure to wash your hands before eating.
  • Alcohol is widely available throughout the country but it's worth remembering that this is still considered forbidden by many Muslims and as a result you should always act with discretion and refrain from drinking in public.
  • Tipping, or more locally, baksheesh, is standard practice in Jordan and often helps subsidise extremely low wages. It's important to understand that tipping is an appreciation for services rendered, and how well this service is delivered so if you are not happy with the service then don't tip. 0.5 JD is more than enough for hotel staff, porters and helpful site guards. Tips are usually expected in restaurants but check to see if your bill includes a service charge of 10% - if it does then it's okay to simply round the bill up by a small amount. If no service charge is added, the minimum tip should be 10% of the cost of the meal.
  • In shops, on the street and pretty much everywhere you visit you will soon understand that Jordanians haggle for everything and you will be expected to participate. It's important to remain friendly and always barter with a smile for the best results. Street sellers are common, particularly in tourist areas but exercise caution here as what they are trying to sell you may not always be what you think it is.
  • Always be considerate when taking photographs - it's simply polite manners to ask somebody's permission before taking pictures of them. Naturally, it's against the law to photograph anything of a military nature such as bridges, railway stations, airports and other public works. Signs are usually posted in obvious places but if not, always err on the side of caution. Try and avoid flash photography when visiting important or ancient sites.

Security

We advise you check your local consular advice for up to date security information before you travel. Tensions here can rise suddenly however following changes in the whole Middle Eastern situation.

Jordan is one of the most progressive states in the region and is generally a very safe place to travel to. For the latest and most accurate advice you should always contact your local consulate and gather as much information as you can before you travel. While Jordan is a peaceful country, its location in the Middle East means that regional tensions can inflame suddenly and with little warning and the impact can sometimes be felt in Jordan.

Know before you go

In association with the ‘Know Before You Go’ Campaign, we are working with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to do all that we can to help British travellers stay safe overseas. Before you go overseas, check out the FCO website at www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. It is packed with essential travel advice and tips, and up-to-date country information.

Know before you go

Visas

If you are travelling with a British, American, Australian, New Zealand or European passport then you can obtain your visa or on arrival into Amman airport. If you are crossing into Jordan through Aqaba, no visa is required unless you enter with a group and will not leave as an entire group (eg. you enter together but fly out on different flights). The cost of the visa is 10 JD. You can pay for the visa in local JD or hard currencies such as UK Pounds or US Dollars. You may also arrange your visa before travelling should you wish - this is usually a little more expensive. All visas issued are valid for stays of up to 15 days and can be multiple or single entry.

Note: If you are travelling in a group of 5 or more people and also leaving at the same time with the same group, then many nationalities will have their visa fee waived. Therefore, if you are travelling with 5 or more people we recommend that most nationalities simply wait and arrange their visa on arrival.

The majority of African passport holders and most Asian nationalities must arrange their visas for Jordan in advance of travel.

How to get there

By air

There are two international airports in Jordan, in the capital Amman, and the Red Sea resort of Aqaba. The vast majority of scheduled flights are in and out of Amman, with a wide range of European and international airlines flying every day. 

Flying from the UK

If you are flying from the UK, then the only direct scheduled flights to Amman are from London Heathrow, with either BMI or Royal Jordanian Airways (daily), or Easyjet (not daily). The flight takes around 5 hours. Fares range from around UK£350 if you book well in advance, but do increase significantly during busy periods. Prices are often cheaper if you choose an indirect flight with a European airline such as Air France, Lufthansa, Austrian Airways or Al Italia. Turkish Airlines are also a decent option. Easy Jet recently started to offer a low cost service between London Gatwick and Amman with fares starting at around UK£110 per person return. In general, the earlier you book the better, as flights tend to get more expensive closer to departure. Flying from regional airports such as Manchester, Newcastle or Glasgow will require a stop-over in London or Europe and normally is a little more expensive than flying from London.

Where to book

We hold an ATOL, and you are welcome to book your flights with us. Please discuss your ideal dates and departure airport with our sales staff, and we will send you a selection of airlines, flight times, and prices. You can then choose whether to book your flights through us, or to make your own arrangements. If you book your own flights, we will still include both your arrival and departure airport transfers.

By sea

Several Red Sea cruise boats take in Aqaba as one of their stops. We are happy to pick you up from here, either just for a day trip to Petra (around 2-3 hours drive away), or to start a longer tour. If you are travelling into Jordan from Egypt, then there are two ferry options that you can use to arrive in Aqaba either from Taba or Nuweiba in the Egyptian Sinai peninsular.

By land

Egypt

We sometimes use an overland crossing from Egypt into Jordan (or vice versa) for tours that combine the two countries. This journey leaves from Taba in Egypt, and passes through Eilat in Israel at the tip of the Red Sea, before entering Aqaba in Jordan. We have representatives in each location to assist you with this crossing, and will advise you on issues regarding Israeli visa stamps and entry to other countries.

Syria

The drive from Amman in Jordan, to Damascus in Syria, is on good roads and takes around 4 hours, including the border crossing.

Israel

You can enter Jordan from Israel (or vice versa) at several borders, including Eilat in the South, and across the Jordan Valley from Amman in the north.