Jordan is a wonderfully welcoming country. Taking a day trip from Aqaba to Petra is a once in a lifetime experience! Petra was once a thriving city on the the silk road but came to ruin and became known as the “Lost City of Petra”. Only in the 1800’s was it rediscovered by a western man in Bedouin disguise who sought out the site. But it wasn’t until 1985 that the Petra Archaeological park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007. It was just celebrating it’s 1 millionth EVER visitor days before our visit, showing it’s still way off the average tourists radar (the Eiffel Tower has had 250 Million visitors since it was built)!
How to take a day trip from Aqaba to Petra
Never heard of Aqaba? Nor had I until I found a cheap flight browsing through Skyscanner. Of course I booked it straight away! Aqaba is and up and coming tourist destination that lies on Jordan’s small slice of the Red Sea. It’s mainly known for it’s pristine diving with perfect conditions for beginners (and much cheaper than neighbouring Sharm El Sheikh).
It’s easy to pick up a taxi to Petra from Aqaba, in fact every taxi that you get in will be keen to offer this trip as it’s a good days work. Remember bartering is definitely a thing here. It should cost 35JD one way so with waiting and a return journey if required it can be around 80JD in total. Ask a few drivers and see what you can find. Better yet if you find a driver you feel safe with go with them. The driving standards aren’t the best here, we had a guy named Arafat recommended by our hotel and it was one of the most dangerous journeys we’ve been on (and we’ve been on Sri Lankan buses, Guatemalan shuttles and Cuban taxi’s without brakes). I spent most of the way back kicking his chair to wake him up.
You can also do an organised tour from Aqaba to Petra although this will set you back a bit more money it’s easier to find reviews etc. Check out Tourist Jordan for the latest prices. Of course the easiest way is to do an organised tour of Jordan to make the most of your time and meet other travellers on the way.
- Dress modestly. Petra is a historical site, men should wear trousers and women can cover up to be respectful. Having said this Jordan is very liberal compared with its neighbours and especially towards foreigners.
- Wear comfy shoes. It’s a huge site and there is a lot to see. Allow at least one full day to see everything.
- Buy the Jordan pass. Most citizens will need a visa to enter Jordan (40 JD), incorporate this with a visit to Petra (50 JD) and anything else you do is free with a Jordan pass! (70JD)
- Please don’t ride the donkeys, they aren’t treated fairly. If you want to help them donate here.
- Do buy or trade your own things for Bedouin crafts. Trade is still a common form of payment in this culture and can be a fun way to recycle unwanted things.
The Siq and the Treasury
The Siq is a unique geographic feature caused by a fault splitting it apart by tectonic forces. It’s unlike others, such as Antelope canyon, that are caused solely by water erosion. It is the grand entrance to the site and a stunning walk.
The Treasury is the first main structure you will come across after walking about 1.2km through the Siq. Many will recognise it from Indiana Jones – The last crusade. It’s epic structures, carved out of rock, certainly don’t disappoint. Although you can’t actually enter the building you can climb the rocks opposite to get a great photo.
The Locals of Petra Jordan
How hard is the Monastery Hike in Petra?
There are several hikes of varying difficulty in Petra, most taking a good few hours to complete. If you are tight on time stick to the main sights and the Monastery hike.
The Monastery is quite a taxing hike. Don’t be that person that gets on a donkey at Petra. We saw one lady with a broken foot who had gotten off the donkey half way, she ended up feeling so terrible for the mistreated donkey that she walked the rest of the trek and back on crutches instead! It takes roughly an hour to get there (900 steps) and half an hour back. Take your time and enjoy the views. Tea is waiting for you at the monastery. It’s especially pretty at sunset, making the walk back very peaceful as the park is closing.
Petra had been on my bucket list since I saw the first pictures of it in a Lonely Planet magazine as a teenager. It certainly didn’t disappoint, it is a real Lost Wonder! I think a lot of people are put off travelling to the Middle East and think it’s going to cost the earth! But we paid just £70 return flying from London to Aqaba with an overnight stop in Milan. Although Jordan is not a particularly cheap country, (prices in Jordan are similar to that of Western Europe) it has a strong economy and is known to be very safe! So what are you waiting for? Use the Skyscanner tool above to check for flights!
How to travel better for less
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Transferwise – A debit card you can use all over the world and get great exchange rates with no hidden fees. This bank has saved me £100’s in bank fees!
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G Adventures – A sustainable, fun, responsible travel company. I’ve travelled with them many times and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their amazing trips.
Contiki – The day job. Group travel for 18/35 year olds and memories to last a lifetime.
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