One of the world’s seven wonders. An ancient city carved out of the sandstone rock around 400BC, it is Jordan’s most popular site and one of the reasons I decided to visit Jordan. A lot of people visit Petra as part of a tour group, I personally hate these and always travel independently where possible.
From Amman I took the Jett bus from the Jett bus station at 6.30am. Luckily I was seated next to a friendly German, and we happily passed the three hours or so chatting about travelling- my favourite topic! The bus stopped briefly for toilets/snacks, and then stopped right outside the entrance of Petra.
I said bye to my new German amigo and went to my hotel which was up the hill (Petra gate hotel) and chilled there before returning to Petra later that afternoon and again early the next morning.
Inside the gates…
From the entrance gate inside, you can walk or take a horse ride (included in the price but a tip is compulsory), to the entrance of the famous Siq which is the narrow, winding gorge through which you walk, flanked by high towering sandstone rock on either side until you reach the first carved building of the city- the Treasury.
The Treasury is one of the most photographed places in Petra. Arriving early morning is best as you can walk through the Siq alone, and can take time to absorb its beauty until you see the treasury peeking through.
The treasury …
The main walkway which is the most common route, and the one I did on my second day first thing in the morning, leads you from the Treasury to the famous Monastery- a bigger version of the Treasury. This takes around one and half hours each way, and the way there is uphill- there’s around 900 steps to climb. You can ride a mule/donkey up for around 5JD.
Along the way you pass a lot of souvenir stands. “Want to buy? Want to look? Looking is free”. Haha. I find the locals friendly in their selling technique though. They weren’t overly persistent or aggressive, maybe that’s because I looked like a scruffy backpacker though!
But females beware- do not accept to see the sunset/stars/desert bbqs etc with the local Bedouin sellers. Read this
My favourite stands were a shop by a lady from New Zealand who married a local Bedouin. She works with local women to create jewellery. I bought some pretty silver earrings from her and was very tempted by a cute camel shaped pair.
I also enjoyed the spices and perfume shop- the man who runs this shop is also very friendly. He will show you frankincense and myrrh, and other scents including amber!
There’s also some steps to continue onto one of the vantage points of the treasury from above. I didn’t take this one as I took a horse ride the first afternoon I arrived which took me to some amazing viewpoints including one of the treasury from above. Most viewpoints have Bedouin’s selling tea (tip 1JD).
On the main walkway to the Monastery. Eventually you reach a restaurant called The Basin. Food here seems to be a buffet – I’m guessing most tours groups stop here for lunch. Personally I recommend you bring your own snacks.
By this restaurant are the last decent toilets for a while- so make use of them!
After this point is where the uphill section starts. Keep going either on foot or by donkey upwards (900 steps) until you eventually reach the Monastery.
I arrived at Petra before 7am, and arrived at the Monastery (after a few detours off the main route and browsing the shops) around 9.30am. It was still very quiet at this time- I was one of the only people there. This meant I could sit in peace at the coffee shop and enjoy the views and take in the atmosphere.
After chilling I then decided to explore the surrounding area. I was confronted by lots of signs for the best view!
As I walked out of Petra more and more people were entering. The magic was lost. By the time I reached the Siq I had to battle my way out – a stark contrast to the morning! I hate crowds and just wanted to escape. Plus the heat was intense.
If I had only seen Petra surrounded by hoardes of people in the glaring midday heat, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the experience. This is why I highly recommend staying one or two nights in Petra. Then you can enjoy the mornings and evenings where you will find a place to have Petra all to yourself. There are many paths off the main walkway you can explore. Most people stick to the main routes. So arrive early or leave late or get a guide to take you off piste if you want to really appreciate the magic of Petra.
For my top ten tips on visiting Petra see here.
Hi, I live and work in Dubai. I enjoy getting out and about and seeing what Dubai has to offer, travelling in my holidays and spare time – prepare for blog posts about this, and cooking vegetarian recipes. I am passionate about travel and animals.