I was scrolling through my photos yesterday trying to find one for a “take me back” Instagram competition. (I gave up – there were too many to choose from lol). Anyway, I came across the 1,946,437 photos that I took in Jordan (I’m only half kidding) and started reminiscing about what an awesome holiday it was! Now I will say, and I’ve openly said to my friends, that it’s not at the top of my list of places to go back to. That being said, I’m super glad we went and I’d recommend it to anyone considering it. Here are the 7 things we loved about Jordan to convince you to go there too.
I mean if you want to talk about a country with a lot of history, Jordan is your place. You can read lots more about it in, well, ANY of my other posts about Jordan (I wrote SIX because there’s so much to do. But the short story is that it’s been inhabited since the Paleolithic period. That was, like 3 MILLION years ago. It has seen the highs and lows of a number of empires including the Nabateans, the Romans and the Ottomans and was once a British Protectorate. A number of serious earthquakes in the region over the years have had the effect of changing the various fortunes of its cities and regions.
The best thing is that you can see evidence of all this history with your own eyes across the depth and breadth of the country. From Petra which was established by the Nabateans to the Roman ruins of Jerash to a Byzantine Church and the oldest mosaic map in the world… The history is everywhere, literally all around you and on the ground you tread on. It’s pretty incredible to walk in the footsteps of people from thousands and millions of years ago.
It really annoys me when people make sweeping statements about a nationality but I’m going to do it here. The Jordanian people are so polite and friendly and helpful. Like SO polite and friendly and helpful. I mean, we were tourists. You kind of expect the concierge at the hotel or your driver to be all those things (although experience reminds me that they aren’t always). But literally every single person who worked in the hotel would say good morning if they passed you. It didn’t matter who they were or if they had passed 17 people before you. On a side note, my dissertation many years ago was on this very topic so maybe that’s why I noticed it but it was very striking to me.
It didn’t stop there. People who worked in the pharmacy I went to one day bent over backwards to get me the medicine I needed. A taxi driver spent a good 10 minutes of a car ride teaching me a phrase in Arabic. Restaurant owners / workers genuinely seemed to care that we had had a good experience. We always had because they have been so nice to start with!
The only people who were a bit of a pain were security at the airports and they were still polite about it while doing their jobs.
Long story short, we could all learn a thing or to from the Jordanians’ manners and the world might be a better place.
3. Hills / topography
This is probably a Qatar thing. If you live somewhere where there are hills everywhere anyway you probably don’t feel so inspired when you do see them.
Still, Jordan is a beautiful country with so many hills and awesome scenery. Driving around we were really struck with how dramatic it all was and again – so different depending on where you were. Petra was it’s own sort of special but then so was Wadi Rum and lots of the drives in between places were too.
There’s something pretty special about going to a place when you are surrounded by so much natural beauty.
I guess I’ve kind of touched on this before but there is SO much to do in Jordan.
I know most people just think of Petra when they think of Jordan. And Petra is spectacular and awe-inspiring at the same time.
Some people might think of the Dead Sea because, well, it’s very cool in the most surreal way possible to go and float in a sea that you literally can’t sink in.
You might know that Lawrence of Arabia was filmed in Jordan but I bet you don’t know where before you go there. You certainly won’t think about being taken on a jeep tour by a Bedouin driver. Or eat food that has literally been cooked in the ground.
Pretty much no-one I have talked to knows about Jerash or Aljoun Castle. Walking round these ruins where you could be in Rome or Greece (arguably it’s even better than some of the ruins in these places)… it’s absolutely amazing.
Do you think of a scuba diving beach holiday when you think of Jordan? Didn’t think so but it’s right there on the Red Sea, waiting for you to take some R&R there.
How about the place where Moses was shown the Promised Land? Or where Jesus was baptised? Or the world’s oldest (and exceptionally well preserved) mosaic map? Didn’t think so.
5. Talking to the locals
Again this is probably a Doha thing.
Living in a place where the expat community is bigger by far than the local community, we find ourselves living in a unique situation whereby we don’t actually talk to the locals. I know people of many nationalities – we live in a proper melting pot of East meeting West and North meeting South. I’ve met people here that I would never have dreamed about meeting before we lived here. But I can count the number of locals I’ve met on one hand. In fact I can count the number of Arabic words I have learnt on one hand (as a linguist this fact disgusts me but it’s the truth).
In Jordan you are right there with the community. Your taxi driver will be Jordanian. Our tour guide was Jordanian and could tell us all about local history and about the royal family and local politics all as we were driving along. I learnt more Arabic from him and the taxi driver mentioned above in 6 days than I’ve learnt in almost 3 years of living here.
6. The right amount of development
I’m going to sound pretty Goldilocks here but coming off our trip to Thailand I’m reflecting a lot more about just ticking places off a list. I’d rather not have gone to Maya Beach than to have felt that we were on a conveyor belt of tourists all jostling with the same intent: to get the perfect picture and to be able to say they’d been to the beach from the film.
Maybe in the summer you would feel a bit like that in Petra but I can honestly say I never once felt like that when we were in Jordan. It was exactly the right balance of class – the hotels were decent, there was a nice selection of food – without over development. There weren’t hordes of high rise resorts on the banks of the Dead Sea like you find on the main islands of Hawaii. When we went to Jerash, we weren’t one of at least another thousand people traipsing all over it like at the Acropolis in Athens (which, in fairness, was in June so not a like for like comparison).
While definitely not under developed, Jordan has so far avoided the temptation to overdevelop itself just to get the tourist dollars in.
All of these factors really make Jordan a completely unique destination. I can’t think of many other places that would give you such a range of activities and sights. Where else could you spend 14 nights there without spending more than 203 nights in any one place? Where can you get history, culture, adventure, water sports, beaches, outdoor trekking and unique experiences all in the same country?
I hope I’ve convinced you to go to Jordan by now with my 7 things we loved about Jordan… If I haven’t then I’m not sure what will! Have you been and do you agree? What were the things you loved about Jordan?
If you want to read more about our travels in Jordan check out my posts on Amman, the Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba (the Red Sea). For itinerary inspiration and an exclusive deal from the tour agency we used, check out my post on different itineraries.