The Dead Sea, Petra, and Wadi Rum: A Guide to Jordan’s Greatest Hits

Jordan is a place that I’ve wanted to explore for many years. I honestly didn’t think I would check off this bucket list destination so soon. Something about the vast deserts, floating in the Dead Sea, exploring ancient ruins, and riding camels really interested me.

My family decided to include Jordan as part of our spring break trip, which was so exciting. We flew in from Turkey and went directly to the Dead Sea for a night, followed by visiting Petra, Wadi Rum, and eventually the capital, Amman.

By the end of the trip, we had experienced a lot that Jordan had to offer. There’s so much to write about Jordan that this post will just be about how to visit the Dead Sea, Petra, and Wadi Rum.

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1. The Dead Sea!

We arrived in Amman in the afternoon and took the fairly quick trip from the airport  straight to the Dead Sea. We checked into the Kempinski Hotel, which was located right on the sea and had a fantastic view all the way to Israel. We settled in nicely, ate some delicious falafel and hummus, and prepared for the water the next morning.

When we woke up, the sun had just barely risen over the tall mountains, so it was super chilly walking down to the sea. We were shaking as we scurried our way into our secluded part of the beautiful water. Once I got in, I couldn’t stop smiling. Feeling my body so buoyant was an incredible phenomenon. We put special mud known to heal skin all over our bodies, then waiting for a bit, only to hop right back in and wash it off. Though it was so unexpectedly cold, going in the Dead Sea was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done and something you must do while in Jordan.

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2. Petra!

Having just visited the Dead Sea, our next stop in Jordan wasn’t straight to Petra, but instead, a seaside town called Aqaba for one night. It was nice and relaxing to play in the ocean and also fun to walk into town and find the best falafel I’ve had in my life at a little stand called Falafel W Bas. If you find the time or just need a spot to simply take a quick break, Aqaba is perfect for that.

The next day, we drove from Aqaba to Petra which was a winding ride through the desert, around mountains, and past small villages that kept us staring out of the window the whole time. Eventually, after multiple stops to take pictures of the scenery, we arrived at our hotel called the Old Village Hotel & Resort which my family and I loved. It was located about 5 minutes away from the entrance to Petra, which was nice because it was just outside of the crowded tourist area. From our hotel, we drove to a local Jordanian restaurant called Al Arabi and each had multiple shawarmas, which are wraps filled with thinly cut meat and different vegetables, a dish that’s famous in Jordan.

After lunch, we decided to go to Little Petra, a mini version of the huge Petra that is a cool place to walk around for about an hour, warming you up for the big adventure the next day. I had a lot of fun going inside caves that used to house civilians and also seeing beautiful camels strolling right by me!

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After our adventure in Little Petra, we went back to relax and eat dinner at our hotel before going to Petra by Night. 

Petra by Night is a special exhibit that runs a few nights every week, where you can walk down a candlelit path ending up at the famous, Al-Khazneh, also known as The Treasury. It starts at 8:30pm, and you must walk about 30 minutes to the gathering spot. Once you’re there, you sit down in the sand and listen to a local storyteller tell Jordanian myths. Once he’s finished, The Treasury gets lit up by fluorescent lights. It’s a great way to spend a night at Petra. I’d suggest it for sure.

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The next morning, we got up extra early to beat the crowd and see Petra for the first time in daylight. After completing the same walk we’d done the night before, it was about 7:00am, and it was practically empty. It was hard to take in the true size of The Treasury at night, so I was astonished by how big and detailed it was in the light. I honestly can’t explain how special it was to explore such a beautiful place with our only company being a few camels and local bedouins. Getting up early is definitely something you have to incorporate into a visit to Petra.

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Petra is one of the current 7 Wonders of the World and was a very important city of the ancient world, so The Treasury obviously isn’t all it has to offer. We walked through what used to be the main road of the town, past amphitheaters, civilian houses, the Royal Tombs, and other parts of a functioning city back then. It was so cool to walk around and envision what life was like back when it was a thriving town.

Aside from The Treasury, The Monastery is the other giant attraction in Petra; except it’s drastically less crowded. Tucked away at the top of a tall mountain, only the people who hike for about an hour get to explore it. My family and I took on the hike, of course, and it was so worth it once we got to the top. Because we started our day early, this was also amazingly uncrowded.

All in all, Petra is clearly a place you must visit while in Jordan and surely one of my favorite places that I’ve ever been!

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3. Wadi Rum!

To top off Jordan’s greatest hits, we stayed in a “martian dome” in Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum is a vast desert filled with red sand, huge rocks, and beautiful lookout points. It’s hard to describe how incredible it is because it seems as if it just goes on forever. We stayed at the Sun City Camp which was super nice and cozy, as well as nowhere near any other camps.

When we arrived, we were welcomed with lunch that was delicious local food. Following our meal, I went off by myself and explored the area. I climbed rocks, rolled down sand dunes, and just felt so free in such a magical place.

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For sunset, we set off in a pickup truck and drove all around the desert. Our guide took us to awesome sand dunes, viewpoints, and specific spots where they have filmed many movies over the years (The Martian – 2015, Star Wars – 2016, and more). Though the clouds sadly blocked our view of the sun, it was a great time and cool way to explore Wadi Rum.

The next morning, we woke up super early, just before sunrise, to ride camels. The only other time I’d ridden them was in Uluru in Australia, which was pretty awesome. But a ride through red sand in Wadi Rum as the sun was just coming over the rocks definitely takes the cake. Silently strolling through the desert was an amazing way to take it all in. This is an experience that is crucial to a visit to Wadi Rum!

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After our camel ride, we took in our last views of the desert and packed up. We headed to Amman, Jordan’s capital full of rich history, good food, and ancient ruins! A guide will be coming soon!

That sums up my guide to Jordan’s greatest hits!

I hope you enjoyed and this inspired you to plan a trip to this incredible country!

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