VISIT JORDAN: MUST NOT MISS THESE TRAVEL TIPS AND A 7 DAY ITINERARY!

Jordan Overview

Located in West Asia, Jordan is bordered by Syria to the north, Iraq to the east, Saudi Arabia to the east and south, and Israel and Palestine to the west. Tourists can access the Red Sea through the southern port city of Aqaba. Amman, capital of Jordan is located in the northwest part of the country. While the majority of Jordan is desert, the northwest area is quite fertile and is part of the Levant region of the Fertile Crescent, which has been referred to as the “cradle of civilization”.

Etiquette Tips For Jordan:

Etiquette is very important in Jordanian culture. While Jordanians graciously tolerate behaviors from visitors that may not necessarily conform to their own standards of etiquette, you can show respect for Jordanian customs by following a few basic rules:

  • Stand when someone important, or another guest, enters the room.
  • Shake hands with everyone, but only with a Jordanian woman if she offers her hand first.
  • Don’t engage in any conversation about sensitive or personal topics unless you know the person you’re talking to well.
  • Most women don’t like to be clicked. Ask permission or avoid altogether.
  • Remove your shoes when visiting a mosque or a private house (unless you’re specifically told to keep them on).
  • Never interrupt someone praying.

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What to wear in Jordan:

I found Jordan to be a liberal country. However some religious places may have clothes restrictions. Here are my packing tips based upon my trip in May:

  • Smart Casuals
  • Casual trousers / jeans and T-shirts.
  • A warm but light jacket/and or a shawl for nights.
  • Walking shoes – You will be walking a lot in Jordan. Comfortable shoes are recommended. Flip Flops advised for the nights and the beach.
  • Some places like Wadi Rum are remote. It is advised that the travelers must carry basic medications along. You might waste time finding the brand you need. Worse still, you may not be able to find the same brand in Jordan.
  • Jordan is a heaven for outdoor enthusiasts. Sunscreen and Sun glasses are must!
  • It is a picture perfect location. Do carry a good camera and enough memory cards!

Pics above: Mars Like Wadi Rum was my favourite in Jordan

More Soul Window Tips for Jordan:

  • The water is safe to drink here but if you are still unsure you can buy bottled water
  • Take these things back home– Dead Sea products, Local Souvenirs, Mugs, Mosaics from Madaba, Different kinds of nuts, olives, spices to name few.
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Click to read why I ran out of Dead Sea as soon as I entered it!

Food Tips For Jordan:

Healthy food is available all over Jordan. The cooking standards are good. Most restaurants and take away outlets maintain hygiene and quality. It is a paradise for vegans as most of the mezzes and deserts are 100 % vegetarian and healthy.

Time Zone : Jordan

From the beginning of October to the end of March, Jordan is two hours ahead of Greenwich

Mean Time (GMT) and seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time (EST). Jordan switches to Daylight Saving Time in the summer, when it is three hours ahead of GMT between South Africa and its neighboring countries, or between the 9 provinces of South Africa.

Currency of Jordan:

The local currency is the Jordanian Dinar, commonly called JD. 1 JD = $1.41 USD (as on January 2017)

Denominations– 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 JD notes are in circulation. The Dinar is equal to 100 piasters (pronounced “peeaster”) of 1,000 fils. The piaster is the unit most commonly used. If you see prices written as 4,750, it means the price is 4.75JD. Currency can be exchanged at major banks, exchange agencies, and most hotels. Indians can withdraw JD at ATMs with their Indian Debit cards. My advice: Withdraw whatever amount you want to withdraw in Amman. It has more numbers of ATMs.

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Aqaba : The only coastal city of Jordan which borders Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel!

Best Time To Go To Jordan:

Jordan boasts almost year-round sunshine with temperate weather.

  • The Spring and Fall seasons: Mild and temperatures range from 60-70°F/15-21°C, with rain being more common in the Spring.
  • Summers are sunny with temperatures averaging 90°F/32°C in the day with cool evenings.
  • July and August are the sunniest and driest months of the year, especially in Amman and the Jordan Valley. In the desert areas, temperatures can reach 100°F/38°C.
  • The winter months from November to April can be cold, but snow is rare. Aqaba is an especially pleasant wintertime resort with the colder temperatures staying in the north. About 75%of the country can be described as having a moderate climate with very little annual rainfall.

I went in May. It was a pleasant time to be in Jordan. The days were breezy and conducive to walking. The nights were cooler (Just a shawl or light sweater is fine). Below is a lowdown on what weather is like in May in Jordan:

– Amman – 26°C – 32°C

– Petra – 22° – 26°C

– Aqaba – 31° – 35°C

– Dead Sea – 23° – 26°C

– Wadi Rum- 26° – 30°C

Average temperatures in Jordan by season:

Month Lowest Highest

January 40°F/5°C 60°F/15°C

April 54°F/12°C 77°F/25°C

July 66°F/19°C 97°F/36°C

October 55°F/13°C 84°F/28°C

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Amman Citadel : Click the link to read why this place is the cradle of civilizations.

Immunizations advice for Jordan:

 No vaccinations are required to enter Jordan, although preventive shots for hepatitis, polio, tetanus, and typhoid are recommended. Travelers with personal health issues should consult their physicians before traveling. Medications should be carried in hand luggage along with passport, tickets, money, and other important belongings. Carry a small carry-on case with change and other essential for the layover in Sharjah. Don’t check this piece in.

Electric Outlets available in Jordan:

The electrical system in Jordan is based on 220 AC volts/50 cycles and requires two-pronged wall plugs, similar to ones found in parts of Europe.

Religion in Jordan:

The main religion in Jordan is Islam with 92% of the population being Muslim, but all religions are free to practice. 6% of the population is Christian, with the remaining 2% being a mix of other religions including Druze and Baha’i.

Smoking advice for Jordan:

Smoking is much more common in Jordan than in Europe or the United States, and smoke-free accommodation is relatively unusual (with the exception of larger hotels). Smoking the traditional water pipe or nargileh, also known as hubbly bubbly, is an interesting experience that visitors can try in any coffeehouse and many restaurants. The tobacco flavor is mild and mostly fruit-flavored. Most restaurants have smoking and non smoking areas. When smoking on road, pls drop the ash tray attached to the poles (Yes, it is for real!)

Tipping Tips for Jordan:

As a tourism based economy, Tipping is always appreciated. A 10% service charge is often added in hotels and restaurants, and extra tips are discretionary. In restaurants, for example, tipping an extra dinar for breakfast and two extra dinars for lunch and dinner is customary.

In general, you should plan to tip guides, drivers, and anyone else who performs a service for you in the amount you deem appropriate for the service rendered. Having small bills on hand makes tipping more convenient.

How To Reach: Air Arabia runs economic yet comfortable flights from India via U.A.E. Check my review of Air Arabia Flight.

Skyscanner offers cheap rates and you can even turn on a price alert for the same. Book using this link

You can download the Skyscanner app. Links below:

IOS app Download

Android App Download

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The view from the Amman Citadel in Jordan

Below is a 7 day itinerary for Jordan. It is more suitable for luxury but adaptable for budget too:

DAY 1

  • Arrive at Q.A.I. Airport on Air Arabia
  • Check in at hotel in Amman Crowne Plaza Amman Hotel
  • Lunch inside the hotel Al Halabi Restaurant
  • Visit the site of Jerash
  • Visit Citadel
  • Visit Down Town Local Markets
  • Rainbow Street
  • Dinner Sufra Restaurant
  • Overnight Crowne Plaza Amman Hotel

DAY 2

  • Visit Royal Automobile in the morning
  • Carry Shawerma & Falafel as take away lunch
  • Drive down South to Petra
  • 5:30 PM Early dinner with cooking class Petra Kitchen Rest.
  • 8:30 PM Petra by night event
  • Overnight Petra Guest House Hotel

DAY 3

  • Half day visit to the site of Petra
  • Lunch at Al Qantarah Restaurant near Petra
  • Visit Little Petra
  • Afternoon Drive to Wadi Rum
  • Jeep tour in the desert. Visit the sun set point.
  • Overnight Dinner and music program at Al Captain Camp

DAY 4

  • Morning drive to Aqaba
  • Lunch cruise with Yasmina Boat
  • Check in Moevenpick Resort &Residences Aqaba
  • Dinner Royal Yacht Club
  • Shopping in the streets near the hotel
  • Overnight Moevenpick Resort & residences Aqaba

DAY 5

  • Morning drive from Aqaba to Dead Sea
  • Check in Jordan Valley Marriott
  • Lunch in the in house restaurant
  • Time at Leisure
  • Floating in Dead Sea
  • Dinner inside hotel Italian Restaurant
  • Overnight Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa

DAY 6

  • Visit Baptism Site
  • Visit Mount Nebo
  • Lunch at Haret Jdoudna, Madaba
  • Continue the trip to visit Evason Mai’n Hot Springs
  • Time at Leisure
  • Dinner & overnight Evason Mai’n Hot Springs

DAY 7

  • Transfer to Q.A.I. Airport to depart

Jordan Tourism Details:

VISIT JORDAN WEBSITE

E-mail: info@visitjordan.com

P.O.Box 830688 Amman 11183 – Jordan Tel. (962 6) 5678294 Fax (962 6) 5678295

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Petra at Night is magical: Please click the link to read how it feels there at night. And of course for exclusive pictures!

YOU WILL LOVE READING THESE BLOGS ON JORDAN (EXCLUSIVE PICS AND TEXT):

DEAD SEA: WHY I RAN OUT SCREAMING AS SOON AS I ENTERED THE DEAD SEA

PETRA: THE SECRET OF THE CITY OF DEAD REVEALED

PETRA IN NIGHT: IS IT WORTH IT (EXCLUSIVE PICTURES)

AQABA- THE ONLY COASTAL CITY OF JORDAN WHICH BORDERS EGYPT, ISRAEL AND SAUDI ARABIA

WADI RUM- MARS ON EARTH?

AMMAN CITADEL- THE CONTINUALLY HABITATED WALLED CITY

Mövenpick Resort and Residences, Aqaba- The Ultimate Luxury Experience in Aqaba!

AIR ARABIA- HOW TO TRAVEL TO JORDAN ON A BUDGET AND IN STYLE

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Click on the link to know all that you wanted to know about Petra – a UNESCO World heritage site and one of the 7 wonders of the world.

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NOTE: I was invited by Jordan Tourism Board to Jordan on a Press Trip

WARNING: COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.

 

 

Mövenpick Resort and Residences, Aqaba- The Ultimate Luxury Experience in Aqaba!

BLOGGING HAS GIVEN ME opportunity to stay in some of the finest hotels and resorts. But often many luxury properties fail to touch your heart and forge a personal bond with you. The smaller properties and home stays are often the better bet.

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View from some of the rooms be like….

Mövenpick Resort and Residences, Aqaba is a rarity. Despite its huge size and a large number of staff, everything this resort does exudes warmth and friendliness. I interacted with many of the staff members and each one of them has attended to the guests with utmost care, willingness and a broad genuine smile.

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Its secluded pool!

One of the front office staff Naser Herzallah chatted with us for a long time even after his duty hours was over. When we asked him if we can visit his home for a deeper immersive cultural experience, he did not take even a second to invite us to his home. We could not visit his home due to lack of time.

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The friendly Filipino host Jonalyn Lagaspi at the restaurant.

The next morning, the many Filipino girls at the Palm Court Restaurant & Terrace won our hearts with their attentive and friendly service. They anticipated our need and would leave no stones unturned to give us a memorable experience. The vibrant restaurant has an indoor dining option as well as an outdoor section.

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The al fresco restaurant

It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. I sampled only breakfast which comprised of a wide array of Middle Eastern and European cuisine. The live cooking made the ambiance lively.

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The friendly people who willingly posed for us at the al fresco dining!

Apart from the buffet, the restaurant also offers à la carte dining menu. The second day, I dined in the private dining room which was quieter and less packed. I particularly liked the youthful décor of the restaurant.

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Palm Court Restaurant and Terrace

My suite was huge and airy. Its windows and 2 terraces opened to sweeping views of the Aqaba city. Some of my co travelers got even better views of the ocean. Balcony was my favorite part where I would spend all my leisure time watching the city over a smoke. The bathtub helped me fight the tiredness, thanks to a busy day of travel. The sitting area was huge, none of which I could use due to lack of time. The suite even had a kitchen and a large refrigerator.

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The living room of my suite!

Where Mövenpick Resort and Residences, Aqaba wins is its attention to detail. It sure knows how to delight its guests. I was delighted to see a local craft on my bed. It was a gift to me from the resort along with the cookies and delicious dry fruits. Even the bathroom slippers in the hotel were not a bland white. It was colorful and depicted local art.

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My room. Notice the complimentary gift so thoughtfully presented!

The resort is so gorgeous that I couldn’t resist saving some time in the early morning for a property round. There is a bridge which connects the main building to another. This bridge is on the top of the road called King Hussein Street. It was very creatively used for an al fresco Jacuzzi pool. We arrived at the private beach of the hotel from where it offered many water sports. Ala’a Salman, one of the jovial staff took us on a tour. Though he knew little English but we communicated well between smiles and wallahs.

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Ala’a Salman with my co traveler and friend Arka Das.

He even showed us the border of neighboring countries from the hotel. He was another staff member who touched our heart and exceeded our expectations. I like the way people from different countries work here as a team. A co traveler told me his room was serviced by a very friendly attendant from Patna, Bihar! Who would have thought?

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Naser Herzallah was a delightful company. He talked to us for a long time even after his duty hours were over. Picture Credit: Naser Herzallah

Ms. Layali Nashashibi, Director of Communications and PR, herself showed us some of the ethnic decor of the resort and educated us about the history of Mövenpick chain and its core values.A brilliant and vivacious lady, she patiently answered all our questions and offered us the famous Mövenpick ice cream.

I have always valued human interactions more than the material comforts in a luxury property. Not all of them do it well. Very small percentage of luxury hotels get that right. Fortunately, Mövenpick Resort and Residences, Aqaba is one of them.

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The private beach of the hotel

And oh, Don’t forget to eat the famous Mövenpick Ice Cream if you go there!

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Don’t forget to check out the ruins of an ancient city Ayla in front of the resort.

RELATED BLOGS:

AQABA- THE ONLY COASTAL CITY OF JORDAN WHICH BORDERS EGYPT, ISRAEL AND SAUDI ARABIA

WADI RUM- MARS ON EARTH?

AMMAN CITADEL- THE CONTINUALLY HABITATED WALLED CITY

AIR ARABIA- HOW TO TRAVEL TO JORDAN ON A BUDGET AND IN STYLE

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Me posing at the resort in Aqaba, Jordan. Behind me is Israel!

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The Palm Court & Terrace- All day dining!

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Me, faking it in the lobby of Movenpick Resort and Residences, Aqaba! (Pic: Arka Das)

NOTE: I was invited by Jordan Tourism Board to Jordan on a Press Trip

WARNING: COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.

AQABA: THE ONLY COASTAL CITY OF JORDAN SHARES BORDER WITH EGYPT & ISRAEL

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My co-traveler Sambhavna in the cruise!

AS WE BID ADIEU TO the mystical Wadi Rum, we stuffed our faces with fresh watermelons from the fields. Within an hour, I and other travel bloggers reached Aqaba, the only coastal city in Jordan. It was different from everything else in Jordan. We headed straight away to the cruise for what turned out to be one of the most memorable days of our vacation in Jordan. Located at the north east tip of the Red sea, its beauty is characterized by Gulf of Aqaba.

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My co-travelers Nandita and Sambhavna enjoying the cruise!

Being a border town junkie, what made it most exciting for me was the discovery that Aqaba lies at a crucial crossroad of Asia and Africa. As our cruise moved, we were excited when our guide pointed to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel within few minutes. We were shown an impressive white building in the distance. It was Taba Hilton, Egypt. On 7th October, 2004 a terrorist attack killed 34 people in the hotel. Ten floors of the hotel collapsed when a truck drove in its lobby and exploded. Since then, the hotel has been rebuilt. Formerly called Sonesta Hotel, this hotel was a bone of contention between Israel and Egypt. After many negotiations and intervention by UN, it was granted to Egypt. The Hilton group took over consequently. 6 kilometers away from Eilat, Israel, a visit to this hotel is tax free for the Israelis. However, post the terror attack, the hotel has seen lesser number of tourists from Israel.

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Taba Hilton, Egypt as seen from Aqaba,Jordan. A terrorist attack claimed many lives here.

I sat on the floor of the cruise, my legs dangling and flirting with the cold water of red sea. I was so absorbed with the views that I didn’t even realize when my co-travelers jumped in the water for a session of snorkeling. Never mind, I concentrated on tasting the refreshing sea air. I have seen many beaches in India but this was the bluest sea I have seen in my life till date. In fact, I noticed many shades of blue. The barren brown coastline complimented the azure water. A live barbeque at the rear of the cruise hung precariously over the sea.

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Snorkeling is a must in the beaches of Aqaba!

I was dying to see Eilat in Israel up close and personal. Due to lack of time, I settled for its view from the comfort of Movenpick Hotel. Later in the evening, I was again close to the border when we settled for a dinner at the upmarket Royal Yacht Club.

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Eilat in Israel, as seen from Movenpick resort, Aqaba.

Overlooking the marina, it was a perfect place to end the day. The small boats and yachts moored to the harbor made for a picturesque foreground for a setting sun. Many water related activities can be booked from here. We were pleasantly surprised to see a Bangladeshi steward serving us dishes, mostly Mediterranean. It was an unhurried evening spent leisurely in good company. The place was ideal for my ‘Me Time’ and as everyone was engrossed in conversations, I veered off surreptitiously to soak in the silent beauty of the place.  I sampled only the vegetarian fare. The food was good but not extraordinary. What was more satisfying was the ambiance of the place.

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Sunset at the Royal Yacht Club, Aqaba.

Post dinner, my group decided to take a post prandial walk in the markets of Aqaba. Aqaba is the kind of place which grows on you slowly. We passed many touristy shops, spice markets, even a Mc Donalds etc. The al fresco cafes at Raghadan Street were full of burqa clad women smoking sheesha with their male friends dressed in western clothes.

Pics above: Mohamed and his musical Ice Cream

We were walking casually in the Pizza Street in main market area when groovy music pulled us in. At Bakdash Ice Cream parlour, young Mohamed single handedly pounded ice cream with a long wooden log. The churning made a quirky upbeat music fit for energetic dance steps! It was the first time I tasted ‘Musical Ice Cream’. What makes the ice cream different (for me) here is the Arabic flavor. Try, Toot Shami, for instance. Mastic (plant based resin), Sahlab, fresh cream are some of the ingredients used. We asked Mohamed to repeat the ‘game’. It was one of my best moments in Aqaba.

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Aqaba from the cruise window!

To my great luck, I got separated from my group and ended up wandering alone on the streets of Aqaba. As I pretended to find my hotel, I kept my eyes peeled for anything fancy or interesting. I stopped for a moment at Al Sharif Hussein bin Ali mosque dedicated to Hussein Bin Ali, the leader of great Arab revolt.

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Al Sharif Hussein bin Ali mosque is white beauty.

I was dispassionately asking the address of my hotel to the strangers on the road. Not so much to get back to my hotel but to steal an opportunity to interact with locals. Little did I know 3 strangers will bite my bait which I did not even aim at them. Al-Hussein Bin Ali Square is a lively space in the middle of a crossroads. Families and friends sit here and while away their time eating ice creams, clicking selfies and rescuing their kids’ promiscuous balloons.

Pics above: The Syrians who asked me to click their pictures and send them on Facebook

Just as I was about to sit on a bench, a Syrian boy and his friend Sozi Hamdoun approached me. They looked at the DSLR dangling from my neck. “Photo Photo? How much?” They were taken aback when I said I would take many pictures and will inbox them on Facebook without any charge. I dropped the last bit of my pretense of finding my way to MovenPick hotel. I was rather feeling happy to get lost in an alien country. They had happy go lucky personalities for an apparently conflicted Syria. The boy was expressionless while the lively girls giggled, pouted and flirted with the lens. It was the first time I was clicking a stranger in a far away country.

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My Syrian friends(briefly though!)

Small interactions like these make a visit to any destination memorable. They had the same mannerisms and perhaps similar issues in life which an urban person of their age has in my country, India. Yes, we are all the same, yet different. When they learnt that I collect currencies, they offered me notes from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. I accepted the Egyptian 5 pounds. Its value is not much. But it is my prized possession now. Every time I will see it, I will remember them.

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Marsa Zayed Mosque as seen from the rooftop of Movenpick resort, Aqaba!

I finally did find my hotel. The night was spent staring at the Aqaba city from my balcony. Late night, with special permission, some of us spent some time at the rooftop of the hotel. The views helped us understand the landscape of Aqaba. The next morning, I repeated the same, this time getting a better view of Marsa Zayed mosque. It is a redevelopement project undertaken by U.A.E.

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Aqaba cityscapes!

The ancient ruins of Ayla were visible from the balcony of the hotel. Built in 7th century A.D., it was one of the first Islamic cities. It is a recent discovery and still in a state of restoration. Other points of interest in Aqaba are: The Aqaba Archeological Museum, Souk By The Sea (Street market open on Friday evenings), Aqaba Fort and the ancient Church.

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Me on the cruise! Pic by Stuti Shrimali

How To Reach: Air Arabia runs economic yet comfortable flights from India via U.A.E. Check my review of the flight in previous blog.

Skyscanner offers cheap rates and you can even turn on a price alert for the same. Book using this link

You can download the Skyscanner app. Links below:

IOS app Download

Android App Download

When: I went in the month of May and the weather was pleasant.

Where to stay:  I stayed in the luxurious Movenpick Resort. It’s review will be up soon.

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The beach at Aqaba

Related Blogs:

15 REASONS TO VISIT JORDAN

WHY AIR ARABIA – ECONOMY CLASS IS GREAT TO REACH JORDAN

WADI RUM – MARS ON EARTH

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I enjoyed every minute on this cruise!

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Got any question/comments, ask in the comment section below so that it can benefit other readers.

Email me for collaboration: abhinav21@yahoo.com

Be a part of my journey on social media. The travel content I create there is different from this blog.

Pls subscribe/follow/like:

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Dining area of cruise!

NOTE: I was invited by Jordan Tourism Board to Jordan on a Press Trip

WARNING: COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.

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Aqaba

15 Reasons Why Jordan Should Be Your Next Destination!

A childhood friend Mitali recently asked me for suggestions for a foreign destination for her brother’s honeymoon. I got usual suspects when I asked her which destinations have already been zeroed in on. I suggested to her that for the same budget you will get more value and variety in Jordan. She asked me details and here they are, for her and for other discerning honeymooners or any travelers rather:

1 – VIBRANT CITY LIFE

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The vibrant Rainbow Street at Amman

The cities of Jordan are lively. While the ancient ruins of capital Amman co exists with its more modern counterparts, the port city of Aqaba exudes a charm of its own. I enjoyed walking through the streets of city of Amman with my eyes peeled constantly. The streets of Madaba oozes old world, small town charm. The amenities are good, roads clean and people have a great civic sense. A co traveler Kaushal even showed me ash trays attached to street poles.

2 – VARYING LANDSCAPES

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Me at a siq which leads to Treasury, Petra (This pic and featured image by : Arka Das )

Almost every day, I saw a new landscape in Jordan. While Amman was more about buildings, old and new, Petra had other worldly canyons and mountains. Wadi Rum gave me the illusion of being on Mars, Aqaba had crystal clear blue waters. Dead Sea was surrounded with salt deposits and the next stop Madaba and Mount Nebo had dry, arid landscapes. Wait, there is a secluded Hot Spring too! All these destinations are within few hours of driving distance from each other!

3 – BORDER JUNKIE PARADISE

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Spot the Israeli Flag! This is Israel side we could not cross. The water in foreground belongs to Jordan though!

I am a border junkie. I love to be around borders even if I can’t cross it. During a cruise on the very blue ‘red sea’ (in Aqaba), the attendant pointed out Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine to me. This meant I could see 4 countries from my cruise none of which I could cross. Later also I came across many places which gave me a glimpse of other country without entering it. Most memorable moment  was seeing the Israel side up, close and personal at the Baptism Site.

4 – MARS ON EARTH, ANYONE?

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Me at Wadi Rum (Shot by : Arnab Maity)

Wadi Rum was my personal favorite of all the places I visited. I climbed up a high rock only to be rendered speechless. I watched in wonder as the sun cast its orange glow on Mars like landscape dotted with massive rock formations on sand. I am not going to forget what I saw, in a lifetime.

6 – ROAD TRIP FRIENDLY

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We took this path to reach Mount Nebo, the important biblical site

The roads in Jordan are baby bottom smooth. Most of the important places and cities are within a few hours distance. One can reach the Capital city Amman in 4 hours from anywhere in Jordan. Got the drift, eh?

6 – One of the 7 Modern Wonders Of The World!

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The Treasury, Petra and its caretakers!

You sure want to see all the 7 modern wonders of the world. Jordan houses Petra ruins (which includes The Treasury, Monastery, and Little Petra ). For some extra bucks you can also see Petra by night. On every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, the treasury is lit with hundreds of paper lanterns at its base.

7 – JAW DROPPING HISTORY AND ANCIENT ARCHITECHTURE

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The ancient ruins of Citadel. behind is the city of Amman perched on hills!

Everywhere you go in Petra you will see a mix of architecture styles and history so ancient, it will make your jaws drop. From Nabatean to Roman and Greek, you will see many influences on the architecture of Jordan. It’s an intriguing mix of western and eastern sensibilities. The many historical sites still standing tall after being exposed to the elements for thousands of years. They speak volumes about its culturally rich past.

8 – AMAZING PEOPLE

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A local woman making mural art pieces at Madaba

The people are friendly, cheerful and very welcoming. I have been offered help by random people on the road. The help always came with a smile. Perhaps, what helped further was that most were Bollywood fans and they made out that I was an Indian. Be it sitting with a Bedouin (a nomadic tribe) over a cuppa in his tent or interacting with a random person, each experience was friendly. It is also a very safe country to visit.

9 – MUSIC THAT STAYS WITH YOU

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He sung Arabic tunes in the ruins of Petra, adding atmosphere to it!

My mind still keeps racing back to the evening spent in the desert of Wadi Rum. It was made memorable with live music by a visually impaired magician, err, musician who played ‘Oud’ with aplomb. Next was belly dancing in the lap of luxury at Jordan Valley, Marriott near dead sea. And then there were Bedouins (Nomadic tribes) who would break in to a song and dance in the ruins of Petra, Little Petra, Jerash. These music experiences were the highlights of my trips.

10 – LUXURIOUS HOTELS, RESORTS AND SPAS

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View of Red Sea from Movenpick Resort. And oh that’s a jacuzzi above the road!

There is no dearth of luxurious stay options in Jordan. My favourite picks are the stay at the simple Evason mai’n Hot Springs done in earthy tones and Movenpick Resort and residences, Aqaba, thanks to its inimitable staff and the sweeping views of Red Sea from here.

11 – ART GALORE

11 art
Mural wall pieces at Madaba!

Jordan is full of art. Most noticeable is the ubiquitous bottle filled with colorful sand. It is no ordinary bottle, the artist will write your name in sand through a meticulous process. The background will almost always be a camel against a setting sun. Then there is the centuries old tradition of mosaic paintings and wall hangings. These are the highlights, though the list is longer.

12 – FOLLOW THE BIBLE TRAIL

12 bible trail
Al Maghtas, Jesus was baptized here!

Did you know Jordan boasts of one of the most important Biblical sites? I didn’t know until I reached here. Al Maghtas, the site where Jesus was baptized is in Jordan, near the border of Israel. People from across the world come here to get baptized even today. Mount Nebo is another important site where Moses had a view of the Promised Land

13 – RED SEA TO DEAD SEA

13 dead sea, red sea
Me aboard a cruise on Red Sea, Aqaba. (Pic : Stuti Shrimali)

The seas of Jordan offer variety. While Red Sea had one of the bluest water I have ever seen, Dead Sea not only is visually stunning but also lets you float on water due to its high salt levels. I had a great time cruising over Red Sea and cheering my co travelers as they plunged in water for a snorkeling session or just a swim. Why did I not jump? Simply because the food cooked on board was too delicious!

14 – VEGETARIAN FOOD HEAVEN

14 veg food
Mutabel with chilli paste; who needs non vegetarian food?

I am a vegetarian and sometimes dread going to foreign shores because you know why? It’s very easy in Jordan to remain a vegetarian, even a vegan! The mezzes like baba ganoush, mutable, hummus etc are not only vegetarian but are high on nutrition and low on calories. The breads are delicious, especially those topped with zattar powder. The deserts are sinfully delicious. I even tried to replicate some back home.

15  – SHOP TILL YOU DROP!

15 shopping heaven
Arabic dolls on sale!

The view from my #SoulWIndow exceeded my expectations!

NOTE : I was invited by Jordan Tourism Board to Jordan on a Press Trip

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Dead Sea; notice the salt deposits and blue – green water!

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Me Floating at Dead Sea (Pic by : Stuti Shrimali )