Survival Guide: Petra

Featured image taken by Justin Brown, AMIDEAST student and rising senior at Temple University

Petra is an amazing location, one of the new seven wonders of the world. It was once the capital of the Nabataean kingdom and transformed into one of Jordan’s biggest tourist attractions. Due to this, it is important to know the ins and outs in order to ensure that you are safe and also have an out-of-this-world experience.

It may seem like a given but hydration is key. Make sure you come equipped with water. Yes, there are places to get water, gatorade, juice etc. However, the prices are higher. Inevitably, your water will be super hot and taste like you’re drinking boiling water. So, you will have to splurge eventually but make sure that when you do you try to bargain so you’re not being taken advantage of.

Bargaining is essential when shopping anywhere in Jordan. The prices will be marked up and your accent and western mannerisms will scream AMERICAN! While this is okay and you will be treated with respect and hospitality, they will assume you’re not aware of pricing and the ability to bargain. To bargain I utilized “mumkin (and then a number value)” which translates to “maybe __”. They will be honest and say yes or no, aim super low and then will meet you with a more reasonable price.

Tourist scams are very common in Petra. Your entire walk will be riddled with the local bedouins asking if you’d like to pay for a donkey, horse, or camel ride. Likewise, when you pass by tables and tents with gifts and souvenirs you will be coaxed into stopping by. I definitely recommend buying things, but again–bargain! If you pick something up and ask the price and set it down after they will pitch prices to you that are lower and try pricing it down less, you never know!

On a similar note, if you’re a woman, the men from the Bedouin tribe will be quite open and at times might make you immensely uncomfortable. Your best bet would be to ignore them and keep walking. Under no circumstance should you follow them to their village or into a cave even if you are with others. It is very known that some men from the tribe have taken advantage of foreigners.

Nonetheless, don’t let any of the advice I’m giving you discourage or give you immense fear. Most of the bedouin men are very kind and respectful but like anywhere there are always a select few people that ruin it for an entire group! Instead turn this knowledge into awareness and make the best of an unknown situation. Petra is breath-taking and by far one of the most beautiful sites I have seen in person.

The entire walk through Petra can be around 4 hours one-way. While many people do this we were only allowed to do about 2 hours one way with stops and commentary from our tour guide. When on this trip the four hours will not occur because the way back is sweaty, hot, and feels about 3x longer than the way there.

You WILL be tired, but when you finally make it back to the bus you will have accomplishment wash over you. Amman isn’t the most walkable city, so a lot of your exercise will be from excursions or if you decide to join a gym. So turn on your pedometers (or fitbits/smartwatches), tighten your laces, and get movin’.

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