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Destination: Jordan

WHY TO VISIT JORDAN

Jordan is a singular destination for its legendary warmth, the atmospheric ruins from several civilizations and the magnificent colors. Amman, the capital, is maybe not the most attractive city, but it is warm and has some interesting museums, a Roman theatre, a fortress, and you can visit the nearby Jerash ruins.

On the other hand, Petra is a magical place that alone justifies your visit to this country: A natural rocky landscape in which can be seen impressive monuments dating from the 6th century BC, the site is full of wonders; the royal tombs, the monastery, the Khazneh, and the magnificent colors... Try to visit it in the morning or at dusk. Wadi Rum is another truly breathtaking scene to discover in Jordan: In this vertical desert with rock formations, you will be taken aback by the incomparable landscape which is best explored through driving an ATV.

Aqaba is a city on the Red Sea; an attractive and popular resort, especially in winter, when diving enthusiasts flock to explore its fascinating seabed.
In the eastern desert, do not miss the "castles" of the ancient Umayyad Caliphs.

WHAT TO SEE IN JORDAN

Top destinations in Jordan are:

  • Petra
  • Wadi Rum
  • Jerash
  • Dead Sea
  • Amman
  • Al-Karak
  • Aqaba
  • Dana Nature Reserve
  • Madaba

WHEN TO GO TO JORDAN

Best period to visit Jordan is from September to November.

The climate could be described as a desert type although softer and more temperate in certain areas. In the eastern areas the weather is less stifling. Spring and autumn are very pleasant seasons, but it can also get very crowded at these times with tourists.

Winters are very mild along the Red Sea and Dead Sea coasts while in the mountainous areas it can be quite harsh. If you can choose the dates of your trip, autumn is better when the weather is milder and there are less tourists than in spring.

Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Jordan.

  • Muharram: Muharram is a cause for great celebration across many towns in Jordan as it marks of the beginning of the Islamic New Year in January. This happens on a different day each year according to the cycles of the moon.
  • Aqaba Traditional Arts Festival: The northern town of Aqaba hosts a relatively large festival in February which celebrates the unique culture of the Bedouin people. Taking the form mainly of a crafts fair, the Bedouins and other minority groups bring their handicrafts to the seaside town for sale, showcasing their unique talents and keeping these traditions alive.
  • Azraq Festival: This festival, which also takes place in February, is native to the city of Azraq and its sole purpose is to present the town’s wonderful art, culture and crafts. A complete celebration with music, dancing and food in the town’s streets, it is one of the smaller festivals in Jordan, but by no means insignificant.
  • Amman International Theatre Festival: Hosted by an independent theatre company in March every year, the Amman International Theatre Festival brings together some of the rawest and freshest talent from around Jordan. Taking on somewhat of a competitive format, each performer has the chance to showcase their skills in English or Arabic.
  • Jerash Festival: Held every in July in the historical city of Jerash, this festival is one of the largest cultural celebrations in Jordan. Thousands descend to participate in special art and performances. Visitors will find music, dance, literature, food, handicrafts and general merriment among the festival goers. There are also artist’s workshops and seminars which are open for everyone to attend.
  • Jordan Rally: (www.jordanrally.com) Taking place in October, the Jordan Rally is a motorcar race which brings together those with the need for speed from every corner of the globe. For a few thrilling days, the festival turns Jordan’s golden dunes into a race track and a large international crowd can be seen getting their adrenaline fill.
  • Hakaya Festival: Hosted in the capital city of Amman, this is one of Jordan’s most prestigious, annual cultural festivals. The festival is essentially an attempt to rejuvenate the traditional art of storytelling. In Jordan, storytelling isn’t just about recreation. In a society still bound by conservations regarding progressive education and commercialization, storytelling is a medium of informing the masses.
  • Festival of Rabee’ Awal: Rabee’ Awal refers to an entire month of religious festivities in Jordan. This is one of the most sacred months in the Islamic calendar. During this month, the Mawlid or the birth of Prophet Muhammad is celebrated. The dates are often changed according to the lunar calendar but usually, in Jordan, it is celebrated around the end of March. The entire nation seems overpowered with a feasting frenzy. The local markets are adorned with fluorescent lighting and food stalls. This is perhaps the best time to taste the native delicacies of Jordan.
  • Jerash Festival: (http://www.jerashfestival.jo/) The Jerash Festival, held in July every year, transforms the ancient city into one of the worlds liveliest and most spectacular cultural events. The festival features folklore dances by local and international groups, ballet, concerts, plays, opera, popular singers and sales of traditional handicrafts, all in the brilliantly floodlit dramatic surroundings of the Jerash ruins.
  • Citadel Nights: During the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during daylight hours, after dark the city comes alive with events and happenings – including this cycle of prestigious night-time concerts and recitals of classical Arab music and song at the ancient Citadel Hill, towering above downtown Amman.
  • European Film Festival: (www.eufilmfestivaljordan.com)One of Jordan’s leading film events, cinephiles will enjoy this festival, where visitors can come watch obscure art house cinema and new releases from across Europe.
  • Arab Film Festival Amman: This prestigious showcase of cinema from around the Arab world, staged over a week in summer, attracts visitor from all over.
  • Dead Sea Marathon: (deadseamarathon.com) The Dead Sea marathon is one of the world’s toughest annual marathon events, with participants tackling various courses from Amman down to a finishing point beside the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth – including a 10km (6-mile), long race an official 42km (26-mile) marathon and a 50km (31-mile) ‘ultra’ marathon.
  • Al Balad Music Festival: This week-long carnival of music is a great way for visitors to immerse themselves in Jordan’s extensive cultural heritage. Contemporary bands, soloists and performers are hosted in the ancient Roman Odeon in downtown Amman.
  • Souk Jara: Head to this fun, quirky, colourful weekly street market of crafts, food, books and clothes, which stretches along one of the lanes behind Rainbow Street, for impromptu musical events, public jam sessions and hipster happenings until 2200 or later.

HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH JORDAN

To travel within the country, buses are very comfortable and minibuses and taxis are very affordable.

by plane, main airports are

by train

by car

GENERAL INFORMATION ON JORDAN

country entry requirements: passport + visa (check your visa requirements)

health tips & vaccination: drink bottled water and avoid ice.

local currency: Jordanian Dinar

local time zone: GMT+2 (+3)

electricity: type B, C, D, F, G and H (230 V, 50 Hz)

mobile phone operators:

WHAT TO DO IN JORDAN

typical food in Jordan

  • Mezze: A selection of starters that kick off almost every main meal; they include fool, a thick stew made from broad beans; hummus, mashed chickpeas with tahini or sesame paste; <em>moutabel</em>, smoked aubergine dip; and tabbouleh, finely chopped parsley salad.
  • Mensaf: A Bedouin dish of stewed lamb in a yoghurt sauce.
  • Maglouba: Chicken casserole with spices, including cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and nutmeg and rice.
  • Kibbe: Deep-fried ground lamb or beef combined with burghul (ground, steamed wheat), onion and cinnamon.
  • Fatet Batinjan: A casserole-style dish made with roasted eggplant, labneh (a kind thick yoghurt-like cheese) and minced meat.
  • Zarb: Meat, chicken or vegetables cooked on a Bedouin barbecue pit dug into the ground.
  • Shraak: A traditional flat bread made from whole wheat.
  • Baklava: Assorted honey-drizzled, nut-filled filo pastries.
  • Kunafeh: Palestinian speciality dessert of goat&rsquo;s cheese layered with pastry, served warm and drenched in syrup.
  • Araq: A local aniseed liquor, similar to Greek Ouzo, usually served with water and ice.
  • Arab coffee: A small but strong concoction made by boiling cardamom-flavoured grounds with sugar.
  • Muhallabiyyeh: A wobbly milk pudding flavoured with almonds.

souvenirs from Jordan

  • copper or silver teapots
  • hookah kits
  • traditional keffiyeh
  • hand-woven rugs
  • mosaics
  • ostich-egg paintings
  • sand jars
  • hand-blown glass
  • embroidered clothing
  • bottled holy water from River Jordan
  • skin care products from Dead Sea mud
  • leather goods
  • embroidered caftans

SIMPLE DICTIONARY

Hello: مرحبا (marhba)

Goodbye: وداعا (wadaeaan)

How are you?: كيف حالك؟ (kayf halk?)

Thank you: شكرا (shukraan)

What is your name?: ما اسمك؟ (ma asmak)

How much is it?: كم سعره؟ (kam saerha?)

Sorry: معذرة (maedhira)

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