Practical Tips for Visiting Petra (aka “The Important Sh*t You Need to Know”)

Practical Tips for Visiting Petra (aka “The Important Sh*t You Need to Know”)

So you finally decided to take the leap and venture over to The Lost City of Petra, Jordan. Yay! It’s pretty safe to say you will not be disappointed. I recently visited Petra and it was one of my favorite places I have seen on my travels. Ever. Blown away is an understatement.

Practical Tips for Visiting Petra

There are a few things I wish I knew before visiting Petra and which I think may be helpful in planning your trip. So I have put together this wee little blogpost with some practical tips for visiting Petra.


Practical Tips for Visiting Petra


The Visa Situation

First things first: to get into Jordan as a US citizen, you must purchase a visa on arrival. The cost is 40 JD ($56). You can purchase the visa right at the passport check counter. They do accept credit card or Jordanian dinars (JD).

1JD = ~1.41 $USD (ouch).

How to Get to Petra

Take the JETT bus from Amman to Petra for 10 JD one-way. The journey takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes including a 20 minute rest stop. The bus is clean and comfortable. 

There is no online purchase system as of yet so you either need to call them within a week of your journey or show up early and try to get a ticket the day of. During peak season, it’s likely to sell out. There is only one bus a day

The bus from Amman to Petra is at 6:30am and the bus from Petra to Amman is at 5pm. The bus leaves from Abdali Bus Station in Amman. The JETT office opens at 6am so make sure you are first in line if you are buying the morning of. (I would recommend buying a day or 2 before if you happen to be in Amman already). 

Note: the online “booking system” does not reserve you a seat. They sent me an email saying I needed to call them within a week of the journey to confirm. I was traveling and couldn’t call so my seat was not reserved. I had to show up at 5:50am before they opened and hoped they weren’t sold out. It wasn’t peak season so I got lucky and got a seat.

Buying Tickets to Petra

Ticket Prices to Petra:

  • 1 day non-accommodated visitor: 90 JD (i.e. if you come as a day trip without accommodations in Petra)
  • 1-day ticket: 50 JD (with proof of overnight stay)
  • 2-day ticket: 55 JD
  • 3-day ticket: 60 JD

I have a feeling they are discouraging day trips and want you to stay longer based on those prices. What do you think?

Practical Tips for Visiting Petra

The Royal Tombs of Petra

You will need to bring your passport with you to purchase tickets at the visitors center. However, they did not ask for my passport for Petra by Night. They do accept credit cards, but not so much for Petra by Night. They sell the tickets right at the entrance, so you need to bring cash. (I’m honestly not sure if the visitor’s center is open at this time of night. So ya, cash is king). 

How Long Do You Need in Petra?

I recommend at LEAST 2 days in Petra. At least! I was there 2 days (+Petra by Night) and it wasn’t enough. There is a lot of walking and hiking up hills so you gotta break it up and pace yourself.

Rome wasn’t conquered in a day. Don’t try to conquer Petra in a day. The main trail alone from the entrance to the Monastery is 8km! That’s 5 freaking miles. 

Take a look at this map below. You will see the entry on the bottom right and the Monastery on the top left. Do you see how far away they are? Freakin far!

It takes about 1.5-2 hours to reach the Monastery from the entrance. That’s 3-4 hours just to do the main trail so keep that in mind. That doesn’t even account for all the millions of photos you are going to stop for. 

Get there bright and early when it opens at 6am. You will have the Treasury to yourself for the first 10-15 minutes.

I recommend breaking up the main trail into 2 days. The first day explore the Treasury, Royal Tombs, Great Temple, and at least one of the 2 hikes to the top of the Treasury or the High Sacrifice. Then on day 2 take the long route to the Monastery, and all the other sites you missed on the main trail on the first day, plus the other hike.

For the most EPIC viewpoints in Petra, check out my article The Most Epic View in Petra (+ How to Reach Them).

Practical Tips for Visiting Petra

Petra by Night 

I’m sure you’ve seen the many awesome photos of Petra by Night. Some say it’s overrated, but I disagree. It was incredible and the highlight of my trip! There is something special about being there at night with just the lanterns lighting your path. It was magical, that’s the best way to explain it.

 

Petra by Night is only 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday) and I made sure I planned my trip around that because I did not want to miss it. It starts at 8:30pm but keep in mind it takes about 30 minutes to walk to the Treasury from the entrance! The cost is 12 JD ($17).

Safety in Petra

The world isn’t a safe place these days, but we shouldn’t stay at home because of it. Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma tide to Middle Eastern countries, one very hard to shake.Yes, it borders Syria and Saudi Arabia. But Jordan is generally a safe place, minus a few areas here and there.

I was in Amman at night, rode the bus to Petra myself, and walked around the streets by myself. I went to Petra alone as a female and I felt completely 100% safe.

I never once felt uncomfortable, like I was in dangerous, or harassed by men. In fact, it is one of the few countries in the world where I never got catcalled. Not once! The Jordanian people were some of the kindest, most hospital people I have ever met and I felt super welcome and safe in their country.

Riding Horses/Donkeys/Mules in Petra

You may get exhausted from all the hiking and walking you will be doing in Petra and need a little lift. In fact, you will get hassled 20+ times a day for a “taxi” ride on a donkey/mule. They can be persistent so learn to politely, but firmly decline if you’re not interested.

If you do decide to take a ride, make sure to negotiate the price beforehand or they will for sure overcharge you. A horse ride from the entrance to the Siq is included in the ticket price. However, they do indeed expect a tip.

How to Dress in Petra

Make sure to dress like you’re going hiking all day, because well, whether you like it or not, you will be doing a LOT of hiking. Especially if you want the best views. Absolutely no flip-flops.

If you must get that shot in a cute dress, bring a change of clothes or wear them underneath. There are 3 bathrooms throughout where you can change. Or if you hike first thing in the morning, you can change on the mountaintop because no one is there!

Practical Tips for Visiting Petra: How to Dress in Petra

I would recommend dressing in layers as it’s freezing in the mornings and evenings and scorching hot in the day. You are in the desert after all.

I would avoid wearing black as it picks up ALL the dust. I learned the hard way. 

Note: while it is a super touristy area of Jordan and the dress code is not as strict, you still want to respect the Jordanian culture. (I.e. don’t dress like  hoochie).

What to Bring With You to Petra

Bring small bills to buy water, coffee, snacks. I brought a 50 JD bill and not one person had change so I had to buy an expensive necklace to break change. The necklace sure is pretty though.

Bring sunscreen and lots of water. Also, bring some snacks as you’re going to be there all day and food is not cheap inside. There is also limited options. 

Bring hand sanitizer as your hands will get super dusty throughout the day. You’re gonna be hiking in sand, dirt so if you’re a clean freak like me, don’t forget it!

Where to Eat/Drink/Snack inside Petra

There are 2 restaurants inside Petra. One is a fancier buffet that charges 17 JD (~$24) and another right across from it that looks like a rundown shack. This “shack” also serve a buffet which was actually pretty good for only 10 JD ($14). I ate at the shack and I was satisfied. 

Practical Tips for Visiting Petra: Where to Eat in Petra

There are also many little cafes with coffee/tea and packaged snacks along the way. I stopped at so many because they had a nice views and I needed a break from walking in the heat. My favorite was the one right smack in front of the Monastery. They even accepted credit cards! (with a minimum 5JD purchase). Tip: order the coffee with cardamon, so yum!

Where to Stay in Petra 

Technically there are no hotels in Petra. The town called Wadi Musa is where you will be staying, located right next to Petra.

For a budget hotel under $30, stay at Rocky Mountain Hotel. The hotel is located on top of a hill in Wadi Musa, a 5 minute taxi ride from the Petra entrance or a 30 minute walk down a very steep hill. The view at the top of the restaurant is worth it alone. The sunsets there are epic and the buffet food was actually very good. To check out current prices and pictures, check here.

Where to stay in Petra: Rocky Mountain Hotel Petra

View from the cafe at the top of the Rocky Mountain Hotel

The Sun will Make the Sites Look Different at Different times of Day

Wait, what? Depending on where the sun is in the sky, the red rock will appear a different color. When the sun is shining directly onto the rock, it turns a deep red color. In the shade it’s noticeably lighter so it’s a good idea to come back to certain sites and photograph them at different times of the day.

As you will see in the photo below, this is the difference of the colors of the Treasury at 6am (left) and 4pm (right). A HUGE difference, right? 

Practical Tips for Visiting Petra

I was told the sunlight at the Monastery is best around 1pm.

A Word on Travel Insurance 

Make sure to get travel insurance in case something happens. You’re pretty much out in nowhere so getting to the hospital may cost you a fortune if you are uninsured. Most US plans will not cover you overseas so make sure to check in advance.

My go to travel insurance that I have been using for the past 4 years is World Nomads. I have made 3 claims and have been reimbursed without any hassle. I highly recommend them. This is an affiliate link, btw :). 


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The Most Epic Views in Petra (+ how to reach them)

The Most Epic Views in Petra (+ how to reach them)

The rose-red city half as old as time’, the words used to describe the ancient city of Petra by poet John William Burgon.

Petra comes from the Greek word for rock. Quite fitting for an entire city carved into the red sandstone cliffs. Petra has a fascinating and mysterious history and is on many bucketlists rightfully so.

Petra is also known as the “Lost City” as it was abandoned for centuries after a devastating earthquake. It was rediscovered by a Swiss explorer named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.

Petra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 and is known as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World.

Today, it is estimated that less than 2% of the sites are excavated in Petra, yet you could spend several days discovering all the remains and hiking trails of the monumental city. 

I recently spent a few days in Jordan and was determined to find the most epic views in Petra, and I think I found most of them! I honestly wish I had one more day as I just scratched the surface of this amazing place.

Below I have highlighted the most epic views in Petra, as well as how to find them (some are kinda hidden so hopefully this guide will help you find them easily).


The Most Epic Views in Petra


Beyond the High Sacrifice 

The high sacrifice is a holy place that was used for animal sacrifices and is located on the summit of the Attuf Ridge high above the Royal Tombs and main trail. The peak rests at around 550+ feet. From here, you can see most of Petra, excluding the Monastery and Treasury.

most epic views in Petra

You will look right down to the royal tombs across from you. There is a little shack with coffee/tea and trinkets at the top and it’s hard to resist sitting at the very edge of the cliff sipping coffee with the epic view. 

most epic views of Petra

How long it takes to reach the top:

About 40-ish minutes, depending on your fitness level. I have read articles that says 1 hour but only if you go at a snail’s pace.

How to Get There:

Look for the sign that says: High Sacrifice (Jabal Almadbah)

About 5 minutes after the Treasury, it will be on the left side. When you see the shop called “Why Not Shop” , look for the steps on the left. You’ll see a brown sign. If you see the amphitheater, you’ve gone too far.

most epic views in Petra

Looking down onto the Treasury 

This might be the most epic view you can get in Petra and takes a steep hike to get to with many stairs. The walk takes about 45+ minutes to get to the top. I would definitely go first thing in the morning to beat the heat and the crowds. I went around 6:45am, at the top around 7:30am and absolutely no one was there. It was awesome to have the place to myself. 

Trail Name: Al-Khubtha Trail

How to Get There:

About 5-7 minutes past the Treasury, you will pass the Street of Facades and public bathrooms on the right. Right after the bathrooms, you should see some little steps and a brown sign saying Al-Khubtha Trail. Take the steps up and you should pass the Royal Tombs on the right side.

most epic views of Petra

You will then reach the bigger/steeper steps. Follow that up and you will see a few more signs saying saying “Come and Sit and Enjoy The Spectacular View of the Treasury From Above”.

Most epic views in Petra

View from the Bedouin tent thingy

There is a sign at the top pointing with an arrow to the rocks saying “Best View”  where you will get a side view of the Treasury. But in my opinion, the best view is actually from the Bedouin type tent thingy about 2 minutes past this. You can see the Treasury straight down from there!

The Monastery and Petra Mountains in the Distance 

The Monastery is arguably the most epic site in all of Petra, bigger and more badass than the Treasury. It takes a strenuous 45 minute hike to the top. But the best views aren’t from there. The best views are from above. 

most epic views in Petra

How to Get There:

most epic views in Petra

Walk past the Monastery and cafe and you’ll see a hill. Climb up the hill and on the left you’ll see a sign that says Do “Not Miss This Spectacular View”, another one that says “View Wadi Araba Water Spring”, and “Grand Canyon View, Best in Jordan”.

most epic views in Petra

Climb to the first platform and that’s where you will get the best view. You can go higher to a little cafe, but the views aren’t as good as from here in my opinion. You get the Monastery from the distance as well as the vast Petra landscape framing it. 

Cafe with the “Best View in Jordan”

One of the best views over Petra where you can relax and sip on some very yummy tea is at a cafe located 10 minutes past the Monastery.The cafe is decorated Bedouin style with the colorful floor pillows and tables. Have a mint tea and enjoy the views. There is a cute and super friendly kitty that lives there too! A bonus if you ask me. 

most epic views in Petra

How to get there:  

If you come down from the Monastery view and keep waking up the hill, you will see signs that says “Grand Canyon View, Best in Jordan”(btw, if you haven’t yet noticed from this article, there are tons of signs in Petra that will claim the “best view”, that’s for you to decide!). Walk to the top to the cafe for a panoramic view of the mountains.

most epic views in Petra

Petra By Night

This is a definite a MUST if you’re visiting Petra. It only occurs 3 nights a week (Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday) so make sure to plan accordingly. This was the highlight of my Petra trip and the only way I can describe it is MAGICAL.

The Siq opens right up to the Treasury at the end and that first sneak peak through the narrow gorge is EPIC. It brought me to tears seeing the Treasury and all the candlelights surrounding it. What a great introduction to Pera!

How to Get There:

You really can’t miss it as it’s on the main trail. After you get your tickets at the visitor’s center, proceed to the walk through the Siq. It takes about 30 minutes from the entrance to get the the Treasury, but half the excitement is walking through the narrow path illuminated by candlelights.

Inside the Caves of Petra

I must admit I have never seen photos of the caves of Petra, as they are overshadowed by the Treasury and Monastery. The caves are made of swirly marble patterns and were so beautiful. They also provided a cool escape from the heat!

How to Get There:

Walk past the Street of Facades and they will be on your right before the Royal Tombs (if you see the Amphitheatre, you went too far). You can climb up into them and it gives you a nice alternate view of Petra that’s pretty damn impressive.

Walking through the Siq

The Siq is the gateway to the city of Petra and is a long narrow gorge with twists and turns that ends with a dramatic opening right smack in front of The Treasury.

most epic views in Petra

 

The Siq is around 1.2km long and is anywhere between 3 and 12 meters wide. The cliffs are as high as almost 600 feet in some parts and the walk alone through the Siq is filled with many photo ops.

most epic views in Petra

How to Get There:

You have to go through the Siq to enter Petra so you literally can’t miss it!

Have you Been to Petra? Do You Have Any Other EPIC Viewpoints you Would Recommend? Please Share Below!

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