By Jennifer Schlueter
Tour operators offer trips to Petra from Israel and other surrounding countries, including Egypt. Make sure your tour stays at least 1 full day in Petra. Only then you can grasp the full amazingness this miraculous place has to offer.
I took Abraham Tours’ 3-day Jordan tour from Tel Aviv that included Jerash (which has by far better than Roman ruins in Rome!), a quick stop in Amman, Petra, and Wadi Rum.
We had a great guide in Jordan, friendly drivers, and a group full of interesting people.
Now if you want to visit Petra from Israel, this tour is a great option, but there are a lot more things to know about this spectacular Wonder of the World.
Solo female travelers, please definitely read the part about scammers in Petra. Don’t let it scare you because Petra and Jordan are generally safe (because their border countries are the safest in the world – JK, stole that joke from our tour guide). I never felt unsafe and neither did anyone in our group raise any safety concerns!
Now, here are the most important things to know before you visit Petra from Israel:
1. Scammers – Especially every solo female traveler MUST read this please
“Pick your grave,” the Bedouin whom we had known for about an hour said to us while my friend Kalle (girl) and I were inside a tomb chamber with about 10 graves in Petra. A tomb chamber far away from the tourist crowds, up in the hills of the city’s rocky landscape formation. We did not know the two Bedouins who brought us up there and that joke really made Kalle feel a bit uneasy. But Ali laughed it off.
I do NOT intend to scare you away from Petra with the following incidents, I merely want you to be aware of what is happening and what COULD happen to you if you’re not careful and blindly fall for what strangers tell you. Trust your gut. But please do go to Petra and enjoy what this beautiful place has to offer!
Believe it or not (and I suggest you do), but there are scammers in Petra and according to the Instagram page @shakira_the_donkey , they’re mostly related. It’s like a family business of getting money and sex from foreign girls.
Petra used to be a city of 30,000 inhabitants, which – for Westerners – is hard to believe once you see this city carved of rocks. Today, there are thousands of Bedouins living in caves raising donkeys and goats, making jewelry and other things tourists will buy. Occasionally, you’ll find one or the other Western woman, some married to Bedouins, in the village as well.
The Bedouins offer horse or donkey rides to tourists as well as handmade goods.
In general, Bedouins are super nice and will accept a simple “no” to whatever it is they’re trying to sell you; however, here’s an example of what could happen if they offer you more than just handmade goods.
Before I tell you, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Thanks to their headscarves and Kohl around the eyes that protects from dust and sun, most Bedouins look like Jack Sparrow, which is intriguing to a lot of foreign girls. And all – and I mean all – their donkeys are named Shakira, except for one. Her name was Monica.
My friend Kalle and I decided to hop on two donkeys for the way up the Monastery. Two Bedouins guided us up and as we talked to them, the one named Yassin invited us to see the caves including the one he called home. Yassin didn’t even have shoes and hopped on the hot small rocks with his bare feet.
Taking our – what we thought – would be a once in a lifetime chance, Kalle and I said why not. After all, the guys seemed trustworthy. They never complimented us or said anything that could have been taken as a move toward us or tries to impress or getting money from us. In fact, they even said whatever we want to pay them, they’d be ok with it.
Yassin and Ali showed us their cave, which was laid out with carpets, a few mattresses with blankets on them, a table in the middle with a passport picture of Ali’s Japanese ex-girlfriend, a Spice Girls poster on the wall and a few candles. Ali rolled up some hashish and smoked it before they brought us back to the Treasury. Kalle and I gave them about US$ 30 each and exchanged Facebook profiles.
Soon after, two other Bedouins, Eamad and Mohammed approached us, looking like they’re on the hunt for some European booty. Eamad told us about his time in France and Mohammed claimed to be the nephew of a Kiwi woman married to a Bedouin. Because Eamad had an interesting look, I also took a portrait of him and we exchanged Facebook profiles, so I could send it to him later. They really wanted to convince us to stay for sunset and evening because Petra would be lit up with candles.
A few days later, I posted Eamad’s photo on Instagram and thanks to a hashtag, @shakira_the_donkey commented underneath my photo that he was a famous romance scammer in Petra. I checked out their Instagram page and messaged them to find out who was behind the organization whose goal is to warn and protect girls from the scammers in Petra. They preferred to stay anonymous, but please, do check out their profile. Especially if you’re a solo female traveler.
After Eamad sent me a few messages telling me I’m beautiful and what not, I blocked him. He sent me a nasty message from a friend’s account a few days later about how ugly I am, how old I look, and how I have issues. Thanks for the compliments, bruh!
Back in Israel, Yassin FaceTimed me at least 15 times, including several times at 2 a.m., even though I never answered. I had to block him as well unfortunately.
If you google “romance scammers in Petra” or anything related, see for yourself that I’m not the only one this has happened to. In some cases, girls were drugged and raped, even couples are not safe – the boyfriend gets drugged and the girl raped. So, just enjoy Petra and its sights, but don’t be fooled! Stay cautious, safe, and trust your gut!
And again: I do NOT intend to scare you away from Petra with these incidents, I merely want you to be aware of what is happening and what COULD happen to you if you’re not careful, but blindly fall for what strangers tell you. Trust your gut. But please do go to Petra and enjoy what this beautiful place has to offer!
2. How much time is needed to see Petra
We spent a whole day in Petra and rushed through town from about 8 a.m. until 5.30 p.m. That included climbing up the hill behind the Treasury, getting a donkey ride up to the Monastery and a half hour lunch break. That excluded the area with the Court unfortunately.
Therefore, you can EASILY spend two days in Petra. I would love to recommend you a stay in a Bedouin cave, but after what I witnessed, I wouldn’t recommend it. Not to guys for the sake of things being stolen, and not for girls for the sake of stolen things and obviously other reasons!
What I will do however during my next stay in Petra – and there will be a next one – is see the city at night, when it gets lit up with candles.
Petra opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. during winter, and 6 p.m. during summer.
My recommended time to spend in Petra is thus 2 days and 1 night (at a near hotel or Bedouin camp).
3. Best time to visit Petra
I went at the end of May and it was extremely hot, yet still bearable. To my relief, I had a head scarf I could wear that kept my head at a cool-ish temperature.
During the early months of the year, Petra can get extremely low, not to freezing or snow, but 3, 4, 5 degrees Celsius meaning 30 degrees Fahrenheit at night and plus / minus 15 degrees Celsius (around 60 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day. The hottest month is August with an average maximum temperature of 36 degrees Celsius, which is in the high 90’s in Fahrenheit. So depending on the temperatures you like and you can handle, pack accordingly. Always bring sun screen.
Spring and fall are recommended for comfortable temperatures and arriving early is highly suggested to avoid the crowds, which – let’s face it – will never be really avoided because Petra is just so amazing that everyone wants to see it!
I went at the end of May when the temperature was said to be a comfortable 27°C, yet felt more like 35°C. Because I enjoy summer and hot weather, I wasn’t too bothered by it. It was hot, but bearable with a head scarf.
If you’re (un)lucky to be in Petra during a day of rain, which is unlikely because of the average 9 days of rain per year, you may get a peak inside the Treasury because that’s where you’ll be evacuated to OR you’ll have to leave the site under the supervision of guides. A few years ago, French tourists fell victim to a flood.
4. Dress code
You are in a predominantly Muslim country. To be respectful, you can cover your shoulders and knees, but if you don’t, you won’t be the only one. I saw girls with their bellies and booties showing, but to my taste, that’s pushing it a bit. At the end of the day though, nobody cared.
If you’re a blogger like me or just a girl who wants to look pretty, don’t make the mistake of wearing a (longer) dress and sandals. I surely wasn’t expecting to have to climb up a steep mountain to see the Monastery from above. I don’t know how many people I flashed. I hope it was less than I fear if none at all because I did try hard to keep my legs closed (that’s what she said) .
You’ll be walking on rocky paths the whole time; therefore, bring comfortable walking shows. I was fine in sandals but had preferred not to pick little rocks out of them a few times.
5. What to see in Petra
The Treasury – the obvious. But also, if you’re fit, have the time, and are up for a steep 15 minute hike, climb up to the point from where you can see the Treasury from above and let the Bedouins help you (you won’t be able to find the way by yourself).
The Monastery – another hike/climb about 45, depending on how fit you are. Or, if you’re lazy like me, you take a donkey or mule – again, guided by a Bedouin.
The Court – I didn’t get the time to walk around there unfortunately, just saw it from afar, but it looks amazing!
6. Taking photos of Bedouins in Petra
Just ask. Some of them don’t want to land on Facebook. After seeing @shakira_the_donkey ‘s page, I have a suspicion of why some of them don’t want their photo to be taken (read tip #1 if you haven’t).
7. Ticket prices for Petra and tipping
Your entrance fee will be covered by the tour operator, if you book a tour to Petra from Israel, for example.
Wikipedia says: “Tourists (overnight and cruise visitors) pay 50 Jordanian Dinar (=70 USD) for 1 day’s access to Petra, 55 JD for 2 days or 60 JD for 3 days. Students have to pay the full price, unless they have a valid Jordanian University ID; then the entry fee is 1 JD.”
A horse ride for the first 4 km from the entrance to the Treasury or back is included in price, but the guides expect a 5 JD tip.
For a hike up to the point from where you can see the Treasury, a $5 or 3 JD tip is expected and it’ll cost you 1 JD to take photos at the top. A donkey or mule ride to the Monastery should cost you no more than $15 or 10 JD.
My lunch was included in my tour.
From my experience, inside Petra, Israeli Shekels, USD, and Euros are accepted. Some Bedouins also take other currency.
8. How to get from Israel to Petra – Border fees
The tour I went with crossed the border close to Ma’oz Haim. For more border crossings, so here‘s an overview.
The prices at our border crossing were:
106 Shekels to exit Israel – US $28
10 Dinars to exit Jordan – US $14
Also, exchange your money into Jordanian Dinar at the border on the Israeli side when you’re about to enter. You’ll get the BEST deal with almost no loss. When I exchanged, I got the exchange rate Google showed me.
According to Visit Jordan:
“Single Entry visas valid for one month: 40 JOD (approximately 56 USD)
Double Entry visas valid for three months: 60 JOD (approximately 85 USD)
Multiple Entry visas valid for six months: 120 JOD (approximately 170 USD)
The Jordanian Government has waived visa fees for all non-restricted nationalities coming through Jordanian tour operators whether travelling individually or in groups. The visa fee is waived on the condition that the traveler/travelers spend a minimum of two consecutive nights in Jordan.”
9. Tours from Israel to Petra
Tour operators offer trips to Petra from Israel and other surrounding countries, including Egypt. Make sure your tour stays at least 1 full day (better: 1 day plus one evening) in Petra. Only then you can grasp the full amazingness this miraculous place has to offer.
Also, our tour spent both nights at the Seven Wonders Bedouin camp (get $15 off if you book with THIS link) with shared bathrooms, mostly cold showers, great food, warm blankets, a cell phone charging station, and no power between midnight and 6.30 a.m. Definitely recommended!
10. What else to see in Jordan
Thank you Abraham Tours for supporting me on this trip. All opinions are my own – as usual – and I can absolutely recommend this tour!
This post contains affiliate links, which are at no cost to you – in fact, you’re getting a discount, too! I get a small portion as well, which will go to further travels, which will lead to more posts give you more inspiration and tips 🙂 So it’s a win-win <3
Catching scorpions in Tanzania, riding hot air balloons in Egypt, and hiking 6 hours through the night to catch the sunrise at Trolltunga in Norway, Jennifer has been traveling the world since April 2016. Follow her adventures on Instagram or read her blog for the best travel tips and tricks.