Have days off, will travel.
Things to consider: flight timings/duration (to maximize my 3 days off), passenger load (anyone who’s travelled on ID tickets knows the peril of being on standby), visa requirements (Philippine passport holders, ya’ dig?), and most importantly, budget (believe it or not, a huge chunk of my salary goes to FOOD expenses).
I revisited my old travel goals list – one that I made during my first few months in Doha. In it was Jordan, a country near Qatar that I never had the chance to go to. Why?!? So I told myself, this time there won’t be any excuses.
I quickly Googled, “Things to do in Jordan”.
Since my time is limited, I had to prioritize. I allocated one full day for the lost city, Petra (click here for my Petra adventure); and another full day for areas in and around Jordan’s capital, Amman. If you’ve read about travelers’ experiences in Jordan, you’d know that it is one heck of an expensive destination (for a Middle East country). The cost of living itself is not pricey, but they do bank on tourism. For example, the price for entry to Petra for tourists is 50 JOD ( 70 USD), as opposed to entry for Jordanians, which is 1 JOD. I don’t mind pricey entrance fees, to be honest. I consider these “preservation costs”, and see it more as a donation to maintain the place so that future generations still have a chance to see it. 🙂 What you need to be careful about though are those guides/tours that you can do away with.
To lessen expenses, you can purchase a Jordan Pass online for 70 JOD (99 USD). If you’re staying a minimum of three nights in Jordan, it’s really worth it! Filipinos with valid GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) residency can get visa-on-arrival in Jordan for 40 JOD, but if you have the Jordan Pass beforehand, the visa fee can be waived. In addition, it’s inclusive of entrance fees to over 40 attractions. 😉
I tried looking for tours online, because I wanted to visit different places all in one day. If I combined all of them, even at the cheapest, it will cost around $200. Since I didn’t really want a tour guide (I downloaded apps with audio and maps), I decided to just book a driver who will take me around. The receptionist at Rafi Hotel, Mohammad, was really helpful all throughout my stay. He recommended Omar, a taxi driver, to take me to all the places I wanted. We agreed on 70 JOD, which is a pretty good deal. Hotel pick-up was 7:30 in the morning.
Fee: 10 JOD
Duration: 2 hours
Located North of Amman, Jerash is known as the “Pompeii of the East”, because of its Greco-Roman ruins. It was, however, damaged by numerous earthquakes, and not by a volcanic eruption.
Fee: 1 JOD
Duration: 15 minutes
St. George’s is an old Greek Orthodox church where ancient mosaic tiles covering the floor reveal the oldest map of Palestine. By this time, it was already 11:30 AM, but a lunch break was not in my itinerary. Omar, who was waiting for me in the car, surprised me with a falafel, so we can continue on with our trip. So sweet! 😀
Fee: 1 JOD
Duration: 30 minutes
Mt. Nebo is the place where God showed Moses a view of the Promised Land. A Byzantine church was discovered atop the mountain in 1933, and was made into The Moses Memorial.
Bethany Beyond the Jordan
Fee: 12 JOD (not included in Jordan Pass)
Duration: 1 hour
This is more commonly known as the baptism site of Jesus. Private tour buses/cars are not allowed to go into the area because the Jordan River very narrowly separates Jordan from Israel. A designated bus takes the tourists to the site via the visitors’ center.
Fee: 25 JOD (not included in Jordan Pass)
Time: 3 PM ’til sunset
I opted not to go to the nearby hotels along the Dead Sea because their day pass rates for non-staying guests range from 30 to 40 JOD, without lunch. Amman Beach Tourism is a public resort that offers access to the Dead Sea, has a pool, and clean showers. I’m good with that. 🙂 Lunch was already included in that price.
My trip to Jordan has really inspired me to go for an Israel tour to see more historical and biblical places of importance. Such a wonderful feeling being there!
P.S.: If the winds ever take you to Jordan, and you need a ride around town, contact Omar at +962785435569. Say hi for me!