From Halal Food & Travel
This Muslim Friendly Travel Guide is part of eHalal.io Travel Group Jordan (Arabic: الأردنّ al-Urdunn) is an Arab kingdom in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the east and south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, the West Bank and the Dead Sea to the West and the Red Sea in its extreme south-west. Jordan is located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The capital, Amman, is Jordan's most populous city and the country's economic and cultural centre.
Jordan has a large collection of archaeological sites, ranging from important biblical attractions to temples carved into the rock.
An Introduction to the regions of Jordan
Jordan can be divided into four regions:
Reference ##71B37B Northern Jordan King's Highway Reference ##B383B3 Eastern Desert Reference ##D56D76 Southern Desert }}
Other Muslim friendly Cities in Jordan
- Amman — capital of the Kingdom
- Aqaba — located on the Gulf of Aqaba (Eilat), with links to the Sinai and the Red Sea
- Irbid — second largest metropolitan area in the north of the kingdom
- Jerash — one of the largest Roman ruins in the Middle East
- Kerak — site of a once-mighty Crusader castle
- Madaba — known for its mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land
- Salt — ancient town which was once the capital of Jordan
- Zarqa — third largest metropolitan area of the kingdom
Other Muslim Friendly Destinations in Jordan
- Ajlun Castle — impressive ruins of a 12th-century castle
- Azraq — oasis in the desert, an illustration of how water brings life even at places like a desert
- Dana Nature Reserve — stay in a traditional village and enjoy unforgettable hiking in an offshoot of the Great Rift
- Dead Sea — the lowest point on earth and the most saline sea
- Desert Castles — once getaways for caliphs from the Umayyad period
- Petra — Jordan's top attraction, an ancient city carved out of sandstone and one of the new 7 Wonders of the World
- Umm Qais — a Roman-era settlement, close to the ruins of the ancient Gadara
- Wadi Rum — barren, isolated and beautiful, granite cliffs contrasting with desert sand
Jordan Halal Explorer
The national language of Jordan is Arabic.
Many Jordanians speak English, especially in urban areas such as Amman. French and German are the second and third most popular languages after English. You might encounter some Caucasian and Armenian languages because of a number of Caucasian immigrants that arrived during the early 1900s.
What to see in Jordan
Introduced in 2015, the Jordan Pass provides free entrance to most sights in Jordan and offers a great saving compared to when purchasing tickets (and visa) separately.
The price for the pass is 70, 75 or 80 JD depending on the option you choose for Petra – a 1-, 2- or 3-day pass for Petra is available. It guarantees free admission to most historical sites within a two week period starting from the date the ticket is scanned for the first time at any sight. The pass can be used within 12 months after purchase. It does not include entrance to Bethany, the baptist side, (12 JD) nor to St. George Church in Madaba with the famous Mosaic (1 JD).
Most importantly, in addition to free entrance to many sights, the regular visa fees (40 JD) are waived (at the airport) if you stay a minimum of three consecutive nights in Jordan. Note:
- If you leave Jordan before completing these 3 nights, you will have to pay the visa fee at the customs/border.
- The visa fee is not waived for multiple entry visas.
- It is not clear how the process works for non-on-arrival-visas, e.g. when using the Allenby Bridge.
- The visa fees are 10 JD for tourists entering Jordan by land.
- You might not have to pay any visa fee in certain circumstances, e.g. for the free, one-month ASEZA visa (see above). Then, the visa waiver does not really do anything for you.
Considering the regular entrance fees to Petra of 50/55/60 JD (90 JD for single-day Jordan visitors), to Jerash of 10 JD and to Wadi Rum of 5 JD, it is hard not to take advantage of this great offer.
Children under the age of 12 can enter the tourist sites for free when accompanied by their parents.
North of Amman is the ancient city of Jerash, where you can see some of the most impressive Roman ruins in the Eastern Mediterranean world.
Other sites include Umm Quais, Ajlun Castle and Pella (north-west of Amman). Madaba and its Archaeological Park include some of the finest mosaics in the world.
Parts of the western edge of Jordan's border are the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea to experience floating without the fear of drowning. Close to the Dead Sea is also Bethany (Jesus's baptismal site).
In addition, a visit to Kerak and Dana Nature Reserve are worth while.
Close to Amman the most interesting sights of this region are the Desert Castles around Azraq.
Wadi Rum is an astonishing desert landscape that leaves no one untouched.
The archaeological ruins at Petra are Jordan's biggest tourist draw and a must-see for anyone travelling in Jordan. A vast site, and at least two days are needed to really see the entire area.
Top Muslim Travel Tips for Jordan
- Go diving or snorkelling in the Red Sea by Aqaba. The Red Sea has some of the world's most famous coral reefs and is a popular place for diving and snorkelling. Turtles, squids, clownfish and a sunken tank are a few of the underwater sights. Equipment can be rented at diving centres, and if you contact them they are happy to come pick you up by car and take you to a good beach spot and back.
- Great hiking spots are Dana Nature Reserve, Wadi Rum, Wadi Mujib, or Wadi Bin Hammad northwest of Kerak.
- Floating and "swimming" in the Dead Sea is one of the highlights.
Halal Tours and Excursions in Jordan
- 8-9 days of hitch-hiking and bus: Amman – Jerash – Madaba – Dead Sea – Dana Nature Reserve – Petra – Wadi Rum – Aqaba (including potential stops at Ajlun, Mount Nebo, Dead Sea Panorama complex, and Shoubak Castle). Add one day for each of the following: Desert Castles, Madaba surrounding area, Wadi Mujib, Kerak
- 4-5 days: Aqaba – Petra – Wadi Rum – Aqaba
Study as a Muslim in Jordan
For long stays, it is possible to take Arabic courses at the University of Jordan and at other private educational centres in Amman. The British Council in Amman occasionally runs courses in Arabic for foreigners.
In Amman, the starting cost for apartments is 350-1,400 JD monthly. Proprietors prefer you pay up front and commit for at least a half year stay.
An alternative is Zarqa Private University. It is a 35-minute drive due east of Amman and can save you a fortune, because it costs 1/3 less to stay in an apartment there than in Amman.
How to work legally in Jordan
Work opportunities for the casual foreign visitor are limited in Jordan. The majority of foreigners working in Jordan are on contract work with foreign multinationals and development organisations (Amman is the 'gateway to Iraq' and a key base for the continuing efforts to rebuild its neighbour).
There is the possibility of picking up casual English teaching work if you hunt around hard for opportunities.
Fluent Arabic speakers might have more success, though the process of obtaining a work permit is not particularly straightforward. Engage a knowledgeable local to assist you.
Muslim Friendly Shopping in Jordan
Money Matters & ATM's in Jordan
The currency is the Jordanian dinar, locally denoted by the symbol "JD" before or after the amount or in Arabic as دينار, or sometimes "£" (ISO currency code: JOD). It is divided into 1000 fils and 100 piastres (or qirsh). Coins come in denominations of 1 (almost non existent), 5 and piastres and ¼ JD, ½ JD. Banknotes are found in 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 JD denominations. The currency rate is effectively fixed to the US dollar at an artificially high rate (about $1.412 ≈ 1.00 JD) that makes Jordan poorer value than it would otherwise be. Most upper scale restaurants and shops at shopping malls also accept US dollars.
Many places have limited change so it is important to keep a quantity of 1 JD and 5 notes JD. As bank machines give 20 JD and 50 JD notes for large transactions, this can be difficult.
Cards are accepted in a limited (and seemingly random) way. Most hotels and hostels take cards including Petra entry fees (50 JD and more) and at camps in Wadi Rum.
ATMs are commonly available, but might charge a fee of up to 7 JD, especially the ATM at the airport right before the visa counter which you have to use to withdraw money to pay for the visa(-on-arrival), except for when you have a Jordan Pass. Try several machines to find one with the lowest or without any fee, and remember the bank. However, in case of Visa, sometimes these additional fees will not get collected back home. Probably mostly only ever if it states more on your receipt than you have received.
What is the living cost in Jordan
A subsistence budget would be around 15 JD per day, but this means you'll be eating falafel every day. 25 JD will allow slightly better accommodations, basic restaurant meals and even the occasional beer. It is best to check accommodation prices online – most Jordan hostels and hotels have their rooms on the common hotel websites.
If you prefer to eat what the locals eat, it should only cost 1-2 JD for which you can buy a falafel/shwerma sandwich with any can of soda pop (most common is Coke, Sprite and Fanta). If you want to buy a chicken sandwich it will cost (0.50-0.80 JD).
To try real Jordanian food and don't stay at starred hotels all the time; eating there is expensive for an average Jordanian. Unless the meal came with the hotel accommodation, don't eat here. It may look like the people inside can afford the meal and make it look and sound like this is an average way to eat. Go into the city or local markets or restaurants and find out what the people there are buying – you will save a lot of money on your trip. If not and you want to save the trip of seeing the country's true people then stay where you are and enjoy whatever the travel guide wants you to see, do and pay.
Non-Jordanians can get a VAT refund at the airport when they are returning home. The VAT amount must be more than 50 JD on anything except for: food, hotel expenses, gold, mobile phones.
Summary (common prices and costs):
- Bus – 1 JD per 40 km; taxi – 1 JD per 5 km; camel, donkey or horse – 12-15 JD/hr
- Falafel roll – 0.5 JD; falafel & hummus – 2-3 JD; beer (in the shop) – 0.5-1 JD
- Hotel room – JOD8-15 JD; dorm – 5 JD; mattress – 1-2 JD
- Wadi Rum camp – 20-30 JD; Dead Sea hotels – 50-60 JD (off-season)
- Dead Sea (touristic) beach – 20 JD; Jordan Pass – 70-80 JD
The average monthly salary for Jordanians is 450 JD, while the official poverty live is 70 JD per month (2022).
also|Bargaining}} Bargaining is accepted, especially on markets, but some prices might already be final, e.g. in restaurants, the bus, or the museum. Since also rich locals will get fair and inexpensive local prices, there is no reasoning why tourists should pay more. Though, as a tourist it might be hard to find out whether the price you got is fair or inflated because you are considered a wealthy tourist. It is best to ask at several different locations to get a feeling for what the price should be. Remember to always thank the merchant for stating the price, even if not buying anything.
A working approach for hotels is to look up the price on one of the big hotel reservation sites and to walk straight into the chosen hotel stating that seen price. You might get some discount, if not, just trying the next one might convince the guy at the reception to give you a better price. This however will only work when and where accommodation options are vast, i.e. probably not during high season in Petra or at the Dead Sea.
Touting & guides
Tourism is a big income generator. While this must be appreciated and respected in the wake of troublesome times, many visitors are just fast cash cows for tourist guides and taxi drivers who carry them from one overpriced venue, shop, hotel or restaurant to the next one, collecting their share of 30-50% from the owner when leaving. So, do not rely on them too much, otherwise they will cash in on you twice, once for their service and once taking commission. This means, either the restaurant will be touristic with very inflated prices, or the hotel will add a extra charge when you ask them for the price, especially if the guide or taxi driver stands right next to you. Instead, choose the restaurant and hotel by yourself without them following you, and just use taxi drivers for transport, not as a guide. Always only rely on the bare minimum of such help, and spend your money arbitrarily and widely, and not just at the hotel you are staying or the place your guide drops you off.
Also, do not believe in the common my cousin (or friend) offers/has got it (something that you are looking for) and I can get it cheaper for you – the opposite will mostly be the truth, neither will it be his cousin nor will it be cheaper. Always get several independent quotes for things or tours you are interested in, and never get convince that there is only one option available and you have to stick with that one telling you so, even if they say this or that is not available, does not work or is not in this direction, e.g. taxi drivers pretending that there are no buses from the Allenby Bridge into Jordan. The variety of such examples is vast.
Buy Souvenirs from Jordan
Do not buy souvenirs in the touristic centres of the country, like Petra, Jerash or Amman – the prices here are inflated 2- or 3-fold. Madaba or Irbid might be good opportunities to get souvenirs.
Buying and exporting archaeological artefacts might be prohibited, like ancient coins. So, do not get into thinking you can make a good deal here. If you are not an expert, you might even end up buying fake genuine goods – just because they look old and the merchant talks lovely does not make them real.
Halal Restaurants in Jordan
Jordanian cuisine is quite similar to fare served elsewhere in the region. The daily staple being khobez, a large, flat bread sold in bakeries across the country for a few hundred fils. Delicious when freshly baked.
For breakfast, the traditional breakfast is usually fried eggs, labaneh, cheese, zaatar and Olive oil along with bread and a cup of tea. Falafel and hummus are eaten on the weekends by some and more often by others. There's no convention for when you should or should not eat any type of food. It's up to you. This is the most popular breakfast. Manousheh and pastries come in as the second most popular breakfast item. All of the hotels offer American breakfast. The national dish of Jordan is the mansaf, prepared with jameed, a sun-dried yogurt. Grumpygourmet.com describes the mansaf as "an enormous platter layered with crêpe-like traditional "shraak" bread, mounds of glistening rice and chunks of lamb that have been cooked in a unique sauce made from reconstituted jameed and spices, sprinkled with golden pine nuts." In actuality more people use fried almonds instead of pine nuts because of the cheaper price tag. The best mansaf can be found in Kerak.
While mansaf is the national dish, most people in urban areas eat it on special occasions and not every day. Other popular dishes include Maklouba, stuffed vegetables, freekeh.
Levantine-style mezza are served in "Lebanese-style" - which is typical to Jordanian style - restaurants around the country, and you can easily find international fast food chains. Some local businesses such ate:
- Abu Jbarah: falafel restaurants
- Al kalha: falafel and homous restaurant
- Al-Daya'a and Reem: places to get shawerma sandwiches and dishes.
As for foreign style restaurants, there is no shortage of them. The best ones are usually found in 5-star hotels, but the price tag is high. Italian restaurants and pizza places are somewhat abundant in Amman, Madaba, and Aqaba, but are very hard to find in other cities.
More and more cafes now serve food. There is an abundance of Middle Eastern-style cafes serving Argeelleh in addition to the full complement of Western and Middle Eastern coffee drinks. There is also a good number of Asian-style cafes which usually serve Asian-style desserts, salads and sandwiches.
Although Jordan is an Islamic state, the locally brewed Amstel beer is available in the better restaurants. Guinness, Becks and Heiniken are served in bars catering for westerners. Jordanian wine, mostly from Mount Nebo, is also quite good. A few shops, especially in the touristic centres also sell harder alcohol. Liquor stores are generally identifiable by the Amstel logo. In touristic areas it is easy to find them, and only during Ramadan they might be closed. One exception is Wadi Rum, because there are no shops here, just camps, but the more luxurious ones will cater for such needs.
For more details on alcohol in Jordan, also see the Amman eHalal Travel Guide.
Muslim Friendly Hotels in Jordan
Amman has an abundance of 5- and 4-star hotels. In addition there is good number of 3-star hotels and there are plenty of 2-star and 1-star hotels in downtown Amman which are very cheap, and there are plenty of tourists, especially those that are passing by stay in these hotels.
There are two scales of rating the hotels in Jordan. There are the standard, Asian-style 5-star hotels such as the Sheraton, Crowne Plaza, etc., and then there are the local 5-star establishments. The local establishments that are considered '5-star' in Jordan would be more like 3-star hotels in the West. A traveller will pay top dollar for a Western brand-name 5-star hotel in Amman or Petra and less for the local 5-star hotel.
Furthermore, for longer stays it is possible to get furnished apartments for 200-600 JD a month.
Stay safe as a Muslim in Jordan
Jordan is very safe. There is virtually no unsafe part of Jordan except at the Iraqi border. Although the rural parts of Jordan have limited infrastructure, the fellahin (or village people) will be happy to assist you.
As with many places, be cautious with anyone who seems interested in romantic entanglements, as incidents of foreign women being charmed by locals and then discovering that the "romance" was merely a cover to obtain sex, money, or other services are not uncommon. This is especially true for young foreign girls – a cosy camp surrounding and maybe some wine does the rest.
Jordan is a Muslim nation, so western norms, such as public displays of affection, may not be accepted even by Jordan's western-educated elite. Jordan is not a place where homosexuality is taken as lightly as in the West, although it is not illegal as is the case in most other Arab nations. Though, the scene, especially in Amman, prefers the don't ask, don't tell approach to this topic. Adultery, including consensual sex between unmarried couples, is illegal and can be punished by a maximum 3-year jail term. However, this does in general not concern western couples, but will only be a problem when engaging with local people.
Medical Issues in Jordan
As in all urban areas in the world, Jordan's cities have some health concerns but also keep in mind that Jordan is a center for medical treatment in the Middle East and its world-class hospitals are respected in every part of the world. Take caution with buying food from vendors; the vendors aren't trying to hurt you but the food might be unclean. Hospitals in Jordan, especially Amman, are abundant, and Jordan is a hub for medical tourism.
Also, the biggest risk to your health in Jordan is being involved in a road traffic accident.
Dogs can be a problem in remote areas of Jordan. Even though, they are far less numerous compared to Asia. If they get too close to you, (pretend to) pick up a stone. They will remember this gesture from the last painful "experience". Also (carrying) a large stick might help.
Tap water is said to be potable, at least in some areas, but most people drink bottled water, which is the safest choice for visitors.
Cope in Jordan
Local Customs in Jordan
Jordan is a majority Muslim country with a large Christian population too. It is one of the most liberal nations in the region and very hospitable to tourists, and locals will be happy to help you if asked. Jordanians in turn will respect you and your culture if you respect theirs. Respect Islam and the King of Jordan.
Women may wear regular clothing without harassment in any part of Jordan. Western fashions are popular among young Jordanian women. However, modest clothing should be worn in religious and old historical sites.
Respect the Jordanian monarchy which has strong backing by the people. The Jordanian monarchy is very pro-Western and very open to reform, as are the Jordanian people. While Jordan is a generally free and tolerant country, avoid discussing sensitive topics with casual acquaintances or strangers, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
During Ramadan, and particularly on the Eid al-Fitr holiday, schedules will change. Many restaurants, particularly those outside Amman, are closed during the daylight hours of Ramadan, only opening at sunset. This does not affect major restaurants near tourist destinations, however. Also, during Eid al-Fitr it is impossible to get a servees (minibus) in the late afternoon or evening in many parts of the country. Plan in advance if you are taking a servees to an outlying area; you may need to get a taxi back. However, JETT and Trust International Transport usually add more buses to their schedules during this time period, especially those going from Amman to Aqaba.
The schedule change will need to take into account especially regarding the following topic.
Some holidays are based on the Gregorian calendar:
|January 1st||New Year|
|January 30th||Birthday of King Abdullah|
|May 25th||Independence day|
|June 9th||King Abdullah Accession Day|
Religious holidays are based on the Islamic calendar, which has 11 days fewer than the Gregorian one. Therefore, the holidays are shifted. The important holidays are: