Tips for Exploring Petra

Petra is a wonder of nature that you should visit if you’re ever presented with the opportunity. We absolutely loved our two days here, hiking and exploring all that this World Heritage Site has to offer. You should definitely check out our highlights of Petra. Here are some tips for visiting Petra that we hope will help you if you plan to visit!

Camel ride
Camel ride in Petra. Choose your animal wisely.

Admission Fee

The Admission Service is run by the Petra Development and Tourism Regional Authority and they report to the Prime Minister of Jordan. They have the say about how they manage the park, including determining the admission fee.

Petra’s Admission Fee is astonishingly complicated, and fairly expensive. But here’s the quick breakdown. The admission ticket varies between foreign visitors and Jordanian residents.

Jordanian citizens and foreigners with Jordanian residency: Jordanian citizens must present valid ID, and foreigners with Jordanian residents must in the possession of their residency for at least a year – The admission fee is JD 1

Foreigners without Jordanian residency: This is where it gets a little more complex! For foreigners who have stayed at least one night in Jordan prior visiting Petra:

  • One Day pass JD 50
  • Two Day pass JD 55
  • Three Day pass JD 60

For foreigners who arrive in Petra on the day of their arrival and haven’t spent any nights in Jordan (and yes – they will check your passport)

  • Admission is JD 90 – no exception. However, if you spend your night in Jordan and go back to the same ticket office on the next day, you will get JD 40 back.

Children: Children under 12 can enter for free.

This ticket does not cover the additional ‘Petra by Night’ event. That’s an extra JD 17 and can be purchased separately at the ticket office.

The admissions office also sells both the official tourist guide tickets and the carriage ticket. The prices for tour guides and transportation vary and will depend on how many places you want to see and the distance you’ll need to go. They run between JD 20-50, and I would advise you to get them if you only have a few hours there and need to speed up your visit.

Tips for exploring Petra: A working horse and his carriage. An option to get you to places in Petra in shorter time.
A working horse and his carriage. An option to get you to places in Petra in shorter time.

General tips for exploring Petra

What time should I get there?: The best time to explore Petra is in the morning. Try to get there when the site opens at 6AM. You will enjoy the serenity of the place before flocks of tourists arrive. Not only that, but it’s good to get there early to beat some of the heat.

Hydration: You’re in the desert, so this is a no-brainer and extremely important. Petra is hot and dry throughout the year. So when it comes to giving tips for exploring Petra, this is numero uno! Drink lots of water throughout your visit in Petra. There are vendors around the complex who sell water, but we recommend bringing at least some of your own and perhaps buying a couple when you stop to have a meal.

Vendors: There are many vendors inside the park and they sell pretty much everything: cold beverages, food, postcards, pottery,  clothing, and so much more. Avoid purchasing anything that the vendor claims is an authentic relic or coin. Petra is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. So these could be archeological items and selling them is illegal. Do not do anything to get yourself in trouble. While you’re in Jordan, you may not realize it, but you are essentially visiting an absolute monarchy with very strict and sometimes archaic laws and punishments. Don’t break Jordanian laws.

You can also avoid the highest prices by buying your trinkets and souvenirs farther into the site. Like anywhere with a lot of tourists, the highest prices will be in the most congested areas – typically at the entrance and the most popular attractions, like the Treasury and Monastery.

Tips for exploring Petra: Vendors
Vendors at Petra

Tips for exploring Petra: Photography

Lenses: Petra’s main landmarks are big, and sometimes it is quite frustrating to try to capture the whole facade from the very narrow spaces you’re sometimes confined to. Bring your wide-angle lens to ensure you get that perfect shot!

Best times to shoot: Photography enthusiasts know that the best times to take great photos are when the sun is low in the sky. That makes morning and evening the best for those long shadows and beautiful colors. Morning is when the Treasury looks most stunning. Also, at night, hundreds of candles are often placed in front of the Treasury, making for a majestic night photo!

Tips for exploring Petra: The Treasury
The Treasury, a landmark of Jordan.

Hiking tips

Pace yourself and don’t do anything that is beyond your level of fitness.

Walking comfortably: Petra covers a huge area. Although you may decide to use alternative transport, such as camels or donkeys, you are guaranteed to walk a certain distance. Wear a pair sturdy and comfortable hiking shoes, as there will be a lot of hiking and steps. If you opt to walk from the entrance to the Monastery, which is the farthest point and back, you need to plan to cover 12 miles (16 km). Be ready.

Sun protection: It is almost a guarantee that your visit to Petra will be during a sunny, bright day. Bring enough protection, such as hats, sunglasses and sunblock. Seek shade and take a rest every time you can.

Traditional Jordanian head scarf
An effort to blend in with the locals! Or at least to cover up himself from the bright sun.

Clothing: Wear light and bright clothing. Remember, it’s dry and hot, and the last thing you want to have on is dark clothing or heavy fabrics that are not absorbent. Keep in mind that you must also respect the local culture. While Jordan is somewhat more liberal than its neighboring Arab countries, you must still dress modestly. Bring a sweat towel or handkerchief. You may not need it, because sweat evaporates quickly here. But just in case!

Money: Bring some money. Preferably, bring smaller denominations of Jordanian cash and coins, especially for tipping.

Animal welfare: For animal lovers, learn your facts and options before you use any animal transportation at Petra. Although there is a sign at the entrance claiming that the Queen of Jordan guarantees the animals’ well-being, we witnessed a few donkeys and camels being whipped inside the park and being beaten with sticks. We chose not to support them, as we don’t condone any type of animal abuse.

Animal rights signage
An official sign at Petra’s main entrance to guarantee working animals rights.

Guides: Although we did not do this, next time, we will consider hiring a local guide for deeper learning experience.

Tips for exploring Petra at Night

We did not do this, as some of our local friends told us that they consider Petra By Night to be a tourist trap. So, we opted for a traditional Bedouin feast in the desert with those friends instead. Since then though, we’ve heard and seen testimonials from other travelers who immensely enjoyed the experience, and we will definitely do it next time. During Petra By Night, thousands of tea candles are lit up along the path of the Siq, leading to thousands more in front of the Treasury. You sit with other visitors and enjoy, hopefully in some level of quietness, the majestic Treasury as it glows from the light of those candles.

Petra by Night:

  • Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday every week
  • Duration – two hours (20:30 to 22:30)
  • Meeting point/ending point – Petra Visitor’s Center
  • Cost: JD 17, which is not included in your Petra main admission fee.
  • Children under 10 can get in for free.
The Siq
The Siq

Thinking of heading to Jordan to see Petra? We recommend renting a car. Public transportation, while available, is not the best.

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Halef moved from Indonesia to the US nearly two decades ago to go to college here. He hasn't looked back. He's been to over forty countries and doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon. He's a Landscape Architect in Atlanta, GA.

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