I talked a little bit about this when I blogged about Israel, but the Middle East really surprised us. We are already planning to go back and explore more of that region. The locals are kind, the food is tasty, and there is so much to discover.
A little bit about Petra…
Inhabited since prehistoric times, this Nabataean caravan-city, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture.
It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen and I’m going to share with you a few tips to help you get there!
Firs things first. How do you get to Petra?
Cross the Israel border into Jordan from Eilat. We parked our rental car at the Wadi Araba border in Eilat and walked across. We were slightly nervous to park the car (with our bags inside) for two full days but we had zero problems! There are also regular buses to Eilat from all major cities in Israel (78 ILS from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa). From the central bus station in Eilat, it will be easy to find a taxi to take you to the border. The driver will probably quote you about 50 ILS for the ride, but the best you can do is try to bargain him down to 25-35 ILS.
The process wasn’t terrible (I’ve never crossed any other border on foot so I don’t know what to compare it to) but I expected a lot more military and fear tactics. There was none of that. Obviously there was a bit of security but nothing that made me feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Make sure you travel with cash on hand for border fees. You can expect to pay about 173 ILS crossing into Jordan and about 10 JD on the way back.
Once you cross the border, hop into a cab and start your 2 hour journey to Petra. If you are staying in a hotel in Petra, arrange your transport before you cross. The hotel should offer some sort of service whether it be a taxi or shuttle. There are cabs waiting, but the prices can be a bit ridiculous since they are the only means of transport to Petra.
A couple things…Petra is expensive but totally worth it. Cost of two days is about $78 per person . We paid more to see Petra than we did for Disney in Shanghai so plan ahead for your budget. DO NOT FORGET your passport or paperwork you receive from the border crossing. You are required to show that documentation when purchasing your tickets. You need a specific stamp/receipt from Petra when re crossing the border to avoid a more expensive crossing fee.
James Gang Travels Tips
- Get to Petra early if you can. It is a full day activity and you can beat some tour buses by getting a head start! You can also see Petra by night but I would recommend seeing it during the day!
- There are men waiting for you once you enter offering horse and donkey rides to the Treasury. Don’t do it. Just walk to the Treasury since it really isn’t super far and the walk is enjoyable!
- Pack water and food. There are really limited food options inside Petra so come prepared with some snacks.
- Avoid scams. Unfortunately you will be pestered to buy from every local you see. If you do find something you like, bargain for it. Don’t pay full price.
- Wear good walking shoes! There are some really incredible things to see that require some hiking. Tennis shoes or hiking boots!
- You will be offered “tours” by a local. This is a scam. The “tour” will last 10 mins and won’t take you far. Just walk if your up for it and go explore! A map will be provided when you purchase your tickets.
- Don’t forget your camera!
- Petra is a no drone zone so keep that in mind! You will not be permitted to cross the border if you have a drone.
Looking back I wish we’d had more time to spend in Jordan to explore more of the county but Petra was an experience that I’ll never forget! You could easily spend days exploring all that Petra has to offer. Many local hotels also offer day trip services for excursions out to Wadi Arum if you have a free day or two! I hope you love it as much as I did! You may be surprised how much the Middle East surprises you!