A backpacker’s guide to Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan. You can read the first part here where I explain how to get into Jordan and what to do in the north of Jordan (Amman + surroundings).
Getting to Petra
There’s a tourist bus called JETT bus leaving every day from Amman to Petra, but I didn’t use it because there are also local buses running more frequently and cheaper. To take one of these buses, you have to go to the South Bus Station (Wehdat). Again, taxi from the old town should cost 2 dinars. I recommend leaving early in the morning. After 11 am there are usually no buses leaving, or if there are, you need to wait for a long time. Buses usually leave when they are full so be prepared to wait for a while.
When I went to Petra, I paid 3 dinars for the bus, but you had to pay 3 dinars more if you didn’t want to sit with your luggage. I decided to sit with my luggage, and that was probably one of the most uncomfortable rides ever. On my way back, I paid 7 dinars, and that was the price for everyone, whether you had luggage or not. I talked with another girl in Amman, and she had paid 6 dinars on her way to Petra and 7 dinars coming back. So apparently it’s more expensive to come back. Anyway, you save a lot of money by taking a local bus instead of the tourist bus!
Where to Stay in Petra
I shared a room with Carola from Notesontraveling.com who I had first met in Jerusalem and then again in Amman where we decided to book a nice hotel room for Christmas. We went our separate ways and then met again in Petra. Because it was a low season, it wasn’t too busy, and we found a good deal and stayed five days in Seven Wonders Hotel.
There are two different areas to stay in: the center of Wadi Musa and then the area just outside the gates of Petra. The area next to Petra is obviously more expensive when it comes to hotels and restaurants, so I recommend staying in the center of Wadi Musa. It’s only 15-30 minutes walk away from the gates of Petra, or you can take a taxi for 1 dinar.
Like I said in my previous post, I recommend using HotelsCombined for booking. They compare the prices from all the top travel sites (Booking.com, Hotels.com, Agoda etc.) and that way you can be sure to get the lowest price.
Seven Wonders Hotel. So this is the hotel we stayed in. I think it’s worth it if you are traveling with someone and you can find a good deal because this is not cheapest one available.
Cleopetra Hotel. This was our second option. Also a nice hotel with good reviews.
Valentine Inn. One of the cheapest options in Wadi Musa. You can get a single private room for as low as 11€.
Where to Eat in Petra
Almost all of the restaurants will charge you more because you are a tourist and the food is not good. There were literally two restaurants where we didn’t need to pay expensive tourist rates and the food was tasty. Yes, we checked out every single restaurant in Wadi Musa! Again, I’ve included a map below to explain better.
So you see a restaurant called Al Arabi? That’s the most popular restaurant in Wadi Musa. Don’t go there. The food is bad, and you pay three or even four times more than the locals. If you continue walking down the same street, there’s a cheap restaurant almost next to Al Arabi. They close around 6 am, though, so this is not the place for dinner. We usually got our breakfast from this restaurant. They serve falafel wraps and other traditional dishes. A falafel wrap should cost 0,50 dinar, and you’ll also get free tea/coffee. See the picture of the restaurant below, it’s the one in the middle.
Let’s get back to the map. On the left side, you see Sanabel Bakery. I highly recommend that one, they have the best bread I’ve ever eaten (try the giant, fresh pita bread they have). On the same street, there’s also another cheap restaurant serving Middle Eastern food. It’s called Alwardeh Alshameh. See the pictures below. They also serve falafel wraps and hummus, but also spicy stuffed falafel balls, mutabal (eggplant dip) and salad. The prices are same than in the other one: 0,50 dinar for the falafel wrap and 1 dinar for a box hummus, mutabal or salad.
Hikes in Petra + How to Get a Free Day in Petra
The Hike from Little Petra to Petra
On our first day in Petra, we decided to hike from Little Petra to Petra. This is a 14 km hike taking 3-4 hours. You can take a taxi to Little Petra for 5-6 dinars. When we arrived in Little Petra, we decided to check out the place first and then start hiking. So we walked around in Little Petra and then we came to an end where was a sign ‘The best view in the world.’ So of course, we had to check it out. We climbed through a very narrow canyon and ended up in a Bedouin camp.
We met a Bedouin there who looked just like Jack Sparrow (check out the picture below, he is the one sitting in the middle) and he told us that we don’t need to walk back to the parking lot to start our hike, we could just take a shortcut from there.
“Just go down from here, walk to the end of the canyon, turn left and you’ll find the trail there.”
Sounded easy, so that’s what we did. We walked to the end of the canyon just to find out that there was no way we could make it down to the trail. We could see the trail, but there was 50-meter high death drop between us and the trail. No way we could make it down from there. I climbed to a cliff next to it because it looked like someone has climbed there before. From there I got a view like this:
I could see the trail in the distance, and I was thinking that I might continue climbing but wasn’t sure how to do it, so I came back down. For the next two hours, we tried every single exit to find a place where we could go through. No success. Jack Sparrow saw us walking and waved us to come back. We climbed back to the Bedouin camp where he offered us tea and promised to show us the route.
So off we were again, and Jack Sparrow took us to the same place where I had climbed before. I had been right about the route, but we could have never done it without him.
It wasn’t the easiest climb, and the last part looked like this:
Just a steep drop. But we finally made it to the bottom, and we were ready to start hiking. Jack Sparrow, whose real name is Awad by the way, started his climb back to the Bedouin camp.
It took us a few hours more to hike to the Monastery. After the adventurous start, the rest of the hiking trip was just easy walking. No more crazy climbing and the path was easy to follow. There are a couple of lookout points along the trail, and you can get pretty amazing photos. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t exactly on our side, so the photos didn’t turn out that good. When we finally reached the Monastery, it started raining, and we literally ran through the whole area to the exit that was 5 km away.
And as mentioned in the title, this is the way you can get a free day in Petra. No one is going to check your tickets in Little Petra. When we hiked from Little Petra to Petra, there was someone checking our tickets before the Monastery, but they didn’t scan our tickets. So instead of two days in Petra, I got one extra day for free.
Note: I don’t recommend anyone breaking the law and doing this hike just for the free entry. This is just something I discovered by accident when doing the hike. You still need to have a ticket because there is a guard checking that you have one but they don’t scan it. So it’s up to you whether you want to use this as a possibility to get one extra day in Petra or not.
The Hike to the Treasury Viewpoint
This hike is easier than the hike from Little Petra to Petra and only takes an hour. You walk past Treasury all the way to the Royal Tombs. From there you can find a path going up. It’s pretty straightforward; you just follow the path until you end up to the viewpoint.
We woke up early in the morning to be at the gate at 5:45 am. The gates open at 6 am there is no one there. So if you want to get pictures without people in them, be there early. Even after an hour hike, there was still no one when we took pictures of the Treasury. Actually, we weren’t alone there because we got three dogs with us who decided to follow us all the way from the tombs. Crazy ones! There’s a Bedouin tent where you can take photos but if you want to have even better pictures you have to choose the path going to the right and then climb down. That’s where I took my sitting picture.
The Cats of Petra
I have to include the cats here because Petra is full of cute cats. On our third day, we woke up early in the morning just to see the Treasury and the cats before the crowds. And as soon as we approached the Treasury, all the cats came running! They were so cute and cuddly, and I just wanted to adopt them all.
When planning your trip to Wadi Rum, make sure that the tour takes you to the protected area. I heard that there scams where they don’t take you to Wadi Rum but outside of the area. So if something sounds too cheap, it’s probably a scam. Our hotel organized a cheap tour for us including a taxi to Wadi Rum and back. The price for this tour was 50 dinars per person. The tours are always cheaper for couples or groups, so even if you are traveling solo, try to find someone to take the tour with you. The tours we found online were more expensive, and they didn’t include a taxi, but we found out why our tour was so cheap. Yes, our guide took us to Wadi Rum and to the places we wanted to see, but we just paid for the driving. Our guide was a very young Bedouin boy who had the crappiest car in the whole Wadi Rum, and he spoke hardly any English. Oh well, you get what you pay for…
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