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About Jordan

THE PEOPLE

Joining local people for a cup of tea or coffee can be a wonderful way to learn more about local culture. If you are invited, yet are unable to attend, then it is perfectly acceptable to decline. Place your right hand over your heart and politely make your excuses. Many families, particularly in rural areas, are very traditional and if you visit their house you may well find it is divided between the men and women. Foreign women are often treated as “honorary” men.
Local women in Jordan enjoy considerable freedom when compared with many other countries in the region. Women are entitled to a full education, can vote, drive cars, and often play significant roles in business and politics. Arranged marriages and dowries are still common.

PUBLIC APPEARANCE

Jordan is primarily a Muslim country, although the freedom of all religions is protected. Muslim women’s clothing often covers their legs, arms and hair. Western women are not subject to these customs, but very revealing clothing is never appropriate, and conservative dress is advisable for both men and women in the old part of Amman and outside the cities. Shorts are rarely worn by either sex, and would be out of place in the downtown Amman area. Topless sunbathing is prohibited and one-piece swimsuits are preferred, although two-pieces swimsuits are acceptable at hotel pools.

Safety

The first thing you will notice when you arrive to Jordan is that the people are warm and welcoming to tourists. You will be pleasantly surprised by the sense of security you will find in Jordan. It is one of the safest places to travel to in the world. Jordan maintains good relations with its neighbors and its truly an oasis of peace in the region. Jordan has proven over and over again to be a safe haven.

Accommodation

A large range of 3, 4 and 5 star hotels are available in all the major cities and towns of Jordan. Bed & Breakfast, Half Board or Full Board rates can be provided. Please refer to our separate section “Our Hotels” to view those we consider to offer the best value for money.

Alcohol

The country is fairly liberal, westernized and is alcohol is available. We have excellent local wines and local produced beer. Alcohol is available at many hotels and restaurants.

Dining

Jordanian cuisine, while unique, is part of the Arabic culinary heritage. Food in the Arab world is more than simply a matter of nourishment.  Feasting is a preoccupation and food is often the centerpiece of social activities. As a guest, be assured that vast platters of succulent and nutritious food will be made to honor your visit. Dishes will satisfy even the most health conscious person, as many of them are prepared with grain, cheese, yogurt, fresh and dried fruits and vegetables. Always ask about the ingredients if you have allergies as many dishes contain nuts and wheat.

Smoking

Smoking is common in Jordan, however smoke-free accommodation is available in larger hotels.  Smoking an argileh, the traditional water pipe or hubbly-bubbly, is an interesting experience.

Banks

Banks are open Sunday – Thursday 08:30Hr – 15:00Hr. Most banks have branches in cities and towns throughout the Kingdom.

Postal services

As well as post offices, most hotels offer postal services. Post office opening hours:
Saturday – Thursday 08:00Hr – 17:00Hr. Closed on Fridays.

Internet

Internet access is widely available at numerous internet cafes and in large hotels, even you can expect in your car.

Voltage

The electricity is 220 volts, so bring along a transformer if you need one.

Ramadan

Ramadan is a holy month of fasting, the date of which varies according to the Islamic lunar calendar. During Ramadan alcohol is not sold except in larger hotels. Eating, drinking and smoking in public is discouraged during daylight hours. Most stores, banks and offices open late at 09:00Hr and close early at 14:00Hr. Other businesses have limited hours.

Time

We are 2 hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time during winter and 3 hours ahead during summer when on daylight savings time.

Required clothing

Lightweight clothes are advised between May and September.  Thick winter clothes are essential for winter and a warm layer is necessary for cool summer evenings. Rain wear is needed from November to April.

Public Holidays

Banks, businesses, government offices and many shops close all day for public holidays.
New Year’s Day: 1st January.
Labour Day: 1st May.
Independence Day: 25th May.
Christmas Day: 25th December.

A number of public holidays are not fixed. These include the following Islamic holidays, which are based on the lunar calendar:
Eid al-Fitr: A 3-day feast marking the end of Ramadan.
Eid al-Adha: A 4-day feast at the end of Hajj, or month of pilgrimage to Mecca.
First of Muharam : Islamic New Year.
Eid al-Isra’wal Mi’raj : Celebrating the visit of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) to heaven.
Al Mawled Al Nabawi : The Birthday of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

Geography

Jordan borders Israel (and the Palestinian National Authority Region), the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. At 400m (1,300ft) below sea level, the Dead Sea, in the northwest of Jordan, is the lowest point on earth and one of the country’s most distinctive features. The Red Sea, of which Jordan has a narrow access at Aqaba in the southwest, is teeming with sea life.
The River Jordan flows into the Dead Sea, and there are plans to build a canal – the Two Seas Canal (or the Dead-Red Canal) – to link the Dead Sea to the Red Sea. Capital Amman perches above the Dead Sea Depression, at a height of 800m (2,625ft), surrounded to the north by undulating hills, and by desert escarpments to the south, on which graze the sheep and goat herds of nomadic tribes.
Jordan’s northeastern flank is flat desert sprinkled with oases, while the spectacular southeastern desert is characterized by wind-eroded forms and brightly colored sandstone cliffs.

Egypt, Lebanon and Israel are all close by and we are happy to help you arrange an extension visit to these countries.

Climate

Jordan boasts a Mediterranean climate ideal for year-round holidays and travel. Amman is sunny and cloudless from May to October, with average temperatures around 23°C (73°F). Springtime brings optimal weather, lush with greenery, while autumn is equally mild and pleasant. July and August are hot and dry but not oppressive. Aqaba and the Jordan Valley are ideal winter resorts, with temperatures averaging 16-22°C (61-72°F) between November and April. There is very little rain in the Aqaba area and in the desert. Visitors from northern climates should always be aware of the inherent risks involved from extended exposure to the sun and are advised to take appropriate precautions.

Business hours and the working week

Friday is the weekly holiday. Banks, government offices and public service institutions are closed on Saturday as well. Many businesses also close on Thursday afternoon, although department stores and supermarkets remain open.
Banks: 08:30Hr – 15:00Hr.
Business offices : 08:30Hr – 13:00Hr & 15:30Hr – 18:30Hr.
Government offices: 08:00Hr – 15:00Hr.
Shopping Centers: 10:00Hr – 22:00Hr.
Opening hours for most historical sites and museums:
April – May: 08:00Hr until 17:30Hr. Petra opens from 06:00Hr until 18:00Hr.
June – September: 08:00Hr until 18:30Hr. Petra opens from 06:00Hr until 18:30Hr.
October – March: 08:00Hr until 16:00Hr. Petra opens from 07:00Hr until 16:00Hr.
Shorter working hours apply during the month of Ramadan from 08:00Hr to 15:30Hr.

Language

Arabic is the official language but English is widely spoken and understood. Most road signs are in Arabic and English.

Water

Water is a precious resource in Jordan and visitors are encouraged to conserve it. Hotels rated four stars and above have their own water filtering systems and their water is considered safe to drink. However a trace of chlorine will always be found and therefore we recommend you don’t drink straight from the tap. Bottled water is cheap and readily available.

Medical Care

Medical services are excellent in the larger cities and towns and most doctors speak Arabic and English. Larger hotels have a doctor on call and embassies can also suggest suitable medical service providers. Any hotel concierge or taxi driver will be able to direct you to a doctor or hospital.

Pharmacies

Pharmacies can provide medication for minor ailments; some of them are open 24 hours. However, travelers are advised to bring any special medication they normally take, in case it is not available in Jordan.

Special Needs

Few specific facilities for the physically handicapped exist in Jordan. Although local people are as helpful as one could wish and will do their best to assist. Nevertheless, accessibility of some tourist sites in very limited and it is advisable to call ahead and inquire. The Jordanian parliament has passed a law requiring all new public constructions to provide wheelchair access, and many other improvements are also being made. We have special needs tours set up to show you the best of Jordan.

Travel insurance

It is an essential condition of joining any holiday all over the world. Make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy to cover the cost of any emergency medical treatment. There are suppliers of travel insurance in which you can get it in your country.

Travel money and currency

You will need to carry enough money to cover the cost of meals not included in the trip costing, drinks, tipping and other incidentals including shopping and optional activities. Advice on the amounts required and the best currency to take will be given in the trip notes. Generally, US Dollars, Euro, British Pounds(GBP), Canadian and Australian Dollars are widely accepted in Jordan. In addition to many other currencies.
The local currency is the Jordanian Dinar (JD) which is often called the “jaydee”. There are 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 JD notes. The Dinar is divided into 100 piasters (pronounced “pee-aster”) or 1,000 fills. The piaster is the unit most commonly used and you will usually see prices written as 4,750 (which is 4 JD and 75 piaster or 4.75 JD).Currency can be exchanged at major banks, exchange agencies, and most hotels. There are also currency exchange facilities at Queen Alia International Airport within the terminal building. Street money-changers should be avoided whenever possible. Exchange rates are set daily by the Jordanian Central Bank.

Credit Cards and Traveler’s Cheques

Credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants, and larger shops, including American Express, VISA, Diners Club, and MasterCard. Traveler’s cheques can be exchanged for cash at exchange shops, though you should expect to pay a commission of up to 5% for doing so.Please note that many smaller shops still prefer cash payment in the Jordanian currency, and it is essential for shopping in the local Souks. Whilst still limited, the number of automated teller machines (ATMs) is fast increasing in Jordan.