Is It Safe To Travel To Jordan In 2019?
IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO JORDAN NOW?
This question is the reason why NOMⴷD + JULES exists.
In the Spring of 2017, I came to Jordan for the first time on assignment as a travel photographer. I did not know much about the country, but noticing the magnificent photos of Petra all over Instagram has made me want to see with my own eyes what the hype was all about.
I was excited to visit Petra, but my journey has taken me so much farther. From the lush olive groves in the northern hills of Ajloun to the arid twists and turns of the ancient King’s Highway road in the south, I saw places that most visitors to Jordan overlook. What did I find there? Overwhelming kindness and fierce hospitality that was akin to balm on my weary traveler’s heart.
In Ajloun, a small village near the Syrian border, a shepherd’s family invited me into their home for tea and loz, green almonds that are eaten in springtime as a snack.
In Wadi Dana, Jordan’s largest nature preserve, an old man called Waleed has taken me through the peaks and valleys of this incredible area. A self-described ‘medicine man', he shared with me his knowledge of the local plants and herbs (“Take this one for stomach ache and that one for headache. And this one will help you with a broken heart.”).
In Wadi Rum, the Mars-like ancient desert with whimsical sandstone formations, the Bedouin tribes have welcomed me into their lives and treated me like I was their family. We shared sage tea over the fire and chatted the night away, discussing everything from politics and Bedouin cooking to camel racing and the meaning of life.
In Amman, I found a passionate creative community of people who make art, tell stories, teach others, and try to impact as many people as possible through their work.
I FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS REGION ON THAT FIRST TRIP AND IT SHOCKED ME TO RECEIVE SO MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT SAFETY IN JORDAN.
Upon return home, I shared my experiences in Jordan with the world. The questions flooded in.
“How are you traveling there as a woman?”
“How are you traveling there alone?”
“Isn’t it dangerous?”
“Isn’t there war there?”
“What about terrorists?”
I understand where these questions come from. We are all busy people living our lives. Most of the days, we only have time to skim the headlines, to listen in on a few seconds of a radio conversation, to quickly scroll through our social media feed.
When we hear the words ‘Middle East’, what we can hear instead is ‘conflict’, ‘danger’, ‘Arabs’, ‘refugee crisis’, ‘not to be trusted’. We don’t go deeper than that and over time, this is what we come to know.
I am here to tell you that these associations could not be farther from reality.
OF COURSE, IT’S NOT BLACK AND WHITE.
I am not arguing that there is no refugee crisis. In fact, Jordan has one of the world’s largest population of Syrian refugees (second only to Turkey).
I am not arguing that there is no conflict in Syria, in Yemen, or in Iraq.
What I am arguing for though, is nuance. Going deeper than the headlines. Understanding that the reality on the ground is often different from the picture the mainstream media paints.
I am arguing for traveling smart. You could get robbed on the streets of Paris. Terrorist attacks could happen in any city on Earth. There are dangerous neighborhoods all over the planet. Knowing where to go and how to go is the answer to shutting yourself off from the world, from denying the beautiful experiences that travel can gift you.
So this is how NOMⴷD + JULES was born.
I REALIZED THAT I COULD WRITE ARTICLES AND PUBLISH PHOTO ESSAYS ALL DAY LONG, BUT WHAT TRULY IMPACTS PEOPLE ARE EXPERIENCES.
I decided to start organizing well-crafted, intimate trips to Jordan and other countries that are often misunderstood for curious travelers who want to see for themselves what the country is really like. We partner with local tour operators and organizations and our biggest focus is on getting to know the people who live and work in the destinations we travel to. Because this is how we combat misconceptions: through relationships. This is how we truly see that we all share the same aspirations and dreams. We all want a safe roof over our head, a loving family, a meal we could share with friends and loved ones, and a few laughs at the end of the day. This is the biggest lesson that traveling teaches you and nothing makes me happier than making these experiences available for others.
so, if you ended up on this page, you’re probably curious about jordan as a travel destination.
Should you come to Jordan? My answer is overwhelmingly “yes.”
There is a reason Jordan consistently shows up on the “Best Places to Travel” lists (like the Best In Travel 2019 list by Lonely Planet).
The food culture in Jordan is immensely rich and your belly will be delighted after long, sumptuous lunches and dinners and finger-licking dishes like the Bedouin barbecue, zerb. The sights — from the incredible Dead Sea to the Lost City of Petra and the stunning Wadi Rum desert — will take your breath away. And most importantly, you’ll come to meet the people of Jordan. They’re welcoming, kind, curious, and they will proudly share with you what their culture is all about.
TOP TIPS FOR SOLO TRAVEL IN JORDAN
So you want to travel to Jordan. Now what? I have some suggestions, but you will notice that a lot of these tips will seem familiar to you because they are simply common sense behaviors to observe when traveling anywhere.
If you’re walking from your hotel to catch dinner or to any other destination, map the route before you leave the hotel and review it with the front desk to ensure it’s a good, safe route.
Don’t get into unmarked cars and instead of using taxies, try ride apps. In bigger cities like Amman, you can easily get around town with an app called Careem (it’s the Middle-Eastern version of Uber). This way you’ll know exactly how much the fare is and can track progress of your trip.
Watch your drink and don’t leave it unattended. I have never heard of any cases involved drinking in Amman or elsewhere in the country (besides, alcohol will be hard to find once you leave Amman), but this is just common sense precaution to use in any country.
Be a smart traveler: don’t visit sketchy neighborhoods after dark, show off your valuables, or walk alone down dark empty alleys. With that said, in my experience, walking at night in Amman is incredibly safe in many well-lit and populated neighborhoods such as Weibdeh, Jabal Amman, Rainbow Street. I wouldn’t venture to downtown Amman at night alone.
Buy comprehensive travel insurance if anything were to happen while you travel.
Be respectful to the local culture. In Amman, in Petra, and in Wadi Rum, some tourists are wearing provocative clothing (such as shorts that barely cover err.. the bum or tank tops with low cut neckline). In Petra, this could invite harassment (meaning: receiving catcalls or intense stares). In Amman or Wadi Rum, it would be less of a case, but: I always advocate for respecting local customs. If you want to communicate respect, please wear modest clothing. This means covered shoulders and knees and no deep necklines for both women and men.
SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL TO JORDAN
The tips above are relevant for anyone traveling to Jordan, but they are especially important to keep in mind when traveling to Jordan (or any other country) as a female traveler. In fact, not having to think about many of these issues is actually one of the benefits of traveling with a group. Our female travelers tell us over and over again that traveling with a small group on a NOMⴷD + JULES trip meant they could truly relax and immerse themselves in the experience without having to constantly watch over their backs. They also know that traveling in our groups doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of the experiences that they would get as solo travelers. And in many cases, they would not be able to access the experiences we offer on their own.
WHY NOW IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT JORDAN
Jordanians are some of the nicest people on the planet and their hospitality is the stuff of legends. “Ahlan Wa Sahlan” is the phrase you will hear most often, and while it generally means ‘welcome to Jordan’, the literal translation is “you are my family and my land is your land.” Just imagine this type of a welcome! Loads of tea, Arabic coffee, dates, and sweets will greet you at every stop.
Jordanians are also curious about where you come from and what’s life like there. Long conversations on just about any topic over a cup of sage tea are some of our fondest memories of traveling to Jordan.
It is easy to come to Jordan and not really see what the country is truly like. Staying in the 5-star resorts at the Dead Sea or rushing through Petra to fit in all the sights are one way to do it, but if you want to truly experience Jordan, consider going deeper and spending time with the people who call Jordan home.
On immersive trips like ours, you can meet the Arabic calligraphy artist and graphic designer Hussein Alazaat who provides cultural education through the art of calligraphy and teaches in the local community and across the world.
You can get to know the Bedouin families who run a traditional camp in the Wadi Rum desert or spend time with the social entrepreneurs in Amman who are addressing refugee children education needs through innovative art projects.
There is much to see, learn, absorb, and experience in Jordan.
you are welcome here. ahlan wa sahlan!
Safety is our utmost priority and we don’t take it lightly. That’s why we partner with trusted local tour operators to provide the best insider knowledge about where, how, and when to travel to Jordan. Want to travel to Jordan with us? See our latest Jordan itinerary here and sign up below to stay up to date on our future trip openings.
Yulia is the founder of NOMⴷD + JULES and a freelance travel photographer and writer. She was born in Kazakhstan, grew up in Estonia, and now lives in the United States. Yulia has traveled the world extensively and turned to a travel journalism career after spending more than ten years in large organizations - first as a Navy Sailor, then as a brand manager at Fortune 500 companies. Yulia's work appears in Lonely Planet, Afar magazine, Turkish Airlines Skylife, and others. See more on her Website and Instagram.