Hello, Salam, Marhaba and Shalom!
I recently took an amazing trip with my sister and niece to Jordan and Israel. The purpose of this post is to inspire and motivate those who want to create a similar trip- not to give you a history lesson or make any political statements. My goal is to help save you money and experience some of the best activities at a fraction of the cost.
This trip will also be fast for most of you. We traveled to Petra, the Dead Sea, crossed the border from Jordan into Israel, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, and Tel Aviv in six days. At a glance, it seems like a lot, but our trip was well-organized and was manageable (you must travel light).
This trip report will be a two-part series, and will be information-heavy and to the point, including some pictures we took with my iPad. I will provide you with all the information about how we planned our trip using airline miles, hotels, and local transportation.
For the person that is still reading this, this post will cover our 2 nights in Jordan.
On the outbound, we flew Royal Jordanian in economy from New York (JFK) to Amman (AMM) using 30,000 British Airways Avios + $172.80 in taxes in fees. The redemption was not ideal, but all of us had a surplus of Avios that we have a hard time using, so we wanted to get rid of them.
Returning home, we ended the trip in Israel and flew from Tel Aviv ( TLV) to Newark (EWR) with a stop in Paris (CDG) in Delta economy using 25,000 AirFrance Flying Blue miles + $41 each.
Night 1: Camping at Seven Wonder Bedouin Camp
We landed in Amman at 3:55pm, and we took out some Jordanian Dinars from the ATM to purchase our Tourist Visa on arrival, which cost 40 Dinars (~$56) each. If you are planning on staying 4 days and 3 nights, it may make sense to purchase a Jordan Pass, where the cost of the Visa is already included, along with discounts to a lot of attractions.
We arranged for an airport pickup through Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp at a cost of 70 JD (~$99) ,and were met by a lovely young man named “Jeff”. I could not pronounce his Jordanian name, but he was a cool guy that spoke very good English, so we later asked if he could be our driver to Petra and Dead Sea.
The Camp is about 2 and half hours driving-distance from Amman airport. I had my own private tent, and my sister and niece also had their own private tent. The cost for tent, dinner, and breakfast was 30 JD (~$42) each.
Camping worked out great for us because we arrived at camp 30 minutes before dinner time. Dinner is between 8 and 8:30pm. The Bedouin tent experience was fun. We had tea and dinner that included chicken salads, pastries, and plenty of laughter and singing with our Bedouin hosts. You can charge your phones and take showers between 7 and 11pm.
Sleeping in the tent was fine. In March, it is cold at night in the middle of the desert; however, the blankets were warm, but your head gets a little cold.
Day 2: Visiting Petra and the Dead Sea
The next day after breakfast, we paid 5 JD (~$7) to Jeff for a 10 minute car ride to Petra. The entry fee for Petra if you have an overnight stay is 50 JD (~$70). They will claim credit card machine is not working, so if you need Dinars, the Movenpick hotel across the street has an ATM.
Petra is magical – it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World. If you visit, I recommend you go early before the tour buses and “touts” get there. You will be asked if you want a camel or a donkey ride from the touts every 100 yards. The walk to the Treasury is about 1.2 miles. There you can take the “iconic” picture.
The camel ride that my sister and niece took was 5 JD each. I did not join them because I experienced my camel ride in Dubai. I was happy to take many pictures for them. The walk to the Monastery from the Treasury is about 2.4 miles, including 850 steps to reach. I was able to negotiate a donkey ride for 5 JD each for my sister and niece. Me, the “ old man”, walked up.
Once you reach the Monastery, there is a juice and snack store. We sat looking at the incredible Monastery, while drinking freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice. We arrived Petra at 7am and had Jeff meet us at the entrance of Petra with our luggage at 12pm for our drive to the Dead Sea.
If you are on a tight budget, you can take a JETT bus from Amman at 6:30am, which arrives at Petra at 10 am leaves Petra at 4pm to return to Amman for 10 JD (~$14) each way.
We paid Jeff 80 JD (~$113) for our 2 and half-hour ride to the Crowne Plaza at the Dead Sea, where we spent our second night. The ride was very scenic; he drove over a mountain and was a master at navigating the terrain. We arrived at our hotel at 2:30pm. I booked the Crown Plaza for 20,000 IHG points, and we were charged 35 JD for having a 3rd person in the room.
Our plans were to float in Dead Sea and try the mud applications; however, we were informed that because of rough water and “red flag”, it was unsafe to float in Dead Sea. Fortunately with my IHG platinum status, I had full access to the spa. The spa has a pool with Dead Sea water, and we were able to have a Dead Sea experience that way.
The spa was very impressive – multiple pools, jacuzzis, steam room, etc. The hotel was very nice; however, the breakfast was weak, in my opinion. There was a Lebanese restaurant at the Crown Plaza, which was really good. The nearest place to eat elsewhere is the mall about a mile away.
After 2 nights in Jordan, the next day we planned to drive to the King Hussein/Allenby, crossing into Israel. I will share that experience, along with my Israel trip report in tomorrow’s post, so be sure to check back.
Have you taken a similar trip to Jordan and Petra before? Feel free to share your experiences.