Wednesday, April 22, 2015


We saved the best for last in Jordan.

Petra, the ancient city and Wonder of the World, was created as early as 312 BC. 
B. C, people. 
My expectations were extremely high and they were surpassed.
We met Petra at night.  
It was dramatic and moody, so the perfect setting to view an iconic Wonder of the World. 

Petra By Night allows visitors to walk down a candlelit slot canyon (called the Siq- about 2/3 of a mile) leading to the Treasury (the iconic structure that people often refer to as Petra. But Petra actually refers to the whole city which is much more than the Treasury).

The Siq serves as the main entrance to Petra. Due to winding nature of the slot canyon, you can't quite tell how close you are to the Treasury until you are upon it. It is really exciting.

For a quieter walk, we hung back and let the other 200 people go in front of us. Once at the Treasury (I was kind of freaking out from excitement), we listened to local music under the stars. 
Peering through the Siq at a first glimpse of the Treasury (and a camel)
The next morning we woke up early and arrived by 7 a.m. to beat the inevitable crowds.
Unfortunately, you cannot go inside of the Treasury and, contrary to movie magic, there is no holy grail inside (that we could tell).

After pondering the beauty at the base of the Treasury, we decided to hike and see it from above. 

This view has to be earned! 
And it was worth every step.
If only there was a zipline or something down... because that hike was tiring. 

After the Siq and the Treasury, you follow a small valley to see the rest of Petra's ruins. You can walk from one end to the other while seeing tombs and other ruins along the way. However, the fun stuff is the diversions and hikes along the way.

Some of those diversions are below...

The royal tombs are massive!
(I'm the tiny person with arms raised in the bottom right corner.)
Even better, you can go inside. 

Petra has so many options for visitors. 
We chose two of the more difficult hikes that wore us out: the Place of High Sacrifice and on to Qasr al Bint, and then the Treasury view point via the Royal Tombs.

After both of those we were pooped, but still wanted to see the Monastery. But I didn't think my legs could handle 700+ steps. 
So we hired a ride. 

I rode a mule and Jacob had the lucky opportunity to ride a donkey named Jack who only ran off the trail once.
We bargained hard and we were able to nab the ride for only 6JD. 
Bargaining hint: always hesitate and smile a lot. 

Once we agreed on the price, the donkey owner asked where we were from. 
When we answered he said, "Americans? They usually just pay. You are like Chinese!"
A high compliment. :)

We ended our delightful visit with a camel ride.
It was a bumpy ride but all sorts of amazing. 

If Petra is on your list of places to visit, below are some tips that I am glad that we knew/wish we would have known.

Planning your time

We visited Petra in one day-ish (Petra by Night the previous evening). It was a full and exhausting day. But it is one that you surely won't regret or forget. 

Arrive first thing. We got to the entrance by 7 a.m. and had the Treasury and the Siq mostly to ourselves. 

We both feel like we packed it in too much. I personally would skip the Place of High Sacrifice (or just go back the way you came and do not continue the hike to Qasr al-bint. 


Bargaining is the norm and prices are soft anywhere inside of Petra. If you are interested in animal transport, I would recommend it for the Monastery or another difficult hike at the end of the day. Also, Jordan has a campaign against mistreatment of animals. If you see mistreatment, report it. 

Soft prices also include some vendors, even out of Petra. One vendor kept charging us different prices for water and we were able to negotiate a cheaper price (still outrageous but cheaper).

Hike Times

Below are some basic walking/hike times. If you choose to hire animal transport, reconsider paying for it on the way down. The stairs are really slippery under animal hooves.

Visitor Center to Siq entrance- easy: 15 minutes
Siq to Treasury- easy: 20 minutes
Treasury to Royal Tombs- moderate: 20 minutes
Treasury to View Point- strenuous: 1 hour?
Treasury to High Place of Sacrifice (near obelisk)- moderate: 45 minutes
Obelisk to Museum- strenuous: 45 minutes
Treasury to Museum- easy: 30 minutes
Museum to Monastery- strenuous: 40 minutes

I have long legs and a quick stride, so adjust as necessary. :)
Also add some time if you like to take lots of pictures.

What to Bring

Many things can be purchased inside of Petra, but here's what I would bring from outside.

  • Water (and lots of it). It is much more expensive inside of Petra.
  • Guidebook (visitor center map is lacking detail) 
  • A hat and sunscreen. Protect your skin!
  • Lunch- you can purchase inside, but bring snacks!
  • Cash. No credit cards for lunch, souvenirs or animal rides. Also, everyone expects a tip and has no problem letting you know it. ;)

Hope this helps!

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