It may be just one of the most iconic archeological sites in the world and certainly one of the most unique. Rome and the great wall of China are wonders of human engineering, but the half carved, half hewn rock canyons of Petra that now stand as the shell of a civilization are places of allure and wonder.
The site is located in central Jordan a few hours drive from Amman airport and Aqaba. Since the tourism here has been booming for years, a small town has grown up around the ancient carvings. This makes it easy for tour groups and independent travelers alike to enjoy the site, but even more restaurants and hotels are available in the nearby area of Wadi Musa. While many tourists come to the town directly, there are many day trip services from Egypt, Israel and surrounding areas of Jordan.
Getting into Petra
Jordan is most readily accessed by air or by driving from neighboring countries such as Israel and Egypt. If coming from Amman the JETT bus is a good option at 19 Dinhars. it is a full day trip as the bus departs Amman at 6:30am and departs from the Petra visitors center at 5:00pm.
Aqaba has mini buses that run directly between its souk and the Wadi Mousa (Petra) stop as well as buses which go from Aqaba to Maan then to Wadi Mousa (Petra). Tourists can be overcharged on these buses and there are no set schedules as the buses come and go when full. As a general rule there are more buses and seats earlier in the day.
Renting a car is a great option in Jordan as fuel is reasonable and the roads are well made. In fact we’d recommend this over any other type of transport, the time and hassle saved is well worth it with affordable rentals and such favorable driving conditions. A GPS is recommended.
Entrance to the site
If one has arranged a pre-booked tour from outside Jordan and is visiting Petra without overnighting in the country the cost of an entry ticket is $127 USD. For tourists who are at least spending the night in Jordan the entry is still a steep $50 USD. There are 2 and 3 day passes available for discounted rates as well.
From the main gate to the actual heart of the ancient site it is a 2km walk. There are supposed “free” horse cart rides to the site which is largely a scam. The drivers expect a $25 USD tip which they will cause a scene to get. The walk is a great way to get into the spirit of the place and enjoy the Siq or beautiful canyons.
Once on site there are many camel and donkey drivers as well as guides looking to sell you tours or further excursions into the canyons, up mountains or give you hours of history lessons. Take it from someone who has been, you will probably find the desert heat getting to you just covering the basic sites yourself, without having to spend extra money and time join into great details about the place.
Things one should see:
The Treasury is the most famous building and it is immensely impressive. Access inside is not regularly allowed, but plenty of space is available for taking photos. A great tip is to get into the park first thing in the morning and most likely you could be the only person there to enjoy the view. The Street of Fascades is another fantastic opening where storefronts, homes and tombs abound in carved splendor. There is a Roman theater on site as well as a Monastery atop the canyon cliffs.