Mistakes to avoid when visiting Petra, Jordan


Here is a list of helpful tips for visiting Petra, Jordan – the rock carved city that is also one of the 7 wonders of the world. The world famous UNESCO site is a bucket list item for many travellers but there are a few things to know when planning your visit. I have shortlisted some essential do’s and don’ts to improve your visit and to avoid rookie mistakes.

One of the less famous structures you'll see all over when visiting Petra, Jordan

Do’s when visiting Petra, Jordan

Bring and use sunscreen

It gets very hot in and around Petra – it’s located in the desert after all! It’s a large site to explore and will take a full day so there’s good potential for severe sunburns. A hat would also be a great idea!

Drink lots of water and make sure you carry some extra too

It’s incredibly easy to become dehydrated, especially when climbing up stairs. I don’t know about you but I get a headache very easily if I don’t drink enough and that will just ruin the whole experience.

Bring snacks

Ah, talking about ruining the whole experience.. If I’m hungry I become very cranky (surely I’m not the only one?) and that’s just not fun for anyone. Petra has some restaurants too, but I find it’s better to bring lots of snacks to eat throughout the day and have nice big dinner after the visit. It’s too hot anyway for a full lunch!  And anyone with a special diet, definitely bring your own food. You are not going to find your gluten free raw organic vegan low carb meal here.

Image of the famous Treasury that will be one of the first things you'll see when visiting Petra, Jordan

Get a map

Petra is big – it’s a city. So it’s not just the Treasury and Monastery featured in most photos (mine included) but lots more too. There are people who explore this site for 3 days and still feel they haven’t seen everything. With a map you can plan your route and easily find the places  you want to see – including restaurants and washrooms!

Educate yourself about Petra before even going there

You will appreciate it a thousand times more when you know even a little bit of the history and are not just wandering around without understanding what you are seeing. I’m not suggesting to spend weeks reading the complete history of the area, but do read a little bit so you know what you are getting into.

Image of the entrance of Petra, Jordan at sunrise

Get there early

The site is most quiet early in the morning but also the best time for photographing is in early/mid morning (and again in the late afternoon). The buildings, if you can call them that, look different at different times of the day depending on the light. Lots of fun for those of us who like to carry a camera around!

Spend the night in the area

Imagine this; you have a world class unique site in your country and every year hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world come to see it. As this beautiful attraction is located very close to another country, most visitors jump over the border and come for a freaking day trip. The only financial benefit you will get from them is the entrance fee to your site; after all they don’t use the restaurants, they don’t stay the night at a hotel and they don’t use local transportation. Yeah, I’d be pretty unhappy as well. This is actually why the entrance fees to Petra went up a few years ago and now visitors who do not stay in Jordan overnight pay 90JD ($127) and overnight visitors pay 50JD ($70). Also, when you spend the night near Petra you can be sure to beat the crowds and be there early in the morning.

Image of the Monastery that is one of the highlights when visiting Petra, Jordan.

Dont’s when visiting Petra, Jordan

Do not ride a donkey!!

It broke my heart to see people (usually those on the heavier side too) riding a little donkey up the stairs to the Monastery. They are not really meant to carry people in the first place but more than that, they are not well looked after. This was the case a few years ago anyway and if that has changed I would love to hear about it, but you still shouldn’t ride them. You can take all day with those stairs, no reason to use a donkey to do the work for you. They will climb up the stairs equally slow anyway, with the heavy load.

Do not use the horse carriages!

I’m sticking with the don’t use the animals theme here, because the horses are not the healthiest looking ones either. It’s popular to take a carriage from the ticket office through the narrow passage to the Treasury where you enter the rock carved city itself. It’s just a little over  1 km! It’s not romantic, it’s not how the locals do it – It’s people cashing in on the attraction, making money off tourists visiting Petra and has nothing to do with animal welfare. Too often, when animals and money making are in the same concept, it does not end well.

An image of Alladin lamps and other souvenirs at Petra

Don’t buy genuine artefacts and ancient gold coins

Trust me, they are just about as real as the ancient Nabateans offering to pose in a picture with you – For a fee of course. Do buy souvenirs and local crafts but don’t be fooled by the famous gold coin scam when visiting Petra, Jordan.

Do not litter

This should go without saying! We’re all responsible travellers, right? Take your litter to the bins or take it with you off the site.

Have you been planning on visiting Petra, Jordan some day? Is it on your bucket list? Would you explore more of Jordan or just visit Petra?


This post is part of the Sunday Traveler campaign hosted by many lovely blogs such as Chasing the Donkey and The Fairytale Traveler. Check out these blogs for more travel stories every Sunday!

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Here is a list of helpful tips for visiting Petra, Jordan – the rock carved city that is also one of the 7 wonders...
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