We woke up early, intent on beating the crowd to Petra, Jordan’s most visited tourist attraction. We were billeted in a hotel in the nearest town to Petra, Wadi Musa – a “mere” 30-minute walk, but we chose to go for a cab, saving our energy and money for the long and decidedly more expensive transportation options inside Petra. I always dread being in heavily-touristy places where there’s a much higher probability of having to haggle and dodge and being downright duped – but sometimes that’s just how it’s got to be, and you just have maintain your cool and not let it ruin your trip.
We availed of the “free” horse ride from the visitor entrance to along the valley called the Bab as-Siq. No sooner had we dismounted the horse than we were asked for a tip, which was fine because I knew that we were supposed to give them 5JOD. What was not fine was that because I didn’t have smaller bills with me, they wanted to get the entire 20JD!
Not very successful, but I just let it go. After all, we were by then at the mouth of the Siq, a 1.2km-long gorge that leads to Petra’s most famous structure – Al Khazneh or The Treasury. We could have asked to be brought to the end of the Siq, but the building of anticipation afforded by walking was more appealing. So for the next 30 minutes, we walked through the winding road created by tectonic forces that split the sandstone mountain, with water and wind helping to smooth out the otherwise rough edges. The water channels carved by the Nabateans to provide water to Petra can still be seen today, as well as shrines and niches that house sacred stones.
As we neared the end of the Siq, I wanted to both run and pause. It was a real test of EQ. In the end, my feet decided to go for a compromise: rushed walking!
And then I finally understood why they call it the Rose City. I tried to imagine how the caravan people, tired from the long trade route travel, reacted upon seeing this. Or how happy and proud the Nabateans must have been to come home to a place this beautiful. And then I thought about how difficult it must have been to create this. Imagine hand-carving and making do with whatever handheld tools were available, to transform this huge sandstone rock into this masterpiece. It’s incredible. No wonder it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been voted one of the New7Wonders of the World.
It is believed that the Treasury was built as a mausoleum, but the Bedouins later believed that there were treasures hidden in an urn in the second level of the Treasury – hence the name, and hence the many attempts at breaking the urn by shooting into the rock-cut structure itself. As for us, we lost a bit of treasure, too, as my mom was lured into buying “silver” bracelets for 3.5JOD and later discovered that the very same were sold for just 1JOD. I try not to remind my mom about it!
And then of course, I just had to try riding the camel, even just for a bit. Tip: lean back as the camel starts to stand using its hind legs, and then lean forward as it gets to its front legs. Otherwise, you just might shriek like I did. Embarrassing!
How to go to Petra
From Wadi Rum: Bus, 1x daily, departs between 8:30AM – 9AM; travel time 2 hours, 7JOD pp
From Amman: JETT bus departs at 6:30AM from Amman Abdali JETT office (could do return trip – bus leaves Petra at 4:00 PM), travel time 4hours, 10JOD per way pp
Of course, you could always rent a car or hail a cab. Taxi from Aqaba to Petra would probably be 40-50 JOD
How to get around Petra
On foot; or
Horse / Camel / Donkey – haggling skills required
Carriage from the Treasury to the Visitor Center or vv- 20JOD
Where to Stay
Nearest town is Wadi Musa, with several hotel options. We stayed at Al Rashid (hotel review to follow)
Could also stay in Amman if doing a day trip
Jordanians and Residents : 1JD per person, per day
Non-Jordanian accommodated visitors (Visitors who have spent an overnight in Jordan)
One day entry: 50 JoD
Two days entry: 55 JoD
Three days entry: 60 JoD
Non-Jordanian non-accommodated visitors (Visitors who have not spent an overnight in Jordan): 90 JoD
All children under 15 yrs. irrespective of nationality: Exempt from all charges
Summer: 6AM to 6PM
Winter: 6AM to 4PM
2-5 JOD from Wadi Musa
Photo riding a camel: JOD10
*as of posting, 1JOD = Php67 = USD1.41