Traveled June, 2016
In late 2015, Jordan developed a product to boost their fledgling tourism industry – The Jordan Pass. There are 3 variations in price of the Jordan Pass, with the only difference being the number of days you were allowed in Petra (1, 2, or 3 days). In addition to Petra, the pass gave us entry into 40 different sites of Jordan a visa into Jordan assuming we stayed at least 3 days. This pass was an incredible deal.
I ordered the pass online and was mailed a pdf document with a UPC code. We printed these so they’d be ready at the border. We chose to cross from Israel at the northern border as this was the one border we could get a visa on arrival. The borders near Jerusalem and Eliat were requiring visas were obtained before the border. We caught the bus in Nazareth and it was super easy to cross over the Jordan river one last time:
And get to the Jordanian border and eventually on to Amman. We were the only non-Arab passengers on the bus. On the Israeli side, we paid an exit tax and (unfortunately) got an exit stamp. I say unfortunately because there are several countries of the world that don’t recognize Israel as a country and don’t allow entrance to anyone who has an Israeli passport or stamp. We hopped on the bus and headed over to Jordan immigration. We flashed our Jordan Passes and our passports were stamped with a strange sticker placed over the stamp to disguise it.
In Amman, we took advantage of the two sites that were on the Jordan pass. First we stopped at the coliseum.
Next we climbed the hill through some residential streets, stairs, and alleys to the old city of Philadelphia.
On the second day in Jordan, we had arranged a driver from the owner of the Tower Hotel. The driver took my friend, myself, and a solo traveler from Taiwan on a full day ride down to Petra via the scenic and slower King’s Highway. This was an alternative to the much faster, less scenic Queen’s Highway. We first stopped in Madaba to see the mosaics at the greek church. This church was not on the Jordan pass, but only cost $1 JD to enter.
Then we drove farther south to visit the Crusader castle in Karak. This castle was famous for some very brutal crusaders.
Even further south we had some amazing views of the dead sea, valleys, and Bedouins.
Our final stop that day was at Shobak Castle, another castle that accepted the Jordan Pass.
We spent the next 3 nights and 2 days in Petra, as covered by the Jordan Pass.
And then Wadi Rum national park, also covered by the Jordan Pass.
There was little in Aqaba covered by the pass, only a ruined castle.
And finally we caught one bus from Aqaba to Amman, via the Queens highway. The Trabadour bus stop was also the bus stop for buses headed to Jerash, so we easily found a bus that left in a few minutes. After a couple hours, we were dropped in Jerash. As we had quite a few hours before we needed to catch a taxi to the airport, we stored our bags at the hotel that was opposite the Jerash gate. The proprietor there was such a good guy. We offered him money to watch our bags but he wouldn’t accept any. He also let us use the clean restrooms. The hotel was empty. Problems of the world has really taken it’s toll on tourism here.
We decided to head to the Lebanese restaurant listed in the Lonely Planet. It was only a 1 km walk south of the center but before the walk, I had bought a cheap bottle of Diet Pepsi from a shop as we hadn’t had much to drink all day and the sun was scorching. And then the scariest thing that happened after 2 and a half weeks in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. There were people camping by the side of the road and loads of children came running and tugging on our limbs, clothes, purses, etc. I’m pretty sure they were both panhandling and looking for an easy way to pick-pocket. Some local guys yelled at the kids and they ran away. I did some research on this later and I’m certain that they were Jordanian gypsies, a minority group that is poorly educated and discriminated against. I felt kind of guilty eating at the Lebanese restaurant after that. It was easily the most expensive restaurant we had visited on the whole trip.
Jerash ruins were covered in the Jordan Pass and well worth the effort to get there. The site was quite empty when we visited in the late afternoon – probably only dozens of tourists in a very large complex.
Some of the temples contained interesting mosaics.
There was some wildlife to be found in Jerash – lizards, birds, butterflies and huge millipedes – about 8 inches long.
After closing time, we still had an hour to have some quick dinner – our choices were Classy Chicken, or Cheesy Grill.
Dessert was at an Arab bakery:
The guy at the hotel that kept our bags also called a taxi driver and negotiated a good rate for us. The hospitality was great.
At the airport, there were large groups of refugees checking onto my Ukrainian International Air flight. They also were on my flight from Kyiv to JFK- New York.