Despite being surrounded by countries in conflict, Jordan has maintained relative peace, making it quite safe to travel. That said, it’s important to be mindful of local customs, culture, and the adjacent conflict. Female-identifying travelers especially have unique concerns when traveling the globe, which is why we’ve created a women’s guide to traveling Jordan, so that you can experience all that this country has to offer with safety and confidence.
Respect local customs and culture
Jordanian women dress modestly, so it’s recommended to do the same when traveling there out of respect for local culture. Rule of thumb is always dress as the locals do. In Jordan, this means keeping your chest, shoulders, back, and legs covered up. Loose t-shirts, loose jeans, and long skirts are the way to go. While many Jordanian women do wear the hijab, tourists do not need to, but a scarf is a great accessory to bring along if ever you need some extra coverage. When you visit the Dead Sea, you’ll see most tourists going in the sea in their bikinis―this is totally acceptable, but consider bringing a cover up for when you’re lounging on the beach.
Public affection is considered taboo in Jordan, so if you are traveling with a partner or significant other, do your best to minimize touching. It’s also useful to know that in Jordan, adultery is defined as sexual relations with anyone you aren’t married to, and the only legally-recognized marriage in Jordan is between a man and a woman.
Regardless of your personal feeling about politics, religion, or even philosophy, always show respect for Islam, and the Jordanian Royal Family. You won’t be expected to know customs and manners in detail, but it’s important to abide by a basic level of respect for how locals conduct their lives. When visiting places of religious significance, follow the lead of the locals around you.
In general, bars are the domain of Jordanian men, so it’s not recommended to go to one as a woman unless you’re with a male companion. Additionally, only have alcohol in approved spaces, like bars and restaurants. Traveling as a lone woman in Jordan is considered unusual to many locals, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked questions. If you’re alone, be cautious on public transportation (sit next to other women), don’t sit in the front seat of taxis, and in general, avoid revealing that you’re alone. Unwanted attention from men is a possibility in some regions, but bystanders will support you if you say loudly, “imshi” (clear off).
Stay up to date on regional conflict
Jordan is surrounded by conflict in Iraq, Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Syria. Because of this it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with regions to avoid and always be sure to stay away from protests and large gatherings where there’s the potential for violence. As with travel anywhere, it’s good practice to maintain a general degree of alertness.
Places to avoid are the border with Syria, border with Iraq, and the highway east of Safawi. Traveling to the refugee camps in Jordan is not recommended unless it is essential. Because the status of conflict can change rapidly, it’s a good idea to check your home country’s travel alerts for Jordan before your trip so that you’re up to date.
Invest in a SIM card with calling and data so that you can maintain communication with friends or family, and have access to Google should you need assistance at any time―service across Jordan is good, so a SIM card should be reliable. SIM cards can be bought at the Amman airport when you arrive. The company Orange offers a SIM for 15 JOD ($25 USD) that includes four gigabytes of data and nation-wide calling.
Download an offline map app so that you have access to navigation at all times. Google Maps and Maps.Me are apps that have the offline feature, but be sure to download the maps before arriving in Jordan. Using offline maps ensures that if you run out of data, or want to minimize your data use, you can still find your way around.
Make your life easier
Touristy regions of Jordan like Wadi Rum, Petra, Aqaba, and the Dead Sea are easier for women to travel because they are heavily populated with other tourists and the locals in these areas are used to interacting with people from all over the globe. While it can be fun to go off the beaten track, women traveling Jordan will find it easier and safer to stick to the tourist trail.
Hiring a guide or joining a tour for a trip is a great way to enhance your trip. Guides can give restaurant suggestions, mediate shopping transactions, take care of communication and transport, and answer any questions that may arise about cultural appropriateness in Jordan. If you decide to go with a guide, read the reviews of your guide or the tour company, and look for reviews from other women specifically.
As with any travel, check the weather before your trip so that you can pack accordingly. In the winter months, Jordan can get a little cold, so you’ll need jackets and layers. If you’re headed to Petra and Wadi Rum, bring footwear suitable for hiking. Additionally, tampons and contraceptives can be difficult to find in shops, so to avoid the hassle, pack everything you might need while you’re abroad.
Purchase the Jordan Pass before your trip. The pass includes your visa fees as well as access to most tourist sites, including Petra and fees to visit Wadi Rum. The basic pass is 70 JOD ($100 USD) and is well worth it. Make sure to print the pass and carry it always, because at each site that you visit you’ll need to present it to be stamped, along with an ID. There are tiered types of Jordan Passes; if you are planning to spend more than one day in Petra, then the 2nd or 3rd tier pass are worth considering. For more information on the pass, visit the Jordan Pass website.
For women, the key is to know what to expect in terms of local customs, and prepare accordingly. So don’t be nervous to head to Jordan alone. Instead, get ready to meet camels, eat delicious hummus, visit ancient archeological sites, and explore the desert!
Any additional tips for women traveling to Jordan? Feel free to share in the comments!
Header image by J Basiga.