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Thread summary:

American tourist travelling to Jordan, advice on what expect upon arrival, local customs, dress code, prices, weather, area shopping malls

Old 10-24-2007, 02:24 PM
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What can an American tourist expect when visiting the country of Jordan?
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:43 PM
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I think if you research the local customs, dress modestly and behave in a polite and respectful manner, you will be fine and have a great time. I would steer clear of subjects beginning with an "I" as in Israel and Iraq.
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Old 10-25-2007, 02:34 AM
Location: In exile, plotting my coup
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I was there just this past May. I crossed over from Israel and went to Aqaba, Petra and Wadi Musa. I wish I'd have had more time to see the country and plan to go back at some point in the future.

What to expect? Hmmm. It's a pretty open-ended question. As Moth suggested, try to behave in a polite and respectful manner and represent your country well, but that's really not a Jordan-specific suggestion so much as something that should be practiced wherever you go. It indeed is probably best to steer clear of topics regarding Israel and Iraq. There's no need to try to push those buttons, although I'm sure provided a proper setting, you could have a very informative debate and/or conversation on the issues with the locals. As is the case pretty much everywhere in the world, when on a one-on-one basis, people are generally polite and will not treat you poorly because you are an American, regardless of issues they may have with our government.

It's hot. The whole southern half of the country is mostly brown mountainous desert. Make sure you have some water with you at all times. Duststorms are pretty common. As a result, buildings and cars in general may look dirtier than they are.

One thing that struck me about Jordan was the fact that the market vendors and hawks aren't as aggressive and persistent as they are in other Middle Eastern countries I've been to. There is lots of "my friend, come, come, I'll show you this...." but if you say "no thank you", they generally move on which isn't the case in a lot of other places I've been. In general, I found Jordanians to be very polite. Most do not speak English, but those involved in the travel industry generally speak a small amount. Queues are not really respected. It's sort of every man and women for themselves. Most prices are negotiable as there's a large barter economy (obviously though, if you're at a nice indoor shopping mall, prices are set in stone) and seems to be a good amount of bribery going on as well. The Royal police are everywhere (lots of random roadblocks) and a little intimidating. Carry your passport with you and be prepared to have to show it to them if you're stopped.

I was mostly in rural-ish areas, so I'm not sure if my observations on behavior, dress and gender would be countrywide, particularly in Amman. But from what I saw, most women wear head scarves. A few of the older women wore abayas and chadors, but most of the younger girls wore head scarves combined with more Western (but conservative) clothing like you see on Muslim girls in the U.S. The older men tend to dress really well, in dress shirts and long pants even in the searing desert heat, while the younger men dress very European-like in jeans, t-shirts (usually tight) and lots of hair gel. It's best to air on the side of caution though if you're female especially and dress modestly and then feel out the situation when you arrive to see what you'd be comfortable with. Jordan is not a hardline Islamic country by any means though, so even if you were to dress more provocatively, I doubt it would attract the same stares and remarks as it would in places like Syria or Egypt, but it's just more a matter of fitting in. Men and women seem to keep to themselves, with very little interaction between the genders. Men are very touchy-feely with each other but women sort of keep to themselves. It seems like everyone smokes, and smoking is allowed everywhere, and in places where it's not, people smoke anyways.

The country is pretty cheap, but prices of course are jacked up in touristy areas. Speaking of which, there are not very many tourists, with the exception of Petra which draws a good amount (and which I HIGHLY recommend). Aqaba draws tourists from nearby Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Gulf. Westerners are rare though. You will need a visa to enter the country. You can purchase one at a land border as I did, or if flying in, you may need to purchase one prior to leaving the U.S. I'm not sure. I can't remember the cost but it wasn't horribly expensive. Jordan is a developing country and the country as a whole isn't really all that geared towards tourists at the moment but it's making improvements. The roads weren't horrific, the buses were better than expected, and there were actually quite a few internet cafes that I saw even in small towns (albeit with incredibly slow connections).

Anything else I'd be happy to answer.
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Old 10-25-2007, 08:01 AM
Location: Dubai
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Default Jordan

Excellent advice from DullandBoring

Just to add, def modest dress and respect the culture etc and when haggling over prices, you should pay around 30-40% of the original price.

Dont forget to have a mud bath at the Dead Sea, fantastic

Have fun
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