Country: Jordan
Currency: Dinar (JOD)
Peak Season: April-May, September-October
Shoulder Season: November-April
Median Temperature: 17.50 C / 63.5 F
Main Languages: Arabic, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, car rental, taxi, ferry
Recommended Duration of Stay: 3 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $130.00/day
Tourist Passes: n/a
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Peaceful Amman is brimming with so much historical importance that would pique any traveler’s interest: colossal megastuctures from the Romans, beautifully-preserved historic quarters, and souks that evoke the soul of Middle Eastern shopping. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg—Amman is a city not only of cultural and modern confluence, but also of cosmopolitan living at par with high standards set by the countries in the Persian Gulf. The city’s efficacious political system can be credited to the liberal policies set forth by King Abdullah II and his father, King Hussein. Over the decades, Amman has become increasingly receptive to the good fruits of diplomacy, particularly with western ideologies and trade practices. Amman also boasts religious freedom not commonly practiced by many countries the Middle East. Nowhere else in the Arab coast would one little to no hostility between Christians and Muslims.

Going further, Amman’s array of entertainment venues are a far cry from the usual trimmings of the countries in the Middle East. Many “forbidden” venues by Islamic standards flourish in the city (which are effectively administered, by the way). The nightlife fares good with tourists also—a circuit of bars and nightclubs could be found at Abdoun Circle. And getting around the city via public transport is a breeze, considering the tumultuous investments laid out by the government to improve the serviceability of buses and taxis, which means you won’t have to rent a car (unlike in most Arab countries). You will notice that the cosmopolitanism extends to the ethnicities of the people. Many expatriates from Europe, Asia and from the Americas have made Amman their second home due to its relatively modest cost of living, temperate climate and good employment opportunities. Visit Amman and experience a whole new face of Middle Eastern hospitality.

Packing List

  • Local currency, since most stores honor neither credit cards nor travelers’ checks; bring extra duffel bags if planning to purchase by the volume, especially with textiles, silver, jewelry, electronics and handicraft
  • Long pants and dresses for men and women—tourists are expected to bring modest clothing not only to get by seamlessly, but to also be permitted to enter religious sites where decorum is priority
  • Casual and smart clothing, including t-shirts, sunglasses, and accessories to blend you right in with Western Amman, the “consumerist” section of the city; the heat is tolerable, but try to bring sunscreen
  • Essential medication and toiletries, including aspirin and anti-diarrheic pills if not used to Arab cuisine; pharmacies and groceries store carry major brands, so it wouldn’t be hard to get your staples and meds
  • A decent camera, plenty of film and batteries; electronics stores proliferate the city, and the low tax system makes it much easier for tourists to purchase whatever electronics they left back home for cheap

Things to Do

  • Seeing Roman Empire ruins at Jabal al-Qal'a (Citadel Hill): the Roman Amphitheater, which can seat 5,000 people; the Odeon, capable of seating 500 people; the Roman Forum; and the Temple of Hercules
  • Exploring artifacts inside the National Archaeological Museum on Citadel Hill; primary collections date back to the Paleolithic Era—but most popular of which are the Iron Age sarcophagi and Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Paying a visit to King Hussein Mosque, having a royal Islamic Umayyad-style beauty not usually evoked by other mosques; it can house 2,500 worshippers, and non-Islamic adherents are welcome to visit
  • Splurging at Mecca Mall, one of the country’s largest shopping malls; here, you can purchase affordable designer clothing, electronics and jewelry—it also boasts 22 restaurants and eight cinema houses
  • Conquering panoramic Mount Nebo, located northwest of the city; the mountain is significant to Jews and Christians, for it is the place where Moses was believed to be laid to rest by God Himself

DON'T

  • Don’t preach any religion other than Islam on public spaces or disrupt religious celebrations—the country is predominantly Muslim and it is illegal to engage in evangelizing or otherwise sacrilegious acts
  • Voice your sentiments about politics and society, particularly the Arab-Israeli war; you also need to refrain from speaking ill of the King of Jordan, the Royal Family or any other political figures
  • Be a maverick—there are certain norms to abide by, despite Amman’s open vibe; men should dress in decorum when entering religious buildings, while women should avoid shaking hands with Arab men
  • Ignore the importance of Ramadan—eating, drinking, and smoking in public spaces will get you in bad terms with the locals; spend your leisure inside the hotel or at private venues during the sacred month
  • Overspend on souks and malls—try to figure what’s best to buy or what’s exclusively sold in Amman: carefully decorated sand bottles, kefiyas (headscarves), silverware, beadworks and bedoiun daggers