For more information check out part 1, Jordan: The Lost City of Petra
and part 2, Jordan: Getting There
Talk with an Expert.
Hamz Majid got his official guiding license in 1995 and gave guided tours as a full-time job in 1999. He was the private guide who led my tour into Petra. It was $500 for the three of us.
He said Americans need to know some general information about the country before visiting. It helps to know. “Jordan customs of Jordanian people, especially marriage and Bedouins…and some about religion and Islam.” He suggests researching this information before booking your trip to Jordan. He said recommends a guide and making sure, “the guide knows both languages and can explain about what is coming next with every single step. And can answer any question may (sic) appear on the way.” It is very important that the guide understand the process of entering Jordan from Israel. “It depends on which border you are arriving—we have three borders with Israel, north, middle and south.” Each one has a different process according to Majid. He said it is easy for Americans to cross the borders with no obstacles, especially when there is someone waiting for them at the Jordanian side.” He went on to say, “Jordan is a modern country and visitors can wear whatever they want, except at some religious places and the crowded places like Amman downtown.”
It is important to note, laws in Jordan are “changeable.” So, it is best to be with a guide who is up-to-date. Majid wanted to impress that Petra is not the only tourist destination in Jordan. He also suggests Wadi Rum (noting its amazing desert), Aqaba (very special, especially for diving), Jerash (the best preserved ancient city in the middle east), Umm Rassas ( a world heritage site) and Salt (“simple, quiet, special, beautiful old house and my hometown”)
I asked Majid to elaborate on why Petra is such a popular tourist destination. He could only respond with, “It is very special. It cannot even be described with words or pictures until you see it.”