If you’re anything like me, just the word “Jordan” conjures up images that set your inner Indiana Jones on fire. Along with these images may come some very real questions. Is solo female travel to Jordan safe? How do I make the most of my visit to Petra? What’s the best time of year to travel solo visit Jordan?
What’s the real deal on female travel in Jordan?
Well my friends, the answers, much like so many other things about Jordan, may surprise you.
Let’s jump right in.
Channeling my inner Indiana Jones in Petra
Give me some random things you associate with Jordan. The Lost City of Petra? Wide expanses of desert? The Red Sea? The Dead Sea? Hilltops and valleys where Moses and his crew hung out back in the day?
Perhaps Jordan is more of a collage of thoughts and images to you. Watching camels roaming free in the desert. Or perhaps hearing your first call to prayer from a mosque or eating lamb roasted over a Bedouin campfire.
It doesn’t stop there.
Jordan is all these things and more.
Getting started on planning your trip to Jordan can feel overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time with solo female travel to Jordan. The good news is it doesn’t have to be! Let me show you how…
Abandoned aircraft at our Bedouin-style campsite
1. Let Go of Expectations About Solo Female Travel to Jordan
My choice to go to Jordan was a fairly random one. Of course, Petra’s on the bucket list of just about every child of the 80s reared on a steady diet of Indiana Jones. A friend mentioned that summer is one of the best times to travel to Jordan. That time of year there are fewer crowds and cheaper rates. And just like that, an adventure was born! Honestly, sometimes the more random a destination is the more I get out of it. I went to Jordan with zero expectations and no preconceived notions and it totally knocked my socks off!
2. Travel to Jordan From Tel Aviv
Beach blanket bingo in Tel Aviv
I decided to kick off my journey in Tel Aviv, Israel’s notorious party town on the Mediterranean Sea. Tel Aviv is an ideal city for solo female travel. It’s a hip, young lively city full of fun cafes and clubs and a laid-back beach vibe. It’s easy to meet other meet other travelers in Tel Aviv, or just max and relax on either side of your trip to Jordan.
Tel Aviv is also a major transit hub, with tons of bus, flight, and tour options to attractions in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and beyond. It’s honestly the easiest and most convenient place to base your travels from.
3. Get Help Crossing the Boarder to Jordan
Crossing the border was a multi-step, hours-long process that I’m glad I had assistance with. Interested in crossing on your own? Here’s one blogger’s experience.
In my research, I found many tales of solo female travel to Jordan from Tel Aviv without tours. Most people seem to get along just fine. However, there were a few major factors that inspired me to book a group tour:
First of all, traveling to Jordan was a chance for me to learn about a culture I’m completely unfamiliar with. I wanted what I was experiencing to be contexted for me by a guide who really knew their stuff.
Second, I just couldn’t see myself renting a car and getting lost (or heaven forbid breaking down!) in the desert. That kind of road trip just isn’t my cup of tea.
Third, and most importantly, I’d heard mixed reviews of the difficulty of the land border crossing from Israel to Jordan. Flying via the Israeli border town of Eilat is said to be the most hassle-free option, but I couldn’t find a tour that included it.
The ground crossing is considerably more complicated, owing to the fact that Jordan and Israel used to be at war . As part of a group tour, we had somebody meet us at the border and guide us through each step, without which I would have been totally lost.
4. Choose Your Tour to Jordan Wisely
I know, I know, normally I regard packaged tours as a little bit of a cheat. But if you’ve read this far you know why I wanted professionals on my side.
There’s a smorgasbord of tours offering all kinds of options to choose from out there, so do your homework. I booked through Tourist Israel, which is a large booking service who set us up with a package tour. Our guide was great, but the individuals who took care of transit and border crossing were a mixed bag. Because of this, I can’t recommend a specific company for you with 100% confidence. I will say that all of them are not created equal and you shouldn’t cheap out. Be sure you know what you’re most intrigued by and find yourself a tour that specifically focuses on that. Otherwise, you’ll be doing too many “drive-bys” of interesting places in your big-ass tour bus!
5. Don’t Miss Jerash
There’s so much to explore in Jerash
The first destination once we crossed the border into Jordan was the ancient city of Jerash. Jerash is said to be the best-preserved Roman city outside of Italy. Make sure you’ve got water, hat and sunscreen as there’s little shade. You’ll want to spend some quality time trundling around the forum, the theater, and Hadrian’s gate!
If you listen carefully to this video of Jerash, you can hear the midday call to prayer at the local mosque.
6. Madaba is a Maker’s Paradise
Our group stopped at a mosaic shop and learned all about this intricate art from the craftspeople working there.
From Jerash, we made our way to the small city of Madaba. There we saw the intricately mosaiced Greek Orthodox Basilica of St. George. We also visited a few artisan studios and some of us even got to try our hands at making a mosaic.
My favorite moments of my first day in Jordan were looking out the windows and watching the sights roll by. From majestic fertile mountains to roadside markets, I’d just never seen anything like it before and was so keen to soak it all in.
7. Wadi Rum is the Coolest Place for Solo Female Travel in Jordan!
If Wadi Rum looks like the set of a movie…that’s because it is!
If the bold colors and dramatic landscapes look straight out of a movie, that’s because they are. Scenes from Star Wars and Laurence of Arabia were shot here!
before I arrived in Jordan I had no idea what the Wadi Rum desert even was! Amazingly, it ended up being a highlight of my trip.
We did an open-air Jeep tour which was a fabulous way to get out into the center of the desert. You can also do a camel tour of Wadi Rum.
Drinking fresh rosemary tea at a Bedouin campsite
8. Stay in a Bedouin Style Campground in Jordan as a Solo Female Traveler
By far the best part of this experience was sleeping in a Bedouin-style camp in the desert. Be forewarned that this isn’t a real Bedouin camp, it’s basically a glamping experience made for tourists.
Our camp provided us with a full meal cooked over an open fire. We also had a pool and optional sunset yoga classes. The most magical part of the experience was losing power on the first evening we were there. With all of the lights out, everybody had to put down their phones and lie in the desert underneath the stars. It was totally magical.
We stayed at Bait Ali Camp, which I highly recommend.
Our desert oasis in Wadi Rum.
9. Take More Time Than You Think You Need
I didn’t get a chance to float in it, but I’ll still never forget seeing the Dead Sea
There were so many amazing moments on this trip. From seeing the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, to a sampling Jordanian pistachio baklava, to watching wild camels run in the desert at sunset.
What I did only scratched the surface. My biggest regret about Jordan is that I didn’t spend enough time there. I know I opened this post pumping you up on Tel Aviv, and it’s a great city. But if I could do my trip over, I would have spent *slightly* less time in Tel Aviv. For reference, we spent 4 nights in Tel Aviv and 3 in Jordan. I’d have flipped that the other way around…or extended my trip all together!
10. Make the Most of Petra
Kicking it with camels at Petra
The destination you’ve been waiting to hear about!
Petra is one of the few places I’ve been in my life that truly was worth all the hype. There’s nothing you can do to prepare yourself for the sheer magnitude of it.
Thousands of years of history carved into sixty square kilometers of dramatic sandstone cliffs and canyons.
Do I have some advice about how to enjoy it properly? You know I do.
Get to Petra Early
It’s cooler in the morning and there are fewer crowds.
Take More Time in Petra Than You Think You Need
My biggest regret of this entire trip is that we tried to see Petra in one day. People, this was not my finest travel moment. I felt like I ran through the entire complex, including up the 850 steps up to the monastery. If you’ve got no other choice, see it in one day. If you have any control, take at least two so you can really linger and soak up the history.
Drink Water, Wear Sunscreen and Wrap Up
The complex it’s very spread out. Although there are water and toilet facilities, it may take some time to locate one. You’ll be completely exposed under the hot desert sun and sweating like nobody’s biz so take at least a liter of H2O with you. Two liters o is even better.
At the entrance to Petra, people sell a lot of souvenirs, such as scarves that they’ll help you wrap around your head, bedouin style. Is it cultural appropriation for a westerner to walk around like that? Probably. Honestly, the bedouin head wrap kept the sun off my head and my body cool way better than a flimsy straw hat could. Without it, I may have gotten heatstroke.
Save the camels and burn some calories taking the stairs up to the Monastery
Don’t Participate in Animal Abuse at Petra
Petra is rife with people trying to sell you rides on camels and donkeys. Our tour guide warned us before we entered that most of these animals are overworked and abused. Not only is this cruelty to animals, but it represents a danger to tourists if an exhausted animal trips and falls.
While walking through Petra I saw a lot of animals who were abused and in pain, while Western tourists sat on top of them as if nothing was wrong. If an animal is panting, crying, collapsing, being whipped or being pushed up a hill by its owner while you sit on it, you are participating in animal abuse. This is not okay and it is NOT as one woman I met on the trail insisted it was, “An authentic desert experience.”
Prepare to be Pressured!
The people living in the area around Petra are completely dependent on tourism. You’ll meet a lot of Bedouin people in the complex, many of them children, who will really try and pressure you to buy things, take camel rides or go on special guided walks. Some will even lie to you and say you can’t go certain places without them, or that the cost of the extra tour they are proposing is included in your admission price, only to pump you for money once the service is provided. You don’t have to pay for anything additional besides food, water, or souvenirs. If someone is pressuring you, be polite yet firm and keep walking.
11. The Answer to the Question We’re All Asking: Is Solo Female Travel to Jordan Safe?
Kickin’ it Moses style at Mt. Nebo
This is a question with many answers. Fortunately, I’m here to lay it all out so you can make your own decisions.
Meeting Jordanian People as a Solo Female Traveller
I personally did not feel unsafe at any moment in Jordan.
Jordanians are incredibly warm and friendly. The general attitude toward American tourists was more positive there than it is in many European countries I’ve visited. A member of the Jordanian Tourist Police personally escorted everywhere. As far as I know, his job was mostly to look cool in a jaunty beret, smoke hand-rolled cigarettes and deal with any visa issues that came up.
Other women have experienced being groped, harassed, even scammed and sexually assaulted. As always, please trust your gut, have an exit plan and follow my safety rules. If an offer from somebody seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance it could be.
In spite of these stories, there’s no reason to fear that Jordan is too dangerous. According to the Global Peace Index, Jordan is rated the 57th safest country in the world, while America is 129th! (2022)
Use common sense but don’t let fear keep you from exploring Jordan.
Western Amenities in Jordan
There’s wifi almost everywhere and you’ll see goat herds in the traditional Bedouin dress in the middle of the desert on their cell phones. That being said, Jordan is a poor desert country so plumbing, sanitation, and water pressure won’t be what you’re used to. Carry your own wet wipes and Kleenex. If you prefer to use tampons, pack them in your luggage.
What’s it like to be a female in Jordan?
Jordan views itself as a progressive Arab country. Jordanians will proudly tell you that women have access to all levels of education, are allowed to drive, work outside the home, and initiate divorce. There are even gender quotas in parliament. In practice, Jordanian culture still looks fairly traditional to Western eyes. I did not encounter any Jordanian women in the tourist or retail sectors. Our tour guide told us that many women face pressure from their families to take traditionally female jobs such as nursing or teaching and to give up working altogether once they are married.
Wardrobe Matters as a Solo Female Traveler in Jordan
Protip: if you find yourself feeling a bit exposed, purchase a scarf from a local vendor. It will double as a souvenir later.
Although there are no laws about what women are and are not allowed to wear, all of the Jordanian women I saw in public wore some form of traditional Muslim dress. We can debate the finer points of how obligated female travelers are to adhere to the cultural norms of the countries they visit, but I do find that if I take a little extra care to cover up when I travel in countries where women dress conservatively, I am able to move through society with a little more ease and comfort than when I do not. This matters to me.
Fortunately, it didn’t take a massive amount of editing to my wardrobe to feel like I was being respectful of Jordanian customs. Myself and most of the women I traveled with wore typical Western summer clothing such as shorts, tank tops, sandals, and long dresses. This seemed acceptable in touristy areas. I wore leggings that covered my knees in most places and carried a large lightweight scarf I could use to cover up in holy spots. As far as I know, none of the women in my group received any hostility or harassment about how they were dressed.
Interacting With Men in as a Solo Female in Jordan
Jordanian men can be very forward. In the cities of Aqaba and Madaba, I couldn’t even nip into a convenience store by myself to buy a bottle of water without the shopkeeper trying it on with me.
Fortunately, I felt like 99% of this attention fell into the unwanted and uncomfortable yet harmless category. Unfortunately, not every woman who travels solo in Jordan can say the same thing, so be forewarned. Thankfully, in my experience, a firm but polite no thank you was all it took to get the men who approached me to back down.
My general rule is that if they ask if you’re married, it’s not leading anywhere you want it to, so always answer YES. And if a man seems very interested, not only are you married but your husband is waiting for you just outside.
No, it is not the most feminist thing in the world to get a man to back off by essentially telling him you’re another man’s property. But here’s my take: when I’m traveling, it is not my job to do the emotional labor of educating every man I meet about female independence. It is my job to safely and comfortably enjoy the place I’m traveling in. If that means telling a little white lie here and there, so be it.
Update: How the 2023 Political Situation Could Impact Solo Female Travel to Jordan
It’s been a tumultuous few years for both Jordan and Israel, which is why travelers should always use caution and follow the most up-to-date information when planning a trip.
The U.S. State Department has a handy tool that lets you check travel advisories for nations you’re planning to visit. For folks in the UK, it makes sense to consult UK.gov’s foreign travel advice page.
In spite of current uncertainty, from my personal experiences in Jordan and Israel, I do believe they are reasonably safe destinations when they’re not in crisis.
However… don’t take my word for it! Political situations can change quickly so a blog isn’t the most up-to-minute source for travel safety advisories.
I’m just a girl, sitting in front of a laptop, asking her readers to do their homework before they book tickets.
Is Solo Female Travel to Jordan Safe OVERALL?
Follow in your own footsteps!
This is a very personal question. For me, the answer is yes.
The internet is full of solo female travel queens who have had safe and enjoyable exploits in Jordan. I would not caution an experienced traveler who knows what she’s getting into to avoid solo female travel to Jordan. For me personally, this was my first trip to a Middle Eastern country and as such, I had no idea what to expect. I was grateful to be able to have the safety of a group to slip back to when men pushed my boundaries. I also would not have felt comfortable getting around in a place where I did not understand the language and culture. Group travel was the right choice for me, but how you do it is all up to you.
In the end, my only regret about traveling to Jordan is that I didn’t spend more time there. I am smitten with this tiny desert country and it has really whet my appetite for more travel in that part of the world.
So what about you? What’s the place you went to with no expectations that totally blew YOU away?
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