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Safety is one of the most important factors when traveling to another country. Most travelers understandably avoid countries that seem dangerous, be it due to political unrest or a high crime rate. Below you’ll find information and tips on safety in Jordan, based on my own experiences and official travel advice. I’ve also compiled some do’s and don’ts to stay safe in Jordan during your trip.
Is Jordan Safe?
Yes, it is safe to travel to Jordan for foreigners of any origin and gender! There are millions of tourists coming to Jordan every year, and only a handful annoyances are recorded, most of which are related to scamming/pickpocketing. If you respect some general safety rules, you shouldn’t face any safety issues when in Jordan.
The reason why people often wonder if Jordan is safe to travel is due to its geographical situation. Located in the Middle East, there are political tensions in some neighboring countries such as Syria or Iraq. However, the situation in said countries doesn’t affect Jordan. The royal family of Jordan enjoys high popularity and respect among the population and there isn’t any political unrest in Jordan. Unlike some of its neighbor countries, Jordan wasn’t affected by the Arab Spring movement of 2011.
What’s more is that the country is very welcoming to foreign travelers and making efforts to ensure your safety. There is a “tourist police” in place that is present at many important sights such as Petra. Border crossings and important buildings (malls, large hotels etc) are well secured by the police to create a safe environment for both locals and visitors alike.
Official Travel Advice for Jordan
In the lights of Covid19, most governments currently advise against all unnecessary international traveling. The information outlined below refers to the “normal situation”, before Covid19 and hopefully after a quick recovery of the global pandemic.
The official travel advice for Jordan issued by British and US governments is positive. One exception is the immediate border region with Syria and Iraq. You should avoid traveling to the extreme north and extreme east of the country. Since these regions are of little interest for tourists anyway, you wouldn’t typically want to go there. Umm Qais (a historical site in the north of Jordan) isn’t in the immediate vicinity of the border and generally safe to visit.
Typical Annoyances in Jordan for Tourists
How to stay safe in Jordan? Let’s be honest. Although you will most likely not be subject to any serious crimes in Jordan, pickpockets and scammers are active in almost any country in the world. Knowing what to expect is the best way to stay safe. Here are the most common scams that you might encounter when in Jordan.
Probably the most common annoyance tourists face in Jordan is being overcharged. You’ll frequently see this in small shops, where you as a foreigner might be asked to pay a higher price for the same item as someone else. Bargaining is an important part of the culture, so you shouldn’t be afraid to do so. Make sure to compare prices (most goods are offered in various stores).
Many tourist guides love their job and showing visitors around the country. However, there are a few that try to charge a fortune, or ask for surcharge for something that should have been part of the tour. A very common example are (some) Bedouins in Petra offering horseback riding. The best way to make sure you don’t pay too much and get the service you agreed on, is to pay afterwards, and not upfront. It’s good to know that there are usually plenty of providers available, so feel free to move on to the next if you don’t feel comfortable with someone.
Hitchhiking isn’t very common in Jordan. For your own safety, you should avoid getting into a stranger’s car. This could lead to misunderstandings, especially for solo female travelers. Instead, take your own rental car to be independent, or join a group of travelers you trust (see my tips for self-driving in Jordan). In the same spirit, you shouldn’t take any people hitchhiking either. In the worst case scenario, these people might leave your car with your valuables.
#3 Taxi Fares
Although most taxi drivers are honest and rides don’t cost a fortune anyway, some taxi drivers try to sneak a few extra JD from foreign visitors. All yellow taxis in Jordan have a meter. Make sure the driver turns it on upon departure, and if he doesn’t, ask him to do so. For longer rides, you can also agree on a fixed price for the ride (to be paid at the end of the ride). You’ll find handy vocabulary for taxi rides and other situations in the Welcome2Jordan travel guide.
#4 Room Rates
Room rates are flexible and vary according to availability and season. A good way to make sure to get a good deal is to book your hotel online, preferably before your vacation, when planning your itinerary. Sites such as booking.com will show you a wide selection of hotels, their features and reviews from previous guests.
#5 Fake Antiquities
Although I haven’t heard about many cases, scam with fake antiquities is a potential trap. If you’re looking for an exquisite product, make sure to get yourself familiar with its typical characteristics, e.g. how to tell if gold is real.
Safety Tips: Do’s and Don’ts to Stay Safe in Jordan
Below are a 10 safety tips that apply to Jordan, as well as for many other countries in the world.
- Make sure to check the official travel advisory of your country before departure.
- Take on travel insurance to be covered in case you fall sick.
- Carry copies of your documents (e.g. passport) with you.
- Dress appropriately: if you’re a woman, make sure not to dress too revealing. Avoid short skirts and revealing tops; opt for a jeans and a t-shirt or a maxi dress instead.
- Don’t leave your luggage unattended.
- Keep your valuables in sight (preferably in front of the body). Belt pouches help you protect from pickpockets.
- Don’t leave valuables in your car when unattended.
- Don’t get involved in any political discussion (pro-Israel)
- Respecting religious rituals will make you respected by the locals. Don’t disturb people when praying, try not to eat/drink in public during Ramadan etc.
- Avoid public displays of affection. Hugs and kisses in public are generally frowned upon in Jordan. Please note that Jordan has a rather conservative attitude when it comes to homosexuality and same sex couples.
If you run into any troubles when in Jordan, make sure to contact the local police and – if necessary – the embassy of your country (e.g. in case of a stolen passport).
Don’t be too concerned about safety in Jordan! As mentioned before, if you are aware of common scams and practice a few safety precautions, you’ll surely have an amazing and unforgettable vacation in Jordan!