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23 Essential Tips For Visiting Petra In Jordan

If you’re planning on visiting Petra in Jordan, make sure to read these tips beforehand so you know what to expect.

Petra is a fantastic place, and a must-visit on any Jordan itinerary. But it can be incredibly hot and busy, you can get non-stop hassled by some of the bedouins inside, and there is a lot of ground to cover so it is essential to be prepared.

Here are the best tips for visiting Petra and making the most of your trip, to ensure you have a great time at Petra!

the treasury instagrammable places Petra

Visiting Petra

Petra is an ancient city that was carved into rose-red cliffs, hence it is also known by the names of The Pink City.

Petra is also known as The Lost City as it wasn’t ‘discovered’ until 1812 by a Swiss explorer, despite it being built over 2000 years ago (the bedouins wanted to keep it a secret)!

It has featured in countless movies such as Indiana Jones and is a Middle East bucketlist destination for many travellers.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site is so impressive to see, and it is one of the most Instagrammable places in Jordan with so many beautiful photography locations.

How To Get To Petra

Car hire prices in Jordan are much more reasonable than hiring a driver, so that’s the option I recommend. It’s fairly easy to get around in Jordan, and driving outside of the big cities is pretty calm.

From Amman, it’s just under a 3 hour drive to Petra. You’ll drive about 180 miles south on Route 15, then about 35 miles on Route 35.

Check out the best rates for rental vehicles at Discover Cars.

Tip 1: Avoid Visiting Petra In The Summer

Remember that Jordan is in The Middle East, where summer temperatures are unbearably hot! There are very few shaded spots at Petra, and so spring and autumn are the ideal time to visit Petra as the temperatures are much more pleasant.

That being said, during spring and autumn it will still get warm during the day, and you’ll need a whole day at Petra to truly appreciate it and get to see all the sights, so still be prepared for warm temperatures!

Even winter is a good time to visit as the temperatures are very pleasant for hiking.

the siq Petra photography Jordan instagrammable places       

Tip 2: Visit First Thing In The Morning!

Probably the most important tip for Petra. Visiting first thing in the morning is a must if you want to avoid the crowds and get stunning photographs without other people in.

Petra is, after all, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and so it is one of the most-visited tourist sights in Jordan. 

Petra opens at 6am so I advise to visit as close to that time as possible. By 9am, it is extremely busy already, with many tour groups arriving, so you’ll want to arrive as close to opening time as possible to get those Instagram shots.

We were one of the first to arrive, and it felt so magical, almost like we were explorers, having the place basically to ourselves for the first hour or so!

the treasury instagrammable places Petra

If you want to make sure you’re the first at The Treasury, take a horse and carriage as it’s a 1.2 kilometre walk from the entrance to The Treasury!

Just note that the locals don’t take care of the horses and donkeys particularly well, so try to avoid this if you can!

Arriving at Petra at opening time not only means there will be less people in your photos, but the lighting conditions for photography are so much better at this time.

The soft lighting in the early morning and late afternoon really are the best for photography conditions at Petra.

Ideally, you’ll want to capture photos of The Treasury when it is still in the morning shade.

When the sun is shining on The Treasury later in the morning, the photos definitely don’t look as impressive as the sun makes the lighting very harsh and you can’t see the beauty of the architecture or the rose colour of the cliff faces.

By afternoon these shadows disappear behind the mountains, however it is very busy at this point. Therefore most people prefer to take their pictures in the morning here.

In addition, arriving early will ensure you can avoid the scorching midday heat as much as possible, especially if you want to climb the Al Kubhtha Trail to see The Treasury from above!

Tip 3: Don’t Visit Petra On a Daytrip From Amman: Stay Overnight In Wadi Musa The Night Before!

To ensure you’re able to get to Petra for opening time (6am!), you’ll want to book acccommodation in the town of Wadi Musa the night before. There are many guest houses and hotels in Wadi Musa, but make sure to book in advance!

Don’t visit Petra on a daytrip from Amman or Wadi Rum, even if you’re only in Jordan for 4 days or a short amount of time.

Not only is it a long drive – which is exhausting, but it means even with an early start, you won’t be able to beat the crowds.

You’ll get to Petra when it’s full of tourists already, it’ll be harder to get good photographs, and you’ll be there throughout the hottest part of the day.

Petra is an incredible place and you really don’t want to visit on a rushed day tour where you’re constantly clock watching, or spend half of your day in a car or coach to get there. Stay overnight to experience Petra after the hordes of day trippers leave.

You may even want to do what we did, and stay overnight in Wadi Musa the night before and the night after, so after a long day walking around Petra we could just crash into bed at the end!

Tip 4: Book Your Accommodation In Wadi Musa Close To The Entrance Of Petra

Wadi Musa is a small town but I would definitely advise you to book accommodation that is within walking distance to the entrance of Petra.

The main street in Wadi Musa is Tourism Street, so don’t stray too far off it. You’ll find lots of shops and restaurants here too, so it’s definitely the most convenient place to stay.

There are a real variety of hotel options here, from budget to luxury, so pick whatever fits your needs.

Petra Guest House is a very popular place to stay as it is right by the entrance to Petra so you won’t need to walk far!

Tip 5: Buy A Jordan Pass Before You Get To Jordan

A day pass to Petra is definitely expensive at 50JD (70USD). However, to save money it is highly recommended to buy the Jordan Pass online before you get to Jordan – which covers your entrance to Petra!

Buying a Jordan Pass covers your visa fees into Jordan (which is 40 JD) as well as all the major tourist attractions in Jordan such as entrance to Wadi Rum, so you can save quite a bit of money.

The regular Jordan Pass (called the ‘Jordan Wanderer’) costs 70JD, so even if you only visit Petra and no other tourist sites, you’re still saving money! This is the cheapest pass and is all you need if you just want to spend one day in Petra.

Plus, having a Jordan Pass means you don’t have to queue up at Petra for an entrance ticket so you can enter quicker – bonus!

Tip 6: One Full Day At Petra Is Enough

Some people will say that one day at Petra isn’t enough, but I felt it was plenty of time.

Unless you’re really into archaeology, arriving early and spending the whole day there should be plenty time to enjoy all Petra has to offer.

the siq Petra photography Jordan instagrammable places

Tip 7: Avoid The Jack Sparrow ‘Bedouins’

Do NOT trust the local men at Petra who look like Jack Sparrow. You’ll know exactly what I mean when you get there. The thick kohl eyeliner, the long hair, it’s literally like meeting Jack Sparrow.

These Jack Sparrow lookalikes are not bedouins like they will make you believe. They are not the original people of Petra, they are gypsies. 

They pry on Western women, especially if you are alone or there are just 2 of you. Just ignore these men and do not be alone with one. 

They will try to give you compliments and tell you you’re the most beautiful woman in the world and that you’re different to anyone they’ve ever met before. This is the line they use with everyone. Do not fall for it. And NEVER go back to their cave.

All they want from you is money and sex. They do this to countless young women. They will act very nice towards you, they will shower you with compliments. But whatever compliments they give you, don’t fall for them. They do not care about you – it is all an act.

Of course being a Western woman myself, I understand that women in the West aren’t used to guys being so forward and charming, and at first this can feel nice. But it’s not charming. It’s sleazy. Many Arabic guys act like this to get Western girls into bed. And it works.

I’ve lived in The Middle East for almost 4 years so trust me on this. Even Jordanians are terribly embarrassed to call these gypsies Jordanian.

The best thing to do is just ignore them from the beginning. If you start talking to them and then say no, they can be quite rude and intimidating, so just don’t engage in any type of conversation with them. Don’t let these guys ruin your day.

Tip 8: Chat To The Locals Who Don’t Look Like Jack Sparrow

There are a few souvenir stalls dotted around Petra – we stopped at one of the jewellery stalls and sat chatting with the lady and her baby. She was incredibly kind and humble – the complete opposite to these Jack Sparrows!

Don’t let the Jack Sparrows put you off from speaking to the other local people here at Petra.

local bedouin people Petra Jordan photography

Tip 9: See The Treasury From Above

If you’re not afraid of heights, a great photo spot in Petra is to see The Treasury from above. There are two ways to reach the top, but one way you can only reach with a guide (turn left at The Treasury). The walk to the top is a bit quicker but much steeper than the other route.

If you want to visit without a guide, you’ll need to take the path on the right of The Treasury for about 20 minutes to reach the trail. 

A couple of hundred metres after the Palace Tomb (which is marked on the map) you’ll see stairs and the start of the Al Khubtha trail on your right.

The walk is about 45 minutes each way to the top. It’s about 30 minutes of climbing stairs and then it gets easier the closer to the top you get. 

While you’re climbing, you won’t be able to see The Treasury at all until you reach the top, but once you’re there, the view is absolutely incredible and there are hardly any people here. Be very careful to not go too near the edge.

the treasury from above Petra Jordan

If you don’t want to go near the edge you can still get some great photographs of some of the cliffs in the foreground and The Treasury in the background.

There is a little Bedouin tea house here at the top of the mountain so you can have a drink and relax for a bit before heading back down the mountain.

The locals who run it are really friendly and will let you take a picture on their carpet looking down onto The Treasury below if you ask nicely and buy something to drink!

They have a little ledge you can climb down onto to get your pictures, so you are not actually sitting on the edge of the cliff, but the pictures make it look so.

As mentioned before, the later in the morning you are there, the more chance that the harsh sunlight will hit the facade of the building.

Therefore if you want to avoid this take these photos first as soon as you can, then you’re free to relax and roam around Petra at a slower rate later!

Tip 10: Make Sure To Visit The Monastery

The Monastery is at the furthest end of Petra so it is several kilometres further to walk to than The Treasury.

The path is quite challenging with a fair bit of climbing involved (around 850 steep steps up a cliff that are not very even!), plus there’s also a lot of donkey poo you need to avoid!

If you don’t think you’ll be able to walk up the stairs, you can get a donkey up to The Monastery. You’ll see plenty of locals with their donkeys – it will cost around 10 JD for you to get up to The Monastery on a donkey.

While The Monastery is a lot further, it is absolutely stunning and a lot less busy than other parts of Petra! If you feel you’re able to, definitely visit The Monastery. Many people say it is even more impressive than The Treasury as it’s a lot wider.

the monastery petra photography in Jordan

It’s easier to get photos at The Monastery, and it’s a lot more relaxing with far less Jack Sparrows here! There’s also a nice cafe here selling bedouin tea for you to relax and enjoy the view, so I really enjoyed it.

A great photo spot is from the little cave diagonally to the left of The Monastery, where you can sit in to get a nice picture with the rock framing The Monastery.

The lighting at The Monastery is better in the afternoon when there are no shadows on the facade, so save this for your last spot at Petra. There will be less people here later in the afternoon too.

Note that if you plan to walk to The Monastery, you’ll need to spend about 6 hours at Petra to be able to fit it in. It takes around 1.5 hours walking from The Treasury to The Monastery each way, so factor that in!

Tip 11: Avoid Riding A Donkey If You’re Physically Able To Walk

Remember if you visit The Monastery that you’ll also need to walk all the way back to the entrance too!

While I (and many others) were perfectly able to walk the whole day, some people walk to The Monastery and then get a donkey ride back down the stairs as the walk down from The Monastery can be a bit challenging if you’re not physically fit.

If you have difficulty walking, your legs are tired or you’re on a tight schedule, you can take a horse and carriage ride back to the entrance.

It will cost around 40 JD one way for a horse and carriage ride from the bottom of The Monastery back to the entrance of Petra.

Some of the locals don’t treat their horses/donkeys particularly well, but it’s the only way to get back if you feel you just can’t do the walk. Try to pick a local who looks after their horse or donkey well and provides them with adequate water, rest and shelter from the sun.

The locals will ask if you want a lift on their Ferrari or Mercedes. Know that these are names for the horses! There are absolutely no cars in Petra!

the siq Petra photography Jordan instagrammable places

Tip 12: You Don’t Need To Hire A Guide At Petra, But Read About The History Beforehand

Petra is such an impressive place, and it is fairly easy to navigate yourself around, that we did not feel that a guide was necessary and we enjoyed being able to explore and take photos at our own pace.

That being said, there are very few signs explaining the history, so you may want a guide to explain what the places are. If you prefer to visit without a guide, it’s wise to read up about it beforehand so you know what you’ll be looking at!

Tip 13: If You Do Hire A Guide, Hire One At The Treasury 

If you do decide you would like to have a guide to take you around Petra and explain the significance of all the sights, hire one from The Treasury as opposed to at the Visitor Centre at the entrance to Petra,.

The price for a guide at The Treasury will be slightly lower (you can haggle), plus they can take you to more spots than the guides at the Visitor Centre are allowed to.

Tip 14: Wear Sunscreen & Protect Your Skin From The Sun

Remember to carry plenty of water, wear sunscreen, bring sunglasses and protect your skin from the sun where possible. Wearing a hat is a great way to keep your face covered from the sun.

the monastery petra photography in Jordan

Tip 15: Bring Enough Water

You’ll definitely want to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day. You may also want to bring some snacks with you.

There are of course some stalls where you can buy water and snacks, but it’s good to be prepared beforehand so you’re not searching for a shop when you suddenly get thirsty or hungry. 

And don’t worry about drinking lots of water – there are plenty of toilets at Petra.

Tip 16: Leave No Trace

Make sure to leave no trace of rubbish anywhere. Keep any rubbish with you until you can dispose of it in a bin. This of course goes for any tourist destination you are visiting.

Tip 17: Wear Appropriate Clothes & Shoes

You’ll want to dress appropriately not only for the weather, but if you are a female, bear in mind you are in a Muslim country so you will want to dress modestly to avoid any unwanted attention.

Jordan is a conservative country, and especially when you are outside of a city in Arabic countries it is even more important to dress modestly out of respect for the locals and cover your shoulders and your legs.

You can always bring a shawl and drape it loosely over your shoulders if you don’t want to wear layers.

Even though Westerners prefer to wear less clothes when it’s hot, you need to be respectful with how you dress in The Middle East, regardless of the temperature. Wear loose clothes that cover your skin to help keep you cool – wearing lighter coloured clothes will help too.

You’ll also definitely want to wear appropriate shoes. Exploring Petra involves walking and climbing several kilometres, so bring some comfortable and sturdy shoes!

Tip 18: If Buying Things At Stalls, Prepare To Haggle – Or Find A Stall With Fixed Prices!

There are several souvenir stalls in Petra and the ladies who work here are lovely. One was so lovely I even bought an Aladdin lamp from her that I totally didn’t need – I just wanted to help her.

If you want to buy something from a stall, it’s best to buy from a stall that has prices on the items – otherwise prepare to haggle a lot!

Tip 19: Bring Cash

If you plan to buy any souvenirs, food or drinks, or ride a donkey, you’ll need to have some cash available.

Tip 20: There Are Plenty Of Restaurants In Petra 

There are lots of reasonably priced restaurants and cafes in Petra (some even have wifi), which is great if you want to give your legs a rest and escape the midday sun for a while!

Tip 21: Download An Offline Map Of Petra

At the Visitor Centre at the entrance to Petra they will give you a map, but it’s also good to have an offline map of Petra downloaded onto your phone as it will show you your location and you can navigate around more accurately.

It will also calculate how long it will take you to walk somewhere! I always use maps.me. Even if you have data, it’s a good idea to download an offline map as sometimes there isn’t signal, so this way you can always access the map.

Tip 22: Know What Sights You Want To See

Petra is really big so it’s important if you’re into photography, to know what shots you want to get and in which order to avoid the crowds.

For me, there were 5 main photo shot I wanted to get: a photo of The Siq, a photo of The Treasury Viewpoint, a photo of The Treasury from above, a picture of a camel in front of The Treasury, and a photo of The Monastery.

I took the photos in that order and found it was the best order to avoid the crowds as much as possible.

There are, of course, many other photo spots in Petra such as the Royal Tombs, the theatre, the high place of sacrifice and the Colonnade, but I didn’t want to cram too much into one day.

– The Siq

The Siq is the 1.2 kilometre long winding canyon path leading up to The Treasury from the entrance to Petra.

It takes around 20 minutes to walk through The Siq to reach The Treasury, and the further along you walk, the higher the canyon walls get. They reach as high as 80 metres, so it’s really impressive.

Just before the end of The Siq you can get a nice picture of the canyon walls and The Treasury in the background. The Treasury is partly obstructed by the rocks for this picture,  but it actually makes it look really mysterious and exciting in photos!

This first glance of The Treasury from The Siq is a popular photo spot, and there are always people coming and going through The Siq as it’s the only entrance and exit to Petra, however it is easy enough to get pictures here without anyone in if you get here early.

You’ll often see a horse and carriage going past, which makes for a great picture if you can catch one in time!

the siq Petra photography Jordan instagrammable places

– Treasury Viewpoint

The Treasury Viewpoint is to the right of The Siq. As you emerge from The Siq follow the wall along to the right and you’ll see a rocky ledge where you can stand or sit on.

This is a bit further back and you’ll be able to get the whole of The Treasury in your picture. This however means that you’ll also get any people in your picture that are standing in front of The Treasury, therefore it is best to get this shot as early as possible!

In the whole of Petra this is probably the trickiest photo to not get other people in. Here is the exact location on Google Maps: it is known as Treasury Viewpoint.

the treasury instagrammable places Petra visiting tips

– Camels Infront of The Treasury (Al-Khazneh)

The Treasury (Al-Khazneh) is the most famous and most photographed place in Petra – probably even the most photographed place in the whole of Jordan! It is truly stunning and takes your breath away, but it is also the busiest place in Petra and so it is full of tourists during the day!

It is the first main site you will see on your walk through The Ancient City of Petra after walking the 1.2km through The Siq, so as soon as you arrive here make sure to take photos as it only gets busier the more time that goes on!

Note that The Treasury is almost 40 metres high and it will be hard to get the whole of The Treasury in the picture if you are standing too close to it or don’t have a wide angle lens. 

A picture of the camels in front of The Treasury is  a common photo you will see here. If you arrive early usually the camels aren’t there when you first arrive. If you would like them in your shot, don’t worry they will be there a little bit later.

In the meantime you can climb up to the viewpoint above The Treasury then come back later if you wish.

Tip 23: Visit Petra By Night

If you are at Petra on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday try to book tickets for Petra By Night.

Petra By Night costs 17 JD (it’s not included in the regular Petra entrance fee or The Jordanian Pass) and it runs from 8.30pm until 10pm.

Tickets for Petra By Night cannot be purchased online. You can buy them from the Visitor Centre, local tour companies or hotels in Petra.

Petra By Night is quite the experience. 1800 candles are laid on the ground and your walk from The Siq to The Treasury is guided only by a few candles along the side of the path. Therefore make sure to bring your own flashlight or use your phone torch so you can see better!

The path is quite bumpy and uneven, so be careful when you are walking as it is really dark and easy to trip up. You only walk as far as The Treasury – where hundreds of candles lay, and The Treasury is lit up in different colours.

You sit amongst the candles as the bedouins tell you stories and play you their local music. It sounds quite romantic, but in reality there are hundreds of tourists here and it is getting more and more popular!

It can be really hard to get a good photo here, firstly because of the low level of light, and secondly because of all the other people.

Petra by night photography in Jordan instagrammable places visiting tips

To try and get a picture without other people in you can either be amongst the first to rush there, or stay until the end once people start to leave, like I did.

Personally I think the latter one is better as you have time to sort out your camera and everything whilst you’re still waiting for people to leave.

At the beginning it will be very rushed and you’ll only have a couple of seconds before other people come into your shot (and that’s only if you’re the first to arrive in!).