What is it like to visit Petra in a day

We had to transit in Cairo as we flew to Jordan from Luxor with because there was no direct flight. We arrived around 1am with plan to visit Amman ruins and Roman wall after we checked into our Hotel. However my friend’s suitcase was missing so we had to spend more time at the airport to report etc. Apparently my friend was not the only person missing her suitcase, there were also other passengers reported with missing their suitcase. I was later told by our Taxi driver that it was a very common problem for flights to Jordan.

We took airport Taxi to our hotel and the drive took 45 minutes. The process was fairly easy as there was an official taxi booth outside the airport. Our Taxi driver was nice but he was coughing and smoking all through the ride with his window open. It was not a pleasant experienced for us. So even though the car was metered, I felt it would be better to have private transport arranged or car transfer from Hotel. We arrived in our hotel almost 4pm, too late for city excursion so we decided to just take some rest in our room as we’re going to have a long day tomorrow.

We were staying in Fairmont hotel in Amman. A very nice hotel with a very good hospitality. I always preferred to stay at Accor hotel chains whenever we travel as I have Accor membership. Fairmont was my favorite hotel if I were looking for luxury. We didn’t have much time in Jordan, with time spent on flying in and out we literally only had 1 full day in Jordan and we wanted to spend it in Petra. Ideally it was more efficient to go straight to Petra from airport but all the good Hotels near Petra was fully booked. Only Petra Guesthouse was available for one night. So we decided to stay one night in Amman, go to Petra the next day, stay one night in Petra and fly to airport from there.

We had early breakfast in the morning, checked out and head to Petra using transport from the hotel at 8am. We had one stop for toilet break and coffee for driver. We arrived in Petra almost at 10.30 and to our delight found that Petra Guesthouse was located just next to Petra entrance. We checked in and drop luggages and queue to buy tickets.

Ready for a hike

we took the brochure as we bought the ticket. The brochure was pretty informative with a map of Petra and explanation on the various trails in Petra

About Petra

Petra is a famous archaeological site in Jordan’s southwestern desert. Dating to around 300 BC, it was the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom. Accessed via a narrow canyon called Al Siq, it contains tombs and temples carved into pink sandstone cliffs, earning its nickname, the “Rose City. The Petra complex itself sprawls over 60 sq. km among the Petra Mountains and if you want to see it all you need a good 3 days. So if you only have less than one day like us you have to pick where you want to go beyond the Treasury.

Numerous findings have been made in the decades since, including the 1993 discovery of Greek scrolls dating to the Byzantine period as well as the more recent documentation via satellite imaging of a previously unknown monumental structure buried beneath the sands of the area.
When Petra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, Petra Bedouin tribespeople who had made homes for themselves within the city’s remaining ruins were forcibly relocated by the Jordanian government.
In the early 2000s, the site was named one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World,” leading to a spike in tourism. Since then, efforts have been made to protect the ruins of Petra from heavy tourism, as well as damage from floods, rain and other environmental factors.

After the eighth century, when Petra was largely abandoned as a trading center, its stone structures were used for shelter by nomadic shepherds for several centuries.
Only in 1812, the unique ruins of Petra were “discovered” by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. He described the ruins of the once-great city in chronicles of his travels.
With the western world now aware of their existence, they soon attracted the interest of architects and scholars, among others. Starting in 1929, British archaeologists Agnes Conway and George Horsfield, as well as scholars Tawfiq Canaan and Ditlef Nielsen, launched a formal project to excavate and survey Petra.

Getting to the famed Petra Treasury involves a 2.2 km walk from the Petra Visitor Center. The first 1.2 km of the journey is along a wide canyon with ruined temples and buildings on either side. The views along this route can easily be overlooked as everyone is rushing towards the Treasury but it shouldn’t be. Many of these buildings represent the best version of the Nabatean architecture.

There are few ways to explore Petra:

1. On foot/walking. It is the best way but be realistic on time needed and fitness level. The weather also plays important part. We were in Petra late October and temperature is pleasant around 20C

2. Horse ride. There is a horse ride offered from Visitor Center to the horse stable which is only 1.2km

3. Horse Carriage from Horse stable to Treasury. The walk to Treasury from visitor center is slightly descending so it is a nice walk. I don’t recommend taking a horse carriage on the way to Treasury because the horse is carriage is speeding down to get to the Treasury and you will skip the beauty of walking thru the Siq and the rush excitement to see the Treasury. Most people take the horse carriage on their way back. If you intend to do so you need to be at Treasury the latest by 5pm. We reached Treasury at 6pm on our way back and they were gone by then.

4. By Camel. You will see them when you arrive at the Petra Treasury. They also make a good photo opportunity as they sit in front of the Treasury. You can hire them to visit the lower levels of Petra. The camels are an iconic symbol and tend to be better cared for than the horses. They are allowed at the entrance to Petra for photo opportunities.

5. By Mule/Donkey. Most people who hire a Bedouin guide in Petra will have access to a donkey. Hiring a Donkey in Petra also means that you can travel to the higher places within Petra with kids, such as the Monastery and the High Place of Sacrifice. You will find many donkeys after you walk past Treasury. This was our option of choice to go to the Monastery as we didn’t have much time.

The Siq.
The ancient main entrance leading to the city of Petra, starts at the Dam and ends at the opposite side of the vault, a split rock with a length of about 1200m and a width of 3 to 12m, and height up to about 80m; most of the rock is natural and another part was sculptured by the Nabataeans. The main road that leads to the city, starts from the Dam and ends at the Treasury. It is a rock canal that measures 160 meters in length, 3 to 12 meters in width and reaches up to 80 meters in height. The main part of the Siq is created by natural rock formation and the rest is carved by the Nabataeans.

Finally after your feet grew tired you get to see the glimpse of Treasury which is a very impressive building and you feel suddenly transported to Indiana Jones movie 🙂

A glimpse of Treasury

Treasury (Al-Khazneh) is one of the most elaborate temples in Petra, a city of the Nabatean Kingdom inhabited by the Arabs in ancient times. As with most of the other buildings in this ancient town, including the Monastery (Ad Deir) this structure was carved out of a sandstone rock face. The structure is believed to have been the mausoleum of the Nabatean King Aretas IV in the 1st century AD. It became to be known as “Al-Khazneh”, or The Treasury, in the early 19th century by the area’s Bedouins as they had believed it contained treasures.

Most people stop here especially if they go on a package tour buy we walked beyond Treasury and passed thru amphitheatre, Colonnaded street, Royal tombs, The Nymphaeum (semi circular Great Temple, Qasr al-Bint, Lion Triclinum and finally reached the Basin which is at the bottom of the stairs going to Monastery. There was 1 restaurant near the museum called the Basin which serve buffet from 12.00 to 15.00. This is where stopped and had lunch before going up to The treasury.

The journey to Monastery

We have planned to ride a donkey to go to Monastery to save our energy. We read a lot about animal treatment in Petra so we chose donkeys which looked healthy and well treated.

Our Mule and Donkey

What we failed to research was what it was like to climb with a donkey and only one man actually handled 3 donkeys all together. The ride was scary for me and even more scarier for my 2 friends. My donkey was chosen to lead the way and I think he was the smartest of the three. Despite my donkey always seemed to chose the path closer to the edge but he really knew where he was going. However the path was not that wide and we had to encounter many people walking down and I felt so bad that the people always had to make way to the donkeys. Two third of the way our donkeys stopped and we got off to continue our walk to the Monastery.

The Monastery

in front of the monastery. It actually looks similar to the Treasury but with less crowd

The Monastery is one of the largest monuments in Petra, measuring 47m wide by 48.3m high. It was built on the model of the Khazna but here the bas- reliefs are replaced by niches to house sculptures. A columned portico extends of the façade; the interior is occupied by two side benches and altar against the rear wall. It was used as a biclinium for the meetings of religious associations. And dates to the early 2nd century AD, during the reign of King Rabel II. In the hall was reused as a Christian chapel and crosses were carved in the rear wall thus the name “Monastery” (Dayr in Arabic)

Resting and thinking how should we go down 😂
Many of guys here look like Captain Jack Sparrow imitation lol

After resting we collectively decided to walk down on foot as climbing down with a donkey would even be scarier (even though we had actually paid for both ways).

We walked back to The Treasury with stopping here and there for areas we haven’t managed to explore. It was after five as we reached Treasury and many peoole have already gone and leaving the Treasury almost empty

Empty Treasury

Sadly the horse carriage have also gone so we had to ascend on foot for another 2.3km to the visitor center 😅. By the time we reached our hotel we didn’t have energy left to do Petra at night as it means we will have to walk the same path again lol. Thus instead of Petra at night, we chose to sit in Cave Bar and had dinner there before resorting to our nice room in Petra Guest House.

About Petra Guest House

Don’t let the name guesthouse fool you. It is actually a four star hotel run by The Crowne Plaza. It is one of the 2 luxurious hotel (another one is Movenpick) located near Petra Visitor Center. There is a budget option called Petra Moon Hotel also around the area. Most people stay in Wadi Musa, a small town 10-15 minutes drive from Petra. However for us is is a blessing to stay in a hotel close by after doing so much hiking and to have some luxury.

We left the next day around 10am after breakfast. We took a longer route passing thru dead sea on the way to the airport so we at least could see what it looked like. The road was hilly but the view of the rocky dessert was beautiful.

Stopping by Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River. Its surface and shores are 430.5 metre below sea level, Earth’s lowest elevation on land. What is so special about the Dead Sea is that i is one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth, with almost 10 times more salt than ordinary seawater. This is because water flows into the Dead Sea from one main tributary, the River Jordan. The high salt and mineral content of the Dead Sea mean that this body of water has powerful healing properties.

There are various Hotels situated by the Dead Sea which would be a nice way to spend one night and enjoy the healing property of the Dead Sea. I thought about staying the night in one of these Hotel if we could get a Hotel in Petra on the day we landed but sadly they were all full booked. So we could only satisfied our selves by taking a peek and took pictures.

There was so much to see in Jordan and you should spend around 5 days to really explore. But if you didn’t have time like us then you should just focus on Petra and came back another time for a longer vacation.

Jordan was expensive compared to Egypt. Especially Petra. Buying a Jordan pass would be a good idea if you are going to stay in Jordan for more than 3 days.

This last trip to Jordan finally ended our 2 weeks girls trip holiday and Petra was definitely one of the highlight of our trip ❤️