If you're looking for a destination that's just a little bit special for the summer vacation then you might want to think about Jordan. And with visitor numbers down last year, caused in part by uncertainty over the civil war raging in northern neighbour Syria, 2013 in particular might be a good year to find a real value-for-money bargain. Who doesn't want that?
First and foremost, having mentioned the Syrian civil war, it's worth emphasizing there are no safety concerns for overseas visitors to Jordan. That said, however, the British government, for example, advises against all but essential travel to within a couple of miles of the Syrian border, from the Sad Al-Wihdeh Dam up to, but not including, the Jabr crossing. This is due to the risk of small arms fire and stray mortars in the area.
Last year, says the British government, around 87,000 Brits visited Jordan, the vast majority experiencing absolutely no trouble whatsoever. It'll be the same for this year. Just use a little bit of common sense and stay away from large crowds, political gatherings and political demonstrations – if you happen to come across any, that is. But surely you would do that anyway? This is a vacation after all, where enjoyment, fun and excitement are the order of each and every day!
One of the questions frequently asked is can I use my credit card in Jordan? Of course you can. Jordan has a modern banking infrastructure with lots of ATMs available which usually accept all the major foreign cards. The majority of good hotels, the better restaurants and more and more shops also accept credit cards. However, don't expect to find cash machines in the smaller villages. Carry a little cash with you wherever you go to pay for taxi fares, bus tickets or for smaller items like fizzy drinks.
Amman, the capital of Jordan, is likely to provide your first taste of this beautiful country. Depending on the source consulted, the city's population is around 2.8 million people. Amman is a true mixture of the old and new, the modern and the conservative, filled with the most sophisticated hotels, restaurants, boutiques, museums and art galleries and the traditional coffee shops and small artisan workshops. It's a city to savour. Going down-town is to experience the older side of the city, where small businesses produce and sell all manner of items including fabulous jewellery. Not to be missed.
Travelling further afield and the visitor is truly spoilt for choice. In fact, trying to see and experience everything Jordan has to offer is well-nigh impossible over a week or even two. However, any visit to the country surely has to include the Dead Sea, the lowest point to be found anywhere on the surface of the globe. Naturally, thanks to gravity, all rivers in the region, including the River Jordan, flow into the Dead Sea. Because the water has nowhere to go – it can't flow uphill – it just stays there and evaporates, leaving salts and minerals behind. The concentration levels are so high that the human body simply floats instead of sinking.
An amazing experience in an incredible country. If you're looking for more information about where to go and what to see in Jordan then go to Visit Jordan.
Photos by Salim Al-Harthy on flickr
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