Cultural Experience | Jordan

5 Reasons to Visit Jordan

Jordan, a Middle Eastern country situated along the east bank of the Jordan River, full of history, culture, and natural sights.

If you have been considering visiting the Middle East, but don’t know where to start, Jordan makes a great gateway country. It’s safe and stable with a thriving tourism sector. If you’re still not convinced, check out 5 of the top reasons to visit this incredible place.

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1. The Food

If you are a lover of food then Jordan will satisfy every craving you could have. Many of the dishes popular in Jordan can be found throughout the Mediterranean and the Arab world, however each country and region has their own unique twist on individual dishes. Keep an eye out for hummus, lamb shish kebabs, Arabic salad, and all sorts of delicious rice dishes.

Some dishes that are a bit harder to find outside of the region include labneh, a thick yogurt spread (try it on bread with za’atar, a spice mix), shawarma, a shaved meat usually served in bread, and kibbeh, little nuggets of meat and spices fried in wheat. When you’re hungry for dessert just walk into any bakery to find a huge selection of baklavas, hareeseh, and kanafeh, all typical Middle Eastern desserts.

2. Natural Scenery

Jordan’s natural landscape is something out of a movie. Actually, many movies have been filmed in Jordan’s Wadi Rum, including the 2015 film The Martian with Matt Damon. The landscape here is so unique that it is often used as a stand-in for shots of other planets and it is commonly described as “other-worldly.” Wadi Rum, one of the more popular tourist destinations, is actually a large valley with fascinating rock formations and dessert like dunes. Besides Wadi Rum, there are other popular Wadi’s in Jordan, as well as incredible beaches and resorts along the Red Sea, and, to the north flourishing forests and wetlands. If nature isn’t really your thing, Amman has plenty to offer for the city dweller.

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3. Rich Culture and History

Jordan has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period and has seen a number of different kingdoms and empires ruling over the land, including the Roman and Ottoman Empires. As a result, you can find any number of interesting historical landmarks spread throughout the country, including ancient tombs and Roman ruins. Additionally, the modern day culture of Jordan is incredibly rich and if you are unfamiliar with the Middle East or Arab countries, very different from other areas in the world. When I visited Jordan I was only there for two short days, but Jordanian culture was still very apparent to me. From food to music to dancing, I loved being able to witness such a thriving culture.

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4. Petra & the Dead Sea

These two sites are reason enough to go to Jordan on their own. The Dead Sea is a large salt-water lake at the lowest point on Earth bordered by Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. The high salinity makes it impossible for any living thing to flourish, hence the name. It also makes swimming in the Dead Sea almost impossible. Instead, you just float around effortlessly. The water and mud of the sea are also known for their healing properties. Don’t forget to cover your skin in the mud if you go!

Petra is a historical and archaeological city of the Nabataeans. The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who constructed the city by carving it out of the existing rock and used it as a major trading hub. You may recognize the famous Treasury from India Jones and the Last Crusade or because it is now considered one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. The city of Petra is huge and you can easily spend two or three days exploring all of the ruins and tombs, so be sure to check it out when you visit Jordan.

 

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5. The People

What impacted me the most on my trip to Jordan was the people themselves. I have never felt more welcomed in any place I’ve traveled to than I did in Jordan. To exemplify this, I’d like to share an experience I had in Aqaba, a resort city along the red sea. My friends and I stopped in Aqaba for only a few hours to eat lunch and quickly see the city. It was the off-season, so there weren’t many tourists to begin with, and we were outside of the main tourist areas. We stood out as three young women who were not wearing hijabs and were very clearly American, but this did not pose as a problem. Instead, it helped us make new, local friends. We stopped in a trinket shop very quickly, and after talking to the owner for a bit, we asked him if there was a pastry shop nearby. This man was so excited to have us visiting his city that he walked us to a very authentic, local shop himself. Once there, the workers took us to the back to show us how their pita was made and even gave us each a piece fresh out of the oven. When we told them we were looking for a place to have lunch, a nice Jordanian once again walked us to a restaurant with only locals where I had some of the best rice and chicken of my life.

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Even though my trip to Jordan was full of incredible natural scenery, world wonders, and cultural experiences, these two hours in Aqaba stand out to me now because of the friendliness of the complete strangers we met. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to experience Jordan in such an authentic way in such a short time. This experience is not unusual. Many who visit Jordan report back on the hospitality of the Jordanian people and the warmth they feel from complete strangers. To me, this is the top reason to visit Jordan.

5 Reasons To Visit Jordan

 

Packing Items for Jordan

Brianna Thompson

New York University | 4 stories

Bri is currently a Junior at New York University where she is studying Politics, Rights, and Development. After spending a semester in Tel Aviv, Israel last fall, she's back at it again this year studying abroad in Madrid, Spain for the year! Besides traveling, she's really into trying out new restaurants, reading, and learning new languages. Follow her on Instagram @bri.thompson to see where in the world she is.


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