Soaked in history, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was a Middle East afterthought and comprises of vast swaths of lonely desert and a number of small but spectacular sites. It’s one of the most welcoming sites in the Arabic countries, safe and easy to travel to, and seldom overcrowded with tourists.
Amman is a typical Arabic city, chaotic and bustling in places, sometimes pious, but with interesting places to explore. Settlement here dates back five thousand years and there are several ancient Roman sites that can be spotted in the city, including a restored Roman theater, Odeon amphitheater and Roman citadel. There are also several excellent museums in the city preserving the country’s archaeological legacy. If history bores you, you can spend the late afternoon wandering the windy lanes of the old town and seek out the coffee shops where you can smoke shishas and play backgammon with the friendly locals.
A half-day’s drive through south and you will find the incredible city of Petra, one of the world’s most incredible ancient sites. Built in the 3rd century AD by wealthy Nabatean merchants, the entire city is cut out of the rocky valleys and canyons of bizarre landscape. It is entered through a mile long rock passage known as the ‘siq’ where you can visit and see the astounding fascia of the Treasury. There’s plenty to see in the valley with caves, amphitheaters, citadels and ruins that are scattered about the place, so you will hardly notice the crowd when quietly contemplating this remarkable and unique site.
Jerash is another important archaeological site, just 50 kilometers north of Amman. It is still beautifully preserved, and once was a very important Roman city including the Temple of Zeus and Forum, the five thousand seater South Theatre and the colonnaded street and enormous Temple of Artemis.
Another must-see in Amman is the remarkable Dead Sea. Taxis will happily take you there and remember your bathing suit, ‘floating’ in this heavily saline lake is bizarre, though a little uncomfortable if you have any cuts or abrasions.