Practical tips for visiting Petra

Simply put, Petra was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of cool things.

I don’t have the words to describe just how magnificent it is, so I’ll give you the next best thing- a few tips for your visit so that you can just go see it yourself.

Wear comfy shoes 

Petra is an entire ancient city, and you  can rack up a few miles walking through it. In fact, from the parking lot to the Treasury alone it’s about a 20 minute walk and a few of the cool view points involve light climbing, so I suggest leaving your cute wedges at home for this one. 

Dedicate the Entire Day

Or two. Or three. Petra is one of the seven wonders of the world for a reason and deserves at least a day of attention! There are so many incredible nooks to explore and details to admire. Also, the light changes throughout the day and some parts of the city photograph better at certain hours. For example, if you go before noon and try to take a photo from the vantage point across from the Treasury, it’s likely that your photo will be against the light. No bueno my friends. Unless you’re super artsy and wanted a silhouette shot- you do you. 

Explore the entirety 

Petra is a whole lot more than just the Treasury, which is the stone facade that you see on every Instagram post (mine included) and the rest of Petra is truly spectacular as well. Take the time to appreciate the other tombs, canyons and temples!

Get THE shot 

There is a neat vantage point across from the Treasury, the most intricate and best preserved stone facade in Petra, where you can get a crowd-less view and photo. If you’re facing the Treasury you’ll see a trail to your right that curves and takes you right to the cliff that overlooks the facade. Climb up halfway for a full body shot, and higher to a carpeted area where you can sit and take your epic Petra shot. 

Haggle

All the prices are pretty much made up- so why not make up your own? The first price a seller gives you will be the highest, and you can definitely get the price down from there. Haggling is an art form I believe everyone should master- otherwise it’s easy for locals to take advantage of you as a tourist. Most of the items I saw for sale at Petra I saw in a dozen other markets, so be skeptical when sometime tells you something is original or handmade. Also if a shopkeeper at a souvenir shop tells you something is camel hair…hate to break it to you but it’s probably not and please don’t pay $200 for it. 

Side note, you can pay in Jordanian Dinar or dollars so don’t worry if you didn’t have time to hit up a currency exchange. 

Nothing is free

Bedouins will stand at every turn and offer you a horse or donkey ride down the trail, and will even tell you that it’s included in your ticket cost. It is not. 

Free is used loosely and if you accept an offer, you’ll be asked to tip heavily at the end. The donkeys and horses are, sadly, incredibly overworked- please walk anyway if you are physically capable. 

Bring snacks! 

The food inside the Lost City is questionable at best, and kind of expensive. A small juice will set you back more than Whole Foods, and not everything looked particularly fresh. Since, you’re likely going to be there for hours, I recommend bringing your own snacks and a bottle of water.

Be skeptical of overly friendly locals

The local bedouins run a well known scam where they befriend and woo tourists, particularly young women traveling alone, and offer to take them to the best view points or places that only locals know. From there, one things leads to another, which often leads to an unfortunate situation- just look up Petra Romance Scams and you’ll get the gist. I’m alway for meeting local people, but perhaps let the extrovert inside you sit this one out and stay safe. 

Take it all in 

Lastly, a bit of personal advice…put down your phone for a few moments, stop taking photos and just take it all in when you’re there. The world really is a spectacular place, isn’t it?

Did you visit Petra and find these tips helpful? Cool. Drop me a line!