Quick Guide to Jordan: Visa on arrival travel for South Africans

2018-08-08 19:00 - Saara Mowlana
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jordan map

Plan your trip to Jordan with this Quick Guide. (Photo: iStock)

Officially titled the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordanis a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia. 

The Arabian country is home to a world wonder along with the saltiest sea that sits at the lowest point in the world.

Weave your way through the architectural wonders of the rich history of the region while channeling your inner desert royal.

And live like a Roman at the ampitheatre in Jordan.

What are you waiting for? Plan your Jordanian visit now.

SEE PICS: New 'monumental platform discovered at Petra UNESCO World Heritage Site

Here's what you need to know if you go:

  • Visas: Visa on arrival (single entry valid for two months) Cost: About JOD (Jordanian Dinars) - which is about R766 @19.14/JOD.
  • Population: About 9 901 055 +/- presently
  • Capital City: Amman
  • Flight time: About 15 hours at best for a connecting flight between SA and Jordan with one stop over.

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  • Currency: Jordanian Dinar (JOD)  Current Exchange Rate: JOD 1 = R19.14. It is important to note that US dollars are also widely accepted.
  • Medical and health: To avoid illness and dampening your trip experience, be sure to heed the warnings and get the appropriate routine vaccinations beforehand. All Travellers: Routine Vaccinations, which includes - measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. Most Travellers:  Hepatitis A, Typhoid. Some Travellers: Hepatitis B, Rabies, Yellow Fever. 
  • ReligionIslam is the dominant religion in Jordan and Muslims make up about 93% of the population. However, Christianity makes up about 6% of the remaining population with 1% spread across a string of other religions and non-religious citizens.
  • Country code: +962
  • Emergencies: Dial 199 / 911 - for more emergency numbers: click here.
  • Public Transport: Jordan has a network of busses, taxis, trains and planes which constitute the bulk of the country's public transport system
  • Useful App to download: Uber Amman for getting around.
  • Climate: Jordan has a subtropical arid climate. The climate is characterised by long, hot and dry summers along with short and cool winters. The climate is influenced by Jordan's location between the subtropical aridity of the Arabian desert areas and the subtropical humidity of the eastern Mediterranean area.
  • Popular cuisine: Fatteh, Kebab, Kofta, Falafel, Hummus, Halloumi and Mujaddara etc.
  • Language: Arabic is the official language spoken in Jordan. Other languages used include: English, Jordanian Arabic, Jordanian Sign Language, Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, French, German and Russian.

READ: Jordan's spring desert bloom shows hints of human history

Useful phrases to know: 

Arabic is widely spoken in Jordan. Its written format can be tough to read as it's constructed on a series of select symbols, so we've written them out in transliteration form for you to these learn key and quick phrases hassle free. However, you may encounter some locals who speak in English, Jordanian Arabic, Jordanian Sign Language, Chechen, Circassian, Armenian, Tagalog, French, German or Russian. Learn a few key phrases in Arabic to make your stay more enjoyable.

Useful app to download - Duolingo makes learning a new language easy and fun. 

  • Greeting - Marhaba (pronounced: murr-ha-baa - Hello), sabaaH alkhayr (pronounced: sub-aah ull-ghayr -Good morning), masaa' alkhayr (pronounced: mus-aa ull-ghayr - Good evening), tuSbiH äalaa khayr (pronounced: toos-bih aa-laa ghayr - Good night)
  • Yes - Naäam (pronounced: nah-am)
  • No - Laa
  • Please - min faDlik (pronounced: mean-fod-lick)
  • Thank you - Shukran (pronounced: shook-run)
  • You're welcome - Äafwan (pronounced: aahf-one)
  • Excuse me - aIäafw (pronounced: a-eye-foo)
  • How much is it? - addeesh ha’u 
  • What is your name? - ma ismak? (male) ma ismik? (female) (pronounced: maa is-mok / mick)
  • My name is... - ismee (pronounced: is-me)
  • Where are you from? - min ayna anta? (male) min ayna anti? (female)
  • I'm from... - ana min... (pronounced: anna-mean)
  • Where is the toilet? - ayn al-?ammam? (pronounced: ayn-al-hamaam)
  • Do you speak English? - hal tatakallam al'iinjliziati? (pronounced: hull tutta-kull-am al-inglizeeyati?)

Practical Tips

When travelling to Jordan, make sure you have the following on your packing list:

  • A valid passport, arrival ticket, return ticket, adequate funds;
  • a camera;
  • basic essentials;
  • comfortable, lightweight, breathable and casual clothes;
  • comfortable and strong shoes or boots if you decide to trek the rougher landscapes;
  • a brimmed hat;
  • sunscreen;
  • insect repellent;
  • formal / occasional wear (depending on your reason for travel);
  • basic toiletries;
  • hand sanitiser;
  • prescription medication;
  • diarrhoea and indigestion meds;
  • sunglasses (and a spare pair);
  • a medical first aid kit;
  • a flashlight (for exploration);
  • video camera and accessories;
  • binoculars;
  • vaccination certificates;
  • insurance documents;
  • your credit / debit cards;
  • sandals or flipflops;
  • a notebook, tablet or smartphone; 
  • Jordan maps - city / town maps and travel guides - in case your battery dies on you.

Other

  • A backpack for any essentials needed on hand while on the go. 
  • Get a waterproof cover / pack for your phone or tablet -  to keep them protected any potential water related risks.
  • Get a Jordanian sim card quickly and easily at the airport when you arrive - it will save you a lot of data roaming charges!
  • Always carry a lightweight and powerful powerbank to ensure you've always got juice on the move - snapping pics and navigating Google maps tend to chow up battery life rather fast. Make sure you have your charger and a universal adapter too while you're at it.
  • As much as the urge to take as many pictures of the beautiful country as possible is strong, be sure to ask permission before you begin to snap pictures of houses or people. In some cases, you may be required to offer a tip for those pictures.
  • Watch your money - Make sure that, when changing currency you do so in a reputable hotel, foreign exchange bureau or bank.
  • Drinking water - The tap water is generally safe to drink, however bottled water or water from purified and trusted sources is always best. Read more on that here.
  • Tipping is customary in Jordan. A tip of 5% - 10% of your total bill is acceptable for most services and will depend on the service acquired.

Top attractions in Jordan

This 251-kilometre-long river is the natural border of Jordan and Israel. It holds major significance in Judaism and Christianity - it is the proclaimed site where the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land and where Jesus of Nazareth was baptised by John the Baptist. Many baptisms still take place in its waters - along with other water activities, like river rafting.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also one of the seven wonders. Located just 240 km south of the capital Amman and 120 km north of the red sea town of Aqaba, Petra is undoubtedly Jordan's most valuable treasure and greatest tourist attraction - ringing in a slew of visitors the world over. There are lots to see in the 2 640 acres of the Archaeologic Park, like a range of historic ruins - the Monastery, Treasury and tombs - that you are free to explore with a few exceptions. Be sure to thank your uber camel!

This magnificently restored theatre is a remnant of the Roman Philadelphia. The theatre was probably built around the 2nd century AD during the reign of Antoninus Pius (AD 138–61). It was constructed on three tiers: the rulers, of course, got seats closest to the action and glory, the military secured the middle section, while the general public perched around and peered down squinting from the top rows. The amphitheatre is a highlight of Amman for many foreign visitors. The theatre itself is cut into the northern side of a hill - offering a seating capacity of 6 000. 

Get salty at the Dead Sea in Jordan. In fact, the Dead Sea is hypersalinated - boasting a salinity level that is 10 times as salty as the ocean. No matter how hard you might try to sink - you'll merely keep bobbing about afloat. You're also advised to not stay longer than 15 minutes in the salty water. The Dead Sea in Jordan also sits at the lowest point in the world - a whole 430 m below sea level and its name is indicative of the lack of sea life in the area.

Channel your inner desert royal over in this stunning location. It's name literally translates into a 'desolate and dry area', which is apt if you consider the location of the Dead Sea basin. The basin forms part of the border between Israel to the west and Jordan to the east. The Arabah is 166 km in length from the Gulf of Aqaba to the southern shore of the Dead Sea. The region is also divided into three sections. From the Gulf of Aqaba headed north, the land gradually rises over a distance of 77 km, and reaches a height of 230 m above sea level, which represents the watershed divide between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea.

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