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Published on April 21st, 2013 | by Tom Firehill

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7 Natural Wonders Guide: Petra

This is not National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s or the Global Traveler, all publications who all feature vibrant stories and images of different destinations. We are the short and quick guide for those who want snappy information, without the frill. While detailed pieces can be great for those looking for a bit of escapism, sometimes when we are planning travel we just want some quick tips and facts not heavy pre-travel research.

Without further ado let’s get this show on the road.

 

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Front Façade of Petra

Petra Facts on the Fly

  • Settlement in Petra began around 3,500 years ago in 1500 BCE.
  • The settlement outlasted a large earthquake in 663 that damaged their water management system.
  • Petra was abandoned in 1189 due to Saladin’s conquest.
  • The site is currently at risk with flooding and erosion causing major problems.
  • Petra is featured in many films including: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Arabian Nights, Passion in the Desert, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tigre, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
  • Petra means stone.
Canyons surrounding Petra

Canyons surrounding Petra

Frippery-Free Trip Tips

  • The horse ride: If you don’t like horses or care about getting a horse ride through Petra, do not bother with the “free” horse ride at the beginning. You will be pursued by men who want to get you to use the free horse, and halfway through the 5 minute ride they will let you not about the required $25 US tip. That is five dollars a minute for those of you who aren’t counting.
  • Tourists: There are lots of tourists. It matters little what time of year or day you go, you will be surrounded. Be prepared for the crowds.
  • Beat the lines: There is a line outside the site, and the earlier you go the shorter the line. Try getting there an hour for that site is opened around 7 am.
  • Time: One day is not enough to explore the whole city. Usually you can comfortably cover it in two days, but if you want to linger take 3.
  • Do not bother with the tour guides: If you are ready to haggle and are into verbal guides, getting a tour guide is okay. Just make sure at the beginning of the tour you let them know how long you want their services, otherwise they will try to take advantage by making you pay for touring the whole city.
  • Water: Bring your own. It always costs a lot from the vendors on site.
  • The bottled sand: You probably saw this back in the towns as well for a lot cheaper. It is an okay souvenir, but probably not something you will want to carry around while hiking through Petra.
  •  Food: Brings food with you! The restaurants inside are okay, but very expensive for what they are. They are also ALWAYS swarming with a lot of tourists, so you will end up spending a lot of time waiting for service. This ends up eating a lot of your day that you would rather be spending exploring the ancient city.
  • Pesky, pesky vendors: You probably already noticed this by now by staying in Jordan, but the vendors swarm around tourists like flies. It may be wise to learn how to say “buzz off” in Arabic to divert some of the attention. The best you can do is just avoid eye contact, get used to saying “no” a lot and acting generally like a jerk. If you don’t believe me, you’ll know exactly what I mean when you arrive in Jordan.
  • Haggle: If you are going to buy items, services, etc. make sure that you haggle. It is just a cultural thing, so do not feel weird about it. It can even be considered offensive to some if you don’t bother haggling at all. Once you hear the starting price that some of the vendor’s offers, even the most hesitant hagglers can’t resist trying bargaining.
  • For any lady friends, daughters, female family members: Make sure that they cover up their arms and shoulders. Not doing so will get them a lot of dirty looks, and it will draw a lot of unwanted attention. Make sure they plan to bring light weight pants and shirts, because it can get really hot in Petra.
  • Sunscreen, hats: Make sure to protect yourself from the hot, desert sun. Even if you do not usually sunburn, being out in the open desert sun in Petra for hours will probably get your skin a little irritated from the over exposure.
  • The right shoes: Hiking books or sneakers to walk through the old city. You will be doing a lot of walking, so make sure you aren’t going to get blisters by the end of the first day. 
petra6

Definitely one to see


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