Where we stayed: Movenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba, Jordan

If I tell you, “I was in a wonderful beach resort in Jordan!” would you look at me like I got my geography wrong? Or if you think of a “beach vacation” would you even think of Jordan?

When I thought of Jordan at first, beach was far from my mind (except the “beach” at the Dead Sea).

After our amazing time exploring the seemingly mystical wonder that is Petra, we moved to the south of the country to Aqaba – a Jordanian port city on the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba is Jordan’s year-round aquatic playground with its balmy winter climate and idyllic setting. Aqaba is a top destination for scuba divers, with notable dive sites including the Yamanieh coral reef.

(The distance between Petra and Aqaba is roughly 166 km and travel time is approximately 2 hours and a half by car.)

There are plenty of hotel resorts in Aqaba but we stayed at the Movenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay. The hotel is both modern and and comfortable and provides a good option for those who prefer to stay outside the bustle of cities whilst still having access to all the amenities.

Aqaba makes for a good stop-off point on an itinerary for some relaxation, as it is located close to both Wadi Rum and Petra.


Movenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay is a perfect base if you are going to visit Jordan’s only coastal city of Aqaba or see the majestic, massive wonder of Wadi Rum, which is less than an hour away by car.


It was dark when we arrived and we were dead tired from all the walking we did at Petra. Thankfully, the staff at reception was kind and forgiving and made our check in process smooth and fast and whisked us to our room immediately.


We had a room with a very smart, effective layout for families, with a big bed and two single beds in a partitioned section for the kids. Our room was facing the pool, a great view to wake up to every morning.



Breakfast was complimentary with international fares and live cooking stations for eggs, pancakes and waffles. Staff were attentive and very friendly. The all day dining restaurant serves lunch and dinner but we only had dinner once and the food was average for me. Many diners seem to be enjoying though so I must have been out of my usual appetite that night.


There’s WiFi with great connection speed all throughout the property.


One of the hotel staff gave us a tour and took us to the hotel’s garden. The idea is to create a “fresh market” where guests can harvest for their own meal, healthy, organic and freshly picked ingredients. They just started it so it’s small for now but it looked promising. I like the concept.


We  toured the property on our first morning there and it was very beautiful, well manicured, tidy grounds, with multiple pools, including a small heated pool so you can still enjoy in winter. I can imagine a lot of families with kids enjoying these amenities during warmer weather!





The hotel has direct access to the beach, too. For many, Jordan’s main attractions are its ancient historical sites yet, despite the mystical beauty of Petra or the out of this world charm of Wadi Rum, beauty can also be found along Jordan’s coasts. I believe Tala Bay in Aqaba has some of the most beautiful resort destinations in the Middle East.



That is the Red Sea by the way and those mountains in the horizon is Israel. It was cold in December but the view was so beautiful we couldn’t ignore it so we braved the cold winds and took a stroll here every after breakfast.

What a lovely place to stay, with all those pools and a beach resort where you can just chill and forget about time. Two days wasn’t enough so if you’re going to stay there, and now that you know that you can enjoy beach time in Jordan, make your stay longer than two days at the Movenpick Tala Bay!


We already miss the quiet mornings and our strolls at the beach. Hoping to be back when it’s warmer!




Why I recommend staying at Movenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay in Aqaba, Jordan:

  • A great option for families, with a Kids Club and Family Rooms (and yummy Movenpick ice cream!)
  • It has a great spa with hydrotherapy area – relieves those tired muscles! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • The resort has a 150-metre long private beach
  • An ideal place for divers, the resort has its own dive centre and offers a number of snorkelling and diving trips (we did not go to any snorkelling or diving trips)
  • Located 15-minutes from Aqaba city centre, the resort is great for those who prefer to stay out of cities but stay in an accommodation with 5 star amenities
  • The staff goes out of their way to assist so we feel welcomed and they made our stay more enjoyable


We were guests at the Movenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay however, all opinions are mine.

Visiting Jordan: an overview


I took a short trip to Jordan for 4 days and 3 nights. And if I have to sum it all up, it was AMAZING.

Jordan had always been on my list of must see places. It’s in the Middle East and with only a little over three hours of flight from Dubai, it’s practically in my neighborhood. In a few weeks, we’re ten years in Dubai having not travelled to Jordan ever before in that span of time is kind of shameful, really. I attempted a visit once, in 2011 but my plans were scrapped due to work and later on, pregnancy and a small baby.

I travelled to many other places after that but Jordan never left my head and my heart. I know I HAD TO GO.

I’ll be writing extensively about my trip, the lessons I learned, experiences and will be sharing tips. For now though, the BASICS.


The most important question, I know most travellers to Jordan ask,

Is Jordan Safe?


Despite Jordan’s location surrounded by Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, it is a peaceful country with good diplomatic relationships with the UK and US. We felt very safe in Jordan and had no problems at all. People have been put off from visiting the country since the Arab Spring and the ongoing carnage in Syria but the key thing to remember is that there’s no advise against travel to anywhere in Jordan except a two-mile strip along the Syrian border (which is far from tourist sites).

VISA REQUIREMENTS (as of this writing)

Single Entry visas valid for one month: 40 JOD (approximately 56 USD)
Double Entry visas valid for three months: 60 JOD (approximately 85 USD)
Multiple Entry visas valid for six months: 120 JOD (approximately 170 USD)

Always check with the Jordanian consulate website or directly call them to confirm if you are eligible for visa on arrival or need to apply visa before going.

The Jordanian Government has waived visa fees for all non-restricted nationalities coming through Jordanian tour operators whether travelling individually or in groups. The visa fee is waived on the condition that the traveller/travellers spend a minimum of two consecutive nights in Jordan.



Our flight from Dubai was via Fly Dubai. They have flights to Amman twice a day and they have the best flight schedule for someone who has very limited time to travel. Our flight left Dubai’s Terminal 2 at 6:30 am, arriving in Amman a little after 8:00 am* so there’s practically the whole day to do things. Flight back to Dubai leaves Amman at 10:10 pm, so you have time to enjoy your last full day in Jordan till then.

Travel time Dubai – Amman is 3.5 hours and Amman – Dubai, 3 hours.

* Jordan follows winter time so the clocks are turned back an hour. In actuality, UAE and Jordan only have one hour of time difference, with the UAE ahead.

The cost of our roundtrip ticket bought on sale was AED800 (US$218) per person.

Fly Dubai do seat sales very often, so watch out for that. Our flight to Prague in May this year was also with this budget airline with tickets bought during their sales period.


1 JOD = approximately AED5 (US$1.4)

TIP: Carry Jordanian dinar cash as there are many establishments and local stores not accepting credit card.


Jordan is well connected and many hotels have WiFi. I bought a Zain local SIM card at a kiosk right inside the airport, after the passport control section. The SIM was with 4 GB data and 30 mins (?) local calls for JOD8.8. Zain network had fantastic 3G coverage, even in the most remote places like most of Wadi Rum.


Although there are taxis and a public bus to Petra (and other destinations), your best bet would be to hire a private transfer with driver and if possible, a guide through a trusted tour operators listed in the official Jordan Tourism Board website.

We were taken care of by Amani Tours who provided a van with a driver and a wonderful guide.

So here’s a roundup of the places we went to in Jordan. This is just an overview. A more detailed post about each one will follow, hopefully SOON!

Fascinating Dead Sea

First up on our itinerary was to the Dead Sea, right after we got out of the airport. Why, because no one really goes to Jordan without visiting this fascinating, downright mysterious body of water, right?

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth at 450 meters below sea level. It is actually a lake but called a ‘sea’ and is more than 8 times saltier than the ocean.


We did not stay overnight in the Dead Sea area but we were at the Movenpick Resort and Spa Dead Sea opting for day access to get into the shores of the Dead Sea. Our guide said there are public and semi-private beach access areas but we chose to be at the Movenpick because we wanted to relax at their spa and use the therapeutic hydro pool and shower facilities (which were all so nice, by the way!).

(After swimming floating in the salty waters, you NEED to rinse off.)

The hotel has wonderful spa and therapy programs for healing and wellness, too though we didn’t go for any therapy sessions due to time constraints.


We braved the cold temps and wind to do what everyone should do when at the Dead Sea: float in the highly buoyant water! Pics on the next post about our Dead Sea experience soon!

Magical Petra

After a few hours at the Dead Sea, we head out to Petra. The plan was to spend the night at the Movenpick Resort Petra and see the historic archeological site first thing in the morning. There are several hotels, hostels and B&B places within Wadi Musa (the village where Petra is), however, the Movenpick Resort Petra is located at the doorstep of the entrance gate to Petra. As in, literally just a few steps away so that means, if you overslept, you don’t ruin your vacation.


We set out very early to Petra, right after sunrise ready to experience one of the seven wonders of the world. The gates open at 7 am and we were one of the few who were there at that time.


You must have heard wonderful stories and raves of Petra’s main attraction – the Treasury or Al Khazneh for locals but for me, the Siq – the stretch of dim, narrow gorge that winds its way approximately 1.2 kilometers (0.75 mi) impressed me more. If I had to take a picture of an angle I like, I’d probably end up with hundreds and hundreds of photographs.


Entrance to Petra is expensive (at least for me!) at single entry for 50JOD (approx AED250 or US$68) per person. Children under 12 enter for free. The cost discouraged me a bit to be honest but I thought, heck, I have to see this at least once in my life so be it!

TIP: If you’re going to spend longer time in Jordan and going to other sites/museums, etc, get the Jordan Pass – it combines the country’s visa entry fee of 40 JD with the notoriously costly Petra entrance ticket of 50 JD + entrance to other attractions.

Refreshing Red Sea

We drove to the southern part of Jordan from Petra, to a city called Aqaba – the only coastal city in Jordan and the largest and most populous city on the Gulf of Aqaba. Even during winter, Aqaba is warmer than Amman or Petra making it a great holiday hub. Staying in Aqaba is a great idea if you plan to visit Wadi Rum.


That said, there are several hotels and resorts in Aqaba, especially on Tala bay. We stayed at the Movenpick Resort and Spa Tala Bay Aqaba. It is a very family friendly resort hotel with great facilities and fun pools – yeah, plural because there are several pools! In the summer time, I can imagine lots of families enjoying their time here.



Movenpick Tala Bay has a beach access to the Red Sea. It was so refreshing to walk here every morning after breakfast. I absolutely LOVE the breeze here!

Breathtaking Wadi Rum

Now people, THIS.

Wadi Rum, another UNESCO World Heritage Site is out of this world majestic. This protected desert wilderness is located in southern Jordan and spans an area of 74,000 hectares.

I can take a thousand pictures and write a thousand more words to describe it but it won’t do justice as what my eyes have seen.


I’ve heard many great things about Wadi Rum, as well as not so great ones too. If you love nature, history, mystery or even magic, go to Wadi Rum but if you’re one of the few who thinks a vast land of desert and ancient stones is boring, maybe you can skip it.



Entrance fee to Wadi Rum is only JOD5 (approx AED25 or US$1.4) per person but you have to pay for the tour on a jeep. Ours was JOD55 for three hours – we had a Bedouin driver recommended by our fabulous guide and the cost was worth every penny.



I travelled to Jordan with my soon to be officially teenager daughter, Pristine. This is actually our second mother-daughter trip together. The first one was last year checking out the Christmas markets in Prague for the first time. She is a year older now, meaning, more capable to endure all the walking and trekking I assumed our Jordan experience would entail.

And I wasn’t wrong! She is a real trooper and braver and stronger than me on all accounts. Pretty flexible too with almost everything from food to hiking distances and climbing rocks! I think I could write another 7 reasons why I love travelling with my daughter!

Our Jordan trip was fantastic and to be honest exceeded our already high expectations. I can’t wait to write more.