Petra, from the Siq and beyond


If you hear the word, “Petra”, the above photo comes to mind. In fact, until I went there early this month, I thought this iconic building was all there is to Petra.

The Treasury is one of the most elaborate temples in the ancient Arab Nabatean Kingdom city of Petra. The great facade of the Treasury (“Al Khazneh”), the most ornate and beautiful of Petra’s tombs, is the first structure seen by visitors as they exit the narrow confines of the Siq. In spite of its name (assigned by local legend) however, the monument is a royal tomb, not a treasury.

Before you can see the Treasury, you have to go through what is called the “Siq” – a narrow canyon that leads into the the once lost city of Petra. This is my FAVORITE part of the whole journey.

This is the entrance to the Siq.


To reach the start of the Siq, visitors must first walk about half a mile along the wide valley known as the Bab as-Siq. It seems rather long but 2 things: (1) you can use a horse or donkey to carry you till the entrance of the Siq* (2) there are several interesting sights to see along the way.

* the cost to ride the horse and donkey is said to be included in the ticket but you need to give a tip.


The first major monument to encounter in Petra – actually two separate monuments stacked on top of each other the Obelisk Tomb (upper) and Bab as-Siq Triclinium (lower). The four great obelisks of the Obelisk Tomb, with a figure in a niche in the center, guard a rock-hewn cave containing burials.

The lower half, the Bab as-Siq Triclinium functioned as a dining room where feasts were held in honor of the dead.


Only a few minutes after we entered the Siq, it blew my mind. It is winding, mysterious and in the early morning light and silence, it is truly breathtaking.

We walked the next half-mile, marvelling at the towering canyon walls letting out deep breaths at the grandeur of this place.



The Siq, meaning “gorge”, is Petra’s most dramatic natural feature.

The path twists and turns between bizarrely eroded cliffs for over a kilometre, sometimes widening to form sunlit piazzas in the echoing heart of the mountain; in other places, the looming walls (150 meters high) close in to little more than a couple of metres apart, blocking out sound, warmth and even daylight.


The Siq is not technically a gorge, as it was formed not by erosion but tectonic forces, which caused the rock to split dramatically in half. The waters of Wadi Musa then flowed in and the winds blew through the newly formed gap, gradually rounding the sharp edges into smooth curves.


Horses are prohibited from entering the Siq, but horse drawn carriages in Petra, first and foremost for elderly and handicapped visitors. If you are able to walk though, I would STRONGLY suggest to walk your way through the Siq rather than sit down in a carriage with a roof over your head.

Along the way are some small niches, shrines and carvings to investigate (this is why having a guide is a smarter choice) and running alongside the length of the Siq are water channels carved by the Nabateans to provide water to the city of Petra.


The walk along the Siq is punctuated with curious carvings and friezes, all the while building up to that climax: the first sighting of the Treasury.


I was holding my heart for a few minutes at this sight, just staring at it from all angles. (Special thanks to our guide who took this photo of us!)


Most visitors will have seen the building in the famous Indiana Jones scene, but the initial view invariably leaves them momentarily staring in awe before reaching for the camera and reeling off several hundred pictures. I know I did!


As I’ve mentioned earlier in this post, before my trip to Jordan, I thought the Treasury was all there is to Petra. Boy, I was dead wrong and embarrassingly misinformed. The below photo was taken on the right side of the Treasury (right side when it’s in front of you).


Walking around the bend, you’ll find there is more to Petra than just the Treasury. We leave behind the crowded Treasury area and head further into Petra. While the Treasury is the best-known part of this site, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Here is what you’ll see BEYOND the treasury!






We walked a lot at Petra, exploring the sites, climbing on rocks and taking hundreds of pictures.


We were already dog tired from all the walking and trekking (news flash – we live in Dubai when “trekking” and “walking a lot” isn’t exactly included in our daily lives…) but our guide took us to the Urn Tomb – when I was tempted to say no, my daughter was glad to drag her butt uphill again to see the Royal Tombs up close and go inside so, I had to go too.

I’m glad I made the climb. The view from up here is beautiful.


TIP: When you’re inside this chamber, SING. Yes, you may get some strange stares but this chamber has eerily wonderful acoustics you’ll feel you’re a pro singer. No joke!

Note that the vendors on the way to the Royal Tombs are relentless and sometimes no polite ‘no thank you’ will keep them at bay. Remember, times are tough in Jordan. We are thankful we have our guide with us who dealt with this stuff (in the local language).

We started to make our exit around 2 pm, after spending nearly 6 hours in Petra . The difference was astounding. People and vendors were milling about everywhere, and it would’ve been impossible to get a photo in front of the Treasury without 10 people with a selfie stick in the background.



All you said about Petra is rose coloured, any negative points and tips to offer?

My main complaint about Petra would probably be the steep entrance fee of JD50 (approx US$70 per person (as of this writing). While I would still say, it was worth our time, JD50 for a day makes Petra more expensive than any single tourist attraction I have ever been to, and it is exorbitantly higher than anything else in Jordan.

Petra is one of the most fantastic places I’ve ever been, so I’m not saying don’t go. Some tips you’ll find from other blogs would be to buy the 2 or 3 day pass as there’s not much difference in the cost with the 1 day pass. But personally, I don’t know if I have the energy to go again in a span of 24 hours. I may go back to Petra again but would like a considerable amount of time in between to reflect and miss it to explore it again. My wish is to take my parents there.

Next, I feel it’s unfortunate how local vendors have literally littered the place, some selling wares very aggressively up to the point I feel harassed sometimes. And I know I am not the first one to say or feel this – a simple Google search and you will find so many who can say the same thing.

While I understand it’s the only livelihood they know, if the current number of sellers increase, it could affect the visitor’s whole experience of Petra.

Ok to cap this really long post (thanks for sticking around!), if you do go to Petra, three quick tips.

1. Start your trip into Petra early – at 6 am there are no trinket sellers (I won’t lie – I find the hard selling of the locals a tad annoying), no horses or camels, and all the major sites are deserted.

2. Be prepared to walk, walk, walk so wear sturdy shoes/sandals.

3. Bring your own food and drink – Hiking the off beaten trails may take a couple of hours and into your meal times. It’s always good to have something to munch on and drink so you can spend more time exploring.


Spending time exploring this massive red stone city is an experience you will always remember.

It starts with a walk through the kilometer long Siq, naturally carved rocks that shielded the city from prying eyes for centuries. The first glimpse every visitor has of the city is the famous Treasury building, highlighted in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But Petra is a lot more than just one building; numerous hiking paths allow guests to discover the full width and breadth of this beautiful complex.

Even with the recent unfortunate event in Jordan that threatened tourist security, I hope for peace and wish all of you reading this would still have the plans and chance to see this part of the world with your own eyes. It’s truly a wonder.

Guide to visiting Petra for first timers


This guide to visiting Petra is meant to make this glorious site just a bit easier to get to. Depending on when you stumble upon this blog post, the data and information (especially the entrance fee) may not be accurate anymore, so do check from Jordan Tourism Board’s official website.


Ah Petra, how do I even start?

I’ve known about Petra before it became one of the new seven wonders of the world, through a movie. Are you familiar with the last scene of the movie Indiana Jones and last crusade? If not, watch the movie.

Petra is the jewel of Jordan, and is a must see.

It is Jordan’s A-list attraction, a “lost” citadel whose prime landmark – the carved, colonnaded wonder Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”) – has illuminated countless documentaries and films.

Over the centuries, Petra was known only to occasional plunderers and the Bedouins who remained in the area. It was altogether unknown to Westerners until 1812, when a Swiss explorer, masquerading as an Arab in Egypt, heard tales of an ancient city in the mountains 250 miles to the east and coaxed a guide to take him there.


Petra is one of the world’s most compelling historical sites. The Treasury and other structures are sculpted from the red-rock cliffs of the Jordanian desert 2,000 years ago. Looking at the seemingly perfect symmetry and intricate details, you’d wonder HOW the Nabateans built the Treasury and most of Petra’s grandest buildings – as sculptures, carving them into the sandstone cliffs. It is this display of human creativity amid such rugged surroundings that makes Petra remarkable.


From Dubai, Fly Dubai flies to Amman twice a day and has the best flight schedule, leaving early morning from Dubai and taking off from Amman at night on the way back. Air Arabia, Emirates and Royal Jordanian also flies to Amman non-stop.

Petra is located 250 kilometers south of Amman, about 2 and a half hours by car from the airport. There are taxis available right outside the airport as well as a public bus called Jett Bus from Amman. Unfortunately, I can’t vouch for either the taxi or the public bus since we had a private van with driver and tour guide arranged by Amani Tours for the whole duration of our trip.

We went to Petra after a day trip to the Dead Sea, arriving after sunset. The journey from Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea to Wadi Musa (the village where Petra is located) took about 2 hours. Our driver drove through Kings Highway to Petra and there were parts of the highway which were not lighted at all.  There were random checkpoints as well with the Jordanian police interviewing the driver, etc. It’s all to make Jordan safer.


There are several hotels in Wadi Musa, catering to the surge of tourists who visit the town to see Petra, after it was declared one of the seven new wonders of the world.


If you’re staying in Wadi Musa, then Petra is a short walk away. We stayed at the Movenpick Resort Petra which is only across the street from the gate to the Visitor’s Center. One of the five stars hotel in the area, we had a clean, comfortable room but we did not have much time to explore other facilities and amenities since we arrived around 8 pm and checked out by 6 am.


The duty manager Ms. Rania was very kind to welcome us into the hotel. Breakfast is a large buffet that starts at 6 am which allows early risers to get into Petra at the crack of dawn.

The location of the hotel is its biggest selling point. It is really worth staying that close to Petra. Though you can visit Petra any time you like, it’s always best to go there early so if in case you oversleep, staying in a hotel close by will not ruin your plans.

COST (as of this writing, December 2016)

I must admit, the first time I thought and planned of visiting Jordan and most especially, Petra, I didn’t expect there was an entrance fee to the site. Then I spent some time doing Google searches and found out.

The following fees information are from the Visit Petra website.

The following table are fees for the accommodated visitor: Visitor who stays at least one night in Jordan.

Entrance Ticket (per person) Price
One  Day 50 JOD (approx AED250 or US$68)
Two  Days 55 JOD (approx AED275 or US$75)
Three days 60 JOD (approx AED300 or US$82)

** Children 12 years old and under enter Petra free of charge. **

A horse ride from the visitor’s centre to the entrance of the Siq is included in the ticket price, though you’ll still need to pay a tip which varies. This is a tricky part and you might find yourself on top of an animal the whole time you negotiate for what you feel is the right tip.

We did not do the horse ride to the entrance of the Siq because it’s an easy 15-minute walk downhill. You might want to save the horse ride till the way back up as that final uphill stretch of sandy path after a whole day’s walking is a bit of a killer.


My daughter was over 12 years old when we purchased the tickets to Petra at the Visitor’s Center so I had to shell out for a normal ticket for her.  The staff at the counter was very strict, I actually wonder if any families with small framed kids over 12 got away for free by telling the kid is less than 12 years old?

Anyway, we paid 50 JD x 2 = 100 JD (approx AED500 or US$135). While I would still say that Petra is worth visiting once in your life, the fees are outrageous with no student discounts or special discounts for minors! I hope the Jordanian government do something with this hefty fee as it will surely backfire and affect tourism to Petra.

When I told my sister and some friends about the cost to enter Petra, they were shocked and asked me, “so, what was inside the Treasury?”. I said, I don’t know because tourists are NOT allowed to enter the Treasury! Yeah, contrary to what we have all seen from the Indiana Jones movie! They all thought the steep entrance fee was for a tour of what’s inside the Treasury!

That said, Petra should really be marketed as an archaeological park made for hikers who want to spend 2-3 days exploring a unique desert landscape, with some cool ancient buildings to see along the way.



The weather and climate in Jordan can vary dramatically depending on location and altitude. In the summer the weather in Jordan, especially in the deserts and Jordan valley is blisteringly hot while at other times of year the deserts can be freezing and snow is not unheard of.

It was cold in Petra (and in Amman too) when we were there in December. I was hesitant to bring my daughter’s thick, down jacket but someone from the travel agency told me to bring winter clothes and I’m glad I did! It was freezing in the morning.

Opening hours to visit Petra are from 6am to 6pm during the summer and from 6am to 4 pm in winter.

To avoid the crowds and the heat, I strongly recommend making the effort to be there as early as you can – we were at the gate buying tickets at 7am. Going early means you will get a chance to walk through the Siq without anyone blocking the view for photos or see the Treasury with almost no one around.



Petra stretches over a massive 60 square kilometre area and you’ll end up doing a lot of walking but to just see the highlights, you can comfortably see Petra in a day.


Everyone has different levels of fitness, however, you could spend five to six hours exploring, or twice that time – but even so, a day gives you plenty of time.


Also, Petra is a early bird game, start at 7 am and you can finish everything on or before closing time, unless you are a archeologist 🙂

We spent 7 hours at Petra, starting at 7 am.



1. Water – There is a mixture of places to eat and drink inside Petra, ranging from Bedouin tea stalls, simple kiosks to cafés but prices will be higher of course. Bring your own water not only if you want to save but also to have something to drink till you get to those places selling it.

2. Comfortable shoes – You’ll be walking over sandy and rocky ground so walking shoes are probably the best bet.

3. Warm winter clothing (if travelling during winter time) – I’m not kidding you on this, especially if you go to Petra in December like us. Don’t think this place is warm because it’s in the Middle East – it was 4C when we went on the 2nd week of December!

4. Cash – for tips in case you opt for a donkey/camel ride and buy food, drinks and souvenirs.

5. CAMERA – fully charged and SD cards with ample storage as you will be taking a LOT of pictures! Also bring power bank for your phone, if you’re taking photos with your phone.



This deserves a separate, more extensive post but to make it short –

I traveled to Jordan and went to Petra with my (almost) teen and had absolutely no problems. However, traveling with smaller kids, I bet would be challenging. Not impossible but there are things you’d have to do and give up if ever you decide to go with your little tots. Lots of walking are involved and putting the child in a stroller will not be comfortable for him/her as the roads are not smooth.

I hesitate to advise against being brave and trying, but realistically, looking after a baby/toddlers is likely to take quite a lot away from your enjoyment of the site.



No questions asked, YES.

Never mind the outrageously expensive entrance fee, I feel exploring this massive red stone city is an experience you will always remember. I will be writing a separate post about our journey to the Treasury through more than a kilometer stretch of canyon. It was absolutely stunning and by far, my favorite part of our visit to Petra.

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.