I spent three and a half weeks in Jordan and I want to tell you about my experience. Jordan is safe and I couldn’t believe it myself first. When I first arrived, I felt that I have to keep my guard up all the time. For every time a man would come up to me and say, “do you need help?” I would step back, keep my guard up and respond, “no, thank you. I’m okay.” Even if I am really struggling to read the map in Arabic.
“Where you from? Japan? China? Thailand?” Everyone wanted to engage in small talk. It was very annoying.
“They want to help, you know. Jordanians are like this. It may seem like they are bugging you but really, they just want to help. Don’t be scared. They are good people,” said an expat whom I met at the bus station.
It feels ridiculous that I would always respond and lean on to foreigners when lost. But when I am offered help by a ‘stranger’, I always hold back. (Wait, the expat was also a stranger, no? I don’t know where this is coming from. Is it from the current mad state of the world? Or the society I grew up in?
The good is good. I promised myself I won’t put any other meaning to the good. It’s okay to be cautious. But the reason why we are continuously divided by race, gender and religion is because we are not open to learn and understand something that is different from ours. I am (again) slowly journeying into a deeper meaning of my values, of my beliefs, on how I look at the world. And this is good.
Jordan is one of those places where I felt entirely safe to wear whatever “decent” I deem fit, even to walk in the middle of the night. Recently, one of my best mates brother who happens to work for the United Nations launched this program called Street Watch Amman, where women can instantly report issues of harassment.
I have loads of stories about Jordan as one of those hardcore Middle Eastern countries who don’t have respect for women but during my 3.5 weeks stay, I found out that women are highly prioritised here.
Is Jordan safe?
I found Petra the most beautiful city I visited and I couldn’t compare anything to Wadi Rum. But I kept wondering why am I had the privilege to keep this places to myself?
I was expecting for massive numbers of tourists but they didn’t appear. To have these destinations to yourself is one of the best fulfilled dreams of a long term traveler but I still asked, “where the feck is everyone? Why am I alone here?” Sure, it was a good time to take pictures but why isn’t this country flocked by tourists?
The United Nations recently announced high alerts for safety in Jordan. Last month, 10 people were killed in a shooting in western Jordan and it brought a massive decrease in tourism in the country. These announcements should be taken into consideration, of course. But I would like to quote a powerful message by Sarah Richard, one of my best mates in this post who is currently living in Egypt:
“If you listen to what you hear on the news, the world is pretty much cut off from traveling at the moment. If you go to the Middle East you’ll get shot, Central America, kidnapped, India scammed and Africa harassed. If you read too much of the newspaper you’ll probably never leave your house again. How is a girl to travel this world solo anymore? I don’t doubt you for being apprehensive. If you listen to the media that is. I understand when someone tells you not to go somewhere you listen. But I urge you to question them – to ask if they have recently visited and what their experience was.”
This blog never aimed to share just my personal experiences but other people’s too. With this, I gathered a few friends who have been to Jordan and here’s what they say about Jordan.
Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers says her top reader question when it comes to traveling Jordan is not the itinerary but safety.
“People want to know what the locals were like, what the culture was like and if we felt safe or not while visiting. Without a doubt, safety was never a concern during our visit to Jordan that took us through the highlights of the country. The locals were kind and accepting, asking us questions about our lives and wanting to know more about the USA. The cities were surprisingly modern and the society very progressive. We do not hesitate to recommend Jordan to adventure travelers and have it on our list for a return visit.”
Kevin and Christina Wagar of Wandering Wagars traveled with their kids in Jordan and didn’t feel a single threat. As a family adventure travel blog, they felt that the culture, nature and history of Jordan was a perfect match for them.
“While Jordan is smack in the middle of some of the middle of some of the most volatile regions in the world, the country itself remains an oasis of calm that makes it a treat to visit. We toured throughout the country with our 1 and 3-year-old boys and not once were we in a situation where we felt fear or even discomfort. Jordanians are among some of the friendliest people we have encountered, and their love for children is a reason that we will definitely be back.”
As someone who has an impressive taste in fashion, curious traveler Jessica Wray stressed so much about planning her carry on backpack to Jordan but realised she didn’t have to stress at all as Jordan is very “accepting.”
“During my entire time in Jordan, I felt very safe and taken care of. Jordanians are extremely hospitable and want to share their home. Although I was traveling in a group, I also realized I was very capable of taking on the trip solo. A few things made this possible though, conservative dress being one of them. To have fun with it, I chose lose fitting pants with cute patterns, my favorite long skirt, some of my favorite scarves, and a basic shawl. Dressing for conservative countries doesn’t have to be a drag, it can be fun too!”
Half of the Crowded Planet Margherita Ragg wanted to say it loud and clear: Jordan is safe. She was in Aqaba, the south part of Jordan and says never did she felt that she was in danger.
“Locals are kind and friendly, and truly want you to have an amazing time in their country. I was there with a group, but I did go off wandering by myself a couple of afternoons, and I was never bothered in any way. Yes, troubles do happen around the world – but I think the main danger you’ll face in Jordan is not wanting to leave! At least that’s how it was for me.”
Can you believe that Emily Cole who traveled seven days in Jordan felt safer in the same manner she felt comfort in her home country, England?
“You’re going where?” Some of our friends and family were concerned about our trip to Jordan, especially as we were taking our two small children. We travelled from north to south and saw a lot of the country. We did notice security guards in our hotels and at major tourist attractions which convinced us that Jordan takes its security seriously. At no point did we feel anything other than welcome in Jordan; it’s actually the friendliest country we have been to. We felt just as safe in Jordan as we do walking down the street in the UK.”
This is what I always explain to my mom: Rachel is blonde, way slimmer than I am and is currently living in India. Yet she concluded that Jordan is safe and have traveled there extensively without feeling harmed. She is not saying you have to be careless when traveling in Jordan and have given some appropriate fashion tips.
“I never felt unsafe in Jordan. I was on a tour, which often lets you relax a little and not worry about safety (more so than when you travel alone). Regardless, I was careful to dress in a way that respected the culture. Unlike India, where I live, I did not get stared at in India and no one said anything rude to me here. In fact, people were overly nice and happy to chat with me to learn about each other’s cultures!”
Aleah of Solitary Wanderer who happens to be from where I am was invited by the Tourism Board in Jordan. She spent one amazing week in Jordan. When she heard she got invited, she was actually not questioning if Jordan is safe but was ecstatic instead.
“Who hasn’t heard of the beauty of ancient Petra and its rock-hewn wonders? My friends and family were worried though; they thought it was dangerous to travel there, and especially not safe for women. I was glad to prove them wrong; I felt safe in Jordan. There was no single instance that I felt unsafe or taken advantage of. Granted I was with a group and not solo, but I did walk around on my own, chatting with shopkeepers and random strangers (all men), and not one made me uncomfortable. Jordan is a beautiful country, full of history, great food, and good people. I would go back there again and again if given the chance!”
“I never felt unsafe, not even for a moment, whether I was hitting a major tourist spot such as Petra or a tiny bedouin village such as Feynan. All I encountered were smiling, friendly and kind people. The main danger I felt was that of being “forced” to drink overly sweet coffee or tea, which is kind of undrinkable to people like me who prefer unsweetened tea and coffee. This happened regularly, like the time I was walking around Shobak Castle and the moment I said hello to them, they invited me to a cup of sugary coffee; or the time I arrived at the viewpoint to the Treasury in Petra and the only person there was a local, who insisted I sip tea with them to celebrate making it to the top. I’ve had to adapt a bit to the circumstances in terms of dress code, and I watched out for tourist scams – but I would do that anywhere!”
Sure, I did say Jordan is safe based on personal experience. But it wouldn’t hurt to take some safety precautions, right? Jordan ranked very high (5.6) as one of the safest countries in the world. But due to recent events, the country’s tourism has been tormented but as we always concluded, there is no “safe” country in the world anymore. You can get robbed in the comfort of your own homes. What are we supposed to do if we are told these things? Shall we stay at home?
“Jordan may appear to be an intimidating country to travel in but with common sense and “street smarts”, I think it’s more than manageable for solo female travelers or families with young children! Jordan is becoming more and more accustomed to seeing female solo travelers so no one really bats an eye anymore. The locals are very hospitable and perhaps comes across as being too inquisitive but this is their nature – they are so open and welcoming and very excited to learn about you! I enjoy going at my own pace so about 80% of the time, I was on my own in Wadi Rum, Petra, Amman and even taking the “public servers” (shuttle buses) – I felt very safe and looked after. A local guide/driver even made a point of buying me this street snack – puffy fried dough smothered with honey – when he noticed I hadn’t eaten during the day! I enjoyed my time in Jordan and it is seriously one of the most underrated destinations!”
For people from my country (the Philippines), home of the bravest people on the planet, visa is always an issue as there is also a huge amount of Filipinos working illegally in Jordan. Hence, every one of us is heavily questioned but I assure you, it is very easy to endure if you take a leap.
I swear to you, if I can share more photos on Instagram, Jordan is effortless. You don’t even need to edit the pics! People are easy and extremely open to anything. I hope that in the future, you can include Jordan in your bucket list.
Jordan is safe. It deserves the same attention that other countries are getting. Come visit and see it for yourself.