Hard facts about Jordan
bargaining and scams
Many people very
sensibly ask about the weather in Jordan. The easiest site I have
found for a very quick check of what the weather is doing right
now is the Jordan Meteorological Department one at
http://met.jometeo.gov.jo/. It gives current conditions
for a number of towns, and a concise four day forecast (very
concise - just the temperatures!) A more interesting site for
www.jordanweather.jo which covers far more ground. NB : note the suffix "jo"
which is a shade unusual.
This link also gives the times of sunset
and sunrise which can be useful. There is a site giving official temperature
statistics for several towns in Jordan :
http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/city.php3?c=JO&refer=. You would think that it would
help, but since it takes average temperatures, it doesn't seem to
all that much. When you are making plans, you should first of all
remember that most of Jordan is high up, Amman is at 400m and
Petra over 1000m. Given that the Dead Sea is below sea level
and that Aqaba is very warm, you will understand that there is a
great difference in the temperature between one place and another.
Here I am talking basically about the medium conditions, and you
should remember that ALWAYS
the Dead Sea and Aqaba are hotter and drier. Also, please take
into account that one year is not always like another year, just
as happens elsewhere. All I can do is to give you the
Summer is easy - it is hot everywhere.
You can often find temperatures of 35-40°C in Petra; in that
case, Wadi Rum and Aqaba will be higher! You cannot sightsee in
Wadi Rum in these conditions, everybody finds somewhere in the
shade to sleep. You can start to move about again from about 5pm.
Much the same in Aqaba, the beach is most unpleasant in the
afternoon, and you would be risking sunstroke to try to stay in
the sea for long, unless you are diving. If snorkelling, you
might get away with it, but be sure to wear a tee shirt against a
to middle of May
: mostly pleasant weather. Take a good pullover for the evenings,
especially at the beginning of April. Rain is possible, but
unlikely after the beginning of May. September and
October are broadly similar, but of
course, substitute "end October" for "beginning of
generally begins about the end of November - and it is cold! You
can't expect much better than 10-15°C during the daytime, and
this when the sun is shining. Rain is ardently hoped for - it
always amuses me to see the broad smiles of the locals in (what
seems to me) most unpleasant weather! Snow is entirely possible
in January and February, I have known it in November. Wadi Rum is
also cold, not much less so than Petra. It invariably freezes at
night, but the daytime isn't really too bad. But don't have any
illusions, you will need a warm jacket, preferably waterproof,
just about everywhere. Actually, the massifs of Wadi Rum in the
snow are quite spectacular! Petra is as well, but usually in rain
or snow, access to Petra is not allowed. There have been a number
of flash floods lately, so far there have been no more tourist
deaths, but the authorities still remember 1963 [when
a group of French tourists was swept away by a flash flood in the
Siq, and 23 of them were drowned],
and prefer to play safe (you might like to look at the page on
"Wadi Mousa and its people" for more details about
Aqaba in the winter is
the warmest place, but even here, high temperatures are unlikely
to go over 20°C. The sea tends to be coldish. Aqaba is at the
south end of Wadi Araba, there is invariably a good breeze to be
felt, this turns into a lot of wind in the winter. Snorkelling
conditions are not really good at this time.
Wind in Jordan, and especially in
the desert areas, and around Petra, is very unpleasant indeed. It
always brings a lot of dust and sand, sometimes one can
experience a full blown sandstorm. On a number of occasions the
Desert Highway has been closed because of bad visibility from the
sand and dust. Driving in these conditions is not to be
recommended. This sort of thing usually happens in the winter,
but is by no means unknown in the spring and the autumn.
There is a link to
current weather in Amman and in Aqaba on the main Index page.
Obviously this only gives today's weather and usually a forecast
for three or four days to come, but it might help if you are
travelling in the near future. You also have the times of sunrise
and sunset there.
The Jordanian dinar is now officially
pegged to the USDollar at 1USD to 0.70JD, and for rough calculations you can take it that 2JD is
approximately 3USD. One JD is also very close to one British
pound, so you can base yourself on these currencies for
calculating prices. Information in February 2009 has the
euro at about 90% of the dinar.
is officially divided into 1000 "fils", but in fact
just about everybody in Jordan speaks and thinks in "piasters"
which is the equivalent of 10 fils. In other words, the dinar is
also divided into 100 piasters.
is a link to a currency converter that you
can keep open if you like for immediate reference. It's rather good, it gives a
conversion from any currency to any other currency.
there are no currency restrictions in Jordan, unlike some
neighbouring countries there is no currency black market and you
have nothing at all to gain in changing money outside normal
banking/money changing circles. On the contrary you will
invariably lost by doing this, since your "changer" can
only put the money back into the bank and will usually allow
himself some margin against unexpected fluctuations in the
Warning !! The prices are going sky high in Jordan,
following the huge increase in the price of petrol which more than doubled in
eighteen months. The salary increases have been only token ones and do not begin
to compensate the price rises. This is bringing a great deal of hardship to
those on small incomes. More immediately for you, it
means that hotel and restaurant prices are likely to be much much higher than
those quoted in guide books.
If you are looking for picnic food this is also likely to be far more expensive
that two years ago. Such articles as milk, fresh or dried, and pots of yoghurt
have more than doubled. Eggs cost nearly the same as they do in Paris.
Taxis, buses and all transport now
are priced far more than a couple of years ago. So please do not asume that you
are being ripped off if you have been to Jordan before and now are being asked
far more money for the same article or service.
usually advise people to BUDGET between 30 and
40JD per day in Jordan (2JD approx 3USD). This involves staying
in budget hotels in rooms with connected bathrooms and picnicking
a fair bit. The upper limit allows you a beer from time to time.
will not spend this amount every day, but the entrance to Petra
for one day, 57 for two and 60JD for 3 or 4 days. I know this is
very expensive, but most people admit that it is worth it, even
if it upsets a lot of budgets. Wadi Rum, the high point of so
many people's holidays, is also not cheap. These prices, like the entrance fees
to other sites, have been reduced for the last three years and have just been
returned to what they were before the tourism crisis in the Middle East. Rather
are shocked by this sum, don't panic too soon. It is better, on
the whole, to be pessimistic when budgeting. If two of you are
travelling together, you will save noticeably, there are many
ways in which 2+2=3 as far as budgets are concerned. You can also
reduce this sum sharply by sleeping on roofs, except during the
FAQs). If you are
planning on the cheapest hotels, which again would bring down the
budget, you might consider bringing a sleeping bag liner with you.
They are light, easily washed, can be used alone without blankets
during the summer or in Sinai, and will protect you from dubious
and Egypt are considerably cheaper, Israel is more expensive.
is not like Egypt for this. You can seldom get more than 20 or 25
percent lower than the asking price, and not even that if you are
with a guide who expects a commission. The best way to bargain is
to buy (for instance) two of something, and ask for a special
price in consequence. If you are unsure of what a price should be,
then ask around before you embark on serious negotiations. But if
you offer a price for any article, then you should be prepared to
coming from Egypt or Syria, often offer a "ridiculous"
price, perhaps half of the price named by the vendor or even less.
If you do this in Jordan, the chances are that the vendor will
refuse to talk to you at all. You are considered to be "making
fun of him" or to be treating him as somebody dishonest. In
that case, then it's no use offering him his original price - he
just won't sell to you. He might also pass the word around to his
if you are with a group, then you can NEVER get a price
lower than that already paid by another member of the same group.
You can, however, negotiate a group rate!
mentioned guides and commissions. The tendency among tourists is
obviously to dislike this practice! However, it isn't all bad. If
a guide takes you to a particular shop, then it is because he
knows that here you will get honest merchandise at a reasonable
price. After all, the shopkeeper says "Goodbye" and
forgets about you, but the guide is with you for the rest of your
visit. The last thing he wants is to hear you complaining about
the bad bargain you made - right up until you go home, and
possibly taking it out of his tip! I have heard a guide reaming
out a shopkeeper about a sale he made the previous week: "Another
one like that and I don't bring people here any more"
is a potent threat.
we are talking about commissions, I should just like to
mention ME. I have
been "accused" of taking commissions from certain
hotels. It is very easy to refute this if anybody is
wondering: since several of the hotels in question offer
discounts to the people giving my name, obviously they don't
also offer me commission! If you like, YOU are
getting the benefit of any commissions that I might have
claimed. For the record : No, I don't get any money at all
from the advice I make available to travellers!
There is an
I might mention here. Suppose that you are in a taxi and are looking for a
particular hotel, perhaps one mentioned in this website. The driver might pick
up his mobile phone and say "I'll check that they have rooms available " Instead
he asks the hotel "How much commission will you give me for these people?" If
the answer is unsatisfactory ("none') he says to you "Sorry but they are full,
I'll take you to another good place". Taxis in fact often "grade" hotels by the
commission they are given.
This might happen also if you want a
particular guide or driver etc, and it might be a receptionist at a hotel
telling you "Sorry, but he's not free that day". It is easy to avoid : you just
insist on speaking to the hotel/guide yourself. Don't be put off, all
these people speak good English and nobody honest would refuse to let you talk.
If they do then consider it suspicious!
between commissions and ripoffs comes the huge "Handicrafts
Centre" near to Madaba on the road to Mount Nebo. They pay commissions
to drivers and guides in the range of 40-50 percent of the purchase, which
personally I find outrageous. I heard recently of a tourist who bought a painted
ostrich egg there for the price of 350JD. The driver was given 150JD for
bringing her there. An identical egg is on sale in a Madaba souvenir shop for
the price of 180JD. Obviously guides will push you to buy at the Handicrafts
Centre - by all means do so if you wish, but remember that the commission given
to the guides comes directly from your pocket. There have also been complaints
from several people who have asked to have goods sent to them. On arrival, the
goods turned out not to be the same as those on display at the time they were
ordered. On one occasion, even an article packed in the shop and carried away by
the purchaser had been exchanged during the wrapping. Now
this might well be carelessness, forgetfulness or plain lack of organization.
However it is very annoying if it happens to you, whatever the reason!
also another scam around that concerns Wadi Rum. Hotels and sometimes taxi
drivers are always delighted to organise "a tour of Wadi Rum" for you, even if
this is officially no longer allowed - only official tourist agencies are
permitted to do this. What the hotels do is to charge you (say) 25JD and send
you to a Bedouin there passing on to him (perhaps) 15JD. The Bedouin then gives
the tourist a 15JD tour and all too often the tourist is disappointed. I have
never known anybody who has received a decent tour of Wadi Rum claim that it
wasn't worth every penny.
If somebody in Petra or Dana does offer to "organise" a tour for you and
requests payment in advance, you can be 100% sure that a ripoff is involved.
Only if you are given the card of somebody in Wadi Rum and advised to contact
him yourself can you be reasonably sure of a good tour there.
drivers have a worse method in a way: they might take you themselves - but to
the area of Dissieh, rather than to Wadi Rum. Dissieh is outside the Nature
Reserve and the rules are less strict, especially in what concerns the
environment. It is in fact turning from a beautiful area into something of an
extended rubbish dump. If you see one of your "guides" uncaringly scattering
rubbish around the landscape you can be pretty sure that he is NOT a local Bedouin!
additional information you should check out
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