More Jordan links
So much has been written about this site that I don't quite know where to begin or how much to say about it. First of all, how to get there, and how to get away again!
The bus station in Wadi Mousa is about 500 meters south of the main street, not far from the main mosque. Do not expect to find any information on bus times here - there is no office giving out information ! The best place to ask is the reception at your hotel or at the Visitors' Centre at the entrance to the site of Petra.
Amman : buses leave throughout the day for Petra from the Wahedat (south) bus station in Amman. There is no timetable, these buses leave when they are full. There are a few buses even on Friday morning. From Petra, there are at least some fixed departures, at 6.30am, at 7am and at 8am. I understand there are also buses at 11.30am and 2pm but check these with your hotel. Buses on Fridays are very scarce and there may be none at all. Certainly you cannot count on a fixed time departure.
We now have a daily service from Amman by JETT bus. This leaves the JETT office close to the Abdali area (any taxi would take you there) every morning at 6.30am and brings you to Petra. The fare is 6JD for a single ticket and 11JD for a return. This bus doesn't leave you at the bus station like the others, but goes straight down to the Visitors' Centre at the entrance to the site of Petra. If you thought that you would like to find a hotel first (there are no facilities for left luggage at the Visitors' Centre), then you are unlucky - the bus is not allowed to stop in the village for you even if you ask the driver nicely.
The bus returns to Amman at 4.30pm. If you don't already have a ticket you can buy one at Jeff's Bookshop in the line of shops between the ticket office and the entrance to the site. You can also get one on the bus if you haven't left yourself enough time - always supposing that there are seats available.
The importance of this bus is that it is the only public transport leaving Wadi Mousa/Petra to Amman after 2pm, and thus a day visit from Amman has become possible. The trip takes around 3 hours, so you would have some 6 hours to wander around. This lets you hit the high spots of the huge site, but no more. If you don't have time for a two day visit - well, this will give you a taste!
See the JETT website at http://www.jett.com.jo/english.htm
Aqaba : there are buses at about 6.20am, at 7am, at 8am and at 4.15pm. Buses leave there at 8am, 9.30am, 1pm and 3pm, except of course on Fridays. There are sometimes other buses in between, which don't seem to have a particular schedule.
Wadi Rum (please see the page on Wadi Rum for some remarks on ripping off regarding this bus) : there is one direct bus a day, leaving Wadi Mousa in the early morning. Be careful: this is a tourist bus, and the usual customs for buses do not apply to it. The procedure is that you ask your hotel to reserve your places on this bus which then comes to pick you up. Unfortunately there is no way to check ahead of time that this bus will run on any particular day. This depends, not only on the number of passengers coming from Petra, but on the number of people in Wadi Rum waiting to take the bus on its return trip. Often the driver only decides in the morning when he sees how many passengers he has in total. He will go for a minimum of 3 or 4 people. He might ask for a supplement in the fare (normal fare is 7JD) if there is a minimal number. Since your alternative is a taxi, you would surely do better to agree to this. The bus returns from Wadi Rum at 8.30 to 9am, arriving in Wadi Mousa around 11am.
The driver's phone number is 0795411546 or 0795235257
If the bus doesn't go for whatever reason, then take a bus to Aqaba and get down at the junction to the road to Wadi Rum (tell the driver what you want) and try to hitch a lift. The distance is 30kms, and you may well be asked to pay - about 8JD is fair. If you have previously reserved with any of the guides in Wadi Rum, they may agree to come and fetch you for the same price. This is not necessarily the case during the high season when they are very busy. Obviously you would need to warn them either by phone or by SMS that you will need this service. The best thing is to call them the evening before, the best time to find them would be the very late evening.
You might like to look at the page entitled "Excursions from Petra : Humeima, Disseh and the north of the Wadi Rum area"
Tafileh and Kerak : buses do go to these villages, but there does not seem to be any fixed time or even a fixed day for departures! There is a good chance your hotel can discover something for you, but unless he makes a phone call to find out, better check it!
Ma'an : This is the principal town of central south Jordan, and is pretty well lacking in general interest for tourists - EXCEPT that there are very regular buses to and from Wadi Mousa/Petra which is some 30 kilometers away. So if you are unable to get a bus to Petra for any reason, or if you have just missed one, look for one for Ma'an - there is a bus from Aqaba for Ma'an, for instance, leaving at 6pm. You might be too late for a bus to Petra, but the standard taxi fare Ma'an-Petra is 12JD, which is a great improvement on taxi fares from most other places.
There are buses to and from Petra/Wadi Mousa to Ma'an almost every hour during the day until about 2 or 3pm. As I have said, Ma'an is the local transport centre and you can get to anywhere in Jordan fairly easily from here. Ma'an is 30kms or so from Wadi Mousa, fare is probably about 1 or 1 1/2JD. There are no direct buses from Ma'an to Wadi Rum, take a bus to Aqaba, get down at the Rashidiya Junction, sometimes called the Rum Intersection, and look for a lift as above.
Before I start to talk about hotels, I should warn you that I have had a great number of complaints about the "tours to Wadi Rum" organised by hotels in Wadi Mousa/Petra. Most of these tours will take you to the neighbouring village of Disseh, where there are some large camps (sleeping often more than a hundred a night) specially for tourists. These camps are run by people from outside: from Aqaba, Wadi Mousa, Amman and even Madaba. Their trips around do NOT take you into the Protected Area of Wadi Rum - whatever you might be told. You will most certainly not see an authentic Bedouin camp, and you will probably not see any Bedouin from the local tribes.
If you are told that the morning bus to Wadi Rum is not running and that the hotel "will organise something for you", be on your guard immediately! If you do not pass through the new Visitors' Centre, then you are heading for Disseh!
The same thing goes for any helpful taxi driver who offers a "good price" to take you to Wadi Rum. Since several of the camps I mentioned are run by people from Wadi Mousa/Petra, the locals there are always anxious to help out their cousins!
Not all the hotels do this, there are some honourable exceptions mentioned below, and it is up to you to avoid this scam. I have given full details of how to book tours in Wadi Rum.
Something different : A hotel with a difference is Petra Bed and Breakfast. This is a very small establishment, with only four rooms and which is a fair distance from the other hotels in Wadi Mousa. The four rooms allow the hosts to offer personalized service and to take an interest in their "guests". The formula Bed and Breakfast is almost unknown in Jordan, and means that you should really have supper/dinner before returning to your bed in the evening. This isn't applied too strictly, and the hosts can often bring you "take out" dishes, or even arrange for a cooked supper if requested in advance.
Petra Bed and Breakfast also offers horse tours around the Petra hills and desert; they are the only establishment offering this and these tours are very popular. See their website for more information at www.petrabedandbreakfast.com.
Their email is email@example.com and their phone 00962 (0) 777 22 08 25
The entrance to Petra is something less than a mile or nearly two kilometers from the village of Wadi Mousa where most of the cheaper hotels are to be found. Close to the entrance, the only remotely cheap hotels are the Sunset and the Petra Moon. The Sunset is the more primitive of the two, it is one of the earliest hotels built after the explosion of tourism in Petra in 1995. The Petra Moon has become a three star hotel will be built on the same site - eventually. You can also try the Silk Road Hotel, the prices are much the same and they are offer all the advantages as the Petra Moon. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +9126.96.36.19922 fax +9188.8.131.5244. For a slightly more expensive hotel nearby, you have the Petra Palace website http://www.petrapalace.com.jo/ and email email@example.com, a comfortable three-star hotel with a bar and a swimming pool. There is also a large selection of souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants around here. You might like to look at the page on "Souvenirs" which talks about a few of the shops.
Higher up in the village of Wadi Mousa, the best cheap hotel at the moment is the Cleopetra (locally known as "Kilopetra"!) a bit higher up the hill which is a charming hotel with a friendly and helpful manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org +962 3 2157090 (their Wadi Rum trips really DO go to Wadi Rum!). The Valley Stars Hotel (www.valleystarsinn.com) is on its way up again after a bad period. On a recent visit I was very favourably impressed. New management has moved in, the hotel has been completely redecorated and - big change! - it was impeccably clean. The guide books are only just catching up with the altered status and I expect the hotel will have plenty of rooms free for some time to come. The staff is undoubtedly very anxious to please. However they are by no means a luxury hotel as their website claims. I suspect they would not rate more than two star status. Phone and fax 00962.3.2155.733 email email@example.com.
There are two good hotels a mile or so further up, the Alanbat One and the Mousa Spring, which are the oldest hotels in the valley. The Alanbat One in particular has a beautiful view and is very good when it is hot. It also has a small swimming pool and a Turkish Bath. The only problem here is that with these added facilities the Alanbat One has increased its prices quite drastically, and a double room now costs 35JD which puts it out of the backpackers' league and to the top of the "family hotel" category. Moreover, these extra facilities are not always available during the winter. However they are often willing to bargain out of the high season. It also offers a site for campers with a private kitchen and balcony. The Alanbat Hotels have a website at http://www.alanbat.com email firstname.lastname@example.org) Mousa Spring is mostly a backpacker's hotel, but if you keep that in mind it offers good value for money. Both Alanbat One (and Alanbat Two) and Mousa Spring offer free transport to and from Petra, but if you would like to wander around the village in the evening (shops and coffee shops) you will do better further down. You are pretty well isolated if you stay up there.
There is a magnificent view, though!