I couldn't believe it.
The guesthouse owner where I was staying had just offered me full-board tour to Petra and a trip to the Dead Sea in exchange for sexual services.
Did I really look that cheap?
I hated Jordan at first. Not only had I just barely made it past immigration at the airport after being confused for a drug mule upon my arrival in Amman, I had also gotten scammed by a taxi driver, and I was now stuck in a terrible situation in the middle of the night. I had booked that guesthouse in a rush after seeing the price (only $7 for a room), and I had failed to read over the reviews, which were less than ideal (a few women claimed the owner had offered them a free olive oil massage or talked to them about a natural viagra that could be found in the desert.)
I politely declined his offer and asked Lola, a French woman I had met a few hours earlier if I could sleep in her room.
I sneaked out of the guesthouse as early as possible, determined to find a better place to stay. Luckily, I was able to find another guesthouse where my entire outlook on Jordan changed.
If you had asked me if Jordan is safe for women after my first two days in the country, I would have immediately replied "no", but things began brightening up soon after
My new guesthouse was close to the city center, and I had the luck to meet three other solo girl travelers during my stay - Ayla, a New Zealander who was on holidays, a Japanese girl who was backpacking the Middle East, and a Chinese woman on a solo stint around Egypt, Israel, and Jordan. It was a small guesthouse, and we were the only guests at the time.
Meeting other women going solo brought my confidence back up. After getting heavily questioned at the airport, I felt as though solo female travel was extremely uncommon in Jordan, something that turned out to be untrue as I got to explore the country further.
I went to explore Amman on my own without issues. That night, I went out to get dinner on my own, too. Amman felt incredibly safe, even after dark. I slowly began to regain my confidence. I ate at small restaurants alone, I walked to the citadel and watched the sun setting. I ate my weight in Jordanian pastries, and window shopped the city center. Amman was amazing. I LOVED Jordan!
Once out and about in the city, I was never once harassed or catcalled. I quickly realized that the bad encounter with the dodgy guesthouse owner should not ruin my outlook on Jordanians - most of them were really friendly and eager to help whenever I asked for directions.
Upon meeting Ayla, things got even brighter. We immersed ourselves in Amman's shisha scene together and explored Petra together. Ayla had plans to travel further to Egypt with her sister, so we sadly parted ways after a few nights.
My next stop was a Workaway agricultural project near the border to Palestine. I hopped on a public bus that dropped me off at the border and I walked for two kilometers on the road to the farm. I had zero incidents during the bus ride, and no issues at all during the walk.
My short stay at the farm was wonderful as well. This was a very rural side of Jordan and people kept to themselves a lot, but smiles were prominent. While at the farm, there were four other girls being hosted as well. All of them were traveling the Middle East on their own and had nothing but good things to say about Jordan other than a few guys confusing a smile for flirting and asking the girls out when they were just smiling to be polite. Still, a firm no was accepted and no further issues arose.
On my last day in Jordan, I began walking towards the border when two men in a car stopped to offer me a ride. I hesitated, but ultimately accepted and got to the border safely. I crossed the border to Palestine feeling nostalgic and promising myself to return to Jordan and to explore more Middle Eastern countries in the future.
Is Jordan Safe For Women To Travel To?
In short. YES, I think Jordan is safe for women traveling solo.
I took public transport, walked in the capital alone both during the day and after dark, and hitchhiked shortly without incidents. I was also amazed at the amount of solo female travelers I met during my brief stay in Jordan. I actually met more female backpackers than male ones, which I thought was an incredible thing!
TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE IN JORDAN
- Avoid the guesthouse I stayed in like the plague. The name is Sun Rise Hotel. Not only is the owner dodgy as hell, they also breed exotic birds on their terrace for a business.
- Always check hotel reviews, make sure to pay close attention to reviews written by other women.
- Negotiate the price for a taxi before getting in. If there is a taximeter, make sure the driver doesn't set it up to start at a ridiculous amount. Upon arrival to Amman, I took a shuttle bus to the main bus station, from where I boarded a taxi. I knew for a fact that a taxi from the airport should cost around 25 JD, so I opted to take the shuttle and then a taxi to the guesthouse, which shouldn't have cost me more than 3 JD for a two-kilometer ride.
Still, I was tired and didn't notice that the driver had set up the meter to start at over 20 JD, so on arrival, he tried charging me 25 JD ($35!!! for the ride).
- Jordanians are incredibly scared of the police. If someone harasses you or tries to scam you, call the police (or tell them you are going to call).
- Dress appropriately. Jordan is used to tourism and not covering up completely is accepted. Still, while you don't need to cover your head with a hijab, covering your legs and shoulders will save you from unwanted stares.
- Avoid smiling too much at men - A woman smiling at a man is considered to be flirting in Jordan. Be polite, but not overly friendly unless you are actually into a guy.
- Get a good travel insurance, you never know when things might go wrong and with so many action-packed things to do in Jordan, a small accident could always occur (let's hope not, but you are always better off safe than sorry and even if your trip is incident-free, the peace of mind of having a reputable travel insurance backing you up is priceless).
I highly recommend World Nomads, you can easily secure your insurance online, and modify/extend it online as well!
- Get a local sim card (I recommend Orange) to keep in touch with family or friends back home and let someone know your travel plans.
- Write these numbers down in case of an emergency. While I doubt you'll need them, being prepared is invaluable:
191 - Police. They take their job seriously in Jordan.
199 - Paramedics
190 and 194 - Traffic and road police
- Avoid going to coffeehouses or bars alone - these are male "territories" and you might even get kicked out. Hookah bars are generally okay and filled with local women enjoying a smoke.
- Have a backup story. If asked, try to avoid saying you are traveling alone. The thing with Jordanian men is that they watch too much western TV and ummm, sometimes a lot of porn and they think Western women are up for anything. Some men might think that a woman traveling alone in Jordan is looking for more than just sightseeing.
This doesn't mean that you will get assaulted or harassed. Rape is actually quite rare in Jordan, but telling someone that you are on your way to meet your husband at a restaurant or having a story about your husband and children back home helps. For more tips on solo travel, read my guide here.
WHAT TO PACK FOR JORDAN?
You should dress modestly, but that doesn't mean you need to wear a hijab or cover yourself from head to toe (except when you visit mosques). Jordanian women, especially in Amman, are incredibly stylish and their wardrobes are quite Westernized. Form-fitting stuff is totally acceptable, but make sure you avoid wearing things like spaghetti tank tops and shorts outside of Petra, where they are used to tourists wearing them.
HERE'S MY LIST OF JORDAN PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR WOMEN:
- A purifying water bottle like the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier. It filters bacteria, viruses, and chemicals from any source of fresh water in a matter of seconds. Not only is it more environmentally friendly than buying and disposing of plastic bottles, but it will also save you tons of money in the long run.
- Comfortable hiking shoes. You are basically coming to Jordan to walk long distances - be it in Petra, Wadi Rum desert, or while discovering the endless amounts of sand castles. Durable and comfortable hiking shoes are essential, I recommend the Ahnu's Sugarpine Hiking Shoes.
- Sandals or flats to explore Amman and the Dead Sea in. I love these and they combine with any outfit.
- A sweater or hoodie. While temperatures in Jordan tend to be hot, nights can get chilly even during the hottest months of the year.
- If you are coming between December and March, I highly recommend packing a jacket - it can get really cold, especially in the Wadi Rum area.
- A one-piece swimsuit or tankini for the Dead Sea. While it is a touristy area, I recommend wearing a one-piece swimsuit to show respect.
Pairing your tankini with a cute cover-up is also a great idea. Here is a selection of some really cute ones I found.
7. Breathable pair of pants. Jordan can be a hot country, but shorts are a no-no due to cultural reasons. A breathable pair of pants is a must!
If you still want to look fashionable, a long skirt will do as well, but for days in Petra and desert nights, the less-fashionable pant option is worth the comfort.
8. Sunscreen, for obvious reasons, but I do want to take the time to recommend bringing an eco-friendly sunblock to avoid harming the oceans in Jordan as well as the Dead Sea. Chemicals such as oxybenzone, which are found in normal sunscreens threaten coral reefs.
There are many sunscreen companies that claim their products are biodegradable, but this is not always the case. Stream2Sea is tested and proven reef safe, so I'd go for that one!
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