In December 2022, my husband and I took our three-year-old and almost two-year-old to Jordan. We visited Amman, the Dead Sea, Petra, and Wadi Rum. We were blown away by the kindness and hospitality of Jordanians. From the beginning of our trip, when the car rental employee properly installed the seat/buckled in our kids to every valet driver who helped us take our kids out of the car to all the waiters who lovingly welcomed our kids into their restaurants/accommodated our toddlers with patience and extra efforts, we felt incredibly comfortable and welcomed. This was truly one of our favorite family trips we have ever taken!
Jordan is very drive-able. We pre-booked a car rental at the airport in advance. We requested carseats, and the employees installed the seats. We drove around the city of Amman, to the Dead Sea, to the King Hussein Bridge (border with Israel), to Petra, and to Wadi Rum. An alternative is to hire a private driver, which many people have said is affordable. With our young kids, we enjoyed the flexibility of our own car.
Although the country is non-secular and it is not mandatory to wear anything in particular, it is respectful for females to wear looser-fitting outfit, covering shoulders and knees, and have a scarf if they want to enter a religious area.
The Jordan Pass is a sightseeing package aimed to help visitors make the most out of their trip visiting top sights and attractions while saving time, money and efforts.
- Prepaid entry to over 40 attractions. Just show the pass when you arrive at the site. The logistical convenience of simply flashing this pass at every entry was great. When traveling with young children, we will take any convenience we can get!
- Waiving of tourist entry visa fees if you purchase the Jordan Pass before arrival to Jordan and stay a minimum of three nights. Have this pass downloaded to your phone before your flight, so as soon as you get to border control, you have it ready to show. Although children don’t need Jordan Passes because they have free admissions to the sites, they still need visas.
- There are three different packages that range from the pricing of $98 to $115. If you add up the cost of a visa ($60) + admission to just Petra ($70), it makes the Jordan Pass worth it.
Where to Stay:
|Amman Marriott Hotel||Overall, we enjoyed the comfort, service, and location of this hotel. This hotel was very secure. It was close to several pharmacies for when we needed urgent items (i.e., diapers).|
Where to Eat:
These are three restaurants that had tasty food + excellent service for our young kids!
|Shams El Balad||@shamselbalad||Jordanian brunch + great latte|
|Sufra Amman||@romerogroup||The dinner options were good and child-friendly + the Pistachio Rose dessert was great.|
|Jubran||@jubran_jo||This menu was VAST with many dinner and dessert options; as well as exceptional service. Our waiter kindly sped up our children’s food order and brought out portable chargers for our kids tablets so we could eat in peace. A true hero.|
What to do:
We only had 1.5 days in Amman, but we enjoyed the following activities with our kids!
|Amman Citadel||This historical site of ancient ruins is not a difficult walk for toddlers. Our kids were able to run around in certain spots, while we looked at the pretty views.|
|Grand Husseini Mosque||This area is more ‘local’ and great for shopping for local items. If you are a female entering the mosque, make sure you have a scarf and are generally covered. Haggling is the norm at the stores here.|
|Abdali Mall||This is a big mall, full of good store options, a children’s play area (that include robot animal rides), and a food court with burger, pizza, chicken nugget options.|
|Amman Children’s Museum||We were not able to visit this museum, but it is highly recommended for kids.|
Where to stay:
Because our itinerary was packed for the week, we made the Dead Sea a day trip from Amman. It was only a 1-hour-drive which was great! If you stay for a longer time, IMO 2 days would be enough (given how much more there is to do in Jordan). We purchased a day pass at a resort.
|Movenprick Resort & Spa Dead Sea||We purchased a day pass for $70 JOD. The resort has access to the Dead Sea, heated pools, restaurants, kids club, and a spa.
There are several other resorts – message them if they have a day pass (if you are interested in a day pass over a longer stay). If you’re going to go in the winter, make sure they have heated pools
Where to eat:
We only ate at our resort in the Dead Sea.
|Where to eat in the Dead Sea||Notes|
|Movenprick Resort & Spa Dead Sea||At the resort, we ate chicken nuggets, pizza, and my favorite, a Virgin Pina Colada.|
What to do:
Located on the border between Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea is an intriguing natural phenomena. Other than microorganisms and algae, this salt water lake lacks life of any kind – there’s no seaweed, fish or any other creatures found in or around its turquoise waters.
Although it was not as warm as I would have preferred; if this is the only season you can make the trip to Jordan, it is still worth the experience to enjoy the Dead Sea!
|Apply mud and get in salt water||The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth. The high salt and mineral content mean that this body of water has powerful healing properties (i.e., for acne, psoriasis and cellulite, muscle ache and arthritis). To achieve the benefits, people go to the Dead Sea, get wet in the water first, then scrub the mud on themselves, and then get hosed down to clean off.|
|Relax by the Dead Sea||Even in December, the Dead Sea area was not as chilly as Amman; but it was cold enough for me to prefer to dip my toes in the water and relax/observe next to it.|
|Enjoy the Resort Amenities||We enjoyed the heated pools and eating at the restaurants. I wanted a massage, but did not book in advance.|
Tips Based On Our Lessons Learned:
- Water Shoes: I wish I had brought water shoes for myself and the kids. There were rocks going into the water (from the area we entered).
- Wash Salt off Body: The salt from the Dead Sea needs to be taken off asap from little ones, to avoid it touching sensitive areas. We learned the hard way with our son, but thankfully wonderful life guards assisted with cleaning him off.
- Walk to Dead Sea: From our resort, it was a downhill walk to get to the Sea, with a lot of steps. If you’re concerned about the walk, call the resort beforehand to plan ahead.
Getting to Petra from Amman:
Amman is the closest major city to Petra, and there are a few ways to get between the two cities.
|Rental Car||3 hours||Based on rental||We drove ourselves in our car rental. During daylight and no rain/fog, it is manageable for a confident driver. We mistakenly drove at night/in terrible weather, and I would never recommend someone do that.|
|Airport Taxi or Private Driver||3 hours||$110|
|JETT Bus||5-6 hours||$18-one-way|
Where to stay:
|Petra Marriott Hotel||
Where to eat:
We ended up eating at the hotel a few times, but also tried these restaurants below:
|Elan||https://www.tripadvisor.nl/Restaurant_Review-g318895-d24085527-Reviews-Elan_Restaurant-Petra_Wadi_Musa_Ma_an_Governorate.html||We ordered shawarma, fries, hummus, and knafeh
|Al-Wadi||https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g318895-d1191095-Reviews-Al_Wadi_Restaurant-Petra_Wadi_Musa_Ma_an_Governorate.html||We ordered shawarma, fries, hummus, and knafeh|
What to do:
Where to park: The area of Petra to explore was about a 10 minute drive from our hotel. We drove down and parked in the free car park in Petra opposite the bus stop (in front of the Petra Moon hotel).
Set Expectations: Because I knew that Petra was quite a bit of walking (and was muddy when we went), we planned ahead and had to be strategic with our kids. We knew that people can spend days exploring the area, but because of our kids, we needed to set our expectations (per my blog post Traveling with Tots: Key Lessons Learned). We were prepared to keep our focus on the day on walking down the Siq towards the Treasury.
Afternoon Itinerary at Petra with Two Toddlers:
- Taking the stroller as far as possible: We took our baby travel stroller and toddler carrier past the visitor center. When we saw the horses area at the beginning of the Siq, we asked to leave the stroller and carrier in a ‘secure’ area that only the horse riders accessed (we took a leap of faith no one would take it). I think that restaurants, earlier on, would have likely allowed us to leave it there as well.
- Getting on horse-backs: From there, each me and my husband got onto a horse with one of our kids and rode the mile walk down. Our kids LOVED it!
- Walking down the Siq: After getting off in the Siq, we walked almost half a mile to get to the Treasury. The kids roamed around, admired the rocks, and we had fun enjoying the beautiful walk.
- Camel rides at the Treasury: When we got to the Treasury, we did short camel rides for the kids.
- Hike to get better views of Treasury: After the camels, our photographer and a locals (for a small fee), guided us up on a “beginner level” hike to get better views of the Treasury. My husband carried our older one up, fairly easily. My shoes were slippery, so the photographer and locals helped carry our daughter up/down.
- Heading towards entrance: We walked back at a slower pace back. By the time we got done, the horse riding was also finished for the day. This made our walk back longer; but thankfully, our stroller/carrier was safely where we had left it.
We did not do all the sites and hikes that people without kids do at Petra. However, it was enough for us to feel satisfied, and the fact that the kids truly enjoyed the experience made it all the better! **Note, make sure to where comfortable clothing and shoes for yourselves and your kids!
Prior to the visit, we booked a professional photographer to accompany us on our Petra tour. The photographer can be found on Instagram on the_beauty_of_petra. I was so pleased with the results!
Benefits to having a professional photographer in Petra when you have young kids include:
- The photographer is familiar with the prettiest spots and can help you navigate your journey through Petra.
- It was individual to just our family, so he moved at our pace while we managed the kids.
- During activities that required our full attention, such as riding animals and easy hikes, it was nice to have someone else documenting photos of our whole family. He also made videos of our family.
- He helped us navigate communicating with the locals at Petra, who tried to convince us to go certain routes.
- Our photographer was reasonably priced and provided over 100 photos within 2 days; of which he edited the 15 photos I asked him to.
I will forever treasure these photos from our special trip!
Wadi Rum is an absolutely majestic dessert, full of red sand. You might recognize it from movies, such as the Martian. It is a 2-hour-drive from Petra and was a highlight of our travels. We spent one night in the camp; although some people make a day trip out of this. With our young kids, this would have been difficult, and staying a night was amazing.
Here is a background of the dessert and how it generally works to visit:
Dessert Entry: The Bedouin people run a village right at the entrance of the Wadi Drum dessert. That is where they live and run their restaurants and shops. At the entrance, you can purchase a ticket for entry or flash your Jordan Pass (this is regardless if you have a camp booking). Try to arrive in the early afternoon, to make the most of sunlight and stay “in working hours” for the camp workers, to avoid late fees etc.
Dessert Camps: They run several different “camps” throughout the dessert. Based on the camp that you book, each one will arrange their own driver/guide to pick you up from the parking area and pick you and your luggage up in a jeep. The jeep will tour you around in the dessert/take you to your camp. Once at your camp, your specific hosts will have options for activities (camel rides, jeep rides, star gazing, etc.). They will also provide you with meals. The camp that we stayed at, each “tent room” (with actual walls and a door), came with a toilet + shower. It was not the fanciest, but it was clean and got the job done.
Cash Only: Almost everything is cash here, and there are no ATMs in the dessert or village. Make sure to bring enough cash for the hotel + all the activities + tips. I made a mistake of not reading my Booking.com confirmation of our camp stay, where it clearly said I needed to bring cash to pay for the full stay. I had not anticipated this, and we had to frantically come up with another option. It could have been prevented, if I would read the fine print.
Where to stay
|Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp||We stayed overnight for one night in this camp. It was nice, clean, and the owner was very kind; but it was not as ‘glamorous’ feeling as some of the other Bubble Tents. If I went back, I would try an alternative camp with a more ‘luxurious’ feel (if the price point makes sense for our budget).|
What to do:
Our hotel employees arranged our activities.
|Jeep ride through the dessert||This was a bumpy ride! We loved it; but note that it is not recommended for pregnant women.|
|Camel rides||We did short camel rides in the dessert; we also got to see a group of baby camels.|
|Star gazing||We did not do an official star gazing tour, but the sky was so clear, it was beautiful to see the sky at night!|
|Hiking||We did not do the hiking because of the kids; but they enjoyed playing in the sand.|
What to eat:
|Rest stop at village||There is a rest stop at the start of the village where we stopped to get our kids some basic essentials and snacks|
|Wadi Bedouin Camp||The camp provided dinner and breakfast (we did not stay for lunch). They cooked meat in an unique way, underneath the ground. It was fun to watch and eat!|
Wrapping it up:
Jordan with young children is an absolutely manageable and enjoyable trip. You might need to take breaks and be adaptable in your itinerary. It will not look like the trips of your peers to Jordan without young kids, similar to other places, but it is absolutely wonderful, enjoyable, and I recommend it to be at the top of your bucket list when planning your next family vacation!
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