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I plan on going to Amman, Jordan for four days in March. I plan to spend a day visiting the Petra Caves - don't want to spend more than a day there unless absolutely necessary as otherwise I'd have to buy a two day pass which is costlier than the one day pass - and another day at the Dead Sea, which leaves me with a day or two in Amman. The Jordanian dinar is a pretty strong currency so I wouldn't want to spend too much, and will be travelling mostly by public buses, as far as possible, making Amman my base and making day trips to Petra / Dead Sea.

  1. Is this itinerary too rushed or would you suggest spending more time at any of the places? Or are there any other places accessible from Amman you'd recommend visiting (and worth extending my stay for)?
  2. I plan to go Thursday - Sunday. I read on some online forum that there aren't enough bus services on Fridays / Saturdays because it's a Muslim country. Is this true, and if yes, could jeopardize my itinerary of taking day trips from Amman?
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Aqaba? Jerusalem? –  littleadv Jan 12 '12 at 5:16
    
Jerusalem is in Israel and I'd need a visa in advance as an Indian citizen to visit it so that's out. Is it possible to visit Aqaba too with the kind of itinerary I have? –  Ankur Banerjee Jan 12 '12 at 10:11
    
I'm not familiar with visa requirements, so maybe its a trouble. Aqaba is on the Red Sea coast, which is gorgeous (I've been to Eilat, which is the sister city on the Israeli side of the border). But its a bit far from Amman, you'll spend half a day just riding the bus there... If Christian sites on the river Jordan are not your thing, then Amman, Petra, the Dead Sea and Aqaba is pretty much all of Jordan... –  littleadv Jan 12 '12 at 10:20
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3 Answers

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Indeed there isn't that much to see in Amman, not a very touristic city.

There wasn't much recreational part to Jordanian side of Dead Sea, there is only one resort and the only place to stay there are quite expensive hotels (Marriott and Mövenpick, both with room prices $200+ per night), so do it as a day trip or on your way down south. But I'd say it was quite a let down. If you have an option to see Dead Sea from the Israeli side, you'd be much better of doing that.

As Grzenio suggest, Jerash is close by to Amman, and definitively worth a visit.

From there I'd continue down south, if you haven't seen Krak des Chevaliers in Syria, then castle of Al Karak is second best crusader castle to see.

I'd suggest that you arrive to hotel in Wadi Musa evening before, as you're gonna need full day to see all of Petra. This is as you already know the thing to see in Jordan. (see also Getting to Petra from Amman in Jordan)

Further down south, just short of reaching Aqaba, you can visit Wadi Rum. It just a desert and rocks, but still it is quite spectacular. You can make Wadi Rum a day-trip from Wadi Musa, or go there on your way further down south.

And of course Aquaba, there you can have lot of fun snorkeling in the reefs. City itself is also quite touristic, so you have lot of places to eat out etc.

As for transport, there are regular coach services between main cities. They are cheap and quite comfy, air-conditioned. Reaching touristic destinations might require you to take less regular mini-bus services. Really cheap, but comfort may vary. Other option is just take a taxi, they aren't very cheap, but still quite affordable method of transport. Especially if you on a tight schedule.

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Thanks for the even more elaborate answer! –  Ankur Banerjee Jan 19 '12 at 15:03
    
Plugging another of my questions here: any idea about this? travel.stackexchange.com/q/4800/108 –  Ankur Banerjee Jan 19 '12 at 15:04
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You already received some good suggestions but i'd like to add my personal experience.

If you absolutely want to have your base in Amman here is what you can do:

  1. Visit the city. Amman isn't super-uber-awesome but there are still quite a few interesting things to do. You can go up to the old Amman Citadel which is quite interesting. In Amman there is also a beautiful Roman Theatre worth visiting. You can end the day having dinner and smoking Hookah in Abdoun Circle.
  2. As suggested, you can head north to Jerash, which is a beautiful Roman city. You can either hire a driver (more expensive) or take the bus from Tabarbour station (when I was there it costed 2JD, because I was a tourist of course) and it's gonna take about a hour.
  3. On the third day you can hire a driver (since there are no buses) and go visiting the Desert Castles it's pretty interesting and you will get the chance to stay in the desert too. (Other possibilities would be visiting Madaba or Kerak)
  4. Petra. Not much to say, except that one day is NOT enough. I think you won't even able to reach the Temple (even tho I saw Japanese people, visiting for a day only, literally running to get up there). I suggest to leave very early in the morning (it's gonna take 3 to 4 hours to get there and if you don't wanna take the local buses you can take the more touristy JETT from Abdali station).

You can also evaluate this variation. Go to Petra on day 3 and spend a night in the super nice Valentine's Inn where you can meet fellow travelers and organize with them a trip on day 4 in the Wadi Rum, absolutely amazing. You can hire and share a local guide to get there.

If you don't necessarily need to stay in Ammanm I would suggest you to head down to Petra the first day, get in love with it and stay at least 2 days (I stayed for three days). Then you can go to the Wadi Rum, hire a local guide as already suggested, and spend a night in the desert too. Aqaba isn't really interesting but from Petra you can reach it quite easily or you can head up north to Amman and spend a day there before leaving (or skip it entirely and have fun in Dead Sea).

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Amman is not so interesting, so I would suggest that a day is more than enough if you have that little time. A very good and easy day trip from Amman is Jerash - easy to get to by bus. Aquaba is also easy to get to, because there are many fast buses there from Amman (3-4h, probably every hour or so).

Petra on the other hand might be much more difficult to get to for a day trip (its THE thing to see in Jordan though, so you must find a way :) - we ended up taking a taxi from Amman (it wasn't cheap 6 years ago). Probably you will need to spend at least one night there. Also its quite big, so a full day is needed. You might try to find some organized day trips, but I can't really help you here.

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