Jordan Travel: 5 Ways To Explore Jordan Like A Local
Whether your first trip to Jordan, or you’re a frequent visitor; traveling in Jordan like a local makes for unique, memorable experiences. Rather than just checking off a list of sites – the greatest travel memories are the moments we share with people. The best memories I have from Jordan are not staring in awe at the towering Treasury at Petra, checking off the incredible Roman site of Jerash or even floating in the Dead Sea. Rather it’s eating traditional Mansaf cooked with our new friend Ali and his family, learning about navigating the rugged and Martian-like landscape of Wadi Rum from our local guide Salame, meeting our guide and friend Ibrahim’s friends along the Jordan trail and learning about their lives, the Hashem who drove 45 minutes out of his way to show us the turn off for Dana Nature Reserve when we couldn’t find the correct rode. Jordan is a very easy country to meet locals and experience the country like local.
Its is a country of friendly people, tastey food, fascinating history and stunning scenery. It’s also a country that is easy to connect with the locals and learn about their daily life. Below are some easy tips for any type of trip to this welcoming country to help you get to know the people. Before you know it you’ll be invited for tea, eating mom’s cooking and part of the family.
1. Enjoy lunch with a Bedouin family and learn about the nomadic lifestyle
Jordan’s Bedouin roots are strong and spending time with a Bedouin family is a unique travel experience. The Bedouin traditions of hospitality are strong in Jordanian culture. In fact the phrase Ahlan wa sahlan (one of the most common Arabic greetings in Jordan) literally means ‘be as one of the family and at your ease’. In Wadi Rum, travelers can spend time with the Bedouin, considered the caretakers of the desert.
2. Shop for local food and crafts at the evening market in Amman
Nightly the Amman downtown market comes alive with locals shopping for produce and local goods. Enjoy the hustle and bustle as men and women shop for their groceries. Strung lights illuminate the carefully stacked fruits and vegetables. A butchers shop stays open late to make sure everyone gets what they need. A local woodcarver displays his goods in hopes of making a late night sale. Join the locals, explore the stalls and even pick up a picnic lunch for the next day.
3. Hike the less journeyed paths of the Jordan Trail
Getting out into the backroads, mountains and valleys of Jordan is a great way to meet locals and dive into the culture. Local Jordanians love exploring their country. Whether its an invitation to join hikers on their picnic or a Bedouin family inviting you to have tea with them in their tent, or a friendly herder walking and talking with you (then asking to be your Facebook friend because hey why not). The trails along the longer Jordan Trail are packed not only with beautiful scenery, ancient archaeological sites, and plenty of adventures – but also man, many moments to enjoy Jordan as a local.
4. Dine with locals at Hashem’s Restaurant in Amman
A true Ammani legend – Hashem’s Restaurant needs no introduction in Amman. Ask ANYONE in Amman – taxi driver, diplomat, chef, Royal family member, guy down the street, their moms – Hashem’s is THE place to eat in town. Since 1952, it has been serving delicious traditional dishes. They know what they do well and they only do that. Try and deviate from the non-existent menu, you’ll receive a smile and then a big plate of hummus and the most delicious falafel you’ve ever tasted. They stick strictly to a selection of hummus, moutabel, falafel, and ful medames. Hashem’s Restaurant is an institution in Amman and a must visit on an trip to Jordan.
5. Picnic on the hills around Little Petra
Friday is the big day off in Jordan when most Jordanians spend the day with family and friends. Join the locals and head out to the country side for a picnic. Jordanians love enjoying their country. A popular picnicking spot are the rock formations around Little Petra. Pull out that picnic blanket, grab a mezze spread (with enough to share to the new friends you make) and head to the countryside just outside of Wadi Musa on the way to Little Petra. This is a great way to take part of a local tradition and meet the local families who are also out enjoy 3 things near and dear to Jordanian hearts – family, food, and their country.
I hope these tips help you design your next trip to Jordan filled with memorable experiences and lots of new friends. And I’d love to hear some of your favorite tricks and tips for traveling in Jordan like a local.
What are some of your favorite ways to experience Jordanian culture, daily life, and make new friends?
Enjoy your travels and see you in Jordan!