Jordan has so much to do, but it's possible to plan an itinerary on a budget © flavijus / Getty Images
Although Jordan is not considered a budget destination, it is possible to save money if you’re willing to make a few adjustments to your itinerary.
Accommodations, guided tours, entrance fees and restaurants can add up quickly, but our suggestions will help you plan the best ways to experience Jordan for less.
Purchase the Jordan Pass
If you’re planning to be in Jordan for at least three nights and you’re eligible for a visa on arrival, purchase the Jordan Pass. For the cost of entrance to Petra, the Jordan Pass includes your visa, plus Petra’s entry fee (for one, two or three days, depending on which pass you choose) and fees at about 40 sites across the country.
Score deals in the winter
Winters in Jordan are short, but they are also cold and wet, so the crowds thin out and prices tend to drop from late November to February. You’ll save money on hotels and tours, but you’ll need to be flexible with your itinerary and expectations – wind, rain and snow can cause cancellations.
If you’re visiting Jordan in the winter, pack proper cold-weather clothing, especially if you’re planning to hike or stay overnight in Bedouin tents in Wadi Rum. Avoid visiting Jordan in January, if possible, because it is typically the wettest and coldest month of the year. There are two bright spots to warm things up in the winter: the weather is often still pleasant, both in Aqaba and at the Dead Sea.
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Although the capital is considered an expensive city, Amman has plenty of free things to do © Jennifer Hayes / Getty Images
Skip the foreign chain hotels
Accommodations in Jordan can be pricey. If you’re on a budget, hostels such as Nomads Hotel, with locations in Amman and Wadi Musa, and Carob Hostel provide affordable no-frills options. Staying at a hostel also puts you in contact with other budget-minded people – hostel staff and travelers – who can offer tips, help make arrangements for lower cost tours and share experiences and expenses (for food and transportation, for example, if you team up and travel together).
Ask your hostel or hotel about shuttle or taxi services. Some offer airport shuttles, while others offer transportation to popular sites such as Petra, and many can arrange taxis and tours that may not be advertised. Booking locally owned boutique hotels is another way to save on hotel costs. The rates are usually lower than chain hotels, and sometimes you can negotiate the price if you book in person.
Welcoming Destination: Amman, Jordan
Enjoy Amman for free
A high entrance fee isn’t required to have a good time in Amman. Free activities include taking a walking tour with Pasha Hotel, visiting a mosque, people watching on Rainbow Street or Al Balad and exercising with Running Amman. Although the capital is considered an expensive city, there are plenty of free things to do in Amman.
Buy alcohol at the airport or have a dry trip
Alcohol in Jordan is expensive and on par with prices in cities like Los Angeles. Visitors are permitted to purchase one liter of alcohol at duty-free shops (either in the airport upon arrival or within 14 days of arrival at the Duty Free Shop on Al Abdali Boulevard). If you really want to save money, skip the alcohol entirely and embrace a dry (no alcohol) vacation.
If you want to save money on food in Jordan, pack a reusable cooler bag and stock up on snacks and produce © mathess / Getty Images
Eat on the go rather than in a restaurant
Jordan has an abundance of fruit and vegetable markets, convenience stores and grocery shops, so if you want to save money on food, pack a reusable cooler bag. Stock up on snacks and produce, or grab some fresh falafel and hummus for a few dinar, and plan to eat on the go, or picnic in a park or along a hiking trail.
Any imported food will likely cost more, so avoid the familiar foods you can find at home. Don’t forget to grab some Medjool dates, which are grown in Jordan, travel well and are high in antioxidants and nutrients.
If you’re hankering for a home-cooked meal, you can have a multi-course feast at Galsoum’s Kitchen, a local home in Umm Qais, for JD15 (US$21) per person. It's more affordable – and arguably more flavorful – than a multi-course meal in a restaurant, and you have the added experience of meeting a local family.
Hike with a conservation group
Private guided tours can be costly, but thrifty travelers don’t have to miss out on the fun. EcoHikers, a Jordanian-operated environmental organization with the motto “let’s clean as we hike,” offers affordable guided group hikes to locations around the country (check its Facebook and Instagram for information on upcoming hikes).
The starting point is Amman, and transportation, equipment to participate in trail cleanup and a guide are included. Locals and visitors join these hikes, so the opportunity to spend time doing something good together and learning about the land, culture and one another is priceless.
You don't need a high-end tour to get to Petra © Kanuman / Shutterstock
Take a bus to Petra
Travel to Petra by JETT bus and save the money you’d spend on a private driver and guide. Routes for the air-conditioned buses include Amman to Petra, Amman to Aqaba and Aqaba to Wadi Rum.
The bus company also offers daily tours to popular sites through their tourism program. The schedule is available online, but it's subject to change, so call ahead or visit the JETT office in person to book your ticket.
Choose the budget Dead Sea experience
Rates for resorts at the Dead Sea range from around $100 to $400 per night. For a Dead Sea experience without the higher price tag, book a day pass rather than an overnight stay. Plan a day trip from Amman or Madaba – where you can find more affordable hotels and hostels – or make it a stop on your drive from Amman to Petra, Wadi Rum or Aqaba.
Day pass prices vary and can change, so call the hotels to shop around for the best day pass deal for your budget. The Dead Sea Spa Hotel has one of the lowest rates at about JD20 ($28) per person, and the Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea will run you around JD35 ($50) per person.
If you’re traveling solo, these day-pass rates can save you money, but if you’re traveling with someone, the per-person rate adds up, and you may want to consider booking a lower-end hotel (such as the Ramada Resort by Wyndham Dead Sea, which costs about $100 per night) and staying over. Weekend rates tend to be higher, so planning your stay for a weekday can save you money too.
Another budget option is Amman Beach. Entrance is JD20 ($28) per person, and towel rental is JD5 ($7) per person. Facilities are basic and sometimes not very clean, and you may find a lot of litter on the beach. It tends to be crowded on weekends (Friday and Saturday), but does offer access to the Dead Sea and a pool.
Make your own souvenirs
Book a handicraft activity and get two things for the price of one: a fun experience to include on your itinerary and a souvenir to take home, for yourself or as a gift. Sign up for a basket-weaving lesson or a stonemasonry experience in Umm Qais, a mosaic-making session in Amman, or Aqabawi handicraft workshops or a Bedouyat ceramic class in Aqaba.
Don’t try to do it all
Jordan has so much to do that you may be overwhelmed trying to plan the perfect itinerary on a budget. Accommodations, entrance fees, guided tours and transportation between cities can get costly. If you want to save money, you’ll need to prune your wish list. Focus on two or three of your must-dos and make the most of those experiences, rather than trying to do it all.
Daily costs in Jordan
- Hostel room: US$20–45
- Basic room for two: US$35–50
- Self-catering apartment (including Airbnb): US$40+ per night
- Coffee: less than US$1
- Sandwich: US$1–10
- Dinner for two: US$25
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