Saturday, 19 March 2011

6 Tips Before Visiting Petra

Petra is one of the most magnificent sites in the Middle East.

It was built by the Nabatean people who were ancient Arab tribes originally from the Arabian Peninsular. They created this city of temples and tombs by half-building and half-carving it into the reddish sandstone.

Situated at the crossroads between the East and the West, Petra was a major trading centre for incense, silk and spices. It began to prosper from the first century BC and had a population of more than 30,000 people in its glory days.

Petra is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and was voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007.

If you're planning to visit Petra to marvel at how ancient carving and building skills could create something so outstanding, read these 6 tips to make the most of your time there.

1) One day is not enough

It would be a shame to travel all the way to Petra and spend only one day marvelling at the main sites like the Treasury and the Monastery (Ad-Deir). Get the 2-day pass so that you'll have ample time to explore the main sites, tombs, museums and trails. And if you're really gung-ho, then get the 3-day pass.

Tickets are sold at the Petra Visitors Centre at the entrance of the park.

There are various passes available depending on the duration of your trip. Click here for the latest ticket prices. I was lucky to visit Petra in October 2010, cause prices went up one month after that.

The centre only accepts cash. So you can't depend on Visa or Mastercard if you're cash strapped.

Remember to bring along your passport for the ticket seller to print your name on the ticket like this.

2) Arrive early in the morning

Try to get to the Treasury early in the morning cause this is where visitors love to take photos while standing in front of it. In case you don't know, this is the Treasury:

If you can reach the Treasury early, you'll have the whole place to yourself and can snap as many photos as you want without too many people in it.

The main trail from the entrance of the park to Qasar al-Bint is 4km long, with the Treasury smack in the middle. So plan your time accordingly.

3) Wear sturdy sandals

Petra is a sandy place, so sandals are a better option compared to covered footwear. We all know how irritating it is to have sand in our footwear, which is even more difficult to get rid off.

If you're planning to do some hiking, make sure your sandals are sturdy enough to endure the terrains and long walks.

I wore a pair of ballet flats and regretted it. But when I saw some ladies wearing heels, it made me feel better, hahaha.

                                          The sandy terrains of Colonnaded Street.

4) Be prepared to walk, walk and walk

See how far we walked. Photos courtesy of Aud.

A complimentary horse ride from the park entrance to the Treasury is included in the ticket. However, the guide told us that we would need to give baksheesh (tips) to the horse owner when you reach the Treasury.

Note that if you take the 2-day or 3-day pass, only 1 ride is complimentary. However, there are many horses and carriages for hire. A ride is approximately JD 25 (depending on your barganing skills).

5) Explore the hidden trails

Most people would just follow the main trail from the park entrance to the Treasury and then to the museums which are located towards the back of the park. But let me tell you a secret - the offbeaten trails are the ones that gives you the best views like this: 

It was a torturous 2-hour climb to this spot cause there were no proper paths (or so we thought). On our way down we found a defined trail that we had overlooked. Talk about irony. Look at my ballet flats. Pathetic, right?

Click here for a list of trails you could explore in Petra.

6) Bring your own food and drink

Hiking the off beaten trails may take a couple of hours which may eat (no pun intended) into your meal times. So bring your own food and drinks to quell hunger pangs. You can sit and admire the sights and wonders of Petra as you chomp into your food.

Packing your own meals is also an economical option, especially for budget travellers.


juphelia said...

Hmmm... ballet flats shouldn't be much of a problem on sandy areas. But heels... I guess those aren't smart travellers; either that or they are just too vain.

JIPP said...

2hrs to get to the spot with the Treasury in the background? It looks so close. This plc looks so sandy. I think selipar jepun would be the perfect footwear. LOL!

Julie Lim said...


I think those ladies in heels didn't do their homework (like moi!) or they were plain vain. Anyway, I'm glad I survived the ballet flats story.

Walking in a sandy area with ballet flats was not a problem, but getting rid of the sand from the shoes was an extremely tedious process. And my feet didn't have a good grip on those rocky terrains. So I guess my toes had a good workout gripping the rocks every step of the way.

Julie Lim said...


You're extremely right - selipar Jepun would have done the trick :-)

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