Discovering the majesty and mystery of Petra for myself was unforgettable. Walking one mile down the ‘Siq’ passageway you will catch the first glimpse of the Treasury and it will leave you in awe. The Treasury is a two thousand year old tomb and stands forty metres tall. It was the capital of the Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV. This ancient city was established in 312BC which makes it one of the oldest metropolises in the world.
Petra is also known as the Lost City because it was legitimately lost for five centuries until it was rediscovered by a Swiss explorer in 1812. Since then the Lost City was shared with the world. More than five hundred thousand tourists visit each year. Today, it’s one of the new wonders of world along with the Great Wall of China, The Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu in Peru, The Colosseum in Rome, Chichen Itza in Mexico and Christ The Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
Eight hundred hand carved monuments, buildings, tombs, baths, funeral halls, temples and a theater can be found within Petra. The word ‘Petra’ is derived from the Greek word ‘rock’ as this land is covered in rich red sandstone. The Nabataeans’ made impressive technological progressions in between 9 BC and 40 AD. One of their advancements was hand carved water tunnels and chambers through the rocks of Petra to spread water throughout the capital creating a pseudo-oasis for the Nabataeans’.
Petra is one hundred and fifty miles south of Amman, the capital of Jordan. It is about a three hour drive. Its area is about sixty square kilometers covering mountains, canyons and desert. Petra is accessible by car, coach or public buses. It’s a good idea to bring plenty of water – at least 1 litre especially on a sunny day like this. A hat and sunscreen should be brought along also.
The trail to the Monastery is a must! The trail begins from the center of Petra where the Basin Restaurant is located. There’s clear signage and it’s a one way trail. The Monastery was built in the third century BC as a church. It is also larger than the Treasury as it stands at forty five metres tall and fifty metres wide. It does take some effort to walk up eight hundred steps for this view but it was definitely worth the sweat. It took us about 40 minutes to reach the top. There’s Bedhouins’ with stalls set up along the way so you can shop for souvenirs during the trail.
Once you arrive to the Monastery, there’s a big cafe here waiting to refresh you after your efforts! After exploring around the Monastery, you can choose walk a little higher up a mountain to have a three sixty view of the entire Wadi Arabi Desert, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
While wondering around Petra we met a lady who had a stall set up along one of the façades selling a book based on a true story. The book was called ‘Married to a Bedouin.’ Marguerite from New Zealand traveled to Petra with a friend in 1978 when she was 22. They met a local Bedouin man named Mohammed who was born and raised in the caves of Petra.
Mohammed kindly invited Marguerite and her friend to stay in his cave overnight. Strangely, they accepted his offer. They stayed the night, said their goodbyes in the morning and departed. Mohammed quickly sent a man after them in a car to invite them to a Bedhouin wedding in which they accepted as well.
Very soon, Mohammed proposed to Marguerite. Marguerite’s parents were in shock about it all since Marguerite didn’t fully understand the culture, didn’t speak the language and she was to live in a cave married to a man she had recently met.
Marguerite overcame many obstacles. She started to learn the phrases, became accustomed to having no toilet or running water in her home and sleeping on the ground on a mat each night. She then had to find a hobby and she became a nurse at the local clinic for many years.
Marguerite and Mohammed had three children together and they were madly in love. The family visited Marguerite’s parents in New Zealand and vice versa. Mohammed sadly passed away five years ago due to heart failure and Marguerite made the move to Australia where she now resides.
On this day, Nicole and I left our tour group in their beds at our hotel to do the Al-Khubtha Trail to get this bird’s eye view of the two thousand year old, forty meter high and twenty five metre wide Treasury. It is named the Treasury because the Bedhouins believed that hidden treasure was inside this tomb.
Petra opens at 6am and it was still dark when we arrived. It was quiet, no one was around, we could hear birds singing and the sun was rising on the red sandstones of Petra. It was magical compared to the previous day we visited around midday and tourists were left, right and center.
The directions are relatively simple. Follow the mile long Siq, turn right at the Monastery, continue straight to the Royal Tombs and make your way up, keep heading along the tombs until you see this Al-Khubtha Trail Sign at the end of the cliff. It will tell you to turn right and you follow the one trail to the top. Basically, the climb begins behind the Royal Tombs and in the direction of the Treasury.
The ascent was grueling but we had amazing views of the sunrise over the desert surrounding Petra. It took about forty five minutes from the trail sign to the overhead view of the Treasury. It was the best thing I’ve ever accomplished and witnessed.
We reached the top and no other souls were around. There’s a tent filled with cushions and blankets to get comfortable and enjoy the view. We could see professional rock climbers scaling above the Treasury too. The walk down the same trail is super easy and much quicker. This hike was definitely the highlight of my entire time in Jordan. It is unmissable!
Petra Entrance Fees
One day 50JOD / 93CAD / 71USD / 58GBP / 104AUD
Two days 55JOD / 103CAD / 78USD / 64GBP / 114AUD
Three days 60JOD / 112CAD / 85USD / 70GBP / 125AUD
You must bring your passport for security to check for Jordanian Tourist Visa
Tickets can be purchased by cash or credit card
Children under 12 are permitted free of charge
The Petra Checklist
1.The Vistors Center and Museum – Discover the history and archaeological facts and artifacts
2.The Siq – The mile long natural passageway to Petra
3. The Treasury – Two thousand year old historical landmark
4. The Street of Façades – A row of Nabataean tombs on the cliff face
5. The Theater – Seats four thousand and built in the first century AD
6. The Royal Tombs – The Urn Tomb, Silk Tomb, Corinthian Tomb and Palace Tomb
7. The Al-Khubtha Trail – Birds Eye View of the Treasury
8. The Collonaded Street and Basin Restaurant – The center of Petra
9. The Monastery – Eight hundred step trail with panoramic views
Petra By Night
If you’re staying in Petra over night this should be on your list. Over 1500 candles are lit and a night show will commence. You will learn even more about the rich history of Petra in a completely different form. The duration of this tour is 2 hours. It runs every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8.30 to 10.30 pm. Its costs 17JOD / 32CAD / 24USD / 20GBP / 25AUD and children under 10 years are permitted free of charge. Must bring your passport and make a reservation in advance.
Where to stay in Wadi Musa
1. Mövenpick Resort Petra – 5 Star Hotel – 218CAD / 165USD / 137GBP / 243AUD per night – 2 minute walk to Petra entrance – Restaurants – Rooftop Bar – Outdoor Pool – 1300+ reviews
2. Petra Moon Hotel – 4 Star Hotel – 93CAD / 70USD / 58GBP / 104AUD per night – 5 minute walk to Petra entrance – Free Breakfast – Restaurant – Rooftop Pool – 400+ reviews
3. AirBnb – 150+ options – 60-140CAD / 45-105USD / 38-88GBP / 67-156AUD per night
Where to eat within the Petra Historical Site
Inside Petra you can eat at the Basin Restaurant where the Collonaded Street is in the center of Petra. They are open from 11am-4pm daily. The restaurant serves a buffet of BBQ, pasta, hot dishes, salads and dessert. Also the only place to purchase an alcoholic beverage. There’s also a large cafe at the Monastery with refreshments and great food choices. They are the two best places to purchase food within Petra. There’s also a whole heap of souvenir and food shops at the entrance of Petra before walking down the Siq. I would recommend to bring your own food and snacks so you can sit and enjoy the views of Petra when ever you like. Bring a litre or more of water also!
Where to eat in the the town of Wadi Musa
1. Beit Al-Barakah Restaurant – 1300+ reviews on trip advisor
2. Zawaya Restaurant – 700+ reviews on trip advisor
3. Al Wadi Restaurant
4. My Mom’s Recipe Restaurant
5. Yummy Bites (fast food)
6. Rainbow Snacks (fast food)
How to get to and from Amman and Petra
Hire car: 3 hours South – Many car hire companies – 30JOD / 56CAD / 42USD / 35GBP / 62AUD for a new car model with air conditioning and insurance
Bus: The Jett Bus – Air conditioned – Departs Amman at 6.30 AM – Arrives to Petra at 10.30 AM – Bus departs Petra at 5 PM or choose to stay over night in Wadi Musa
There’s also public buses that run regularly to and from Petra.
Prior to booking this trip I didn’t know anything about this country or what I could possibly discover. Jordan has so much to offer from ancient cities, biblical landmarks, to deserts, to the Dead Sea to beaches of paradise.
For me, Petra was my favorite destination while travelling through Jordan. It has so much to offer. So much to learn. So much to discover. I could have easily spent 2 or 3 days exploring Petra. A day and a half just wasn’t enough. It really is a magical moment that will last a life time when you’re walking through the Siq and you catch that first glimpse of The Treasury.