How Safe is Jordan for Women Traveling Alone?

Cassandra Brooklyn shares her tips and tactics for women traveling in Jordan, so you can avoid trouble and explore this Middle Eastern country with confidence.

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Woman sitting and looking at view of desert in Petra Photo © Getty Images/Oleh_Slobodeniuk

My first trip to Jordan was a 10-day solo backpacking trip in 2015. I quickly learned that Jordanians have hospitality hardwired into their DNA and running through their blood.

Every day, people would stop to ask if I needed any help. Young women asked if I needed help hailing a taxi. Men who spoke no English (I spoke no Arabic) helped me find the right minibusses and made sure I wasn’t overcharged. Everyone gestured energetically to indicate where I should get off and how I could arrive at my final destination. 

Jordan is one of the safest places for women to travel around in the Arab world, and is an excellent introduction for first-time visitors to the Middle East. 

I now lead group trips to Jordan, and while I believe group tours are a great way to see the country – and many women feel safer traveling in groups – solo female travelers should also feel safe exploring alone.

Here are my tips on how to enjoy a safe, fulfilling trip to one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Jordan leads the Middle East in women’s rights

Jordanian women are highly educated, are free to travel without a male companion, and don’t have to cover their hair in public (any woman that does so, does it by choice). Women here enjoy much more freedom than women in neighboring Middle Eastern countries.

The Jordan Tourism Board is actively promoting sustainable social enterprises as part of a Meaningful Travel Map to Jordan, including several that create employment opportunities for women in the tourism workforce, a typically male-dominated industry. Not only do these enterprises create financial freedom for women, but some also offer professional training and pathways to promotion.

Etiquette tips for women traveling in Jordan

As a majority-Muslim country, Jordan is conservative and maintains some religious and cultural traditions that women travelers should be aware of. 

  • Out of respect for local customs and to ward off unwanted attention, avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes, short skirts/shorts, and shirts with a low neckline
  • A more relaxed dress code is acceptable in popular areas such as Petra, the Dead Sea, Aqaba, and Wadi Rum
  • Conservative clothing may be required to enter family homes or religious sites
  • Conservative men, particularly those in villages that don’t receive many tourists, may be uncomfortable shaking a woman’s hand. If a man extends his hand to shake yours, he’s indicating that he is okay with the practice – but if a man doesn’t offer, it’s best to not initiate.

Is Jordan safe for women traveling alone?

Solo female travelers should feel safe visiting the Dead Sea or Aqaba alone, but to avoid unwanted attention from men, stick to resorts instead of public beaches.

In Petra, Jerash and Wadi Rum, avoid venturing off alone to remote areas as off-beat paths may not be well marked. Avoid dark alleys and unlit streets and take additional safety precautions when going out late. 

Bedouin men in Petra and Wadi Rum are known to befriend single women by inviting them to go on a hike or go stargazing. These “pirate Casanovas” can be identified by their long hair, head scarves, and thick eyeliner that resemble that of Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean.

These Bedouin romance scammers may be physically harmless, but the tales they tell to seduce women tend to be fabricated and they typically continue requesting money long after the women return home.

Safe transportation tips for women

When traveling by bus, try to sit next to another woman. If traveling by taxi, personal car, or minibus, it is respectful for women to sit in the back, rather than next to the driver – though several drivers invited me to join them in the front seat.

During my first visit to Wadi Rum, I was offended when I was asked to give up my seat to a man and move to the back of the minibus. I assumed that I was deemed less important than the man, but local women assured me this custom is in place to ensure that unaccompanied visitors do not sit next to members of the opposite sex.

In the capital city of Amman, using Uber or Careem makes getting a ride easier than trying to haggle with a cab driver. If you do take a cab, only use licensed taxis hailed from major hotels and agree on the fare before getting in. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, object if the driver attempts to pick up another passenger. This practice is normal in Jordan.

Traveling when you have your period

Feminine hygiene products (tampons, in particular) can be very difficult to find in the desert and in small villages in rural areas. If your period is due during your trip, pack sanitary products. Or consider using a reusable menstrual cup such as a Diva Cup.

What to do if you get into trouble

If you need help, head to the closest police station or tourist police booth. The latter can be found at most tourist sites. In the event of a serious emergency, call 911.

Do not feel embarrassed about reporting inappropriate behavior. Harassment and assault is never your fault. It is very rare in Jordan, but if it happens, report it.

Safe accommodation tips

Amman is one of the safest capitals in the region, but female travelers should stick to accommodation in Al Balad (downtown district), Jabal Hussein, Jabal al-Weibdeh, Jabal Amman, and Rainbow Street.

When visiting Petra and Wadi Rum, book a hotel, guesthouse, or official desert camp that has a proper website with positive references. Though some local Bedouins will offer accommodation in traditional caves, this practice is not allowed and can prove dangerous for women.

A few final safety tips for solo travel in Jordan

  • Walk with confidence
  • Keep your bag/purse close
  • Carry as little cash as possible
  • Don’t wear flashy jewelry
  • Keep cameras and phones safely stored
  • Keep small change for taxis and tips easily accessible to avoid pulling out your main stash
  • Download a navigational app like Maps.Me that can be used offline
  • Take a taxi home at night instead of walking (especially if you’ve been drinking)
  • Always carry the business card of your hotel so the taxi can take you to your door.

For even more safety tips, check out 9 Handy Travel Safety Tips to Jordan.

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6 Comments

  • Momo said

    Jordan has one of the most wonderful scenery and great hospitality. We went by bicycle from Amman to Aqaba. But that was no fun. In each village, we were pelted with stones. A game of the young people. For whatever reason, and before you turn it fancier, that we were dressed incorrectly identified, or whether we wonder since we are the rich, traveling in such a country. And, we were truley not the only once people were throwing stones at..... Forget it!. Jordan is NOT safe!

    Reply

  • pamela said

    Ok- Jordonians are amazing people- very forward but generally very safe- if you are woman here travel with a friend. You may get hit on allot!! However most of the time it is harmless. In taxis make sure you are not alone. At night walk with a friend especially in the bigger cities. It's a man culture- most of the women stay home. It is pretty safe respect their customs and traditions. VERY nice people in the north.

    Reply

  • sam said

    Jordon is unique gorgeous country. As a young female traveler - travel with a buddy all the time. Lots of terrific people. Travel with a friend men are out all the time. women often stay home. the arab hotel has safe decent taxi drivers that can take you anywhere in the country. check the violence level from syria boarder. Jordons men are nice but VERY traditional. Some women have up to 8-10 kids they do not like it if you ask about how many kids they have and why. Also in the mens shops - men only buy mens clothes. I found the Jordians to be extremely helpful - if I asked one person on the street five people would answer my request. Do be carefull of some seedy old men once and while. Also- lots of scams from traders. Some bedwin are amazing others are not. Goodluck and happy travels.

    Reply

  • Prio said

    I (female, looks Chinese) travelled in Jordan solo in December 2014. I love my whole experience there. Of course, there were uncomfortable moments among many many beautiful and warm-hearted moments.

    What could be uncomfortable:
    - Staring, but they were harmless. I found a head clothe helped me slightly.
    - Young male shopkeepers called me like calling a cat. I took them as a background voice.
    - Young men such as taxi driver or restaurant waiters asked if I have a friend (which, I think, they mean "boyfriend"). I said yes politely and stopped talking to them, also for other questions.
    - Donkey handlers in Petra park. Don't let them talk you into their business.

    Warm-hearted moment:
    - A father and son picked me up from the petra park entrance up to wadi musa. Yes, I know, it is not recommended. But the boy insisted and the father in bedouin dress looks reliable. Maybe I am wrong.
    - My day-trip taxi driver took me to a restaurant, ordered and paid for me first so that I got a local price, without he had any food.
    - I took a shared taxi in Amman by chance. Even though we did not understand each other much, the driver and other passengers sent me to my destination.

    Jordanians are very peaceful and helpful. Be careful in Petra park though, there are people want to rip you off too.

    Reply

  • Sarah said

    Hi there,

    Would it be appropriate for an Australian woman to travel/volunteer/stay in accommodation with a group of men from the US with no other women? Would this be offensive? Would it attract unwanted attention? Has anyone experienced anything like this?

    Thanks ????
    Sarah

    Reply

  • Yousef Jordancab.com said

    Welcome to Jordan

    Reply

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