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.
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.
As a majority-Muslim country, Jordan is conservative and maintains some religious and cultural traditions that women travelers should be aware of.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For even more safety tips, check out 9 Handy Travel Safety Tips to Jordan.
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