Petra wasn’t re-discovered by 1812 because local tribes held this place as a secret because they feared people from all over the world would come and treasure-hunt this place. Boy, were they right!
Petra is one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, and as it goes with World Wonders, mass-tourism sets its way towards it and leaves its mark. I visited Petra in April 2018 during my solo trip through Jordan and despite the fact Petra is absolutely stunning, some things I just need to write off my chest. Here are few things you should and should not do when visiting Petra.
Do: Visit really, really early in the morning
Since most visitors visit Petra as a daytrip from Amman, Aqaba or Israel, they don’t reach the site before 9am. However, Petra opens up as early as 6am! So if you are looking to get some great pictures and spend some alone-time in this unique site, set your alarm clock at 5am. It’s not as much as a must do, but a should to. This is by far the best tip I can offer for visiting Petra. I visited Petra two days in a row at 6am and on both occasions, it was just me and about ten other people.
Don’t do: Take the horse to the Treasury
Or pay the price. Despite the fact that a horse ride to the Treasury is included in the ticket price, they will ask your for a tip. A tip they are more than willing to give you the amount they want.
Don’t do: let ‘guides’ take you to the viewpoint
I understand the needs of local people in Petra to earn some money on tourists, but importuning everyone who enters the site to guide them up a viewpoint by pushing pictures in their hands isn’t the way to do it. They charge you 10 JOD or more which is overpriced imo.
Do: Hike the Al-Khabta trail
Ironically enough, this leads to another viewpoint of the Treasury. The only difference is that this angle is to the right of the Treasury, while the ‘guided’ path takes you to one at the left. The trail starts at the opposite side of the main street, not far from the Royal Tombs and despite being described as 2-3 hours, it only takes about 30-45 minutes for everyone that is fit.
Don’t do: Use donkeys to take you up trails
‘I’m an animal lover, but the donkeys can carry the weight so I took a ride up to the Monastery for 10 JOD. Bullsh*t. You wanted to go the Monastery but weren’t too keen on hiking the 800 steps uphill leading to it. Just say it like it is. Donkeys can carry huge loads that is true. For work that NEEDS to be done. Not for some tourist that is too lazy to do the effort. People can carry huge backpacks as well, but are you going to take someone else’s backpack 800 steps uphill?
Don’t do: Go on a camel ride in Petra
They don’t use the camels to hike long stretches uphill; so it’s more an experience thing. So basically it couldn’t hurt. However, when I was in Petra I saw the giving Fanta to the animals instead of water. And the empty can? They just gave it to them. And camels just eat about anything that they can get hold on to. So don’t support this kind of activity and save the experience for Wadi Rum.
Don’t do: throw trash on the site
There are plenty of options to buy drinks or some food, meaning there will be some garbage left as well. If you are on a trail, please take out your trash with you again. It’s not too hard as it weighs less, than before you drank or ate it. There are plenty of garbage cans spread out over the site, so no excuses here. Unfortunately, when exploring Petra, I noticed too much empty cola cans just thrown into the canyons.
Do: Have RESPECT for the bedouins when attending Petra by Night
Petra by Night is a great addition to the experience of visiting the World Wonder, but still I was very disappointed. Let me explain to you why.
The event starts with a bedouin guide leading the tourists through the Siq. The disappointment starts when a French guy marches his way up, passes everyone just to be in the front, passes the guide as well and starts using his I-Phone as a torch. WTF. It kinda ruins the whole experience of Petra by Night if you use your own flashlights. If you can’t do the trail in the dark without extra light, just get in the back or keep it with a visit during daytime. Obviously his behaviour started a huge fight between him and the bedouin guide. Not a great mood-setter.
But it gets worse.
Even though I hate it so much and I think it marks the end of our civilization, smartphones are everywhere. What is even more important than enjoying the great event of Petra by Night? Getting pictures to show off on Instagram and social media offcourse. The first thirty minutes of the short event (it only takes about an hour or so) is a musical session of the local people. While silence was asked by them and obeing this would just be a normal way of respect, people kept on talking, standing in front of someone else just to get their own pictures, etc. The fact that more people kept on coming and neglected the instructions and just sat where they wanted (front row; blocking someone else’s view off course) didn’t make it better. The best example where two young girls who probably thought they had VIP tickets as they arrived late, walked besides everyone and sat all the way upfront, blocking the view of several people. When a couple told them in a friendly tone they should follow the guide for their seats, they answered with a ‘F*ck off!’. Worst thing of all, because the event had already began, the bedouin said they could just sit there. This approval was reason enough for them to make rude gestures to the couple sitting just behind them, to show them they got what they wanted. Respect? Zero.
This event has shown me why I don’t quite like people. People are rude, selfish and just need their own minute of fame. I just feel sorry for the bedouins who try to make the event a respectful way of admiring the Treasury; but have to deal with these type of people.