Jordan is one of the most popular travel destinations in the Middle East. It’s a beautiful country of contrasting landscapes and cosmopolitan cities, a place where ancient ruins are hidden by deserts and fantastic dive sites await you underwater.
But while Jordan is one of the most stable countries in the region, its geopolitical location in the centre of an at times unstable part of the world, leads many travellers to shy away from visiting.
That shouldn’t be the case. Despite being bordered by Iraq and Syria, and despite having a less than friendly history with neighbouring Israel, Jordan is a perfectly safe place to visit.
Of course, there are different laws and customs to follow and certain border areas to keep a distance from. To help you to plan your next trip, here’s everything you need to know about staying safe when you’re travelling to Jordan.
Health Concerns in Jordan
The first thing to point out to would-be travellers is that it’s important to be up to date on any vaccinations you might need before departing on your trip to Jordan.
It’s highly recommended that you keep up to date on the best information available, as things can change quickly anywhere in the world. The first place to check is the NHS website, where you’ll find expert and up-to-date medical information. You’ll also want to check the Fit For Travel Website, which offers excellent insights into both health and safety and the vaccination requirements in Jordan.
Book an appointment with your local GP or travel nurse who will both be able to give you the up-to-date information you need before departing for Jordan, as well any vaccinations or boosters you require before your trip. It’s best to begin this process several months before departure, as you might need to wait for some vaccinations.
Minimum requirements for your trip to Jordan will be vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, typhoid, polio and diphtheria, which most people will generally be up to date with anyway. Rabies can be a problem in rural areas, so it might be wise to consider the rabies vaccination if you’re planning on travelling away from major tourist sites and cities.
Healthcare isn’t generally free in Jordan, and all hospitalisation will require payment. That’s why it’s incredibly important to have up-to-date travel insurance that covers you for any potential medical emergency or illnesses that might arise when you are in the country. Costs can quickly mount up in an emergency, so make sure that you have adequate cover.
Jordan is a country of contrasts. While medical facilities in the capital Amman are in most cases superb as they are in tourist centres such as Aqaba on the Red Sea, in more rural areas they can be somewhat lacking. Make sure that any travel insurance policy you take out for your trip to Jordan covers you in more remote areas, and allows for evacuation to a major city if you plan on travelling to remote destinations.
Jordan is also a popular diving destination, as the country has a short Red Sea coastline and access to spectacular dive sites. If you’re planning on going scuba diving while in Jordan, then make sure you dive to your qualifications and abilities, and make sure that your travel insurance covers you. Check your depths and limits, or you might find that you are not insured when it comes to the worst. Aqaba is the dive centre of Jordan, and there are great medical facilities available here if you are involved in an accident.
The biggest problem that tourists encounter in Jordan though, is usually the heat. Don’t underestimate the sun, because this is a dry and arid country in the Middle East. You can eliminate the danger of sunstroke or heat exhaustion by timing your visit. Don’t visit in summer, and instead plan your trip for the much cooler and more pleasant winter months. Stay hydrated and avoid hiking in the middle of the day, particularly in desert areas such as Wadi Rum.
Food and Water
For travellers visiting Jordan, it’s also important to know about any health and safety issues that might arise when it comes to the food and water situation in the country.
Jordan has a rich culinary tradition that goes back centuries, and that draws on influences from across the region. Certain dishes might be familiar from across the Middle East, but in Jordan, they are served in a distinctly local style, and you can find variants on the likes of falafel and shawarma and everything else in between.
In fact, Jordan is a great country for foodies, be you a meat-eater or a vegetarian, and there’s little to worry about when it comes to food safety. In Amman and other cities like Aqaba, food hygiene standards are high, and you can’t go wrong when you’re eating out in restaurants or at hotels.
Some of the best food in Jordan however is the street food or local fast food. This is where you’ll find the best shawarma and falafel. Luckily, the preparation processes for dishes like falafel ensure that it’s difficult to get ill from, and they’re usually prepared and deep fried right in front of you.
As with anywhere in the world though, if the restaurant or fast food shop doesn’t seem hygienic for any reason, then simply give it a miss and move onto the next. If there’s no one eating there, then you might want to move onto somewhere busier too. Noting where the locals eat is always a good indicator.
In the cities tap water is safe to drink, which means you don’t need to worry much about fresh fruits and salads being prepared with tap water. It’s all generally safe and you’ll have to be unlucky to get ill. You can stay extra safe though by avoiding tap water if you think it might unsettle your stomach as you’re not used to the mineral content. You can bring along a refillable water bottle and make use of refill stations or, better yet, bring along a bottle with a purifier and simply filter tap water.
There are some great restaurants, both local and international, and plenty of excellent dishes to try across the country. There’s no need to fear the food or drink while you’re travelling in Jordan.
Jordan is a welcoming and hospitable country, and crime levels are generally very low. For visitors, the chances of being a victim of crime are hardly worth worrying about. It’s incredibly rare to be caught up in something untoward.
Petty theft can occur, as it does anywhere in the world, so keep an eye on your valuables and keep anything important locked away in your hotel room. More serious crime isn’t generally an issue either.
One problem that can affect travellers, although it’s very unlikely, is if you’re travelling in remote areas. Tribal and feudal lines are very important in Jordan, and issues are often solved by families without getting the authorities involved. While tourists won’t directly have a problem, they can become caught in between two feuding sides, so keep a close eye on local politics and customs when travelling.
Despite being surrounded by countries that seem to be perpetually at war either with themselves or their neighbours, Jordan is a country that’s incredibly peaceful and stable.
This might be the Middle East and this might be a country that shares borders with Iraq, Syria and Israel, but there’s a relatively low chance of terrorist attacks occurring in the country. Security is kept tight in the cities and at tourist attractions. But of course, don’t let your guard down and always keep abreast of the news.
Given the country’s location, politics can cause rapid changes and conflict can arise quickly and suddenly. For that reason, it’s best to keep away from the border with Syria, where conflict has been ongoing on the Syrian side for several years.
With tensions across other parts of the Middle East, such as in Iran for instance, British nationals always need to be aware that they might face dangers in other nearby countries, including Jordan. While this isn’t too much of a worry in Jordan itself, it always pays to be careful and to listen to the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, even if it’s just to make sure your insurance will still be valid.
Family Travel Safety (Jordan with Kids)
Traditionally, Jordan hasn’t been seen as a family travel destination, but things are changing as the country becomes better known to travellers. It’s becoming increasingly apparent how easy and safe it is to visit.
Jordanians are welcoming to families with young children, and they’ll go out of their way to ensure you have a smooth trip and get all the assistance you might need. Family is a big deal in Jordan, so you can rest assured that it will be easy to travel around with kids.
If you are travelling as a family then try to avoid the heat of the summer, as it will be uncomfortable for young kids not used to scorching hot temperatures. Even in winter, it can be hot, so make sure you bring along plenty of sunscreen and keep the kids covered up (as well as the adults, of course).
Children will love all the traditional Jordanian sights, such as the ruins of Petra, while in Amman there’s even a Children’s Museum to visit. On the Red Sea coast, be careful when visiting the beaches and keep an eye on your children, just in case there are strong currents. For teenagers though, the Red Sea is a true adventure playground where you can swim and snorkel.
Family Travel Safety (Jordan for Women)
While most women will enjoy a friendly and hassle-free trip to Jordan, some solo female travellers might, unfortunately, face harassment from men in cities.
Jordan is a male-dominated society, while women are expected to behave conservatively. To avoid trouble, female travellers should research local traditions and dress modestly while they are in Jordan, even if they don’t always agree with the local customs.
Tips for Staying Safe in Jordan
Buy the Right Insurance
It’s incredibly important that you choose the right travel insurance before you depart. Everyone’s trip is different and you never know what might happen, so it always pays in the long run to be prepared for the worst eventuality.
You need to be sure that you’re covered for all eventualities, particularly if you are planning on partaking in a few adventure sports, such as hiking in the desert or scuba diving. Make sure you have adequate insurance for any sports that you’ll be doing in Jordan.
Learn the Language
The local language in Jordan is Arabic, and this is spoken by almost all Jordanians regardless of their race or ethnicity. Jordanian Arabic is the standard that you’ll find spoken in Amman and other cities, and the language that you’ll see written down and spoken on the television.
Various dialects exist outside of the cities though, with the most prominent and distinct being Bedouin Arabic, which is spoken by the semi-nomadic Bedouin tribes of the desert. While most Jordanians in the cities and in the tourism industry will speak English to a high level, it pays to at least try and learn a few words of Arabic. You’ll instantly endear yourself to the local population, and start to make many more positive connections.
Know the Laws
Jordan is a majority Muslim nation and the local laws and customs reflect this fact. To be safe, then make sure you keep informed of local laws that might differ from your home country.
What might seem normal at home, might be completely illegal in Jordan. To avoid unwanted trouble in an unfamiliar country, then learn the local laws and stick to them, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them.
If you’re travelling to Jordan, then stay safe and keep covered in the event of an accident by taking out a comprehensive travel insurance policy with Navigator Travel Insurance. Contact us today for a quote.