Language & People
The people of Jordan are renowned for their hospitality and friendliness. Most people will go out of their way to assist visitors, and making friends with local Jordanians is relatively easy. Arabic is the country’s official language, though English is also widely used. Street signs and buildings are often labelled in both Arabic and English. Still, knowing some basic Arabic words and phrases is very useful and appreciated by locals.
Style of dress is reflective of the diverse and changing nature of Jordanian society. Western clothing is popular, especially in urban settings, though traditional garments such as the men’s red and white keffiyeh (head covering) and the women’s hijab (headscarf) are still prevalent. Although many Jordanians do not dress conservatively, it is recommended that travellers remain cognisant of local customs and traditions and avoid wearing revealing clothing, especially outside of urban centres. Women are generally encouraged to keep their shoulders covered and avoid low-cut shirts. It is rare for men to wear shorts, even in the summer.
The work week begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday, with most businesses staying open from 9am until 5pm. Banks are open from 8.30am until 3pm, and most government organisations have operating hours from 8am to 3pm. Many businesses and shops are closed on Fridays.
Jordan uses a 220-V electrical system. Electrical outlets come in both European two-pronged and UK three-pronged types. US plugs must be used with an adapter and power converter.
The currency is the Jordanian dinar. The dinar is subdivided into 100 piasters and 1000 fils. Credit cards can be used in the major cities, but it is recommended to travel with cash, especially outside of the capital. Even in large cities, taxis and local vendors may only accept cash and often only small bills. ATMs are widely available in major urban areas.
Do not be fooled by Jordan’s location in the Arabian Desert. Winters can be quite cold, with temperatures in Amman frequently dropping below 5°C in January. Freezing rain and even snow is not uncommon in winter months, especially in the north. Summer months are very hot and dry, with temperatures exceeding 36°C. The best time to visit for sightseeing is in April, when the weather is typically warm and mild.
Jordan’s health care system is highly regarded, and medical tourism in the country is an increasingly attractive business. Doctors and staff receive extensive training, and facilities are generally well equipped with the latest technology and equipment. There are many hospitals and health centres, mostly in Amman. In private hospitals, most doctors speak English. The price of health care services and most pharmaceuticals is relatively inexpensive.
Purchasing pre-paid mobile SIM cards is cheap and easy, and additional minutes can be bought at one of the many mobile phone stores across the country. The internet connection is fast and 4G-LTE speeds are available. However, it can be inconsistent at times, especially outside Amman.
Obtaining an entry visa is relatively simple. Visitors of most nationalities can purchase a single-entry visa upon arrival for JD40 ($56) at land, sea and air entry points. However, the King Hussein Bridge, connecting the West Bank to Jordan, does not issue visas on arrival when entering the kingdom. Tourist visas are valid for 30 days and they can be extended for up to two months by registering at a local police station. There is the option of purchasing the Jordan Pass online in advance if you are planning to visit Petra and other tourist sites.
The easiest and most reliable way to get around in Jordan is by taxi. Most taxi drivers do not speak English well and you should remind the driver to turn on the meter in order to avoid haggling.
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