The people of Jordan are renowned for their hospitality. Visitors will find it common to be greeted by the words, “Welcome to Jordan”. Most people 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 widely used as most Jordanian students are required to study the language from a young age. Street signs and buildings are often labelled in both Arabic and English, making navigation easier for Westerners. Still, knowing basic Arabic words and phrases is very useful and most locals appreciate the effort.
Style of dress is reflective of the diverse and changing nature of Jordanian society. Western clothing is becoming increasingly popular, especially in urban settings, though traditional garb 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 cognizant of local customs and traditions and avoid wearing revealing clothing, especially outside 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 hot summer weather.
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 until 2pm. Many businesses and shops are closed on Fridays.
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 during the month of January. Freezing rain and even snow is not uncommon in winter months, especially in the north. By contrast, summer months can often be oppressively hot, with temperatures exceeding 36°C. The best time to visit for sightseeing is in April, when temperatures are typically warm and the weather is mild.
Jordan’s health system is highly regarded and medical tourism in the country is an increasingly lucrative business. Doctors and staff receive extensive training, and facilities are generally well equipped with the latest technology and equipment. Hospitals and health centres are abundant, especially in the capital. Most doctors speak excellent English. The price of health care services and most pharmaceuticals is relatively inexpensive compared to those in the West. Pharmacies are plentiful and Jordan is host to one of the region’s leading pharmaceutical sectors.
Jordan’s electrical system is 220 V. Electrical outlets come in both European two-pronged and British three-pronged types. US plugs must be used with an adapter and power converter.
Purchasing pre-paid mobile telephone SIM cards is cheap and easy, and additional minutes can be purchased at one of the many mobile phone stores located throughout the country. The internet connection can be inconsistent at times. Internet cafés are widespread, and pre-paid mobile USB sticks for internet service on personal laptops are widely available.
Obtaining an entry visa to Jordan is relatively simple. Most nationalities can purchase a single-entry visa upon arrival for JD20 ($28.25) at land, sea and air entry points. However, the King Hussein Bridge connecting Israel to Jordan does not issue visas on arrival when entering the kingdom. Tourist visas are valid for 30 days and can be extended up to three months by registering at a local police station.
The national currency is the Jordanian dinar. The dinar is subdivided into 100 piastres and 1000 fils. Paper notes come in denominations of JD50, JD20, JD10, JD5 and JD1, while coins come in values of JD1, 500 fils, 250 fils, 50 fils, 25 fils and 10 fils. Credit cards can be used in the major cities, but it is recommended to travel with cash, especially outside of Amman. Even in large cities, taxicabs and local vendors may only accept cash and often only small bills. ATMs are widely available in the kingdom’s major urban areas.
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