We'd been wanting to visit Jordan for a long time and when we finally decided to go for it we realised our dates fell during Ramadan. We weren't sure what this would mean for our trip and were a little nervous about it.
As it turned out we needn't have been; in fact it was a wonderful time to visit Jordan. Lots of people are put off coming during this time and that meant far fewer tourists around.
As you are probably aware, during Ramadan Muslims do not eat or drink anything at all between sunrise and sunset. The Iftar meal, which breaks the fast, was always like a mini celebration. We experienced our first one in Amman. We arrived a little before sunset and all the tables were packed to the rafters with locals waiting to eat.
The food began arriving at the table around 15 minutes before we were able to eat, and we all sat staring at it. It was really surreal, looking at this food you couldn't touch! After the call to prayer everyone began tucking in and it was always smiles all around, it's a shared experience we will always remember.
The key thing to remember is that most people can't take a month off work and still need to earn a living. Whilst some things may not quite be the same during Ramadan, everyone wanted to cater to guests the best it could. Hospitality is King in Jordan and that doesn't change during Ramadan.
Here are some of the main concerns around visiting Jordan during Ramadan and how we found each one.
1. All restaurants close during the day and you can't eat anywhere
This largely wasn't the case at all. We hope the below alleviates any doubts you have about this one.
Amman - not everywhere in Amman will be open during the day but there are still loads of places that are. We used this list, which wasn't updated for 2018 when we visited, though now it has been, we bargained that anything that made the list of open restaurants in 2016 and 2017 would likely be open this year and it didn't fail us.
Our fave was the Books @ Cafe. It may look closed but it isn't, head on it upstairs and you'll find it buzzing.
Dead Sea - If you are staying at one of the resorts it is business as usual.
Dana - Dana was a place we did have a bit of trouble, you couldn't eat at a restaurant during the day but one shop was open. It sold bread, crisps, cake etc so we made do for a few days.
Wadi Rum - your guides will take care of you as usual. We apologised for eating in front of him and he apologised for not eating with us : )
Petra - It's business as usual in Petra, everything was open at all times.
Karak - We only visited briefly but the restaurants by the castle were all open for lunch.
Madaba - Business as usual here, almost everywhere was open for lunch.
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2. Attractions close early
If you went by what the internet says, this is a genuine concern. In fact, the only attraction that closed early during our visit was Amman Citadel. We had wanted to watch the sunset and were not able to; a small price to pay for so little tourists around.
Petra was open as usual and Petra by Night was running on the usual schedule (both were said not to be in some online resources).
We visited almost every site you might want to see during our month in Jordan and all were fine.
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3. You won't be able to find a guide for hiking
Technically speaking the guided walks in the Dana region. stop during Ramadan, in reality Dana Guesthouse told us they would find us a guide if we wanted to do a guided walk. In the end there were so many self guided options we didn't take them up on the kind offer.
In Petra you couldn't bat the guides off quick enough, it was easy to find one for the Little Petra to Petra hike for example.
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4. You won't be able to find a guide for Wadi Rum desert
Given that Wadi Rum trips run in the scorching hot desert all day, this is a valid concern. However, these tours are their lifeblood and they are just as happy to guide you as ever. We chatted to our guide, and many other locals about Ramadan, and in general the consensus was that they enjoyed the cleansing experience.
We couldn't believe it given they had no water in the desert all day! The guides are incredibly tough to withstand such heat for so long without a drop of water. It was really enlightening to talk to them about their religion and the whole experience of practising fasting during Ramadan.
5. You can't eat in public
This one is all about sensitivity really. In Amman we wouldn't have eaten in the streets for example, nor Dana. In the Dead Sea we ordered room service at lunch for the same reason. If we snacked in the car we always did it when we knew no one could see us.
However, in Wadi Rum the guide cooked our food and encouraged us to eat as much as possible. In Petra all tourists were eating and drinking as normal, so we joined in. In Madaba many locals are Christian so most of the restaurants were busy with locals as usual during this time.
To be honest no one seemed to mind you eating and drinking at all, and it was just us feeling a little uncomfortable. This was a marked difference to Dubai where we got caught out in the Dubai Mall unable to eat anywhere (even screened sections) before midday. After midday you can eat behind screens in one area of the food court.
6. Alcohol will not be available
Outside of resorts and posh restaurants this will likely be the case. It didn't bother us but it might be an issue for some people on holiday. If you really want a drink just head for a 5 star hotel and it will be business as usual. In smaller towns such as Dana it would be BYO and drink in your room. In fact, in Dana, I doubt they serve alcohol outside of Ramadan either.
7. Eid will be busy and very expensive
Depending on where you are I think this will be true. We were in Madaba and it was not busy or expensive but in Petra they said it gets very busy indeed. In fact you may need to book a room some time in advance.
What we did find in Madaba though was that many places closed during Eid. Restaurants were generally open but many shops, laundry services and small businesses closed.
In other areas such as Petra it will be open and it will be busy with locals enjoying their holidays. If you are going to be in Jordan during Eid our advice would be to avoid the main tourist sites. Head for somewhere low key such as Madaba or Dana. See Petra and float in the Dead Sea without the crowds before Eid.
Are you planning a trip to Jordan during Ramadan? Have you been and have anything you would like to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below.
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Would you visit Jordan during Ramadan? Have you visited a muslim country during Ramadan and had a completely different experience? Let us know in the comments below!