Jordan is a country with an immense history. Bordering Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, the country holds many significant historical and cultural sites that tourists love to explore.
Due to its location, many different entities, nations, and cultures inhabited the region. The country has monumental Roman ruins, rock-carved structures like Petra and the Treasury, and beautiful natural sites like the Dead Sea.
Even though these sites attract numerous tourists every year, is Jordan safe? Like every country, Jordan has issues that travelers should always learn before going on a trip.
So, we’ve put together a list of travel tips and information so that you can become fully prepared if you choose to take a trip to Jordan.
Is Jordan Safe to Visit?
Jordan is generally a safe country, but it’s had a rough few years. Due to increasing tension in the region due to conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Palestine, the country has seen a rise in crime, particularly terrorism.
Although millions still travel to the country every year, you must be careful when doing so. In October 2022, the United States issued a level two travel advisory for the country.
Level two requires travelers to exercise a degree of caution when traveling to the country.
The stated reason for the advisory to terrorism and related activities. Various regions throughout the country also have a level four travel advisory, which tells citizens not to travel to those regions under any circumstances.
These regions include:
- The Syrian and Iraqi borders
- Various refugee camps, such as Azraq Syrian and Za’atari Syrian Refugee Camp
- Zarqa, Rusayfah, and the Baqa’a neighborhood of Ayn Basha
The level four warnings are all related to higher levels of terrorism or the potential for cross-border violence from groups in Syria and Iraq. Refugee camps often see higher crime rates and the Jordanian government limits who can enter.
The UK also issued safety advisories for the region, advising travelers to stay away from the border unless travel is essential. They also warn potential tourists to be wary of terrorist attacks.
Although Jordan has seen a rise in terrorist activity since 2014, overall crime levels are trending downward. Between 2019 and 2020, Jordan saw a 14% drop in reported crimes, although the country did see a rise in attempted murder.
Terrorism is the primary concern for any traveler going to Jordan. Other concerns you should have when planning a trip to Jordan include the following:
- Sexual harassment
- Drug and arms trafficking
Crime in Jordan
Crime is relatively uncommon in Jordan. The country has a population of just over 11 million people, but Jordan sees significantly fewer crimes than neighboring countries like Iraq or Syria.
Crime still affects the country, and some tourists are unlucky enough to find themselves in the midst of it. Let’s go through the most common types of crime that travelers may experience when visiting the country.
Like almost all countries, theft is the most common crime that impacts tourists in Jordan. Although residents are the most common victims of theft, tourists can also become victims if they’re not careful.
According to data from the United Nations, Jordan most recently reported a rate of 167 thefts per 100,000 residents.
Compared to the United States, which had a rate nearly ten times higher (1,595 per 100,000), Jordan has significantly fewer thefts. But as a tourist, you need to be wary of your surroundings so you won’t become a victim of theft.
The most commonly stolen items in Jordan include:
- Items left in cars
Sexual harassment is a problem for female travelers in particular. The Jordanian National Commission for Women found that at least 75% of Jordanian women faced sexual harassment at least one time in their life.
The majority of these incidents are non-verbal gestures or verbal harassment. Physical harassment is rarer, but it does occur. Many of these incidents occur because the perpetrators feel like women are dressing immodestly.
When women travel to Jordan, they need to be more careful than men. Common places where female travelers may be harassed include taxis, markets, and other public places like the street.
Jordan sits in a diverse region, with Africa to the south, Asia to the east, and Europe to the north. With all of these neighbors, it’s no surprise Jordan is quickly becoming a hotspot for trafficking illegal items, such as drugs, guns, and people.
Human trafficking is a sad reality in Jordan. Enterprises often traffic foreign workers and refugees for cheap labor, while criminal entities traffic women and children for labor and sexual purposes. Human trafficking affecting tourists rarely occurs, but it’s best to be wary.
More commonly, criminal organizations traffic items like guns and drugs through Jordan. Many guns transit through Jordan on their way to Iraq, Syria, or Palestine.
Many gun traffickers are made up of tribes who live along the porous border between Jordan, Syria, and Iraq. Drugs are another commonly trafficked item.
The most common drug used in Jordan is marijuana, which is generally grown and smuggled from Afghanistan, Syria, and Lebanon. Other common drugs include methamphetamine and captagon, a synthetic drug similar to meth.
Drug policy is taken seriously in Jordan, with severe sentences handed down for anyone involved. Both drug and gun trafficking operations are easy to avoid if you don’t associate with people involved in the trade and you stay close to tourist sites protected by the government.
Corruption and Scams
Scams are common crimes tourists witness in Jordan. The most common scams are price-inflating scams. Taxi drivers and vendors will often charge tourists inflated prices and will become angry if you don’t pay.
Corruption is also common. People often pay public officials to speed up proceedings or avoid severe punishments. Although corruption is common among locals, tourists shouldn’t engage in corruption because it can land them in serious trouble.
Terrorism should be a primary worry for any potential travelers to Jordan. However, compared to other countries in the region, like Syria and Iraq, Jordan has a strong central government headed by King Abdullah II.
Jordan faces a terrorism threat from outside its borders and within its borders. The Jordanian military played a key role in defeating ISIS from 2014-2019. Their willingness to help western allies has put Jordan in the crosshairs of terror organizations.
Other organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, operate legally as political organizations in Jordan. In 2015, the USA attempted to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization due to its funding of militant groups, but the legislation didn’t pass.
Unlike other crimes, you can’t predict when or where terror attacks will occur. Sometimes attackers carry out their attacks on government facilities, such as air bases. But in other cases, terrorists will attack tourists or cultural sites.
Although Jordan is on high alert for terrorist activity, they only experience these attacks infrequently. According to the US State Department, Jordan suffered zero attacks in 2020 and only one in 2019.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Unlike many areas of the United States where you can walk into a bad neighborhood and not know it, it’s relatively easy to avoid bad areas in Jordan. Most areas frequented by tourists get protection from the Jordanian military or police.
While this makes them considerably safer than other areas, there are some areas you should do everything you can to avoid. So let’s go through what areas to avoid so you can enjoy a trip to Jordan safely.
The Syrian and Iraqi Border
The Syrian and Iraqi borders are the most dangerous regions in the country. As a tourist, there’s absolutely no need to visit these regions. There are no cultural sites or tourist attractions worth seeing in the region.
The area is dangerous because the central government doesn’t have firm control in the region. The borders are porous, allowing guns, drugs, and potential terrorists to easily cross the border.
The best way to avoid the border is to only stay in cities and places with tourist attractions, such as Petra. If you’re traveling by bus in the country, always ensure the bus route stays away from the border before you purchase a ticket.
Refugee camps are also an area of concern for tourists. There are more than a dozen refugee camps in Jordan, but the Azraq Syrian and the Za’atari Syrian Refugee Camps have 39,322 and 82,268 residents, respectively.
These camps are close to the Syrian border and dozens of miles away from significant sites.
They are far away from tourist sites, meaning there’s no need to visit. Refugee camps in Jordan are more dangerous than the rest of the country because they see higher rates of crime like theft and human trafficking.
Zarqa, Rusayfah, and Ayn Basha
Zarqa and Rusayfah are two neighboring cities on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Amman. According to the US State Department, these areas have a higher rate of crime and terrorism than other areas in Jordan.
Another area is Ayn Basha, a city located 13 miles northwest of Amman. Like the other neighborhoods, the US State Department flagged the area as a potential hotspot for criminal or terrorist activity.
Unlike the border and refugee camps, these cities are very close to the cultural sites in Amman.
To ensure you stay out of these areas, always understand your route to your destination. Avoid buses that stop in these cities, and don’t take any taxis or rides that must transit through these areas.
The Desert Highway
Highway 15, also known as the desert highway, is a route that stretches from the country’s north, through the capital, to the southernmost population center, Aqaba. The highway is an essential route for commerce and vehicle travel in Jordan.
But Highway 15 can be dangerous if you’re not careful. In the highway’s southern half, your main concern should be accidents. According to the UK government, Highway 15 has recently seen an increase in fatal accidents.
The northern half of the highway, which is close to both the Syrian and Palestinian borders, is unsafe for more than just traffic reasons. Smugglers and terror organizations sometimes use the road for illegal purposes.
It’s best to avoid the northern half of the highway, which stretches north from Amman. When using the southern portion, use extreme caution. Always wear a seatbelt and follow all traffic laws to avoid being involved in an accident.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions potential travelers have about Jordan!
Is Jordan safe to travel to as a woman?
Although crime, in general, is rare in Jordan, women need to be more cautious than men when they travel to the country. Sadly, women have to take on more responsibilities when they visit countries with cultural and religious dynamics similar to Jordan.
Compared to countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan has a relaxed dress code. But women still need to dress modestly, so they don’t attract unwanted attention. Women should wear loose-fitting clothing that covers their arms, legs, chest, and the back of their neck.
Women should never ride alone in a taxi. If you must, always sit in the back. It’s also best to travel with a man, although solo women travelers are common in Jordan. These strategies will help you limit harassment.
What are the most popular attractions in Jordan?
Petra, a monolithic city carved out of stone cliffs, is the most popular tourist attraction in the country. People also visit Jordan to see the Dead Sea and Roman ruins, such as the Temple of Hercules in the Citadel of Amman.
Can you drink alcohol in Jordan?
Jordan is a conservative society that frowns upon alcohol consumption. If you drink or appear drunk in public, the police will arrest you. But many restaurants, clubs, stores, and hotels sell alcohol that you can consume privately.
Can you kiss in Jordan?
In short, yes, but you need to be careful. Jordan has laws against public indecency, and any public act considered sexual could result in an arrest. So it’s best to avoid public displays of affection like kissing, hugging, caressing, or hand-holding until you get back to the hotel.
Are Jordanian people friendly?
Jordanian people, especially the citizens of the capital, are extremely friendly and hospitable to tourists. They only ask that you respect their customs, laws, and culture.
If you do so, they’ll welcome you with open arms. And if you ever feel unsafe, the Jordanian police promptly respond to tourists’ concerns about their safety, particularly at sites like Petra.
So, Is Jordan Safe to Visit?
So, is Jordan safe to visit? Although Jordan has recent problems concerning terrorism and other petty crimes, their government is working to make the country safer for tourists.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience the wonders of Petra or the Dead Sea, consider your options and plan carefully to have a safe, adventure-filled trip. Happy travels!