Discover Jordan: Day 2 – Northern Jordan

Discover Jordan: Day 2 – Northern Jordan

Today was our first full day in Jordan. We headed up North to have an authentic cultural experience. We started the morning sightseeing a few touristy attractions before our driver dropped us off at our host family. 


1. Jerash Ruins

Location: 7VGR+9HJ, Jerash, Jordan Time Spent: 1 hr 15 mins Opening Hours: Varies

The ruined city of Jerash is considered one of the largest and most preserved Greek and Roman archeological sites in Jordan. The city is a quick one-hour drive from the capital of Amman. To enter Jerash, you will need to walk through souvenir shops. There is a ticket booth at the end of the shop but if you have a Jordan Pass, you will bypass the ticket booth and continue until you see security guards flagging you down. If you have your Jordan pass printed, the guard will stamp your pass with a date. If you have the pass on your phone, they will scan the barcode. I recommend visiting Jerash early. Countless tour groups are entering throughout the day. I arrived around 9am and there were already groups lining up to enter. Additionally, it also gets warm with limited shade. Bring water to hydrate! Jerash is picturesque with great shots everywhere you turn. 

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2. Ajloun Castle

Location: 8PGG+3X Ajloun, Jordan Time Spent: 30 mins 

Ajloun Castle is a 12th-century fortress that is on top of Mount ‘Auf. Due to its location, visitors have an incredible view of Jordan Valley and the surrounding desert. Ajloun is just a 40-minute drive from Jerash. Entrance to Ajloun Castle costs 3JD (4.25 USD) or free with a Jordan Pass. The access areas to the castle are limited. Most visitors come for the views. 




3. Northern Jordan

After lunch at Gilead Market, our driver took us to the northern cusp of Jordan where we met our local host for the next 24 hours. We were exhausted by the time we arrived. Our host walked us to our sleeping quarters. He told us that this is the “women’s area”, meaning only women are allowed. Nobody was staying there at the moment so he was able to give us a quick tour of the property. The women’s area had 2 bedrooms, 2 living room areas, a kitchen, and a bathroom. He gave us an hour to detox before he picked us up to go exploring. 

The first stop was to drive to the border where Israel, Jordan, and Palestine intersected. His brother drove us while our host gave us a brief history of the surrounding area. We had to bring our passports with us. The border was heavily controlled by Israeli guards and many Muslim countries are restricted from entering. While at the border, our host pointed to where Jesus walked on water. We saw the capital of Syria over the horizon. He told us about Golan Heights, a Syrian territory that is occupied by Israel. Just being here, we felt the conflict between the neighboring countries. 



4. Pool Sammara

Pool Sammara is a hot spring in the area. My friend and I only wanted to take a tour of the border but our host already called ahead to let the owners of Pool Sammara know that we were coming. The hot spring was covered in a makeshift tent. We had the room to ourselves. There were no changing rooms. We had to change in the wet tent. The water was scorching and because there was no ventilation, we were sweating buckets. We tried to stay in the hot spring for about an hour to not offend anyone but our bodies could not handle it. We only dipped our legs in and they were turning red from the heat. Once we left, there was a group of men just sitting outside of our hot spring. It was quite awkward. We were having Iftar with our host at 7pm. We had some time to kill so we walked around the property for a bit. 

5. Archeological of Umm Qais

Our host gave us the option to do the archeological site in the morning or right before Iftar. We were exhausted but our host convinced us to push through. We are glad that we did explore that night. We had the entire place to ourselves. Typically the archeological site is closed off but because he is a local, we’re able to enjoy the luxury of seeing the area with no visitors. Our host was knowledgeable about the various plants that we passed by. He also talked about the history of all the sites that we passed by. We came across several burial sites. There were walls where bodies were buried and rooms where the wealthy were buried. We ended the walk in a Roman amphitheater. You can hear the echo standing in the center of the arena. It was getting close to 7pm so we had to head back to enjoy Iftar. 

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Where to Eat:

Breakfast: Sydney Hotel

I had breakfast at my hotel. It was a simple continental breakfast with boiled eggs, hummus, veggies, and assorted breads. 

Lunch: Gilead Market

Gilead Market is a tiny artsy shop with a tiny cafe attached. Since it was Ramadan, lots of places were closed, Our driver asked around and was told that there was a cafe that sells sandwiches. When we arrived, they had turkey and cheese panini, cheese panini, and a meal of the day. There was also soda and coffee for sale here too. 


Dinner: Iftar

During Ramadan, muslims fasts from sun rise to sun down. Today, Iftar was broken when we heard prayers over the intercom around 7:10pm. Our host made us plates of food. We had date juice, dates, water, lentils, salad, hummus, chicken, rice with cauliflower, grilled veggies, and some desserts. Our host’s sister and mother have been cooking all day to fix us this great meal. Everything was delicious. I’m thankful to have experienced this with a local. 



Where to Stay:

Stayed with Host Family

Umm Qais

We stayed in Umm Qais with a host family. Our host let us stay in the women’s quarter of his property. The place was spacious. The downside was that there were mosquitos everywhere and had to try our best to keep them out.