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With one foot in a Biblical past and the other in the prickly politics of the modern Middle East, Jordan pulls off a tough trick, straddling all the complexity and contradictions of the region, while remaining the safest and most welcoming country for 1,000 miles. For a young country, Jordan's ancient past dominates the countryside, notably at the Roman ruins of Jerash (with its modern-day chariot races), the medieval crusader castles of Karak and Shobak and the rock-carved tombs of Petra, one of the world's most remarkable "lost cities." Holy Land pilgrims can thrill themselves by visiting the very spots where Moses looked onto the Promised ...

With one foot in a Biblical past and the other in the prickly politics of the modern Middle East, Jordan pulls off a tough trick, straddling all the complexity and contradictions of the region, while remaining the safest and most welcoming country for 1,000 miles. For a young country, Jordan's ancient past dominates the countryside, notably at the Roman ruins of Jerash (with its modern-day chariot races), the medieval crusader castles of Karak and Shobak and the rock-carved tombs of Petra, one of the world's most remarkable "lost cities." Holy Land pilgrims can thrill themselves by visiting the very spots where Moses looked onto the Promised Land and where Jesus was baptized by the banks of the Jordan River. For a different adventure you can follow the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia into the extraordinary desert beauty of Wadi Rum, which offers overnight jeep and camel trips out to Bedouin desert camps. Rappel down the canyons and waterfalls of Wadi Mujib, before pampering yourself at the luxurious spas of the nearby Dead Sea or the beach resorts of Aqaba. Best of all, Jordan is affordable and compact, meaning you can pack a big trip into a small time frame. Alternatively, fit Jordan into a multicountry trip to Damascus or the Sinai. Either way, Jordan is likely to be the highlight of any trip to the Middle East.

Bradley Mayhew
About the Expert

Bradley Mayhew is the author of more than 25 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, including Central Asia, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Jordan, and is coauthor of the Odyssey guide to Uzbekistan.

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Bradley Mayhew for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Middle East, bordered by Syria to the north, Iraq to the north-east, Israel and the West Bank to the west, and Saudi Arabia to the east and south.
  • Language: Arabic
  • Currency: Jordanian Diner
  • Research: Wikitravel | Jordan
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall