What to Wear When Traveling to Jordan
You’ve been counting down the days until you embark on your epic Jordan tour. The time has finally arrived that many dread…it’s time to pack. You are only visiting for a week and you want to maximize your packing space. We hear you; it’s not an easy task. The question rolling around in your head is, “What is appropriate to wear in an Islamic, Middle Eastern country?”
Lightweight cottons and linens are advised during the summer between May and September while travelling to Jordan. Warm clothes are necessary for winter and cool summer evenings. Rainwear may be needed from November to April. It is important to remember that Jordan is primarily a Muslim country, albeit not a very conservative one. Revealing clothing is not appropriate outside tourist towns and conservative clothing is advisable for both men and women in downtown Amman and in rural areas. Evenings can be cool in summer, so a sweater or a shawl is advisable. Make sure you bring with you comfortable walking shoes, a hat and sun block.
Not to fear, we have some tips for you.
Guidelines to keep in mind:
While Jordan is a progressive Muslim country, it is still conservative at heart. The general rule of thumb, for women, is the less skin showing the less attention you will draw to yourself (it really is for your benefit). Tightness, on the other hand, is not as much of a faux pas as showing skin in this culture.
Also consider the nature of your travel. While its not extreme adventure tourism, you will be doing quite a lot of walking, hiking and possibly some climbing depending on your itinerary and daring spirit. Other possible scenarios include mounting and dismounting camels or donkeys, sleeping in goat hair tents, and getting your hands dirty as you harvest olives or tomatoes alongside locals.
Tips for women:
Jordanian women dress very fashionably in urban parts of the country. It is common to see covered women wearing tight skirts and dresses over leggings. By contrast, in small villages or conservative areas, many women wear a long coat called a jilbab, which covers any hint of their figure. Depending on where I am going, I aim for somewhere in between these two.
Pack a few thin cotton long-sleeve shirts. I also love cardigans. They are a great conservative option. It’s ok for tourists to wear short-sleeves, but personally, I always feel more comfortable covering most of my arms and it shows respect for the local culture.
Avoid shirts that reveal too much of your chest or back. Cleavage is a big no-no here. Tuck a scarf in your purse or backpack in case you end up in a more conservative area of town and want to throw it around your shoulders. If you plan on entering a mosque at anytime during your stay a scarf may come in handy as you might want to cover your head.
As mentioned above, it is always best to opt for long pants. In the hot summer months go for a thin cotton blend instead of jeans.
If your itinerary includes a beach you’ll want to bring a swimsuit. At a resort anything goes, but at a public beach you may want to choose a modest suit. The more skin showing the more looks you will get, in which case some women may be more comfortable wearing a t-shirt and shorts over their suit. Local ladies who swim will be fully covered.
Tips for men:
It’s a little less tricky for you. T-shirts and a couple pairs of long pants should be just fine. In the recent years young men and boys have begun to wear shorts, however most men still wear long pants. Depending on the time of year you may want to throw in a hat to keep the sun away, or just buy a traditional Bedouin head scarf when you arrive.
Both ladies & gentlemen:
It’s a great idea to pack layers. During the fall and winter seasons it can go from hot to cold in an instant if you find yourself in the shade as well as in the evenings.
Bring a good pair of walking shoes if not two. The streets of Jordan are dustier and slightly dirtier than you are probably used to. In addition, you will be off the asphalt path in most of the places you are walking. In the spring and summer months, many tourists like to walk around in open toed shoes or sandals like Chacos, however, my choice would always be something closed toed.
Lastly, don’t stress. If you follow these guidelines and tips you will not only feel comfortable, you may even fit in (I get mistaken for a Jordanian all the time, which makes me happy because one of my personal pet-peeves is looking like a tourist.)
WOMEN TRAVELERS IN THE MIDDLE EAST by Ruth
WOMEN TRAVELLERS IN THE MIDDLE EAST by Ruth and her outstanding website (Also buplished in a book) : Ruth's Jordan Jubilee ...
About Ruth : https://www.jordanjubilee.com/ruth.htm
*Below is what she motioned :
WOMEN TRAVELLERS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
My usual advice is "Behave intelligently and dress correctly and you should have no great problem".
Intelligent behaviour : no need to snub everybody who smiles at you, but don't allow any touching whatsoever, however accidental it might seem. Say, as mildly as seems necessary, "don't do that (again)". If you pass it over it is going to happen again, probably more intrusively. You are likely to receive a number of invitations for various purposes: be careful what you accept, and take the obvious precautions! I absolutely don't tell you to refuse them all [I live in Paris, after all!] but remember that what is "normal friendly behaviour" in the West can be interpreted in the ME as "looking for" sex. On the whole, the Jordanians are the most laid back about this, you can sit and chat with them quite happily, while in the same circumstances Syrians automatically suppose that you will be agreeable to lying down! However, I strongly advise you NOT to accept any invitation from one or even a couple of guys unless you are at least a couple of women and have agreed a strategy among yourselves first! Don't go to any out of the way places, even in the daytime, in less than quite a large group.
DO NOT, IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, ACCEPT AN INVITATION TO A DARK AND LONELY PLACE FROM SOMEBODY YOU HAVE JUST MET! Yes, I know it seems obvious, but I have heard of just this happening, and the woman was surprised and shocked at the man's subsequent behaviour!
I am not telling you to keep strictly to yourself. It would be a pity to stay in your hotel room in the evening without going out or speaking to anybody. Part of the experience of travelling, after all, is meeting people from the country where you are. Most villages/towns/tourist sites have somewhere where people gather in the evenings. Nearly always you can join a group of locals with no problem as long as you "behave intelligently" when the group breaks up. This is rarely resented, on the contrary, most men approve of it, however much they might regret it! (I am not talking about Egypt, which is a strong exception to this rule, except perhaps in the Sinai, where the guys seem to be noticeably more polite.) Obviously you don't allow anybody to offer you more than a glass of tea in these circumstances, and it is a good general rule never to accept an offer of alcohol in any form from anybody at all, even from somebody in the hotel where you are staying . If you feel like drinking a beer when the others are doing so, then pay for it yourself. It is, however, almost impossible to refuse tea, and it is very cheap so your conscience there is clear.
A corollary to my first piece of advice on this page: if somebody does start annoying you, then let him see immediately that you are annoyed. It is much better to show annoyance immediately than to let it go on until you lose your temper or until a situation gets out of control. Invariably once a man sees that you don't appreciate whatever he is saying/doing he will cut it out, or at the very least back pedal considerably. If you let it continue, you will be unhappy and he is likely to be surprised and shocked at your attitude when he probably thought that he was making an impression. If he gets angry, then he gets angry, it is much better from your point of view for him to get angry than for you to do so. You don't need to shout, just say something like "I really don't like this sort of talk, please stop it and stop it now! Otherwise go away!" You may well be surprised at the effect that this has.
Correct dress : it is important to cover your knees (a calf length skirt or loose trousers) and the tops of your arms (a tee shirt or something with cap sleeves is fine). Obviously no bare midriffs, and no tank or halter tops or shorts. You don't need to cover your head - except from the sun. You can relax this rule a bit at the main tourist sites like Petra, but don't relax it too far. Just remember that wherever you are, the more you show, the more you are going to get looked over. It would be utterly stupid to resent any leers if you are scantily dressed BY LOCAL STANDARDS and remember always that these are not necessarily the same as your own! I think I don't need to say that the beach, especially a private beach, is quite different.
Blending in : you are going to stand out anyway. Watch the way the Arab women walk in public and you will see that it is quite different from you. Don't worry, behaviour is the most important. Don't hesitate to denounce (loudly!) any undue familiarities, they will almost certainly stop immediately. Don't worry about hurting anybody's feelings by a refusal, the guys know what is correct behaviour better than you do, and will not normally resent it, however disappointed they might be personally!
You might like to know that on a bus, Arab women refuse to sit next to a strange man, even if this means that the man has to remain standing! In fact, in these cases, almost always people shuffle around to make room; probably a couple will split up, the woman to sit next to the woman and the man with the other man. If you are in any doubt at all, you can perfectly well do the same thing. People will be surprised at a "tourist" doing this, but will accept it.
Many women without male escort might hesitate a bit to visit Wadi Rum. The idea of "sleeping under the stars" is wonderful, but the idea of sleeping almost alone with strange Bedouin is less attractive. In the Wadi Rum section I have given the names of some men in whom you can have complete confidence. I quote here : "Women travelling alone will be perfectly safe with all of the men I have named. These are guys who would not dream of hassling female tourists who are, as they see it, in their care. A note here : if any other local should join the party and start annoying you, don't try to "humour him", just ask your guide to tell him to get lost. The guide may hesitate to interfere until it is clear that you are unhappy with the situation. Once he realises that, he will deal with the man immediately, and more effectively than you can!
I continue to receive emails on the "Is it safe to sleep in the desert?" theme. My invariable" reply is On the whole yes, but you need to use common sense and elementary prudence - which does not include distrusting everybody! If you are with other tourists there should be no problem. If you are sleeping in somebody's desert camp, there should be no problem.
If you get any proposition, be ready with a courteous No Thank You, which should finish the matter. Don't dwell on it afterwards - you can't blame a guy for trying! At least one poster on the Thorn Tree continually talks about "harrassment" when all she received was a mild and not particularly enthusiatic invitation! From some points of view, it is only polite to ask!!!!
Do NOT accept any invitation for a private bivouac, this is tantamount to writing a blank cheque...
I will add one word of warning, however delicate the subject matter! You will almost certainly link up with fellow travellers, perhaps on several occasions. Be a bit careful here. One is tempted to suppose that all foreigners are out to screw you (in whatever sense) and that your own compatriots are trustworthy. This is, unfortunately, not necessarily true. There are numerous stories about people having been ripped off, exploited, robbed and even raped by other travellers. I am not telling you to be wary about everybody, but to treat people in the same way that you would have if you met them at home, and don't hand over your wallet trustingly to somebody you have just encountered simply because he/she is from the same country as yourself! For instance, if you decide to share your room to save money, don't leave anything tempting lying around when you are momentarily absent, in the bathroom for instance.
Certainly in Jordan do not hesitate to complain to the tourist police if you should meet with any special hassle. They all speak very good English and they will listen to you politely, will take pains to make things easy for you and will act immediately on any complaint. You will not be expected to do more than sign a paper. In fairness to other women, you SHOULD complain about any bad behaviour.
To sum up, behave intelligently, and you should not have any problem. Relax and enjoy yourself. Most people in the Middle East are wonderful and this should be a great experience.