Walking Through Petra at Night
If you’re visiting Jordan, Petra is undoubtedly at the top of your list of places to visit (and for good reason). Petra’s Treasury is a rock-cut facade that is breathtaking in the daylight and absolutely surreal at night! The Petra Archaeological Park closes at sunset, but you can come back at night for the Petra at Night tour—a candle-lit journey down the Siq to wonder at the magic of the Treasury under the stars.
Petra at Night TourMondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays 8:30pm
This tour is only offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for a max of 200 people. You can book in advance through your hotel or a local tour agency, but when we visited, we were just told to arrive 30 minutes early to purchase our tickets. Tickets were being sold just before the tour at the visitor center (it’s not included in the Jordan Pass). You’ll be led by a guide down the Siq which will be very dark, only lit by tea light candles. Some people bring flashlights but it really wasn’t necessary, and in my opinion, detracts from the experience.
The walk from the visitor center to the Treasury is about 2 kilometers. Be sure to use the restroom before the tour departs because there will not be any toilets available, and take water if you think you’ll need it.
The Treasury courtyard is covered in candles and visitors are seated on the ground as a musician plays bedouin instruments. The host tells some stories about the history of Petra, and mint tea is served as a few more songs are played. I believe the show lasted about 45 minutes, but with all the walking, the total tour time is 2 hours.
The tour is supposed to be solemn and reflective—a spiritual journey, even. Keep that in mind as you walk through the Siq, and try to keep your voice to a whisper. Be sure you don’t get separated from your group as it will be quite hard to make out faces to find someone in the darkness. When we arrived at the Treasury, Shane was going to walk around to get some photographs, so instead of sitting in the crowd, I sat at the very back wall so that he could find me again.
I read some accounts of other travelers’ Petra at Night experiences before taking our trip and was very surprised to read many negative reviews. Ridiculously, most complaints had to do with there being “too many tourists”. Sure, there were people talking loudly. There were babies crying. There were elderly people shining flashlights. What we did is just let those people walk ahead of us while we paused in the siq to admire the stars. I think we ended up being some of the very last people to arrive at the Treasury, but we didn’t miss anything! You can’t let other people ruin your experience. Remember that everyone present has also come in admiration and they also deserve to have a great experience at Petra.
I can’t tell you how many people tried to get flash photos of the treasury as we were seated watching the show. They were never going to get the photo they wanted! In order to get a photo like the ones posted here, you’ll need to do a long-exposure shot with a tripod or some kind of stabilization, and no flash.
One more note, if you’re looking for a good place to hang out before the Petra by Night tour, we would recommend checking out the Cave Bar! After spending our entire day at Petra and exiting at sunset (5:00) when the park closed, we hung out at the Cave Bar which is just inside the Petra Visitor Center. It was the perfect place to wait for the Petra by Night tour, and we easily wasted the 3 hours before the tour began just relaxing our tired legs, looking through our photos from the day and enjoying the fantastic Campari drinks. The Cave Bar is in an actual ancient Nabataean Cave, so they like to call themselves the oldest bar in the world.
I absolutely recommend the Petra by Night tour. This may be your only visit to Petra so you might as well experience it to the fullest or you will return home feeling like you missed out on something! Ready to start planning your own trip to Jordan? Get started here:
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