When travelling to a foreign country, you have to be aware of the local traditions and customs for two things. Firstly, as responsible tourists, we must know and respect their culture/traditions. Secondly, we will be free from all unwanted attention by dressing up like locals. Jordan is a bit more liberal than its neighbouring countries & doesn’t have a strict dress code like in Iran, but definitely not as liberal as a western country.
This post is an answer to your question “What clothes to pack for Jordan” and what not to wear in Jordan.
What do Jordanian people wear?
The modern Jordanian women dress up conservatively – at least with a scarf on their heads. Unlike in Turkey, Jordanian women don’t wear T-shirts and skinny jeans. Instead, they wear loose trousers and tunics with full sleeves. Chador and Burqas are seen in the countryside, not in a city like Amman. Unlike Iran, Jordanian women didn’t seem to be fond of makeup and cosmetics. Unlike in India & Pakistan, we hardly saw any women in Salwar Kamiz ( except some Indian/Pakistan tourists at Petra).
We saw no Jordan men in shorts, even when it was hot in Wadi Rum. All locals prefer trousers for the outdoors paired with collared T-shirts and jackets. In the countryside (near Wadi Rum) and many men in cities wore a long-sleeved one-piece robe that covers the whole body called a Dishdasha or Thobe. It was Similar to Jalebiya of Egypt but not as loose as Jalebiya. Plus, these were white or light Grey. That iconic “checkered red & white” scarf is paired with the white thoub.
The younger crowd loved wearing ankle-length denim with thick jackets (because of the 12*C of January) and a solid Hijab.
What do female Bedouins wear?
Traditional Bedouin women wear lots of metal accessories for their hair, neck, and even their Hijab. You get to see this inside Petra archaeological site, where local women also sell handmade metal jewels. Their robe is most attractive – Solid navy blue or black long gowns with dominantly red thread embroidery along with geometric patterns of yellow and white. Some even add a touch of mirror work between the gaps of two geometrical patterns.
A thing I learned in Petra is – Most of us are shy to pose for a photo. Bedouin women are even more hesitant. I saw many tourists trying to click a photo of them without asking them. Soon, women went inside the cave or hid behind the curtains. So I didn’t even attempt to take a shot of them, imagining myself in their position.
The embroidery on their gowns resembles this pattern and colours
What do Bedouin men wear?
For sure modern Bedouin men are going to remind you of Jack Sparrow with their baggy pants paired with a colourful T-Shirt and some jackets. To layer it further, they wear a shrug, kind of a thing whose length keeps varying at points. They usually have long hair, puts up a band around the head and sometimes tie a scarf around it. Our driver Yusuf said their eyes look so sharp because of the eyeliner called “Surma” This homemade eyeliner traps the sand particles and stops them from entering inside.
Don’t you feel Jack Sparrow’s look was inspired by Bedouin men at Petra? – Yes, I clicked his picture with his permission and also airdropped the same picture to his iPhone then and there.
What do tourists wear in Jordan?
Except for wearing Hijab, foreigners are expected to follow a similar dress code. Sleeveless shirts (for both men & women) are considered undergarments in Jordan. Dresses/ skirts that aren’t transparent and not skinny covering your knees are good to go. 3/4th pants, Tunics with at least sleeves up to elbow are something you must pack in your bag before leaving for Jordan.
Can you wear shorts in Jordan?
Nope. Neither for men nor for women. Basically, cover your shoulders, chest, cleavage and much below your naval. Make sure those tops and pants don’t flaunt your curves.
Hence don’t carry- crop tops, sleeveless tops, tube tops, noodle strap shirts, short-length skin-fit T-Shirts, shorts and capris above the knee.
Layer your outfit when you aren’t used to covering up so much. For example, wear a shrug or a thin jacket on your tank top. So that you can remove it whenever you feel it is ok to do.
Men are expected to wear trousers and T-shirts, AKA Smart casuals.
Remember, it is a lot of walking and hiking in Jordan; make sure the gowns you wear aren’t hindering your lengthy but rewarding hike. In Petra, there are many caves, but you find tourists taking breaks from hiking inside most of them. Luckily, one of them was empty, and there was no sight of tourists on our way to the Monastery. So I could remove my thermal wear and tops in the cave.
The best way to explore Petra is to start hiking in the morning. In January, the mornings were cold, the afternoons were super hot, and the night was frigid. Since we both are walkers, that backpack you see here has the jackets and gloves we need for the evening.
What should I wear to Jordan in winter?
We were there in Jordan in January. The temperature varied from 5 to 18-degree celsius. As tropical natives, we had to carry heavy jackets and everything else to bear the cold. If you are from a temperate region, you may not need your winter gear.
Petra and Wadi Rum got immensely hot by afternoon. Because of our layered clothing, we could remove jackets or thermal wear at the noon. Scarfs or hats are a must. Keep in mind; It does snow in Amman, Wadi Rum and Petra occasionally.
What should I Wear in Jordan in Summer?
If the winter noons hit 18C, how hot it could get in summer? For sure more than 33C. So carry light cotton clothes. Make sure they are not transparent or see-through. You might offend conservative Jordanians with those. It is best to take full-length or 3/4th length pants for two reasons. One – You won’t be judged by the locals. Two – Wadi Rum sand is not prickly, but trust me, you don’t want sand sticking on your sweaty legs.
Suitable footwear for Jordan hiking
I am assuming you are in Jordan to see Petra mainly. The best way to explore Petra is by walking. The minimum walk for any tourist ( unless you opt for a horse ride) from the visitor centre to the treasury of Petra, is 2km one way. We walked 20km on the first day and 8km on the second day. So good hiking or comfortable walking shoes are a must. Alternatively, you can think of sandals of thicker, softer soles with velcro straps. But the feet get itchy and dusty while hiking. Now obviously, flip-flops and heels do not come into the picture at all.
Dont buy desert hiking gear for Wadi Rum
We bought trekking gaiters thinking we are doing some major, challenging hiking on the sharp sands of Wadi Rum. It turned out to be the opposite way; the sand was so soft that we walked barefoot on the dunes. This may not be possible in summer, but do not spend money trekking Gaiters for Wadi Rum alone.
Is it ok to wear a bathing suit in Jordan?
Do not bother about buying Burkinis! Sounds strange, but I had googled if I needed to buy a Burkini for the Dead Sea. Bikinis and swimwear are no big deal at the lakeshore but cover yourself while walking back to the hotel from the lake.
Packing essentials for Jordan irrespective of the season
- Moisturiser for face & body.
- 40 SPF sunscreen.
- Walking shoes for Wadi Rum & Petra hiking.
- Flip-flops for the Dead Sea.
- Swimwears for Aqaba and the dead sea.
- Undergarments and toiletries.
- Nightdress – Shorts only for indoors.
- Sleeved Tunics, T-Shirts with overcoat or shrug.
- Sunshade goggles.
- Caps/scarf to cover the head and ears.
- Personal medicines along with General medication for headache, stomach upset and acidity.
- The camera gears and chargers.
- Travel adapters for sockets
- Phone, phone chargers and power bank
- Passport, a money belt and cash.
- Reuseable water bottle.
Packing list for Jordan’s winter
For winter, along with the items listed under the general list, pack-
- Thermal wear
- Full-length denim pants
- long length non-transparent skirts.
- Full armed high neck shirts and tops
- Thick jackets
- Hand gloves
- Medicines, inhaler for Jordan’s cold winter.
Packing list for Jordan’s summer
For summer, along with the items listed under the general list, pack-
- Oral dehydration solutions during summer.
- Short-sleeved cotton loose shirts & tops
- Light shrugs
- Cotton light-coloured loose pants
Was this helpful to pack your bags for the conservatively liberal country of Jordan? Let us know in the comment section below.