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This is probably going to be a very divisive article and many people will disagree with me, but I personally feel that Petra by Night was a huge waste of money for your trip to Petra and Jordan.
Before you throw me to the wolves, hear me out for why I think so and what you should bear in mind for your trip to Petra.
Firstly, Petra is a magical place and I really cannot recommend you visit here enough. I was emotional and had goosebumps when I first saw it emerging between the rocks of the Siq. I have goosebumps now just remembering it! It is a sight which rightly deserves its Wonder of the World status.
Visiting Petra during the day is included in your Jordan Pass which I recommend you buy - you can read about why you should buy the Jordan Pass here.
However, to visit Petra by Night you need to purchase an additional ticket which costs 17JD (£19/$24). This might not sound too bad but if you're a couple or a family this quickly adds up, especially when you've already paid a minimum of 75JD (£85/$105) for the Jordan Pass per person (depending which Pass type you get).
What does Petra by Night involve?
You might have seen the beautiful adverts or Instagram photos of the Petra Treasury with rows of candles in the sand lighting up its facade. The truth is that people have gone much earlier to get this photo; this is not what Petra by Night is.
When you buy the tickets it says it is a guided tour from the Petra visitor center at 8pm. This is misleading.
The site closes to daytime visitors at 6pm so we assumed we would not be able to walk down in the meantime between 6-8pm. We arrived at the Visitor Centre at 7.30pm as the walk down the Siq canyon takes roughly half an hour so we allowed for this.
There is no guided tour. You just show your ticket at the barrier then walk down the gravel path on your own and through the uneven stone canyon in the dark. There are candles along the side of the path but other than that you're in complete darkness for the 30 minute walk.
The reason I'm emphasising this is that it's not very accessible. I'm not sure if we just missed warning signs about accessibility but we saw wheelchairs being used down there and it was not a comfortable experience for these people. Also as someone with metal pins in my ankle, the prospect of rolling your ankle down here is very real.
If you're going to go, take a good torch. A phone light didn't really cut it.
As we were walking down we passed people walking back up past us already and it wasn't even 8pm yet. This should have been a warning sign for us! These people had gone down extra early to take the photos without people but knew what the show involved and decided not to stick around.
On arriving at the Treasury, the area was packed with hundreds and hundreds of people. The rows of candles in the sand actually mark the rows for people to sit in. The image of candle-lit serenity is immediately shattered: you can barely even see the candles except for when someone trips over in the crowd and stands on one, knocking it over and setting fire to the paperback the candle is standing in which is dangerous in itself!
There is no ticket limit for the event so they just keep ushering people in, there are crowds standing around the edges, sitting on the front steps of the Treasury and crammed down the aisles. If you don't like crowds I really wouldn't recommend! Or arrive much earlier to ensure you get a space.
I was hoping for something pretty cool for the show but once they announced the show was starting. Someone played a flute instrument for approximately 10 minutes. This might not sound like long, but just one person, playing one song on one instrument for 10 minutes to hundreds of people wasn't really the magical performance the event suggests.
This was followed by a guitar performance for several minutes, then a song performance for several minutes, then back to the flute for several minutes.
There is no stage or microphone and we actually couldn't even see where the performing person was for the entire time.
There is no information or introduction about what the music is, what the song means, if its traditional Bedouin music or who the performer is.
After the first flute and the guitar performance went on for so long (approximately 20 minutes), you could tell that the crowd was getting restless. People were starting to talk, children are shouting and people start leaving. The guides start shushing people which makes people talk more. It was embarrassing to watch.
We gave it a chance and stayed for about 40 minutes while this cycle of flute, guitar and song continued. Then we decided to leave.
After walking over 20km during the day around Petra, to then walk another hour round trip down the Siq in the dark for this performance: it just really wasn't worth the time or money to me.
Of course this is just my opinion and visiting Petra is an incredible trip to take. So if you do decide to attend the show, these are my tips for attending Petra by Night:
Petra by night only happens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays so plan your trip accordingly
Tickets are available from the main Petra Visitor Center or from your hotel
As I mentioned there is no ticket limit so tickets will not run out
The cost is 17JD
Wear good, supportive shoes to walk down in the dark
Take a good torch and water for the walk
Go down much earlier if you want to take pictures without people or if you want to get a good seat. I'd suggest going an hour earlier at 7pm.
Factor in the half an hour walk each way through the Siq canyon
It isn't cold but the temperature does drop at night so take a light cover up or jacket if you're prone to cold like me!
Seek advice from staff about accessibility for those with mobility issues. While there are horses and carts during the day, these do not run at night.
Have you attended Petra by Night? I'd love to know what your experience was!
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