If you’ve decided to visit the incredible and historic country of Jordan, perhaps you’ve started to consider what to pack for Jordan and how you should dress in Jordan. Especially as a woman, it is important to know what is considered appropriate clothing for a female to wear in Jordan. Unlike other tourist destinations, this is not a country where anything in your wardrobe goes. And although in comparison to other Middle Eastern or Muslim countries, Jordan is relatively liberal, respect goes a long way with the locals. Appropriate dress is one of first things you can do to show you respect Jordan’s culture and people. Different areas of the country allow for slight variations of appropriate clothing in Jordan. Here’s my guide for what to wear in Jordan.
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- 1 What to Wear in Jordan: Skin vs. Curves
- 2 What to Wear in Petra
- 3 What to Wear in Wadi Rum
- 4 How to Dress at the Dead Sea
- 5 What to Wear in Amman or other Jordanian Cities
- 6 Essential Accessories for Jordan
- 7 Harassment in Jordan
What to Wear in Jordan: Skin vs. Curves
After visiting Jordan myself, it seems showing skin is more taboo than showing curves. As long as those curves are covered up, and not emphasized, you should be fine. Jordanian women, especially the younger generation, are quite stylish. They can be seen wearing skinny jeans, leggings, cute shoes, colorful tops, and hijabs of course. But avoid plunging necklines, cleavage, showing your back, shoulders, or midriff, and legs. A flowy scarf is really handy for draping and covering.
What to Wear in Petra
Being more touristy than the rest of the country, Petra sees a wider range of clothing than other areas.
What Should Women Wear in Petra
Just because some chic thought it was a good idea to wear a tube top that she’s bursting out of and a mini skirt with heels does not make it appropriate. In fact you’ll draw a lot of attention to yourself.
Petra is dusty and usually hot and you’ll (hopefully) be hiking. Comfortable shoes are of utmost importance in Petra, and I’d suggest closed-toed because of how dusty it is. Clothing (and sunscreen) to protect you from the sun are also necessary. A hat and a breathable top that at least covers your shoulders (both for appropriateness and to protect you from the sun) are the best options. Your legs should at least be covered above the knees. Save the cheeky shorts for somewhere else. Leggings for women are totally fine or lightweight hiking pants. You can get away with a tank top and conservative shorts in Petra, but I still suggest bringing something to protect your shoulders from the sun.
Prana Lightweight Pants for Women
Comfortable athletic shoes are recommended. You could definitely get away with pretty basic shoes for most of Jordan. The only place most visitors will be doing any hardcore walking is Petra. One of the girls traveling in my small group wore ballet flats to hike the entire day and she did just fine. But I’m not saying I recommend that! I love these lightweight, highly rated Ahnu hiking shoe on the left.
What Should Men Wear in Petra
For men, the suggestions are basically exactly the same. Lightweight hiking pants or shorts and a t-shirt with comfortable shoes and a hat is as easy as it gets. In the winter, Petra has been known to get snow on occasion, so you’ll want to dress warmer, of course, with a jacket and long pants.
What to Wear in Wadi Rum
The desert of Wadi Rum is pretty laid back. You’re in a very small group at a camp. Comfort is key because you’ll be hot during the day and possible quite cold at night. Layers are good.
White is good for staying cool in the sun. There will be nothing more versatile and useful in Jordan than a lightweight, flowy white top that covers the upper arms. A thin button up for over t-shirts or tank tops is super versatile as well.
The sand surprisingly doesn’t stick to anything and get in your bed; it’s actually incredible easy to keep your bed and stuff clean, however sandals or flip-flops are fantastic for just walking around camp and going in and out of your tent. Shoes tend to fill with sand when you walk.
Modesty still applies in Wadi Rum out of respect for your hosts. Also remember to bring some warm things for the evening like a hat and sweatshirt. Leggings or elastic ankle boho pants are great because they can be pulled up a little to not get sand on them like the bottom of other pants do.
A hat for the sun is also a necessity. The desert is where you may find yourself trekking a bit or riding a camel, both of which should include comfortable, close-toed shoes. Don’t forget your sunglasses! A light scarf to drape around your shoulders or over your head in the sun is a good idea to have too.
How to Dress at the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is a beach. Yes you can bring your swimsuit. After being so modest everywhere else, you may even feel a little self conscious and weird about frolicking around in a bikini, but rest assured, it’s ok and normal here.
I did feel the preying eyes of a couple of guys who were watching me walk by but I just left and went to a more crowded area. A light slip on coverup would be nice for walking around before getting into the water. Something like these would be versatile because you could also wear them with leggings.
Some of the local women may be at the Dead Sea swimming too wearing full head coverings and jeans. I actually saw this and thought to myself how horribly uncomfortable it must be, but I suppose they’re used to it.
Where we visited, there was also a resort and pool which was nice to dip in after the strange, oily consistency of the Dead Sea. There are also showers and towels for rent, which felt comforting to cover up with when walking around.
Waterproof sandals are essential because the salt beach is hard as a rock.
What to Wear in Amman or other Jordanian Cities
The cities, although fairly modern, were where I felt I needed to be the most conservative. There were not a lot of tourists, especially women out walking around in the cities.
What Should Women Wear in Jordanian Cities
I saw plenty of local women in western type clothing such as jeans, and they were incredibly stylish, but their skin was covered almost completely and they wore head coverings. I did not wear a head scarf at any point, but I had one with me just in case. In Amman, Jerash, and Madaba I felt most comfortable in linen pants or a long skirt and a loose shirt that covered most everything. I would wear a tank top but with a button up shirt to cover my arms. Yes, you can get away with less, but I just didn’t feel comfortable. People did stare, but I didn’t’ feel it was in a menacing or suggestive way. Usually, if I said hello, they responded positively with a “Welcome to Jordan!”
Women typically were not walking alone, but accompanied by a man. When I first arrived late at night in Amman, I wanted to go walk around at night, but when I stepped out on the street, I literally did not see one woman in the sea of men so I felt too uncomfortable to go out by myself. During the daytime, I felt much better about it. As long as you are walking in popular areas and tourist sites, I think a woman walking alone is perfectly safe.
What Should Men Wear in Jordanian Cities
Men in Jordan are actually pretty stylish. There are lots of clothing stores selling western style clothing and the men are rather trendy. Jeans, hiking pants, and a t-shirt or button up shirt are perfect. Basically whatever you’d wear at home. Although I did notice men in the cities didn’t wear shorts as much as they wore pants. I think men would have a much easier time shopping in Jordan for replacement clothing if their luggage was lost.
Essential Accessories for Jordan
You must have a hat in Jordan. This country sees a lot of sun. Sunglasses too! A day pack is a necessity. Bring a light backpack to carry a bottle of water and sunscreen and a light scarf and coverup for if it’s chilly or you just want to cover more skin. I had a thin button up denim shirt that I pretty much wore with everything. The only shoes you really need are sandals and close-toed walking shoes. Waterproof hiking shoes would be essential if visiting Wadi Mujib and canyoning, and I read a great tip not to get the kind that have openings that allow small pebbles to get in them. The most dressed up I got in Jordan was for a night out in Madaba. We visited a really fun restaurant and bar with live music, wine, and hookahs. I think I wore a long dress or skirt and sandals. The locals at the restaurant, both men and women, were incredibly friendly and fun, teaching us traditional Jordanian dances and we danced the night away with them. Drinking alcohol was totally kosher too.
Harassment in Jordan
Dressing conservatively in Jordan (or anywhere for that matter) does not guarantee a hassle free experience, unfortunately. There have been stories of locals in Petra luring tourists into caves or women being groped at the Dead Sea or on the streets. These things can happen anywhere.
On my last day in Madaba, I passed by two teenage boys who intentionally bumped into me and grabbed my chest and laughed as I took a second to figure out what the hell just happened to me. There’s not much you can do to prepare for this. Just use common sense and stay in populated areas. Although I think it’s best to have someone with you, I wouldn’t try to dissuade anyone from traveling solo. The little hassle left a bad taste in my mouth, but I don’t let it affect my opinion of Jordan, the people, or the Muslim culture. They were just teenage boys. The penalty for such an act towards a tourist is actually quite heavy in Jordan so I’m surprised it happens at all.
Jordan is an incredibly friendly and welcoming country with beautiful people. They love visitors and welcome them with enthusiasm. It’s rewarding to feel like you can represent your country and culture well by being respectful as a guest in their country and part of that involves knowing what to wear in Jordan and dressing modestly.
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