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Should you visit Africa or the Middle East? Egypt or Jordan? Decisions, decisions!
Both countries are astounding in their historical significance. The cradle of civilization is in an area deemed by many as unsafe for travel. But are those fears true?
If you had only one choice to visit a country, how would you decide?
Is your apprehension going to keep you from experiencing these fantastic countries?
Tourist Attractions and Historical Sites
When you start planning a trip to Egypt, you may consider adding any (or all) of these popular Egyptian sites to your itinerary:
- The Great Pyramids of Giza
- The Great Sphinx of Giza
- Sahara Desert
- Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
- Aswan Dam
- Nile River Cruises
- Kitchener’s Island
- The Valley of the Kings
- Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
- The Avenue of the Sphynxes
- Colossi of Memnon
- The Library of Alexandria
- Pompey’s Pillar
- Temples like Philae, Kom Ombo, Luxor, Karnak, and Horus at Edfu
Egyptian Museum in Cairo
Do you see a theme of temples? There are so many temples in Egypt so only the sites I saw are listed. In Jordan there are also plenty of things to do and sites to discover, like:
- The Citadel
- Mount Nebo
- Ancient Mosaic Map at Madaba (St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church)
- Little Petra
- Wadi Rum
- The Dead Sea
- Bethany Beyond the Jordan (Al-Maghtas – Baptismal site of Jesus)
- Roman Theatre in Amman
- The King Abdullah Mosque
- Amman Archeological Museum
- Jordan Museum and the Dead Sea Scrolls
- Numerous Desert Castles
Although Jordan is stuffed to the brim with gorgeous archeological sites, Egypt boasts the Pyramids of Giza, the only remaining Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing.
Plus, the Valley of the Kings is mind-blowing. Walking down into the tombs built millenniums ago will give you goosebumps. And to imagine people carving and painting the walls as they did with only fire as light is astounding.
Egypt vs Jordan Tourist Attractions Winner: Egypt
Petra Treasury in Jordan
Egypt is an incredibly affordable destination.
The value of the Egyptian Pound (EGP or LE) is low (1 USD = 16.76 EGP). Entrance into museums and tourist attractions is reasonable. The cost to see the Giza Pyramids was 120 EGP. Which means $7.16 USD. Pretty cheap for one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World! Water and food were also inexpensive.
Jordan is an incredibly expensive destination.
The Jordanian Dinar (JOD) is high (1 USD = 0.71 JOD). The numbers may not seem bad but I’m Canadian so my exchange was 1 CAD = 0.53 JOD. Meaning everything cost me double.
Plus, the food was the same price point as Canada so a normal lunch costing $17 CAD would also cost $17 JOD. We purchased some snacks at the grocery store and it came to $80 CAD!
A one-day ticket to Petra is 50 JOD, translating to $70.42 USD. Factors on your home currency have an impact in terms of affordability.
Egypt vs Jordan Affordability Winner: Egypt
Meal in Egypt
The Canadian government states to “Exercise a high degree of caution” while traveling to both Jordan and Egypt. We felt safe in both countries. Of course, it is wise to avoid some areas of the countries so educate yourself before you go.
Often visiting countries where there is a safety concern improves the security measures for travelers. In Egypt, there was security at every site we entered. We had to state what country we came from. The only time I felt insecure was at the Giza train station. It was dirty and the people were not friendly.
Our guides and drivers kept telling us, “Tell your friends to come to Egypt. It is safe!” However, they advised us not to go on the streets alone. I missed walking the streets. Freedom of self-exploration was lacking. Streets were also dirty, giving a feeling of foreboding.
Jordan is one of the safest countries in the Middle East.
You are free to walk on the streets and no one bothers you. There did not seem to be such a high-security presence at sites. Metal detectors were common when entering a building, as well. The streets in Jordan were clean.
Egypt vs Jordan Safety Winner: Jordan
Traffic in Amman
Ease of Tourism
When we arrived in Egypt, our guide begged us not to go on the streets without a guide.
We would be swarmed by people trying to sell us stuff. It was not hard to convince us as our hotel was a 4-star but the surrounding area outside the hotel walls was not appealing. Garbage everywhere. There was nowhere to go, even if we wanted to.
Visas are required at entry in the airport. Make sure you have new bills or they will not accept your cash. By new, I mean nothing older than the 2000 USD series.
Security at the airport was insane. We had to go through three checkpoints before boarding the airplane. Leaving Egypt was far more difficult than getting in. I’m all for airport security but Cairo’s airport was not a good experience.
The streets of Amman in Jordan were free and refreshing.
Jordan is a peaceful little brother to the other countries in the Middle East. You are free to walk the streets without being swarmed. Compared to Egypt, it is quite liberal.
The airport was convenient, although lines to get your visa were long. Security was good but also a long process.
Egypt vs Jordan Ease of Tourism Winner: Jordan
Meal in Jordan
If you love hummus, you will love the food in both countries. It is outstanding in freshness, variety, and flavor. In Egypt, many meals were seafood and chicken with rice and seasonal vegetables. Lentil soup was also common.
In Jordan, we had pit barbecue in the Wadi Rum and it was delicious. So juicy and tender. The vegetables in Jordan were wonderful and garden-fresh. We had numerous salads and fresh bread to choose from. Meals often had lentil soup, falafel, moutabel, and tabbouleh.
Egypt vs Jordan Food Winner: Jordan
Parking in Amman
Infrastructure and Transportation
Please, unless you were born there, do not drive in either of these countries.
Egypt has virtually no rules to the road.
Where there are supposed to be three lanes of traffic, there are six rows of cars weaving in and out of traffic. Cars are beaten up. Most of them shouldn’t be on the road.
For example, one person was holding his door shut while cruising down the highway. The trains are dreadful, dirty, smelly and cramped. Trains are not numbered so thankfully, our driver stayed with us until the train arrived so he could tell us which one to board in Giza. Of course, there are no English announcements either.
Jordan’s streets are busy, too, but not to the extent of Egypt.
There is more rhyme and reason to their traffic flow. Our driver from the airport to the hotel told us he got a license to drive in Egypt and when he got to Cairo, he couldn’t drive there. And he was from the Middle East!
We were in accidents while driving in both countries.
In Egypt, we got into a mishap while driving to the airport. We were hit from the side when we were weaving in and out of traffic. Our driver got out, looked at his front fender, mumbled something, got back in the car and kept on driving. The tire rubbed on the car with each turn but we got to our destination!
Our bus was rear-ended in traffic in downtown Amman. It was a new bus, too. And of course, everyone just kept on driving as if nothing happened.
Egypt vs Jordan Infrastructure and Transportation Winner: Jordan
If you don’t want to navigate the two countries on your own, you can also book multi-day tours with Intrepid to go with a group and finish planning your trip in one click!
They are both hot.
Tip: go in either spring or fall.
I was in both countries during the summer and it was at least 40 degrees Celsius each day. If you do go in the summer, hit the tourist spots in the morning, beat the crowds and beat the heat.
Egypt vs Tourism Weather Winner: Tie
Ancient tombs at Petra
Overall Winner in Egypt vs Jordan…
Both countries are fabulous but I have to say Jordan is the winner in this showdown.
The deciding factor for me was the overall cleanliness of Jordan. Egypt’s litter and the lack of freedom to explore alone were a strike against it.
There is more freedom to explore in Jordan and be yourself.
Charlotte is a Canadian travel blogger with a passion for small towns, food, drink, history, and photography of the world. Follow along with her adventures on her blog at A Wandering Web!
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