Aqaba Journals

Aqaba - The Definitive Guide

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An April 2002 trip to Aqaba by DrMaximus

Al Shula Photo, Aqaba, Jordan More Photos
Quote: A lovely port city at the southern most tip of Jordan, and the country’s only point of access to the Red Sea. I had come here with little expectations, so was absolutely delighted that so many of my dreams were realized here!

Aqaba - The Definitive Guide

Overview

Quote:
1. Reasonably priced quality hotels with sweeping views of the Gulf of Aqaba and towards the Israeli resort of Eilat 2. Unforgettable dinner at the Captain Restaurant 3. Incredibly unexpected excursion inside a local bakery! 4. Getting lost in a Middle Eastern bazaar one day after dinner 5. Haggling over purchases and enjoying super sweetened tea with mintQuick Tips: 1. Do not judge a hotel by its exterior... expensive and expansive furnishings do not necessarily mean high room rates 2. Super cheap, great local snacks are to be had around every street corner... try them, but drink only bottled water 3. Always be on the look out for scams and tourist ...Read More

Al Shula

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Hotel

Al Shula Photo, Aqaba, Jordan
Quote:
Located on Ragadan Street, most rooms at the Al-Shula enjoy an unparalleled panorama of the Red Sea coast in the direction of the Israeli sea resort of Eilat. We first decided on this hotel because it was listed on both our guide books. If we had not later walked the city and found far better deals, the Al-Shula could have been a great deal at JD28 for a triple room with breakfast included. We learnt that the guide books were outdated, even my Lonely Planet "Istanbul to Cairo". Things change, new buildings rise, and prices fall according to the political climate. The tourist dollar is an entity that fluctuates immensely in this region. Our room was fairly clean, though not exceptionally well fur...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 7, 2002

Al Shula
Ragadan Street
Aqaba, Jordan
(032) 015-155

Al Zaitouna Hotel

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Hotel | "Al Zaitouna"

Al Zaitouna Hotel Photo, Aqaba, Jordan
Quote:
The Al-Zaitouna Hotel was a very expensive looking hotel, and at first we hesitated going in to enquire about the room rates. Later, we learned not to judge a hotel by its exterior, because in the Middle East, opulence does not necessarily come at a price. The hotel boasts marble flooring, huge greeting halls, skylight ceiling, a full breakfast buffet spread, and even two internal glass bullet lifts that offer a spectacular, if not limited, view of the lobby and fountain in the breakfast restaurant. The hotel has two wings, and though much fancier and definitely more spacious, the new wing has rooms that have wide windows which unfortunately afford no appreciable views. The old wing, as I was told, ha...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 7, 2002

Al Zaitouna Hotel
Hahmammat Street
Aqaba, Jordan

Dweik 2

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Hotel

Dweik 2 Photo, Aqaba, Jordan
Quote:
Located on Hammamat Street two doors away from the Al-Zaitouna, the Dweik Hotel 2 is a spanking new hotel. When I was there, they were still busy polishing the marble flooring, gardening the hotel exterior and bringing in luxurious sofa sets for the lobby. All rooms come with air-conditioning, satellite TV, telephone, refrigerator and full en-suite facilities. The furnishings are visibly not as top-notch as those at the Al-Zaitouna, but the hotel has very competitive rates ranging from JD16,000 to JD26,000 - breakfast included. The management at the Dweik 2 is far warmer and much more amiable than that two doors away, and they try their best to accommodate all guest requests, including my reques...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 7, 2002

Dweik 2
Hahmammat Street
Aqaba, Jordan
(032) 035-919

Al Jaber

Hotel | "Al Jaber"

Quote:
At the very end of Ragadan Street lies this backpacker quality hotel where guests can enjoy a night of cheap restful sleep. The rates are variable but hover around JD10,000 or much less for a space on the roof. There is a TV, hot water and air-conditioning in every room. The open air roof affords a 360 degrees view of the entire city as well as of the Gulf over to Eilat. I wasn’t terribly impressed by the furnishings, but if you are on a shoe-string, the Al Jaber would make a nice choice. The bakery next door is perhaps the best attraction as it boasts of no less than a hundred different types of Middle Eastern and local sweets. Thought that a baklava is just layers and layers of crumbling pastr...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 7, 2002

Al Jaber
Ragadan Street
Aqaba, Jordan
201-6999

Mr. Cool Cafe

Restaurant | "Mr Cool Cafe"

Quote:
For a great place from where to escape the scorching heat, head straight for Mr Cool which is located at the northern end of Hahmammat Street next to the roundabout on the main road. They also serve sanadwiches, shwarma and burgers. Best of all is the cappuccino (JD0,700), which is surprisingly authentic though it rests on a base of Nescafe. The fresh mango juice (JD0,600) is a cool relief from the heat, if not a tad too sweet.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 7, 2002

Mr. Cool Cafe
Hahmammat Street
Aqaba, Jordan
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Captain Restaurant

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Restaurant

Captain Restaurant Photo, Aqaba, Jordan
Quote:
All my dinners at Aqaba were truly satisfying, but dinner at Captain’s was a true luxury. Guests are cordially invited to rest on a bed of cushions while cold drinks and excellent dishes are served on a low table. The restaurant is partially open-air and you can choose to sit beneath a canopy of cloth printed with local motifs. The lighting is orange and dim. The Captain should be very proud of its wide selection of food, ranging from Oriental delicacies, steaks and BBQ to local food and grilled fresh seafood. Although catered mostly to tourists, the prices are more than reasonable, and the portions satisfying. We had two whole grilled fish (JD5,500 each), salad dips (JD0,600), kafta (JD3,000) and che...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 7, 2002

Captain Restaurant
Al Nahda Street
Aqaba, Jordan
(03) 201-6905

Al Shami

Restaurant

Al Shami Photo, Aqaba, Jordan
Quote:
On Ragadan Street, close to the Al-Shula Hotel and the Wadi Rum Desert Service, is another great dinner choice. We met fellow Italian backpackers who had had dinner there for three consecutive evenings, returning each time for the best kafta in all of Aqaba. They also have daily set specials that run out by early evening. Reservations are possible and recommended. The prices are very reasonable, the food heavenly and the service prompt and responsive. The only problem you will face is which dish to not have since every one seems just as delicious! Dinner for three will not go over JD12,000.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 7, 2002

Al Shami
Ragadan Street
Aqaba, Jordan

Jerusalem Bazaar

Attraction

Jerusalem Bazaar Photo, Aqaba, Jordan
Quote:
Masters of oriental souvenirs, coral, jewellery and silverware, the Jerusalem Bazaar is sure to satisfy any shopper’s most exotic desire! Run by an amiable father (Mahmoud Abdeen) and son team, all guests are offered sugar with mint tea (that’s how sweet it always is in this part of the world), then the bargaining process begins. The selection here is incredibly wide, and the prices reasonable. But be firm with what you are willing to pay for something you eye, and do not allow your ideas to be swayed nor compromised. Obviously, greater discounts are to be had when you purchase more. For example, for two spectacular heavy silver necklaces and a matching ring, the opening price separately was JD65 – I ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 7, 2002

Jerusalem Bazaar
Near Post Office
Aqaba, Jordan

Wadi Rum Protected Area

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Attraction | "Wadi Rum Desert Service"

Quote:
My best times in Jordan were all spent in Wadi Rum, and the services were provided by the Wadi Rum Desert Service run by Hasan Qutaish and Sons. Negotiable rates were JD30,000 each for a group of three, slightly less for larger groups. Our trip to the desert kicked off at 11am in the morning, and we returned the next day at about midday. Lunch, dinner and breakfast was provided, as well as lodging in a tent with comfortable bedding and adequate covers to keep warm. This is the most comprehensive package available, taking guests to all the major sites, including the Seven Pillars and Lawrence’s Well. Depending on the guide you get, he will also take you to special surprise sites. Mine (Abdullah and Sou...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 7, 2002

Wadi Rum Protected Area
Southern Jordan near Saudia Arabia border
Jordan

Egyptian embassy consular services Photo, Aqaba, Jordan
Quote:
For travellers heading on to Egypt from Jordan, it is very advisable to obtain visas from Aqaba instead of upon docking at Nuweiba, which is a very filthy and disorganised port of entry into Egypt. The new Egyptian Embassy is located within walking distance from Hahmammat Street, about 20 minutes north of the city by foot. The exact location is difficult to describe in words, but is clearly marked out on updated city maps and guidebooks. In the morning between 9am and noon is the best time to be at the consular services, as I was told. My visa application was processed and approved immediately as there was nobody else at all on that morning. Tourism was at one of its lowest levels in years due ...Read More

Free public beach and glass bottom boat

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Story/Tip

Glass bottom boat ride Photo, Aqaba, Jordan
Quote:
Another touristy thing to do along the beach, you can catch one of these boat rides in the evening when the view is supposedly most spectacular and romantic (although it does not get any romantic at all out at sea). The "hour long" ride takes you over various coral fields and your captain will be more than happy to remove a wooden plank from under your feet to reveal a fibre glass boat bottom. How interesting… duh. Mine also took us to view a sunken war galleon and a lighthouse. Double wow. One difficulty you are destined to meet: "You not know that one hour in sea here is 45 minutes?" No, of course I don’t. Be firm and refuse to pay the full fare previously agreed on if they throw you this scam – pay...Read More

Aqaba-Nuweiba border crossing

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Story/Tip

Quote:
There are two crossings available – on the fast craft (65 minutes) and on the slow ferry (up to 200 minutes). The former costs USD15 while the latter about USD10. The departure point is NOT at the Aqaba Port but at the Passenger terminal further south. There are local buses that go down south as far as the Passenger Terminal and the Royal Diving Centre, but I would recommend taking a taxi (JD1,500). The taxi ride from downtown takes about 15 minutes, depending on traffic. The fast craft leaves Aqaba at between midday and 1pm. You should arrive at least 90 minutes prior to the departure to secure tickets. The Terminal does have huge signs indicating where to purchase your fasts craft tickets fr...Read More