When I visited Jordan for the first time, two bits of travel advice stood out for me as a female traveller, ‘do not wear leggings’ and ‘do not go out with your hair wet’. As Jordan is a Muslim country, I took it for granted that I should cover my knees and shoulders but did not expect these extra caveats!
Dressing for the weather, the activities that you will be undertaking and so as not to offend cultural sensibilities is of paramount importance in securing a safe and hassle-free trip to the Middle East. Knowing what to pack is especially important when you have kids in tow and don’t want to waste valuable room in the suitcase!
Here’s our handy guide to what to wear in Jordan.
What do local people wear in Jordan?
Day to day, some Jordanian women choose western-styled clothing, opting to wear jeans or long skirts and t-shirts or high-neck blouses. More conservative women, particularly in rural areas, generally wear the ‘libis shar’i’ or ‘jilbab’, a loose-fitting overcoat or button-through dress that can be found in a variety of colours.
On special occasions, many women choose to wear the traditional national dress which consists of a long (usually black) hand-made dress, or ‘shirsh’, embroidered with colourful motifs that represent the area of the country that the wearer comes from. These motifs are often red although in northern Jordan a variety of colours are used. In some areas colourful panels are also stitched onto the skirt section.
A woman may choose to wear a headscarf or ‘hijab’, whether she wears western clothing or more traditional Jordanian attire.
Men will either dress in a one-piece ‘dishdashah’ or ‘thoub’, which can be grey, white, black, beige or khaki, along with a red and white checked ‘keffyeh’ or headscarf, or in western-style dress with long trousers and short-sleeved shirts being favoured by many men.
What should women wear on a trip to Jordan?
As a tourist, it is important to dress for comfort and practicality as much as it is to respect local customs. Jordan is a muslim country and woman should avoid wearing shorts and vest tops and anything that shows too much cleavage. Long sleeves and longer skirts and trousers are ideal as they are considered modest and also help protect against the intense middle eastern sun.
Whilst cotton and linen clothes are cool, do take care in your selections as these fabrics can often appear transparent, or show the shape of your body in bright light, which although isn’t a big no-no in Jordan may get you unwanted attention.
As for leggings, I quickly understood that as long as they are worn with a loose-fitting kaftan style top, they weren’t actually a problem.
Do women need to cover their heads when visiting Jordan?
It is not necessary for female visitors to Jordan to wear a headscarf unless they are planning on visiting a place of worship. That said, scarves do come in very handy and can be used to help protect your face, head and neck from the sun. They are much more practical than baseball caps and wide-brimmed hats when riding out into the desert at full speed on a camel or on the back of a pickup truck. They can also be used to cover cleavage or use as shawls if you start to feel uncomfortable at any time.
It is important to note that many local women do cover their hair and as a sign of respect it is polite for female visitors to keep their hair tied back. And absolutely, definitely, never go out with your hair wet; it really does have connotations of a sexual nature and will get you lots of unwanted attention.
Can I wear a bikini in Jordan?
You can wear a bikini in resort hotels but they are not advisable on public beaches. You might feel more comfortable in a full swimsuit or a UV top and shorts as some locals and even other western tourists may consider it distasteful. You might even take the opportunity to purchase a burkini, a full-length head to toe swimming costume favoured by many Jordanian women.
Whatever you choose to wear whilst swimming, it’s important to cover up when walking through communal areas such as hotel gardens and lobbies, an easy way to do this is by taking a long-sleeved full-length kaftan with you.
What should men wear on a trip to Jordan?
Men can get away with knee-length shorts and t-shirts throughout Jordan but collared shirt and longer length trousers can help protect against sunburn, insect bites and disdainful looks. Vest tops are a no-no for both men and women and all visitors should avoid any clothing with potentially offensive or political logos or slogans.
A scarf is also useful for men to cover their heads and necks in the intense desert sun of Wadi Rum.
What sort of footwear do I need for a trip to Jordan?
The whole family needs to pack sturdy and supportive walking shoes. All of the archaeological sites are uneven underfoot and very dusty, for this reason closed-toe shoes are the best option. Petra is a particularly large site and if you really want to make the most of your trip and visit the ‘high places’ you will need to do a lot of walking. It’s a good idea to pack lots of cotton socks to help keep your feet feeling fresh and prevent blisters.
What should children wear when visiting Jordan?
The main thing to consider when dressing children is the weather. It can get very hot and lightweight cotton clothing is ideal. For girls, cycling shorts underneath skirts or dresses will help avoid chafing, and any pant flashing incidents when playing or climbing. Older girls, or girls that look older than they are, should be dressed more conservatively and hair, particularly fair hair, should be tied back.
Boys are fine to wear shorts and t-shirts or short-sleeved shirts.
Sunhats and sunglasses, as well as UV suits for swimming, are a must for both boys and girls. When at the beach or pool appropriate swimwear must be worn – don’t let the kids swim or splash around in their undies!
What should I wear during Ramadan in Jordan?
If you’re travelling during Ramadan or visiting holy sites at any time of the year, dress as conservatively as you can. Men should stick to long trousers and long-sleeved shirts and women and older girls should ensure that as much skin is covered as possible.
Do I need a jacket or umbrella in Jordan?
Finally, sudden temperature changes are not uncommon in Jordan even in the summer so it’s a good idea to pack a cardigan, lightweight jacket or fleece throughout the year. These are particularly useful at night-time when the temperature can drop sharply even in the summer months.
In Winter temperatures can drop as low as 3 degrees Celsius but can also reach significantly higher temperatures within the same day. For that reason, having lots of layers that can easily be removed is a sensible option if you’re travelling between November and March.
With an average of 310 days of sunshine, it’s unlikely that you will need an umbrella but microscopic umbrellas do not take up too much space and may save you a lot of hassle if you’re caught in a downpour. You can of course also use an umbrella as a parasol to protect you from the sun.
Further resources for planning a trip to Jordan
If you are planning a trip to Jordan with your family you may also find these guides helpful:
- How to fit in the highlights of Jordan in 5 days
- Find the best family camps in Wadi Rum
- Tips you’ll want to know before taking kids to the Dead Sea
- Exploring Petra by Night; Is it suitable for kids?
Visiting the Middle East
We also have further dress code guides if you are continuing your journey to other parts of the Middle East region:
- What to wear in Abu Dhabi & the UAE
- What to wear in Doha, Qatar
- What to wear in Oman
- What to wear in Bahrain
- Dresscode for visitors to Kuwait
Take me back to the Jordan with kids home page