Wondering what to wear in Jordan? Scared of making a mistake? Don’t worry, let this guide to Jordan clothing tell you everything you need to know.
Working out what to wear in Jordan
Ah, Jordan. Desert landscapes unfolding in the heat of summer. The ancient cities of Amman, Jerash and Petra and the astonishing glimmer of the Dead Sea. Jordan is a beautiful destination and one of my favourite countries. It captivates the soul. But given its position in the Middle East, for many visitors, it provokes a more down to earth question.
What should you wear in Jordan? And what is Jordan clothing like?
If it is your first time visiting a Middle Eastern country, you probably have many questions about what to pack so you can feel comfortable and look decent in photos but also not draw unwanted attention or offend the people who live there. I remember the conundrum well, that devilish mixture of excitement and fear of the unknown.
Yet, as I discovered, the Jordanians are an extremely friendly nation. You won’t be punished for messing up dress codes, but people will appreciate it when you make the effort to get them right.
So let’s talk about what to wear in Jordan, including if you are a woman traveling alone.
A Few Things about Jordanian Culture
Jordan is considered a progressive Muslim country, so even if the local people deeply value their religious beliefs, they are accustomed to welcoming tourists that don’t have the same practices. The country has come to accept a compromise between traditional attire and various western influences, so you can spot locals wearing jeans and t-shirts, especially young men and women who are challenging their national customs.
However, many Jordanians dress modestly and try not to show too much skin.
Jordanian women tend to wear long skirts and dresses and pick opaque materials in patterns and plain colours, whether in the cities or in the desert. You will most likely not see locals wearing short shorts or short skirts.
The dress code for Jordanian men is more permissive, allowing them to wear knee-length trousers and t-shirts or shirts. But still, it’s rare to see men in shorts.
One thing Jordanians don’t appreciate is dressing down, so you will never see them wearing torn jeans or other clothing items that seem old and worn out. They also aren’t big fans of people who are disrespectful towards their traditions, even if they may not comment on this behaviour.
As you travel the country, you will probably spot some tourists breaking all the local customs. They walk around in top tanks, crop tops, and tights, and while some have no clue that they are offending the locals, some do it deliberately.
Nothing bad happens to them, but I believe that being sensitive to other people’s beliefs is a better policy, especially if you are the one visiting their country. Plus, many quickly learn the disadvantage of exposing too much skin to the burning sun of the Wadi Rum desert. There is a reason why you see photos of people with their faces wrapped in cloth. The desert sand stings!
Climate in Jordan
The climate ranges from arid to Mediterranean, depending on the region, with hot summers (temperature can reach 38-39C in the Jordanian Valley) and fairly cool winter months (9-13C in the northern and southern highlands and around 20C in the desert region), so it is important to pack according to the season. Rain is rare and mostly happens in winter, so there’s really no need to pack an umbrella.
What to Wear in Jordan as a Woman
Dressing in Jordan is all about layers since the temperatures can either plummet or soar with very little notice. Wearing layers gives you the chance to flex with the thermometer and stay comfortable.
For example, as a woman traveller, you can wear a pair of long loose trousers (or pants if you’re from the US) with a quarter-sleeve shirt and a midi kaftan. Dressed like this, you can visit all tourist sites and even more conservative areas without raising eyebrows. Carry a scarf in your bag to cover your head when you enter a mosque, and you will be welcomed. If it gets too hot, lose the kaftan.
What about the hijab?
You will notice that many local women prefer to wear a hijab, but no one expects western women to do the same. On the other hand, it is a good idea to follow the local tradition of not showing too much cleavage and keeping your shoulders and legs covered.
Long sleeves are preferred for the tops, although you can get away with a mid-length sleeved shirt. But sleeveless tops are unacceptable, as Jordanian people see them as underwear. Make sure to pack several shirts as you may need to change twice daily due to the dusty and hot environment.
You can match your top choices with capri pants or long skirts. Midi skirts are also acceptable. You can also go for a pair of tighter long trousers or skinny jeans, as long as you wear them with a kaftan that will cover your behind.
The best thing for women to wear in Jordan? The maxi dress
Maxi dresses are a wonderful choice for the summer, and they will look great in photos. They cover your skin from the sun and dust, they respect local traditions and they keep your legs cool. Honestly, they are so much more comfortable than trousers in the heat. And if you look at traditional Jordan clothing, which most men still wear in the desert, it follows the same outline as a maxi dress. They are perfect for this landscape!
Neutral colours are the best for blending in with the local culture, but no one will judge you if you try a stronger colour. Red nuances contrast beautifully with the sandy tones of the desert, as does my favourite, the blue.
Do You Need to Cover Your Head?
Female travellers are not expected to cover their heads while in Jordan. However, it may be a good idea if you do, as a scarf can help protect your head from the scorching sun. A scarf also comes in handy if the wind is strong and you need to avoid inhaling a lot of dust. Or you can wear it when you visit religious sites if you want to show your respect for the Jordanian culture.
The locals would appreciate it if you tied your hair to the back, especially if you have blonde hair. And more importantly, make sure you don’t go out with your hair wet, as apparently, this has sexual connotations in Jordan and will get you a lot of disapproving looks.
But it’s worth pointing out that not all women in Jordan cover their hair, by any means. However, the further from the cities you go, the more conservative people’s values and the more conservatively they dress.
What to Wear in Jordan as a Man
What to wear in Jordan as a man? Why, an Indiana Jones hat of course! And the touts around Petra will be more than happy to oblige.
Now, in all seriousness, the dress code is not as strict for men as it is for women, so if you are a man travelling across Jordan, you can wear almost anything. The locals appreciate long trousers and shirts, but wearing three-quarter pants or shorts is also acceptable. You can wear t-shirts without a problem, but I wouldn’t advise packing vest tops. As I said, everything that doesn’t have sleeves is underwear in Jordan.
Wearing a scarf is a great idea as it can help protect your neck and head from the sun of Amman and insect bites.
How to Dress Your Kids for Jordan
Kids have no dress code, so you should pick clothes that make them feel comfortable. Cotton and linen are perfect for warm days as they absorb sweat and allow the skin to breathe. You can pack shorts, t-shirts, and little scarves for both boys and girls to keep their heads covered. For girls who have reached puberty, it is recommended to choose more modest pieces of clothing and make sure they keep their upper arms covered and show less skin in general – long skirts, long sleeve tops, especially if you are travelling in more rural areas.
Unless you want to spend your entire trip in a resort, visiting Jordan’s top attractions involves a lot of walking, so you should pack comfortable shoes. A pair of sneakers or light, breathable shoes are perfect for the summer, but sandals also work great for this time of the year.
Since winters can get pretty cool, you will want to have a pair of knee-highs or ankle boots to match with long trousers.
If you plan to visit the Wadi Mujib area, your best option is a pair of hiking boots to keep your ankles safe as you explore the Mujib Reservation.
Flip-flops are perfect for the beach, but I don’t recommend wearing further afield, as you will get a lot of sand on your feet.
Mosque Dress Code in Jordan
The Muslim culture praises modesty, so trying to stick out, especially in a place of prayer, would be a faux pas. When visiting a mosque, women should wear long dresses or skirts, long-sleeved shirts, and pick opaque materials and neutral colours. In more conservative areas, a scarf may be required.
Men should also go for long trousers and long-sleeved shirts. Avoid wearing patterned fabrics, especially a military pattern, which is a big no-no in Jordan.
What to Wear at the Beach
There is a big difference between going to a public beach in Jordan and sunbathing on a private beach, as this is still a conservative country. Public beaches are frequented mostly by locals, so you will need to cover up more. For women, wearing shorts and a t-shirt is considered acceptable, and men should dress the same, even if they visit the Red Sea beaches at Aqaba, which are often considered less conservative.
If you are going to a private beach, you will be surrounded mostly by tourists, so it is ok to wear a swimsuit. You can go for a two-piece, but most women choose a full swimsuit. I recommend covering up, though, when you walk around the hotel – a maxi dress or a kaftan are perfect – as this way, you can show your respect for the Jordanian people working there.
There are no restrictions for men on private beaches, so a pair of shorts works great.
If you bring the kids, you should ensure they have proper swimwear. It is not a great idea to send your little ones swimming in their undies, and you may get disapproving looks for this from the locals and other tourists.
Essential Accessories to Pack for a Comfortable Trip
To be thorough, check out our article on what to pack for Jordan. But here are the essentials…
- Jacket or sweater – if you are travelling during the cold season or camping in the desert.
- Many clothes can be layered – if you are travelling during the warm season.
- Sunglasses – expect extremely bright days, even in the winter.
- Hat or scarf – the sun is not gentle in Jordan; scarves can help prevent heatstroke and abrasions from the sand.
- Travel shampoo and soap – most 5-star hotels will provide them, but if you have a favourite brand, it may be a good idea to bring it with you.
- Hand sanitiser can help you keep your hands clean, especially if you are on a tight schedule and eat on the way.
- Sunscreen – visiting Petra on a summer day at 39C requires wearing sun protection.
- Water shoes – if you are going on the Wadi Mujib trail, your shoes will get wet no matter what.
- Prescription medication – other types of medication are available at a low price in Jordan, so you should only carry those you cannot buy.
- Lip balm – the low humidity in the air will soon reflect on your lips. You will want to keep them hydrated to avoid them getting chapped.
- House slippers – nights are cold, so a pair of cosy slippers can help keep your feet comfortable in this part of the world.
- Chargers and charger adaptor – Jordan operates on a 230V voltage supply, and you will find five plug types around the country: C, D, F, G and J. While you can buy an adapter there, if you already own one, bring it with you.
Final thoughts on what to wear in Jordan
If you’re here, reading this article on Jordan clothing and what to wear in Jordan, then I already know that things are going to be OK! Most of the problems arise from visitors who don’t even bother to make any effort at all. As you will also discover, the Jordanian dress code developed for a reason. The landscape can be harsh and long, loose clothes with head coverings will keep you cool and safe from the sand and sun. Plus, it’s so much easier to get chatting with local people when you feel comfortable that you’re not being disrespectful.
When all is said and done, please don’t stress. Check out our packing list for Jordan and go and have the time of your life. I know that I will remember those starry nights forever.
More on Travel in Jordan
After reading this guide on what to wear in Jordan, check out our travel guide to the best things to do in Jordan and then browse through the articles below:
- Jordanian Food: the 21 dishes you need to know
- What is it like to visit Petra?
- Is Petra at night worth it?
- Why Bedouin coffee means more than you think
- How the Madaba mosaics show the pathway to peace
- How to plan the perfect Jordan itinerary
- When is the best time to visit Jordan?
- Is Jordan safe for solo female travellers?