Trip Reports

Tips For Traveling To Jordan

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Before I get into our flights home, I wanted to take some time to go over travel tips for Jordan. I really loved our trip to Jordan, and it’s a destination I’ve received many questions about.

While it takes some planning, I think Jordan is a pretty approachable country, with warm and welcoming people, so hopefully having extra details are helpful to some of you.

Jordan is a small country, with a rich and varied cultural landscape, that I think sometimes encourages overly-aggressive schedules. We packed as much as we could into our seven-day trip, but having another 3-4 days would have allowed us to break up the driving a bit more, have some down time, or see any of the other dozens of things we missed, like the Desert Castles, Jerash, and the Dead Sea.

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Review: InterContinental Hong Kong

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As I mentioned in the first installment, I won’t be covering every aspect of this trip with this report. After flying to Bali we stayed at the St. Regis Nusa Dua and W Seminyak, and then we flew Cathay Pacific business class from Bali to Hong Kong. So that’s where we’ll pick up.

We had an overnight layover in Hong Kong, as we were arriving from Bali at around 8PM, and continuing the following day to London at around 3PM. So we needed a hotel for one night.

In looking at the options, it occurred to me that I had an IHG free night certificate expiring in a couple of months. Just for having the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card (which has a $49 annual fee) you receive an annual free night certificate valid at just about any IHG hotel. That most than justifies the card’s annual fee, given that a vast majority of IHG hotels retail for over $49 per night.

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Review: Grand Hyatt Amman Grand Suite

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For our last two nights in Jordan, we chose to stay at the Grand Hyatt in Amman. Technically it was the last 1.5 nights, as our flight to Istanbul left at 3AM, but it seemed worthwhile to have the hotel for the full evening so we could at least get a few hours of sleep.

Our stay overlapped with Ben’s (which was super fun), so I won’t review the full hotel. I did, however, apply a Hyatt Diamond Suite Upgrade to the reservation, and I figure other people might be interested in knowing what the suites are like. We had breakfast in the Grand Club instead of the restaurant, so I’ll cover that as well.

We made several stops on the drive north from Petra, so it was about 4PM when we arrived at the Grand Hyatt. As Ben mentioned, security was tight, so the valet took the car at an outbuilding where we cleared security, before walking to the main hotel. It was a decently efficient system, and whenever we left the hotel the car was brought to the main entrance and the parking berms were lowered for us, which was nice.

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Review: KLM Business Class 777 Singapore To Bali

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The only reason we flew to Singapore to begin with was to be able to get onto the Hello Kitty flight from Taipei. We could have flown direct from Taipei to Bali, but that would have meant no Hello Kitty for us.

So we booked cheap paid tickets from Singapore to Bali on KLM. This is a fun fifth freedom route they operate, as it’s a tag-on of their Amsterdam to Singapore flight. The one-way business class ticket cost about $250.

Our connection in Singapore was about three hours. We weren’t able to check-in online, so we got our boarding passes at the transit desk at Changi Airport. Our flight was departing from gate D42, with boarding scheduled to begin at 5:05PM. So we headed to the gate at around 4:45PM, given that at Changi Airport security checkpoints are at the individual gates.

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Visiting Petra

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After a quick breakfast at the Marriott we jumped in the car and headed to Wadi Musa. The drive only took ~10 minutes, and we didn’t have any issue finding street parking across from the Movenpick.

To give you a sense of how the town and the historical site are oriented, here’s a picture taken from a hill above Petra, which I’ve added labels to.

It’s about 2 kilometers from the Petra Visitor’s Center to the Treasury, to give you a sense of the distances. The Treasury itself is only about halfway down the main road into Petra — you’ll go another 2 kilometers to the end of the main road where you can see some of the other key sites.

You’re looking at a minimum of 5 miles of walking if you stay on the main road and don’t explore any of the side trails, so keep that in mind when choosing your footwear!

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Review: EVA Air Hello Kitty Business Class 777 Taipei To Singapore

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While I love EVA Air’s business class in general, I was especially excited about this flight, because it was one of their special “Hello Kitty” services. EVA Air operates Hello Kitty themed flights on certain routes, and I intentionally booked my Taipei to Singapore flight for the Hello Kitty experience. I took Hello Kitty flights from Tokyo to Taipei and Taipei to Los Angeles a few years back, so was curious to see how the concept was holding up.

I boarded through door L1, where I was greeted by two friendly flight attendants, and escorted to my seat. I had assigned myself seat 11K, which is the window seat in the last row of business class on the right side.

This is in the rear mini cabin, which has just four rows of seats.

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Review: EVA Air Lounge Taipei Airport

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We spent a majority of our time at Taoyuan Airport checking out all the Hello Kitty goodness, though we also spent a bit of time visiting EVA Air’s lounges. EVA Air has four lounges at Taoyuan Airport — The Garden, The Infinity, The Star, and The Club.

If my understanding is correct, The Garden is for EVA Air Diamond members, The Star is for Star Alliance Gold members, The Infinity is for business class passengers, and The Club is for EVA Air Silver members. I’ve reviewed The Infinity and The Star several years ago, so I figured it’s time for an updated review.

All of these lounges are located one level above the main concourse in Terminal 2, just past security and immigration. The escalators are just beyond the immigration checkpoint.

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Review: Petra Marriott Hotel

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After a full day in Wadi Rum we headed north to the town of Wadi Musa, where Petra is located.

It was an easy drive along highways we’d traversed the day prior (how was it only a day?!), so even with a brief maintenance stop it only took ~90 minutes from leaving Wadi Rum to arriving at the Marriott.

As I mentioned in the introduction, I’d booked the Marriott Hotel Petra during the Black Friday sale. We paid $95 + tax for each of our two nights. This is a Category 4 hotel though, so you could also use:

• Anniversary certificates from the credit card
• 20,000 Marriott Rewards points (15,000 on PointSavers)
• 6,667 Starwood Preferred Guest points

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Review: Glamping In Wadi Rum

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Now you’d think, given that we were just up the hill in Little Petra, that Petra itself would be our next stop. Instead, we stopped for lunch in Wadi Musa (and worked for a few hours, I couldn’t help it!), before continuing south to Wadi Rum.

We arrived in Wadi Rum as the sun was starting to set, which made for a beautiful drive in.

I’ve already detailed the adventures of getting walked from our previously-booked Airbnb in Wadi Rum, so won’t go into that here, but you’ll want to read it if you haven’t yet voiced your opinion on the scam/no scam question. Instead, I’ll review the camp we actually stayed at — the Teva Milky Way camp.

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The Sharah Mountains & Little Petra

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This will be a shorter post (“Thank goodness!” I can hear you saying, “We just read 3,000 words about a freezing cave masquerading as a hotel.”), but I wanted to highlight another of the drives we took in Jordan, and the site of “Little Petra,” which is less-visited than the larger complex just a few miles away.

As we were packing up to leave Feynan Ecolodge, one of the hosts asked where we were headed. We explained we were going to Wadi Rum, but hadn’t decided which road to take. His eyes lit up as he insisted “You must go via Wadi Namla! It is the most beautiful road in Jordan.”

That seemed like a great endorsement, so with a few more instructions “Google Maps knows the way” and “ignore the ‘road closed’ sign” we jumped in the car.

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Review: Hello Kitty Ridiculousness At Taipei Airport

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Confession (okay, I’m not sure this is actually much of a confession, as it’s likely quite obvious): I’m a tween Asian girl at heart. At least I like most of the same things they do, including Hello Kitty.

So there’s nothing quite like the Hello Kitty experience at Taipei Airport. EVA Air operates select flights as Hello Kitty services. They pick a theme, and boy do they stick with it.

As we pulled up to the airport in our hotel shuttle we saw an EVA Air Hello Kitty shuttle — a sign of good things to come!

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Review: Feynan Ecolodge

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One of the things we wanted to do in Jordan was explore the natural landscapes. Jordan is a beautiful country, with several diverse protected areas. The largest is the Dana Biosphere Reserve, which has a variety of archaeological sites in addition to stunning landscapes.

Feynan Ecolodge is owned by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, but everything is run and managed through Ecohotels, with a very strong emphasis on sustainability. Nearly all the staff comes from the local Bedouin community in Dana, which makes for a unique experience, and a nice way to support people directly.

There are a few ways to get to the ecolodge. If you aren’t self-driving, a great choice would be to start in Dana Village to the East of the Reserve. You could even spend the night there (the Dana Guesthouse would be my recommendation), and then hike through Wadi Dana to Feynan. You can easily arrange for your luggage to be driven to Feynan by the locals, which makes this a convenient option.

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Review: Novotel Taipei Taoyuan Airport

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We had a fairly short overnight in Taipei before our connecting flight. We were arriving from Los Angeles at around 5PM, and departing the following day to Singapore at 9AM. As much as I love Taipei as a city, Taoyuan Airport is quite a ways from town.

As a result, I figured it made the most sense to stay at the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan Airport, given that the hotel is just a short (free) shuttle ride from the airport.

We booked only a few days before our stay, so by the time we booked they only had executive rooms left for sale, which retailed for ~$200. That’s not cheap for an airport hotel, but still seemed better than any of the alternatives.

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Review: EVA Air Business Class 777 Los Angeles To Taipei

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This trip report is going to be a bit different than my usual ones. I’ve been on an insane trip the past few weeks for something I’ve been working on, the full details of which I’ll eventually reveal. A lot of this involved flying airlines and staying at hotels I’ve already visited. As a result, I won’t be publishing the typical start-to-finish trip report this time around, but rather will be writing about select flights that I think will be most interesting to you guys.

So for the first installment I want to cover my flight from Los Angeles to Taipei on EVA Air, which I booked using Air Canada Aeroplan miles (Los Angeles to Taipei to Singapore cost 77,500 miles one-way in business class without fuel surcharges). I flew EVA Air back when they first joined the Star Alliance, though this was my first time flying with them in over three years. A couple of years ago EVA Air updated their business class soft product, so I was curious to see how the product compared.

Since my flight was departing LAX I had access to the Star Alliance Lounge, which is excellent, and I’ve reviewed before. At around 9:45AM I headed to gate 155, given that boarding was scheduled for 10AM.

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