Tips and inspiration for your trip
Top 5 things to see in The Middle East
- When traveling in Jordan, a visit to the Dead Sea is not to be missed. Float in the surreal waters or enjoy the therapeutic experience. Take this one step further and spend the day in one of the Dead Sea’s famous spas and pamper yourself in this incredible place. While you’re here, travel the short distance to the Red Sea and see all of the vibrant life in its waters, perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.
- At the heart of Jordan lies the lunar landscape of Wadi Rum. Trek across its dunes, camping overnight and enjoying incredible barbecued meals under the stars in the desert. You may recognize the bizarre rock formations from some of your favorite films, such as Star Wars.
- Explore Isfahan city and its treasures as you travel through Iran. See the ancient Persian history that is still visible around every corner. Visit incredible buildings, gardens and mosques and marvel at the colorful and unforgettable architecture.
- While you’re in Iran, you can also see the ancient ruins of Persepolis, which is one of the world’s most celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Israel is a fantastic option for travelers interested in history and culture here, with sites such as Nazareth and Galilee that have enough history and significance for even the most avid history buffs to sink their teeth in to.
Things to know before traveling to The Middle East
For first-time visitors, The Middle-East can seem a little strange, since many of its customs and culture is different. Here are a few things to be aware of to make sure that you’re prepared for your trip.
- Since The Middle East has fairly strict rules regarding modesty and clothes which are deemed to be revealing, it is advisable to dress conservatively, especially if you plan on visiting religious sites. Shorts or sleeveless t shirts are generally to be avoided, whether you’re male or female, as are short skirts for women. Women are not forced to cover up totally by any means, but you should be respectful of The Middle Eastern culture and avoid showing too much skin.
- Throughout your trip, you may be offered coffee by locals, hosts, guides and even shop keepers. In The Middle East, this is seen as a gesture of hospitality and, as such, it is considered rude to decline the offer. Try to always accept, or if you have to decline, do so with grace and understanding.
- Prices in The Middle East are a strange concept, since, often, prices are by no means fixed. Not only is haggling common, it is usually expected. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing prices in this way, a guide can always assist you, but you may find that you enjoy this tradition that is so different from western custom.
- ’Salamu alaikum’ is the greeting used by almost all muslims - why not learn it and give the people you meet a proper greeting?
- Lastly, Don’t come to The Middle East expecting a glass of wine with every meal. Alcohol (and pork!) is harder to come by than you may be accustomed to.
Middle Eastern Food
With many Middle Eastern foods having become staples in Western countries, its no surprise that food here is a hugely enjoyable part of any trip…
- Enjoy traditional foods such as hummus, falafel or baba ghanoush made authentically in a local restaurant or a home stay. These are Middle Eastern classics as you’ve never had them before.
- Tabouleh is a vegetarian mixture of herbs, tomatoes, parsley, bulgur and onions and is seasoned with a traditional mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Enjoy this as a topping, an accompaniment or just by itself!
- Shawarma is a rotisserie meat preparation, rich in flavor and a perfect comfort food. Eaten with a deliciously fluffy flat bread, local herbs and spices and a sauce of your choice.
- Foul Mudammes is a delicious Middle Eastern breakfast made from boiled and mashed fava beans with a spicy soup-like sauce. A hearty breakfast, it is traditionally eaten with brad and is sure to fuel a day of Middle Eastern exploration.
- Mujadarra, made of rice and lentils, is a Middle Eastern variation on rice and beans, which can be found in many cultures. Great for vegetarians, this tasty dish is served as a side dish to accompany any meal but can be served as a main dish too.
Major Cities in The Middle East
- Whilst Petra in Jordan is an ancient city, rather than a modern one, it had to make the list. As one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world it is not to be missed. See the massive buildings carved in to red stone and marvel at these stunning remains of a city from many many years ago.
- Tel Aviv in Israel is one of the world’s most surprising cities. The majority of its population is Jewish and the culture here is everywhere. However, at the same time it is remarkably cosmopolitan, with delicious wine and food. Whilst respect is still paramount, this is a Middle-Eastern city where you can let your hair down.
- Any visit to The Middle-East would not be truly complete with a trip to Jerusalem in Israel. This city is truly fascinating and provides an insight into both Jewish and Muslim custom. The food here is also delicious.
- Stop by Tehran in Iran and visit its many amazing sites, such as the Golestan Palace Complex or carpet museum showing an ancient craft that is still in practice today.