Petra is really an amazing site to see and a place that all travelers should try to go. The Treasury and Monastery are amazing (how did they carve those by hand!!) but there are so many other things to see as well, and the setting is beautiful. We were just amazed at the colours of the rock in the area.
We had two days (three nights) to stay here and that was good. I suppose you could fit most into one day but it would be exhausting. It was June and it was very hot, so we started at 6 am and ended by 1:00. The afternoon heat was intense. It was cooler in the morning and much less crowded - so many more people arrived around 10 am. The Treasury, of course, is beautiful and at 6:30 am you can have it to yourself. The Monastery is also amazing and the hike up the stairs is not hard as long as you are in reasonable shape. We wanted to do the “back-door” hike but that was closed this summer.
We also did the Al-Khubtha hike to the viewpoint over the Treasury (signs point the way) and the hike to the High Place of Sacrifice (which was the hardest, steepest one) as well as explored the main trail. We walked about 17 km each day. The walk back to the visitor centre is the worst – uphill and in the hot sun. There were many exhausted looking people coming back. (An inexpensive shuttle from the top of the siq to the visitor centre would be a very welcome addition, I’m sure.) Just be sure that if you are doing a lot of the hikes in the site that you save energy for that last walk. There are electric e-buggies available from the visitor centre to the Treasury and back for an additional cost. I had a broken bone in my heel and so the second day I used this to come back up to the top which saved a lot of walking – I think it was about 35JD for both directions and tickets could be bought at the ticket office or at the actual golf carts in cash if you only want to go one way.
We did not use a guide but read about Petra before we went and after. The signs that are on site are faded by the sun – it would be really nice if they could be replaced. The museum is new looking and had a lot of information which was interesting and helpful and so it is worth going to.
Practical stuff: Water and snacks (ice dream, chips, chocolate bars) are available on site. We did not try the restaurants. Washrooms were scattered around as well - the ones by the tombs/theatre were the cleanest. We wore sport sandals, and this was fine – hiking shoes are not necessary, just make sure you can walk a ton in whatever you wear. The heat was crazy and most tourists (male and female) were wearing shorts.
Just a note: although we loved Petra, we were dismayed at the number of Bedouin children in the area with no supervision or trying to sell things instead of being in school. We saw lots of boys seriously fighting (one tourist even tried to help a little guy who was being pummelled) and even throwing rocks at each other’s heads. The salespeople were relatively friendly and generally easily took no for an answer but, also, going early in the morning meant most of the booths were still closed and so we avoided the constant sales pressure (another great reason to go early).