WORLD WONDER: Petra is the most famous site in Jordan (Pic: GETTY)
Barren red desert gives way to towering cliffs and winding gorges, carved by centuries of wind, rain and rivers.
As we make our way through the Siq – the main entrance to the ancient Nabatean city of Petra – the morning sun begins to rise over the clifftops.
After a 20-minute stroll through the narrow valley, Al Khazneh, also known as the Treasury, suddenly appears through a gap at the end of the pathway.
Carved into the sandstone cliff face, the breathtaking mausoleum is dramatically framed by the deep orange cliffs on either side.
Camels swaddled in multicoloured weaves sit proudly at the base of the 2,000-year-old architectural wonder as the suns rays beam down on the rose city.
Set in a narrow valley with tombs, temples and monuments carved into the surrounding cliffs, Petra is the most famous site in Jordan and the surrounding areas.
But it's certainly not Jordan's only appeal. Other unmissable experiences include floating in the Dead Sea and camel trekking through the incredible desert landscape of Wadi Rum.
MAGICAL: Tourists access The Treasury through a winding gorge called the Siq (Pic: LAURA MITCHELL )
Direct flights from London Heathrow to Amman and London Gatwick to Aqaba have seen Jordan surge back up the travellers hotlists recently.
And the new Jordan Pass offers a free visa and access to the countrys main sites, for around £77.
Lonely Planet has also just listed the Middle Eastern gem as one of the top 10 destination for 2019, so its likely to rise in popularity next year.
Here are eight amazing reasons you should visit Jordan:
FOODIE: Amman is a hub of markets, cafes and Jordanian restaurants (Pic: GETTY)
1. The food scene and markets in Amman
While most people flock to Jordan to see Petra, it's definitely worth spending some food-focused days in the capital city.
Amman's buzzing gastronomy scene is enough to keep any foodie entertained.
Begin by immersing yourself in the sights, sounds and tastes at Amman's famous souks (markets).
The souks are full of unusual fruits and vegetables, as well as bags overflowing with spices, teas and juicy dates.
I highly recommend picking up some Baklava – sweet dessert pastry made with layers of filo filled with chopped nuts – from one of the elaborately decorated stalls.
When you have finished exploring the bazaar, head down Rainbow Street to taste some local fare and explore more of the city's famous cafe culture.
Sufra is one of Ammans best restaurants for Jordanian cuisine and it features a stunning flower-draped balcony and courtyard.
I opted for the falafels, fattier sabenekh (spinach pastries), hummus and dimes (smokey aubergine, lentil and garlic dip) and everything was delicious.
At some point during your trip I also recommend trying Jordans national dish "mansaf".
Its a meal of tender meat (usually lamb, though look out for camel) cooked in tangy sheep's milk yoghurt on a bed of aromatic rice, garnished with toasted almonds and wrapped up in shrak (paper-thin Bedouin bread).
You should also indulge in Amman's favourite dessert: Kunafeh or Kanafeh. The pudding is made of noodle-like pastry, soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup, and typically layered with cheese or clotted cream or nuts.
2. Petra by day
Petra is one of the world's most treasured Unesco World Heritage Sites and was recently voted one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World".
You've probably seen images of the Treasury thousands of times, but Petra is one of those attractions that really lives up to the hype.
Travellers enter the "Rose City" through the Siq, a narrow gorge that winds its way approximately 1.2 kilometres and ends at Petra's most elaborate ruin, Al Khazneh.
Carved directly into sandstone cliff, the city was once a thriving trading centre and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106.
And although Al Khazneh is the most famous and probably the most striking building in the city, there are plenty more ruins to explore.
From ancient tombs, to the amphitheatre and the monastery, you could spend days exploring the lost city.
In my opinion it's best to get there when it opens at 6am to avoid crowds and the mid-day heat.
I set off around 6.30am and pretty much had the place to myself for the first hour. To make life easy I recommend staying at the Mövenpick Resort Petra, which is the closest hotel to Petra.
MYSTICAL: Walking to Petra by candlelight is a magical experience (Pic: GETTY)
3. Petra by candlelight
Petra is hauntingly beautiful at night and it's worth returning for an evening tour.
Petra by Night runs every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and starts at 20.30 outside the Visitor Centre.
The magical tour takes visitors through the candlelit Siq to the The Treasury, which is illuminated with thousands of flickering lights and wistful music.
Guests are encouraged to walk silently thought the gorge to allow others to soak in the peace and tranquillity of the ancient city after dark.
You can only do the Petra by Night tour if you have already bought a ticket to Petra by day.
4. Desert glamping
Wadi Rum is an incredible desert valley filled with narrow gorges, towering cliffs and natural stone arches.
It has been dubbed "Moon Valley" thanks to its remarkably space-like appearance.
Shots of Wadi Rum in Lawrence of Arabia from 1962 kick-started Jordan's tourism industry. Since then it has also been used for external scenes on Mars in filming The Martian.
One of the best ways to experience the desert is to stay at one of the glamping sites.
I stayed at the luxury five-star Mazayen Rum Camp. The camp includes pod-like bedrooms complete with bathrooms, kingsize beds and air conditioning.
Outside, the camp has lounge areas for sunbathing in the day and stargazing at night. It also features a large restaurant, with an outdoor area complete with low cushioned seating and shisha pipes.
The camp is the perfect relaxation retreat and a great place to sit back and enjoy the majestic red sandstone mountains, soft fine desert sand, breathtaking sunsets, brilliant sunrises and celestial night sky.
The staff at the camp help guests plan excursions such as 4×4 vehicle tours, camel treks and sandboarding.
BREATHTAKING Travellers can glamp in the incredible desert landscape of Wadi Rum (Pic: GETTY)
5. Dinner under the stars
The restaurant at Mazayen Rum Camp boasts some of the best traditional cuisine in Wadi Rum.
The camp features a large indoor restaurant and a smaller outdoor eatery, where you can enjoy the night sky around a glowing campfire.
Guests can also indulge in Bedouin hospitality by taking part in a traditional feast called Zarb.
This is a Bedouin barbecue experience where lamb, chicken and vegetables are cooked in an underground pit with hot coals beneath the desert sands.
When the meat is tender with a hint of a smoky taste, the chefs take out the big pot and you can sample the delicious delicacy.
Mazayen Rum Camp is now offering a traditional cooking course, where guests can learn how to make Jordanian dishes.
ADVENTURE: Most Wadi Rum camps offer camel and jeep desert tours (Pic: LAURA MITCHELL )
6. Four by four desert trek
Wadi Rum boasts one of the most outstanding desert landscapes in the world. One of the best ways to explore the towering mountains, narrow canyons and amazing rock formations is by jeep.
You can opt for group or private tours at various times of day. Tour guides are happy to cater the tours depending on what you're interested in seeing.
The main attractions include dramatic sandstone mountains like Jebel Um Ishrin, natural arches such as Burdah Rock Bridge, prehistoric inscriptions, Lawrence of Arabia's house and towering rock formations like the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
7. Sunset camel trek
Camels have always been an essential part of the Bedouins lifestyle and they are certainly the most traditional way to explore the desert.
Several tours are available in Wadi Rum, from a few hours to a few days. I suggest heading out in the afternoon so you can experience the sunset on camelback as your return to your camp.
BUCKET LIST: Floating in the Dead Sea is an unmissable experience in Jordan (Pic: GETTY)
8. Outdoor spa at the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is technically a lake bordered by Jordan and Israel. It's the lowest place on earth, at 430 metres below sea level.
It is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean, making it one of the world's saltiest bodies of water.
This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which plants and animals cannot flourish, hence its name. However, humans love to flock to the Dead Sea to enjoy its mineral-rich mud and to float the in salty waters.
Driving down to the Dead Sea is an adventure in itself, as you wind down from the mountains, across desert plains.
As you make your way along the coast, sparkling salt deposits frame the edge of the blue expanse. All of the hotels in the area are dotted along the front of the water and many feature their own spas.
I stayed at the Hilton Dead Sea Resort, which boasts a large infinity pool and natural spa on the lake-side beach.
Guests can cover themselves in the Dead Sea mud, which is packed with skin-enhancing vitamins and minerals, before washing it off in the water.
Floating in the water makes you feel completely weightless and is seriously relaxing after a few days trekking in Petra and adventuring in the desert heat.
How to get there:
Jordan is just a five-hour flight from London.British Airways offers return flights from London Heathrow to Amman Airport, Jordan from £500 including taxes/fees/carrier charges. To find up-to-date offers go to britishairways.com.
Where to stay:
Amman: The House Boutique Hotel
Petra: Mövenpick Resort Petra
Wadi Rum desert: Mazayen Rum Camp
Dead Sea: Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa
What is the best way to get around Jordan?
You can either hire a car or get a private tour guide. I rented a car from rentalcars.com and picked it up from Amman airport.
The roads are surprisingly good in Jordan and everyone seems to drive quite slowly.
What route should I take?
I wanted to pack in all the adventure stuff first and end up with a few days relaxing by the Dead Sea so I went from Amman to Petra, then Petra to Wadi Rum and then Wadi Rum to the Dead Sea.
Jordan is only 89,342 square kilometres (England is 130,395 square kilometres) so it doesn't take long to drive the entire length of the country.
These are some rough driving times, according to Google Maps:
Amman – Petra (3 hours 10 mins)
Petra – Wadi Rum (1 hours 40 mins)
Wadi Rum – Dead Sea (4 hours)
Dead Sea to Amman airport: (1 hour)
Is Jordan safe?
Jordan is know as the "jewel of the Middle East" and although it is surrounded by chaos and unrest, the country has remained a neutral destination.
The Foreign Office website advices staying away from the Syrian and Iraqi borders and be sure to steer clear of demonstrations in public places.
However, Jordan seem such a friendly, welcoming place it is difficult to imagine the conflict that is happening outside its borders.
Around 70,000 British nationals visited Jordan in 2017. Most visits are trouble free. It is worth checking the Foreign Office website for more up-to-date information before you travel.