If you’re taking a vacation in The Kingdom of Jordan, as well as the fun you’re going to have to explore the Lost City of Petra, camping under the stars in Wadi Rum, and sunning yourself on the Aqaba Red Sea, you may also want to learn a bit more about local culture – and one of the best ways to do this is by visiting one of Jordan’s souks. Tourists just adore them! Ask anybody who visited the kingdom, either by an organized trip such as a Bein Harim Petra Tours from Eilat or on their own.
1 What are Souks?
Souks are an intrinsic part of cities throughout the Middle East – they’re vibrant and colorful markets that you’ll find in cities, and Jordan has plenty of them. Nor are they all the same – there are vegetable souks, spice souks, and handicraft souks – all selling local and original products, often at very competitive prices.
Some souks sell clothing – and not just hats, scarves, and jewelry accessories but beautiful pieces that you can use not just on your vacation but once you return home. So for all you fashionistas out there, let’s take a look at some of the places across Jordan where you can pick up a stylish and beautiful outfit that will remind you of the Middle East long after you’ve left.
2 What kind of clothes can I buy in a Souk in Jordan?
Souks in Jordan will sell all kinds of clothes, including plenty of Western pieces, but if you’re looking for something traditional, then you won’t be disappointed.
The most traditional kind of woman’s clothing you’ll find in Jordan is a ‘thwab’ (dress) which is often embroidered. The most widely-available color tends to be black with a decorative panel on the front, called ‘tatreez’ (elaborate sewing patterns, often in gold, red and green).
The most typical kind of outfit for men is the ‘dishdasha’ = a long-sleeved robe that covers the whole body. In the summertime, this will be white or grey (to reflect the heat) and made of cotton – in the winter, it can be made of heavier fabrics to protect against the cold.
In the meantime, many Jordanians enjoy wearing modern clothing (pants, dress shirts, blouses, jeans) but with some embroidery on them – which makes for an interesting fashion fusion!
So where are the souks you should be checking out in Jordan if you’re looking for fashion gems?
This is a very famous and popular souk in Amman – it was the first market to open in the Jordanian capital (in 1926) but also a place to buy all kinds of women’s and children’s clothing.
For those looking for something a bit special, they also have stores that sell beautiful lingerie and bridalwear, as well as beautiful linens.
Finally, if you’re good with a needle and thread, or own a sewing machine, then you should consider purchasing some fabrics here – the prices are competitive.
Perhaps one of the most eclectic markets in Amman, Souk Jara is an open-air event that is held every Friday night in the summer. It’s situated in a small street, close to the famous Rainbow Street, and sells all kinds of handicrafts and artwork, as well as clothing.
It’s also a good place for women to pick up cosmetics and jewelry – and once you’ve done your shopping, you can grab a bite from one of the many street food stands and enjoy your food whilst listening to some live music.
Souk el Sagha (Gold Souk)
If you’re looking to accessorize your new outfit with some bling, look no further than the accessorize-gha, which is packed full of merchants and craftsmen selling gold like it’s going out of fashion…
The prices are also quite reasonable because you’re paying by the weight – there are many stores to choose from and you can (of course) bargain. And as well as new pieces, you can also purchase used gold.
Bring your credit cards (although, as often is the case, cash is king).
Souk al Joumea (Friday Souk)
Taking place every Friday, this is a great flea market selling second-hand goods, mainly clothing. It’s a great place to head to if you’re looking for a traditional Jordanian outfit (see above) without taking out a mortgage. The traditional women’s dresses, adorned with fantastic embroidery, are really lovely and will probably be cheaper here than in regular stores.
Souk by the Sea
If you’re visiting the seaside resort of Aqaba, make sure to pop into the Souk by the Sea. This is a market held every Friday with live music, traditional Jordanian food, and lots of arts and crafts made by local merchants for sale.
The prices are reasonable and you can pick up some decent clothes, as well as arts and crafts. Bedouin silver jewelry and the traditional Palestinian keffiyeh (headdress) are always on sale.
Right in the heart of the city of Irbid, this souk offers an enormous range of products for sale, including textiles, local food, and, of course, traditional clothing.
Look out for the embroidery here – it’s very beautiful and a real art form in this region. And as well as the clothing, you’ll see exquisite carpets here and some beautiful jewelry too.