Petra is one of the places that is non-negotiable as a tourist attraction when you happen to be in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. The entire area of Petra Archaeological Park is dotted with some unbelievable sights from dozens of different civilizations and cultural influences in the past, a mosaic of details from west and east coming together.
Petra was a Nabatean trading city millennia ago, but it had people even before it got this label. A proper tour guide to the area should be able to demonstrate this to you by taking you all around the ruins and remnants of peoples ages back. Among the things you can find here would be a New Stone Age settlement (found at Beidha), an Iron Age settlement (situated at Umm al Biyara), a multiplicity of Greco-Roman structures ranging from theatres to classical baths, several Byzantine churches distinctive for their particular architectural style, Crusader-era forts put up at Wueira and Habis, and even a mosque at Jabal Haroun. To say that the sights here are numerous is no understatement: it shall take you several days if you insist on seeing them all.
To describe them would thus take an entire book instead of a single article. Petra simply has to be experienced to be understood. We all know the usual images of Petra: the great Treasury and the drama of the Siq as well as the tombs of Al Deir and the Urn Tomb. We know these because we see them everywhere whenever the city is mentioned. However, there is a great deal more to interest you inside the park that may not be given as much photo time in most guides. For example, you could try seeing the superb water engineering system that the inhabitants used to keep them supplied with water even in this arid area. Numerous diversions, channels, and cisterns exist within the ancient city for this purpose. There are also a number of mines here that may interest those curious about how ancient miners conducted their business. Petra used to be famous in the old days for its copper mines, and some of the passageways you can find at Umm al Amad date all the way back to 4,000BCE.
Getting there is not difficulty if you are coming from Aqaba. Downtown Aqaba has a station where you may find a minibus scheduled for daily trips (Friday being an exception, naturally) to Wadi Musa, from where you can easily get to Petra through the Siq. There is another, more private option if you do not mind paying as much as five times what you would for a minibus ticket: cabs can be found at the same station as the buses and may be hired for a trip to Wadi Musa. You can share the cab with several persons if you want to bring down the cost of the trip, and you can just split the fare among you. Most cabs going to Petra have about four or five persons in them.