Getting Around Jordan

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Getting Around Jordan

By plane

The only domestic air route is between Amman and Aqaba.

By bus

The JETT bus company has services connecting Amman to Aqaba, the King Hussein Bridge (to cross into Israel), and Hammamat Ma'in. Private buses (mainly operated by the Hijazi company) run from Amman to Irbid and Aqaba. Minibus services connect smaller towns on a much more irregular service basis - usually they leave once they're full.

The Abdali transport station near Downtown Amman served as a bus/taxi hub to locations throughout Jordan, but many of it's services (especially microbus and service taxi) have been relocated to the new Northern bus station (also called Tarbarboor, or Tareq). Here you can find buses into Israel and a 1.5JD bus to Queen Alia airport.

By service taxi

Service taxis (servees) cover much the same routes as buses. Service taxis are definitely more expensive than minibuses, but a lot faster and more convenient.

Service taxis only leave when full so there is no set timetable. You may also be approached by private cars operating as service taxis. If you use one of these, it is important to agree the price in advance.

Service taxis are generally white or cream in colour. They can sometimes be persuaded to deviate from their standard route if they are not already carrying passengers. It is quite likely that you would be asked to wait for a yellow taxi though.

By regular taxi

Regular taxis are abundant in most cities. They are bright yellow (similar to New York yellow-cabs) and are generally in good condition. A 10km trip should cost around 2 JDs.

All yellow taxis should be metered, however most drivers outside Amman do not use them therefore you should agree on a price before departing. If you do get picked up by an unmetered taxi, make sure you agree on the price before driving away. If you do not agree on a price you will most likely pay double the going rate. Using the meter is almost always cheaper than negotiating a price so it is best to insist that the driver uses it before you depart. Keep your luggage with you - it's not uncommon for unmetered taxis to charge a ridiculous rate (30 JDs for a 10 minute ride) and then refuse to open the trunk to give you your bags back until you pay up.

Day rates for taxis can be negotiated. These are usually through specific taxi drivers that have offered the service to friends or colleagues before. If you are staying at a hotel, the reception desk should be able to find you a reliable driver. It is also quite common in quiet times to be approached (politely) by taxi drivers on the street looking for business. There are plenty of good English speakers so it pays to wait until you find one you like.

A full day taxi fare should cost around 20-25 JD. An afternoon taxi fare would be around 15 JD. For this price the taxi driver will drop you off at local shopping areas and wait for you to return. You can then go to the next shopping location. You can leave your recently purchased items in the vehicle as the driver will remain in the taxi at all times, but it is not recommended to do so.

If you are planning a trip outside of Amman, the day rates will increase to offset the fuel costs. For day trips within 1-3 hours of Amman, a taxi is by far the easiest method of transport. A trip to Petra in a taxi would cost approximately 75 JD for 3 people. This would get you there and back with about 6 hours to look around and see the sights.

When negotiating taxi rates, ask if the agreed-on rate is the total or the cost per person. Often taxi drivers will quote a low rate and then when it comes time to pay will tell you that the rate is "per person".

If travelling a long way try to use buses or coaches rather than taxis. Some taxi drivers are not averse to driving people into the middle of the desert and threatening to leave you there unless you give them all your money. This is very unlikely if you stick to recommended drivers however. Jordan is generally very protective of its tourists and while overcharging is common (if not agreed in advance), threats and cheating are rare.

By car

Jordan's highways are generally in very good shape, but the same cannot be said about its drivers or it vehicles. Many trucks and buses drive with worn or defective tires and brakes and in the southern and more rural parts of the country there is the tendency for some people to drive at night without headlights (in the belief that they can see better and that this is therefore safer!). Avoid driving outside the capital, Amman, after dark.

Renting a car should be inexpensive and not too time-consuming. Fuel prices are all fixed by the state-owned company, so don't bother looking for cheaper gas stations. Expect to pay around JD 0.55 per litre, although prices may change in time.

The main route is the Desert Highway, which connects Aqaba, Ma'an, Amman and continues all the way to Damascus in neighboring Syria. Radar speed traps are plentiful and well positioned to catch drivers who do not heed the frequently changing speed limits. Traffic police are stationed regularly at turns and curves, well hidden, with speed guns. If you are even 10% over the speed limit, you shall be stopped and made to pay a steep fine. Better to drive within limits.

One particular stretch, where the road rapidly descends from the highlands of Amman to the valley that leads into Aqaba through a series of steep hairpin curves, is infamous for the number of badly maintained oil trucks that lose their brakes and careen off the road into the ravine, plowing through all in their path. This stretch of the road has been made into a dual carriageway and is now a little safer - however exercise caution on this stretch of the road.

The other route of interest to travellers is the King's Highway, a meandering track to the west of the Desert Highway that starts south of Amman and links Kerak, Madaba, Wadi Mujib and Petra before joining the Desert Highway south of Ma'an.

Hitchhiking

Hitching is very easy in Jordan especially along local roadways and the old King's Highway. People are very friendly and will almost always stop to pick someone up for a ride even if they are only going 5 minutes down the road. Outside of the very hospitable local residents their are also quite a number of tourists who rent cars out of Amman and drive to Petra and other tourist sites who are also quite willing to pick up hitchhikers. Along the Desert Highway (the dual carriageway from Amman to Aqaba) it's a bit tougher to thumb a ride as vehicles move faster and are less inclined to stop for hitchhikers but there are a number of minibuses that take this route who stop to pick people up. These buses usually only cost 1JD. Bring water as much of Jordan is a desert and can get quite hot during the day. Be extremely careful if you do decide to go hitchiking. 

Organised tours

Much of Jordan's more dramatic scenery requires 4x4 vehicles with drivers or guides familiar with the territory. Most people visiting Jordan opt for organised tours, although it is possible to use local guides from the various visitors' centers at Jordan's eco-nature reserves. These include Wadi Rum, the Dana Reserve and Iben Hamam. The majority of tourists crossing into Jordan from Israel are on one-day Petra tours or in organised tour groups. They make up a significant percent of the daily visitors in Petra and Jordan's natural attractions.

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