In Jordan history is not something that happened ‘before’. It’s a living, breathing part of everyday life, from ancient artefacts but also in the way people live. Each period of history thus features in the experiences of a visitor.
Early Settlements. The dolmens near Madaba, dating from 4000 BC, are the cradle of civilization: the world’s first villages.
The copper and bronze ages helped bring wealth to the region (1200 BC). Forgings from Jordan’s ancient copper mines are in the Dana Biosphere Reserve. Trading in these metals had a cohesive impact – the King’s Highway helped unify city-states into a recognizable Jordan between 1200 BC and 333 BC.
Great Empires. The Greeks, Nabataeans and Romans dominated Jordan’s most illustrious historical period (333 BC to AD 333), leaving the magnificent legacies of Petra and Jerash. Located at the center of the land bridge between Africa and Asia, the cities surrounding the King’s Highway profited from the caravan routes that crossed the deserts from Arabia to the Euphrates, bringing shipments of African gold and South Arabian frankincense via the Red Sea ports in present-day Aqaba and Eilat.
By the 4th century BC, the growing wealth of Arab lands attracted the attention of Alexander the Great. The precocious 21-year-old stormed through the region in 334 BC, winning territories from Turkey to Palestine and bringing access to the great intellectual treasures of the classical era.
Trade was the key to Jordan’s golden era (8 BC to AD 40), thanks to the Nabataeans, a nomadic Arab tribe from the south, known as the. They produced only copper and bitumen (for waterproofing boat hulls), but they knew how to trade in the commodities of neighboring nations. They never possessed an ‘empire’ in the common military and administrative sense of the word; instead, from about 200 BC, they established a ‘zone of influence’ that stretched from Syria to Rome – one that inevitably attracted the conquering tendencies of the Roman Empire.
Jerash with tons of columns shows the importance of the Romans in Jordan. This magnificent set of ruins indicates the amount of wealth the Romans invested in this outpost of their empire. The Jordanian currency, the dinar, derives its name from the Latin denarius (ancient Roman silver coin).
Spirit of the Age. Under the influence of Rome, Christianity replaced the local gods of the Nabataeans. Islam took its place from the 7th century onwards and intriguing Umayyad structures dot the deserts of eastern Jordan. The conflict between Islam and Christianity, evident at Jordan’s crusader castles in Ajloun, Karak and Shobak, is a defining feature of the next thousand years.
British imperialism dominates Jordan’s history prior to the Arab Revolt of 1914. The British officer Lawrence’s desert adventures have captured the imagination of visitors to such an extent that whole mountains are named after him. The Arab Revolt may not have immediately achieved its goal during peace negotiations, but it did lead directly to the birth of the modern state of Jordan. A series of treaties after 1928 led to full independence in 1946, when Abdullah was proclaimed king.
Modern State of Jordan. Jordan’s modern history is about independence and modernization under the much beloved King Hussein and his son and heir, the current King Abdullah. It’s also marked by cohabitation with difficult neighbors. Much of the conflict stems from the creation of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine, where Arab Muslims accounted for about 90% of the population. Their resentment informed the dialogue of Arab-Israeli relations for the rest of the 20th century. Today, after the settlement of successive waves of refugees, the majority of the population of Jordan is made up of Palestinians.
On 26 October 1994, Jordan and Israel and the Palestinian Territories signed a momentous peace treaty, and for the past two decades Jordan has been preoccupied with its neighbors to the east rather the west – a shift in focus necessitated firstly by the Gulf War and subsequently by the US-led invasion of Iraq, which led to a further influx of refugees, this time from Iraq. Ironically, the refugees brought their relative prosperity with them – a windfall that has stimulated the economy throughout the past decade and helped turn Amman, in particular, into a cosmopolitan, modern city.
Today. In the spring of 2011, Jordanians joined fellow protestors in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria in demonstrations in the ‘Arab Spring’. Comprised largely of young students, and peaceful in their approach, Jordanian protestors argued on the streets of Amman for higher wages and a fuller embracing of democracy. By 2012, the demonstrations had whittled down to a weekly gathering of die-hards after Friday prayers. Most Jordanians, in contrast, had returned to the more important task of making a living in difficult economic times.
Democratic reforms have long been in place in Jordan. In November 1989 the first full parliamentary elections since 1967 were held, and women were allowed the vote. Four years later most political parties were legalized and able to participate in parliamentary and municipal elections.
Despite these concessions, democracy in Jordan is still something of an alien concept. Perceived as promoting the interests of the individual over those of the community, it runs against the grain of tribal traditions where respect for elders is paramount. In common with other parts of the Middle East, Jordan traditionally favors strong, centralized government under an autocratic leader – what might be called ‘benign dictatorship’.
Of course, benign dictatorship is only as good as the leader. King Abdullah is widely regarded both at home and abroad as both wise and diplomatic in his role – a modernizing monarch in touch with the sensibilities of a globalized world, supportive of social and economic reform and committed to stamping out corruption.
BOOKS ON JORDAN
» Seven Pillars of Wisdom (TE Lawrence; 1935). Describes Lawrence’s epic adventures in Jordan and the part he played in the Arab Revolt (he wrote some of it in Amman).
» Kingdom of the Film Stars: Journey into Jordan (Annie Caulfield; 1997). Entertaining, personal account of the author’s relationship with a Bedouin man in Jordan.
» Petra: Lost City of the Ancient World (Christian Augé and Jean-Marie Dentzer; 2000). An excellent, portable background introduction to Petra.
» Married to a Bedouin (Marguerite van Geldermalsen; 2006). An idea of life with the Bedouin at Petra.
» Walking in Jordan (2001) and Walks & Scrambles in Rum (Tony Howard and Di Taylor; 1993). Describe dozens of hikes in Jordan, from wadi walks to climbing routes.
PETRA – one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. The private New7Wonders Foundation in Switzerland held a popularity poll in 2007 with 100 million votes cast. The winners were Chichen Itza in Mexico, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, the Colosseum in Rome, the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Taj Mahal in India.
PEOPLE & SOCIETY
Bedouin Roots. A strong tradition of hospitality and lively sense of humour make Jordanians easy to connect with. These are traits that belong to the Bedouin tradition. In fact, over 98% of Jordanians are Arab, descended from the original desert dwellers of Arabia. Living a traditional life of livestock rearing, the few remaining nomadic Bedouin are concentrated mainly in the Badia – the great desert plains of eastern Jordan. The majority of Jordan’s indigenous population, however, now enjoy the benefits of settlement and education. While many are wistful about the stories of their grandparents, they are not nostalgic about the hardships they faced.
The most easily identifiable aspect of the Bedouin inheritance is an ingrained tribal respect for local elders, or sheikhs. This characteristic is extended to the ultimate leaders of the country. Claiming unbroken descent from Prophet Mohammed, Jordan’s Hashemite royal family is a nationally beloved and regionally respected institution associated with benign and diplomatic governance and a history of charitable works. Despite protests against the government in the 2011 Arab Spring, there was no popular demand for a republic.
Importance of Family. Family ties are all-important to both modern and traditional Jordanians and paying respect to parents is where the sense of obeisance to elders is engendered. Socializing generally entails some kind of get-together with the extended family, with lines drawn loosely between the genders. This is reflected in terms of physical divisions within the house, where separate seating areas are reserved for men and women.
In Jordan, a woman’s ‘honour’ is still valued in traditional society, and sex before marriage or adultery is often dealt with harshly by other members of the woman’s family. Traditional concepts of ird (honour) run deep but sit uneasily with the freedoms many affluent Jordanian women have come to expect, largely thanks to universal access to one of the region’s best education systems. A minimum of six women MPs is guaranteed by royal decree and while only 14% of the labour force was made up of women in 1991, by 2010 (according to UN data) this had risen to over one quarter.
Urbanisation. There is an increasing polarization in Jordanian society between town and country. In Amman, modern Western-leaning middle- and upper-class youths enjoy the fruits of a good education, shop in malls, drink lattes in mixed-sex Starbucks and obsess over the latest fashions. In rural areas, meanwhile, unemployment is high and many populations struggle with making ends meet. For this reason, economic migration is common in Jordan, and many working-class families have at least one male who is temporarily working away from home – whether in Amman, the Gulf States, or further abroad.
Religion. Over 92% of the population are Sunni Muslims. A further 6% are Christians living mainly in Amman, Salt, Madaba and Karak. There are tiny Shiite and Druze groups.
Most Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, but there are also some Greek Catholics, a small Roman Catholic community, and Syrian, Coptic and Armenian Orthodox communities.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Walk the streets of Madaba, with bright coloured kilims flapping in the wind, hike to the soap-making villages of Ajloun, or watch elderly Bedouin women threading beads at Petra, and it will become immediately apparent that the country has a strong handicraft tradition. The authorities have been quick to support this aspect of Jordan’s heritage and now craft cooperatives are widespread, resulting in benefits for local communities and ensuring that Jordan’s rich legacy endures for future generations. Taking an interest in Jordanian crafts, then, is not a remote aesthetic exercise – it represents sustainable tourism at its best.
Kilims. Jordan has a long-established rug-making industry dating back to the country’s pre-Islamic, Christian communities. Mafrash (rugs) are usually of the flat, woven kind, compared with carpets that have a pile. To this day, especially in Madaba and Mukawir, it’s possible to watch kilims based on early Byzantine designs being made.
Embroidery. This is an important skill among Jordanian women and most learn the craft at a young age. Teenagers traditionally embroider the clothes they will need as married women. Embroidery provides an occasion for women to socialise, often with a pot of tea spiced up with a pinch of local gossip.
Mosaic. With a noble and distinguished lineage in Jordan, mosaics are made from tiny squares of naturally coloured rock called tesserae – the more tesserae per centimetre, the finer and more valuable the mosaic. Portable pieces are available.
Copper. Some of the oldest copper mines in the world are traceable to the hillsides of southern Jordan (especially near Feynan, in the Dana Biosphere Reserve). Copper is used in everyday utensils, as well as for heirlooms such as the family serving dish or coffee pot.
Jewellery. A bride traditionally receives a gift of jewellery on her wedding day as her dowry, and this remains her personal property. The most common designs are protective silver amulets, such as the ‘hand of Fatima’ (daughter-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed). These are used as protection from evil spirits known as djinn (from which we get the word ‘genie’).
A Good Buy. Several shops around Jordan sell high-quality handicrafts made by Jordanian women. Profits from the sale of all items go to local NGOs that campaign to raise rural living standards, improve the status of rural women, provide income generation for marginalised families, nurture young artists, and protect the local environment. If you want to spend your money where it counts, then you may like to buy from the outlets of the following community-based income-generating programs:
Jordan River Foundation (www.jordanriver.jo) The showroom in Jebel Amman displays works from three major projects, including “Bani Hamida Women’s Weaving Project.
Made in Jordan (www.madeinjordan.com) Products include olive oil, soap, paper and ceramics.
Nature shops (www.rscn.org.jo) These figure prominently at the Wild Jordan Centre in Amman and RSCN visitor centres.
Noor Al-Hussein Foundation (www.nooralhusseinfoundation.org) Maintains a showroom in Aqaba, Iraq Al-Amir and Wadi Musa.
Souk Jara street market (www.jara-jordan.com; Fawiz al-Malouf St; 10am-10pm Fri May-Aug) Village initiative in Amman, selling traditional handicrafts.
FOOD & DRINK
While not as famous as the cuisine in Egypt or Turkey, Jordan nonetheless has a distinctive culinary tradition, largely thanks to the Bedouin influence.
The Bedouin speciality is mensaf – delicious spit-roasted lamb, basted with spices until it takes on a yellow appearance. It’s served on a platter of rice and pine nuts, flavoured with the cooking fat, and often centrally garnished with the head of the lamb. Honoured guests are served the eyes (which have a slightly almond flavour); less honoured guests are offered the tongue (a rich-flavoured, succulent meat). The dish is served with a sauce of yogurt, combined with the cooking fat.
In Wadi Rum you might be lucky enough to be offered a Bedouin barbecue from the zarb, a pit oven buried in the desert sand. Another Jordanian favourite is maqlubbeh (sometimes called ‘upside down’) – steamed rice pressed into a pudding basin, topped with meat, eggplant, tomato and pine nuts.
Dessert here, as in many parts of the Middle East, may be kunafa or muhalabiyya (a milk custard containing pistachio nuts).
If you fancy learning how to make your own mezze when you get home, try an evening course at Petra Kitchen.
The universal drink of choice is sweet black tea (coffee comes a close second); most social exchanges, including haggling over a kilim, are punctuated with copious glasses that are usually too hot to handle. Other options include yansoon (aniseed herbal tea) and zaatar (thyme-flavoured tea).
The Land. Jordan can be divided into three major geographic regions: the Jordan Valley, the East Bank plateau and the desert. The fertile valley of the Jordan River is the dominant physical feature of the country’s western region, running from the Syrian border in the north, along the border with Israel and the Palestinian Territories and into the Dead Sea. Part of the larger African Rift Valley, the Jordan Valley continues under the name Wadi Araba and extends to the Gulf of Aqaba, where Jordan claims a sneeze-sized stretch of the Red Sea. The majority of the population lives in a hilly 70km-wide strip running the length of the country, known as the East Bank plateau. The remaining 80% of the country is desert, stretching into Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Wildlife. Spring is the best time to see some of Jordan’s two thousand flowers and plants, including the black iris, Jordan’s redolent national flower.
Two of Jordan’s most impressive wild animals are the Arabian oryx and Nubian ibex, resident at the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and Mujib Biosphere Reserve respectively. Jordan is an important corridor for migratory birds en route to Africa and southern Arabia.
Nature Reserves. The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN; www.rscn.org.jo) operates six reserves in Jordan, of which Mujib and Dana Biosphere Reserves are the undoubted highlights. The Azraq Wetland Reserve, located in eastern Jordan, is a good place for bird-watching, and the Ajloun Forest Reserve protects a beautiful area of woodland, perfect for hiking.
Environmental Issues. The RSCN has pioneered models for sustainable development and tourism by working closely with local communities and making them stakeholders in conserving local reserves. The society has also been responsible for reintroducing several endemic animals in Jordan, including the endangered oryx.
Despite these welcome initiatives, there are still major problems, including a chronic lack of water, the pressure of tourism on fragile sites such as at Petra and in Wadi Rum, and increasing desertification through over-grazing.
Solutions to these problems are constantly under review and there are ambitious plans to build a pipeline, known as the ‘Peace Conduit’, connecting the Red and Dead Seas to provide desalinated water and to raise the diminishing level of the Dead Sea.
Jordan has accommodation to suit most budgets.
The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN; www.rscn.org.jo) offers some of the country’s most interesting accommodation options in nature reserves. These need to be booked in advance during peak seasons (seethe Wild Jordan Centre).
Holiday weekends are extremely busy in Aqaba and the Dead Sea. Outside these periods, in nonpeak seasons, you can often negotiate discounts on published rates.
Diving and snorkelling are popular pastimes in the Gulf of Aqaba.
Hiking is well organised in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Wadi Rum Protected Area and Mujib Biosphere Reserve. Mujib in particular offers some great canyoning and rappelling. Wadi Rum is the Middle East’s premier climbing destination.
For details of outdoor activities in Jordan’s nature reserves, contact the RSCN.
Everything closes Friday lunchtime for weekly prayers. During Ramadan, business hours are reduced. Few businesses or institutions work exactly the hours they advertise!
Government offices 8am-3pm Sun-Thu
Banks 8.30am-3pm Sun-Thu
Private businesses 9am-8pm Sat-Thu
»International Student Identity Card (ISIC) allows discounts at some tourist sites; university ID cards are not accepted.
»Jordan’s electricity supply is 220V, 50 AC. Sockets are mostly of a local two-pronged variety, although some places use European two-pronged and British three-pronged sockets.
»Laws banning smoking in public places are rarely enforced. Top-end hotels reserve a few non-smoking rooms, but in all other public places, including buses and taxis, smoking is commonplace.
»Jordan uses the metric system.
»For a newspaper, try the Jordan Times (www.jordantimes.com).
»For radio, try Radio Jordan (96.3 FM) or the BBC World Service (1323 AM).
Children are instant ice breakers in Jordan and you’ll find people go out of their way to make families feel welcome.
Avoid summer visit because the extreme heat is hard for children to tolerate. Stick to bottled mineral water, and if travelling with infants, remember that disposable nappies are not readily available outside Amman and Aqaba.
»Up to 1L of alcohol and 200 cigarettes can be imported, duty free.
»Drugs, weapons and pornography are strictly prohibited.
»No restrictions on the import and export of Jordanian or foreign currencies.
A main dish is often accompanied ” “by salad and various pickles, dips (such as hummus) and garnishes. These are offered free of charge and are invariably served with flat Arabic bread. This means that a main dish often doubles as a meal.
GAY & LESBIAN TRAVELLERS
Most sources state that gay sex is not illegal in Jordan (though some dispute this).
There is a subdued underground gay scene in Amman, but public displays of affection are frowned upon. Two men or women holding hands, however, is a normal sign of friendship.
There are a few places in Amman that are discreetly gay friendly, such as the multipurpose Books@café and the Blue Fig Café, which attract a young gay and straight crowd.
MONEY. The currency is the Jordanian dinar (JD) also called the jay-dee among young locals. It is made up of 1000 fils and a piastre is 10 fils. On January 30 2016 1US$ = .71JD or 1JD = 1.41US$. Often when the price is quoted, the ending often omitted, so if you are quoted 25, you need to work out whether it’s 25 dinars, fils or piaster. But most Jordanians, except for taxi drivers, wouldn’t dream of ripping off a foreigner.
ATMs are everywhere except in the smallest towns. Arab Bank and Jordan Gulf Bank accept both Visa and MC. The Housing Bank for Trade & Finance, Cairo-Amman Bank and Jordan Islamic Bank accept only Visa. If an ATM swallows your card, call 06-5669123 (Amman).
Credit Cards are accepted in midrange and top-end hotels and restaurants, and a few top-end shops. A commission of up to 5% is often added.
Moneychangers. Present in Amman, Aqaba and Irbid and only deal in cash. Most hard currencies are accepted. Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Israeli and Iraqi currency can all be changed in Amman, usually at favorable rates but you may need to shop around. Egyptian and Israeli currency is also easily changed in Aqaba.
Tipping. Tips of 10% are generally expected in better restaurants. A service charge of 10% is automatically added at most midrange and top-end restaurants.
In addition to the main Islamic holidays, Jordan observes:
New Year’s Day 1 January
Good Friday March/April
Labour Day 1 May
Independence Day 25 May
Army Day & Anniversary of the Great Arab Revolt 10 June
Christmas Day 25 December
Jordan is very safe to visit and travel around especially considering the political turmoil surrounding it. There is little crime or anit-Western sentiment. The police keep a sharp eye on security, so carry your passport with you at all times, and expect to show it checkpoints near the border with Israel and the Palestinian Territories and roads that approach the Red Sea.
Taxis. The fare quoted on the meter is in fils, not dinars. The taxi driver rarely points this out.
Shops. They often claim something is generally locally crafted as part of a profit-share scheme, when in fact it is imported from abroad.
Old rope, oil lamps and coins. So-called antiques are usually not.
TOILETS. Most hotels and restaurants have Western-style toilets. Toilet paper should be thrown in the bin provided, as the sewerage system is not designed for paper. Public toilets are generally best avoided except at Petra.
There is a good network of visitor centers inside the country. The Jordan Tourism Board (www.visitjordan.com) has a comprehensive website.
Are required by all foreigners entering Jordan (JD20). Single-entry visas valid for a month from date of entry are issued at land borders and airports on arrival. Multiple entry visas are obtainable from Jordanian embassies or consulates.
King Hussein Bridge (Allenby Bridge). This is the only border where visas are not issued and you must obtain them from Jordanian embassies or consulates outside the country (usually takes 24 hours). If you want to re-enter Jordan here, it is not necessary to reapply for a Jordanian visa providing you return the same way within the validity of your Jordanian visa or extension.
Aqaba. As of January 1, 2016, the only way to get a visa on arrival is at the airport or port – it is impossible to get a visa on arrival crossing overland from Eilat to Aqaba (to cross overland, you must have obtained your visa at home or through a Jordanian embassy on the road). But you can cross this border as part of an Israeli tour group visiting Petra on a day trip. The total cost of this trip is US$330 which includes the 90JD (US$135) Jordanian visa. That trip must be booked at least 48 hours prior to entry as the group must enter and exit as a group to ensure a smooth border crossing. Also included, of course is the 50JD entry fee, transportation between Eilat and Petra (which is complicated if attempting on your own as there is little public transport), food and a tour guide in Petra. You only get about 3 1/2 hours in Petra and I am not sure if you could get to the Monastery in that time.
Transit Visa. For stays less than 24 hours en route to a third country, you can request a free-of-charge transit visa, which also exempts you from the JD4 departure tax.
Extensions. Extensions for a stay of up to 3 months are available for free on registration with the police in Amman or Aqaba. Arrange through your hotel (they need to supply a short letter confirming where you are staying plus two copies of a small card stating all their details). Take these plus a photocopy of the your passport to the relevant police station (not open on Fridays). Extensions are usually granted on the spot.
Most women who travel around Jordan experience no problems. But varying levels of sexual harassment do occur, especially in tourist areas when local men assume that ‘anything goes. Dressing modestly by wearing baggy trousers or skirts and loose shirts that cover the cleavage, shoulders and upper arms. It is not necessary to cover your head.
Women may feel uncomfortable on public beaches in Aqaba and may prefer to wear shorts and a loose T-shirt over swimwear at Dead Sea public beaches. Many restaurants usher female customers into their family areas, where single men are not permitted.
Attitudes towards women vary greatly throughout the country. In the upmarket districts of Amman, women are treated the same as they would be in any Western country, whereas in rural areas more traditional attitudes prevail.
Work is not really an option for most foreigners passing through Jordan. Those hoping to work with Palestinian refugees contact the UN Relief &Works Agency (email@example.com) at least 3 months in advance. Qualified English teaches, contact the British Council (www.britishcouncil.org.jo) or the American Language Center (www.alc.edu.jo).
GETTING THERE AND AWAY
Queen Alia International Airport. The main international airport 35km south of Amman.
Royal Jordanian (www.rj.com) is the excellent national carrier. From the main European capitals, you can generally get cheaper deals with other airlines.
Royal Wings (www.royalwings.com.jo) a subsidiary of Royal Jordanian, has smaller planes for short flights from Amman to Aqaba twice daily.
Other airlines that fly to Jordan are Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Gulf Air, KLM, Kuwait Airways, Lufthansa Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airlines.
Departure Tax. JD4 by land, JD6 by sea and JD15 by air (generally included in the ticket price).
Iraq. Travel not recommended. Minibuses and service taxis leave from Amman’s Abdali bus station for Baghdad, Visas are difficult to obtain.
Israel and Palestinian Territories. Request a stamp on the Jordanian exit slip rather than your passport. 1. Sheikh Hussein Bridge (Jordan River Bridge) in north to Beit She’an in Galilee and onto Tel Aviv (6 hours), Nazareth (7 hours) and Haifa (7 hours). 2. King Hussein Bridge (Allenby Bridge) near Amman – the most direct route between Amman and Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – take taxi to the bridge, then a shuttle bus between the two borders (not possible to walk, hitch or take a private vehicle across this border), then a share taxi to Jerusalem. 3. Wadi Araba (Yitzhak Rabin) in the south – links Aqaba to Eilat 2kms from border (taxi to border, can walk across, then take a bus)
Syria. Difficult visa to obtain. Unknown if travel possible.
Sea. Two main boat services to Nuweiba in Egypt, A fast ferry (www.abmaritime.com.jo/english) and a slower car ferry.
Public transport is designed primarily for the locals and it is notoriously difficult to reach many of the sights of interest (especially the Dead Sea, desert castles and King’s Highway). Consider hiring a car or using tours organized by hotels in Amman and Madaba.
Air. There is only one domestic air route, between Amman and Aqaba.
Bicycle. Cycling is generally not fun in Jordan. In summer, it’s prohibitively hot, kids throw stones, and cycling north or south can be hard work because of strong prevailing western winds. Anywhere from the East Bank plateau down to the Dead Sea or Jordan Valley makes for exhilarating descents, but coming the other way…..Refer to www.cycling-jordan.com for details and tips.
Bus & Minibus. The national bus company JETT (www.jett.com.jo) – Amman to Aqaba and limited services to King Hussein Bridge border crossing, Petra and the Dead Sea. Other companies are Trust International Transport to Aqaba and Hijazi to Irbid.
Minibuses. 20-seat vehicles connect almost all town in the country, but the Dead Sea area, the King’s Highway and eastern Jordan are less well served. They leave when full.
Car & Motorcycle
Hiring a car is an ideal way to get the most out of Jordan. Distances are generally short and many prime destinations are difficult to get to by public transport.
Driving Licence. International Driving Permits are not needed.
Rental. Charges, conditions, drop=off fees insurance costs and waiver fees in case of accident vary considerably, so shop around.
Road Rules. Drive on the right, but more often loiter in the middle. Indicators are rarely used, rules are only occasionally obeyed and ubiquitous horning common. Wearing a seat belt is now mandatory.
Hitching. In Wadi Rum and along the King’s and Dead Sea Highways, it may be necessary. It’s customary to give a few dinars to the driver.
Bus. Generally packed, routes confusing and chances of being pickpocketed higher. Taxis are better.
Taxi. Private taxis are good value in the cities. Metered fares are displayed in fils not dinars. While more expensive than minibuses and don’t cover as many routes, they are generally faster and take less time to fill up (only 4 seats). Inside cities, service taxis offer extensive coverage and are a good alternative to walking or taking private taxis.