Saturday, September 18, 2021

How To Travel Around Jordan

AsiaJordanHow To Travel Around Jordan

By plane

The only domestic flight connection is between Amman and Aqaba.

By bus

The bus company JETT offers connections from Amman to Aqaba, to the King Hussein Bridge (to get to Israel), and to Hammamat Ma’in. Private buses (mainly from the Hijazi company) run from Amman to Irbid and Aqaba. Minibusses connect smaller towns on a much more irregular service basis – usually running as soon as they are full.

Abdali Transport Station near the center of Amman served as a bus/taxi hub to places all over Jordan, but many of its services (especially microbuses and service taxis) have been moved to the new Northern Bus Station (also called Tarbarboor or Tareq). Here there are buses to Israel and a JOD1.5 bus to Queen Alia Airport.

With the service taxi

Service taxis (servees) cover much the same routes as buses. Service taxis are definitely more expensive than minibusses, but much faster and more comfortable.

Service taxis only drive when they are full, so there is no fixed schedule. You may also be approached by private cars that operate as service taxis. If you use one of these, it is important to agree the price in advance

Service taxis are usually white or cream colored. They can sometimes be persuaded to deviate from their standard route if they are not already carrying passengers. However, it is very likely that you will be asked to wait for a yellow taxi.

With the normal taxi

Regular taxis are plentiful in most cities. They are bright yellow (similar to New York’s Yellow Cabs) and usually in good condition. A 10 km ride should cost about 2 JOD.

All yellow taxis should have a meter, but most drivers outside Amman do not use it, so you should agree on a price before you leave. If you are picked up by a taxi without a meter, you should agree on the price before you leave. If you do not agree on a price, you will most likely pay double the price. Using the meter is almost always cheaper than negotiating a price, so it is best to insist that the driver uses it before you leave. Keep your luggage with you – it is not uncommon for taxis to charge a ridiculous price without a meter (JOD30 for a 10-minute ride) and then refuse to open the boot to give you your bags back until you pay.

Daily rates for taxis can be negotiated. These are usually arranged through specific taxi drivers who have previously offered the service to friends or colleagues. If you are staying in a hotel, the reception should be able to arrange a reliable driver for you. In quiet times, it is also quite common to be approached (politely) on the street by taxi drivers looking for business. There are many who speak good English, so it is worth waiting until you find one you like.

A taxi for the whole day should cost about 20-25 JOD. An afternoon taxi costs about 15 JOD. For this price, the taxi driver will drop you off at local shopping places and wait for you to return. You can then drive to the next shopping location. You can leave your recently purchased items in the vehicle as the driver will stay in the taxi the whole time, but it is not recommended to do so.

If you are planning a trip outside Amman, daily fares will increase to compensate for 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 by taxi would cost about 75 JOD for 3 people. This would get you there and back with about 6 hours to look around and see the sights.

When negotiating taxi fares, ask whether the agreed fare is the total price or the cost per person. Often taxi drivers offer a low fare and then tell you when it comes time to pay that the fare is “per person”.

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

By car

Jordanian highways are generally in very good condition, but the same cannot be said about the drivers and the 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 a tendency for some people to drive at night without headlights (believing that they can see better and that this is therefore safer!). Avoid driving outside the capital Amman after dark.

Renting a car should be cheap and not too time-consuming. Fuel prices are all set by the government, so don’t bother looking for cheaper petrol stations. Expect to pay around 0.80 JOD per litre (unleaded 90 octane) to 0.97 JOD per litre (unleaded 95 octane). They are reviewed monthly to bring international gas prices into line with local prices.

The main route is the Desert Highway, which connects Aqaba, Ma’an, and Amman and then goes all the way to Damascus in neighboring Syria. Speed traps are plentiful and well-positioned to catch drivers who do not obey the frequently changing speed limits. Traffic police are regularly stationed at bends and junctions, well hidden, with speed measuring devices. If you are even 10 % over the speed limit, you will be stopped and have to pay a heavy fine. It is better to drive within the limits.

One particular section, where the road descends rapidly from the Amman highlands through a series of steep hairpin bends into the valley leading to Aqaba, is notorious for the number of poorly maintained oil trucks that lose their brakes and veer off the road into the gorge, destroying everything in their path. This section of the road has been made into a two-lane road and is now a little safer – but you should still take care on this section of the road.

The other route of interest to travelers is the King’s Highway, a winding route west of the Desert Highway that starts south of Amman and connects Kerak, Madaba, Wadi Mujib and Petra before meeting the Desert Highway south of Ma’an.

Organized tours

Many of Jordan’s more dramatic landscapes require 4×4 vehicles with drivers or guides familiar with the area. Most visitors to Jordan opt for organized tours, although it is possible to use local guides at the various visitor centers in Jordan’s eco-nature reserves. These include Wadi Rum, the Dana Reserve, and Iben Hamam. Most tourists entering Jordan from Israel participate in one-day Petra tours or in organized tour groups. They make up a significant percentage of daily visitors to Petra and Jordan’s natural attractions.

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