- For other places with the same name, see Jordan (disambiguation).
|Currency||Jordanian dinar (JOD)|
|Population||9.8 million (2016)|
|Electricity||230±0 volt / 50±0 hertz (Type B, Europlug, Type D, Schuko, BS 1363, SEV 1011)|
|Time zone||UTC+02:00, UTC+03:00|
|edit on Wikidata|
Jordan (Arabic: الأردنّ al-Urdunn) is an Arab kingdom in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the east and south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel, Palestine and the Dead Sea to the west and the Red Sea in its extreme south-west. Jordan is located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The capital, Amman, is Jordan's most populous city and the country's economic and cultural centre.
The country of Jordan has a large collection of archaeological sites, ranging from important biblical attractions to temples carved into the rock.
Jordan can be divided into four regions:
- Amman — capital of the kingdom
- Ajlun — a hill town in the north of Jordan, noted for its impressive ruins of the 12th century castle which known nowadays as Ajlun Castle.
- Aqaba — located on the Gulf of Aqaba (Eilat), with links to the Sinai and the Red Sea
- Irbid — second largest metropolitan area in the north of the kingdom
- Jerash — one of the largest Roman ruins in the Middle East
- Kerak — site of a once-mighty Crusader castle
- Madaba — known for its mosaic map of Jerusalem
- Salt — ancient town which was once the capital of Jordan
- Zarqa — third largest metropolitan area of the kingdom
- Azraq — Oasis in the desert, an illustration of how water brings life even at places like a desert
- Dana Nature Reserve — Stay in a village little changed since the 15th century, enjoy unforgettable hiking in an offshoot of the Great Rift.
- Dead Sea — The lowest point on earth and the most saline sea
- Desert Castles — 5 castles in the Eastern Desert. These castles once were getaways for caliphs from the Umayyad period
- Petra — Jordan's top attraction, an ancient city carved out of sandstone and one of the new 7 Wonders.
- Um er-Rasas — A largely un-excavated archaeological site with ruins from Roman, Byzantine, and early Muslim civilizations
- Wadi Rum — barren, isolated and beautiful, granite cliffs contrasting with desert sand
- National holiday
- Independence Day, May 25 (1946) (from Britain)
During early and classical antiquity, the area of what is now Jordan was home to ancient kingdoms. Among them were Ammon, Edom and Moab.
Jordan was also home to civilizations such as the Nabataean Kingdom. Its rock art and architecture can be found in few places across the country.
Before World War II, the entire Levant was part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1916, during World War I, the Great Arab Revolt was launched against the Ottomans with help from the British and one Thomas Edward Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia). The revolt was successful in gaining control of most of territories of the Hejaz and the Levant. However, it failed to gain international recognition as an independent state, due mainly to the secret Sykes–Picot Agreement between the United Kingdom and France in 1916 (dividing up the Middle East between the two colonial powers) and the UK's Balfour Declaration of 1917 (promising a national home for the Jews on a small piece of land in the Middle East). The region was divided and Abdullah I, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived from Hejaz by train in Ma'an in southern Jordan, where he was greeted by Transjordanian leaders. Abdullah established the Emirate of Transjordan, which then became a British protectorate.
In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognized Transjordan as a state under the British Mandate for Palestine and the Trans-Jordan memorandum. The memorandum clarified that the territories east of the Jordan River were excluded from provisions that allowed Jewish settlement in the Mandate. The Treaty of London, signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946, recognised the independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries' parliaments. On 25 May 1946 the Emirate of Transjordan became "The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan", as the ruling Emir was re-designated as "King" by the parliament of Transjordan.
On 15 May 1948, as part of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Jordan invaded Mandatory Palestine together with other Arab states. Following the war, Jordan occupied the West Bank including East Jerusalem and many Muslim Christian and Jewish Holy Sites and declared that the annexation was a "temporary, practical measure" and that Jordan was holding the territory as a "trustee" pending a future settlement. King Abdullah was assassinated at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1951 by a Palestinian militant, amid rumors he intended to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Abdullah was succeeded by his son Talal, but Talal soon abdicated due to illness in favor of his eldest son Hussein, who ascended the throne in 1953. During Jordanian occupation, Jews had to leave the West Bank and access to Jewish Holy Sites was severely restricted. Jordan lost the West Bank to Israel during the Six Day War in 1967. In the following year, an attack by Israeli forces on the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Karameh was met by resistance by a joint Jordanian-PLO force. In the aftermath of the resulting 15-hour battle, the Jordanian government permitted the Palestinians to take credit for Israeli casualties. The time period following the Battle of Karameh therefore witnessed an upsurge of support for Palestinian paramilitary elements (the fedayeen) within Jordan from other Arab countries, leading to the fedayeen becoming a "state within a state", threatening Jordan's rule of law. In September 1970, the Jordanian army targeted the fedayeen and the resultant fighting led to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from various PLO groups into Lebanon, in a civil war that became known as Black September. Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank in 1988.
The Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed on 26 October 1994. On 7 February 1999, Abdullah II ascended the throne upon the death of his father Hussein. Jordan's economy has improved since then. Abdullah II has been credited with increasing foreign investment, improving public-private partnerships and providing the foundation for Aqaba's free-trade zone and Jordan's flourishing information and communication technology (ICT) sector. As a result of these reforms, Jordan's economic growth has doubled to 6% annually compared to the latter half of the 1990s. However, the Great Recession and regional turmoil in the 2010s has severely crippled the Jordanian economy and its growth, making it increasingly reliant on foreign aid.
The Arab Spring began sweeping the Arab world in 2011, with large-scale protests erupting and demands for economic and political reforms. In Jordan, Abdullah II responded to protests by replacing his prime minister and introducing various reforms, thereby satisfying the people sufficiently to avoid the civil conflict, regime change or chaos that has broken out in some other Arab countries.
There is no hostility between Muslims and Christians in Jordan, which is one of the most liberal nations in the region. Jordan is considered to be among the safest of Arab countries in the Middle East, and has historically managed to keep itself away from terrorism and instability. In the midst of surrounding turmoil, it has been greatly hospitable, accepting refugees from almost all surrounding conflicts since 1948, including the estimated 2 million Palestinians and the 1.4 million Syrian refugees residing in the country. The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing the Islamic State. While the Jordanian royal house holds much less power than the Saudi royal family, they aren't ceremonial figures like in most of Europe, either. However, relations with the West - including Israel - are usually quite well and domestic policies also tend to be moderate by the standards of the region.
The climate in Jordan varies greatly. Generally, the further inland from the Mediterranean, greater contrasts in temperature occur and the less rainfall there is. The country's average elevation is 812 m (2,664 ft) above sea level. The highlands above the Jordan Valley, mountains of the Dead Sea and Wadi Araba and as far south as Ras Al-Naqab are dominated by a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern and northeastern areas of the country are arid desert. Although the desert parts of the kingdom reach high temperatures, the heat is usually moderated by low humidity and a daytime breeze, while the nights are cool.
Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 32 °C (90 °F) and sometimes exceeding 40 °C (104 °F) between July and August. The winter, lasting from November to March, is relatively cool, with temperatures averaging around 13 °C (55 °F). Winter also sees frequent showers and occasional snowfall in some western elevated areas.
Jordan is one of only three Middle Eastern countries that accept Israeli citizens in their country. As such, entry into Jordan is not a problem for Israeli passport holders.
Visitors to Jordan from most countries need a visa, easily obtainable on arrival at almost all border points. Some nationalities may require a visa before arrival; consult your local Jordanian embassy or consulate before arriving. One key exception is the crossing from the West Bank at the King Hussein ("Allenby") Bridge where you will need a visa in advance. Visas are available at all other land crossings into Jordan and all sea and air crossings.
Visa prices are standardized for non-Arabs at JD40 (as of March 2015) for single entry, JD60 for multiple entry. The regular visa fees are waived if you have purchased a Jordan Pass from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and you stay a minimum of three consecutive nights in Jordan. The pass costs between JD70-80 and includes a 1-3 day pass to Petra and free admission to many historical sites within a two week period. Another recent initiative from the Jordanian government is the reduce visa fees from JD40-10 for tourists who enter Jordan by land and plan to stay at least three consecutive nights.
Alternatively, you can receive a free, one-month ASEZA (Aqaba Economic Zone) visa if you arrive at Aqaba by land (from Saudi Arabia), by sea (ferry from Egypt at Nuweiba) or by air (land at Aqaba International Airport). Starting from 2016, Jordan issues visas on border crossing between Eilat and Aqaba to organized tour groups or Jordan pass owners only.
If you receive an ASEZA visa, you will have to exit the country trough the same entry point. The ASEZA visa allows free travel throughout Jordan. There is no tax for leaving the Aqaba Economic Zone and crossing into the rest of the country. There are road checkpoints when leaving ASEZA, but these are no concern for foreigners. Usually, the control is either waived for tourists or minimally done (just show your passport; if driving, show also your driving license, car registration and open the trunk). If you want to enter through Aqaba and do not want to get the ASEZA visa, you must ask the customs officer to put the normal vsa in your passport and pay the normal visa fee.
The free ASEZA visa can also be obtained at almost all other crossings (except King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge), by stating that you are going to Aqaba. There will be no JD40 charge for the entry visa, but you are obliged to arrive in Aqaba in maximum 48 hours and get a stamp from a police station in Aqaba or from the ASEZA headquarters. If the Aqaba late-arrival stamp is not in your passport, at departure you will pay the JD40 charge for the entry visa plus a fine of JD1,50/day, for each day non registered (the day you entered Jordan is counted as day 1, even if you entered at 23:59 hours).
The visa can be extended by three months at any police station. This extension can be granted twice. The ASEZA visa cannot be extended.
There is a departure fee of JD10 (as of March 2015), imposed at all land and sea crossings. The departure fee of JD30 (as of March 2015) for leaving Jordan by air is usually included in airline ticket.
If leaving through King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge you can return back to Jordan through the same crossing point, on the same visa you got when entering the country in the first place, if its validity has not expired. The ASEZA visa cannot be used in such manner, because you must exit Jordan through the same exit point in Aqaba you entered.
The King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge is the only crossing point where entry to Jordan is not allowed on a Israeli passport.
Jordan's national airline is Royal Jordanian Airlines. In addition, Jordan is served by a number of foreign carriers including BMI, Air France, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air, Emirates, Alitalia and Delta Airlines. Low-cost airline Air Arabia flies between Jordan and destinations all over the Middle East.
Queen Alia International Airport is the country's main airport. It is 35 km south of Amman (on the main route to Aqaba). You should allow 45 minutes to reach the airport from the downtown Amman, approximately 30 minutes from West Amman. Transport into Amman is provided by the Royal Jordanian bus service to the city terminal near the 7th circle, or by taxi (around JD20, meant to be fixed).
In addition to Queen Alia, Jordan has two other international airports:
- Marka International Airport in East Amman (serving routes to nearby Middle Eastern countries, as well as internal flights to Aqaba).
- King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba.
There are no passenger train services in Jordan (November 2016).
The famous Hejaz Railway used to connect Amman's Mahatta junction with Damascus (Syria). However, services have been suspended since mid-2006 and it's unclear when they will resume. Even when they were running, trains took a very leisurely 9 hours (considerably slower than driving), and provided a very low standard of comfort.
You can cross into Jordan by car from Israel. Border formalities are time-consuming and expensive as Jordanian insurance is required and you will even have to change your number plates. The only available crossings are at Aqaba (if coming from Eilat) and at the Sheikh Hussein Bridge for those coming from Northern Israel. Note that the Allenby/King Hussein crossing does not allow private vehicles of any kind.
Long distance taxis operate the route from Damascus to Amman.
The drive between Amman and Syria is not as you might be used to in the USA or Europe, and the standard of driving and vehicle maintenance in both countries is poor (but generally worse in Syria). Don't be afraid to ask your driver to slow down and take extra care when overtaking. It's worth hiring a taxi just for yourself or your party and paying a little extra money to ensure the driver isn't tempted to race the journey to make more money. If you mind smoking, before hiring a driver make sure your that your driver does not or would not smoke.
This trip should take around 3.5 hours.
It is theoretically possible to enter Jordan from Iraq depending on your nationality. However, especially considering the current situation in Iraq it is probably not advisable and you will be looked at a lot more closely than if entering from elsewhere.
From Saudi Arabia
Entry from Saudi Arabia is by bus. Jordan-bound buses can be taken from almost any point in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf. Most of these are used by Arabs. The border crossing, called Al-Haditha on the Saudi side, and Al-Omari on the Jordanian side, has been recently rebuilt. Waiting time at customs and passport control is not too long by Middle Eastern standards, but allow for up to 5 hours on the Saudi side. As the crossing is the middle of the desert, be absolutely sure that all paper work is in order before attempting the journey, otherwise you might be lost in a maze of Arab bureaucracy. The trip from the border to Amman is 3 hours and up to 20 hours to Dammam, Riyadh or Jeddah on the Saudi side. The trip can be uncomfortable but is cheap.
Leaving Israel, you will have to pay a departure tax of NIS105 (2016).
From Eilat Bus Station, the border is around 3km, reachable by taxi for around 45-50 Israeli shekels. Alternatively, you can exit the bus at the second last stop at "Hevel Eilot - Junction Eilot 90" and walk the last 1km to the border.
There are currency exchange services on each side of the border. Otherwise, ask your taxi driver to take you an an excahnge bureau.
Once in Jordan, you will need to get a taxi to your next onward destination. Taxi prices are standardised and on display at the border:
- King Hussein Airport JD8
- City Centre JD11
- City Beach (and hotels) JD22
- Wadi Rum (one way) JD39
- Wadi Rum (round trip including waiting time) JD55
- Petra (one way) JD55
- Petra (round trip including waiting time) JD88
- Amman (and suburbs) JD109
- Dead Sea JD99
People already having their visas for Jordan may also cross at Allenby/King Hussein Bridge (located between Jerusalem and Amman). This border can be reached departing from Jerusalem, Damascus Gate, for 42 Israeli shekels/person and 5 shekels/baggage (2014).
After paying the Israeli departure tax (see above), you have to take a bus from the Jett company, in order to cross the no man's land. The tarif for this bus is JD7/person + JD1/baggage (2014).
Once in Jordan at King Hussein border, shared (white) taxis can drive you to Amman (9JD/pers?). Some buses also lead there and to other locations (but not Petra) for cheaper prices : these buses may be a bit more difficult to find, as their departure point is not immediately visible when getting out of the border office, and as many taxi drivers pretend that their is no buses. Regular taxis can be hired for any location in Jordan, at a negotiated price.
Jordan can be entered at the port of Aqaba via the Egyptian port of Nuweiba. There are two services, ferry and speedboat. Expect to pay around USD60 for the ferry or around USD70 for the speedboat (both one way + USD10 or 50 Egyptian pounds departure tax from Egypt) if you are a non-Egyptian national (Egyptians are not required to pay the prices inflated by the authorities). The slow ferry might take up to 8 hours, and can be a nightmare in bad weather. The speedboat consistently makes the crossing in about an hour, though boarding and disembarking delays can add many hours, especially since there are no fixed hours for departures. You cannot buy the ticket in advance and the ticket office does not know the time of departure. You can lose an entire afternoon or even a day waiting for the boat to leave.
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 its 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 JD1.5 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 10 km trip should cost around JD2.
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 (JD30 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 JD20-25. An afternoon taxi fare would be around JD15. 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 JD75 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.
Jordan's highways are generally in very good shape, but the same cannot be said about its drivers or its 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 government, so don't bother looking for cheaper gas stations. Expect to pay around JD0.80 per litre (unleaded 90 octane) up to JD0.97 per litre (unleaded 95 octane). They're reviewed on a monthly basis to reflect international gas prices on the local prices.
The main route is the Desert Highway, which connects Aqaba, Ma'an and Amman and then continues all the way to Damascus in neighbouring Syria. Radar speed traps are plentiful and well positioned to catch drivers who don't heed the frequently changing speed limits. Traffic Police are stationed regularly at turns and curves, well hidden, with speed guns. If you're even 10% over the speed limit, you will 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, destroying 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.
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' centres 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.
- See also: Jordanian Arabic phrasebook
The national language of Jordan is Arabic.
Many Jordanians speak English, especially in urban areas such as Amman. French and German are the second and third most popular languages after English.
You might encounter some Caucasian and Armenian languages because of a number of Caucasian immigrants that arrived during the early 1900s.
The capital Amman is in the north of Jordan, and the features are spread the length of the north south aspect of the country.
North of Amman is also located the ancient city of Jerash, where one can see some of the most impressive Roman ruins in the Eastern Mediterranean world.
Parts of the western edge of Jordan's border are the Jordan River and the Dead Sea.
Close to the Dead Sea is Bethany (Jesus's baptismal site). One should also visit the Dead Sea to experience floating without the fear of drowning.
Wadi Rum is a desert landscape that leaves no one untouched.
The Archaeological ruins at Petra are Jordan's biggest tourist draw and a must-see for anyone travelling in Jordan. Vast site, a couple of days are needed to really see the entire area.
Go diving or snorkelling in the Red Sea by Aqaba. The Red Sea has some of the world's most famous coral reefs and is a popular place for diving and snorkelling. Turtles, squids, clownfish and a sunken tank are a few of the underwater sights. Equipment can be rented at diving centres, and if you contact them they are happy to come pick you up by car and take you to a good beach spot and back.
Exchange rates for Jordanian dinar (JD)
As of January 2017:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
The currency is the Jordanian dinar, denoted by the symbol "JD" before or after the amount or in Arabic as دينار, or sometimes "£" (ISO currency code: JOD). It is divided into 1000 fils and 100 piastres (or qirsh). Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, and 10 piastres and JD¼, JD½. Banknotes are found in JD1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 denominations. The currency rate is effectively fixed to the US dollar at an unnaturally high rate that makes Jordan poorer value than it would otherwise be. Most upper scale restaurants and shops at shopping malls also accept US dollars.
Many places have limited change so it is important to keep a quantity of JD1 and JD5 notes. As bank machines give JD20 and JD50 notes for large transactions, this can be difficult.
Cards are accepted in a limited (and seemingly random) way. Most hotels and hostels take cards, Petra entry fees (JD50and more) must be paid in cash, even though it is a major tourist centre.
A subsistence budget would be around JD15 per day, but this means you'll be eating falafel every day. JD25 will allow slightly better accommodations, basic restaurant meals and even the occasional beer.
Prices have risen rapidly so it is best to check accommodation prices on-line (most Jordan hostels and hotels have web sales).
If you prefer to eat what the locals eat, it should only cost JD 1-2 for which you can buy a falafel sandwich with any can of soda pop (most common is Coke, Sprite and Fanta). If you want to buy a chicken sandwich it will cost (50-80 qirsh).
To try real Jordanian food don't stay at 5/4/3/2/1 star hotels all the time; eating there is expensive for an average Jordanian. Unless the meal came with the hotel accommodation, don't eat from there. It may look like the people inside can afford the meal and make it look and sound like this is an average way to eat.
So this is what you do. You are already paying a lot for a couple of days in the hotel which is an average USD50. Anyone from Amman will tell you it's a lot and it is not worth the money, except those in the expensive area (i.e. hotel, airport, Amman hotel). But you will not be able to communicate with them as well as when you came out of the airport to meet the taxi man. Go to the city and find what the people are buying and you will save a lot in your trip. If not and you want to save the trip of seeing the country's true people then stay where you are and enjoy whatever the travel leader wants you to see, feel, and do.
Non-Jordanians can refund the VAT in the airport when they are returning home. The VAT amount must be more than JD50 and you can't refund VAT on the following items: food, hotel expenses, gold, mobile phones.
Jordanian cuisine is quite similar to fare served elsewhere in the region. The daily staple being khobez, a large, flat bread sold in bakeries across the country for a few hundred fils. Delicious when freshly baked.
For breakfast, the traditional breakfast is usually fried eggs, labaneh, cheese, zaatar and olive oil along with bread and a cup of tea. Falafel and hummus are eaten on the weekends by some and more often by others. There's no convention for when you should or should not eat any type of food. It's up to you. This is the most popular breakfast. Manousheh and pastries come in as the second most popular breakfast item. All of the hotels offer American breakfast.
The national dish of Jordan is the mansaf, prepared with jameed, a sun-dried yogurt. Grumpygourmet.com describes the mansaf as "an enormous platter layered with crêpe-like traditional "shraak" bread, mounds of glistening rice and chunks of lamb that have been cooked in a unique sauce made from reconstituted jameed and spices, sprinkled with golden pine nuts." In actuality more people use fried almonds instead of pine nuts because of the cheaper price tag. While mansaf is the national dish, most people in urban areas eat it on special occasions and not every day. Other popular dishes include Maklouba, stuffed vegetables, freekeh.
The most popular place to eat cheap Mansaf is the Jerusalem restaurant in downtown Amman.
Levantine-style mezza are served in "Lebanese-style" -which is typical to Jordaian style- restaurants around the country, and you can easily find international fast food chains including McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Burger King. In addition to chains well known in Europe and North America, there are some local businesses such as:
- Abu Jbarah: one of the famous falafel's restaurant in Jordan.
- Al kalha: famous falafel and homous restaurant in Jordan.
- Al-Daya'a and Reem: Famous places to get Shawerma sandwiches and dishes.
As for foreign style restaurants, there is no shortage of them. The best ones are usually found in 5 star hotels, but the price tag is high. Italian restaurants and pizza places are somewhat abundant in Amman, Madaba, and Aqaba, but are very hard to find in other cities.
More and more cafes now serve food. There is an abundance of Middle Eastern-style cafes serving Argeelleh in addition to the full complement of Western and Middle Eastern coffee drinks. There is also a good number of Western-style cafes which usually serve Western-style desserts, salads and sandwiches.
Amman has an abundance of 5 and 4 star hotels. In addition there is good number of 3 star hotels and there are plenty of 2 star and 1 star hotels in downtown Amman which are very cheap, and there are plenty of tourists, especially those that are passing by stay in these hotels.
There are two scales of rating the hotels in Jordan. There are the standard, Western-style 5-star hotels such as the Sheraton, Crowne Plaza, etc., and then there are the local 5-star establishments. The local establishments that are considered '5-star' in Jordan would be more like 3-star hotels in the West. A traveller will pay top dollar for a Western brand-name 5-star hotel in Amman or Petra and less for the local 5-star hotel.
Furthermore, for longer stays it is possible to get furnished apartments for JD200-600 a month.
For long stays, it is possible to take Arabic courses at the University of Jordan as well as other private educational centres in Amman. The British Council in Amman occasionally runs courses in Arabic for foreigners.
In Amman, the starting cost for apartments is JD 350-1,400 monthly. Proprietors prefer you pay up front and commit for at least a half year stay.
An alternative is Zarqa Private University. It is a 35-minute drive due east of Amman and can save you a fortune, due to the fact that it costs 1/3 less to stay in an apartment there than in Amman.
Work opportunities for the casual foreign visitor are somewhat limited in Jordan. The majority of foreigners working in Jordan are on contract work with foreign multinationals and development organisations (Amman is the 'gateway to Iraq' and a key base for the continuing efforts to rebuild its neighbour).
There is the possibility of picking up casual English teaching work if you hunt around hard for opportunities.
Fluent Arabic speakers might have more success, though the process of obtaining a work permit is not particularly straightforward. Engage a knowledgeable local to assist you.
The electricity supply in Jordan is 230V/50 Hz. But several types of plugs/outlets are in common use. I.e. European with round pins, British standard, Indian and combination outlets that can take multiple types.
Jordan is very safe. There is virtually no unsafe part of Jordan except at the Iraqi border. Although the rural parts of Jordan have limited infrastructure, the fellahin (or village people) will be happy to assist you.
Jordan is one of the most liberal nations in the region. Women may wear regular clothing without harassment in any part of Jordan. Western fashions are popular among young Jordanian women. However, modest clothing should be worn in religious and old historical sites.
Keep in mind Jordan is a Muslim nation and western norms, such as public displays of affection, may not be accepted even by Jordan's western-educated elite. Jordan is not a place where homosexuality is taken as lightly as in the West, although it is not illegal as is the case in most other Arab nations. However, adultery, including consensual sex between unmarried couples, is illegal and can be punished by a maximum 3-year jail term.
As in all urban areas in the world, Jordan's cities have some health concerns but also keep in mind that Jordan is a center for medical treatment in the Middle East and its world-class hospitals are respected in every part of the world. Just remember to have caution with buying food from vendors; the vendors aren't trying to hurt you but the food might be unclean. Hospitals in Jordan, especially Amman, are abundant, and Jordan is a hub for medical tourism.
Also, the biggest risk to your health in Jordan is being involved in a road traffic accident.
Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Non-Muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.
If you're planning to travel to Jordan during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.
Jordan is a very hospitable country to tourists and foreigners will be happy to help you if asked. Jordanians in turn will respect you and your culture if you respect theirs. Respect Islam, the dominant religion, and the King of Jordan.
Wear modest clothing to important religious sites. Respect the Jordanian monarchy which has strong backing by the people. The Jordanian monarchy is very pro-Western and very open to reform, as are the Jordanian people.
Standing in lines
Jordanians have a notable issue with standing in line-ups for service. Often those near the rear of a line will try to sidle forwards and pass those in front of them. The line members being passed, rather than object to this tactic, will often instead start to employ this same trick themselves, on the line members in front of them. The end result is often a raucous crowd jostling for service at the kiosk in question.
No one, including the person manning the kiosk, is happy when this situation develops, and often tensions in the jostling crowd seem high enough that violent disagreements feel moments away. However, there is no violence and the sense is that Jordanians recognise common distinct limits as to what was reasonable in line jostling.
Nonetheless, due to this common Jordanian phenomenon, several strategies are suggested.
- Arrive early, allow for time, and be patient. Since a degenerate line-up is rarely an efficient line-up, allow in your travel plans for the fact that it will invariably take longer than expected to deal with any service booth arrangements, whether that means customs, buying tickets, waiting to get on a bus, etc.
- Don't get upset about the line-up yourself or get caught up in the emotions of the crowd. You will keep moving forward, even if a few people sneak in front of you. No one in the 'line crowd' is entirely unreasonable, and you will not keep getting pushed back indefinitely. Often, at most, you will end up being served at the kiosk three or four turns later than expected. Just try to relax and take it in stride.
- Avoid the line-up entirely when possible. Often, kiosks handle groups in bursts, such as a customs kiosk that deals with a bus load of people at a time. In these cases, if you do not start already at the front of the line, find a comfortable spot away from the crowd, and just wait for the rest of the group to make their fractious way through before you. Then, make your way up to the kiosk once it's clear. The advantage of being last is that often the kiosk attendant will appreciate your patience and be happy to deal with you now that they do not have a clamoring crowd jostling for their attention.
Note also that during Ramadan, and particularly on the Eid al-Fitr holiday, schedules will change. Many restaurants, particularly those outside Amman, are closed during the daylight hours of Ramadan, only opening at sunset. This does not affect major restaurants near tourist destinations, however. Also, during Eid al-Fitr it is impossible to get a servees (minibus) in the late afternoon or evening in many parts of the country. Plan in advance if you are taking a servees to an outlying area; you may need to get a taxi back. However, JETT and Trust International Transport usually add more buses to their schedules during this time period, especially those going from Amman to Aqaba.
Most of Jordan has mobile coverage. There are three mobile operators:
Card-based temporary numbers can be purchased at the airport or any mobile shop for JD5. These numbers can be subsequently recharged with a prepaid card starting at only JD1. Temporary "throw away" phones can be bought at many mobile phone shops across the country for around JD20-30, but a Jordanian must buy the phone before possession can be transferred to you.