- 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
- 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 and the Holy Land
- Salt — ancient town which was once the capital of Jordan
- Zarqa — third largest metropolitan area of the kingdom
- Ajlun Castle — impressive ruins of a 12th century castle
- Azraq — Oasis in the desert, an illustration of how water brings life even at places like a desert
- Dana Nature Reserve — stay in a traditional village and enjoy unforgettable hiking in an offshoot of the Great Rift
- Dead Sea — the lowest point on earth and the most saline sea
- Desert Castles — once 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
- Umm Qais — a Roman era settlement, close to the ruins of the ancient Gadara
- Wadi Rum — barren, isolated and beautiful, granite cliffs contrasting with desert sand
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.
For the latest, up-to-date and complete information, please check out the Jordan Tourism Board.
Nationals from Arab countries can enter Jordan without a visa and for free.
Visitors from most other countries (even Israeli citizens / Israeli passport holders) can easily obtain a visa on arrival at the border point directly, except for the King Hussein ("Allenby") Bridge and with limitations at the Eilat/Aqaba crossing (see ASEZA below). Some nationalities may require a visa before arrival (many African countries, Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Belize, Cambodia, Colombia, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Moldova, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Yemen).
The visa prices are:
- JOD40 for one month & single entry (easily extended – up to twice – at the nearest police station)
- JOD60 for three months & double entries
- JOD120 for six months & multiple entries (not extendible)
Note, starting from 2016, on-arrival visas at the Eilat/Aqaba border crossing will only be issued to organized tour groups and Jordan Pass holders. Nevertheless, it might be sufficient to hand over your planned itinerary to get the visa-on-arrival – people have gotten in this way. All others must obtain a visa prior crossing.
Furthermore, there are extra fees involved if you stay only a couple of days in Jordan (1-3 days). The regular single entry visa through Jordan Pass, for example, is not waived – see #Jordan Pass for details. Also one day visitors to Jordan actually pay JOD90 instead of JOD50-60 for the entrance to Petra. There might also exist restrictions on the free ASEZA visa (see below). However, the surrounding details and manifestations of these extra fees are blurry and apparently subject to constant change.
There is a departure fee of JOD8 when exiting Jordan by land or sea. At the Aqaba/Eilat border crossing some people got around paying the fee by ignoring the relevant fee counter.
ASEZA (Aqaba Economic Zone)
More information on crossing into Aqaba (by land, sea and air)
If you receive an ASEZA visa, you will have to exit the country through 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 visa 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 JOD40 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 JOD40 charge for the entry visa plus a fine of JOD1.50/day, for each day non registered (the day you entered Jordan is counted as day 1, even if you entered at 23:59 hours).
By land / car
King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge
This border crossing from the West Bank does not offer on-arrival visas. So, you need to obtain yours beforehand, e.g. at the Jordanian Embassies in Ramallah or Tel Aviv/Ramat Gan. Also, the King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge is the only crossing point where entry to Jordan (and exit) is not allowed on an Israeli passport, due to the fact that it originates in the West Bank.
There are shared taxi directly from Jerusalem for ₪38 plus ₪4 per luggage – pick up from Al-Souq Al-Tijaree "The commercial souq" not far away from the main bus station. Also, Palestinian bus company offers buses from Jericho and Ramallah.
In order to cross the no man's land from the Israeli checkpoint, you have to take a bus from the JETT company for JOD7 plus JOD1 per baggage. Once in Jordan at King Hussein border, shared (white) taxis can drive you to Amman (JOD5-9 per person or JOD20 per drive), or regular ones to any other location in Jordan, at a negotiated price. Also buses leave from here (though not Petra) for cheaper prices, but these may be a little more difficult to find as their departure point is not immediately visible when getting out of the border office. Many taxi drivers will pretend that there are no buses, which is untrue.
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 (except for ASEZA visas), if its validity has not expired. You will not be given an exit stamp for Jordan, and you will not be stamped on re-entry if you choose to return. When leaving, mentioning West Bank destinations to the Israeli guards in your itinerary will arouse suspicion. Thus, it is just best to avoid mentioning Palestine at all while passing the border in Israel.
Note, this crossing does not allow private vehicles of any kind.
Besides the King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge (actually from the West Bank/Palestinian territories), the Sheikh Hussein Bridge (aka Jordan River crossing near Beit Shean) allows entry into Jordan from Northern Israel, and the Eilat/Aqaba (aka Wadi Araba aka Yitzhak Rabin) crossing from Southern Israel (see on-arrival visa limitations above).
When entering Jordan from Israel, you will have to pay an Israeli departure tax of ₪101 for the Eilat/Aqaba crossing and Sheikh Hussein Bridge, and ₪176 for the King Hussein "Allenby" Bridge, plus a processing fee of ₪5. For all details including complete fee catalogue and opening hours (which should consequently also apply to the Jordanian side) see the Israel Airports Authority website.
There are daily buses from Nazareth via the Sheikh Hussein bridge, call the operator (+972 4 657-3984) for details. Alternatively, you can take a regular bus/taxi to the Sheikh Hussein bridge, cross the border on foot, and get into Irbid or Amman by bus.
To get to the southern crossing by bus take one to Eilat. Several buses run here, including the 444 which follows a route along the Dead Sea. From Eilat Bus Station, the border is around 3 km, reachable by taxi for around ₪45-50. Alternatively, you can exit the bus at the second last stop at "Hevel Eilot - Junction Eilot 90" and walk the last 1 km to the border. When on the Jordanian side, pay attention to the childish Aqaba border taxi Mafia, and only use a taxi from there for the shortest distance possible, and swap into a cheaper taxi or even bus afterwards.
If you cross by car, border formalities are time-consuming and expensive as a Jordanian insurance is required, and you will even have to change your number plates, since it is not advisable to travel in Arab countries while displaying an Israeli number plate. Israeli rental cars are not generally permitted across the borders for insurance reasons.
Long distance taxis and buses (3.5 h) used to operate the route from Damascus to Amman before, but due to the ongoing civil war, normal travel routes between Jordan and Syria are likely not operative.
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 h and up to 20 h to Dammam, Riyadh or Jeddah on the Saudi side. The trip can be uncomfortable but is cheap.
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 airlines Air Arabia servers the Middle East, and Aegean Airlines and Ukraine International Airlines serve Europe.
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 min from West Amman. Read on Amman for further details.
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 into ASEZA.
Jordan can be entered at the port of Aqaba (ASEZA) via the Egyptian port of Nuweiba. There are two services, ferry and speedboat. Expect to pay around US$60 for the ferry or around US$70 for the speedboat (both one way + US$10 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.
Jordan is one of the easiest countries to hitch-hike in. It is not uncommon to wait less than 5-10 min before getting picked up. Especially if you are not from the US or such, people are happy to take you along the way and immediately will raise topics like FCB, Paris, Bayern Munich, or Pizza depending on your nationality. In addition, hitch-hiking is made even easier by the fact that many tourists with guides or rental cars will pick you up if they see you are not from around the region. Although Jordan is targeted by extremist, hitch-hiking is not more dangerous than in other countries taking into account the high likelihood of getting picked up by someone. Even on a holiday in off season you will barely wait more than 10 min for someone to stop.
To get a ride just let your arm hang and use your hand to wave towards you, or point down towards the road with your index and middle finger. Don't put up the hitch-hiking thumb, this seems to be impolite. In some countries (like Iran), it is common to pay even for hitch-hikes. Here it is not. Though, for example along the hotel promenade of the Dead Sea, locals might demand a small amount, but anything beyond JOD2 for 10 km is too much – take bus prices as an orientation, just in case.
Combining this with local (mini) buses (which ever comes first) is an efficient and inexpensive way to discover and experience Jordan, and meet interesting and friendly locals.
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 JOD1.5 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 JOD2.
All yellow taxis should be metered, however most drivers outside Amman do not use them. If you do get picked up by such or even unmetered taxi, make sure you agree on the price before departing – per drive and not per person! 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 (JOD30 for a 10-min ride) and then refuse to open the trunk to give you your bags back until you pay up.
Standardised but inflated taxi prices from the Eilat/Aqaba border crossing are:
- Wadi Rum (one way) JOD39
- Wadi Rum (round trip including waiting time) JOD55
- Petra (one way) JOD55
- Petra (round trip including waiting time) JOD88
- Amman (and suburbs) JOD109
- Dead Sea JOD99
Although, it might be a better idea to take a taxi into Aqaba and from there take a different taxi and renegotiate the price.
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. Though, do not use taxi drivers as guides (read #Touting & Guides below).
A full day taxi fare should cost around JOD20-25. An afternoon taxi fare would be around JOD15. 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 JOD75 for 3 people. This would get you there and back with about 6 hours to look around and see the sights.
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 JOD0.80 per litre (unleaded 90 octane) up to JOD0.97 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 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 will be stopped and made to pay a steep fine.
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 (Wadi Rum, the Dana Reserve and Iben Hamam) is best seen on 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. 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.
North of Amman is located the ancient city of Jerash, where one can see some of the most impressive Roman ruins in the Eastern Mediterranean world.
Other sites include Umm Quais, Ajlun Castle and Pella (north-west of Amman). Madaba and its Archaeological Park include some of the finest mosaics in the world.
Parts of the western edge of Jordan's border are the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea to experience floating without the fear of drowning. Close to the Dead Sea is also Bethany (Jesus's baptismal site).
In addition, a visit to Kerak and Dana Nature Reserve are worth while.
Close to Amman the most interesting sights of this region are the Desert Castles around Azraq.
Wadi Rum is an astonishing desert landscape that leaves no one untouched.
Besides that, the Archaeological ruins at Petra are Jordan's biggest tourist draw and a must-see for anyone travelling in Jordan. A vast site, and at least two 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.
- Great hiking spots are Dana Nature Reserve, Wadi Rum, Wadi Mujib, or Wadi Bin Hammad northwest of Kerak.
- Floating and "swimming" in the Dead Sea is one of the highlights.
- 8-9 days of hitch-hiking and bus: Amman – Jerash – Madaba – Dead Sea – Dana Nature Reserve – Petra – Wadi Rum – Aqaba (including potential stops at Ajlun, Mount Nebo, Dead Sea Panorama complex, and Shoubak Castle) ... add one day for each of the following: Desert Castles, Madaba surrounding area, Wadi Mujib, Kerak
- 4-5 days: Aqaba – Petra – Wadi Rum – Aqaba
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 JOD350-1,400 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.
Exchange rates for Jordanian dinar (JOD)
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, locally denoted by the symbol "JD" before or after the amount or in Arabic as دينار, or sometimes "£" (ISO currency code: JOD, used in this guide). It is divided into 1000 fils and 100 piastres (or qirsh). Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, and 10 piastres and JOD¼, JOD½. Banknotes are found in JOD1, 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 JOD1 and JOD5 notes. As bank machines give JOD20 and JOD50 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 (JOD50 and more) must be paid in cash, even though it is a major tourist centre.
ATMs are vastly available, but might charge a fee of up to JOD7, especially the ATM at the airport right before the visa counter which you have to use to withdraw money to pay for the visa(-on-arrival), except for when you have a Jordan Pass. Try several machines to find one with the lowest or without any fee, and remember the bank. However, in case of VISA, sometimes these additional fees will not get collected back home. Probably mostly only ever if it states more on your receipt than you have received.
A subsistence budget would be around JOD15 per day, but this means you'll be eating falafel every day. JOD25 will allow slightly better accommodations, basic restaurant meals and even the occasional beer. It is best to check accommodation prices online – most Jordan hostels and hotels have their rooms on the common hotel websites.
If you prefer to eat what the locals eat, it should only cost JOD1-2 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 (JOD0.50-0.80).
To try real Jordanian food and 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 here. 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. Go into the city or local markets/restaurant and find out what the people there are buying – you will save a lot of money on 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 guide wants you to see, do and pay.
Non-Jordanians can get a VAT refund at the airport when they are returning home. The VAT amount must be more than JOD50 on anything except for: food, hotel expenses, gold, mobile phones.
Summary (common prices and costs):
- Bus – JOD1 per 40 km; Taxi – JOD1 per 5 km, Camel/Donkey/Horse – JOD12-15/h
- Falafel Roll – JOD0.5; Falafel & Hummus – JOD2-3; Beer (in the shop) – JOD0.5-1
- Hotel Room – JOD8-15; Dorm – JOD5; Mattress – JOD1-2
- Wadi Rum Camp – JOD20-30; Dead Sea hotels – JOD50-60+ (off-season)
- Dead Sea (touristic) beach – JOD20; Jordan Pass – JOD70-80
Bargaining is accepted, especially on markets, but some prices might already be final, e.g. in restaurants, the bus, or the museum. Since also rich locals will get fair and inexpensive local prices, there is no reasoning why tourists should pay more. Though, as a tourist it might be hard to find out whether the price you got is fair or inflated because you are considered a wealthy tourist. It is best to ask at several different locations to get a feeling for what the price should be. Remember to always thank the merchant for stating the price, even if not buying anything.
A working approach for hotels is to look up the price on one of the big hotel reservation sites and to walk straight into the chosen hotel stating that seen price. You might get some discount, if not, just trying the next one might convince the guy at the reception to give you a better price. This however will only work when and where accommodation options are vast, i.e. probably not during high season in Petra or at the Dead Sea.
Touting & Guides
Tourism is a big income generator. While this must be appreciated and respected in the wake of troublesome times, many tourists are just fast cash cows for tourist guides and taxi drivers who carry them from one overpriced venue, shop, hotel or restaurant to the next one, collecting their share of 30-50% from the owner when leaving. So, do not rely on them too much, otherwise they will cash in on you twice, once for their service and once taking commission. This means, either the restaurant will be touristic with very inflated prices, or the hotel will add a surcharge when you ask them for the price, especially if the guide or taxi driver stands right next to you. Instead, choose the restaurant and hotel by yourself without them following you, and just use taxi drivers for transport, not as a guide. Always only rely on the bare minimum of such help, and spend your money arbitrarily and widely, and not just at the hotel you are staying or the place your guide drops you off.
Also, do not believe in the common my cousin (or friend) offers/has got it (something that you are looking for) and I can get it cheaper for you – the opposite will mostly be the truth, neither will it be his cousin nor will it be cheaper. Always get several independent quotes for things or tours you are interested in, and never get convince that there is only one option available and you have to stick with that one telling you so, even if they say this or that is not available, does not work or is not in this direction, e.g. taxi drivers pretending that there are no buses from the Allenby Bridge into Jordan. The variety of such examples is vast.
Do not buy souvenirs in the touristic centres of the country – the prices here are inflated 2- or 3-fold.
Buying and exporting archaeological artefacts might be prohibited, like ancient coins. So, do not get into thinking you can make a good deal here. If you are not an expert, you might even end up buying fake genuine goods – just because the look old and the merchant talks lovely does not make them real.
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. The best mansaf can be found in Kerak.
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.
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.
Although Jordan is an Islamic state, the locally brewed Amstel is available in the better restaurants. Guiness, Becks and Heiniken are served in bars catering for westerners. Jordanian wine, mostly from Mount Nebo, is also quite good. A few shops, especially in the touristic centres also sell harder alcohol. Liquor stores are generally identifiable by the Amstel logo. In touristic areas it is easy to find them, and only during Ramadan they might be closed. One exception is Wadi Rum, because there are no shops here, just camps, but the more luxurious ones will cater for such needs.
For more details on alcohol in Jordan, also see the Amman article.
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 JOD200-600 a month.
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.
As with many places, be cautious with anyone who seems interested in romantic entanglements, as incidents of foreign women being charmed by locals and then discovering that the "romance" was merely a cover to obtain sex, money, or other services are not uncommon. This is especially true for young foreign girls – a cosy camp surrounding and maybe some wine does the rest.
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. Though, the LGBT scene, especially in Amman, prefers the don't ask, don't tell approach to this topic. Adultery, including consensual sex between unmarried couples, is illegal and can be punished by a maximum 3-year jail term. However, this does in general not concern western couples, but will only be a problem when engaging with local people.
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.
Dogs can be a problem in remote areas of Jordan. Even though, they are far less numerous compared to Asia. If they get too close to you, (pretend to) pick up a stone. They will remember this gesture from the last painful "experience". Also (carrying) a large stick might help.
- 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.
Jordan is a majority Muslim country with a large Christian population too. It is one of the most liberal nations in the region and very hospitable to tourists, and locals 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.
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.
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. While Jordan is a generally free and tolerant country, avoid discussing sensitive topics with casual acquaintances or strangers, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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.
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.
The schedule change will need to take into account especially regarding the following topic.
Some holidays are based on the Gregorian calendar:
|January 1st||New Year|
|January 30th||Birthday of King Abdullah|
|May 25th||Independency day|
|Juny 9th||King Abdullah Accession Day|
Religious holidays are based on the Islamic calendar, which has got 11 days less than the Gregorian one. Therefore, the holidays are shifted. The important holidays are:
|Muharram (مُحَرَّم)||Islamic New Year|
|Ashura (عاشوراء)||Fasting and liberation day of the Prophet|
|Mawlid an-Nabī (النَّبِي)||Birthday of the Prophet Mohammed|
|1st Ramadan (رمضان)||Beginning of the fasting|
|Eid al-Fitr (عيد الفطر)||Festival of breaking of the fast|
|Eid al-Adha (الأضحى)||Großes Opferfest|
Please look up the latest dates on the internet.
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.
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.
WiFi is commonly available in restaurants, cafés and ho(s)tels.
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 JOD5. These numbers can be subsequently recharged with a prepaid card starting at only JOD1. Temporary "throw away" phones can be bought at many mobile phone shops across the country for around JOD20-30, but a Jordanian must buy the phone before possession can be transferred to you.