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Travel Tips For Jordan: Everything You Need To Know For 2024

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6 months ago

Jordan is often top of the hit list for newer travelers to the Middle East. This is no surprise given that Jordan is widely considered to be the safest place in the Middle East (it’s broadly much safer than most U.S. cities). With these travel tips for Jordan, you will have the smoothest and most enjoyable experience.

Though Jordan is known for having an incredible hospitality culture, its tourist infrastructure isn’t as developed as you’d hope it is, and oftentimes you’ll encounter problems that, with a bit of forward planning, you could have avoided.

Mural of boy building blocks on the side of a building in Amman, Jordan
Jordan’s capital, Amman, is filled with incredible murals

1. Rent a car – but not for Amman

Most car rental companies can be found in Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. You’re best booking your car well in advance of your trip online to get a car with air-conditioning (crucial for any time except peak winter).

There is also no point in hiring a car for your one or two days exploring Amman because traffic feels lawless (and taxis are very inexpensive). But it is a great idea for the many short day trips from Amman.

Houses on the hills of Amman in Jordan
There are incredible views both inside and outside of Amman

We don’t recommend driving in remote desert areas. There is often a lack of phone service for miles at a time, and it can be even longer for assistance to reach out if something happens.

While we were driving through Jordan, we saw far too many unlit vehicles and stray cattle in rural areas. You should have your wits about you.

Man in front of a camel in Wadi Rum
There’s also camel transport in Jordan

If you are going to hire a car in Jordan, your U.S., Canadian, British and Australian driver license (and passport) will be sufficient provided you’re over 25. In our experience, no car rental company actually requires an International Driving Permit.

Also, speed cameras in Jordan are real. I’m not proud of the fact that I managed to get a traffic infringement for accidentally speeding on the way from Amman to Petra.

2. Avoid rainy season if you can

Jordan is flood-prone, so heavy flooding can occur from November to March. The problem is that it is the valleys (wadis) that are at the highest risk of heavy flooding, so you’ll need to be conscious of this if you’re going to go to, say, the famous Wadi Rum (which should be on every itinerary).

Heavy flooding has been known to close roads (including major highways) for days, so stay on top of local weather conditions if you’re planning a trip during rainy season. Jordanian authorities will also close tourist sites very short notice.

Jordan is more mountainous than you may have thought

Travel tip: This means that the best time to go to Jordan is between March and June, and September and October, when it’s not rainy season and not too hot.

Also, if you get a message on your phone in Arabic while in Jordan, translate it immediately. This could be an important weather announcement.

3. Use of drones is illegal

It’s important to know the local laws and customs of the places that you visit. Like many countries in the region, personal drones are illegal in Jordan.

Desert view in Jordan
Views in Jordan are better captured by eyes instead

If you want to bring your drone into Jordan, you have to obtain a pre-authorization before entry. We haven’t done it ourselves, but we’ve traveled throughout the Middle East enough times to know that this will be a tricky, drawn-out process that will raise suspicion.

As you’ll find when you arrive, a lot of Jordan (including Amman) has great lookout spots, so you’ll normally get an amazing birds-eye view of a place with your own eyes.

4. You can get a visa on arrival in Jordan, but it can be much cheaper if you get it before you go

If you’re a U.S., British, Canadian or Australian passport holder, you don’t need prior approval to enter Jordan, so you can get a visa on arrival at Queen Alia International Airport and most international land border crossings.

Colored baskets on Rainbow Street in Amman
Rainbow Street in Jordan is filled with bars and restaurants

If you get a visa on arrival, it will cost about US$60 as at the time of writing. Jordanian border officers will default to issuing the single-entry visa with one-month validity. But there’s a better option (see below).

If you ask for a multi-entry visa, they will usually issue it (it costs about US$160) and is valid for five years.

Travel tip: If you’re planning to travel from Israel to Jordan, you cannot get a visa at the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge border crossing. We also understand that only Israeli tour groups can get a visa on arrival at the Wadi Araba border crossing.

Flag of Jordan in front of a building with trees

5. Yes, the Jordan Pass is worth it – and cheaper before you land

The better option is the “Jordan Pass” offered by the Jordan Tourism Board. It includes your visa costs and entry fees to most tourist sites in Jordan, including Petra and Wadi Rum.

We think the Jordan Pass is worth it because entry to Petra on its own can be upwards of US$70, but the Jordan Pass (if you buy it in advance!) is about US$100. You could save at least US$40, and that’s before we even consider entry to any other attraction in Jordan (though, truthfully, the next most expensive entrance ticket in Jordan is for Jerash which is about US$15).

View of the Treasury in Petra with the Jordanian flag in the foreground
Petra is by far and away the standout site to see in Jordan

If you’re going to do this, you must purchase the Jordan Pass in advance, and you must be staying in Jordan for at least three nights.

Travel tip: If you plan to visit Petra at night (and you absolutely should if you’re in Petra at the right time), you should know that the “Jordan Wanderer” only allows you entry between 6 am and 6 pm.

This means you’ll need to make sure you buy the “Jordan Explorer”, or you’ll end up paying so much more for one extra day in Petra.

mosaics of Madaba in Jordan
The Jordan Pass includes entry to over 35 sites across Jordan, including the Madaba Archaeological Park

6. Don’t fly then immediately go to the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea really is the lowest point on Earth. It’s an absolutely incredible place to visit in Jordan (and we think the Dead Sea is much better on the Jordanian side than the Israeli side), but by wary if you’ve just arrived by plane.

Being below sea level and then flying above the clouds in a short time period can give you a big headache. If your itinerary allows, make sure you visit the Dead Sea with at least 24 hours between your visit and your flight out.

People on the beach in Aqaba
The Dead Sea isn’t the only water in Jordan – you can visit the beach in Aqaba as well

The Dead Sea is also a great day trip from Amman. If you’re going to stay at the Dead Sea, we would always recommend the Movenpick for the best experience at an incredible price.

7. Don’t plan to take the train in Jordan

The Hijazi train seems like a great idea (it goes up and down the whole country, after all), but it wasn’t built for the tourist trail.

The Hijazi train in Jordan was built by the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century to facilitate pilgrimages to the Muslim Holy places between modern-day Jordan and modern-day Mecca (which is in the Hijaz region of Saudi Arabia).

The streets of As-Salt are a journey in themselves

All of the stations are quite far from the places in Jordan that you want to visit, including Petra, Wadi Rum, As-Salt and Madaba.

On that note, Jordan doesn’t have any other trains (including general commuter trains). This is why most travelers hire a car in Jordan, or travel by bus. But if you do want to brave the Jordanian bus network (and, really, you should only use JETT), you should know that they’re not even trying to keep to the timetable. Think of it as part of the journey!

Cafe in Jordan with a table and wide windows
You should prepare yourself for beautiful scenes in Jordan – inside and outside

And lastly, get travel insurance and an eSIM before you land. Amman certainly has a very high standard of medical care, but it’s private, and you’ll have to pay upfront. Health services outside of Amman are basic, so medical evacuation could be necessary if you’re outside of Amman.

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