Public buses, which are mostly 15- or 18-seat minibuses, are the most frequently used transportation in Jordan. Some buses and air-conditioned buses are also utilized as public transit. Timetables are rarely used, so buses typically leave only when they're full. This means that, especially on less busy routes, you may need to wait a while for the bus to fill up. You may find that travelling is not as difficult as you think once you get going: the roads are in decent condition, and the longest trip from Amman to Aqaba is four hours or less. The destination and starting point are displayed in Arabic script on the rear of the bus just above the brake lights.
On most local bus routes, you simply have to turn up at the departure point and ask around to find out where the bus is going. Bus schedules are not available, so you should expect to wait a short while for intercity buses to Madaba or Jerash, for example. However, buses which travel longer routes or serve more isolated areas may only run once per day or have only a handful of departures at a certain time of day. If you miss them, you'll have to come back tomorrow. Although guides and hotel staff may be able to help, information on public transportation is so limited that even they may have trouble advising you. If you are taking local buses, keep your itinerary flexible.
Bus fares are economical. A trip between towns that takes 30 minutes costs about JD1(£1/$1.40). A journey from Amman to Jerash or Karak to Tafileh, for instance, costs around JD1.50–2 (£1.60/$2). You will usually be told the truth if you ask the fare. The fares are higher on routes serving major tourist sites. Aqaba is about JD5–7 (£5-8/$7-10). There is no price competition between minibus operators. Jordan Express Tourist Transport, or JETT, for example, operates daily timetabled buses from Amman to Aqaba, Petra, and other destinations. There are many other minibus providers. You may use these buses to travel comfortably and quickly from Amman to Irbid, where Yarmouk University students are served, and a few other places. You can pre-book these buses (in person only at their offices).
On most intercity routes, businesses seek to attract customers by putting buses and touts for serveeces in service taxis (universally known as serveeces). A serveece (pronounced “ser-VEES”) is a white vehicle that seats four to seven passengers, which is faster than a bus on the same route in terms of speed but has the same price in terms of seating (in a long journey, discomfort may counter time gained in the back seat). Serveeces also depart as soon as they are filled, with fewer seats resulting in more departures. If you've got bulky or heavy luggage, the serveece or minibus driver may ask you to pay an additional charge per bag. In cities, there are buses and serveeces for short trips.
Bus and serveece etiquette says that a foreigner should ideally not be sitting next to a Jordanian of the opposite sex. You may find that the locals shuffle themselves around to make sure that men are sitting next to men and women next to women.
It is impossible to travel around Jordan by train, as there are no scheduled passenger services. The Hejaz Railway, which runs from Damascus to Amman and into the desert from there, has been taken out of service, and foreign tour operators and steam enthusiasts charter it for occasional specials, although it remains in operation. A tourist shuttle on the Aqaba-Wadi Rum railway line has not been in operation as a result of phosphates being transported from the desert to the port.
There are only two or three domestic flights between Amman (Queen Alia) and Aqaba (Jordan). The trip takes around half an hour. You may travel between cities in about three hours (including check-in and ground transfers), compared with over four hours by car. It's not overly expensive, around JD50 (£55/$70.50) one-way, and you'll enjoy outstanding views of the desert, the Dead Sea, and Petra's mountains from the air. Just make sure you're sitting on the right-hand side headed south.
Driving in Jordan is much easier than in Egypt or Lebanon, as well as in the West. However, obeying police officers and driving on the right might be challenging. The road rules in Jordan are usually open to interpretation, even more than they are in the West. Overtaking on both sides is commonplace, and honking accompanies almost all of them. It is not rare to see motorists pulling out without checking into fast-moving traffic. There is no universally accepted right-of-way procedure. It is smart to follow the locals and honk your horn before undertaking a number of operations. Children playing on the shoulder of the road may be playing on the hard shoulder and need to be warned from a long-distance away.
Traffic lights are always obeyed – red-light cameras record offenders – as are many one-way streets. Mobile police radar traps are extremely common. Whether or not they speak English, if a police officer catches you speeding, you will be issued a JD20 ($30/$28) or higher spot fine if you don’t provide your driving license and car registration documents. Whoever moves quickest gets the right of way on roundabouts. A good road surface is critical for driving throughout Jordan, with only a few unmarked speed bumps and rumble strips (as well as killer potholes) as well as a lot of unexpected locations (including major highways). Look out for drifting sand in the desert: if you go too fast, you can be spun off the road in no time.
Major roads have excellent, comprehensible directional signs; English is frequently included. On back roads without signs, asking local residents for directions is your only option. Driving at night is more frightening. Slow-moving trucks and farm equipment often chug down dark roads without lights or reflectors, making for a more challenging trek. Driving licenses from home are adequate, but an International Driving Permit (IDP) may be helpful, as it has an Arabic translation. Your local motoring organization can provide one.
While you're in Jordan, a rental car offers you freedom and flexibility. Most local firms target Jordanians' family and friends rather than Western visitors. Rent a car from a reputable firm before you arrive to ensure you receive the best deal. Many small companies do not offer insurance, paperwork, or service with their cheap cars. This is why it's best to arrange your car rental beforehand. In Amman, there are more than 100 car rental businesses, all of which may match or undercut the international businesses' rates, although few may provide equivalent levels of quality and service. Reliable is located in Abdoun, near the 5th Circle, and provides the best value and service.
If you’re looking for a cheap car rental, you should consider renting a used car. You can find a used car for about JD25–30 (£27-32/$35-42) a day with air conditioning, comfortable for four individuals, and with unlimited mileage and full insurance (manual or automatic). Prices are reduced when the rental period is extended. The automobile will be delivered to you at the airport or in Amman 24 hours a day, and their customer service is excellent. Collision damage waiver (CDW) costs a couple of dinars more, but it is well worth the price. Theft protection (TP) is not required.
The global names have a wider scope of services - and higher prices. Avis, Hertz, and Europcar have offices in Amman and Aqaba, as well as the Dead Sea, the King Hussein Bridge, the Eilat–Aqaba border, and other points across the country. For more information, visitjordan.com. Unless you're a fanatic adventurer, a common vehicle is sufficient for exploring Jordan. You can rent a four-wheeled vehicle for around JD50 (£54/$70.50) a day. It's critical to have knowledge of four-wheel driving as well as a local guide before driving off-road to visit some of the more remote archeological sites and to experience the desert. You should keep several litres of water in your automobile in case you get stuck in some remote location.
Yellow taxis with green writing on both front doors are available for hire. Although taxis are among the most economical means of getting around Amman, their value declines the farther away you go. For example, driving to the sparsely populated eastern desert yourself in a rental car would cost you much less than hiring a taxi (although you would experience less stress), but renting a taxi would cost twice as much. As far as fares go, taxis are metered in Amman. Elsewhere, you are probably going to need to negotiate with the driver. Before you set off, you should ask a disinterested individual for advice. You should ask a disinterested person at your hotel for a ballpark estimate for your journey. Afterward, ask Jordan Taxi for a quote on their private hire service.
Uber and Careem provide on-demand taxi services in Amman, offering prices that are much more inexpensive than traditional taxis. It is possible to rent a car for the day for about JD30 (£33/$42) on top of the rental price; this should cover his food and lodging for a longer trip. A foreign woman should always sit in the back seat of a yellow taxi if possible, as should Jordanian women. Many women are now driving for Careem and Uber in addition to yellow taxis.