Jordan is one of the most unique countries in the Middle East. With so many archaeological sites, stunning landscapes, sandstone canyons and valleys, Jordanian art, and decadent cuisine, it is a true fusion of the past and present.
All these key attractions in Jordan are quite spread out, though, meaning there’s a lot of driving involved in a trip to Jordan. And even though there are some public transport options available for getting around in Jordan, if you want to enjoy your trip to the max and go out of the way to check out famous sites, self-driving in Jordan is highly recommended.
Why, you may ask?
Firstly, because Jordan is a pretty safe country. Secondly, there are plenty of reliable Jordan rental car companies where you can get a car of your choice and plan a road trip according to your ease and preference. Thirdly, it allows you to explore the country based on your time and schedule, rather than sticking to timings provided by tour groups or bus services.
How to Hire a Car in Jordan
If you’re planning your Jordan itinerary and want to self-drive, let us tell you that renting a car in Jordan is pretty straightforward. You simply need to make a reservation, pick up the car, and return it after your trip.
You will most probably arrive in Jordan via the airports in Amman or Aqaba. Both airports have a variety of rental car companies offering reasonable rates. However, as Jordan is a busy tourist destination, we advise pre-booking your rental car in advance. This saves you the time and hassle of looking for one upon arrival.
The second step is to choose your rental car. Depending on how many passengers there are, you can get a small car, a sedan, or a larger 4×4 vehicle; however, ensure it is air-conditioned and insured.
Also, the per day rent for the rental car depends on which vehicle you choose. For instance, if you rent a standard car, the rent might be anywhere between 20 to 35 JD. On the other hand, the rent for luxurious cars will be relatively higher.
But, you must meet a certain criterion to be eligible to rent a car:
- You must be 25 years or older.
- You must show your driver’s license and passport during the rental car paperwork.
- You must carry your international driving license or IDP, in case the rental company asks for it.
- You must be a license holder for at least a year to be able to rent a car.
Pro tips for renting cars in Jordan
- Note that Fridays are the weekend in Jordan; some car hire companies are shut on Fridays, so do factor this into your vehicle pick-up and return plans. Airport car rentals tend to be open 7 days a week.
- Jordan’s rental car fleets, on the whole, are not terribly modern. Unlike other countries where you might expect all cars, especially from reputable international car rental agencies, to be sub-two years old, don’t be surprised if your rental car in Jordan is much older and a lesser-known model.
- Check everything on your car works before leaving the depot (we only worked out about an hour into our journey down the King’s Highway that our aircon wasn’t working as effectively as it should; 10 days later, sweating it out with no way to swap the car out until we got back to AMM… )
Tips for Driving in Jordan
Now that you have successfully rented a car, it’s time to get familiar with some rules, regulations, and tips for driving in Jordan.
Despite warnings that “people drive crazy in Jordan”, do note that driving in Amman and driving around Jordan should be classified as two quite separate driving experiences!
These tips relate to any sort of driving in Jordan:
1. Driving Age in Jordan
In Jordan, you must be at least 18 years old to drive a car; however, for car rental, the minimum age is 25 years old (those aged 21 to 25 may be able to rent still with a higher premium or “young driver fee”).
2. Side of the Road to Drive On In Jordan
Driving is done on the right side of the road, which is how it is in most countries (with the exception of most British colonised countries!), so your steering wheel is on the left.
Unlike other countries, though, lane markings are frequently ignored! Sure, you’re supposed to stick to the right and overtake on the left, but it’s not always the case! Especially in Amman, the lanes seem only suggestive.
On the larger freeways, trucks and slower vehicles generally stick to the hard shoulder, so overtaking is possible on the left. You should, of course, use indicators, but at times they feel as suggestive as the lane markings!
3. Driver’s Licenses In Jordan
You must keep your national driver’s license, international driving license, and passport with you at all times in case you get pulled over on the highway. If you don’t have an International Driver’s Permit, make sure to get one made, as it makes your journey through Jordan easier and quicker.
Note despite it being law to need an IDP, rental companies tend not to ask and will take your international driver’s licence. We’d obviously recommend you err on the side of caution.
4. Be Careful of Speed Bumps!
Out of the many unique things you’ll find in Jordan, one is random speed bumps! While speed bumps or speed breakers are found in every country, you will find them on Jordan roads and highways when least expecting them! Yes, on roads where the speed limit is 100 km/hr!
Road signs indicate speed bumps; however, they are placed immediately after the sign, making it difficult to slow down in time. The white paint on the speed bumps has frequently worn off, too.
Watch out for potholes too; they can often be much deeper and more dangerous than they look, not something you want to hit at ultra-high speed. Therefore, drive carefully and be vigilant of pot holes and speed bumps.
5. Observe Speed Limits in Jordan
Jordan has specific speed limits for different areas. For instance, if you’re driving through the city or urban areas, you must drive at 50 to 60 kph, as signposted. But, if you’re driving in a rural area, the speed limit should be between 80 to 90 kph. Highway speed limits tend to be 100 to 120 kph; however, with trucks and other vehicles and the surprise speed humps, you’ll not be driving at those sorts of speeds the whole way!
There are fairly frequent speed cameras on the highways – whether they’re working or not is another question – but it’s simply not worth the hassle of getting a fine driving a rental car in a foreign country.
Compared to other Middle East countries, highway driving is not nearly so dangerously fast, nor are other drivers so aggressive behind the wheel.
6. Police Checkpoints in Jordan
As you leave the city and get on the highway, you will come across frequent police checkpoints – many more than you may be used to in your home country. Don’t panic!
Generally speaking, their intention is not to pull over tourists (in fact, rental cars have a different license plate number!). If you are waved over, you’re likely not in any trouble, it’s just routine.
You simply pull over to the side of the road; they will ask to see your driver’s license and passport before letting you continue your journey – in fact, they’ll likely make polite conversation with you in English about where you’re from! Therefore, make sure you keep these documents with you at all times.
7. Road Signs in Jordan
The road signs along the Desert Highway and King’s Highway are both in Arabic and English, so you won’t have a hard time understanding them. Some signs might be only in Arabic, but they’re for the locals and hold no significance for the tourists.
8. Petrol Stations in Jordan
There are plenty of petrol stations in Jordan. You will find petrol pumps in even the tiniest of towns; therefore, finding petrol should be the least of your worries – but not necessarily 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Having said that, we still suggest starting your journey with a tank full so that you can easily reach your first destination without having to stop in the way. We’d also suggest carrying cash for fuel payments.
The fuel prices in Jordan are fixed; therefore, you will find the same rate at petrol stations throughout the country: 1.10 JD per litre for petrol and 0.6 JD for diesel.
NB – if you’re making a toilet stop with the kids at these petrol stops, just be prepared; they are almost certainly not the cleanest bathroom stops you’ll come across! BYO paper, wipes, sanitiser, etc.
9. Navigation in Jordan
If you’re self-driving through Jordan, we suggest using a proper navigation system to stay on track. Google Maps is a good choice as it works offline as well (make sure you download an offline map when you have internet!!) So, if you’re going through a region where internet connectivity is unavailable, you will still be able to reach your destination by following the route on the map.
Locally, another favourite navigation app is Waze, with real-time traffic information. You might find this most useful to use in Amman and Jerash, where traffic is much heavier and seeking an alternate route might be required.
10. Seat Belts and Car Seats in Jordan
In Jordan, it is compulsory only for front-seat passengers to wear seat belts while driving, and children under 12 should not be in the front seat.
Jordan has still not enacted laws on car seat usage for infants. We’d strongly suggest you never let your child sit in the backseat of your car without a child restraint.
Whilst most car hire companies say that they can provide you with an infant car seat (at an additional charge), we would not trust this to be the case or for the seat to not be damaged in any way.
For those with children still in child restraints, we highly recommend you bring your own in a travel-safe car seat carrier bag.
11. Mind the Pedestrian
Particularly in rural areas, pedestrians seem largely unconcerned by cars hurtling past them on a highway. They will step out without looking and often seem oblivious to traffic. And that’s before we get to the random goats, dogs and livestock.
Blasting them with your horn in most instances is not only considered rude, but it will also likely get you barely more than a sideways glance. Just be patient!
Remember, if the driver hits a pedestrian in Jordan, the driver is automatically at fault. You don’t need this on your consciousness. Especially in small towns, drive slowly and carefully and expect the unexpected.
Driving in Amman
Now back to our point that driving in Amman is different to driving in the rest of Jordan.
Amman drivers have to be up there amongst the world’s worst!! The lack of observation of road lanes, turn-taking at intersections and roundabouts, and general chaos!
There’s no surprise that many drivers, even fairly confident drivers, will want to skip driving in Amman itself. Some visitors will choose to simply avoid driving in Amman altogether and immediately head south or to the Dead Sea.
If you plan on visiting the points of interest in Amman before or after travelling further around the country, we suggest using public transport or a taxi, as the traffic can be really hectic, and then heading back to the airport for your rental car.
You can base yourself in Amman for a few days and try these day tour ideas from Amman, before seeing the rest of the country.
Alternatives to Self-Driving in Amman
As we mentioned earlier, the traffic situation in Amman is quite stressful, especially during rush hours. Therefore, whether you start your journey from Amman or reach there during your trip, we advise going for alternatives to self-driving to avoid getting stuck in traffic.
Travel via Bus
The best way to get around Amman is via bus. There are a total of 137 minibuses, yellow buses, and white buses that operate throughout the 27 routes of the city and pick up passengers on the way. However, these buses don’t run according to a set timetable; they usually pick up on demand. This means if a passenger is waiting at a bus stop, the bus will stop for them. The bus fare in Amman is 1 JD per passenger, making it a budget-friendly option to get around the city.
Travel via Taxi or Ride Share
The second best way to get around Amman is via taxi. You can hail a cab from the street to go to a particular destination, which costs 0.35 JD at starting, and 0.75 JD per 1 km. Alternatively, you can also hire a taxi by the day to sightsee around the city.
Uber and Careem ride-sharing services are increasingly popular in the city, if you have these already downloaded on your phone, they will work in Jordan.
Do note your taxi could wreak of cigarette smoke! If this isn’t your thing, maybe your own car would be preferable.
Hire a Bike
While travelling around Amman on a bicycle is not very common, it is still an option. You’ll find several hotels that offer bicycle tours around the city. If you want to avoid rush hour traffic, hiring a bike is a good option to get around the city.
It wouldn’t be our first choice of country, though, for highway bike riding!
Of course, if you want to save up some cash, walking around Amman is also an excellent alternative to self-driving. There are plenty of stalls to grab a bite or drink; therefore, you can easily spend a day walking around the city, resting on the benches lined along the footpath, and gazing at the many attractions you’ll find along the way.
Just be conscious with little legs, it’s quite a hilly city, and footpaths frequently have obstructions and high curbs, which can make it hard-going with strollers.
Transport Beyond Amman
If you are looking to travel Jordan without your own set of wheels, there are a couple of alternative options to self-driving in Jordan:
Beyond Amman, JETT Bus is a reliable intercity bus service that can take you to major city centres. It will not take you directly through to all attractions, such as Amman to Wadi Rum; you’ll need connecting bus services, which still makes self-driving much more attractive.
Join a Tour Group or Hire a Private Guide and Driver
By far, the most stress-free way of getting around Jordan if you don’t wish to self-drive is to take a guided tour. Granted, it will also be the most costly way to travel the country too. But if you want to weigh up for enjoyment and ease of travelling when transport logistics are taken of for you, you’ll most likely find the cost of guided tours in Jordan quite reasonable.
There are plentiful options, from joining organised group tours that leave on set dates and times to hiring a personalised driver and guide who will be transporting only your family or group. Both have their pros and cons, so you’ll need to find the one that best suits your schedule and family needs.
Driving Distances From Amman
If you’re starting your journey from Amman, here’s a table of driving distances from Amman to some famous tourist attractions in Jordan. You can plan your Jordan itinerary accordingly based on how long it takes to get from one place to another.
|Madaba||19 miles/30 km||37 mins|
|Jerash||31 miles/50km||45 mins|
|Wadi Rum||198 miles/320 km||4 hours|
|Petra||142 miles/ 230 km||3 hours|
|Aqaba||211 miles/340 km||4 hours|
|Dead Sea||31 miles/50 km||1 hour|
You may also want to see our more detailed driving and transport guides to:
- Amman to Petra
- Petra to Wadi Wadi Rum
- Amman to Aqaba
- Aqaba to Petra
- Amman to Jerash
- Amman to the Dead Sea
- Dead Sea to Petra
- Eilat to Aqaba
A circular trip around the country that takes in the Dead Sea, Petra and Wadi Rum back to AMM can be completed in as little as three days, but we’d recommend allowing 5-7 days at a minimum and upwards of 2 weeks to explore the country by road properly.
More Planning Tips For Your Trip To Jordan
Before you go, don’t miss these Jordan travel planning tools and resources:
- Jordan With Kids – fact guide & overview for planning a Jordan family vacation
- Best Dead Sea Resorts with Kids – a run through all the Jordanian Dead Sea Resorts and which have the best family facilities
- The Best Petra to Amman Tours – day trips and multi-day options from the capital to the highlights of southern Jordan
- Best Time to Visit Jordan – talking you through the seasons and weather at popular destinations
- Best Wadi Rum Desert Camps for Families – explore the mighty Wadi Rum desert with these Bedouin tour providers, recommended by our travelling family community
- Ultimate Guide to Petra with kids – everything you need to know visiting this Modern Wonder of the World with children in tow
- UNESCO sites of the Middle East – learn more about the region’s fascinating world heritage sites with all the important sites of Interest in Jordan
- Check your Visa requirements for Jordan here before you go!
Jordan Guide Book
For a first-timer looking to visit Jordan, we can highly recommend you download the Step Into Jordan Guide & Itineraries.
This handy digital guide is just $19.99USD and includes:
- An interactive downloadable map
- 36 detailed pages of planning guidance
- Multiple suggested itineraries (10, 7 and 3 days)
- Tips from an expert
- Accommodation recommendations
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