Do you plan on driving in Jordan during your visit to the Middle Eastern Kingdom? Are you unsure whether or not you should be planning a self drive Jordan Itinerary because you are not sure whether you should be driving in Jordan? Are you looking for a great way to get a feel for a country you are visiting without relying on a tour or the limits of public transportation? If any of these things are swirling in your head as you plan your trip then look no farther, I have visited Jordan several times, renting a car and driving in Jordan.
Driving in Jordan may sound scary, especially if you have ever read anything about driving in the Middle East. But despite what sounds like utter chaos, it is definitely doable for the typical driver, as long as you are confident in your ability. After a day or so, it is not much different than your typical drive on the right country, with plenty of modern, comfortable and air conditioned vehicles available for rent. While you will probably find yourself shaking your head at local practices when it comes to parking, and even lane changes, it is quite easy to get the hang of how Jordanians drive, and adapt to it.
There are also dozens of rental car companies, all the big names are there, as well as plenty of small car rental branches. There are definitely a few things to keep in mind when you are driving in Jordan, so keep reading so you know exactly what to expect when you arrive!
10 Things to Know Before Driving in Jordan
Is an International Driver’s License Required for Driving in Jordan?
An International Driver’s license is not required to rent a car in Jordan. But if your license is in a language other than Arabic or English, it is not a bad idea. I personally do not have an international drivers license for Jordan and never had a problem renting a car from a well known company and a small rental company.
Car Rental Rates: How much does Jordan driving cost?
Rates vary a bit when you are renting a car in Jordan. On average, you will pay between JD25-JD35 for a typical car. They are quite new vehicles and I have always had a very clean car and everything in working order.
Road Signs in Jordan
Road signs are in Arabic and English. Brown signs are tourist information signs and spots of interest. Most other signs are green or white. Most signs are familiar, but if you have never driven outside North America, you are probably not familiar with no stopping or no parking signs which are blue and red. Check those before you visit Jordan. Most of the local writing under signs is in Arabic, such as “no parking” so, as a Canadian, I had no idea what the sign meant or said!
How much is Petrol in Jordan?
The price of regular grade gasoline in Jordan is .80 JD per litre (at the time of publishing). This works out to about USD1.15 a litre which is more expensive than in North America, but cheaper than a lot of Europe and New Zealand. When you stop at a gas station in Jordan, they are full serve and an attendant will fill your tank. It is best to carry cash, and if you encounter an attendant who does not speak English, I found it easiest to flash the cash, 20 JD or 50 JD.
Beware of Speed Bumps while Driving In Jordan
As you drive the Desert Highway, before you enter a town, you will come across speed bumps to slow highway traffic as you go through town. Hitting one at 100 km/h is quit the shock! For the unaware driver, they can sneak up on you quite quickly, and they blend right in with the pavement. If you are observant, you will see signs with silhouettes of houses on a white sign to signal you are entering a town, as well as speed bump ahead signs. Keep an eye on the cars in front of you, seeing brake lights tends to indicate an upcoming speed bump.
Google Maps and Driving In Jordan
Google maps works quite well in Jordan, but I have had it take me to the wrong place twice. When you key in a destination, make sure there are not other options nearby (I ended up on a dirt road near a farm instead of at Dana Guesthouse once! Thankfully it was only 10 minutes difference and I think the pin on google maps was for a hiking trail in Dana, not the hotel I was looking for!
While on your Jordan road trip, you are likely to be stopped at least once at a highway check point. On my first visit, it was not until day 5 and I had been curiously waiting to see what it would be like. I was on a tour and our guide passed the passenger manifest to the police, who then asked for the driver’s ID. After a quick look, we were on our way. Pretty painless.
Since then, I have been driving in Jordan and have been stopped five or six times. After flash of my Canadian passport, I am always sent on my way. Often I suspect that he police officer doesn’t speak English and with my almost non-existent Arabic, I never understand what they are saying! Most of the check points that I have been stopped at have been are around the Dead Sea and near Aqaba, but you can find them all over the place, especially if you are passing an area with Military activity.
Written and Unwritten Rules of the Road
Everyday I find myself shaking my head as I am driving in Jordan. Whether it is a car driving the wrong way on a shoulder, coming out to my car double parked, semi truck drivers on the left lane going up a hill, or cars passing on a blind corner outside Wadi Musa. But this is all normal to Jordanians. I always comment on their ability to parallel park when it does NOT look like there is enough space to fit a car, as well as their creative parking options when they cannot find a spot!
Be Cautious and Assertive when Driving in Amman
Amman is home to over 4 million people and traffic can be jammed at all hours of the day. Most Jordanians do not keep to the road markings, and plenty of roads have worn out road markings. A jammed up 2 lane highway might have 4 lanes of cars all crawling along together. Drivers needing to exit right may also veer across multiple lanes of traffic to make their exit.
Parking is also a pain in Amman. Especially downtown. I usually advise most people to take a taxi downtown to see the sights. It is quite cheap and not worth the hassle trying to find parking downtown, not to mention the congestion. For more information, check out getting around in Jordan. When it does come to parking, especially outside restaurants, it is not uncommon to see cars double parked. When the traffic police show up, a flurry of patrons will exit a restaurant to move their cars and avoid a ticket. There are not a lot of parking lots and road parking is not enough for the amount of visitors frequenting restaurants and shops.
Other than what I call “organized chaos” the actual driving part is pretty straight forward. There are lots of roundabout intersections as well as traffic light controlled ones. If you want to get off the main street, Zahrain Street (whether left or right) you need to exit to the right. The road will continue through a tunnel. If you exited to the right, there will be a roundabout above the highway which will get you in whatever direction you need to go.
Can you Drive in Wadi Rum?
Well technically, YES, but I highly suggest you park at the visitors center and take a tour in the back of a 4×4. There are a lot of campsites that you can drive into and you will even see tours busses pulling into them, but when you get closer, you can see that there has been concrete poured on a makeshift road so that the heavy busses will not sink in the sand.
Further Reading on Jordan:
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Lindsay is the founder and editor of Carpe Diem OUR Way. She is passionate about sharing her experiences of traveling with children on adventurous family holidays around the world! She resides in the suburbs of Vancouver when not jet setting abroad.