Jordan Driving Guide
Explore Jordan by driving when you get your IDP
If you long to see a kingdom somewhere in the Middle East, you can find a timeless empire in Jordan. Jordan is a land-locked country that is a crossroad of ancient civilizations and cultures, home of the holy river and blessed land, and a place of a modern and vibrant nation. You can see the country’s history and heritage by going to its valleys, mountains, and hills. Jordan is a country of world-class historical sites and breathtaking landscapes.
There are many great sites in Jordan. If you go to Petrash, you’ve already set foot in one of the seven wonders of the world. You can also experience ancient Rome’s glory in Jerash or visit the world’s beautiful desert in Wadi Rum. Jordan also boasts the Dead Sea, which is one of the lowest places on Earth. Above all the experiences, you’ll be welcomed by the kind Jordanian people who will lead you to the history and beauty of their lands.
Jordan is situated in Southwest Asia and is bordered by Saudi Arabia in the northwest, Iraq in the east, Israel in the west, Syria in the south, and the West Bank Region, or what is politically called the Middle East. Much of Jordan is a barren desert. The Arabian Desert mostly covers it, and the northwestern part of the country is part of the Fertile Crescent.
Arabic is the official language in Jordan. Almost the entire population, including the ethnic minorities, speak Arabic. Urban, rural, and Bedouin Jordanian are the Three varieties of Arabic are expressed in the country. English is widely understood and spoken in Jordan. As a British colony, English is the primary foreign language used in the country and is considered secondary. There is also a small French-speaking population in the country.
Jordan has a total land area of 89,342 sq. km. 11.98% is agricultural land. It is slightly smaller than Portugal and Indiana. It has a land area of 88,802 sq. km. and a water area of about 540 sq. km. It has a coastline about 26 kilometers along the Gulf of Aqaba that provides access to the Red Sea. Note that Jordan also borders the Dead Sea, which is 50 kilometers.
Jordan is separated from Ancient Palestine by the Jordan River, but the region played an important role in biblical history. Within its borders lies the ancient biblical kingdoms of Edom, Gilead, and Moab. The area is also an important trade center in powerful empires from the ancient world, such as the Akkadian and Ottoman empires.
In World War I, the Ottomans sided with the Centrals Powers, and the Arab Revolt started in Jordan. Ottoman Empire significantly weakened until it was defeated and dissolved in 1923. Jordan became a mandate of the British Empire until it became an independent kingdom in 1946, following World War II. Today, it is officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, an independent state with a rich past and a bright future.
Jordan’s Government system is a constitutional monarchy as declared in its 1952 constitution. The king is the state’s chief, while the prime minister is the head of the government. The king appoints the prime minister, who will then choose its cabinet members. The ultimate authority still resides on the King with the power over the government’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
It was only in 1999 that Jordan introduced economic reforms. A year later, it joined the World Trade Organization and made partial privatization of some state-owned enterprises. It’s economy is relatively small, but it is well-diversified and primarily based on private enterprises.
Renting A Car in Jordan
Public transportation in Jordan usually connects only the major cities. Driving in Jordan is truly an advantage to freely go to many destinations in the country. To save you from the stress of commuting, you can take the fun of driving around the cities and meeting the locals. Take the challenge to freely explore historical sites and tourist spots with car rentals. Renting a car and driving is definitely an excellent choice to explore the ancient cities and vast desert.
Car Rental Companies
According to the driver’s license requirement in Jordan, you must be at least 18 years old, and you already have your driver’s license valid in your home country to drive and rent a car. But it is highly recommended to have an IDP as some of the car rental companies require an IDP before you can rent a car. Driving will be much more comfortable and hassle-free if you both have your IDP and your local driver’s license.
Many car hire companies offer convenient pick-up locations, including capital city, Amman. Whether you are looking for a car rental on a budget or you want to rent a luxury car, you will never be short of choice. Do some research on the car hire companies to find the right fit for you and your budget.
Here are some of them:
- Global Rent-A-Car
- Thrifty Car Rental
- Easy Rental
- NU Car Rental
There are different well-known international rental car companies and Jordanian companies that provide car rental services in the country. Local agencies offer cheap car rentals than international ones.
The top 5 places in which you can rent a car are:
- Amman Airport
- Amman Al Bayader
- Amman Kempinski Hotel
- Aqaba Al Qudess Street
- Aqaba King Hussein Inter Airport
The two documents required to rent a car in Jordan are just your passport and your valid driver's license. You can also bring your International Driving License for additional identification. A credit card is also needed so you can pay for the car deposit. It’s so easy to rent a car since you don’t need to present certain documents.
Driving a rental car will give you flexible access to the country’s tourist destinations, such as Petra, Dead Sea, and Wadi Rum. You'll find several car rental options so it's up to you to choose a rental car suited to your travel needs. The most popular rental vehicle is the economy size, but you can also rent a full-size SUV and a luxury car, depending on your budget. Here are the types of vehicle you can rent:
- Economy Car - This type of car is the most popular since foreign travelers can get in at a lower price and a good deal. You can drive this car at an affordable price. This excellent fuel economy car is fit for one driver and four passengers, with two luggage spaces available.
- SUV Car - If you are traveling with your family, then this spacious car is for you. An SUV can accommodate seven passengers and two luggage spaces. You can also use this for your outdoor adventure since it has smooth drivability that matches your trip to mountains and hills. Those who want to go off the desert will certainly need a car with an excellent navigation system.
- Van - If you are traveling by a large group and both the economy car and the SUV car is not too packed for you, you can rent a van. Driving this type car is perfect for your group adventure as it can accommodate nine to twelve passengers that are perfect for your group adventure.
- Luxury Car - If you have the budget to rent high-valued and high-priced cars, you can definitely rent luxury cars such as the Mercedes Jaguar, BMW Series, or Audi. It’s time to flaunt what you’ve got.
Car Rental Cost
The cost of a car rental depends on the car company and the type of car you choose. On average, it costs 25-30 JD ($35-40) per day for a new model with insurance and air conditioning. Car rental from International companies is much more expensive than those which are locally based options. You can find the cheapest prices outside the major cities.
Car Insurance Policy
You have many car insurance options to choose from. You can avail car insurance depending on your need and your budget. It is vital to take note that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Car driving will be much safer if you have car insurance to protect you from any unforeseen event. Here is the list of car insurance types:
- Compulsory Insurance - it covers the liability of a driver, which causes damages such as bodily injury and material damage to a third party. This type of insurance is compulsory in Jordan’s law. Every vehicle owner is obliged to get mandatory insurance.
- Complimentary Insurance - this type of insurance protects a part of a vehicle that is not covered in the compulsory insurance policy. Any damage or loss in any of the vehicle parts in cases of fire, burglary, theft, vandalism, and falling objects are covered by this insurance.
- Comprehensive Insurance - Insurance companies directly issue this insurance, and it combines both compulsory and complimentary insurances.
The Top Road Trip Destinations in Jordan
Jordan can be traversed through road trips as the country is interconnected. There are laid-out structures of roads, and most of the locations have short driving distances with each other so that you can go to the archaeological ruins, ancient towns, desert, and even the Dead Sea. Plan your trip ahead so you can visit all these tourist destinations in the country.
The capital city is a great start for your trip. The history, arts, and business genuinely thrive in this place. There are ancient Citadels, Roman temples, Byzantine churches, and even an Archaeological Museum where you can see ruins everywhere you go. There are many first-rate restaurants, hotels, galleries, and shops.
- From Queen Alia International Airport, get on Airport Road / Route 15.
- Continue straight onto Airport Road / Route 35.
- Turn left onto Abu Bakr Al-Siddeeq Street.
- Turn right onto Abdoun Corridor.
- Turn right to merge onto Pr. Hashim Street.
- Turn right toward Zahran Street.
- Merge onto Al-Kulliyah Al-Elmeyah Al-Islameyah Street.
- At the roundabout, exit and stay on Al-Kulliyah Al-Elmeyah Al-Islamiyah Street.
- Keep left to continue on Zahran Street to reach Amman.
Things to Do
- Check out the archaeological ruins in Amman Citadel.
Explore Amman Citadel, which is perched atop the highest hill in Amman. The citadel is the home of two massive pillars on the podium: the Temple of Hercules’ remains. You can also see Umayyad Palace, an impressive collection of buildings situated about the Temple of Hercules.
- Visit the Roman Theater.
For about a 20-minute walk from the Amman Citadel, you’ll reach the Roman Theater, an architectural piece of the country. It has curving stairs that can accommodate about 6,000 people. The theater was once the capital of the Roman Empire, and it was built to face the north so that the spectator has some sun protection.
- Go to the biblical land of Jerash.
This biblical land of Gilead is located in the north of Amman. This city lies in a fertile valley and home to over 25,000 people. This city is well preserved as you can find theatres and temples built hundreds of years ago. Some churches were built with mosaic floors, and some temples are transformed into churches.
- Learn to cook Arabic food at Beit Sitti.
Go to the Arabic cooking school, Beit Sitti, hosted in a homestyle setting. Learn to cook local cuisines such as falafel, saffron rice, hummus, and fattoush. The fresh tomato and onion in chickpea balls, accompanied by hummus doused with olive oil, are what tourists and locals love to eat. Knowing the story behind this food and the process of making them will also bring great interest.
- Spend an afternoon at Rainbow Street.
Rainbow Street can be found in the district of Jabal, and it is the liveliest on Thursday nights. It is a prime place to relax amid the busy streets in the capital and watch people passing by. Go to the different restaurants and shops to boost your energy and buy the perfectly crisp falafel. Spend the entire afternoon purchasing some souvenirs and handicrafts to take home.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is a salt lake 400 meters below sea level, the lowest point on Earth. It is ten times saltier than a regular sea, and for thousands of years, people searched for curative secrets. The content of minerals and salts in the Dead Sea water can be used for therapeutic purposes as it has anti-inflammatory properties. Due to low humidity and high atmospheric pressure, the air is exceptionally oxygenated here.
- From Mount Nebo, head southwest toward Al-Quds Street.
- Continue on Al-Quds Street to Swemeh.
- Turn right onto Jordan Valley Highway / Route 65.
- Make a U-turn and reach your destination to the Dead Sea beach.
Things to Do
- Float in the Dead Sea.
You’ll experience the unique sensation of floating in the salt-rich waters of the Dead Sea. Swimming in the Dead Sea is beneficial for people with skin problems such as skin asthma and psoriasis. Make sure you indulge in the unforgettable experience of floating in the healing waters of this sea.
- Go hiking in the Dead Sea area.
There are stunning landscapes you can explore near the Dead Sea area. You can go hiking and canyoning in Birhkat Tzifara, Qumran Canyon, and Mount Sodom’s biblical site. If you are not an expert hiker, you must get a seasoned hiker and guide to help you on your route to get lost in the middle of the canyon.
- Try stargazing in the hot springs.
There are natural hot waters in the Dead Sea springs, close to Ein Gedi. If you already have a hotel booking, it is suitable to check out the sleeping area and experience stargazing into the sky-filled stars. Notice the patterns of the stars and let your imagination and creativity flow.
- Interact with the Bedouins.
In the Dead Sea region, the local inhabitants of the area are the Bedouins. Talk to them and learn more about the country’s history, culture, tradition, and way of life. It will definitely be a unique experience for you as you know their views and way of life. Meeting these desert nomads can be a bit of a culture shock, but it can also be an eye-opener.
Known as the “city of mosaics,” Umayyad and Byzantine mosaics can be found in Madaba. One of the houses with the famous mosaic floor depicting a map of Palestine and the Nile Delta can be found in St. George’s Church houses. The city center is very compact, and you can easily explore the streets and other attractions in one day. Mabada is only a 30-minute drive away from the Queen Alia International Airport or an hour drive from the capital city, Amman.
- Head west on Zahran Street and toward Tawfiq Abu Al-Huda Street.
- At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit toward Abdoun.
- Take the exit toward the Airport / Dead Sea.
- Take the ramp onto Airport Road / Route 35.
- Take the ramp onto Madaba Highway / Route 35.
- Drive to K. Talal Street, heading to Madaba.
Things to Do
- Go to one of the holiest places in the area.
Mount Nebo is about 817 meters above sea level, and it is one of the holiest places in Madaba. It is the site where Moses was allowed to see the Holy Land from its summit. Since the first days of Christianity, Mount Nebo has been a holy place for pilgrimage.
- Visit the Saint George Church
The Greek Orthodox Saint George’s Church is the top destination due to its large Byzantine mosaics. The mosaic is the oldest Palestine map that shows different places like Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and Gaza. The mosaic is genuinely remarkable, although it’s hard to understand everything about it.
- Learn more about history at Archeological Park I and II.
In Archeological Park I, you can find another mosaic and relics of the Roman presence, while in the Archeological Park, you can see the ruins dated back to the 6th century. Since before, there was a residential mansion that stood in the place. However, an earthquake and fire destroyed the area, which is now called Burnt Palace. It is most likely that priests from the nearby Martyr’s Church used the palace.
- Check out King Hussein Mosque.
There are many mosques in Madaba, but you’ll see King Hussein Mosque in the city center. It is just near St. John Church. Just take note of the dress code and the things you can do or can’t do when you enter the mosque.
- Take a look at the archeological finds in Madaba Museum.
Drive at the end of a blind alley from Balqa Street, near the Archaeological Park, and get to Madaba Museum. The museum consists of mosaic floors found in situ and several houses and courts. You can see the Bacchic Procession, the first mosaics of the Christian Bedouins in 1880, the Mosaic of the Lower Baptistry Chapel, and the Mosaic of Paradise in the house Farid al-Masri.
What a great wonder Jordan is! Truly this Arab Kingdom is worth traveling to. Nothing will prepare you for how spectacular the country is and how it is deeply rooted in history. Driving in Jordan with a driver’s license is one of the best ways to explore the country. Do not forget to get your International Driving Permit at the International Driver’s Association. Drive and explore these top destinations in the country at your own time and pace.
Road Rules in Jordan
Things will be easy if you know the traffic and road rules in the country. If you are armed with the relevant information, driving will be smooth and safe.
Jordan is predominantly an Islamic country, and drunk driving in the country is strictly prohibited. There is a zero-tolerance policy on drink driving, and no amount of alcohol should be found in the blood. Authorities used a breathalyzer to measure the blood alcohol content from a breath sample. If you are found guilty of drunk driving, you should pay a fine or face a driving ban. Penalties can be severe, mostly when you are involved in an accident because of drunk driving.
It is very tempting to drive fast when there’s less traffic on roads, especially in rural areas and main highways. But you must prioritize your safety when driving in Jordan and take note of the speed limits in different regions of the country. It is essential to watch the signages or use the GPS. Police check points use speed cameras to detect drivers who are driving beyond the set speed limit. Here’s the urban, rural, and highway speed limit:
- Urban speed limit - 60 kilometers/hour
- Rural speed limit - 80 kilometers/hour
- Motorway and highway speed limit - 120 kilometers/hour
All front-seat passengers are required by the law to wear seat belts. Failure to do so will result in a spot fine of 15 JD. According to Traffic Law, children under the age of 10 must sit in the back seats. Always make sure you are wearing a seat belt for your added protection while driving.
Traffic Road Signs
You will see many traffic signs as you go driving in this country. Some traffic signs have words or symbols or both. Directional signs are written in Arabic and English, so you do not have to worry about the road signs. The brown and blue signs sometimes indicate a tourist site. The following are the traffic signs:
Regulatory signs are in white squares or rectangles with black or red lettering. This sign gives commands or sets limits to control traffic. The essential regulatory signs are:
- Yield sign
- Stop sign
- No parking
- No stopping
Speed signs are circular with a red border, which shows the maximum speed allowed on the road. Here are some examples of speed signs:
- Maximum speed limit 60 km/h
- Speed limit sign
Warning signs alert you to the changing condition of roads and the hazards along the way. Be sure to slow down your driving in Jordan or even stop when you see a warning sign.
- Road works
- Animals crossing
- Fall or moving
- Slippery road
International signs are conveyed in symbols that can be understood by drivers from different countries. As this sign is expressed in symbols rather than words, this sign can be understood without learning several languages.
Legal Driving Age
By the time you reach 18 years old, that’s the time you are allowed to legally drive in Jordan. You must also have a valid license in your country of residence for at least one year before you can drive in Jordan.
Driving in Jordan is on the right side, just like in most European countries and in the US. Do not be confused on the driving side because it is essential to follow this and keep everybody safe.
What Are the Parking Signs and Restrictions?
There is minimal paid parking in Jordan, but that does not mean that you should park your car anywhere you want to go. If you are blocking an entrance or exit way, or you’re dangerously blocking the driveway, your vehicle will likely be towed away. There are also no parking meters, but you should be aware of the local parking signs and restrictions. Only the capital city, Amman, has public car parks.
When Do You Use a Car Horn?
If you are driving in Jordan, you can use a horn to warn other people and other vehicles of your presence, especially when approaching a bend in the road. Unlike in Western countries, the horn is usually used on Jordan's road. You will hear cars honking most of the time, especially when there are traffic jams. Only use your car horns to alert other people and other road users.
What Are the Driving Distances in Jordan?
Before you plan your trip to different tourist spots in Jordan, you need to take a look at the driving distances in Jordan so you will be able to drive in places near each other. By doing so, you will be able to save time.
- Amman to Aqaba - 334 km (The route between these popular destinations has many interesting detours and it will take you approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes)
- Amman to Madaba - 32 km (From Amman, you can reach the historical town of Madaba in less than 40 minutes)
- Madaba to Karak - 88 km (1 hour and 30 minutes)
- Balqa to Jerash - 54 km (1 hour and 10 minutes)
Driving Etiquette in Jordan
You never know what will happen to you while driving in Jordan. Better be prepared and know the driving etiquette in unforeseen events during your trip.
If your car breaks down, it’s essential to prioritize your safety. If your vehicle is functional enough to maneuver, steer it out of the traffic and park it on the side, which is also visible to others. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other road users about your disabled vehicle. You need to call your car rental company so that the representative can advise you further on what to do, or you can also call the emergency hotlines.
Stay with your vehicle with your seat belt fastened until the help arrives at you. If you are traveling with children, make sure you lock all the car doors to prevent them from leaving the car. Stay calm and reassure them that help will be arriving.
It may be scary and stressful if a police officer stops you. When this happens to you, do not be frightened if you did not violate any law. Stay calm and open your window. Pullover into a safe spot and make sure you are not obstructing the traffic flow. Usually, you should turn off your engine. Keep your hand visible to the police officer and, upon request, provide the necessary documents to show your identification.
Do not argue with the police officer since they just have the duty to maintain peace and order. Talk respectfully and politely. The police may only check your valid documents for identification.
Driving as a tourist may be demanding at first time, especially if you are in unfamiliar places. If you think you are lost on your way to your destination, you can ask the locals, and they can give you the driving directions. It is not hard to ask for driving directions since people can also understand English. You can communicate with Jordanian people to ask for recommendations to a specific place or direct you to your hotel or apartment.
In your travel journey, you may be stopped once in a while for checkpoints. It may be somehow alarming if you see uniformed men standing with rifles. Do not be afraid or nervous. Just stay calm and present your valid documents for identification. Just approach the police officer at an average speed and open your window.
There will be several times that you will be stopped by the police. Checkpoints and police controls are common, especially near the borders. Remain calm as it is just part of the job of a policeman in checkpoints. Most of the time, the policeman will greet you with a warm and cheerful face and will say, “Welcome to Jordan.” You can continue driving to Jordan after passing the checkpoints
What Do You Need to Do in Emergency Situations?
Nobody wants to be involved in accidents, emergency situations, and other unforeseen events. But it’s better to know what you need to do in case emergencies arise. If you are involved in an accident, check if you can move your vehicle on the side of the road. Also, check if anyone’s hurt and immediately call the ambulance and the police to attend the accident scene. Once the authorities arrive, let them take charge of the situation.
Refrain from losing your temper. Do not forget to exchange information with other parties involved. Get the other driver’s name, address, contact information, and insurance details. File a police report so that you can easily claim your insurance. The general emergency number in Jordan is 911. If you call it, you will be directed to an appropriate emergency service. Call this number in case of emergency:
- Police - 911
- Fire - 911
- Ambulance - 911
Driving Conditions in Jordan
Driving conditions may vary from country to country. You may ask if it is safe driving in Jordan. Well, the primary goal and concern of the government and traffic engineers is road safety. But even though there are many efforts to improve road and security, Jordan is considered one of the world’s top countries with many traffic accidents involving fatalities and injuries.
The increasing number of vehicles over the past five years contribute to traffic accidents in Jordan. According to the annual traffic accidents report in 2019, over 161,511 accidents occurred in Jordan, leaving 643 people dead. The most common type of road accidents is a traffic collision. People aged between 21 to 38 constitute approximately half of the number of drivers involved in road accidents.
The type of car common in Jordan is the regular economy car, rather than the hybrid and electric cars. The demand for electric vehicles is still low even though the government already exempted electric cars from taxes and registration fees. The reason for this is that electric vehicles are too expensive. That’s why the general standard vehicle in Jordan is the Sedan and SUV cars. In 2018, car brands dominated the competitive landscape, which are Toyota, Hyundai, and Kia.
Watch out for the potholes and random speed humps on the roads and the ever-changing road conditions in different areas in Jordan. Also, be careful of the animals on the street, children playing, and the large trucks and busses. Be patient if you see a flock of sheep on the road, and it may take a while for them to clear the way. It is advisable to avoid driving at night, especially in metropolitan areas, due to poor road conditions and local drivers’ poor behaviors. Prioritize your safety when driving in Jordan.
Jordanian roads are particularly hazardous during the rainy season, from December to March. Driving in the capital city, Amman, is dangerous during summer, which has a surge of visitors from other regions and other countries. During Muslim Holidays, the highways are jam-packed with vehicles as Jordanian expatriates visit their families.
There is no existing toll road in Jordan, so there won’t be any routes that will ask for a toll fee every time you’ll pass. Highways are the most common route for vehicles. There is a Desert Highway outside of Aqaba, and there is the Dead Sea Highway from Amman. Just be careful driving on these highways because the roads are narrow, winding, and steep. The route is heavily trafficked by trucks.
Even if you drive carefully and safely, it is necessary to know how the local drivers and other road users go. Jordanians are risky maneuvers, so you need to be extra careful on the road. The local drivers do not give a signal to other road users when changing lanes. They can also be aggressive, especially when driving on highways. Drivers also drive too close to the sides of the vehicles. Always be cautious when going and still be a responsible driver to prevent any road accidents.
Is It Safe Driving in Jordan?
In general, driving in Jordan is safe. You just need to pay attention to animals crossing the road, speeding drivers, speed bumps, and even multiple cars in one lane. Just be extra careful because most of the time, locals do not use light signals or other indicators when changing lanes or changing directions. As long as you are a responsible driver and follow driving rules, it is safe driving in Jordan.
Is Jordan Using KpH or MpH?
There are two units of measurements used to set speed limits, namely MpH (miles per hour) and KpH (kilometers per hour). There are speed limits implemented in every country globally to ensure road users’ safety. In Jordan, KpH is used as the measurement for the speed limit. The government set the speed limits based on the type of road and the vehicles using the road.
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