Driving in Jordan Experience Guide
I’ve driven in over a dozen countries, and Jordan is not difficult at all. It does not have careless tuk-tuks or motorcycles which make driving a car a killing machine in some countries. However, the only area that I would suggest avoiding is the Downtown area in Amman. The traffic is steady, slow, continuous and congested. The cars seem to leave no space for anyone to walk on any of the four sides making it easy to get scratched or bumped by another vehicle.
I used a cab to get around Amman as it would work out cheaper, but grabbed a rental car as I was ready to leave the city.
In the outskirts of Amman to the east is the Seven sleepers cave where the traffic dwindled. I then headed onto the desert castles where there was almost no traffic aside from trucks transporting cargo containers. I also noticed how close I got to the Saudi and Iraqi borders.
Going north to Umm Qais you’ll realise you’re in a remote village close to Israel and Syria.
Then driving south close to the Israeli border, I parked my car a couple of times to admire the scenery (I did this in a handful of locations – perhaps the most scenic is the Dead sea view from Mount Nebo).
Driving south on the Kings highway I crossed rock formations on the left and the Dead Sea on the right. I encountered a few checkpoints where I breezed through by waving my passport. In some areas, I doubt they even understood fluent English – just saw the colour of the passport and could make out that I mentioned “Britannia”, and let me carry on.
Wadi Rum needs a different vehicle. With the soft sand you’re almost guaranteed that the car will get stuck. The Bedouin camp owners will have you drop the car at the Wadi Rum Visitors Center or at the petrol pump that comes when you take a left 2km before Wadi Rum Visitors Center, and pick you in their vehicles.
You definitely don’t need a car like this that I saw parked.
The most annoying habit that Jordanians have is to block signs by campaign posters – they cover distance signs, speed bumps, turns, and warning – which you realise until it’s too late.
I have my own habits by going in the opposite direction on deserted round-abouts. Normally, I follow cars in, however, as I’m used to driving in both directions on the road (yes, I have a British license), I do this mistake occasionally. Thankfully the car has survived so far.
Don’t pick any hitchhikers as you wouldn’t in your home country. However, I helped a few stranded tourists in remote area where they managed to take a taxi in but didn’t have much option out – they were definitely tourists and we were happy we could help out. Our ears popped when we drove around Mount Nebo, and managed to see Uyun Musa (where Musa/Moses pbuh is believed to have struck his staff).
Some people drive very slow moving wreck on the Kings Highway, but even stranger was because the driver was preoccupied with their mobile phone. Once done, they easily overtook us!
I tried avoiding driving at night – but it did happen in the deserted mountains. The sunset was beautiful though.
Aqabah is probably the only city which was “special”. The road and signs were well posted, people drove in lanes, and parked in dedicated spots.
You’d definitely need a car as a lot of tourist sites would be expensive or impossible to get to without renting a taxi for a few hours. An offline GPS is mandatory as phone signal quality is poor (so no Google Maps) in some remote areas. GPS coordinates of some locations should also be obtained beforehand as the maps might not have certain location, or more likely have it spelled differently.