I had no idea how tricky it was going to be to get around Jordan on a budget. Bus routes cover what’s necessary for the locals, and there is little or no provision for independent travellers. Public transport to many highly visited sites is non-existent or at least not very frequent at all, making a hire car or taxi the main available options.
If money isn’t an issue it is super easy as you can just join a nice tour or pay for individual taxis. If you are like me and you are trying to travel for as long as possible, this just wasn’t an option. And it was actually a bit stressful to arrive in Amman and find out that all the places I wanted to go to could easily cost me half a fortune in transport. But I figured out a few tricks and worked out that if you join up with other solo travellers or do places in a particular order you can manage to get around at a reduced cost.
If you want to go to the major sites in the following order there are a few bus services available: Amman -> Petra (Wadi Musa) -> Wadi Rum -> Aqaba. If you don’t want to do it in this order, then it will be much harder to get around on a budget. JETT bus is the national bus operator – you can book tickets online or get your accommodation to organise them for you.
Amman to Aqaba:
- This seems to be the only regular long-distance bus route in the country. It runs every hour or so.
Amman to Petra:
- There is one bus daily leaving very early. The bus ride takes about 3.5 hours.
Amman to Wadi Rum:
- There was NO direct bus service from Amman to Wadi Rum (at least in Nov 2017). It may be an option to take a local bus down the highway towards Aqaba (not the JETT buses as they will not stop along their route), get off on the highway and then get a taxi or hitchhike to the Wadi Rum visitors centre.
- The only way to get to Wadi Rum by bus from Amman is to first catch the bus to Petra, and then from Petra to Wadi Rum.
Amman to the Dead Sea:
- There are NO bus services to the Dead Sea (at least when I was there in Nov 2017). Check out my post on the Dead Sea for other options.
Petra to Wadi Rum:
- There is one bus service daily leaving very early in the morning. I heard from some people that if there aren’t enough people then then bus doesn’t run. I couldn’t confirm if this was true or not.
Wadi Rum to Aqaba:
- There is one bus daily from the Wadi Rum visitors centre to Aqaba.
- There are regular bus services to some closer towns to Amman for day trips – such as Jerash and Merida.
- The central bus station in Amman is located a little way from the downtown area. It shouldn’t cost you more than 3-4JD to get there from downtown (I got completely ripped off when I arrived from the airport – don’t trust their taxi meters!)
- If you can get a group of people together this can work out to be a reasonably affordable option to get around. And it allows you more flexibility to stop off at different places along the way.
- From Amman to Petra there were four of us that split the cost of a taxi to take the King’s Highway to Petra rather than the main highway. We stopped off at several locations along the way and got to see part of this old trade route. It cost us 100JD between us for the entire day. This was organised by the manager at Sydney Hostel in Amman.
- Consider the cost of the bus ticket, multiply it by four and see if a taxi will work out similar or cheaper. I stayed at Sydney Hostel in Amman and here it was easy to meet other travellers in the same predicament and share the taxi cost to get to Petra. From Petra to Wadi Rum it worked out cheaper to get a taxi to Wadi Rum than all four of us pay for individual bus tickets (we had to bargain hard but won out in the end 😉 )
- Hiring a car is another option to get around and having increased flexibility in your itinerary. Keep in mind that if you spend several days at Petra you will be paying for a stationary car for a few days and the same goes in Wadi Rum. Here the car needs to stay at the visitors centre and you get picked up by whichever bedouin camp you are staying at.
- This is obviously something to take care with as it would be in any country. I hitchhiked a couple of times, both times with a male friend. The people who picked us up were so friendly and helpful. We managed to get a ride in a tanker truck (I think he was carrying potassium sulphate) from the highway near Wadi Rum to Aqaba. That was really cool!
- Get a Jordanian sim card so you can easily call or text drivers or other traveled to organise transport. All you need to do is bring your passport along and it is reasonably affordable. I got mine from Orange in Amman.
- Many of the locals use WhatsApp so download this app before you go.
- In Amman I caught an Uber a few times to get around locally. This way you don’t have to barter with the taxi drivers which can become tiring after a while. Alternatively there is another app that is very similar called Kareem.
For more on my trip in Jordan see my other posts here: