cheerful young diverse couple couple traveling by car at sunset

Jordan in the Middle East is fast becoming one of the most exciting place for tourists to visit. However public transport is still limited outside the main cities. Perhaps you are thinking about renting a car for your stay and enjoying a good old fashioned road trip. But is it safe to drive in Jordan? We spent 18 days driving around Jordan from the very north of Jordan in Umm Quais to the south in Aqaba. We’ve seen it all and want to share here below.

  1. Is it expensive to rent a car in Jordan?
  2. Where can I hire a car in Jordan?
  3. Do I need to hire a 4 x 4 to drive in Jordan?
  4. Can women drive in Jordan?
  5. What side of the road do they drive in Jordan?
  6. Can I drive in Jordan with a U.K/European/U.S license?
  7. Is it easy to fuel your car, and is it expensive?
  8. Police check Points
  9. Speed bumps and Speed Cameras
  10. Jordanian Driving Styles and Habits
  11. Are the roads in good condition in Jordan?
  12. Other hazards to be aware of when driving in Jordan
  13. Is it easy to find parking in Jordan?
  14. Can I drive in Jordan after a drink?
  15. Can I get around Jordan without a car?

Is it expensive to rent a car in Jordan?

Renting a car will not be as cheap as we are used to in Europe and the the U.S. We paid $800 for the 18 days we had the car. This was for a basic model. We foolishly waited a couple of days to consider and the price had jumped up to $800 from $500. So book way ahead if you are certain you want to rent. Admittedly we had both of us insured as driver and had the max insurance available, so in theory you could reduce the price down from these numbers.

Where can I hire a car in Jordan?

Where to hire? This depends on where you initially land. If you arrive in Aqaba then you’ll have an easy pick up there in the city. If flying into Amman then you have two choices, either pick up by the airport (easy), or if visiting Amman first, from a suburb of Amman which you can reach by taxi from the centre of Amman for around 3 JOD ($5), a 20 minutes drive. This saves a journey returning to the airport. The located we picked up our car we to the west of Amman so it easy to get out the city and be on our way without difficulty.

Who to hire from? We hired our car from Dollar, via Booking.com but the other alternative in Avis. Both companies have comparable prices and vehicle choices.

Do I need to hire a 4 x 4 to drive in Jordan?

Jordan is extremely hilly, and although some roads feel “off road”, you do not need a 4×4 to get around. The only place that you may wish to visit that is only suitable for 4×4 driving, is in the Wadi Rum protected area. But, you’d be advised not to take a hire car through this area anyway. Instead, park up in the village and arrange a pickup with your tour guide or campsite.

If you have a low spec hire car, you’d be advised to double check your routes before setting off. There are a fair number of tricky and steep drives on “unknown roads” in Jordan. Oftentimes it can be best to stick with the main road for as long as possible before heading to one of these trickier turnings.

If you do travel to Wadi Rum, find out more here about where to stay.

Can women drive in Jordan?

Yes, women are allowed to drive freely in Jordan.

woman in a black leather jacket driving a car Is it safe to drive in Jordan?
Yes of course women are free to drive in Jordan.

What side of the road do they drive on in Jordan?

In Jordan cars drive on the right hand side of the road. Mostly. See below on unconventional driving habits in Jordan.

Can I drive in Jordan with a U.K/European/U.S license?

Yes, but you’ll need to get an international license accredited in your own country before you arrive. The hire company may, or may not, ask to see it. But best be on the safe side and ensure you have one ready.

Is it easy to fuel your car, and is it expensive?

Petrol and gas stations are ubiquitous in Jordan. The are every 10 miles or so along all the main roads throughout the country. We used Jo Petrol and Total Energies as these were often the biggest and had stores and food places attached to them. The fuel is cheap, you could get a full tank of petrol for $45. (Unleaded). Petrol is sold in either 90 or 95 grade, make sure you check with the car rental dealership to confirm which fuel to use in your car. Incorrectly fuelling could be expensive and is mostly not covered by insurance. Ouch.

Police check Points

Throughout Jordan there are police check points. These are normally located outside the towns of major tourist destinations such as Petra. No need to stop unless instructed to but everyone slows right down. We were flagged at one check point but rather than asking us to stop it was just to let us know our lights were not switched on. To be honest these police check points made us feel safe driving in Jordan.

Driving in Jordan

Speed bumps and Speed Cameras

One of the most talked about features of driving in Jordan are the speed bumps. “Watch out for the speed bumps”! your friends who have been in Jordan will immediately say. It’s true they catch you out initially but pay attention to the road and you should avoid any issues with them.

Speed cameras in Jordan are not marked as clearly as in Europe and U.S. Be careful not to get caught as the speeds vary up and down even along the same stretch of highway. For example it can often change from 110Kph to 60kph in a brief time. The speed cameras are small things hanging off a grey gallantry, difficult to spot but local driver are the key and often slow down for them. This is the safest way to drive in Jordan.

No speed bumps here, Wadi Rum desert, south Jordan

Jordanian Driving Styles and Habits

Jordanians are good drivers on the whole but there are some major differences here than Europe or the U.S.

  • Tailgating – If someone wants to overtake, they will come right up to back bumper and stay there until you move.
  • Undecided on what lane they are driving in. Some cars will straddle both lanes and cruise along. Baffling. It would help if drivers used indicators, but these are mostly not on Jordanian drivers radar.
  • Slipway highway exits. A number of times we encountered cars wanting to take a shortcut by using the one way slipway to get back on the highway as we were exiting. Terrifying as you wonder for a minute if it is you that is going the wrong way down a main road.

All of this means that you need to have your wits about you when driving. Whereas in the UK or USA, you mainly need to focus on your own driving, in Jordan you need to try to predict what everybody around you is planning to do.

Driving in Jordan

Are the roads in good condition in Jordan?

The condition of roads in Jordan is very mixed. There are some, such as the desert highway, that feel wide, smooth and fairly modern. Then there are others that have massive potholes, loose gravel or just generally uneven surfaces.

The main road hazards that we identified are as follows:

  • Lack of road markings – many roads, even the main highways have poorly demarcated lanes. This can exacerbate the issue of drivers merging into lanes.
  • Lack of road signs – the notable absence is “stop” or “give way” signs when you come to junctions. Frequently, T junctions come out of nowhere and it’s easy to speed across without looking as there’s no warning of such a junction coming up.
  • Very steep hills – Many roads, particularly off the main highways are extremely steep.
Driving in Jordan

Other hazards to be aware of when driving in Jordan

Apart from other drivers and the road quality, the other hazards you need to be aware of are people and animals.

  • Animals crossing – even during our short trip, we saw two flocks of sheep, 4 wild dogs and many cats crossing the roads. The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK) has noted that a number of accidents involving tourists on the road in Jordan also involve animals.
  • Rogue people crossing – in general, people seem comfortable in Jordan crossing any road at any time. We encountered many adults, and even children, who seemed to appear from nowhere.
  • Kids throwing things– this may be a totally isolated incident, but as we drove through a rural village in Jordan, a group of youngsters decided to throw rocks at our car. Thankfully nobody was injured and the car wasn’t damaged but they narrowly missed our windows. Having researched this, I can’t find any information to suggest that this is a frequent occurrence.

Is it easy to find parking in Jordan?

This was a great thing about driving in Jordan. Car parks and street parking was free. Jordan has a lot of space relative to it’s population and people seemed very relaxed about parking outside shops and restaurants. This made a wonderful change to where we come from in London where a traffic officer will pounce on your car the moment it’s left unattended on a street. It felt safe leaving the car everywhere we went in Jordan.

Parking in Jordan

Can I drive in Jordan after a drink?

It’s hard to find a drink in Jordan unless in a touristy hotel or restaurant. Jordan therefore has a zero tolerance policy for driving having consumed any alcohol. If you are wondering about where to drink alcohol in Jordan we’ve written a guide here. Definitely not safe to drive in Jordan after drinking, don’t try it.

Can I get around Jordan without a car?

The big question, do I really need a car to get around a Jordan? The answer is probably no. You could in theory get guides to pick you up and get taken to your hotel or take taxis to the sites. It requires a bit more plannning but it can be done.

We will soon be publishing a guide to planning your itinerary for travelling in Jordan and will explain more about public transport in this guide.

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