Navigating Amman’s complicated roads and the overall somewhat chaotic driving in Jordan can be a daunting task. The good news is – there are plenty of options for getting around! Our team at Experience Jordan Adventures is always happy to help you arrange transportation in- and outside Amman. If your adventure includes setting out on your own though, let us present you herewith …(*drums*)… Experience Jordan’s Guide on Getting Around:
Apps – Uber and Careem
The international ride hailing app Uber, and its Arab world alternative Careem are readily available in Amman. Careem was bought by Uber in May 2019, but will remain an independent brand. Both companies initially faced legalization battles in Jordan, but by now have emerged successfully.
The apps’ rating systems, GPS navigation, and automatic calculation of prices may spare you from many uncomfortable situations. They can for example prevent the driver from overcharging you. Or both you and the driver from getting lost on the way to your destination. On the other hand, it can sometimes take painfully long between ordering a ride through Careem or Uber, and that ride actually arriving at your starting point. This is especially the case during rush hours. However, you can prevent the problem by pre-scheduling your ride several hours, or even the day before.
All in all, experience showed that if you’re in Amman, unfamiliar with the city, and want a save, clean, and comfortable ride, Uber and Careem are great choices!
Yellow taxis are ubiquitous in and outside of Amman, and can take you almost anywhere. They are also a bit cheaper than Uber and Careem.
The perhaps most important thing to know about yellow cabs: They are legally required to operate with a meter. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a cab driver to overcharge foreigners, particularly when picking them up around tourist sites or hotels. Always make sure the driver uses a meter (al-addad) and turns it on. Shaghal al-addad is the Arabic phrase for this. If he refuses, simply get out and take another cab.
There are some other taxis customs that travelers should regard in Jordan. For instance, it is recommended that women sit in the back, especially when travelling alone. Men usually take the front passenger seat. Also, while technically not required, it is nice to round up the fare to an easy number with for example five to ten qirsh. Just keep in mind that most taxi drivers don’t make a great salary…
In Aqaba, the “yellow taxis” are green. In Amman you might also see silver and white taxis driving around. The silver taxis are basically the same as the yellow ones, just more luxurious (newer models), and therefore also more expensive. The white taxis are called service. They are a type of public transportation which follows specified routes and are shared with other passengers. Visitors (and at times locals) usually find it very difficult to navigate service. We therefore recommend avoiding them in favor of the yellow (or green) taxis.
A private driver is an excellent option for those looking to go on a day trip to one or more of the many sites close to Amman. These drivers generally have excellent knowledge of the surrounding areas, and often become one of the best parts of the trip, adding entertainment and information to the experience!
Some yellow taxi drivers or private car owners will agree to drive visitors around for the day. We, however, recommend hiring a private driver only from reputable companies. If you need assistance with this, we are happy to help! You can also have a look at our transfer services between Jordan, Jerusalem, and Israel/Palestine.
Public transport in Jordan is very different from the one in most European or North American countries. Services tend to be more informal, and timetables or system maps are nearly impossible to find, or -if existent- unreliable.
An exception to this is JETT. The transportation company is running buses on longer distances at fixed rates and schedules.
For all other buses, the best option is to find out from where to take the bus (you can e.g. try asking the staff in your hotel), and then go to this place and wait for the bus to pass by. Sometimes you also have to wait for the bus to fill up with passengers. The good think is, these buses are really cheap. The bad thing is, using them requires quite a bit of regional knowledge, as well as time and flexibility.
We hope this guide can bring some clarity to the Jordanian transportation system. And – on a last note – sometimes, getting around is as easy as asking someone to take you there!