The best way of getting around in Jordan is a rental car. Normally I’m more of a public transport / van / bus kind of traveller, but in this case I’m glad we decided upon a rental car. It gives you a lot of freedom and you don’t have to wait for busses and In this article I’m going to tell you everything about driving in Jordan. Here we go:
Booking a rental car in Jordan
It’s easy to get a rental car in Jordan. The bigger companies like Sixt and Europcar have offices at the airport, but I would totally recommend a local company called Monte Carlo (click). For several reasons actually. First: they have insanely good reviews on Google. Usually, rental car companies have 3 stars max, but Monte Carlo has 4,5 – 5 stars.
TIP: Always check Google reviews in addition to other reviews and information you find about a company. This gives you a quite good impression of the quality, since the company cannot delete bad reviews itself.
Also, the prices of Monte Carlo are very good and communication with them is easy because they speak English very well. No spon: it’s just from my personal experience.
What kind of rental car to get?
We booked a manual car, but Monte Carlo upgraded us to an automatic Chevrolet Cobalt. If you have no experience with driving an automatic car, it might be a bit weird. Especially in the city of Amman, where the traffic can be chaotic and you have to react fast (and you automatically want to use the clutch while braking, but there is no clutch… ). So in general: choose the type of car (manual / automatic) which you drive at home as well.
In terms of engine, don’t go too light. Jordan is extremely hilly (especially the Jordan Canyon, which you will inevitably cross at some point in your Jordan itinerary).
How about insurance?
We decided upon the extra full insurance. The main reason is the traffic. Especially in the cities it can be pretty chaotic. But in the end, this is a choice you have to make for yourself. Looking back, we (luckily) never “used” the extra insurance because we didn’t damage the car. However, it made driving in Jordan a bit easier, because we knew we wouldn’t go bankrupt on a tiny scratch 🙂
TIP: look at the insurance policy, because some damages (like window / tyres) are excluded. Then decide if you want to get it or not. You can decide this on location.
Do I need to book a GPS with my rental car in Jordan?
No, don’t do this. Most of the time, the GPS’s are quite outdated and they aren’t easy to use when you aren’t familiar with the Arabic language. For example: when you just put “Jerash” in the GPS, apparantly it won’t find anything (source: a Dutch woman who has been living in Jordan for 4 years). Which is weird, since Jerash is a very famous city north of Amman.
What you should do: take the map of Jordan on Google Maps and make it offline available on your phone. This is so incredibly easy, and it won’t cost you anything. You can use GPS offline too, so it’s just like a regular GPS, only it’s completely updated and you can easily find the places and ho(s)tels you are looking for. Big win!
IMPORTANT: don’t forget to pack your car charger for your phone (the one you put in the cigaret lighter). Not a 100% necessary if you have a decent phone battery, but I’d still recommend it.
Do you need an international driver’s license in Jordan?
According to our rental company: no. So we didn’t get one.
How are the roads and signage?
Actually, the roads are pretty good. The highways are of good quality, and they are constantly renovating pieces of road to make it better. Also the signage is pretty good: it’s both in Arabic and English, so you’ll be able to understand where you have to go. But if you use Google Maps Offline, you won’t have any trouble finding the way in Jordan anyway.
The one thing to keep in mind though: in Jordan there are MANY speed bumps on RANDOM places. And they are really high, so you almost have to come to a complete stop before going over one of those bumps if you don’t want to wreck your car. In the city they are expected, but you will also come across speed bumps on the highway.
Also something to keep in mind: you might encounter camels crossing the road, especially in / near the Wadi Rum desert.
How’s the traffic in Jordan?
The traffic in Amman is total chaos. Driving lanes are non-existant: people just drive anywhere they can. Also, hardly anyone uses a turn signal and no one actually merges into a right lane when they’re planning on turning right. So it’s possible you will be on a roundabout, and you will be cut off because someone suddenly wants to turn right. And on the highway you’ll encounter cars which just merge into your lane without looking. It all happens (speaking from experience here :p).
Outside of Amman, the traffic is fine though. Rules still don’t exist, but it’s really not that busy so you shouldn’t have any trouble gettiing around.
Honk honk honk
Yeah, there’s a lot of honking in Jordan. Drivers honk for so many reasons, which is weird because at home I only honk when I’m really angry at another triver, or to warn them the traffic light is green and they haven’t seen it, etc. In Jordan it’s different.
- Taxis honk at every tourist pedestrian to get their attention.
- Cars honk at you if they want to warn you they are merging, if they want to tell you they noticed you so you can merge, to make the traffic go faster (even when it’s a complete traffic jam :P), to thank you for letting them pass etc. etc.
So yes, a lot of honking. Don’t pay too much attention to it.
Parking your (rental) car in Jordan
Ahh, one of the major advantages of Jordan: you can park your car almost everywhere on the side of the road. And it’s free of charge! The bigger hotels (like the Hilton we stayed for a couple of days) have a private parking lot, but the other hostels and budget hotels we spent the night, just have street parking. Works perfectly fine though.
Gas station scam
When you are obviously a tourist (rental car filled with backpacks), there is a chance you get scammed at the gas station. This is what happened to us.
They always fill up your car for you. This is common, so nothing weird here. Just listen very carefully if you hear the fuel going in, because when you don’t and the meter keeps running, you are getting scammed. That’s what happend to us (we had to pay 40 JOD for half a tank, which is insane). At that point I already thought we were getting scammed, but we knew for sure when we filled up the tank at the end of our trip, and we only had to pay 28 JOD for 3/4 tank.
To prevent this from happening, just say “That’s enough” when the sound changes and you don’t hear fuel running into the fuel tank anymore.
This is my guide of renting & driving a car in Jordan. If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments.