Driving in Jordan: Tips from a Local!

Want to rent a car in Jordan to explore the country on your own? There are some ground rules to observe during your time to assure a safe experience. Having driven in different countries internationally, driving in Jordan is a unique experience in and of itself. Generally speaking, the road conditions are not in the best shape around the country. Very few roads have been subject to regular maintenance due to their proximity to important places in the country and higher traffic volumes. Lesser-used roads tend to be weathered and degraded (not to mention speed bumps). These bumps are frequently encountered anywhere in the country, and could at times be unexpected and in illogical spots. Along with potholes and other drivers on the roads, one would be smart to keep a watchful eye at full attention on the road to avoid damage to your vehicle.

Driving in Jordan with Desert

Driving in Jordan offers Freedom to Explore

One of the benefits of renting a car and driving in Jordan is that it gives you the freedom to explore the country without being subjected to bus timetables or a guided tour. Jordan is a safe country to explore on your own and with all of these driving tips, you should be confident about your upcoming visit.

While you will find those potholes and speed bumps, overall you will find paved roads wherever you go. Google Maps works perfectly in Jordan, but always give it a double check with another map just to make sure you end up at the right place.

Bus service and public transportation in Jordan is very limited. It also does not have a huge tourism industry so there are not day tours being offered everywhere you go.

If you do not want to do all of the planning, I offer a guide to travel in Jordan that includes itineraries, packing lists, and everything to expect in the country.

Driving in Jordan near Petra.
The road near Petra. This is a typical looking road in the middle of nowhere. Busy routes have multi lane roads.

Driving a Rental Car In Jordan

There are plenty of rental car companies operating all over Jordan. Typically airport pickup is the most popular option as there are not a lot of public transportation options to get into Amman first. If you want to check the prices from multiple dealers, it makes sense to check out this site. All of the major companies are listed and it makes it easy to compare prices for your rental.

An international driver’s license is not required for driving in Jordan. You just need a passport and driver’s license. Some companies will also require a credit card deposit, so if you do not have a credit card, make sure you check in advance with the company you plan to rent from.

In Jordan, vehicles drive on the right, like North America and much of Europe.

Rental cars are typically new and in good shape, but always walk around the car before you leave to look for noticeable damage. I also suggest photographing any damage on the vehicle before you leave so you have it noted that you received the vehicle in that condition.

Jordan - Visit Amman Jordan
A typical street in Amman. Although technically two lanes each way, drivers do not stay in the lanes.

Driving in Amman

Depending how much time you will be spending in Jordan, you’re likely to spend a bit of it in the nation’s capital, Amman. Driving in Amman can be a treat at times other than rush hour, which is almost all the time. Tight roads and small lanes with a high density of population can lead to some serious gridlock. Though distances may seem short, you’re likely to travel faster on a bicycle than a car at peak hours, and a short 10 km drive could end up easily taking up to half an hour. Even when you are out of the traffic, be sure to observe the road speed as there are various speed trap cameras set up around the city and on the highways.

Another thing worth noting when driving in Amman is Taxi drivers, who seem to drive as if the city is their own personal track, swerving through traffic and cutting people off, and pulling to the right whenever they find a rider no matter what the situation around them. Taxis along with motor scooters, which are manned mainly by young delivery workers, are definitely something to keep your eyes open for since they seem to maneuver the roads as they see fit and are only limited by the abilities of their vehicles.

The Rules of the Road are Largely Ignored when Driving in Jordan

Although Jordan has laws to ban motorists from using cell phones, watch driver behavior very closely as that’s hardly the case. Texting and making phone calls are commonplace in the busy Amman streets as drivers commute through the traffic. In fact, sans red lights, Ammanis don’t seem to abide by rules of the road in general. Use of seatbelts is uncommon, turn signals seem to be an unused feature, and the lines dividing lanes may as well have been a mass scale art project. Due to a lack of emissions regulations, black exhaust fumes are a regular occurrence so be ready to roll up your windows when behind a larger truck or older vehicles.

Accidents are Few and Far Between

With all the chaos in the roads, you may be surprised to find that not a lot of accidents are reported, but that’s not to say they don’t happen. Considering the driving situations, the large majority of traffic accidents are simple fender benders, often with little to no damage. For the majority of situations, it’s not even worth calling traffic control and going through insurance and police processing (which tends to take a large chunk out of your week). Rarely do traffic accidents cause injuries or prove fatal. Knowing your rules of the road and recognizing traffic priorities will keep you safe in conducting yourself without having to plead your case in the event that you do get into an accident, as the party breaking the rules is the one to bear the consequences.

All in all, I would say driving in Jordan can be an interesting experience, and having a car at your disposal can always prove to be the most convenient option, I certainly must say however it’s not for everyone. The congestion and the heat of the summer sun can show a side of the people you may not experience elsewhere as a foreigner and will make even the coolest heads boil a bit. It is fortunately not the only way to travel. With smartphone apps competing over the market, it is quite easy to have a driver get you from one place to another while you sit comfortably, and a lot of times you can negotiate longer trips or hiring them for a day or 2 at a private price. If you do choose to drive however, as long as you keep your eyes open and pay attention, you should be fine! Hope you have a happy visit!

Speed Bumps on Highways in Jordan

As you drive the Desert Highway, before you enter a town, you will come across speed bumps to slow highway traffic as you go through town. Hitting one at 100 km/h is quit the shock! For the unaware driver, they can sneak up on you quite quickly, and they blend right in with the pavement. If you are observant, you will see signs with silhouettes of houses on a white sign to signal you are entering a town, as well as speed bump ahead signs. Keep an eye on the cars in front of you, seeing brake lights tends to indicate an upcoming speed bump. 

Highway Checkpoints

While on your Jordan road trip, you are likely to be stopped at least once at a highway check point. On my first visit, it was not until day 5 and I had been curiously waiting to see what it would be like. I was on a tour and our guide passed the passenger manifest to the police, who then asked for the driver’s ID. After a quick look, we were on our way. Pretty painless.

Since then, I have been driving in Jordan and have been stopped five or six times. After a flash of my Canadian passport, I am always sent on my way. Often I suspect that the police officer doesn’t speak English and with my almost non-existent Arabic, I never understand what they are saying! Most of the checkpoints that I have been stopped at have been are around the Dead Sea and near Aqaba, but you can find them all over the place, especially if you are passing an area with Military activity. 

Fuel Prices and Gas Stations in Jordan

Fuel prices in Jordan are not cheap as one might expect. Jordan does not have oil and although it is located in an area where oil is abundant, the prices are typical to what you find around the world.

Currently (March 2022) the price of a liter of fuel is JD 0.92 which is USD1.30

Gas stations in Jordan are typically cash only and full service. I suggest getting a set amount rather than a “fill up.”

Things to Pack when Planning to Drive in Jordan

  • Car Charger for your phone
  • Sunglasses
  • Car Mount for your phone
  • Download some music and pack an auxilary cable
  • Download google maps or other map software

These are just things for driving, but you can read my entire packing list for Jordan for everything you need to pack for your trip.

Driving in Jordan FAQ

Can you drive in Wadi Rum?

Well technically, YES, but I highly suggest you park at the visitors center and take a tour in the back of a 4×4. There are a lot of campsites that you can drive into and you will even see tours busses pulling into them, but when you get closer, you can see that there has been concrete poured on a makeshift road so that the heavy busses will not sink in the sand.

Is it safe to drive in Jordan?

Jordan is a chaotic experience for those who have never driven in lesser developed countries. However for any confident driver, it is fine to drive. There are universal rules of the road all over the world. Jordan drives on the right hand side like most of the world.
With that being said, car crashes are one of most dangerous part of the country. Ensure you drive with caution and pay attention to other drivers.