USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT JORDAN
JORDAN IN BRIEF
Full country name: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Area: 89,213 sq. km (34,445 sq.m.)
Population: 10,407,793 million
Capital City: Amman (population: 4,008,000)
People: Arab (98%), Circassian (1%), Armenian (1%).
Languages: Arabic (official), English
Religions: Sunni Muslim 95%, Christian 4%, Other (1%)
Currency: Jordanian Dinar (JD)
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Head of the State: His Majesty King Abdullah II Bin al-Hussein
1.JORDAN CLIMATE & WEATHER
Temperature by months:
|Dead Sea (water)||Petra|
Jordan is not a large country, but its climate is indeed varied. Average daytime maximum temperatures in Amman range from around 12°C in January to 33°C in August. Winter can be surprisingly cold and snow in Amman is not uncommon. Make sure you have plenty of warm clothes and a windproof and waterproof jacket. Warm layers to wear “at home” are also a good advice.
If you want a warm escape during the winter, the Dead Sea and Aqaba are your best bets. Aqaba has an average daytime maximum temperature of around 20°C in January. The Jordan Valley and the area around Aqaba are nice during winter months, January-February, with chilly evenings. In the summer, June-August, this area is extremely hot.
In the Eastern Desert, the winter can be bitterly cold and dry and the summer intensely hot. The central hills can receive snowfall in the winter and evenings are cool in the summer. Rain falls between November and March. Lightweight clothes are advised between May and September.
Rain-wear is generally needed from November to April. For summer visits, come well prepared with a hat, sunscreen and protective clothing. Light cotton clothing is recommended.
2.SAFETY AND SECURITY
The security situation in Jordan is relatively good. Public order is generally good and criminality comparatively low.
Emergency phone numbers:
Security checks are frequent along the roads. You are therefore recommended to always carry your passport or passport copy with you.
You can drive in Jordan using an International Driving Permit. Make sure you have third party insurance. If you are involved in an incident including a pedestrian, you could face imprisonment and be liable for the payment of hospital bills and other compensation.
Prior to your departure, be sure to arrange a comprehensive travel and health insurance covering the time of your stay in Jordan.
The local currency is the Jordanian Dinar, symbol JD, also pronounced as “jaydee.” There are 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 JD notes. The dinar is divided into 100 piasters (pronounced “pee-asters”) of 1000 fils (“fills”).
The fils is the unit most commonly used and you will usually see prices written as 4,750 (which is 4 JD and 750 fils).
Changing money is easy in Jordan. Most major currencies are accepted in cash and travelers’ checks. US Dollars are the most accepted, followed by UK pounds and Euros.
There are no restrictions on bringing dinars into Jordan. It is possible to change dinars back into some foreign currencies in Jordan.
Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Israeli and Iraqi currencies can all be changed in Amman. Egyptian and Israeli currencies are also easily changed in Aqaba.
Currency can be exchanged at major banks, exchange booths and at most hotels.
ATMs are available in all, but the smaller towns. There are no local charges on credit card cash advances but the maximum daily withdrawal amount is around JD 1000, depending on your particular card. Visa is the most widely accepted card for cash advances and ATMs, followed by MasterCard. Other cards, such as Cirrus and Plus, are also accepted by many ATMs.
Most major credit cards are accepted at top-end hotels and restaurants, travel agencies, larger souvenir shops and bookshops. Be sure to ask if any commission is being added on the price.
Some major banks, such as the Arab Bank and Jordan National Bank, can arrange international money transfers. The Cairo-Amman Bank is part of the international service offered by Western Union. Money Gram has agreements with several banks. Due to high fees, a cash advance with a credit card might be better.
Exchange offices are smaller and easier to use than banks. They generally stay open until around 9 pm daily. Check the rates at banks or in the English-language newspapers before changing money.
Most travelers’ checks are accepted, the most recognized being American Express. Check the commission before changing.
Visitors to Jordan from non-Arab countries need a visa. Visas are, for many nationalities, easily obtained on arrival at most border points. Jordanian visas are however not issued at the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge, if entering from Israel & the Palestinian Territories.
If you would like a multiple entry visa you can only apply for this at Jordanian diplomatic missions abroad.
Visa procedures at Amman Airport are usually swift and smooth. The approx. price for a tourist single entry visa is JD 40 ($60). There are money changers right next to the visa lines. ATMs are only available after immigration.
Tourist visas are normally valid for 3 months (i.e. you must enter the country within 3 months from the date of issue), and good for a stay of 1 month from the date of entry. You can extend your visa after you arrive in Jordan up to a maximum period of 6 months. If you overstay your visa – you will be fined.
In the Middle East, visas are available from Jordanian embassies in Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel & the Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen and the Gulf States.
To enter Jordan your passport should have at least 6 months before expiry.
Visa regulations are subject to change; always check with the Jordanian Embassy/Consulate in your country prior to your travels.
A single-entry visa is valid for 1 month upon arrival in Jordan (always however check what is written on your visa). You need to register at a police station in order to get a 3 months visa. Failure to do so will result in a steep fine. Your visa can be extended for stays up to 6 months.
Extensions are possible in major provincial capitals such as Aqaba, Irbid and Karak, but are best done in Amman.
6.GETTING THERE AND AWAY
Coming to Jordan by road from Syria, you can cross into Jaber or Ramtha.
Jaber is 80km away from Amman and is most commonly used by visitors, while Ramtha is 90km away and is mainly for cargo. Both borders are open 24/7 throughout the year.
There are three border crossings between Jordan and Israel.
The Allenby/King Hussein Bridge, 57km away from Amman, is located in the southern Jordan Valley and is open Sun–Thurs 07:30hrs – 22:00hrs, and Fri-Sat 07:30hrs – 13:00hrs.
Visas must be arranged beforehand and cannot be obtained at the border. Additionally, private cars and tour buses cannot cross international borders – travellers must change vehicles upon crossing or use the other two border crossings.
Sheikh Hussein crossing /Northern Border is 90km away from Amman. It is located in the north, close to Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee).
Sunday – Thursday: 08:00hrs – 18:00hrs
Friday: 8:00 – 18:00hrs
Saturday: 08:30hrs – 18:00hrs.
Most nationalities can obtain visas at the border; prior permits are not needed except for restricted nationalities.
Wadi Araba Crossing/South Border, located in the south, 324km away from Amman, connecting the two Red Sea resorts of Eilat and Aqaba.
Sunday–Thursday: 06:30hrs – 20:00hrs
Friday – Saturday: 0800hrs – 20:00hrs.
As of 1st of January 2016, entry visas will no longer be issued at the Wadi Araba Border Crossing. The only exceptions are Israeli tour groups and others carrying proper entry documentation; entering Jordan for tourism purposes. Moreover, Israeli tourists and those carrying proper entry documents, who have purchased the 90JOD entrance ticket to the Petra Archeological Site, will be exempt from the obligatory 24 hour stay in Jordan under the following conditions:
- So that visas and clearances can be issued smoothly in accordance with laws and procedures,all tour groups must submit a travel manifest and other relevant documents to the Tourism and Marketing Directorate of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority at a minimum of 24 hour prior to the group’s arrival to the country. Local tour operators must submit the necessary insurances; guaranteeing that all members of the tourism group will depart through the Wadi Araba Border Crossing.
- All member of the original submitted manifest are present upon departure; permissions for departure will not be granted to groups in which all the original members are not present.
- No visa shall be issued for other nationalities through the Wadi Araba Crossing and entrance will only be granted to those who have obtained an entry visa to Jordan through Jordanian Embassies abroad prior to their arrival at the border crossing.
Note* Wadi Araba Crossing closes on Islamic New Year day and Yom Kippur.
Hours and regulations are subject to change. For up-to-date details and information on which nationalities cannot obtain visas, contact a travel agent in Jordan.
Visitors can travel to Jordan by road from Iraq through Al-Karamah Border Crossing, which is 331km away from Amman and is open 24/7 throughout the year.
To/From Saudi Arabia:
- There are three border crossings with Saudi Arabia from the east:
- Umari Border Crossing: 155km away from Amman and open 24/7 throughout the year.
- Mudawara Border Crossing: 322km away from Amman and open 24/7 throughout the year.
- Durra Border Crossing: located in southern Jordan, 349km away from Amman and open 24/7 throughout the year.
Jordan can be entered at the port of Aqaba via the Egyptian port of Nuweiba. There are 2 services: a speedboat and a cheaper ferry. The ferry might take up to 8 hours, and is not recommended in bad weather. The speedboat makes the crossing in about 1 hour, boarding and disembarking may add to delays.
Services of Al-Hijaz Railway (Damascus-Amman) have been suspended since mid-2006 due to damage to the tracks. There are no other passenger trains in Jordan.
Jordan’s national airline is Royal Jordanian Airlines. A number of foreign carriers serve Jordan, including British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air, Emirates, Delta Airlines and Ryan Air. Low cost airlines Sama and Air Arabia fly between Jordan and destinations all over the Middle East. Queen Alia International Airport is the country’s main airport. It is 35 km south of Amman, approximately 45 minutes from downtown Amman. Transport into Amman is provided by the Royal Jordanian bus service to the city terminal near the 7th circle, or by taxi.
In addition to Queen Alia, Jordan has two other international airports: Marka International Airport in East Amman (serving routes to nearby Middle Eastern countries, and Aqaba), and King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba.
Always remember to reconfirm your onward or return flight at least 72 hours before departure on international flights.
7.TRANSPORTATION WITHIN JORDAN
Always carry your passport with you, when travelling around sensitive areas, such as near the border of Israel & the Palestinian Territories, i.e. most of the Jordan Valley and anywhere along the Dead Sea Highway. Checkpoints and passport checks are common in these areas.
Taxis’ are inexpensive and often the most convenient form of transportation in Jordan. The white-painted “service taxis” ride are a shared service and usually have fixed routes. Private yellow taxis’ are the most common and can and are easily accessible from outside larger hotels, or hailed in the street. Taxis have metres, but these are not always used after 11pm, so it is advisable to agree on the cost beforehand. Taxi drivers are friendly, know the city well, and usually speak English. It is considered appropriate for a woman to sit in the back of the taxi. Tipping isn’t compulsory, but change is often limited so don’t be surprised if you’re shorted about 200 fils (20 piasters).
Jordan has an excellent and expanding road network, and renting a car can be a good way to see the country.
If you rent a car and drive yourself, you should have an international driver’s license. Driving is on the right, front seatbelts are required by law. Road signs on the highways are in Arabic and English. Brown signs are designed for tourists. There are plenty of petrol stations in Amman and other cities, and on most highways (except the Dead Sea/Aqaba road), but it makes sense to fill up before embarking on any long journey. There are many car rental offices: at the main airports, some resorts and bigger cities.
By bus, coach or minibus
Amman’s local bus traffic is irregular and not very frequent. Many opt for taxi or service taxi instead. There are many bus companies offering direct services to most major cities and towns, like Amman, Aqaba, Petra, Jerash and Irbid. Companies include Alpha, JETT and Rum Tourist Transport. There are also minibuses.
Smaller service taxis apply the same routes and are often more expensive but also faster and more convenient.
The only domestic air route is between Amman and Aqaba.
8.FOOD AND DRINKS
The Jordan cuisine is highly varied. It has many influences from Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, and as such enjoys being one of the world’s most sophisticated cuisines. Popular meals range from falafel (chickpea balls), foul (bean paste), hummus (chickpea paste), kubbe (grain balls stuffed with meat), tabouleh (parsley salad), and a variety of kebabs, to stuffing of vegetables (grape leaves, eggplants, etc.), meat, and poultry. The national dish of Jordan is Mansaf: lamb seasoned with aromatic herbs, sometimes lightly spiced, cooked in yogurt, and served with huge quantities of rice.
The quality of tap water is generally poor. You are recommended to drink bottled water, easily available in stores at a reasonable price.
Friday is the weekly holiday, when government offices, banks and most offices are closed. Most businesses and banks take half day off on Thursday. Some businesses and banks take half day off, or complete holiday, on Sunday.
Government departments are open from 8 am to 2 pm daily, except Friday. Banks are open from 8:30 am to 1 pm. Some have recently introduced afternoon hours from 4 to 6 pm. Small shops are open long hours, from around 9 am until 8 or 9 pm, often closing for a couple of hours in the mid-afternoon. Most Muslim shop owners close early or do not open on Friday, and Christians follow similar rules on Sunday. Markets and street stalls downtown remain open all week long, and Friday is their busiest day of the week.
Museums are generally open every day except Tuesday.
During Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, business hours are shorter.
Holidays in Jordan are either religious, Islamic or Christian, or celebrations of important events in Jordanian or Arab history. Non-Islamic holidays are fixed, while Islamic holidays vary according to the Muslim lunar calendar.
The Islamic holidays include:
Eid al-Fitr: also known as al-Eid as-Saghir (the little feast), a 3 day celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting.
Eid al-Adha: commonly known as al-Eid al-Kabir (the big feast), at the end of the month of Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). It commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim’s offering of Issac for sacrifice. During these 4 day celebration, families who can afford slaughter a lamb and share the meat with poorer Muslims.
Hijra New Year: Islamic New Year
Moulid al-Nabi: The Prophet Muhammad’s birthday
Eid al-Isra waal Mi’raj: The feast celebrating the nocturnal visit of Prophet Muhammad to heaven.
As Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon, the dates given below are approximations. Easter holidays are only observed by Christian business establishments. During Ramadan, the lunar month before Eid Al-Fitr, Muslims fast during the day and feast at night and normal business patterns may be interrupted. Many restaurants are closed during the day and there may be restrictions on smoking and drinking. Some disruption may continue into Eid al-Fitr itself. Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha may last anything from 2 to 10 days, depending on the region.
Public holidays in Jordan 2019:
|01-Jan||Tuesday||New Year’s Day|
|21-Apr||Sunday||Easter Sunday *|
|22-Apr||Monday||Easter Monday *|
|4 Jun to 6 Jun||Tuesday to Thursday||Eid al-Fitr Holiday|
|10 Aug to 14 Aug||Saturday to Wednesday||Eid al-Adha Holiday|
|31-Aug||Saturday||Islamic New Year|
|09-Nov||Saturday||Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday|
* Easter holidays are observed by Christians only
220 volts/50 cycles AC is used. There are several types of electrical outlets, adapters are recommended.
October – March: Greenwich Mean Time plus 2 hours (G.M.T. + 2).
April – September: Greenwich Mean Time plus 3 hours (G.M.T. + 3).
Jordan is seven hours ahead of US Eastern Time.
There are Internet cafes throughout the country. The Internet, like other forms of media in the country, is subject to government control. If you bring your own laptop you can easily be connected to the Internet anywhere in Amman. You can buy an Internet device (looks like a USB that enables you to be connected wherever you want) for the price of around JD 25. You charge this device with additional JD (Jordanian Dinar), depending on your usage. There is a mobile/Internet shop in the same building as the Language Institute.
Country code: 962. Card phones are available in most big cities and major tourist sites, cards can be purchased at numerous shops. Roaming agreements exist with many international mobile phone companies. Coverage is good. You can easily obtain a local Jordanian SIM card. You need to bring a passport copy when buying a SIM card. The price is around EUR 6.
As well as post offices, most 4- and 5-star hotels offer postal services.
Post office opening hours are:
- Summer: Sat-Thurs 07.00-19.00 / Fri 07.00-13.00.
- Winter: Sat-Thurs 07.00-17.00 / Fri 07.00-13.00.
There are also a number of international courier services, including DHL, FedEx, TNT International, UPS, etc.
You will hardly ever see Jordanian men wearing shorts in public. Long trousers are essential whatever the weather. Covering shoulders is recommended for men and women. You will see Jordanian women dressed in the latest western fashions as well as the more traditional Islamic clothing. As a foreigner, you will catch enough attention without wearing tight and short clothes. Longer sleeves, looser wear, and knee-length pants and skirts would most likely make you more comfortable. In Aqaba on the Red Sea, less conservative clothing is normal. In touristic places like Amman, Petra and Wadi Rum, people are used to western style of clothing. In other parts of the country it is recommended to keep a more modest style of clothing.
Most towns have well-stocked pharmacies. Always make sure to check the expiry date of any medicine you buy in Jordan. It is better to bring unusual or important medical items with you from home. Always bring a copy of a prescription.
The telephone numbers for pharmacies in Amman and Irbid, and for hospitals in Amman, Zarqa, Irbid and Aqaba, are listed in the 2 English-language newspapers. All doctors and most pharmacists who have studied in Jordan speak English, medicine is taught in English at Jordanian universities, and many have studied abroad. Dental surgeries are also fairly modern and well equipped.
For minor illnesses such as diarrhea, pharmacists can often provide valuable advice and sell over-the-counter medication.
For an ambulance in Jordan call 911.
There are modern, well-equipped public hospitals in Amman, Irbid, Aqaba and Karak, smaller hospitals in Madaba, Ramtha and Zarqa, and basic health centers in most other towns. You also find over 50 private hospitals in Jordan. Private hospitals are primarily frequented by patients from neighboring countries, attracted by the lower medical costs. Emergency treatment not requiring hospitalization is free in Jordan.