Where is Jordan?
Located in the Middle East, Jordan is bordered to the west by the West Bank and Israel, to the north by Syria, to the east by Iraq and to the south by Saudi Arabia. This tiny desert kingdom was once an important trading centre of the Roman Empire, and everywhere you look this history is displayed.
Float serenely in the Dead Sea, visit Mukawir and marvel at the colourful array of scarves, or simply take in the view from Mt Nebo and you will discover this country has so many stories to reveal.
Perhaps one of the most spectacular sights is the ancient city of Petra. This magnificent city radiates with beautiful pink hues at sunset especially on a winter’s eve. Other wonders you’ll discover in this kaleidoscopic country apart from this enchanting city are ruined Roman cities, desert citadels, Crusader castles and powerful biblical sites such as the mountain top overlooking the Promised Land, and the small creek where Jesus was baptized, among so many more.
History of Jordan
In contrast to the magnificent historical sites spread across this land you will find the capital city, Amman, to be a culturally diverse and modern Arab city. There’s a varied backdrop to this amazing country which ranges from the colourful corals of the Gulf of Agaba, to the red desert of Wadi Rum, and the majesty of the salt encrusted shores of the sparkling Dead Sea.
The people of Jordan are passionate and proud and welcome all with open arms. Hospitality and courtesy will surround you as you experience the sensual delights of daily life in the Middle East.
Jordan Visa Requirements
For entry into Jordan all nationals must have a passport valid for six months and a must obtain a visa. A return ticket is not required for entry into Jordan. If transit passengers are continuing their journey to another country within 24 hours by the same or first connecting aircraft and are holding valid onward or return documentation and not leaving the airport then a visa is not required.
For those arriving by airplane visas can be issued at the airport. Those entering Jordan by any other means (apart from air travel) will need to have obtained a visa prior to entering the country.
Visas are granted for 1 month stay but can be easily extended by up to another 2 months. Those wishing to stay longer than this will need to leave and re-enter the country and undergo immigrations procedures again. Leaving the country with an expired visa will incur a fine.
Those planning to stay for more than two weeks in Jordan will need to register at the nearest police station. It is advised to contact a Jordanian embassy or consulate to check entry requirements prior to making travel arrangements..
There are three departure taxes from Jordan: four Jordanian Dinars (JD) across land borders (JD 8 for Jordanians), JD 6 from Aqaba by sea, and JD 15 when leaving by airplane (JD 25 for Jordanians).
Jordan Travel Health
Recommended vaccinations for travel to Jordan are Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, and Tetanus and depending on the season and region visited Rabies Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and Typhoid are sometimes recommended. For travellers over one year of age coming from infected areas of Yellow Fever, a vaccination certificate will be required.
When traveling throughout the country it is advised to only drink bottled water and pasteurised milk and be especially careful with food and water in rural areas. Always make sure any meat and fish are well cooked and avoid raw vegetables and fruit that has been already peeled.
There are clinics in many villages throughout the country that are quite basic however there are excellent hospitals in the larger towns and cities. In the capital Amman most high quality medical services are private and cash payment is expected in advance. It is strongly recommended to take out full comprehensive insurance before traveling to Jordan.
Jordan is a very safe country except at the Iraqi border. The biggest risk to your health in Jordan is being involved in a road traffic accident. The country is one of the most liberal nations in the region with women able to wear regular clothing with modest clothing only required in religious and old historical sites.
However Jordan is a Muslim nation and there are certain western norms that are not accepted in the country. Such norms include public displays of affection and homosexuality are not acceptable and adultery is actually illegal and can carry a jail term. Generally however Jordan is a very safe country to visit and travel around as long as travelers are careful and confident about their personal security arrangements throughout their visit.
There have been a number of attempted and successful terrorist attacks so extra care should be taken particularly at the borders with Israel and Iraq and when using Jordanian service taxis to cross into neighbouring countries. Take care to avoid demonstrations which could turn hostile, and be particularly vigilant in public places.
Petty crime is a concern, particularly in downtown and wealthier parts of Amman. Always be careful when using ATMs. Avoid walking alone after dark and in isolated places particularly women. Jordan has a high accident road toll due to hazardous roads and unlit vehicles at night. Avoid driving at night and always exert caution.
What is Jordan Local Currency?
The currency in Jordan is the Jordanian dinar (JD)Dinar. Notes are in denominations of JD50, 20, 10, 5 and 1, and 500 fils and coins are in denominations of JD1, 1/2 and 1/4; 10, 5, 2 and 1/2 piastres; and 1 and 1/2 qirsh.
Foreign currencies can be exchanged in all banks and bureaux de change with most hotels also providing exchange facilities. MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club and American Express are accepted in larger shops, hotels and restaurants and ATMs are available in most larger towns throughout the country.
Most Traveller’s Cheques are accepted by licensed banks and bureaux de change however travellers are recommended to take traveller’s cheques in US Dollars to avoid additional exchange rate charges.
Banking Hours are: Sat-Thurs 0830-1500 with hours during Ramadan changing to 0830-1000, with some banks open in the afternoon. Exchange Rate Indicators as of 6 May 2010 are: 1.00 GBP = 1.07 JOD; 1.00 USD = 0.71 JOD; 1.00 EUR = 0.91 JOD.
Non-Jordanians can refund the VAT in the airport when they are returning to their origin as long as the VAT amount is more than JD50. You can’t refund VAT on the following items: Food, Hotel expenses, Gold, and Mobile phones.
What is Jordan’s Weather?
The climate in Jordan generally changes with the altitude. The lower areas such as the Jordan Valley and the area around Aqaba are warm during winter (January-February) with colder evenings, and extremely hot in summer (June-August). In contrast the higher areas in central and northern Jordan such as the Eastern Desert, can be bitterly cold and dry in the winter and intensely hot in the summer. The central area lined with hills is cool in the evenings in summer and can receive snowfall in winter. In Jordan rain usually falls between November and March.
Due to the varying range of climates throughout Jordan the best time to visit to enjoy the climate is in spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), when the daytime temperatures aren’t excessively high. Average daytime maximum temperatures in Amman range from 12.6°C in January to 32.5°C in August with one exception,Aqaba, which generally experiences average daytime maximum temperatures of around 20°C in January.
At the peak of summer (July and August) the weather in the Jordan Valley is extremely high with average temperatures in excess of 36°C. It’s also extremely hot in the desert (including Wadi Rum).
Recommended clothing for travel to Jordan are lightweight clothes between May and September and a warmer layer for cooler summer evenings. Thick winter clothes are essential for travel in winter as well as rainwear from November to April.
Culture of Jordan
You will find the people of Jordan to be proud and extremely welcoming of all visitors to their country. Courtesy and hospitality should surround you when traveling throughout Jordan.
In higher end restaurants tips of 10% are generally expected and are usually automatically added, otherwise rounding up the bill to the nearest 250 fils is appreciated by low paid staff, including taxi drivers.
The religion in Jordan is predominantly Sunni Muslim with more than 92% of Jordanians being followers and approximately 6% being Christians. Most Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, but there are also a few Protestant denominations, Greek Catholics, a small Roman Catholic community, Coptic Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox.
When traveling through Jordan it is important to be aware of local laws and penalties, such as, penalties for drug offences are severe and include life imprisonment with serious crimes potentially resulting in the death penalty. Hard labour may be imposed for offences causing personal injury or property damage and adultery may be punished by up to 3 years imprisonment.
Under Jordanian law, drivers may face possible prison terms and payment of financial compensation if they are involved in an accident in which a pedestrian is injured. It is illegal to photograph embassies, military and security installations and sites and you should seek consent before photographing people.
In order to not offend you should always dress modestly while traveling throughout Jordan and during Ramadan you should avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. Avoid public displays of affection between couples as this may also cause offence in most parts of the country and it is not socially acceptable for unmarried couples to live together or share accommodation. Homosexuality is not socially acceptable in all parts of Jordan.
What Languages Are Spoken In Jordan?
Arabic is the national language of Jordan although most Jordanians speak English, especially in urban areas such as Amman. French and German are also very popular languages after English.
The telephone country code for Jordan is 962. Mobile coverage is good throughout the country and Internet cafes are readily available.
The Central Post Office in Amman is the only post office where packages can be sent and airmail to Western Europe usually takes three to five days. A 24 hour service is available to approximately 22 countries for a much higher charge.
Post office hours are: Sat-Thurs 0800-1900 in summer and 0700-1700 in winter, Fri 0700-1300.
Jordan Transport Options
The main international airport in Jordan is the Queen Alia International (AMM) which is 35km southeast of Amman and the national airline for the country is Royal Jordanian Airlines. Departure tax is included in the cost of the air ticket however Jordanian nationals need to pay JD20 on international departures. The domestic airline for Jordan is Royal Wings which operates regular flights from Amman to Aqaba and it is also possible to hire executive jets and helicopters if required.
Traffic throughout Jordan is often erratic and fast with roads generally in reasonable condition. It is recommended not to drive at night outside the capital Amman as there is a tendency for drivers to drive without headlights. If you are venturing into the desert surrounding Wadi Rum or the Eastern Desert a 4-wheel drive vehicle will be required and while traveling through the desert it is important that all motorists carry water and wear warm clothes in the winter.
Bus services throughout the country are usually quite cheap and run efficiently with air-conditioned and modern vehicles. There are abundant taxis throughout Jordan with all being operated by a meter and tips of approximately 10% are expected. You can hire taxis on a daily basis and these fares can be negotiated, however ensure you agree on the fare before departing and check that the cost is the total or per person.
Car hire is available from major international car hire companies, local companies in the main towns, including Amman and Aqaba, hotels and travel agents. Car hire is inexpensive and readily available. Traffic drives on the right and speed limits are 60kph in cities, 80kph on country roads and 120kph on motorways. Always keep your passport with you at all times as there are frequent passport controls along and around the Dead Sea Highway. The minimum driving age is 18 years and the wearing of seat belts for all car passengers is compulsory. When hiring a car you must have an International Driving Permit or have a National driving licence that was issued at least one year beforehand.
Women should avoid travelling alone in taxis particularly at night and avoid sitting in the front seat as there have been reports of serious assaults by taxi drivers on female passengers. Always use recommended taxi companies and exercise judgement. Jordan has a high accident road toll due to hazardous driving particularly at night so always be cautious.
Jordan Travel Tips
Levels of crime are generally low in Jordan however women should always exercise caution as there have been reports of sexual assault against women. All visitors should take care with personal security throughout their visit and it is advised to avoid public demonstrations as they may turn hostile.
Jordan Local Food
Jordanian cuisine is similar to most Middle Eastern cooking however also includes freshly made chesse and yogurt. Most dishes include the expected rice and flat Arabic bread (khoubs) partnered with the usual lentils, chickpeas, beans and aubergines. Restaurants generally will have a mixed menu of European and Arabic and serve alcohol except during Ramadan.
National specialities include: Meze (a mix of dips, salad and thick stew); Makloubat(Chicken with numerous spices); Mensaf(stewed lamb accompanied with yogurt sauce); Kibbi (deep fried beef or lamb) and Baklava.
International fast food chains can be easily found throughout the country including McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Burger King as well as many Italian and Pizza places. Foreign style restaurants can also be found in most higher end hotels and are usually quite expensive.
National drinks include: wine; araq (a liquor similar to Ouzo); and strong Arabic coffee. The legal drinking age is 18.
Jordan Local Timezones
Standard Time in Jordan is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2). From 00:00 on the last Thursday in March until 01:00 on last Friday in October Jordan switches to Daylight-Saving Time which is 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+3).
Electricity in Jordan is 230 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second.
Outlets in Jordan generally accept 4 types of plug: flat blade plug; three round pins arranged in a triangle; two parallel flat pins with ground pin; and two round pins.
Jordan Dutyfree Limits
Customs regulations exempt from duty most items carried by tourists, including cameras, radios, hair-dryers, video equipment, etc. So far as duty allowances are concerned, you may carry up to 200 cigarettes or 200 grams of tobacco, and either one litre of spirits or two litres of wine. Modest gifts and other effects are exempt from customs duty.
Cars and electrical appliances, from household goods to personal computers and video cameras, are subject to duty which may be very high. If you intend to take taxable goods with you when you leave you should ask the customs officials to enter details of these goods in your passport to avoid paying tax. Upon exit you will be asked to show that your goods were tax exempted.
The following goods may be imported into Jordan by people 18 years of age and older without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 200g of tobacco; 1l of alcohol; one or two opened bottles of perfume and a reasonable amount of eau-de-cologne or lotion in opened bottles for personal use only; and gifts up to the value of JD50 or the equivalent of US$150.
Restricted Items include: firearms, and sporting guns and other weapons require prior approval from both country of origin and destination and may be carried as checked baggage only.
Prohibited Imports include: narcotics.