Visas

Visas and exit tax

Tourist visas are easily available at any entry point into Jordan except the King Hussein Bridge. The logic here is that “Palestine” is still part of Jordan – go figure! These are single entry visas and cost 10JD or approx 15USD. You don’t need photos, or any document except your passport. Please see below for information about free visas in Aqaba (ASEZ visas).

Single entry visas are officially valid for three months from the date you entered the country, but you must “register” them at a main police station within two weeks of your arrival. If you forget about this, then you have a fine of 1.5JD per day for each day you have neglected to register. What’s more, you cannot pay this fine at the same police station as the one that “registers” you : you have to do it at the district police station that may not even be in the same town! And until the fine is paid, you are still not registered. All in all, it is much simpler to check in with the police before your two weeks are up. They usually ask the standard questions : where are you staying, are you planning to work in Jordan etc. Give them the answers that make them happiest.

This “registration” gives most nationalities the right to stay for three months; if you leave the country before the three months are up, then you start again when you come back again, ie with the obligation of checking in to a police station within two weeks. If you are planning to go and come a bit, then a multiple entry visa makes life simpler, but it absolutely doesn’t mean that you mustn’t register within the two weeks. If you decide to opt for this, you must get it at an embassy; they are NOT delivered at a border point. These visas are usually valid for six months, and cost the equivalent of 20JD which at the moment is about 31USD. You can see that this is cheaper than three single entries, so if you can get the visa easily, you will probably prefer this solution.

If you plan to stay longer than three months with a single entry visa, then you are supposed to apply for a residence permit – unless you are really staying for a good while, it is much simpler to go for a weekend to Israel, Sinai or Syria and start again when you come back!

When you leave the country, there is an exit tax of 5JD at any point; this was changed in June 2001 from an amount that varied according to whether you left by land, sea or air.

Special ASEZ visas

The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA for short) has introduced a special Economic Zone visa for Jordan, to be known as an “ASEZ visa”. This is a new rule, and the details have already been changed several times since its introduction in April 2002. Right now the conditions are these:

Anybody arriving in Aqaba, whether at the port, at the airport or from the Arava crossing from Israel can get a free visa for Jordan. There is no obligation associated with this visa, providing they leave the country within 15 days and do not need to register their visa for “renewal”. Passports are not checked at the ASEZ control point leaving the Economic Zone.

People arriving at any entry point other than Aqaba, who say to the authorities that they are going to Aqaba can claim a free visa, but with the obligation to register with the ASEZA visa office in Aqaba within 48 hours of their arrival in Jordan. Failure to do this brings liability to pay for the visa plus a fine of 1.5JD/day for each day non registered.

Anybody arriving in Aqaba can if they wish, ask for a normal visa (usual price=10JD) instead of the free ASEZ visa. In this case if they want to stay longer than 15 days they can register at their local police station as per current practice.

Anybody holding an ASEZ visa, and wishing to stay longer than 15 days must extend it at the ASEZA office in Aqaba and not with their local police station as holders of a normal visa can do, so remember this and be careful about claiming the ASEZ visa if you will be in Jordan for longer than 15 days.

Everybody without a specific exemption must pay the 5JD exit tax whether holding an ASEZ visa or not and wherever leaving the country. Travellers staying in Jordan less than 24 hours are considered to be “in transit” and are exempt from the tax, as are certain cruise ship passengers – see below about transit visas.

In other words, if you are staying less than 15 days in the country and arrive in Aqaba, you can ask for a free visa without hesitation. If you arrive somewhere else, you must decide if you want the hassle of getting to Aqaba within 48 hours or if you prefer paying the 10JD (approx 16USD) for a normal visa.

Transit visas

It is also possible to obtain a free “transit visa” valid for 48 hours. Obviously with this visa you are automatically exempt from the exit tax, but if you stay longer than the 48 hours, you will not only have to pay both the visa charge and the exit tax but a fine of 1.5JD for each day you have been in Jordan.

Health care in Jordan

Health treatment in Jordan is on the whole pretty good. Jordan has an extremely high level of medical care; all doctors are proficient in English, many have trained in Europe or North America. Most medicines are obtainable “over the counter” at the pharmacies, but some medicines are available only on prescription, e.g. valium and analgesics like codeine, etc. Antibiotics are readily available and are very reasonably priced. Again and again I am surprised by the fact that “x” drug is immediately available instead of needing to be special-ordered. There is seldom any difficulty either with the dates of manufacture – I say “seldom” but in fact I don’t think I have ever noted any.

Emergency medical treatment for cases not needing hospitalization, is free in Jordan. I do however, suggest that you avoid being hospitalized in any public hospital if you have any alternative. The levels of comfort and privacy are not to be judged by Western standards. While the actual medical care is irreproachable, the local custom of having a relative sleep nearby to provide any non-medical care says it all.

Some of the local fauna (scorpions, snakes – uh! …) can be nasty when provoked. Unless you have a specific allergy to their bites, and provided you can get rapid treatment, they will probably be no more than nasty. Anti toxins are available in Wadi Rum and also in Dana.

Innoculations and vaccinations

Inoculations are not required for entry into Jordan unless you are traveling from an infected location. If you come from a country where diseases such as cholera and yellow fever are prevalent, you will have to show a certificate of inoculation at your point of entry into Jordan. Although not required, it is not a bad idea to have preventative shots for polio, tetanus and typhoid.

Weather

Many people very sensibly ask about the weather in Jordan. I have been pointed to a site giving official temperature statistics for several towns in Jordan : http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/city.php3?c=JO&refer=. You would think that it would help, but since it takes average temperatures, it doesn’t seem to all that much. When you are making plans, you should first of all remember that most of Jordan is high up, Amman is at 400m and Petra nearly 1000m. Given that the Dead Sea is below sea level and that Aqaba is very warm, you will understand that there is a great difference in the temperature between one place and another. Here I am talking basically about the medium conditions, and you should remember that ALWAYS the Dead Sea and Aqaba are hotter and drier. Also, please take into account that one year is not always like another year, just as happens elsewhere. All I can do is to give you the probabilities.

Summer is easy – it is hot everywhere. You can often find temperatures of 35-40°C in Petra; in that case, Wadi Rum and Aqaba will be higher! You cannot sightsee in Wadi Rum in these conditions, everybody finds somewhere in the shade to sleep. You can start to move about again from about 5pm. Much the same in Aqaba, the beach is most unpleasant in the afternoon, and you would be risking sunstroke to try to stay in the sea for long, unless you are diving. If snorkelling, you might get away with it, but be sure to wear a tee shirt against a sunburnt back.

End March to middle of May : mostly pleasant weather. Take a good pullover for the evenings, especially at the beginning of April. Rain is possible, but unlikely after the beginning of May. September and October are broadly similar, but of course, substitute “end October” for “beginning of April”.

Winter : this generally begins about the end of November – and it is cold! You can’t expect much better than 10-15°C during the daytime, and this when the sun is shining. Rain is ardently hoped for – it always amuses me to see the broad smiles of the locals in (what seems to me) most unpleasant weather! Snow is entirely possible in January and February, I have known it in November. Wadi Rum is also cold, not much less so than Petra. It invariably freezes at night, but the daytime isn’t really too bad. But don’t have any illusions, you will need a warm jacket, preferably waterproof, just about everywhere. Actually, the massifs of Wadi Rum in the snow are quite spectacular! Petra is as well, but usually in rain or snow, access to Petra is not allowed. There have been a number of flash floods lately, so far there have been no more tourist deaths, but the authorities still remember 1963 [when a group of French tourists was swept away by a flash flood in the Siq, and 23 of them were drowned], and prefer to play safe (you might like to look at the page on “Wadi Mousa and its people” for more details about flash floods).

Aqaba in the winter is the warmest place, but even here, high temperatures are unlikely to go over 20°C. The sea tends to be coldish. Aqaba is at the south end of Wadi Araba, there is invariably a good breeze to be felt, this turns into a lot of wind in the winter. Snorkelling conditions are not really good at this time.

Wind in Jordan, and especially in the desert areas, and around Petra, is very unpleasant indeed. It always brings a lot of dust and sand, sometimes one can experience a full blown sandstorm. On a number of occasions in 2001, the Desert Highway was closed because of bad visibility from the sand and dust. Driving in these conditions is not to be recommended. This sort of thing usually happens in the winter, but is by no means unknown in the spring and the autumn.


Value of the dinar

Officially, the Jordanian dinar is loosely pegged to a “bouquet” of currencies. In fact, the value stays pretty well linked to the USDollar, and you can take it that 2JD is approximately 3USD. One JD is also very close to one British pound, so you can base yourself on these currencies for calculating prices. Information in July 2002 has the Euro at 0.69JD, not very far off the dollar.

A dinar is officially divided into 1000 “fils”, but in fact just about everybody in Jordan speaks and thinks in “piasters” which is the equivalent of 10 fils. In other words, the dinar is also divided into 100 piasters.

There is a link to a currency converter on the index page of this site that you can keep open if you like for immediate reference. It’s rather good, it gives a conversion from any currency to any other currency.

Since there are no currency restrictions in Jordan, unlike some neighbouring countries there is no currency black market and you have nothing at all to gain in changing money outside normal banking/money changing circles. On the contrary you will invariably lost by doing this, since your “changer” can only put the money back into the bank and will usually allow himself some margin against unexpected fluctuations in the exchange rate.

Budget

I usually advise people to BUDGET between 25 and 35JD per day in Jordan (2JD approx 3USD). This involves staying in budget hotels in rooms with connected bathrooms and picknicking a fair bit. The upper limit allows you a beer from time to time.

You will not spend this amount every day, but the entrance to Petra before the price was halved (temporarily, I remind you!) was 21JD for one day, 26 for two and 31JD for 3 or 4 days. I know this is very expensive, but most people admit that it is worth it, even if it upsets a lot of budgets.

If you are shocked by this sum, don’t panic too soon. It is better, on the whole, to be pessimistic when budgeting. If two of you are travelling together, you will save noticeably, there are many ways in which 2+2=3 as far as budgets are concerned. You can also reduce this sum sharply by sleeping on roofs, except during the winter (see FAQs). If you are planning on the cheapest hotels, which again would bring down the budget, you might consider bringing a sleeping bag liner with you. They are light, easily washed, can be used alone without blankets during the summer or in Sinai, and will protect you from dubious bedding.

Syria and Egypt are considerably cheaper, Israel is more expensive.

 

Bargaining and commissions

Jordan is not like Egypt for this. You can seldom get more than 20 or 25 percent lower than the asking price, and not even that if you are with a guide who expects a commission. The best way to bargain is to buy (for instance) two of something, and ask for a special price in consequence. If you are unsure of what a price should be, then ask around before you embark on serious negotiations. But if you offer a price for any article, then you should be prepared to pay it!

People coming from Egypt or Syria, often offer a “ridiculous” price, perhaps half of the price named by the vendor or even less. If you do this in Jordan, the chances are that the vendor will refuse to talk to you at all. You are considered to be “making fun of him” or to be treating him as somebody dishonest. In that case, then it’s no use offering him his original price – he just won’t sell to you. He might also pass the word around to his colleagues….

Obviously if you are with a group, then you can NEVER get a price lower than that already paid by another member of the same group. You can, however, negotiate a group rate!

I mentioned guides and commissions. The tendency among tourists is obviously to dislike this practice! However, it isn’t all bad. If a guide takes you to a particular shop, then it is because he knows that here you will get honest merchandise at a reasonable price. After all, the shopkeeper says “Goodbye” and forgets about you, but the guide is with you for the rest of your visit. The last thing he wants is to hear you complaining about the bad bargain you made – right up until you go home, and possibly taking it out of his tip! I have heard a guide reaming out a shopkeeper about a sale he made the previous week : “Another one like that and I don’t bring people here any more” is a potent threat.

Since we are talking about commissions, I should just like to mention ME. I have been “accused” of taking commissions from certain hotels. It is very easy to refute this if anybody is wondering: since many of the hotels in question offer discounts to the people giving my name, obviously they don’t also offer me commission! If you like, YOU are getting the benefit of any commissions that I might have claimed. For the record : No, I don’t get any money at all from the advice I make available to travellers!

 

Public holidays in Jordan

2002 2003 2004
New Year’s Day Jan 01 Jan 01 Jan 01
HM King Abdullah’s Birthday Jan 30 Jan 30 Jan 30
*Eid al Adha Feb 23 Feb 12 Feb 12
*Moslem New Year Mar 15 Mar 05 Feb 22
Labour Day May 01 May 01 May 01
Independence Day May 25 May 25 May 25
*Al Mawlid Al Nabawi May 25 May 14 May 02
HM King Abdillah’s Accession to the throne June 09 June 09 June 09
*Al Isra’ wal Mi’rai Oct 03
Birthday of his late Majesty, King Hussein Nov 14 Nov 14 Nov 14
Christmas Day Dec 25 Dec 25 Dec 25
*Eid Al Fitr Dec 06 Nov 26 Nov 14
*Beginning of Ramadan
(note that this is NOT a public holiday
but is a useful date to know)
Nov 06 Oct 27 Oct 15

The Islamic feast days, marked with a * are not fixed dates and will only be definitively determined a few days beforehand, according to the sighting of the moon. Usually the two Eids and also New Year’s Day and Labour Day are followed by a couple more days holiday for banks and offices, etc. The ATMs are very much used then, so draw out money beforehand, they will “go dry” before the banks reopen.

You can check on these dates at the Jordan Tourist Board site at http://www.see-Jordan.com

 

Weekends

The official Jordanian weekend is now Friday and Saturday. On these days, banks and most offices are shut. Post offices are open on Saturdays and also on Fridays until 12 noon; large shops in Amman (except supermarkets) will certainly be closed on Fridays, but are probably open on Saturdays. The big supermarket “Safeway” is open 7 days a week in both Amman and in Aqaba, as are nearly all small shops.

On Fridays, buses usually run in the mornings only, and many buses not at all. You should check this if you are planning on travelling on a Friday.


Phone cards

They are easily found, and are in several denominations. You might note that the shopkeepers get a rake off on the sale of these cards, so the official price is a little higher than that actually marked on the card. This is quite normal – I did say “OFFICIAL” price. On the whole phone calls are pretty cheap, but for long distance and international calls, try to call after 10pm or on Fridays, when calls are cheaper.

There are a number of public phones, but the JPP no longer exists, you should use the “Allo” connection. This is because mobile phones are cheap now, and everybody seems to have one. Sometimes I think I am the only person in Jordan without one!

Internet

There are many Internet cafés all around, and several places like the “Safeway” supermarkets also offer Internet access. This has become much cheaper during the last year : until lately there was only one provider based in Amman, so any login to the Internet from elsewhere immediately involved a long distance call. Now there must be a good half dozen providers, with special telephone numbers that are even cheaper than local calls. Everybody is taking it up.

The big exception is Wadi Rum, which is after all, a desert! No Internet! This might change when the new Tourist Centre is finished.

ATMs

ATMs are just about everywhere, except again in Wadi Rum. This also might change when the new Tourist Centre is finished, but right now you need to draw whatever you need before you reach Wadi Rum. Your guide there will expect payment in cash, but is probably not overly worried in what currency.

Be careful during an official holiday. The ATMs have caught on in a big way and everybody uses them. This means that they are very likely to run dry during weekends, and almost certainly during a longer period of banks being closed.

Credit cards

Credit cards are not yet really popular in Jordan except for use in ATMs. The card most usually accepted is Visa, and sometimes you may be asked to pay a surcharge to cover the charges levied by Visa on the sale. Obviously, most of the places you can use them are upmarket, but more and more shops, hotels and restaurants are joining up.

It is always worth asking if you can use yours, even if the shop itself doesn’t take them, they can often arrange something with the shop next door!

Electric system

The electric current in Jordan is 220V and the plugs are the same as in Continental Europe ie two sized plugs with two prongs and little round holes. Like everywhere else, “earthed” plugs are taking over, with the third prong a simple one. (Please excuse the complete lack of technical vocabulary, I think you understand what I mean!) Visitors from the UK or the US will need adaptors, visitors from France, Germany ,Spain etc etc won’t.

Theft

I am not claiming that theft is unknown. It is however very rare indeed. In fact, most of the stories I have heard of things being stolen concern hotels : not very pleasant hearing, I admit. Take the usual precautions here and don’t worry too much elsewhere. I have just heard of somebody who dropped her wallet in a bus station in Amman, and who was relieved and surprised to hear that it had been handed in to the office. Again there are some stories about this subject in “Wadi Mousa and its people“.

Drinking water

I, together with most Jordanians, happily drink tap water. However, first of all most tourists are not used to it and secondly, it would spoil your holiday if you did catch a bug. So I advise you on the whole to stick to bottled water. You can perfectly well clean your teeth in tap water, and you shouldn’t worry too much about salad dishes. If you do run out of bottled water, then a glass or two of ordinary water is most unlikely to upset you seriously. Be more careful in the north than in the south.

Once again Wadi Rum is an exception, this time positively! Their mains supply of water comes directly from the aquifer at Dissieh, and is far purer than any other water around. If you find yourself drinking water that came from a jerrycan you may rest assured that the quality of this water is likely to be at least as good as any mineral water, and possibly better. You will realise however, that for this reason mineral water is not supplied by any of the guides there. If you prefer to stick to bottled water then you should stock up before heading out into the desert.


Buses and service taxis

You will notice perhaps that I have everywhere given details of travel in local minibuses. The Jett buses, much touted in most guide books, are certainly more comfortable and have AC but they are far more expensive, very little faster and most importantly, less useful. If you are interested anyway, the Jett office (for inside Jordan routes) in Amman is at King Hussein Street, a short distance away from the Abdali bus station. The phone number is 06.566.4146.

There are three Jett buses a week to Petra, and a return ticket is imposed, whether the traveller wants one or not. There are no Jett buses to the Dead Sea, to Madaba, to Jerash or to Wadi Rum. In fact, the only remotely useful one is the service Amman-Aqaba, on which there are five buses a day. You might like to use this one either at the beginning or the end of your trip to south Jordan. The fare is 6JD (local buses charge 3JD) and the buses arrive at and leave from the Jett office on the Corniche. The phone number for Jett in Aqaba is 03.201.5222. For all other places, the local minibuses are perfectly efficient, and are reasonably comfortable.

Departure from Aqaba or Amman Arrival in Aqaba or Amman
7 am
9 am
11 am
2 pm
4 pm
Not given

Trust International Transport also offer transport between Amman and Aqaba. I give the timetable (since I happen to have it) : the buses leave every day including Fridays at the following times from each town. Their offices in Amman are close to the big Safeway supermarket at Shmeisani at the 7th circle, phone 06.581.3427 and in Aqaba at An-Nahda Street phone 03.203.9480. On the whole the locals prefer these to the Jett services.

Departure from Aqaba or Amman Arrival in Aqaba or Amman
7.30 am
9.30 am
11.30 am
2.30 pm
5.00 pm
6.00 pm
11.15 am
01.15 pm
03.15 pm
06.15 pm
08.45 pm
09.45 pm

The minibuses, however, are rare everywhere in the afternoon, and are nonexistant in the evenings. They usually stop at midday on Fridays, and on the less popular routes might not run at all.

Service taxis are less used than they used to be, since the minibus network is pretty good. Basically, the principle is that everybody pays for his seat in a car – usually a large one. The amount asked varies according to distance, and also varies according to the number of people in the car – obviously! The usual routes that I know of : Amman-Petra, Amman-Aqaba or Aqaba-Petra seem to average out at about 5JD each. You can always bargain here as well if you have enough people to fill the car. Most service taxis can be found near to the bus station serving your destination.

When going to Syria, which is where I personally use the service taxis most, I like to pay for the two places in front, or if we are two, then for the three seats in the back. I am by no means the only person in Jordan preferring this solution. These cars go very fast and one is crushed in for several hours – the extra sum always seems very well spent. On this route as well, the usual charge is 5JD: 10JD really doesn’t seem very much to pay between Amman and Damascus. Incidentally, the trip Amman-Damascus is unlikely to take more than 4 hours, border formalities included (see “the road to Damascus“).

You can, of course, opt to pay for an extra seat in a service taxi inside Jordan as well.

 

Driving in Jordan

There is no particular difficulty in driving in Jordan if you “expect the unexpected” and try as far as possible to avoid driving in Amman, where frankly the drivers are crazy! All roadsigns except on very minor roads are in English as well as Arabic, and with the same exception the road surfaces are good.Try not to hit any goats, camels, horses or any other livestock which you might meet on any road – including the main Desert Highway! If you kill anything, YOU are responsible, and it can run into serious money – an ordinary goat costs about 100JD. It is very likely that for some reason the particular goat you killed will turn out to be an unusually valuable animal….

If you can swing a car rental, then it is most certainly the best way to get around. Places like the Kings’ Highway and Dana are difficult to reach by public transport, and even in Petra, where you are likely to be spending most of your time down in the site, a car is necessary if you want to visit places like Baďda (see Sites of Jordan/Petra). It is also very welcome at the end of the day to get you back to your hotel!

If you are a hiker or an out of doors person, then a car is pretty well essential. You can’t get to places like the fantastic Wadi Mujib without one – see the Nature Reserve pages – and for anybody who enjoys walking in the countryside, a trip to Jordan would be incomplete without a visit to Mujib.

Petrol has been sharply increased in price lately. In fact the Government was rather cunning, they lifted the tax on new cars, and three months later slapped a huge increase on petrol. The price is now (June 2002) 0.26JD per liter for the normal grade and 0.30JD per liter for super.

Rental agencies prefer an international driving license, but are usually happy enough to accept your national one.

There are a number of car rental agencies in Amman and also in Aqaba. I have a long list, but few of them have email addresses. I give below those that do, inevitably, most of them are big firms. However, I have had a several recommendations* for the “Reliable” and also for “Montecar”. Jordan Tourist Board gives a fairly complete list of rental firms on its website. The usual price for a reasonably modern car with full insurance seems to be around 30 or 35JD/day.

Note that Al Nabut rental agency in Madaba is also recommended as having “good cars” and their price is noticeably less – between 20 and 25JD/day.

If you have hired a car in Amman and want to leave it in Aqaba or vice versa, there is no problem. The “drop off” charge is usually one day’s rent. The same applies to leaving a car at the King Hussein Bridge going to Israel. Incidentally, you CANNOT take a rental car through any frontier in the Middle East.

Reliable* reliable@nets.com.jo
Montecar* Reservations@montecar.com
Hertz hertz@go.com.jo
Avis: avis@go.com.jo
EnterPrise entercar@index.com.jo
EuroDollar eurodollar@nets.com.jo
Payless payless@globalone.com.jo
Heart heart@joinnet.com.jo

Importing/exporting of vehicules

The place to find information about documents needed for importing/exporting vehicules to Jordan from/to Egypt or the Arab countries to the south is the website of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority at www.aqabazone.com or “by sending an email to aseza-inv@nic.nets.jo“. If you do try sending an email, let me know if you get an answer! I have never managed it….

The Desert Highway

This is the main north/south highway in Jordan. It was completed only a few years ago and bears the traffic not only from Aqaba to Ramtha (the main Syrian border crossing point), but from Yemen to Turkey and points north. However good the road is, be careful about speed traps, the police are very active here, and if you see oncoming traffic flashing their lights at you, then you are being advised to slow down immediately. Foreigners usually get off with a lecture, but by no means all traffic policemen speak English, so you might get away without even that. Be careful anyway, you might meet somebody in a bad temper, and 20JD is a minimum fine.

Do not confuse the Desert Highway with the Kings’ Highway described in the “Sites of Jordan” page. This is a twisting moutainous road and it is impossible to make any speed on it.

As said higher up, most of the Desert Highway is unfenced and animals might be found at any point on it, with or without a guardian.

During the “Hadj” period, this highway becomes the main road towards Mecca, it carries an enormous amount of traffic and it is a good idea to avoid crossing into Syria around then. One year I cleverly avoided the “going to Mecca” rush, but completely forgot that pilgrims also came home again a few days later. Some day I will describe what it is like to be stuck at the Syrian border behind three thousand buses full of pilgrims, many of them bound for places like Turghistan!

Hitchhiking

While hitch hiking can be a great way to get around Jordan and to meet the people there, you should know that in many cases you are expected to pay something. The locals hitching invariably offer a few small coins, why shouldn’t the foreigners do the same? This doesn’t mean that your offer will be accepted. But it is very easy to take too much advantage of offered hospitality; if you get down from a ride and walk away with a “thanks awfully” it might well mean that the next foreigner the driver meets will not get a lift! ALWAYS, always at least offer to pay something.

If you stop at a coffee shop or something, invariably the driver will offer to meet the bill. This isn’t fair and in general you should refuse to let him. If he appears to be a very rich man compared to you, he will probably insist, but I think you will agree that it is a normal thing for you to try to pay. This is of course, if we are talking about a glass of tea or coffee – I am not suggesting that you should treat him to a four course meal.

He may well do this discreetly, by paying when your back is turned. In this case, you can’t do very much about it, except say a fervent Thank you!

Trains

There is only one passenger train in Jordan: between Amman and Damascus, on the former Hijaz railway line. This line is notoriously slow, taking up to ten or twelve hours for a trip that a service taxi does in less than three hours on the road, so it is really interesting only for those looking for a “train experience”. The trains only run two days a week. However, I should warn you that at the end of 1999 there were serious questions about whether this line was really economic, and I have been unable to find positive confirmation that in 2002 it is still running. You are advised to check with the Jordan Tourist Board about it at jtb@nets.com.jo if you are genuinely interested in taking this train. You can also call the railway station in Amman phone 06.489.5413. Again see the “Road to Damascus” page.

You can find descriptions of the journey at http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/990615/1999061512.html and at http://www.odu.edu/ao/instadv/archive/vol28issue3/rail.htm

There is also a site giving details of how to get from London to Amman – by train ! http://freespace.virgin.net/markgideon.smith/Jordan.htm

You might notice another railway line marked on the map, running right down to Aqaba, via Ma’an and Dissieh. This is the “phosphates line” to Aqaba port and doesn’t take passengers. A pity, this, it runs through some spectacular country!

Recommended Travel Agencies

Anybody wanting to ask a travel agency to organise their trip could do worse than apply to one of the following agencies. I have heard recommendations for all of them, by all accounts, they appear to be efficient and honest. As always, I should be most interested if anybody else has anything to say about these or any other companies.

Petra Moon Travel Agency in Wadi Mousa. (This agency also offers hiking and camping trips)
Tel +962 3 215 6665 Fax +962 3 215 6666
Website
 http://www.petramoon.com email info@petramoon.com

Nyazi Tours in Aqaba.
Tel +962.3.202.2801 Fax +962.3.201.9461
Website 
http://www.nyazi.com.jo email nyazi@index.com.jo

Ecotours in Amman : Jordan Eco-Tours
Tel: + 962 6 5524534 Fax: +962 6 5536964
Website 
http://www.jordanecotours.com email: jet@go.com.jo

An agency specialising in camping, hiking, trekking, riding, climbing and all outdoor activities is
Wilfried Colonna and the Desert Guides
Contact in Jordan : Alcazar Hotel, Aqaba
Phone : +962 3 201 41 32 or 34 / Fax – +962 3 201 41 33

Mobile in Jordan: 077 428 448 email: desert.guides@wanadoo.fr
Contact in Europe phone/fax : +33 450 90 19 29