Towns and Tourist Sites in Jordan – Page 1
Amman and Jerash

Amman at night (Photo JTB)


I hate Amman. I go there as seldom as possible and then mostly to shop or to visit friends. However, I do enjoy the Citadel, very attractive, especially at sunset when you can hear the azan coming from all around. The downtown area is pleasant to wander around if you have plenty of time, perhaps in the evening. I honestly can’t think of anything else for a tourist to do there.

The Jordan Tourist Board is trying to develop the downtown area, there is already a folk museum, but as far as I am concerned, it is mostly noisy, rather dirty and there are far too many people. Most of the cheap hotels are to be found in this area.

People who prefer to avoid Amman and base themselves in Madaba (for instance) are absolutely right!

While I am talking about Amman, a quick note on the huge supermarket on Shmeisani, “Safeway”. While it sells just about everything, including many things that we might consider essentials but which can be difficult to find elsewhere (tampons… ), and it is easy and pleasant to shop there (they accept most credit cards), many of its prices are noticeably higher than what you can find if you look around in the smaller shops. We are accustomed to supposing that a supermarket is cheaper than the neighbourhood shops – not this time. I just thought that I would mention it!

Hotels : For backpackers : I have heard good things about the Farah Hotel {tel. +962.6.465.1443 fax 465.1437, but they have no email address, sorry) on Al Hussein Cinema St., in the downtown area. The Farah has been described as the best backpackers’ hotel in Amman at the moment. Rooms here are from 10JD, there is also dormitory accommodation. I believe there are no bathrooms en suite. The well-known Cliff is in the centre of the town and I make no further comment on it .

I personally prefer the Caravan ( which is not far away, near the King Abdilla Mosque. It is a very pleasant two star hotel, with a delightful flowering terrace outside. Its sister, the Canary, is nearby. Obviously it is more expensive than the Farah, (BUT NOTE THAT BOTH THE CARAVAN AND THE CANARY WILL GIVE YOU A 15% DISCOUNT IF YOU SAY THAT YOU HAVE FOUND THEIR NAMES FROM RUTH). Unfortunately, hotels in Amman are no longer allowed to pick guests up at the airport, so you have the choice between the expensive airport taxis and the Royal Jordanian buses. See the General Information page for details of airport buses.

The main bus station, the Abdali, is near to the Caravan and the Canary. The Royal Jordanian offices are nearby, and buses leave from here for Israel, Syria and Lebanon, also for Jerash and north Jordan.

Buses for south Jordan, including Petra and Aqaba go from the Wahedat bus station. They go to Petra every two hours from 7am to 7pm during the day, except on Fridays when they stop around midday. Remember that Ma’an isn’t far from Petra and there are mostly good bus connections between the two ; if you just miss a bus, you might consider the alternative of going there. There is no direct bus to Wadi Rum from Amman, you can get a bus to Aqaba and get off at the Rashidiya junction. It is usually fairly easy to get a lift to Rum Village but you will probably be asked to pay something. Standard charge is about 5JD for the carload – it is after all, nearly 30kms and this is about the price that taxis charge for this distance. But if you are lucky, you might not be asked to pay at all.

(you can see more photos of Jerash in the Photo Gallery pages)

The main street in Jerash (Photos Leon and Mirjam)

Jerash, some fifty kilometers north of Amman, is a most interesting site. The modern town offers nothing special, but the remains of the Roman town is probably the third most popular tourist site in Jordan after Petra and Wadi Rum.

The ruins are in a fairly good state of preservation : if you are there after a rainstorm you will find that the original drainage system works very well. I find it fascinating to compare it with Palmyra : Jerash was a simple market town, while Palmyra was a most important trade centre. Palmyra, of course, and unhappily, has now little remaining erect, but you can still see the extraordinary richness of the carving on even the most unimportant stones. There is nothing like this in Jerash, but it is easy to imagine the everyday life of the people who lived there. Just to show the way my mind works, I enjoy looking at the sign for public toilets : a pair of buttocks in the stones on the pavement! Quite often the remains of the toilets are still there behind a pillar or something….

You can get here very easily by bus from the Abdali station in Amman. Jerash is usually reckoned good for a long half day, don’t wait until the last minute to look for a bus back. They stop fairly early, and the last bus is usually packed.

I presume there are hotels, but I have never heard of any tourists staying there. There is however rather an attractive restaurant close to the ruins, the “Yahalla” Restaurant. The name means (of course!) “Welcome”.