What to Expect Driving Through the Kingdom of Jordan


With tourist attractions set out across a vast and wide area, we ended up getting a rental car in order to travel throughout Jordan. Before our travels, I didn’t find too much information on assessing whether it was practicable to drive within Jordan, so I created this post to help you assess whether driving in Jordan as an International visitor is viable for you?

This post is one chapter on our trip to Jordan, Israel and France during the end of the pandemic. This trip was enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and Alaska Mileage Plan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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What to Expect Driving Through in the Kingdom of Jordan

Jordan has heaps of attractions spread out all over the Kingdom. For our eight days in Jordan, we decided to self drive and rent a car. I didn’t find much information on assessing on whether it is a good idea to rent a car and drive yourself. If you’re in this circumstance, hopefully this post helps you make up for mind on whether you are up for driving within the Kingdom of Jordan.

Why Drive in Jordan?

I’m always a little cautious about landing in an international country and hopping in a car and driving. I’ve driven in the United States, Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Namibia. This post is based on those experiences and context.

We ended up driving in Jordan as a result of the country having a great amount of attractions and interests that are only accessible by car. The countries’ public transport system is primarily geared towards locals that use local coaches and other mini bus transportation systems.

We Covered a Lot of Roadway on our 1,265 kilometre Trip through Jordan.

We were also visiting towards the end of the pandemic, making private transport just the smart way to go for us. It would also allow us to set our own schedule. Lastly, we were able to get off the beaten track and see things that we wouldn’t normally expect from shared transportation.

Sights Like This will Never Get Old

Now having been to Jordan, looking back at our trip in hindsight, renting a car was the way to go. The convenience can’t be beat, and it was easy to get around.

Renting a Car:

I ended up renting through my usual favourite Hertz at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan. I booked online through Hertz.com. I booked several months in advance and found the rate to be completely static throughout the time leading up to our reservation date. While I had hoped for a Hertz President’s Circle upgrade, we would end up with exactly the car category that we booked.

After arriving off Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul – Amman, we located the Hertz Car Rental Counter at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan. The process was pretty full of bureaucracy, and we fulfilled a manual completion of all forms, despite Hertz having all that information already in the reservations portal and on my Hertz Plus Gold Rewards profile.

I didn’t opt for the local insurance, nor was I pressured to upgrade to the loss damage waiver insurance. I put the vehicle rental on my American Express Platinum Card; figuring that the card had reasonable rental car insurance that came with the card.

Picking Up a Rental Car at Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan

We booked a compact car at the rate of 45$ USD per day with unlimited kilometres. After the initial paperwork, I walked out with our reception host. Our Nissan Sunny was presented to us, which was parked in a pre-arranged rank of vehicles a short distance from the terminal.

Being Presented with a Nissan Sunny

Before we accepted delivery, we had a full inspection of the car. Not knowing how strict Hertz was going to be on the return, I went on the through side and pointed out every nick and damage that was not listed on the form, including a through check of the windshield, spare tire and condition of the baggage storage area in the trunk.

Our car had a whole bunch of dings and marks on it. If you are renting a car, I would recommend paying particular attention to the areas underneath the front and back bumper spoilers. The Kingdom of Jordan seems to throw down speed bumps everywhere that are occasionally unmarked; past renters may have a caused damage to front fascias that could cause unwanted conversations at the end of your rental.

Make Sure You Check Your Pre-Inspection Damage Report Carefully

Unlike most airport car rental experiences, our rental vehicle was not delivered with a full tank of gas. We received it with half a tank, minus one bar, or 2/5th full. While this isn’t normally a problem, we had a ninety minute drive ahead of us to the Dead Sea Marriott Resort and Spa immediately after our arrival. Worse off, our drive would be starting at midnight. We would end up having to locate a gas station.

Tip: If you are arriving after hours, plan to secure gas shortly after picking up your rental. This means having cash or credit card available.

Driving in Jordan:

There are a few things about driving in Jordan that are worth highlighting.

Download Google Maps Offline Before Arriving:

We used Google Maps Offline in order to navigate around the country. We downloaded offline maps well in advance of our journey, and used the GPS system within our iPhones in order to navigate our way throughout Jordan.

The driving times were generally accurate, although we usually added 15% – 20% to the stated travel times to be on the safe side.

Driving is on the Right:

Despite being a former British colony, driving is on the right. This will make it easy for those visiting from North American or Continental Europe.

All Rental Vehicles are Marked:

All the rental vehicles in Jordan are marked with a “70” pre-fix in the licence plate. This makes them fairly easy to identify and detect. While I prefer travelling a little more incognito with a de-stickerized rental vehicle, we didn’t have any issues with the rental vehicle designation.

Having the Independence of Your Own Transportation

Military Check Points:

Jordan is sandwiched between Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Israel. At this intersection of the Middle East, there is a strong effort placed on security. There are substantial travellers through Jordan that make the pilgrimage to Mecca. This results in many security checkpoints throughout Jordan.

The security checkpoints are located in almost any environment, but are usually found on minor or medium highways. Occasionally, they are marked by semi permanent tents on the side of the road to offer some protection from the heat.

During the day, officers will typically be located on the street. At night time they’ll typically be in or near their car parked roadside or well off the road. This makes identifying them sometimes a little challenging.

We always travelled with passports within reachable distance from the driver. After a wave of the passports, we were typically waved on. Most of the stops are related to identity checks, instead of traffic offences.

On one occasion while travelling along the King’s Highway, we had a more detailed check of the vehicle, which included a vehicle insurance and driver’s licence check.

Make Sure Your Vehicle Licence and Insurance Papers are in your Rental Before Leaving

When renting a vehicle, you should make sure that you have the vehicle licence and the motor insurance cards with you, before setting off in the vehicle. You may be asked to produce these roadside at a military checkpoint.

While I brought an international driver’s licence with me, neither Hertz nor the local police or military were interested in seeing it at all. Most of the people we spoke with understood English and the International Drive Permit was mostly for peace of mind rather than any practical purposes.

Tip: Make Sure you have your passports, driver’s licence, vehicle licence and motor insurance paperwork with you.

Road Conditions in Jordan:

The road conditions in Jordan can vary tremendously between urban and rural environments. As a result, I’ve split up my advice in these two separate areas.

Urban Environments:

In urban environments, the driving in Jordan can be crowded and congested. We did drive within the city limits of Amman, Jordan. However, we left the car at the hotel when we set out for our sightseeing within Amman itself.

During our time within Amman, the driving was busy and intense. It didn’t help that we were arriving during rush hour; which added to the congestion. It often involved a “race to the front” mentality, along with commercial trucks that often had this mind set.

Driving Three A-breath in a Laneway Designed for One – Driving in Amman, Jordan

Trying to safeguard other drivers from brushing up against your rental car can be a bit of a tense exercise. This especially when drivers don’t often use the marked laneways.

I would recommend just using a rental car to get too and from your hotel within Amman, then switching to local or shared transportation for any activities within Amman itself.

Tip: If you plan on driving within Amman, use the car just to get to your hotel, then happily switch to Uber ride sharing.

Rural Environments:

When it comes to getting around Jordan, it’s an entirely different story within rural environments. Driving around Jordan can involve some exceptionally picturesque scenery.

Most highway signs are well marked in English and Arabic, even if the distance markers fluctuate from sign to sign.

Driving the Dead Sea Highway, Jordan
Driving the Kings Highway near Aqaba, Jordan
Driving the Dead Sea Highway, Jordan

It is worth noting that most roadways do not have reflectors or brightly coloured painted lines. This makes driving at night a little challenging.

There are also several speed bumps typically found within city limits. They are not always well marked and can even be found in areas that have an 80 km/h speed limit. If you haven’ slowed to an appropriate speed, you may find yourself bottoming out your car rental’s front spoiler.

Gasoline can be Limited:

Gasoline and services are few and far between. As a result, we always made sure that we had the tank at least half full between cities. Being that Jordan does not have oil reserves in the country, gasoline was priced at a price point similar to the more expensive regions of the United States (think states of California, Hawaii or Nevada). For the most part, gas stations take cash and major credit cards. We didn’t have any issues paying with a Mastercard or cash when we needed it. All gas stations we encountered were full service.

Driving the Dead Sea Highway near Feifa, Jordan

Our travels from the Dead Sea Resorts down the Dead Sea Highway, over to Petra via the Queen’s Highway took us through some exceptionally remote areas. There aren’t a lot of people or services on these roadways. The roads were in mostly passable condition with a bit of wear and tear on them.

Driving Highway 35 near Rajif, Jordan
Driving Highway 35 near Rajif, Jordan
Driving the King’s Highway near Dabet Hanut, Jordan
Expect Hazards in the Roadway:

Occasionally, there are also hazards on the roadways. In this case, its not expected to see a pedestrian bicyclist in the middle of a desert mountain pass, but since there are no sidewalks, there they are.

Hazards May Exist Consisting of Unexpected Animals or Pedestrians

While we didn’t have any actual “on the roadways” sighting, the camel warning sign was frequently displayed throughout our travels. Most areas are not completely fenced, so it’s possible to find wildlife including sheep, goats and camels in your travels.

Hazards May Exist Consisting of Unexpected Animals or Pedestrians

Overall, the driving in Jordan most closely resembled my driving experiences. inMexico, and also reminded me of driving throughout Morocco. Both countries have some limited infrastructure when it comes to road conditions, but both are perfectly passable if you know what to expect.

Tip: When driving, expect hazards in the roadway that may consist of pedestrians, speed bumps or animals

Driving at Night:

On the date of our arrival, simply based on schedule, we ended up having to drive from Queen Aia International Airport to the Dead Sea Marriott Resort. This was a distance of about kilometres and about one hour and thirty minutes of driving.

The trip was a little cautious. We kept our eyes open for road hazards; which were mostly in the form of pot holes. As the roadways don’t have road reflectors, it can make for some challenging driving.

Another hazard were the military check points. While they weren’t already obviously marked, they were even less obvious at night. We would often slow to provide documents during our journey.

There are occasionally pedestrians in the road. These people don’t always have reflective clothing, so it’s important to pay attention; even in rural areas.

While it’s not impossible to drive at night, I wouldn’t recommend it unless it was essential.

Tip: It’s not recommended to drive at night unless absolutely necessary

Driving in Wadi Rum:

We made the decision not to drive within Wadi Rum. We were concerned about getting stuck and the possibility of lack of help.

Looking back, I think this was an overly cautious position to take. The driving appeared to be much easier than what we experienced while driving in Namibia or in the Empty Quarter in the UAE. Most of the route ways within Wadi Rum were on heavily compacted routes. We never witnessed anyone getting stuck.

Driving in Wadi Rum isn’t likely as bad as you’d expect – provided you have some 4 X 4 experience.

There were also a substantial amount of bedouin drivers on some of the busier routes. As a result, there is likely help nearby as long as you don’t go too far off the beaten track.

Despite this, having a local guide taking you around to each site is a much easier and more convenient way to see the desert. This way, you can relax a little bit and enjoy the scenery, instead of worrying about the best route to your next destination.

While I did read some reports that only bedouin drivers are permitted to drive in Wadi Rum itself, the entry gates to the wadi do not appear to be closely monitored past the visitor centre.

Tip: Driving in Wadi Rum is possible, although it might just be easier to have a guide take you.

What You’ll See:

By renting a car, you’ll get convenience in transportation that is exclusively designed around you. The trade off for all these measures is you’ll be rewarded with some pretty amazing sights along the way.

We were rewarded with majestic mountain views as we entered into Aqaba, Jordan.

Descending into Aqaba, Jordan on the King’s Highway.

We had gorgeous mountain sunsets as we passed over mountain passes between the Dead Sea Highway and the Queen’s Highway. We were able to pull over roadside and just take in the sunset and views, without any concerns for safety.

Catching a Remote Mountain Sunset near At-Tafilah, Jordan
Catching a Remote Mountain Sunset near At-Tafilah, Jordan
Catching a Remote Mountain Sunset near At-Tafilah, Jordan

Among the many, there were stunning vistas entering Wadi Rum Village.

Spotting Impressive Mountains near Wadi Rum Village

We also were able to take in the sights of the open road. Seeing the transport trucks of the region were also pretty neat, since most of them have vibrant decorations all over them.

Impressive Transport Trucks Decorated in Local Patterns

There are also some oddities to be seen. We spotted this truck in Aqaba, Jordan with a photograph of Saddam Hussein on the rear tail gate.

Saddam Hussein Makes an Appearance on this Toyota Spotted in Aqaba, Jordan

In addition to unusual sights, there’s nothing normal driving around spotting signs for the Iraq or Saudi Arabia border. We would spot many of these on road signs near Amman, Jordan as the city in the major intersection of the country.

Spotting Signs for the Iraq and Saudi Arabia Border
Spotting Signs for the Iraq and Saudi Arabia Border

Spotting signs like this will never get old when travelling through different countries of the world.

Tip: Driving through Jordan will allow you great sights

My Thoughts on Driving in Jordan:

Driving in Jordan was not as intense as I thought it might be. Although it was a little tricky inside Amman, Jordan, the rest of the journey through other parts of the country were very easy to navigate. As long as you have some experience driving internationally in countries that have rougher roads, and can be prepared for unmarked road hazards, you’ll likely find that a car rental can add value to your journey.

If you driven through Jordan, do you have any additional tips to share?

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