Although you may prefer to travel frugally, your backpacking style may be better replaced by something a little more expensive – at least for a couple of days. Sometimes, spending a little extra money will maximize your travel experience.
That happened to us in Jordan when we decided to hire a car in Jordan for a few days.
Jordan might be a small country, but it is not well-equipped with the best public transportation. The public buses only connect the major cities.
That leaves out a whole swath of the country.
Having a rental car in Jordan helps you explore these gems on your own schedule.
Need a hotel in Jordan?
Where can I rent a car in Jordan?
Not unlike most other places in the world, simply find your favorite car rental agency online and book with them. Most major cities and their airports will have something for you.
We didn’t use a major car rental company though. While walking around Aqaba, we came upon a place called First Car Rental.
It looked really local (though we were never 100% sure).
They even gave us nice coffee. We rented a car in Aqaba at this place and were on our way.
Pros and Cons of a Jordan Car Rental
Pros – Flexibility of hiring a car
This is definitely the greatest benefit.
Without our Jordan rental car, we most likely would not have made it to the Dead Sea to float in a spot where the locals hang out. We couldn’t have visited the nearby hot spring across the street to rinse off – all for free.
The increase in tourism from people wanting to experience the Dead Sea means many resorts (both in Jordan and Israel) have privatized the coastline. They charge a hefty price to use it and prevent non-guests form using their facilities.
Without a car to give us flexibility, we would have missed the more local experience – and perhaps the Dead Sea altogether.
We took our time in the super salty water and rinsed off with local families in the super hot mineral water across the street.
Pros – Driving in Jordan is Easy
For me, one deterrent from driving in a foreign country is just the *thought* of dealing with other drivers on the road when I’m not used to the customs.
But other than in Amman, where driving is definitely a challenge, the rest of Jordan is quite manageable.
We spent most of our time cruising along the King’s Highway that connects the southernmost city of Aqaba to Irbid in the north.
It eventually passes Damascus in Syria and beyond.
All road signs are bilingual – in both Arabic and English.
And a soft horn is expected to warn others that you are around.
Pros – You’re the Boss
Because we had a car, we were able to have him take us to some of his favorite spots. We started with a welcoming mint tea ceremony in Little Petra. We stopped at a 500 year old tree in the middle of the desert.
We even had a late night desert dinner party with his friends while smoking hookah and singing and clapping in Arabic.
A very memorable experience – even if we didn’t quite understand the words (and only could get blurry camera pics!)
Cons – Unfamiliar conditions
Luckily, we didn’t experience anything too serious.
We did notice that there were a few eye-openers on the official web site warning drivers that:
- although driving in Jordan is generally safe, there is a possibility of finding landmines (!!)
- we would happen on a few military bases and checkpoints
- border crossings could be tricky (we weren’t doing that anyway)
They didn’t warn us about horses though.
In Wadi Musa, we came upon a horse crossing the road. Although we slammed on our brakes, we did, unfortunately, hit her lightly.
The horse fell, quickly stood up and ran into the desert.
We certainly spooked her, but didn’t hurt her.
However, it did freak us out. An older Bedouin man witnessed the whole thing.
“It is not your fault” he shrugged, kindly. “It was the fault of the horse. She is fine”
We inspected the damage to the car, nothing more than a broken license plate frame. Nothing serious enough to even prompt questions from the rental car inspector when we return the car.
Cons – Intimidating Check Points
Most foreign travelers in Jordan will probably approach their first Check Point with high caution. It’s intimidating because we are not used to this highly level of security.
And it is a little scary seeing all those machine guns.
But as soon as you realize that the Jordanian soldiers are more interested in welcoming you to their country instead of suspiciously interrogating you, you become completely comfortable approaching one.
Most of the time, the soldiers just wave you through.
So many things can go wrong. So in addition to your regular traveler’s insurance, protect yourself by having the proper car rental insurance!
If you have a major credit card, it might even cover your Jordan car rental. So be sure to check with your credit card company before you go.
Sure, compared to riding a bus, the cost of a Jordan car rental can be pretty expensive. This is especially true for Jordan, where bus service, when available, is extremely cheap.
But we believe that the benefits far outweigh the costs.
And if you are older than 25 years old, this rental car costs even less.
For comparison, one of the main routes from Aqaba to Amman, a four hour bus ride costs JOD 8.80 (about $13). Our car rental costs JOD 30 (about $45) per day, with a JOD 350 (about $520) refundable deposit up front.
If you go to Jordan and want to see it all, consider renting a car. It will make your travel there much more efficient.
If you’re there for a couple weeks and on a budget, at least consider a car for a few days.
More about Jordan:
Is Jordan Safe? Yes – even with the whole family!
Updated: February 3, 2018
For More on Jordan: When we travel, we use Lonely Planet in addition to all of the other research we do. We really do love these books and have a shelf full of them! By clicking the image and buying a book at the Amazon.com link below, we get a small referral fee at no additional cost to you.