Taxis and private drivers can be found everywhere in Jordan. You just need to know how to hire them without getting overly scammed.
I found Jordan’s road system to be quite well maintained and easy to navigate. Renting a car is definitely possible and it shouldn’t be too complicated to get around the country on your own. GoggleMap is also quite reliable around here. I would make one exception: the roads of the capital. Driving in Amman, in my opinion, is for the brave, it takes courage and good luck!
There’s really no need to look for a taxi. Taxis will find you! In the more touristic areas such as Petra or the center of Amman, while walking down the street you will be continually called with a “Taxi?” by someone parked waiting for a customer. If you tell them you don’t need them, or even if you ignore them, the next question will be “Taxi for tomorrow?”.
Taxi drivers, in fact, are easily bookable for future trips, especially for the more classic routes such as Amman-Petra, Amman-Madaba or the Dead Sea. It’s important to make a precise appointment, exchange a phone or WhatsApp number and, above all, agree on the price.
Many speak little English, the minimum necessary to get a destination and a phone number. Make sure you correctly understand each other!
If you prefere to organize your trip in advance, you can ask the hotel to call you a taxi. They will probably offer you a driver friend of theirs, but the cost may be very similar. Insist on a taxi, if you really want one. In any case, if nothing else, you will know the price in advance without having to discuss it with the driver.
Official taxis have a taximeter, but who knows if it’s on, if it works, if it’s rigged, if the driver takes the best route… Better to clarify right away how much he wants to be paid. He will tell you one price, lower it, discuss his second offer and so on, until you find a figure that satisfies both. Remember that bargaining is an art in Jordan, and you have to get used to it quickly so as not to be constantly ripped off.
For a taxi from Amman to Petra, which is one of the busiest tourist routes, you shouldn’t pay more than 90 JOD, which as of today (January 2023) is around 120€ / 130$. If you are good at negotiate, you should be able to lower this figure.
Taxis to/from the airport
An interesting exception to the fluctuating taxis’ prices are the ones for rides to/from the international airport. These in fact have a fixed rate, indisputable.
Just outside the Arrivals area of the airport, on the left, is a small house marked “taxi”, surrounded by lots of people. Head there avoiding anyone who approaches you in or at the terminal doors (these aren’t Jordan taxis, but rather drivers, often without a licence, who may cost you less, but have no guarantee. Maybe not even insurance).
On the wall of the taxi structure, there’s an official list of fixed prices depending on the route. Tell one of the staff your destination (without details, the name of the city is enough) and he will give you a ticket with the price and will entrust you to the first free taxi.
The fixed price to go from the airport to Amman, in January 2023, is 22.50 JOD (about 30€/32$). Taxi drivers will ask for small change, which you probably won’t have if it’s your first time in Jordan. Or maybe they will give you change “in their favour”, if you’re unfamiliar with local coins. Be careful, or just consider it a small tip. 50 cents aren’t always worth fighting over.
Private drivers are as common as taxis in Jordan. Already at the airport, as I mentioned before, you will be swamped with requests from people who offer you more or less legal transport. Hotels, agencies and tour operators have endless lists of drivers to suggest to you on request, even on very short notice. Note that although the cars of private drivers are generally better maintained than simple taxis, this in no way affects the quality of their driving skills, the safety level or the time they will spend on the phone.
Always ask for the price before getting into the car, to avoid misunderstandings and unpleasant scenes at the end of the trip. Contrary to what one might think, hotels often have the best prices. Although, of course, it always depends on the hotel and the availability.
For a day tour from Amman with drop-off in Petra, I contacted Omran (WhatsApp +962 7 91429652), who gave me a competitive price. He has several drivers working for him and he also organizes multi-day tours, especially in the Wadi Rum desert in southern Jordan. I can’t vouch for other tours or drivers, but Omran himself is helpful, funny, and drives quite safely. You can also ask him for restaurant, shopping and hotel recommendations, or how he manages to have more than 170,000 followers on Instagram. If you spend some time with him, he might tell you some of the anecdotes, true or false, that he has collected in years of working with tourists, from viral videos on socials to find alcohol in the month of Ramadan.
Note: the streets in Amman
I would like to add one last note on the roads of the capital, Amman, which I defined at the beginning of the post as an exception to the general simplicity of driving in Jordan.
Amman is chaotic, with few traffic lights, people walking in the middle of the street, street vendors approaching both pedestrians and cars and, occasionally, abandoned rubbish. But above all, there are many, many vehicles.
Traffic is fast, especially in the suburbs where the streets are long and wide. And no one gives way to anyone.
Juggling this chaos is not easy at all. Yet everyone drives nonchalantly, as if it were a game: without seat belts, talking on the phone, changing lanes suddenly. If you feel like it, you can give it a try. Amman’s highlights are easily reachable on foot or with a few car lifts. I suggest avoiding complications and relying on taxis and private drivers, enjoying the tour of the capital of Jordan trying to avoid looking at the road in front of you, to prevent you from having a heart attack!
A special thanks for the pictures on this page to Claudia, Hassan Tamimi, Logga Wiggler, Marjut, Mohammed Alaseer, Sarah Boban and Valdemaras D.