Destinations, Jordan

Blowing the budget in Jordan

July 17, 2010

King's Highway - pricey, but worth it

We hadn’t even reached Wadi Rum yet when I started to get worried. Actually, in all honesty I was probably worried when we arrived in Amman, but we hadn’t spent anything on entry fees yet.

Having become over-confident by the tiny amount of money we spent over ten days in Syria, we weren’t expecting Jordan to be all that much more expensive.

But it is. Compared to its neighbours, Jordan is jaw-droppingly pricey. Travelling here has cost more than Turkey, once entry fees are factored in.

Food

Food seems to be the only way to save any money – a filling falafel dinner will set you back around 1.5 JD (2.10 USD), and a pastry costs 250 fils (0.7 USD) or less. A can of soft drink costs 500 fils or less, and a 1.5 litre bottle of water costs 300 fils, but only if you buy it from a supermarket, otherwise it can cost up to 1 JD.

Eating a proper meal, or in one of Jordan’s funky, western-style cafes will cost exactly the same, or even more, than its western counterparts.

Accommodation

Amman’s decent budget hotels lack dorm rooms. There are a few places where you can stay on the roof for 5JD (7 USD), and for the truly budget conscious this is probably the way to go. The cheap hotels are dingy, the bathrooms are smelly and gross and the nicer guesthouse that we’ve found is triple the price. And by nicer I mean that the boiled egg with breakfast isn’t about three days old. A double room can cost around 10 JD (14 USD) each, and a single room between 12 and 20 JD.

We were lucky enough to get a bargain dorm room in Petra, for 5 JD. Considering all other accommodation in Petra was pushing 20 JD (28 USD), we were very smug.

Sights

Whoever is in charge of setting the rate for Jordan’s tourist attractions knows how to make a buck. Everything costs money in Jordan, from 1 JOD (1.40 USD) to visit Mt Nebo where the church is being reconstructed and as such you can’t actually get close to it thanks to the building work to an obscene 33 JD (46 USD) for a one-day pass to Petra.

A 4WD tour of Wadi Rum and a night in a Bedouin camp, with meals included, cost 55 JD (77 USD).

Transport

Comparatively, public transport is actually pretty cheap. Most taxi rides around town will cost 1 JD, and the four-hour JETT bus between Aqaba and Amman, about as far as you can go in Jordan, costs 7 JD (9.80 USD).

However, public transport is sketchy down south, especially between Wadi Rum and Amman. There may or may not be one minibus a day back to Petra, or onwards to Amman and often the only thing you can do to get back to Jordan’s capital is take a taxi from Wadi Rum to Aqaba at a cost of 25 JD (35 USD). There are no buses whatsoever between Wadi Rum and Amman, unless you want to hitch from the highway.

Eat from dubious shopfronts to keep costs down!

Perspective

Keep in mind when planning your trip that Jordan will be double the cost of Syria, and in our experience, it is difficult to get by on less than 50 USD a day. If you want to experiment with food, you can easily add $10 to that.

That said, 10 days in Jordan is still cheaper than the same amount of time in Sydney, or London, or any other big city. Just. And if you want to see the country, you have to suck it up and pay for it.

I think you’d be doing yourself a disservice to come to Jordan and miss Petra, or miss Wadi Rum (especially Wadi Rum, which for Alicia and I was the ultimate highlight of our Middle Eastern adventure).

I didn’t complain about the cost of London or New York City, so I feel a little guilty moaning all the time about how quickly Jordan is burning up my funds. It’s easy to travel very quickly here, and the country is quite small so if budget is an issue, I’d recommend spending a week here, and more time in the surrounding countries.

A week is plenty of time to visit Amman, travel the King’s Highway, spend a day or two at Petra and spend the night at Wadi Rum. From Wadi Rum, it’s easy-peasy to head to Aqaba and cross the border into Egypt, or return to Amman for your flight.

 
Who's afraid of the Middle East? Not Alicia or I. Overlooking the King's Highway, JordanOn my RTW trip during the summer of 2010, I met my friend Alicia in Istanbul and we spent the next 46 days travelling overland through Turkey, Syria and Jordan before I headed to Egypt solo to join up with a quick organised tour through upper Egypt.

Read more about this leg of my trip on my Middle East roundup page.

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9 Comments

  • Reply Amanda July 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    The trick to making Jordan cheap is to go Israel. We were whingeing abt how expensive Jordan was but after we came back again after going to Jerusalem, it's damn cheap by comparison!!

    • Reply Megan July 20, 2010 at 6:48 am

      Hah, so I've heard! I was surprised that even Egypt felt cheaper than Jordan, and I would have thought it would be the other way around. And I did a tour in Egypt!

  • Reply Omary August 23, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    I have a question- it wasn't very clear. How did you get from Amman to Petra then Petra to Wadi Rum? I'm trying to do Amman to Petra, Petra to Wadi Rum, Wadi Rum to Amman. Thanks!

    • Reply Megan August 24, 2010 at 10:06 pm

      Hi Omary!
      From Amman, we took a minivan along the King's Highway with some others from our guesthouse – these sorts of tours leave almost everyday from guesthouses in Amman, and it's easy to find others to travel with.

      The King's Highway takes about a day, and you stop off at lookout points and at Kerak and Shobak castles, arriving in Wadi Musa (in the afternoon). Just try and have an idea where you want to stay, or the driver will probably dump you somewhere pricey where he gets a commission!

      If you don't want to do the King's Highway (though it was the highlight of our time in Jordan!) you can also get a direct Jett bus from Amman to Petra which goes down the Desert Highway and only takes a few hours.

      From Petra, we took a local minibus to Wadi Rum. You need to book this the night before with your guesthouse in Petra – it leaves around 6am and does a circuit of the town, they'll pick you up right out the front of where you're staying. It drops you at Rum visitor's centre around 8.30, where you can organise tours into the desert or meet up with a company you've pre-booked.

      Getting back to Amman is a bit of a hassle – if you miss the bus from Rum visitor's centre to Amman at around 8am (and it doesn't even necessarily leave every day!) like we did, you need to take a pricey taxi to the Jett bus office in Aqaba, and then a bus from Aqaba to Amman. It makes for a long day! You can also charter a taxi back to Amman from Wadi Rum, but that would cost 100JD or more.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you need any more info.

  • Reply Fiona October 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Hi Megan

    Where did you stay in Petra? Would you recommend it for a female travelling alone? Very informative blog.

    • Reply Megan October 11, 2010 at 7:38 am

      Hi Fiona,

      Thanks for your comment! We stayed at the Sabaa Hotel http://www.sabaahotel.com/ which we came across by accident (we just walked around asking prices – Petra is pricey!!). It ended up costing around 5 JOD for a dorm bed. I would definitely recommend it for a female travelling alone – it's run by an English woman and her Jordanian husband, and she's always around. Petra is pretty safe overall, I felt.

      Let me know if you need any other tips!

  • Reply Aliye July 2, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Great travel tips. I am going to Egypt in December. I am spending time in Cairo and then heading to Amman. Can you recommend the best way to get from Amman to Petra? I don’t care too much about cost.

    Thanks:)

    • Reply Aliye July 2, 2011 at 6:49 am

      Nevermind, I read the above posting. How much would you say someone would need for three days in Jordan? (Food, transportation, etc.) I only plan to visit Amman and Petra in the time I am there.

      Thanks again!

  • Reply Kanu August 1, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Very informative blog. Thanks. One question though. What all bookings should we do in advance before coming to the country? We will be travelling in october this year.

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