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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
On 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.