Amman, Orientation and getting around in the city
Amman, is the capital of Jordan and the biggest city of the kingdom. Most likely, foreigners, who come to Jordan for work, will work and live here or in the near cities of Fuhays, Salt, Madaba or Irbid. The following site shall give you some information regarding orientation in Amman and how, where to rent a place, as well as information on utilities such as Water, Electricity and Internet and finally banking. These are probably the main things to get settled.
Amman is build on many hills known in Arabic as “Jebal”. Many parts of the city are named after these hills such as “Jebal Amman” or “Jebal Webdeh”. Keep this in mind when you want to walk, because short distances might turn out to be quite long and exhausting depending on the elevation between the points. That also applies of course when driving in a car. Another important word you might find useful is “Wadi” meaning valley. So you know already a part of the meaning of “Wadi Rum“. The other most important things you need to know are some main streets and the circles. Aside from Medina and Mecca Street, a long street runs from East to West through the city named Zahran Street. It connects the circles “Duwar” from the first up to the eighth circle. Since street names and house numbers are not commonly used by citizens or taxi drivers, people tend to indicate nearby landmarks when they want to tell somebody where to go or where they live.
Thus, it is very common to name the part of the town or a name of a big well known street, a mall, a mosque or one of the circles as a first indicator where to go. After that you go right, then right again, then left, then next to that small kiosk you turn left, after that a u-turn and than opposite you arrived…. Inshallah.
Luckily, nowadays you can use google maps and it works very well. You just need to make sure how the name is written in English or whatever language you use in case you don’t know Arabic. Since the translation into different languages with another alphabet than Arabic can differ, it is good to check before you go. Most streets have also the name in English on the sign, again that might be different to the name used by Google maps. Also, keep in mind that, at least so far, the building numbers are not taken into account when you search for something, hence google will just search for the street name. That might work OK with smaller streets but on larger streets it will just point to the middle of the street, which might be close to worthless. So, if you visit somebody and you don’t exactly where they live, ask for the building number additionally. If somebody knows the place or you sent markers on the map, there is no problem usually. Most of the restaurant and malls or other well known destinations are easy to find and you can search for them in English.
Now not everybody can afford the Mercedes G500 V8 AMG Tuning with 24″ Alloy Wheels and leather interior. And even if you will be able to by a car in Amman, it is a lengthy process and at least in the beginning you will rely on taxis. Also if you come for a shorter period or as a student, you will probably not have much other options. So let’s see how it goes.
I try to be short on this. It is probably the only form of “public transport” you are going to use in Jordan, if any. There are plenty of stories to tell. Sometimes it can be totally fine, sometimes it is just annoying.
- Tell the driver to turn on the meter. If he says it is broken or he doesn’t want to turn it on, tell him to turn it on, again and again. You need to be persistent. If he doesn’t wanna do it, get out and take another taxi or call the police if you are in mood for that and have time to wait.
- Make sure you have change, like 1 JD bills and coins, if you don’t wanna get ripped off and/or tip too much, because very likely the taxi driver will tell you he doesn’t have change.
- Sometimes he won’t take you anyway, where you wanna go, cause he has something different in mind. Then it is just back luck and there is no choice other than waiting, calling for another one. It exists another way of thinking when it comes to “customer service” here in Amman, especially referring to taxis.
Used on several occasions.
Al Moumayaz Taxi
These ones are probably cleaner, have more polite drivers that likely do speak at least a little English and they don’t rip you off. This service results in slightly higher costs. Used a few times. You can call them also pre-order for a certain time.
White Taxi – Services
I mention them, to be thorough, but I don’t use them. The white taxis run on fixed routes, leave when they are full (4 people) and they are even cheaper than the yellow taxis. However, it is very unlikely to have an English speaking driver. Used maybe twice.
Uber runs in Amman and it works very well. The good thing is, you can find a taxi usually pretty quickly, pre-order to a certain location on a set time and search using google maps style of map within the app, so it is fairly easy. Of course it is more expensive than the normal taxi, but if you want a clean car, no painful arguing and a ride on time it is worth considering. Another advantage is, you know the price before and you can pay cash or with credit card, so don’t rely on cash to ride. Used a few times.
Careem probably offers a similar service as Uber. I used Careem a few times as well. Unfortunately, recently it got forbidden by the government.
Yes, a bus system exists, which is not easy to understand and also, you probably want to avoid the bus for other reasons. Smelly, tight, slow. Anyway, a group of people created an unofficial map of the public transport in Amman. Have a look for yourself and see if you wanna give it a try. Never tried it myself, yet.
Actually, the city of Amman is planning a huge project for a public bus network but the project is still in development and I assume it will still take many years until it is completed. The official website does not even list any press release and the last news are from February 2016.
Also, a metro might be introduced according to an article.