Day trip from Jerusalem to Jordan
Replies: 2 - Last Post: Aug 13, 2012 10:30 AM Last Post By: marcopoloo
Aug 13, 2012 9:38 AM
I wanted to provide a short trip report with a few tips that might help others. Bear in mind that I visited in August, during Ramadan and on a Friday. I'm a British passport holder.
I got my visa from Tel Aviv (definitely required for Allenby crossing- I saw a French couple turned away as they didn’t have one). The Jordanian embassy closes at 13.30 but has no passport photo machine. You should come equipped with a photo (just 1 needed for their paper file) as it was a real wild goose chase around Tel Aviv to find anywhere to get one taken. They were a bit lenient in staying open later for me and the other tourists who likewise didn’t have a photo. Their English is not very good. A single entry visa is 200 shekels payable in cash. I’m told other borders issue visas on the spot, but possibly at far greater cost so check this.
It was easy and calm to cross into Jordan. I left my hotel in Jerusalem at 7.20am and was in Jordan by 9.30am. I crossed via the Allenby bridge. You can get a shared (arab) bus there from round the side of the Golden Walls hotel opposite the Damascus gate. The Israeli exit tax is absolutely extortionate at nearly 200 shekels- I’m still a bit shocked by it. I was told the reason the same tax doesn’t apply to exit to London via plane is because it’s included in the airfare- hmm, not convincing at all. It’s an unusual land border in that you can’t walk it- you have to wait for a bus and this has its own (small) fee. The disadvantage is that it means waiting around. They ship huge coaches between the Israeli and Jordanian passport control points. My coach had only 4 people on it; not the queues I’d expected at all!
On the Jordanian side I drew local currency out of the cashpoint and found a taxi driver who took me to Jerash, waited 2 hours and took me on to Sheikh Hussein border crossing, for 60 dinar. He was a nice enough guy with reasonable English. It was spookily quiet in Jordan- my memories are of a ghost town country- we barely saw any people at all as we drove the hour, 15 min to Jerash and the hour or so up to the border afterwards. Perhaps this was due to the weather, Ramadan etc. The scenery to Jerash is quite barren though striking, but the journey from Jerash up to the Jordan valley is prettier and greener- it is insanely hot when you get out at the Sheikh Hussein border.
Jerash was recommended to me by a couple of people and an excellent choice for a day trip from Jerusalem. I thought Amman would just be another big city and not at its liveliest in Ramadan and Madaba was probably a bit too much more Holy Land for me after spending 2 weeks already in Jerusalem. You need an hour at least in Jerash, ideally 2 hours. It was hot but not unbearable. The Roman ruins are incredible and very majestic- well worth a trip. There are a few interesting things to look out for like the rocking columns (amazing) and the hollow stones- wish I’d read up a bit more about it beforehand. There is a café and a restaurant, toilets and a few market-type souvenir shops where the sellers are not particularly pushy. There were a few tourists- mainly Japanese, Italians and French- but it was a good time of year to see the ruins without crowds.
If you travelled on any other day than a Friday/Saturday, you’d easily be able to see Jerash and get back to Jerusalem by 3pm if you made an early start. The Allenby bridge closes at some undisclosed time on a Friday. At various points at the border I was told, 10.30am, 11.30am, 2pm, 2.30pm and 4pm- nobody seemed to know and I wasn’t chancing it so I returned to Israel via the Sheikh Hussein bridge in the north. You need 8 dinar as an exit tax and a couple of dinar for the bus- another slow coach which had a very slow trickle of passengers and didn’t move for 45 minutes until there were maybe 10 or 15 people- really irritating. Apparently this was due to refusal of Israelis to allow the bus to enter. They were certainly heavy on the questioning at this border point- I got two heavy sessions despite the fact there’s nothing about me that shouts typical target for this kind of thing, apart from travelling alone. Though others seemed to be let through more quickly. If you need to get back to Jerusalem on a Friday this will be expensive as no buses run. Again sources were very unclear about when they stop running – possibly 2pm or 3pm?- but at 4pm there was nothing available so I shared a taxi back to Jerusalem which was 600 shekels- owch. Apparently on other days there are buses. It was a good 1 hour 15 min journey, I expect the bus would take longer. I was back at my hotel at 5.30pm.
Hope this has been helpful to anyone who’d like to cross, or do a reverse journey Jordan to Jerusalem.
Aug 13, 2012 9:39 AM
Aug 13, 2012 10:30 AM
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