middle east: how to travel to and from israel via jordan

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This is going to be a long long post. If you’re reading this because you want to travel (cheaply) from either Jordan to Israel or vice versa, you’re at the right place. This information is current at the time of writing (May/June 2017.)

I traveled into and out of Israel via Jordan. I was solo. Before embarking on my journey, I did A LOT of research, asked A LOT of questions on TripAdvisor and basically tried to be as prepared as possible. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot of information readily online though these websites helped quite a bit 12.  But if you’re not into doing things your own way, you can pick the easier option by using private shuttle services like flo Shuttle or Eilat Shuttle. There are different routes and options to chose from. I opt for taxis and public buses.

ROUTE

4 May – Aqaba (Wadi Araba Border)- Eilat (Arava Rabin Border) – Tel-Aviv

11 May – Nazareth – Jordan River Border Crossing – Sheikh Hussein Bridge Crossing – Amman

COST

Jordan (Aqaba) to Israel (Tel-Aviv):

  • Taxi from Aqaba to Wadi Araba Border: 8 JOD (SGD 16)
  • Taxi from Eilat (Arava Rabin Border) to Eilat Central Station: 33 NIS (SGD 13)
  • Egged Bus from Eilat Central Station to Tel Aviv Yafo: 70 NIS (SGD 27.53)

Subtotal: SGD 56.53

Israel (Jerusalem) to Jordan (Amman):

  • Abraham Shuttle from Jerusalem to Nazareth: 36 NIS after 10% off (SGD 14.16)
  • Taxi from Fauzi Azar Inn to Nazarene Bus Office: 40 NIS (SGD 15.73)
  • Nazarene Bus from Nazareth to Amman: 72 NIS after 10% off (SGD 28.31)
  • Bus drop off point at Wardat al-Bustan Hotel to Amman City Center: 15 JOD (SGD 29.33)

Subtotal: SGD 87.53

TOTAL TRANSPORT COST: SGD 144.06

It can be done cheaper if you do the following:

  1. Travel with friends and spilt the taxi fare
  2. Insist the taxi driver at the drop off point in Amman turn on the meter instead of quoting you a flat fare. Invoke the Tourist Police if needed. This was what my Jordanian friend told me.

If you travel with 4 friends, you would just need to spend a total of SGD 88.48…and that’s before you enforce the metered fare for the Amman taxi.

For reference, 1JD = 2SGD and the Israeli Shekel exchange rate was whatever Google gave me. 

WEBSITES

Egged Buses – the most popular bus service in Israel. You can only book tickets online if you can read Hebrew or through the phone. Some websites suggest that you pre-book your ticket from Eilat to Tel Aviv/Jerusalem but I didn’t do it and it was fine.

Bus.co.il – check the bus schedule up to 7 days in advance. See the timing that would suit your schedule. I used this website to plan my itinerary by looking at the bus timing and planning my departure from Aqaba accordingly.

Abraham Tours – find shuttle services that suit your needs. This was what I used to get from Jerusalem to Nazareth then to Amman. The prices are pretty affordable for the service. They have a few options you can chose from.

 

CROSSING THE BORDERS

Wadi Araba Border/Arava Rabin Border : I was amazed by how easy it was to cross the border. Be prepared for a whole lot of pictures from my journey across the border. Some were sneakily snapped. 🙂 But I didn’t take any pictures where the security was watching – I didn’t want to take the risk. If you’re traveling from Israel to Jordan via this border, look at the pictures starting from the bottom of this section.

#1: This is as far as the taxi from Aqaba will bring you. Say your goodbyes here. If you’re coming over from Israel, there are taxis waiting just to the right of this picture. I’m guessing they’re waiting for passengers. Walk straight ahead and get your passport ready. The guard will do a quick check before waving you through. 

#2: After being waved through, you will walk straight to this little house. It’s really tiny and all you’ll do in there is to scan your bags. Then you exit the door at the other end. 

#3: Exit the door and be greeted by nothingness. You need to peep at the windows on the left to get your passport chopped. Show your Jordan Pass if you have one. If you need to pay the exit fee, I’m presuming you do it here. Since I was in Jordan for more than 3 days, I didn’t need to pay a thing. If you want a bus to bring you from the Jordan to Israel border, you can hop on a bus at the right. It’ll be about 1JD. BUT if you’re physically capable, just walk across. The walk is less than 1km (I think). I walked across the border with my backpack. It’s a 3 minute walk.

#4: Since you’ll be walking (walk! it’s good exercise!), you’ll need to have your passport on hand again. The police may or may not ask you for a slip of paper. I had no idea what that paper was and they had no idea how to communicate with me so I was waved through. And there you have it, you’re out of Jordan! See that couple in the picture? They walked across the border as well. 

#5: And then you walk…in the hot sun, breathe in the air and see the construction tools ahead that reminds you of Singapore.  

#6: Turn around and you’ll see what you left behind – Jordan. You’re nearly into Israel now. 

#7: What follows has no pictures. I didn’t want to risk being detained for capturing photos. It’s not worth it. Again, the first point was a quick passport check and a wave through. I walked along the signs that directed me and went into the security check. It’s a building on it’s own. I joined the queue but before I could proceed to put my bags on the x-ray machine, I had to hand over my passport for another check. I stood there while the guy looked over my stamps…then he looked up and asked the following questions:

Why are you coming to Israel? To visit lah.

Are you alone? Yup, I’m solo. 

When did you go to Jordan? What did you do there? Went to Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba and dived etc. (He then laughed and said, “Ah, the normal stuff”)

Are you meeting anyone in Israel? Yup, my friend Ai. (He asked me what she was doing there, what subject she was studying for her exchange program etc)

How long will you be in Israel? Only for a days. 

I see that you go into Malaysia a lot. What do you do there? I laughed, “Shop! And we eat there…it’s much cheaper than Singapore. It’s like going to Egypt!” I found out from my friend that Egypt is like Singapore’s Malaysia. Haha. 

After those few questions, he handed me my passport, smiled and waved me on to put my bags on the belt. I passed through security quickly, They didn’t ask me to open my bags but many of the older Romanian folks in front of me had to open their luggage. As I walked out of the security building, the security lady ran after me. My travel companion, Bear had fallen out of my bag and was left on their machine. I was aghast.

“Ohhh! My bear.” I’m such a drama queen sometimes.

The lady laughed, “She was crying! So I had to return her.”

Where are the scary security staff that people write about?? Where??

#8: Next was to get my chop…or the equivalent of a chop. Walk out of the building and you’ll see this area on your right. Queue up to get your little entry slip. The lady behind the counter will just smile at you and ask you some questions – where you’ll be going, how long you’ll be staying etc. After answering her questions, I was handed my passport and little entry slip. I was in Israel!

#9: Walk straight and exit at the little white tent. Right in front of you will be a line waiting taxis. Hop into one and give them your destination. Easy-peasy.  

#10: Crossing the Wadi Araba Border/Arava Rabin Border was faster than crossing the Singapore/JB customs. A whole lot more of passport checks and tighter security but less people and less walking. It’s easy to do alone and without a tour. In fact, I think crossing the border with a tour group would take longer as some people might be questioned more. 

 

Jordan River Border Crossing/Sheikh Hussein Bridge Crossing: Coming soon!

June 28, 2017
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