There is only one border crossing into Jordan from Eilat. It is called Yitzhak Rabin by Israel and Wadi Araba by Jordan. It’s maybe a five minute drive from the Central Bus Station in Eilat. You can either walk to the border (there’s even a little walking path) or take a taxi for about 30 shekels. There are no buses that I know of that currently go to the border.
If you are walking across the border, as we did, there are baggage carts that you can use and take with you throughout the whole border process. You are allowed to take the cart to the Jordanian side and leave it there as both countries share the carts.
For us, the Israeli border was empty of travelers save one couple from Australia. On the Israeli side, you have to first pay the Outgoing Passenger fee of 101 shekels per person. Then you walk to the next set of windows for Passport Control. After these two steps, you’re done! This side took us a short 10 minutes or so without lines.
On the Jordanian side you stick your baggage through a scanner (the security guards quickly stuck ours through then continued their games on their phones lol), walk through the metal detector, and then go to the visa window. The windows for each step are ordered by number.
For the Yitzhak Rabin border, there is no visa fee. It is part of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority. Travel to Aqaba is encouraged in this way, so when you go to the window to get your visa, all you do is hand over your passport for a minute, then get it back with a Jordanian visa.
At the next window your passport is stamped and your picture taken. End of arrival steps.
Before going out to the parking lot where the taxi mafia awaits you, you have the choice to eat something from a little shop, go to tourist information and get a map, and/or exchange currencies. Keep in mind that there is no ATM, so if you do not already have some Jordanian dinars, you will need some type of cash currency to exchange. The exchange rate that they used to exchange our dollars to dinars was actually a pretty up-to-date rate. Though always check to make sure you are given the right amount of cash. We have had reoccurring experiences with getting short-changed in Muslim countries.
Jordan’s Border Taxi Mafia
Beware as you go out to the only transportation to Aqaba, accurately referred to as the taxi mafia. A man approached us immediately as we stepped from the border crossing. He told us he was employed by the government and asked where we needed to go. We were doubtful that he was employed by the government. Whether he was or not, there is a strange relationship between the taxi mafia and the border crossing authorities. A long road separates the border from the main highway. We would have liked to walk all the way down, despite the heat, and get a taxi off the highway, but I read somewhere online that you can possibly be transported back by authorities for doing so. It’s a true mafia.
None of the taxi drivers seemed to speak English. The government employee did all the talking for them. Here are the best tips for dealing with this taxi man:
- If you are going anywhere other than Aqaba, do not say so. You can get cheaper transportation by bus from Aqaba’s bus station. We made the mistake of saying that we were heading to Petra. I whispered to my mom to only say we were going to Aqaba in accordance to a trusty blog I read the night before. When we changed our mind to say we only wanted to go to Aqaba, which was a short distance away, the taxi man was not happy. What a rude man! He repeatedly got in our faces to accept his offer for a taxi ride to Petra for 35 dinars. He argued that a long, hot bus ride from Aqaba would be 9 dinars each, and the taxi ride to Aqaba 11 dinars, so we would be better off, and implied stupid for not, just going straight away. Turns out that the bus ride cost 5 dinars each, and it was quite pleasant. Unfortunately there wasn’t much we could do about paying the set price of 11 dinars to go the short distance to Aqaba. But taking the bus to Petra not only got us an authentic experience being in the community, but we spent 26 dinars from the border to Petra for three of us, instead of 35 by taxi.
- If you want to split the taxi with some friendly strangers at the border, decide to do so BEFORE being seen by the mafia. Go out to them looking like best friends or family. A solo traveler who had stood in line behind us while getting our visa for the Jordanian side approached us as we were getting ready to take a taxi. He asked us if he could share the ride with us, unfortunately within hearing of the government employee. We immediately said yes; taxi man immediately said no. Sharing was not allowed. My mom tested the taxi man by saying that the solo man was her husband. Taxi man was not amused and replied that he did not believe her. He threatened that we would be taken to the tourism authority and forced to fill-out paperwork and I’m not sure what else. He made it clear that the mafia would only allow the solo man to waste a full 11 dinars for his own, lonely taxi ride.
After this episode, thankfully we came across friendliness from the bus driver that got us to Petra. Petra does have a steep entrance fee (unless you are Jordanian!), but it is worth it.
Welcome to Jordan and Enjoy! 🙂