Jordan: Amman in a day

By Cubie - February 18, 2020

Getting to Amman from Aqaba
One of my first "task" to do on arrival in Aqaba was to get a bus ticket to Amman. I got myself a tickt via JETT bus to Abdali, JOD 8.60. JETT goes to more than one station in Amman and from what I can see, Abdali is the nearest station to Amman downtown. Please note that Abdali is not the usual bus station, it is only used by certain long distance, air-conditioned buses. Also, please bring along your passport when purchasing a JETT bus ticket.

I got the 9:00am bus from Aqaba, and it took approximate 4.5 hours to get to Amman. Departure was at the JETT office itself, near the Movenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba. There will be a bus park in front of the office, so you won't miss it. Toilets are found round the back of the office where you buy the bus ticket.

Just about leaving Aqaba, we had bring all our luggage and opened them for a check. I was later told that because Aqaba is a special economic zone and the check was to prevent one from bringing exceeded limit duty-free goods out of Aqaba.

Another check that I encountered was police would asked locals for identification checks on longer distance buses. When I asked a local after, he said it was to check that refugees were not on the bus. I noticed that they were more lenient towards females. As a visitor, I am used to most checks were on foreigners but not this one.

The Citadel, Roman Theatre, Odeon Theatre, Nymphaeum
I had 3 nights in Amman but did 2 day tours out of the city. My '1 day' in Amman were cummulative of 1/2 day on the day I arrived and the times I returned from my day trips. In fact, I visited Roman Theatre on the day I arrived, the Citadel after I returned from Jerash and the other 2 sites on the day after. So it was 4 sites in 3 days. They are not that big, really and of course, you can visit them all on the same day. Just that I didn't have enough time, plus daytime are shorter during winters.

The Citadel
The Citadel sits on the highest hill in Amman. I felt like I cheated by taking a taxi here instead of climbing up. I shared a taxi with Jo from South Korea after getting back from Jerash. We took a taxi (JOD 3.50 total) from Tabarbour bus station (North bus station). I probably wouldn't have made it if I need to hike after sun set. It was a good timing to see Amman in golden lights.

The Citadel (JOD 2, included in Jordan Pass) is the site of ancient Rabbath-Ammon and the highlights are the Temple of Hercules and the Ummayad Palace. I guess I would be much more impressed if I have seen this before I spent a good 4 hours in the ruined city of Jerash, the largest Roman site in Jordan just earlier of the day.

Ruins of the Temple of Hercules

to Umayyad Palace
The is a museum, the Jordan Archaeological Museum (JOD 3, included in Jordan Pass) in the compound. On display were artefacts dating back to Palaeolithic era. I have not been to any museum where the staff at work was smoking away inside the museum.

See that photo of the sun setting in the background? Jo first saw the view and shouted for me to take a picture of the view. At the time, we haven't known each other's name so he shouted, "Malaysian lady!" haha. May I add, very loudly too.

I hoped I had the sense to ask Jo for his contacts before we parted ways at the Citadel. It would've been interesting to see the photos he took and follow his travel around the world. When I met him, he was already on the road for 3 months and is planning to go to Africa next. Well, I stupidly didn't and there is no means to find him.

After that, things took a downhill turn when I left the Citadel. I could've waited and go downhill with Jo but I was hungry and didn't want to subject him to leaving if he doesn't want to yet. Remember I wrote I encountered an incident with a taxi driver?

I was making my way downhill back to downtown. It wasn't far but as the sun has set, so it was getting dark fast, however, the area was brightly lit up. A taxi slowed down and asked if I needed one. I declined as I was planning to just walk down from the hill. He persisted and I thought maybe it could be safer to get back to a more familiar ground faster. I was prepared to pay JOD 1 (to go downhill not downtown) even though by the end of the conversation he said he would send me downhill for free. Bearing in mind that the cost of taxi is on average JOD 2-3 around Amman so JOD 1 would've been above average for maximum 5 minutes drive.

My default seat when I get into a taxi is the one furthest away from the taxi driver, i.e. diagonally away from driver. He also stopped to offer to pick up a young man but didn't insist after the man declined. So I started to get a little suspicious. The driver started taking to me in Arabic and I didn't understand but told him i wanted to get off. He said "down" which I interpreted as he would let me down when we reached downhill.

Then he started making kissing action and leaned over to try to touch my face to indicate that he wanted to give me a kiss on my cheek. I said "no" and moved away to avoid him touching me. At this time the car was moving very slowly due to traffic jam (this is also very common around downtown Amman). I opened the car door and was confident that I could exit the car without major safety issue then. He got a shock and stopped the car. As I was exiting the car, he asked for payment. I ignored him, shut the car door and walked to where there was human traffic.

I was wrong in getting in that taxi, it would've probably been safer if I walked down myself but that was the worst experience I had taking a taxi.

Roman Theatre
Entrance fee JOD 2, included in Jordan Pass.

The Roman Theatre in Amman was from the 2nd century AD and seats 6000. Its full restoration began in 1957. My visit coincided with a group of tourists who sang some Italian opera, how very apt of a performance at a Roman Theatre.

On my walk to the Citadel, while waiting for a very determined driver to park his car on a walkway, I was approached by a good-looking Jordanian man who asked if I want to catch up later that night. I spent the night dining and wandering around downtown by myself.

Whilst I like having random conversations with the locals when I travel, it is still very stranger for random strangers to approach me. So I am fairly certain the level of friendliness lies with the Jordanians and not because I am approachable. I have a resting b*tch face at default.

Odeon Theatre
Nearby Roman Forum, on the eastern side of Amman's Forum is a 500-seat odeon. It serves mainly as a venue for musical performances and built in the 2nd century AD.

I am unsure if one has to pay for entrance to this as Lonely Planet stated that entrance for this is free but I recalled being asked if I have a ticket. Whilst I scrambled to look up my Jordan Pass on my mobile, the staff then said he believed me and let me in anyway.

Odeon Theatre and the bigger sibling next door 

It is a public fountain from AD 191 dedicated to the nymphs, it looked like restoration is still underway. I missed the opening hours for this and it has just closed when I get there. The staff kindly let me in for a bit though.

Grand Husseini Mosque
This house sits in the heart of downtown and packful of human activities. It is pretty impossible to miss if you walk up or down the streets at downtown.

Amman Downtown
For some unknown reasons Amman strike a chord. It isn't big on art, there is no greenery, it looks brown, congested traffic, way too many people but I like Amman. I find it charming in its own way and bustling with energy.

Other places I wished I have time for - Rainbow Street for to see its modern side, Abu Darwish Mosque for its beautiful black and white facade and King Abdullah I Mosque, because it is possibly the only mosque in Amman that is open for non-muslim tourists.

I contemplated to walk to Rainbow Street one of the nights but there was a quiet area that I have to walk pass, I didn't feel too safe looking at it so I decided not to continue.

Side note: When things make you happy, it shows :)

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  1. Wow great split second decision there jumping off that taxi! Glad that you're safe, and also that it didn't ruin the rest of your trip as it looks like you had a fun time after Amman too.

    1. Thank you :)
      Yea, didn't expect the dodgiest person I encountered was a taxi driver.