Tel Aviv to Amman: a Step by Step Guide to getting through Allenby Border Crossing
So you are trying to maximize your travel while in the promised land, and naturally that means exploring into Israel’s next door neighbor, Jordan, while there. Seems to make perfect sense, right? But then when you are in Israel and start asking about how to hop over to Jordan, you find that even the official information booths will either ignore you or give you discouraging information about making your way to the border. And forget about finding Jordanian dinars in Israel. They can be found, but you have to go to a million exchanges before you find one. Better to stock up on Dinar before you get to Israel. It is all pretty bizarre, but don’t let them fool you, you can very well make it to Jordan without any problems. And no, you do not have to take a $500, 30 minute flight to do it. The best border crossing to get to Amman is the Allenby Bridge Crossing, also known as the King Hussein Bridge.
We started in Tel Aviv airport. The guys in the info booth warned us that the borders may not even be working so they left me feeling panicky that we weren’t going to make it for our tour of Jordan! The highlight of our honeymoon was to see Petra! So we decided we would figure this out ourselves. We went down to ground transportation and there was a shared taxi making its way to Jerusalem. For 65 shekels each we took the taxi. There was also an option of a bus that we didn’t know about that was cheaper at 16 shekels per person. The airport bus is bus #485 and it departs Tel Aviv airport every hour and will take you to the central bus and train station in Jerusalem.
The shared taxi dropped us off at the Damascus gate, outside the old city Jerusalem. From here you can see a hotel called “The Golden Walls Hotel” in large green/blue lettering on top of a big building down the road a couple of blocks- you really can’t miss it. Walk toward the hotel, once you get there go just past the hotel entrance and you will find a narrow driveway that goes back behind the hotel. There you will find a shared taxi office that will take you and 1 bag to Allenby border crossing for 94 shekels. The shared taxis leave when they are full of passengers, and for us we never waited more than 20 minutes for a shared taxi to depart- both times in the mid afternoon.
If you want to take the bus to Jerusalem, you can switch over to the Light Rail when you get to the central bus station in Jerusalem. Take the light rail to Damascus Gate (about 9 shekels per person), and from there walk to the Hotel/taxi office. Budget 2-3 hours to get to the taxi office in Jerusalem, depending on how long you have to wait for the bus at the airport. If you are short on time, take the shared taxi option. The bus takes about 1 hour and the taxi about 45 minutes (no waiting for the taxi).
Once in the shared taxi in Jerusalem, it will take you to the border crossing (takes about 30 minutes). At the border crossing they will take your bags and mark them with a sticker with a number on it (you get one too), and you have to go through the Israeli border here. It is a little confusing here, but people that work there will help you find where you need to go. One line to get your passport reviewed and stamped (or you can use the machine, the biometrics weren’t working for me for some reason), and from there you go to another line to pay the Israeli exit tax (yes that is right, they even fine you for leaving, that is how much they want you to stay!). The tax for us was 170 shekels each. When you finally get through and show your passport to like 5 different people, you will find your bags in a pile and you pick them up. People are there to make sure you get the bag that corresponds to your sticker number, but they aren’t really paying attention. From here there will be a bus for you to board (if it isn’t there it will be, at least once an hour it departs), and it will take you to the Jordanian border.
WHILE ON the border bus (about 15 minutes), they will take your passport from you and all other passengers, no need to panic, you’ll get it back. They will also collect 8 Jordanian Dinar (JOD) and 2 JOD per bag for the bus fee. When I ran out of money on the way back into Israel I was able to pay USD. They should accept USD, shekels, and JOD. Once you get to the Jordan side, you will get in the “Arrivals” line and they will call your name. They will then stamp your passport and give it back to you. They are much more chill with questioning than the Israelis are.
From here you will go out the exit and there will be a million taxis waiting for you. We couldn’t find a shared taxi and the one person we asked about it said that the shared taxis take a very long time getting you to your hotel. Amman is full of traffic and traffic jams so if you can pay for a private taxi to your hotel, you will get there much sooner. We paid 25 JOD for our taxi directly to our hotel (took about 35 minutes).
And phew, we finally made it to our hotel in Amman. Total transit/waiting time took about 5 hours, all transportation was air conditioned and comfortable. We brought some snacks, sandwiches, and water with us because at some points there was some waiting, and at the border crossings you definitely won’t find any food. There was no problem bringing food or alcohol over the border.
- Shared Taxi Tel Aviv Airport to Jerusalem: 65 shekels ($18 USD)
- (485 bus to Jerusalem Central Station: 16 shekels ($5 USD), Train: 9 shekels ($3 USD)- total savings of 40 shekels ($11 USD)
- Shared Taxi Jerusalem to Allenby border: 94 shekels ($26 USD)
- Israel exit tax: 170 shekels ($48 USD)
- Jordan border bus with one bag: 10 JOD ($14 USD)
- Taxi to Amman hotel from border: 25 JOD ($35 USD)
- TOTAL TEL AVIV AIRPORT TO AMMAN HOTEL: $141
If you are planning to go straight to Jordan upon arrival in Israel, be prepared for a lot of questioning in customs. Also be prepared already with your Jordanian visa ($67 for US citizens). If you will be spending some time in Israel before making your way to Jordan, you can go to the Jordanian embassy and get your visa processed there, it only takes a couple of days. Or you can mail your passport and application to the Jordanian embassy in your country prior to your trip and get it that way. I did this from Chile (where I live) because it was easier and I was worried about the time it could take in Israel, since I was only spending 3 days there.
BEFORE you get to Israel, get JOD from an exchange in another country. We did eventually find an exchange for JOD in Israel but it took like 10 exchange visits before we found one that had JOD. All taxis and buses will require you to pay in cash and you don’t want to run out while on the move! In Jordan, however, it is no problem finding an exchange for shekels.
GETTING BACK TO ISRAEL FROM AMMAN:
As for making your way back (We had a roundtrip from Tel Aviv), we took a taxi to the Allenby crossing from our hotel in Amman. At the border control, you will pay a 10 JOD exit tax ($14 USD) and turn in your passport. Then you will wait for the bus (max one hour), and on the bus we paid 7 JOD for the bus and 2 JOD per bag, and while on the bus they gave us our passports back. We went through loads of questioning and passport checking while on the Israeli side, and once we got through we found lots of arabic buses and a booth with the same shared taxi company that will take you back to the Golden Walls Hotel for the same price (94 shekels/ $26 USD). You could try figuring out the arabic buses, but they were super packed and confusing with loads of people waiting for space on them so we just opted for the shared taxi again. From there you can either find a shared taxi to the airport at the Damascus gate or catch the light rail (9 shekels, $3 USD) to the central station and find the airport bus #485 (16 shekels, $5 USD). The bus is NOT inside the station like the rest of the buses, it is outside the station. Walk down the street and you will find a bus stop sign with the 485 number on it. And then you will make your way to the airport!
Pro tip: get to the airport at least 3 hours early. The lines are insane and there are like 3 passport controls to get through.