I’ve decided to begin posting tips on this blog for future University of Oregon students and Gilman scholars. Before coming to Amman, there are some essential things every person should be aware of. Knowing how to navigate the city in a taxi is crucial for your time in Jordan as taxis are the primary mode of transportation.
Good news is that taxis here are cheap, or at least they should be cheap. My usual cab ride across the city is about 1.8 JD to 3 JD. Going across all of Amman should never cost more than 5 JD.
But there are two important things every visitor should be aware of: drivers will try to overcharge you and they almost never have change.
Upon getting in a cab, it’s important to check if they have a meter and make sure they are using it. Often times, if they don’t have one, they will attempt to charge you some ridiculous rates. They assume that because you’re not a local, you have no idea about standard prices. If a cab driver refuses to use a meter, simply tell them “No thank you” and walk out. However, for the most part, cab drivers have been honest.
Another important note is that cab drivers rarely have change, and if they do, they don’t want to give it away. It seems like every one in Amman is constantly fighting for small bills because having a 1 JD bill is a necessity. Cabs, restaurants, and shops will often reject large bills, and it can honestly be frustrating. When you get to Jordan, it’s important to keep your coins and small bills. This is why taking cabs in a group is efficient because each person can put in couple coins and you will have the exact amount without having to argue to get change back from paying with a 10 JD bill. For Americans, I think this process can be difficult because many of us are accustomed to having businesses always break our change and give us money back. On several occasions, I have ended up paying more because I did not have the exact change.
The yellow cabs you see all across Amman.
Being aware of taxi etiquette is also important. Typically, I go places in a group. I prefer not getting in a cab alone because my Arabic is still not at the level of haggling and fighting for fare prices. As a girl, taxi cab drivers also do not speak to you. Normally, they keep to themselves. That’s why if you are traveling in a group with a guy, a guy must always sit in the front seat next to the driver. The cab driver will pretty much only talk to the male passengers. This is not be taken offensively, however. It is simply a cultural difference. Occasionally after speaking to the male passengers and establishing a sense of comfort, the cab driver may acknowledge or talk to the women.
My last tip is for students who ever feel unsafe or in danger while riding in a cab. If anything happens, you can call the police and take pictures of the driver’s information (which should be located in the front of the cab). The threat of calling the police usually makes cab drivers stop whatever they are doing. I think it’s important for students to know that if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, do not hesitate to ask for help. Luckily, I have not encountered any negative experiences myself, but it’s important to keep in mind.
Thankfully, navigating Amman is quite easy as the drivers know most places by landmarks. So if you live close to a certain circle, or hotel, just say the name and the driver will already know. Once you get the hang of how cabs work in Amman, it’s actually a fun experience and great way to practice Arabic.
That’s all the tips I have for now, but I will add more to the list if anything new comes up.
Safe travels friends!