During our time in Jordan we have had some fun weekend getaways and day trips to various historical sites. While the sometimes easiest thing to do is pay way too much for a taxi or hire a tour group to show you around, we are very independent travellers and preferred to navigate the local buses. While they may be confusing and intimidating, with enough research and asking around we were able to take them seamlessly to almost every destination. Since we have already done the research and given these methods a test-run, we thought we would share.
Getting to Madaba can run you up to 20 JD by taxi, that is a pretty steep price for only a 30 km drive out of Amman. We found the best way to get there was to take a bus from 7th Circle in Amman (Duar Seb’ah) and it takes less than an hour. If you stand on the west corner eventually a bus will come by for 700 fils (or .7 JD), now that’s a steal! It will drop you off at a bus station in the center of Madaba and all of the major sites are a short walk from there - with plenty of signs to help you along the way. Just come back to that same station no later than 4 or 5 pm to catch the last bus home.
A taxi to Jerash can usually cost about 35 JD if you hire a driver to take you there, wait for 3 hours, and then come back - or about 10 JD each way. However, if you go to Tabarbour Bus Station (also called Mujam'a Shamaly) then you can follow the shouts of different bus drivers until you hear someone calling for “Jerash.” This bus will take just over one hour and it costs 800 fills (or .8 JD). Again, just be sure to meet it back where you were dropped off before 4 or 5 pm. Also, if you get the chance then go eat at the Green Valley Restaurant after exploring Jerash. It was one of the best meals we have had in Jordan, no regrets there! (It is quite a walk from the entrance to the site, we recommend planning enough time to walk or catching a short taxi)
Petra, Wadi Rum & Aqaba
For these trips there are several options. Since these sites are several hours south of Amman, a hired taxi will be (outrageously) expensive. Here is how we did it: First, we went to Petra by catching the JETT bus near Abdali station. This bus cost 9 JD and left at 6:30 am, we arrived to our hotel in Petra by 10:30 am or so. There is also a bus that returns to Amman at 4 pm if you want to just make a day of it (or catch it the next day).
After spending a day in Petra we made our arrangements for Wadi Rum with some friends through a local travel agency. We were able to get a much better deal for a camp than others that may be booked online. We each paid 60 JD which included the taxi from Petra (1.5 hours), 5 hours of jeeping through Wadi Rum, one nights stay in a Bedouin Camp, dinner, breakfast and a ride back to the Bedouin village the next morning. For only 5 JD more you could ride a camel outside the village the next morning (this was a half hour, and you really don't need much more than that).
Our Bedouin guides arranged a taxi to Aqaba for us and it was 25 JD (there were rumours about one bus that left at 6 am, but that wasn't our cup of tea). It is possible to get one for cheaper if you arrange in advance with the travel agency.
Then from Aqaba there was another JETT bus station near the Movenpick that had regular departures to Amman as late as 6 pm for only 8.5 JD. Just the same as in Petra there are JETT buses that go both directions, just check out the time schedules on their website, here.
Ignore all of the naysayers who claim there is no bus to the Dead Sea. While there may not be a direct line, we found one that took us within a 10 minute taxi ride to our hotel. We spent 1 JD each and took a bus from Muhajrin Station. It lasted just over an hour (due to random detours and special stops for other passengers), when it was time to get off the driver got out and came to our window. He led us to a taxi and we were on our way again, dropped off at the front of our hotel for 6 JD! We took that driver’s business card and called him the next day when we were ready to find the bus again. The last bus leaves around 4 pm for Amman.
Good luck and safe travels!