I’ve always been curious about doing a border cross by foot. I’m not sure if it’s because it sounds thrilling or if it’s just one of those things a traveler has to experience. I can officially say that I have crossed a border by foot and it’s between two countries that I didn’t think I would be visiting, especially this year. At the start of the trip, I had spoken to a few people that had previously done the Jordan to Israel border cross and vice versa. Although nobody had any big issues, everyone mentioned how tense it was with the questioning. It left us a little bit anxious about what was to come but the excitement definitely outweighed the nerves.
I wanted to share my experience as I met a few people that were planning on doing the same border cross as I did just a few weeks later.
About the Jordan to Israel border cross
The cheapest way to get from Jordan to Israel and vice versa is a border cross by foot. It’s also fairly simple and time effective, especially when you put into consideration of paying for luggage on a flight and getting to and from airports.
Where can I do the Jordan to Israel border cross?
There are three border crossings between Jordan and Israel – King Hussein Bridge (from Amman), Yitzhak Rabin Terminal/Wadi Araba (from Aqaba) and Jordan River/Sheikh Hussein (most Northern). For the sake of my travels, the Yitzhak Rabin Terminal/Wadi Araba crossing was the most suitable as I was coming from Petra. I also heard that it was the easiest and quickest, which also played a huge factor in why I went South instead of North.
This follows what I did and definitely isn’t the only way. Due to travelling on Friday (the weekend), there were no busses running from Wadi Musa/Downtown Petra, so we had to take a taxi. Because of this I’m not going to give any recommendations on busses as it’s extremely hard to find accurate information online. Your best bet is to ask at your accommodation – most of the locals know.
1. Catch a taxi from Wadi Musa/downtown Petra to the border crossing near Aqaba
This cost us $80 (40JDR) but because it was the weekend, rates were a lot higher. A reasonable price is $60 (30JDR).
2. Walk from the taxi car park to the Jordan customs
They will ask you a few basic questions about your travels in Jordan and will then stamp your passport and give you an orange slip of paper. You need to keep this handy right up until the end. Please note that this exit stamp from Jordan won’t affect your travels in the Middle East, but if you don’t want a Jordan exit stamp you can ask the customs officer. If so, you will have to fill out a form.
3. Enter the small office
Just after the Jordan customs, there is a small office to the side of the road. We were instructed to enter but were unsure as to what the purpose of the office was. When we walked in, the two officers tried to explain the process, but we had trouble understanding their broken English. I think this worked in our favour as I believe this is where you have to pay a fee for exiting/entering (8 JD). You then continue to walk to the Israel border. This takes about 2 minutes.
4. Israel checkpoint
You then come to a small-gated entrance, where there is an Israeli officer. They very briefly check your passport and then you continue through to follow the arrows to the security check.
5. Security check
The security check is similar to that of the airports, except surprisingly tenser. After putting your bags through the luggage scanner, the questioning begins. If you are travelling with someone else, it’s highly likely that you will be split up. They asked about my travels, what I do for work, as well as what my sister does, why my parents moved to the UAE, why I wanted to come to Israel (specific sights) and a whole lot more. The questioning process took about 10 minutes.
6. Israel customs
After getting the all clear, we moved on to the Israel customs. There weren’t any queues, so it was nice and quick. This is the most important part of the process, as for most; you need to be aware that you don’t get a stamp in your passport. You simply tell them this and of course they will ask you why. It’s bizarre that it’s not a problem and you can actually enter a country without a stamp in your passport. Instead of a stamp, you receive an entry slip which has all of your passport details on it, including your photo. You need to keep this in a safe place as it’s your proof of entry and will be required throughout your travels in Israel.
7. Taxi to Eilat and final destination
Walk out to the taxi rink and get a ride to the centre of Eilat. We shared a taxi with an American couple, which cost us about $10 (30 SHK). When I first looked at the map, I thought it would be an easy walk, but it’s a lot further than you think. I’d also avoid trying to hitch a ride here, as the majority of cars that go past are taxis anyways.
Dependent on your end location, you will either find your accommodation in Eilat or make your way to the Eilat central bus station. From here you use the Egged bus services which run 4 times a day for Jerusalem and 12 times a day for Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem & Dead Sea: no. 444
Tel Aviv no. 390, 393 or 394
I was honestly surprised at how smoothly the whole process went. Although it ended up being a full day of travel, the border cross process only took 30 minutes which I was impressed by.
So, why shouldn’t you get a stamp in your passport?
I wasn’t aware on how Israel was viewed by other countries but after visiting I can understand why. In short, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began in 1948 with the declaration of the state of Israel. Over time, the Palestinians were segregated into their own territories, creating this sense of ‘the other’. Since then, war has been declared and a wall has been built to further implement the apartheid of the Palestinians in West Bank.
It’s because of this, that most neighbouring Middle Eastern countries won’t allow passport holders in that have an Israel stamp. This can be extremely problematic if you have already made travel plans, let alone is just really frustrating to have limits.
And how do you avoid the stamp?
When you are at the Israel customs, you simply ask them to not stamp your passport. They will ask you why you don’t want a stamp and all things related. For example, if you were to say that it was because you wanted to travel to other Middle Eastern countries, they would ask when, where and why. It’s nothing as complex as the security clearance but if they have concerns I could imagine it being lengthy. In exchange they will give you a little slip, which has your passport details on it. You need to treat this slip as if it was your passport and keep it on you at all times.
Soph’s top 3 tips for the Jordan to Israel border cross
Dedicate a whole day for the Jordan to Israel border cross
I know that this doesn’t sound fun, but it’s really important. We started at 9am in Wadi Musa/Downtown Petra and didn’t actually get to Jerusalem until 7pm. There was water over the road around the Dead Sea, so we had to turn back for a detour, which added an extra 4 hours. What I’m saying, is that things are unpredictable and the last thing you want is to be trying to get onto the last possible bus and failing.
Book your bus ticket in advance, especially if you are travelling on the weekend
Unfortunately, the guy in front of us at the Eilat bus station got the last two tickets for Jerusalem service. Thankfully, we could still get on the bus, but we were packed on like sardines, had to stand for the duration and still paid the same price as those with a seat. When you book your ticket online, make sure you allow at least an hour extra.
If you are planning to go to the West Bank, don’t tell them
I know I have said to be honest, but this just sets off the alarm bells for them. I had no idea how much drama it would cause by telling them I wanted to go to the West Bank to ‘see what it was like’. This resulted in me getting hammered in the question department and I quite frankly didn’t have any clue about what I wanted to see there which deemed problematic. Just keep that one to yourself.
I was surprised at how easy it was to do the Jordan to Israel border cross. If you are honest about your travels and have good intentions, there shouldn’t be any problems.
Unfortunately I don’t have any footage of the actual cross itself as photography is banned, but hopefully this blog has answered some of your questions.
All the love in the world,