Travel from Israel to Jordan by bus

Travel from Jordan to Israel By Bus

As a traveler with an American passport, you should have no problem traveling from Jordan to Israel by land, right? Although Israel officially maintains a peace treaty with Jordan, other obstacles exist which make traveling from Jordan to Israel overland a difficult experience, one I recommend only if you have no other option. Allow me explain why I feel this way, courtesy of a travel blog post.

Let Me Plan Your Trip to the Middle East

Trust Bus Company

Skyline of Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv's skyline

At face value, traveling from Jordan to Israel overland is an easy enough task to complete.

If you perform a Google search for “Jordan to Israel by Bus,” the first result that comes up is a page from the Jordan Jubilee website, appropriately titled “To Israel from Jordan.” Overland travel from Jordan to Israel, it says, is simple, with daily buses in both directions offered by the Trust Bus Company, headquartered in Amman, Jordan’s capital.

According to the site, travel from Jordan into Israel is hassle-free, so long as you enter the Jewish state via the northern border crossing and not the King Hussein Bridge, which takes you through disputed, Palestinian territory.

With a price of just 35 Jordanian dinars one-way (far below the cost of an air ticket on either El Al or Royal Jordanian, either country’s respective flag carrier), the service is also cheap. Best of all, you need not make a reservation. Just turn up at Trust’s office in Amman’s seventh circle at 8 a.m., a half-hour before the bus leaves.

Jordan Valley Border Crossing

Photo of Akko (Acre), Israel at night

Akko (Acre), located in the north of Israel near Haifa

As the Jordan Jubilee website says, exiting Jordan at the Jordan Valley border crossing with Israel is indeed a simple affair. The Israel border checkpoint is where the trouble begins.

Just a minute or so after you see a blue-and-white flag waving in the wind, you’ll get off the bus and enter Israel’s border facility, a tiny building that will be probably be overflowing with passengers from the previous couple of buses. Your first glimpse inside will reveal a scene that looks similar to a security line at any given American airport.

Once you’re inside the building, a border control officer will inspect your passport, then send you (and your bags) through metal detectors to ensure you’re not carrying any weapons or bombs with you. At this point, you’ll need to line up at the immigration window, where a second officer will process you and let you into Israel.

Let’s go back to the diplomacy issue for a quick second. As you might or might not have heard, an Israeli stamp on your passport will generally prevent you from being permitted into Arab countries such as Syria and Lebanon, where it can purportedly land you in jail. Accordingly, many tourists ask Israeli border officials to stamp not inside their passport, but on a separate piece of paper. Most of them happily oblige.A story less-told, however, is that this goes both ways. Logically, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense: Why would Israel have a problem with potential tourists visiting Arab nations beforehand when its optional “stamp-on-paper” program serves only the purpose of allowing said tourists easier entry into said countries afterwards?

Entering Israel With An American Passport

Jerusalem's Western Wall

The Western Wall in Jerusalem

Uh oh! I just visited Lebanon, you remind yourself as you await your turn. But I hold an American passport–I’ll be fine. This would make sense. After all, the United States provides Israel with almost unconditional support (military and otherwise), funding and positive global PR.

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that if you have been to Syria, Lebanon or any of the so-called “Gulf States” (Saudi Ara

bia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, to name a few), you will almost certainly be questioned and detained. If you’ve brought more than a single bag with you, your belongings will be combed through by Israeli security officers, usually in front of you, but still thoroughly enough that it’s embarrassing.The time you’re made to wait will vary. For me, it was just shy of five hours. Some of the other dozen or so Americans waiting alongside me had been there two or three by the time I arrived–and were still in the proverbial trenches when I finally got my clearance to enter Israel.

Beyond the humiliation, discomfort (there are no food or water facilities in the waiting area and you must ask permission to use the restroom) and monotony of being held, the process is inconvenient because unless your delay lasts only a few minutes, the Trust bus will leave you. Practically-speaking, this means you must either (a) get a taxi to your final destination or (b) catch an Egged bus in Bet She’an, the nearest town to the border, to which you must either hitchhike or walk ten kilometers.

I’m In, Now What?

The Old City of Jaffa, Israel

The old city of Jaffa, near Tel Aviv

If you’re heading to Jerusalem, it’s a straight shot for you–if you can catch the 962 “Express” bus, in fact, your journey time will be just over an hour. If Tel Aviv is where you need to be, however, you must catch bus 811 or 812 to Afula and then one of the bus and share-van “sherut” services that run to Tel Aviv from there. Read more about transportation in Israel.

In neither case is the cost exorbitant (you should be able to get to Jerusalem for under 50 shekels and to Tel Aviv for only a bit more than that) but you also probably won’t get to your destination before nightfall. This isn’t a big deal until you remember: You’ve been traveling since the wee hours of the morning.

Another item of note if you’re travel from Jordan to Israel is that the only exchange facility immediately beyond the border that will exchange dinars for shekels is the one, well, immediately beyond the border. Its rates, simply put, are abysmal. With this in mind, you might consider waiting until you arrive in Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv and making the exchange at a proper bank.

Flag of Israel

Getting to Israel is difficult but once you arrive, you should enjoy yourself

Still, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a better rate. Worse, if the Trust bus leaves you, you’re going to need some cash to get to your final destination anyway. Save yourself the trouble and change your dinars into either shekels or U.S. dollars prior to departing Jordan for Israel, such as at one of the exchange facilities located within walking distance of Trust’s office in Amman.

The Bottom Line

If you can, you should simply bypass the clusterfuck of traveling from Jordan to Israel by land entirely.

Unless you’re extremely strapped for case (in which case you should re-consider visiting Israel, as it’s expensive to travel in Israel) do yourself a favor and just take one of the aforementioned flight from Amman to Tel Aviv, whose airport security facilities are known to be quick and hassle-free. Both Royal Jordanian and El Al service the route, which takes just over an hour from gate to gate. While prices can easily exceed $200 one-way, flying ensures you’ll arrive in Israel without unnecessarily ruffled feathers.

About The Author

is the author of 486 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!

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  • http://wanderlustizzynoel.wordpress.com/ Deb

    Interesting post. I flew into Tel Aviv and found the security harder to get through when leaving. Funny you had to ask to go to the toilet.

  • https://plus.google.com/116480057469316097585?rel=author Robert Schrader

    I’m glad that I left by land then after all! My experience at Ben Gurion Airport actually wasn’t awful (i write about it in another post) but the Jordan border, holy crap

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  • http://www.solofemaletraveler.com Sabina

    Hi Robert,

    This may sound so amazing as to be untrue, but please believe me, I tell the truth. I have traveled to Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan one time each, Oman twice, lived in the UAE for three months (during which I had to do two visa runs resulting in multiple UAE visas) and lived in Egypt for four months and have managed to accumulate numerous stamps from them. I’ve entered Israel five times with Arab country stamps in my passport with very, very little and sometimes no delay whatsoever at the airport and various border crossings. I am currently living in Israel for a few months and lived here last year for seven months. The longest I’ve been detained was in 2009 when I was departing Israel through Ben Gurion Airport (when the only Arab nation stamps I had in my passport were Oman and Egypt) for about two hours, and I believe what provoked my extra screening was that I was carrying several gifts with me which my Palestinian friends had given me. I don’t even think I told the airport security that it was Palestinians who had given me the gifts, rather it seemed that the presence of the gifts no matter what the source was a concern to them.

    I think because I have spent so much time in Israel I have probably been investigated to some extent at some point, without my knowledge and that’s fine with me. If they did investigate me, they have surely learned that I love and support Israel, so perhaps they recognize I’m not a threat and that is why they don’t detain me for more than 15 minutes or so when I’m entering the country. Perhaps also it’s because I’m female or over 40 and they figure there’s not much of a chance I’m going to do any harm.

    Did you travel to Syria or Lebanon before you entered Israel? Maybe that was part of the issue. If not, perhaps it was your age and/or gender. You never know. I’m very happy to hear that you gave Israel another try despite your first bad experience and that you’ve come out of it loving this country and its people. Keep on writing, please. :)

    I

  • https://plus.google.com/116480057469316097585?rel=author Robert Schrader

    I’m glad to hear that you didn’t experience the same sort of scrutiny for stamps alone. Indeed, I’d been to Lebanon just a week before attempting to enter Israel the first time, which is probably the reason for the scrutiny. Still, it was not a very warm welcome — and I think I’m pretty obviously not a terrorist!

    Interesting story about the gifts, however. I’ve only entered Ben Gurion, not left it. I heard leaving is much harder!

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  • http://www.jagran.com/ Hindi News

    Royal Jordanian, the national airline, flies direct between Amman and numerous destinations throughout the Middle East, Europe and the world. It goes to Chicago, Montreal, New York and Toronto to the west and to Calcutta, Delhi, Colombo, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta to the east.

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  • jlabramoff

    Hello. While I do not doubt the accuracy of your account, I think you should point out that you did not have to apply for a visa beforehand, as some countries do, even countries with which the US has friendly diplomatic relations (for example, Russia and India). Therefore, because you wanted a visa on the spot, the authorities had to perform whatever background check they needed while you waited. You had recently visited a country that
    refuses to recognize the independence of, negotiate with, and actively supports military and in some cases, terrorist, activity against Israel. That background check was entirely legitimate, and even efficient. Try that in other countries in similar situations and see whether they grant you a visa on the same day. You don’t know whether you would have had to wait a similar length of time if you had decided to enter Israel by air; my guess is that you would have had to wait at least a few hours, because of your recent travel.

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