From Beirut to Amman

click for interactive Google Map

We swing along the Damascus Road down through the Beqa’a Valley with Fairuz blasting out of the bus’ speakers: khidni wa zraani bi arrid Libnan (take me and plant me in the land of Lebanon). The speakers fail to render her many high notes which splurge out saturated. In fact the sound is not altogether dissimilar to the coach’s singsong horn, which blurts out frequently as we barrel downhill, overtaking, and crawl uphill, being overtaken.

The lady behind me taps me on the shoulder and hands me a gardenia blossom. Its rich heady scent fills the bus, mingling with the driver’s cigarette smoke and the mint leaves in my rolled labneh sandwich. After a very short night, not even the triple overtaking on blind bends or the subsequent near collisions and  horn-leaning can keep me awake. I’m lulled off to an Arabic cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive”, until we are ushered off the bus for customs formalities.

The trip from Beirut to Amman via Syria involves getting out of the bus for passport stamping  before and after each border, plus a subsequent passport check on board by the relevant official each of the four times. In the low customs building leaving Syria for Jordan, a sign reads: “In case of any complain, write it and put it in complain box.”

We certainly have nothing to complain about. Despite the multiple stops, baggage search and horrid loos, nationals of all three countries pass easily among their neighbours. In fact, between Lebanon and Syria only an ID card (hawiyyé) is required. Across the border just inside Jordan, the choices for queuing at customs are, in widening circles of increasing distrust: Jordanians, Syrians, Arab nationals, and finally, Foreigners. We head for Arab nationals, bearing our almost virgin Lebanese passports, but are intercepted by a rather determined uniform to be relegated to Foreigners.

“We’re Lebanese,” we explain. “Her too?” he asks sceptically, but bows to the inscription on the passport and upgrades us to the Syrian aisle. In the queue there, the official behind the glass spots us from afar. “Foreigners over there”, he calls out with a perfunctory gesture across the hall. “We’re Lebanese,” we chime. “She’s Lebanese?” he looks me up and down with an actual up-down head movement. We wave our passports. “Okay,” he says and promptly promotes us to the Jordanian line, where we are duly stamped and dispatched.

Travel details:
Cost: 30 USD Beirut to Amman; 33 USD for the return leg.
Runs on: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, departing at 8am from Beirut and at 3pm from Amman. The journey takes 6 to 7.5 hours.
Beirut station: Boulevard Sami el Solh, near the Tayouneh roundabout (map).
Amman station: Jett International Office, off Al-Malek Al-Hussein St (map).
Operated by: Transport and Tourism Services,, +961 1399777. Contact the office a day in advance.

10 Responses to “From Beirut to Amman”

  1. mary ann says:

    This is so funny. People always guess that I’m not Lebanese, but in my case they’re right. But this post made me wish they weren’t.

  2. Jason says:

    I love the thought of a fresh gardenia for a long bus ride. It looks like you made it through in one piece…bravo!

  3. Geraldine says:

    Hi Georgia, is Jett the only bus company that offers a bus service between Beirut and Amman? I’m looking to get from Beirut to Amman on the 25th December, and it seems like Jett does not run on Christmas.

    • Hi Geraldine. This service is run by Transport and Tourism Services – you can drop them a line or phone to see if they run on 25 December. Otherwise you can go to Charles Hellou station and wait for a service taxi to fill up (changing car at Damascus or straight to Amman). This would be slower to leave (all depending on how many people are travelling the same way) though it will be quicker crossing the borders than the bus, since there are fewer passengers. You can also pay the full cost for the service to take you directly without waiting for other passengers to share the price.

      • Geraldine says:

        Thanks for your reply Georgia!
        I’ve written to Jett and they don’t run on 25th Dec. How many passengers does a service taxi take? There are 3 of us. Also, what is the approx cost for the service taxi to take me to Amman? Is it cheaper if I change in Damascus?

        • A service taxi will take four to five passengers. The cost is around 30 to 45 USD each to Amman, with Damascus at half the price, once the taxi is full. It won’t be much cheaper to change in Damascus, but you may have less of an initial wait as more people may be going to Damascus than Amman. For more details, you can also check out TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet forums.

  4. Diego says:

    Hi Ginger,
    Amazing post and blog. I am flying to Beirut on Friday and I would love to do the complete route up to Amman but I am afraid I have no enough time and will be reaching just Damascus. I am sure that the shared taxi is such an experience!
    Keep going,

  5. Sherry Ott says:

    Hi Ginger,
    I was just wondering if you had any idea if an American can also take this bus (I need to go from Amman to Beirut), but I don’t want to get an expensive Syria visa to simply pass through the country. Just thought I’d see if you knew anyone who had done it?

    • Hi Sherry,
      The best thing to do would be to call the company direct to check out the latest regulations. I have read that if you are listed on the coach transport manifesto you can get away with being a passenger in transit and not need an entry visa, but it’s best you get confirmation from an authoritative source as I haven’t personally known anyone who has done this.
      Enjoy your travels!

  6. nad says:

    WHAT?! You were BOTH in the same aisle at the customs?! Last time we crossed the border, there was a seperate aisle for women!

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