Here is a short guide explaining how to get from Eilat in Israel to Aqaba in Jordan via the Yitzhak Rabin / Wadi Araba border.
Very recently the low-cost carrier RyanAir opened several new routes connecting the city of Eilat in the very south of Israel with destinations all over Central Europe. Countries served are Germany, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Hungary. Tickets can cost as little as 30€ for a round trip, which is a real steal for a flight of almost 5 hours.
Why traveling to Eilat?
So what makes Eilat so interesting for traveler and backpacker? Well, it certainly isn’t its reputation as a rather expensive all-inclusive resort-town. And surely the horrendous prices for food and accommodation don’t really help to make Eilat any more attractive.
It is Eilat’s geographical location that makes it a destination worth a closer look. Located at the southern tip of Israel, Eilat is only a few kilometers away from Israel’s borders with Egypt in the west and Jordan in the east. The Jordanian town of Aqaba is only 5 km away and can be seen from Eilat’s shore. But Eilat’s main drawcard is definitely the close proximity to one of the 7 new wonders of the world. The amazing rose city of Petra in Jordan can be reached from Aqaba within two hours by car or bus.
So the only thing separating you from checking another world wonder off of your bucket list is the 60km transfer from Eilat Owda Airport to Eilat (21,50 NIS / 5,20 € per Person / 45min – 60min by bus) and of course, crossing the Eilat – Aqaba border. And this is where it gets interesting. Before heading to Israel I did some research to find out, if I need a visa for Jordan, how much it costs and what other surprises this border crossing might hold. And well, it was confusing to say the least.
Current visa situation
The Jordan embassy in Berlin states on their website, that one does need a visa and that one should apply for it at least three weeks in advance. Most of the official Jordan tourism websites aren’t up to date and state the same. Different people in different online forums say different things. Some were convinced that a visa is compulsory to enter Jordan via the Eilat – Aqaba border. Others said you get your visa on arrival for a fee of 60€ and there were also people who said you get a visa on arrival and it doesn’t cost a dime.
Since we didn’t have enough time to apply for a visa anyways, we decided to just fly down to Eilat, show up at the border and see for ourselves. So here is how to cross from Israel into Jordan (and vice versa) via the Eilat – Aqaba border and a short recap of the situation on the ground (23.12.2017 – German Passport).
Eilat to Aqaba
crossing from Israel into Jordan via the Yitzhak Rabin / Wadi Araba Border
Israel / Eilat
- Eilat to Yitzhak Rabin Border
- unfortunately there is no public buses traveling the 5,5 km between Eilat’s central bus station and the Yitzhak Rabin Border
- the ten minute taxi ride costs around 35 NIS
- if you travel on a budget, you can also walk and try to hitch a ride (we didn’t have to wait long till someone gave us a ride)
Yitzhak Rabin Border (Israeli side)
- be aware of the opening times
- Sun – Thurs 06:30 – 20:00
- Fri – Sat 08.00 – 20:00
- the procedure at the border is pretty straight forward
- a short passport check at the entrance
- then you have to pay the exit fee of 105 NIS and get a slip of paper
- hand this slip of paper to the officer at the next window who checks your passport again and hands you another slip of paper equivalent to an exit stamp. Your passport won’t get stamped anymore.
- Border Crossing
- it’s a 300 m walk between the 2 border posts
Jordan / Aqaba
- Wadi Araba Border (Jordanian side)
- if you have the Jordan Pass you don’t have to apply and pay for a visa (it’s included) and can proceed straight to window 10
- if you don’t have a Jordan Pass you have to go to window 8 where an officer will hand you a form to fill in (name, nationality, passport number, date of issue, date of expiry (needs to be at least 6 months after departure), date of birth, date of entry and date of departure.)
- proceed to window 10 where an officer will stamp the form as well as your passport
- keep the form till the end of your trip. You’ll have to present it when you leave Jordan
- more than 3 consecutive nights in Jordan – free
- more than 2 consecutive nights in Jordan and visiting Petra – free (keep the ticket and get the form stamped in Petra)
- less than 2 consecutive nights in Jordan and visiting Petra – 40 JD (upon departure from Wadi Araba Border)
- less than 2 consecutive nights in Jordan and not visiting Petra – 60 JD (upon departure from Wadi Araba Border)
- in case of departing from any Jordanian border crossing other than South Wadi Araba border crossing the procedures of the departing border will be applied.
- in case of not spending 3 nights in Jordan – 10 JD for departure tax
- Wadi Araba Border to Aqaba
- again there’s no public transport covering the 10 km to Aqaba centre
- a board right after the exit of the border states the official taxi fares
- however, the so called “taxi mafia” still operates and they’ll try to make you pay more asserting that prices recently increased, it’s not allowed to share a taxi and walking isn’t allowed either since it’s a military area
- your best bet is to insist politely on the stated price
- if you want to share a taxi, make sure to form a group before exiting the border
Roundup from Eilat to Aqaba
All in all, crossing the Eilat – Aqaba Border was fairly easy.
Crossing the border in the opposite direction, from Jordan back into Israel (as we did on 04.01.2018) wasn’t much harder. There’s a bit more questioning on the Israeli side (Whom are you traveling with? What did you do in Jordan? Do you know any people in Jordan? and so on). The baggage check takes longer as well, but nothing world-shaking.
The only costs arising for this roundtrip are the 105 NIS for the Israeli exit fee and the taxi fares. Entering as well as exiting Jordan and reentering Israel is free of charge.
Officials on the Jordanian side seemed way more friendly and welcoming than their counterparts on the Israeli side.
Any questions or comments? Do you have any experience crossing the Eilat – Aqaba Border?
I’d really like to know what you would recommend so feel free to drop a comment in the box below. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
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