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Aqaba

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Asia : Middle East : Jordan : Southern Desert : Aqaba
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Aqaba (العقبة al-ʿAqabah) Aqaba is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan's only port city, located on the Gulf of Aqaba at the southernmost extremity of the kingdom.

Understand

Aqaba is Jordan's window on the Red Sea. Historically the same city as Eilat on the Israeli side of the border, plans for a shared international airport and other forms of cooperation have cooled down in the past few years during a period of political tension.

Get in

By boat

Ferries run regularly from Aqaba across to Nuweiba on Egypt's Sinai peninsula, bypassing Israel and the sometimes complicated border arrangements. Generally there is no visa fee for entering Jordan through Aqaba since it is a part of the free trade zone.

There are two ferries that leave Aqaba for Nuweiba, Egypt. The first is the slow ferry (US$50, about 3 hours). Departure is generally in the evening (anywhere from 5pm to midnight). Expect delays. There is a company office in Aqaba town center that sells the ticket. Immigration procedures for Eqypt are initiated on the boat and completed by paying the US$15 visa fee on arrival at Nuweiba (and then finding the immigration counter to get your passport back).

The second ferry is the fast catamaran (US$70, about 1 hour). Departure is generally at midday except on Saturday when it does not run.

By bus or car

The Desert Highway terminates in Aqaba. There are frequent buses to Amman and other points along the highway. Fare is currently 7 JD each way.

The Israeli border at Arava (for Eilat) is only a short hop away. The Saudi Arabian checkpoint is also visible on a clear day, but visitors without a visa can only look.

By air

Royal Jordanian operates 2 daily flights between Amman and Aqaba, one in the morning and one in the evening. Duration of the flight is apprx. 1 hour and costs 20 JD + tax one-way. (Price updated: 14 May 2008.)

The King Hussein International Airport is located north of Aqaba, in around a 20-minutes drive.

By taxi

The minibus rental from Petra costs 45 JD and it takes about 2 hours to get from Petra to Aqaba.

Get around

By taxi

Taxi are fairly available in the city. A ride with in town should cost no more than 2JD. A ride outside town (to a beach near by or to any border crossings) costs around 5 JD.

While taxis are yellow all around Jordan, early 2008 Aqaba taxis have been painted green and blue: the logo colours of Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ.

By local buses

Local minibuses connect the residential areas with the downtown. The fare is 17 Piasters (170 Fils or 0.17 JD) regardless of the length of the journey. Passengers can get on and off at any point of the route. The central bus station is located in front of the Police station.

See

  • Aqaba Fort. Originally dating to the 14th century, although the present structure was built by the Mamluke sultan Qansawh el-Ghawri (1501-1516) and has been revised many times since then.

Do

  • Scuba diving is the most popular sport. Aqaba Gulf Divers (formerly Arab Divers), 3/5 Ma`an Street, though it can be reached off of Corniche Street, phone 03 2031808, is a very professional operator with fairly new equipment and decent prices. Introductory dives, for those who've never gone before, can be arranged for JD25. A similar refresher dive, for those of us certified but out of practice, is JD30.
  • Internet Cafes are everywhere, but most charge an unreasonable JD2/hour. The Red Sea Internet Cafe has surprisingly fast connections and charges only a half dinar per hour.

Buy

Eat

One of the finest, if not the finest restaurant in town is The Royal Yacht Club. It is situated next to the water in an upscale neighborhood. They serve exquisite fare(mostly seafood fresh from the sea)for prices that are reasonable by Western standards. Service is fast and courteous.

In the center of the city one can find very good hummus, Falafel and Showarma (lamb meat in pita bread) places in many local restaurants. Prices starts form 1.5JD for a Showarma dish.

Drink

Sleep

  • Dune Village, 00962 (0) 78 8378 914, [1]. Is located 12 km east of Akaba's center, and offers singles\double\shared rooms with breakfast included. The places also offers scuba diving equipment and guided dives. The place organizes transportation for guests to/from airport and border crossings. 7.5-17 JD PP.
  • Dweik Hotel (1) has small rooms, but bathrooms are in good condition. Some rooms have TV, with access to satellite channels, but you do have to get the front desk to tune the satellite for you. JD20/night.
  • Nairoukh Hotel - Singles JD10 Doubles JD15 Triples JD20.
  • Jordan Flower Hotel - Singles JD5-6 Doubles JD8, with bath JD10, triples JD12.

Get out

Aqaba is relatively close to both Wadi Rum and Petra. Public buses go to both. Alternatively, there are a lot of tour companies around town who would happily arrange excursions, in particular to Wadi Rum.


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