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For reaching all corners of the country at your own pace, a rental car is a worthwhile -sometimes essential- investment. The rental market is huge, with more than 150 different companies nation- wide, competition being based on price rather than quality Local operators tend to cater much more to Jordanians' own visiting friends and family than to Westerners.

It is possible to arrange car rental before you arrive but, although this buys you peace of mind, prices quoted for international reservations are invariably higher than those quoted to walk-in customers, sometimes by as much as fifty percent. In addition, all local agencies can match or undercut the big agencies' walk-in rates, some maintaining equivalent levels of quality and ser- vice The one possibility for true discounts before you arrive comes if the airline you're flying with has signed an agreement with a rental agency; if they have, a fly-drive deal arranged in advance can be very good value. Whether you book in advance or on arrival, international agencies can generally bring a car to you at any border crossing or airport for free; local operators may add a surcharge with two locations in Amman, plus others in Petra, Aqaba, Queen Alia Airport and at the Dead Sea, Hertz offers the best coverage and service, if not the best value for money ", Trustworthy businesses charge about JD 28-31 a day, for a one- or two-year old manual car (automatic transmission costs more) comfortable for four people, including unlimited mileage and full insurance A "subcompact", comfortable for two is JD3-4 less.

A couple of agencies in Amman, and a few more in Aqaba, rent out reliable four-wheel drive vehicles (universally called "four-by-fours") from about JD35 a day upwards These are essential for getting to a handful of out-of-the-way archeological sites and quiet spots in Wadi Rum, but you should have some familiarity with 4x4 driving – and a local guide – before you set off into the desert. For all the most dedicated adventures, a normal car is fine.

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