Up until the last minute, I still wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to cross the border…
I’m not going to whine about how shitty it is to hold a Philippine passport. I’m just going to walk you through my experience acquiring a Jordan visa from Israel, where Filipinos can travel visa-free for three months.
Last month (March 2017), I crossed the border with my cousin – a US passport holder – from Israel to Jordan. While she had zero problems getting a visa on arrival, I had to scour the web to find a way to get across. After countless email exchanges with different tour operators, we finally found ONE who said they would be able to get me a visa.
Who did we book with?
The one and only tour operator who said they could help us was Tourist Israel / www.PetrafromIsrael.com. We booked a Petra-Wadi Rum 3 day / 2 night tour with them
February 12, 2017: We reached out to Tourist Israel
March 12, 2017: The operator confirmed that my visa had been approved.
March 21, 2017: I crossed the border to Jordan. The Jordanian tour agent had a special letter that he showed to immigration; I was the only person who had to be accompanied by him to explain my situation.
Summary: It took ONE MONTH of waiting but they were able to do it! BUT WAIT, read on.
Other visa options to explore
Honestly it would have been a much better, funner, and cheaper trip if I had been able to do it independently of a tour. So given a longer lead time, it might be worth exploring other avenues:
Option 1: Jordan Consulate Manila
Based on our email correspondence –
Processing time: “Processing normally takes about 3- 4 months”
Expedited visa: “For expedite it will take about 1-2 months and you have to pay the expedite fee of 10,000 YEN to the Embassy of Jordan in Tokyo, Japan.”
Fee: “Visa application processing fee payment ( P 7,200 per applicant) may be done by bank deposit at any East West bank”
Period covered: If approved, an entry visit type visa (single entry) will be issued and is only valid for two (2) months from date of approval, even if the purpose of the trip is business.
Option 2: Applying through someone living in Jordan
Jordan entry visa may also be acquired by having someone living in Jordan to apply on your behalf directly through the Ministry of Interior in Amman, Jordan. This option is faster (and surely will get approved) and is recommended if the reason for travel is urgent or if there is a time constraint. If approved, you will only provide us a copy of the visa approval note from the Jordan Ministry of Interior, passport copy of the recipient of the approval note and visa stamping fee. We will then have the approval note verified by the Embassy in Tokyo prior to stamping the visa in the passport. A verification and visa stamp fee of P 4,500.00 will only be collected for this process it will take about 2-3 days only.
Get in touch with the Jordan Consulate Manila for the updated list of options.
How much was the tour from Israel?
The cost for 3 days and 2 nights was US $449 per person but not including the border tax and visa fee (around US$12). We started on March 21 and returned on March 23 around midnight to Tel Aviv/Jerusalem. Click here for all the details of the tour we did.
Would I book with Tourist Israel again?
No. Although the representative handling us pre-trip was very professional, the actual execution of the tour left a lot to be desired. The operator was actually a third party company called ‘Fun Time’ (what a dodgy name, right) – but we later discovered that it’s a well known organizer in Jordan / Israel.
What went wrong?
- Pick up: at the Mamilla Hotel lobby, we had no idea which shuttle to board to get to the border. Nobody introduced themselves, nobody told us what bus or shuttle we should get on, or called our names. We just took the bus whose driver said it was for a 3 day tour instead of the overnight package.
- Stuck at the border: We got stuck at the Jordan River border crossing for 2-3 hours because we had no idea how to get across. Some people paid twice for visas to cross. Randoms told us to cross and then we were made to go back again to do it properly. It was a mess.
- Tour character – The tour group was HUGE (I think we were 30-40 people). And the actual people on the tour were in a completely different demographic as us. Most were elderly / family tourists. There were only around five 20-30 somethings on the tour travelling independently, and naturally we ended up grouping together. (Places represented: Mexico, Thailand, New York, California, and me).
- Time constraints: We couldn’t fully enjoy the tour because we had to keep rushing to meet at allocated places and times. The mean old people in our group kept nagging at us throughout the tour to remind us that we only had X minutes left before we had to regroup. ANNOYING.
- Bad time scheduling: The tour leader kept asking people to vote on how to rearrange the schedule, how much time to spend in this or that site – and of course the pushy elderlies kept shouting over everyone trying to get their way. One bad decision made was spending only ONE HOUR in Aqaba because people wanted to get back to Israel earlier and rest. ONE HOUR. We couldn’t even sit down at a restaurant and eat lunch. We had to go for takeaway hummus. People, we all paid the same for this tour. My blood boils just remembering that moment.
Given more time and less visa issues, I would recommend doing the Jordan tour with Abraham Tours. My cousin and I did all our other tours with them, and they were always small groups (maximum 12), a younger / young-at-heart crowd, informed and friendly guides, efficient and punctual.
Would I ever go back to Jordan?
If I could get a visa easily, then yes. If I have to do it with a tour again, then no thanks. If I have to pay a ridiculous amount of money and wait 3-4 months, forget it. Don’t get me wrong – Petra and Wadi Rum are 100% worth spending more time in, and I especially I wish I could do Petra by night, but there are hundreds of other places in the world just as beautiful, that wouldn’t take me this much trouble or pain to get to. Our tour guide said tourism in Jordan shrank from 12% to 9% of the economy since the Syrian crisis. Well maybe they should iron out their barriers to entry to spur more travelers into their country. Just today I heard of other Filipinos asking how they could get into Jordan. The answer will surely dissuade.
Planning a Jordan trip soon? I hope you weren’t too discouraged after reading this post, haha! It was a great experience, but I just want to help people make informed decisions by giving a detailed account. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or question below!
For more tips, check out Wanderlass’s blog on getting visas to Jordan / Egypt.
I hope this has helped. Best of luck to you on your travels! 🙂
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