The new Israeli shekel (NIS) is divided into 100 agorot. Foreign currency USD and EUR is usually accepted, though change will often be given in shekels. ATMs are widespread and credit cards are widely accepted, but pilgrims’ hostels usually require payment in cash. Please make sure to keep Low-denomination notes, useful for tips, taxis and for places that do not have correct change etc. Jordan: The dinar (JD) is divided into 1000 fils (a “piastre” is 10 fils).
The time in Israel, Palestine, Jordan is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in North America. All these countries have daylight saving time, which lasts from approximately March to September.
Nutritious breakfasts and ample dinners are usual in tourist hotels, though pilgrim hostels offer simpler fare. Seasoned travellers usually eat a hearty breakfast, and perhaps take a piece of fruit or bread roll to eat at lunchtime in case lunch not provided as part of the program. Falafel, a fried ball or patty made from chickpeas or fava beans, is common lunch fare. Regular intake of liquids is essential to avoid dehydration. While the tap water in hotels is usually safe, bottled water is sold everywhere.
No shots or vaccinations are required to visit most tourist destinations in Israel, Palestine, Egypt or Jordan. If you are carrying any medicine please bring a copy of a prescription, or a doctor’s letter. Medication should preferably carry pharmacy labels.
Safety & Security
Carry your valuables close to your skin, in a money belt, pouch or inside pocket. Keep cash and credit cards separate. Remember to collect your valuables from the security box before you leave each hotel. Do not wear conspicuous jewellery or flash large amounts of money. Don’t leave bags unattended in airports or other public places, and don’t accept packages from strangers. Lengthy personal questioning and baggage searches can be expected, especially on departure , Be patient and co-operate.
Bargaining with traders and shopkeepers many times required in Tourist areas, can be more expensive than residential shopping areas. Don’t appear too anxious to purchase an item. Be polite and keep your sense of humour. If you are buying several items, keep a note of the details in case you need them for customs officers when you arrive home. Don’t let the lure of bargains distract you from the purpose of your pilgrimage.
As a tourist, you are exempt from paying VAT of 17% when paying for extra services at your hotel along with a list of other tourist services. Many leading stores, including those recognized by the Ministry of Tourism offer a VAT refund. Enquire at the place of purchase about the refund procedure.
Tipping in varying degrees is expected, Restaurants expect 10-12% (sometimes already added to the bill). No rules set but it is customary to tip hotel staff, drivers etc.
When exploring on your own, go in pairs or groups. Stay away from public demonstrations and crowds. Take special care when crossing the street, especially if traffic drives on the opposite side to what you are used to. Keep a low profile, don’t stand out in dress, speech or behaviour.
Departing from Israel
If you are departing Israel not as part of a group, then please plan to be at Ben Gurion Airport 3 hours before your flight time. There is a rigorous security procedure which is there to protect you and the other travellers. Please have tour ticket and passport handy and be prepared to answer many questions and open your luggage for inspection.
Please dress inline to the host country’s social and cultural values. Generally in the region, don’t eat, offer or accept anything with your left hand. Avoid public displays of affection. Please don’t display the sole of your foot or touch anyone with your shoe. If you are offered a show of hospitality like coffee or tea etc. it is considered discourteous to decline.
Please make sure that your passport is valid for atleast 6 months during the entire duration of the trip. A pre-arranged visa is required for many nationalities, when its for groups Visa is always arranged by Travel Agent. For different nationalities different Visa requirements are applicable so please check with agent for details.
In Israel and Palestine, most Jewish businesses are closed on Friday afternoon and Saturday (Shabbat); Muslim businesses on Friday; Christian businesses on Sunday. Jordan government offices and banks are closed on Friday and Saturday.
For more information please visit www.seetheholyland.net, your guide to visiting the Holy Places.