Are you planning to fly into Israel this year? While thinking of visiting a new country makes you all excited, there are a few things to know before travelling to any country; the dos, the don’t s and certain rules that may be cultural or religious. So, read this list of 13 things to know before visiting Israel to make your trip more hassle-free.
- Pack and wear decent clothes.
This is the most important thing to know when travelling to Israel. So, if you are planning to visit Jerusalem and other religious places in Israel (especially where Jesus Christ was crucified), you should wear decent clothes. It can be quite hot no matter the season you visit Israel but if you are a woman, you should wear tops that are down the elbow and long skirts or pants to cover full legs.
- You don’t have to worry about the passport stamp.
Israel no longer stamps the passports of the tourists visiting the country because some Arab countries do not accept people who have visited Israel previously into the country. Instead, you will get a card with your photograph, a bar-code and other personal information at the airport. You can show this at the checkpoints of certain attractions, hotels and other places to confirm your identity.
- You will be questioned on arrival and departure.
This is just formal questioning at the airport and you should not be worried about that. It is normal for every person travelling to Israel. You will be asked questions on the purpose of travel, the place where you are staying and about who you are travelling with or if you know someone in Israel. Just answer every question truthfully, let them check all your possessions without panicking and you will be good to go!
- Keep Israel currency with you at all times.
The currency in Israel is New Israeli Shekel (NIS) and it is important to have some shekels with you at all times to avoid any troubles. Almost all places accept USD and Euros, but it is better to be prepared for the worst!
- Get permission before taking photographs.
It is not a problem when photographing most of the tourist attractions, but you should get permission to take photographs of places like the Western Wall which is the most sacred site in Jerusalem. It is best to avoid photographing women and children in Israel without permission. Also, keep in mind that you cannot take photographs of military sites and other police areas in Israel.
- Avoid any talk about politics.
Israel is known to be having political tensions for a few years now and therefore, it is best to avoid any talk related to politics even if you know all the correct facts. You should also avoid conversations or comments about the religions and their respective traditions.
- Be aware of the Shabbat hours.
The Sabbath in Israel starts on Friday at the time of sunset. It goes on from Friday night to Saturday night. That means Jewish people do not work on these two days. All businesses, shops and local transportation services will stop working on those two days and will only operate from Sunday to Thursday. So, be aware that all the tourist attractions will also be closed around 5.00 PM on Fridays.
- Take the use of Monit Sheruts when travelling around.
Taking a Monit Sherut is the most popular way of getting around in Israel. They are yellow or white-coloured vans like taxis that can carry about 10 passengers at a time. You can travel in between the cities of Israel in this manner or you can also tell the drivers to drop you off at tourist attractions. It is a great way to save some money rather than spending hundreds on a private taxi.
- Be prepared to have Kosher food.
Kosher food is not anything bad, but this rule regarding food is very important in Israel. Many restaurants will have food labelled as ‘Kosher Food’ and that is just a way of saying ‘halal’ according to the Islamic religion. It means that the animals used for the food are killed in the most humane way possible.
- Don’t forget to visit Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv gives a completely different vibe when compared to the other cities in Israel. It is a laid back destination and the rules are loose, meaning that you can enjoy everything to your heart’s content in here. You must visit Tel Aviv at night to enjoy its vibrant nightlife. There are many bars and restaurants in Tel Aviv in which you can enjoy a drink or two.
- Seeing soldiers on the streets is pretty normal.
Given the situation in Israel, it is pretty normal to see soldiers, both men and women roaming the streets when you are travelling. Military Service Acts require all Israeli citizens above age 18 to serve in Israeli Defense Force and therefore, you will see young boys/ girls who are armed with guns here. Don’t be alarmed, like I said it is a normal sighting.
- LGBTQI is warmly welcomed in Israel.
Unlike most of the other Islamic destinations, LGBTQI is not frowned upon in Israel and instead, they are warmly welcomed. It has been so over the last few decades and if you are from the LGBTQI community, hop on a plane to Israel. You can see many such couples if you visit Tel Aviv enjoying, partying and having the time of their lives.
- It can be very expensive.
Israel is an expensive destination to travel when considering all of the things. Many people do not know this. And they often get stuck with not having a planned budget. The places you are going to stay, the food at the restaurants, the tickets of the tourist attractions, shopping for goods or clothes are certainly coming out to be expensive. So, make sure to make a budget and have extra money with you if possible if you are travelling to Israel.