Monday, 15 October 2018

Visiting Israel? Got a travel question? Top travel FAQ's.

The most frequently asked questions by travelers before they visit Israel.

 dead sea

Floating in the Dead Sea where the water is surprisingly oily (Image credit: Unsplash)

Q.1) What is the capital city of Israel?

Jerusalem is the capital and second largest city in Israel.  Jerusalem is about half-an-hour's drive from Ben Gurion International Airport.

Q.2) What is the official language of Israel?

Israel has two official languages: Hebrew and Arabic. English is widely spoken and understood as is Russian.

Q.3) Which are the neighboring countries of Israel?

Israel (the State of Israel), is a country in the Middle East.  It is surrounded by Arab countries; Lebanon and Syria on its northern borders, Jordan on its eastern border and Egypt on its south western border. The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and Gaza Strip

Q.4) What is the population of Israel?

The population of Israel as per May 2018 is more than 8.8 million

Q.5) What is the weather in Israel like?

Israel has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers from mid-May to mid-September. Israel has cold and rainy winters. The southern parts of Israel lie within the Negev desert. The best time to visit Israel is during the spring and autumn months.

Q.6) How safe is Israel for tourists?

Israel is safe but be cautious if you plan to visit Gaza, East-Jerusalem and some West Bank settlements.  As with any country, check with your embassy before departure and verify if any travel restrictions have been put in place.

Q.7) What is the currency of Israel and where could I exchange foreign currency?

The local currency of Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (also spelled Sheqel). Tourists in Israel can exchange currency at any money-changers, post offices or banks. You will also be able to exchange currency at the large luxury hotels. Major credit cards are widely accepted at most retail stores, ATM’s and banks.

Q.8) What is the dress code in Israel?

Modern Israelis wear western styles of clothing.  Certain religious groups have their own dress codes.  More detailed information here...

Q.9) What is the culture of Israel?

Israel follows Jewish traditions and practices.  The Muslim, Druze, Bahai and Christian communities are completely free to practice their religion and traditions. Before your visit try to learn more about the customs and practices of all of Israel's religious groups.

Q.10) Should I obtain a health insurance before traveling to Israel?

It is advisable to have health insurance before traveling to Israel.  Medical treatment and hospitals are top-notch but can be expensive for tourists.

Q.11) Which vaccinations are advised before arriving in Israel?

The World Health Organization recommends that all travelers regardless of the region they are traveling in should be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as hepatitis B.

Q.12) What is the electric current voltage in Israel?

The electric current is 220 Volts and two pin plugs are used.

Q.13) What type of clothing should I carry when traveling to Israel?

Light, cool clothing for the summer and a good, warm jacket for the winter.  A warm scarf and gloves are also suggested for winter travelers.

Q.14) Is alcohol consumption permitted in Israel?

Israel allows alcohol consumption in hotels, private parties, bar, clubs and restaurants. However, it is illegal to consume alcohol in a public space or drive while under the influence.  Some religious groups do not permit alcohol. Eighteen is the legal age limit for the sale of alcohol.

Q.15) What are the tipping practices followed in Israel?

A tip of between 10 and 15 percent is acceptable in restaurants.  Tipping taxi drivers is not mandatory. A 10 shekel tip for food delivery is quite acceptable.

Q.16) How is Israel different for tourists during Jewish religious holidays?

The majority of shops are closed on the Sabbath and Jewish holy days.  Public transport on Saturdays is limited.  During the festival of Passover you will not be able to purchase certain food items like bread.  You will be able to purchase these from Arab or non-kosher merchants and establishments though.

Q.17) What about medication?

Bring enough of your regular medication to Israel to last your entire trip. You may want to bring a spare prescription for your medication, in case of emergencies. 

Q.18) What is the Time Zone of Israel?

GMT + 2 hours in the winter and GMT + 1 hour in the summer during daylight saving.

Q.19) What are the Visa Requirements for Israel?

Israel has visa exemption agreements with many countries - for visits of up to 90 daysClick here to download the list of countries with which Israel has visa exemption agreements.

Q.20) How do I set up my mobile phone connection in Israel?

 There are plenty of short-term mobile phone plans that are especially suitable for tourists, research this before your arrival.  You will also be able to get a short-term plan at the airport upon your arrival.  Free WiFi is available at lots of coffee shops and restaurants, trains and some buses.  Ask!

Q.21) Which are the major English newspapers published in Israel?

The Jerusalem Post, Ha'Aretz, Israel Today (a free publication) and The Marker - a business and financial paper - are the major English publications.  You will also find online versions of these papers as well as a large selection of other news websites. The local book store and news stand will have a selection of international publications in a variety of languages.

Q.22) Which are the TV channels offered in Israel?

Cable TV is available in Israel via HOT and YES. Local channels are: Channel 11, Channel 12, Channel 13, and Channel 14. All major news channels are available via the cable networks.

Q.23) Which are the Radio channels offered in Israel?

Israel offers a wide variety of radio channels; both AM & FM in mainly Hebrew and Arabic. There are several music channels.  Check the IBA website for details of English and other language news broadcasts.

Q.24) What form of government is their in Israel?

Israel is a democratic republic. A member of parliament supported by a parliamentary majority becomes the prime minister. The prime minister is the head of government and head of the cabinet. Israel is governed by a 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset.

Q.25) Are there some Hebrew words I should know before I arrive?

Best to know the word for "hello" - "shalom" - it can also be used to say good bye and it is also the word for peace.  The Hebrew word for "please" is "be'va'ka'sha" and the Hebrew word for "thank you" is "todah".  Here are some more...

Q.26) In case of an emergency, who should I call?

  • Police: Dial 100
  • Ambulance: Dial 101
  • Fire Brigade: Dial 102

Have a wonderful stay!

 

 

 

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