Israel is situated at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. The country is divided into four regions: the coastal plain, the central hills, the Great Rift Valley and the Negev Desert. It is border on the north by Lebanon, on the northeast by Syria, on the east and southeast by Jordan, on the southwest by Egypt and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea. Israel has an area of about 8,550 square miles or 22,145 square kilometers. The Highest point is the Mount Hermon about 2,814 meters or 9,232 feet tall, and can be found in the Golan Heights and the lowest point of Israel is the Dead Sea about 399 below sea level.
Best Time to Visit
Israel can be visited all-year round. The season of spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) are the best time to visit Israel, where the temperature is around 15°-20°C and the weather is mild and pleasant throughout the country. Although spring and autumn months are the recommended time to travel there are also factors you have to consider. September and October are the busiest months in the Jewish calendar, with Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Many tourists travel to Israel during the month of April due to Passover (Pessach) and Easter. Dates of these holidays may vary from year to year and it’s best to avoid these traveling on these dates. Prices are very expensive during these dates.
In summer, June-August, the average temperature is over 30°-40°C most especially in the south and Negev Desert area. The winter months of November to March are the coldest with occasional snowfall in the northern part, Golan Heights and in Jerusalem. Expect heavy rainfall on coastal areas during this time too.
In general, casual clothing is suitable when travelling to Israel. Jeans, T-shirts, comfortable and sturdy walking shoes are ideal in most of the sites. In winter: It is best to pack warm sweater or coat, jacket, long sleeves shirts, scarves and gloves. Bring also with you an umbrella or rain coat, winter boots or rain boots as heavy rains might occur.
In summer: Lightweight shirts, jeans, maxi dresses or skirt are suitable when travelling during summer in Israel. Do also bring with you sun screen lotion/cream, hat/cap, lightweight scarf and sunglasses. If you’re visiting Dead Sea and Eilat, you must pack with you a swimwear. When visiting religious sites such as mosque, synagogue, church or even the Wailing Wall, always remember to cover up your chest, shoulders, elbows and knees. Avoid wearing sleeveless shirts, ripped jeans, short skirts and shorts. If visiting Jewish religious sites, men should cover their heads with a kippah. It is usually marked with a sign when men must cover their heads, most notably at the Western Wall.
Health & Safety
Take in to consideration of availing a travel insurance including a medical coverage when travelling abroad. You can check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior you travel abroad or depart in your residence country. Israel has one of the most technologically advanced and highest-quality healthcare systems in the world. Hospitals in Israel are equipped with modern facilities and high-quality medical technology. Medical personnel are very well-trained. Doctors mostly speaks in English. Some areas in Israel can be very hot and dry, most especially during summer, please be reminded to always keep yourself hydrated. Here are some lists of contact in case of emergency,
Medical/Ambulance - 101, Police - 100 and Fire and rescue - 102.
The currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel or NIS. Israeli bank notes come in four denominations: 20, 50, 100 and 200 NIS and coins come in five denominations: 10, 5 and 1 NIS; 50 agurot and 10 agurot. These banknotes have braille on them so the blind can easily identify them. All of the major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted and can be used to withdraw funds from ATMs with your pin code.
Tipping is not expected but it is increasingly common in Israel.
For local guide and drivers: On average, 10-20 NIS or $3-5 USD per person per day is the minimum, however if you think you were provided with a good quality of service, a more generous tip is most likely appreciated.
For Restaurants: Waiters will expect a tip, 10-15% of your bill depending on how good the service and how much you ordered.
For taxi drivers: They generally do not expect to be tipped, but you can round off your fare.
For Hotels: 10-20 NIS or $3-5 USD for good housekeeping.
Photography is allowed in most of the historical sites and museums in Israel. It is advisable to be sensitive when taking photos of Muslims and Orthodox Jewish areas. Do not take photos of police or military personnel and/or stations and installations.
Communications and Internet Access
The international dialing code for Israel is +972. Israel is technologically advanced country. Wi-Fi is available in most cafeterias, restaurant, malls, airport and hotels and are usually free, though sometimes you have to ask for the password. Tel Aviv offers a citywide free Wi-Fi network which provides more than 80 free Internet “hot spots” across the city. Wi-Fi is also available on many intercity buses and train, though it is rather slow.
Alcohol and Smoking
Alcohol is forbidden following the traditions of Islam and it is certainly not available in Arabic communities and West Bank. Alcoholic drinks are only available at some hotels for tourists. When purchasing alcoholic drinks, proof of age is required and requested at bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Smoking in all public places such as restaurants, trains, buses, and taxis is against the law.
In Israel, the standard voltage is 230V and the frequency is 50 Hz. There are three associated plug types C, H and M. Type plug C is the plug that has two round pins, also known as “Euro” plug. Plug type H has three pins in a triangular shape and type M has three round pins.
Check-in / Check-out time at Hotels and Room Types
The general check-in time in Israel is 14:00-15:00 and check out time is 12:00. Request for early check-in and/or late check-out, depends on the availability of the hotel and it is not guaranteed. Additional charges will be made according to hotel’s rules and policies. Double room, twin bedded and single room are available to most hotels. For triple sharing, it is either double or twin room with 1 extra roll away bed or a sofa bed.
Ben Gurion Airport (IATA code: TLV and ICAO code: LLBG) is the main international airport in Israel. It is located 20 km south of Tel Aviv and about 45 km from Jerusalem. Tel Aviv airport is considered one of the best airports in Middle East because of its high level security and amazing passenger service. Located in the southern part of the country and about 18 km from Eilat, Ramon airport is the second biggest airport in Israel. It handles the domestic operations Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Holidays in Israel
Holocaust Memorial Day
Yom HaShoah is often known as Holocaust Remembrance Day and an occasion to commemorate the lives and heroism of the six million Jewish people who died in the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945. It usually falls in late April or early May. The law prohibits places of public entertainment from being open on the evening before until the day of Yom HaShoah.
Israel Independence Day
Israeli Independence day also called Yom Haatzmaut, commemorates the declaration of independence in Israel in 1948. It is considered an official national holiday of the state and the only official non-working day in Israel. It usually celebrated in late April or early May in the Hebrew calendar.
Rosh Hashanah or the Jewish New Year is observed the first and second day of the seventh month of the Jewish religious year, Tishri. In western calendar it falls usually during September or early October and this holiday lasts for about 2 days (48 hours). The celebrations continue for ten days of repentance, culminating on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. In the Old Testament in the book of Leviticus and Numbers, it is known as Feast of the Trumpets.
Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. As a tourist it is advisable not to travel on this day as all malls, restaurants, cultural sites, museum and land borders are closed. Both public and private transportations and tours are not allowed and roads will be empty.
Some tourists cross the border early and take their time to travel to Petra or Wadi Rum during Yom Kippur.
-Sight-seeing tours are operated and led by a local guides and/or local drivers.
-Be sensitive in discussing politics and religion. It is better to do research or some readings prior you travel in Israel and other Palestinian territories.
-Always follow security warning from the authorities. Always best to carry with you your passport as ID.
-Be mindful and respectful when talking about the Holocaust and never make jokes about it.
-Israel is a hot country, most especially during summer time, it is important to keep yourself hydrated all the time. It is not necessary to buy bottled water as tap water is safe in Israel. Do not do hiking in the height of summer heat.
-When hiking at off beaten paths such as the Golan Heights, it is advisable to hire an expert guide, better yet a local guide licensed by the Israel Ministry of Tourism.
-Local products especially Dead Sea products are very popular souvenirs or gifts. Supporting such products is also a way to help Israeli and Palestinian locals.
-When travelling to Red Sea and doing water activities such as scuba diving, book with diving company that has responsible tourism credentials.
Jordan is a small country, but offers a wide range of landscapes and travel experiences. The Jordanian people are in general welcoming and hospitable. The territory of present-day Jordan was originally inhabited by numerous civilizations like the Nabataeans, Romans, Greeks, Assyrians, Crusaders, Mamluks and Ottoman Turks. Their marks can be seen in ancient ruins and architecture. In May 1946 Transjordan became independent from the British Mandate. 4 years later is was renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In 1953 Hussein Ibn Talal became king until his death in 1999. His son King Abdullah II rules since then the parliamentary monarchy. The country has an estimated population of 10 million; the capital is Amman. Official language is Arabic, English is widely spoken. The time zone is GMT+2 and in summer GMT+3.
Jordan shares borders with Israel, the West Bank, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The Dead Sea is with 420 meters below sea level the lowest point on earth; the highest point in Jordan is Jabal Umm Al Dami in Wadi Rum with 1,854 meters. A narrow access to the Red Sea in the south exists through Aqaba. The three main areas are the Jordan Valley, the Mountain Heights Plateau and the Eastern desert. You find here a wide range of environments, deserts, mountains, fertile valleys and a small coastline.
Best Time to Visit
Most pleasant time to travel is in spring (mid March to May) and autumn (September to November). Summer is dry with a Mediterranean climate. But it can be very warm at the Dead Sea, in Wadi Rum and Aqaba. In turn, Dead Sea and Aqaba offer pleasant stays in winter time. In the rest of the country weather is cool with occasional rain, in areas on high altitudes like Dana and Petra snowfall might occur. Jordan celebrates Ramadan. You need to consider that in this period outside touristic areas not all restaurants and shops are open during daylight.
Jordan is a Muslim country and the dress code is conservative. For men and women it is recommended to cover knees and shoulders, avoid tight fitting clothes and cleavage. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the King Abdullah Mosque in Amman, women need to cover the hair when doing so. Beachwear is only accepted at hotel pools and beaches. Lightweight clothes are recommended for the period May to September. Still pack a sweater or jacket, the nights are rather cool. Warm clothes are especially recommended for mid of December until February. Please check the weather a week or two before your holiday to pack appropriately.
Health & Safety
Jordan has in general a good health care system, with the best hospitals located in Amman. Most medical professionals have been trained abroad and speak English. The tap water is not safe to drink and heavily chlorinated. Stick to bottled water and avoid ice cubes in drinks. Ensure meat and fish are well cooked, avoid raw vegetables and peel fruits. For safety information please check the advisory of your government.
Currency and Money
The currency is the Jordanian Dinar, abbreviation is JOD or JD. Notes are available in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 JD. Coins are in use for ½ and ¼ JD , 10, 5 and 1 piasters. Major credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and larger shops. Make sure you carry some cash with you as smaller shops may not accept credit cards. ATMs can be found in most of the larger towns. In rural and remote areas like Wadi Rum have cash on hand. Foreign currencies can be exchanged easily in exchange shops or banks.
Jordan has a tipping culture. Hotels and restaurants add a surcharge that is included in bills, which is usually 10%. Rounding up bills and leaving spare change is a good idea when dining in smaller restaurants and when using taxis. Drivers and guides are expecting tips, the amount is up to the traveler.
Do not take photographs of individuals without their permission. Drones and telescopes are not permitted to bring into Jordan. It is forbidden to take pictures of military facilities and borders.
Internet can usually be accessed from hotels. Expect reduced access in villages and remote areas. For example, camps located deeper in the desert of Wadi Rum have no internet access.
Alcohol can be bought in liquor stores, most of them you find in Amman and Aqaba. Respect the local culture and do not consume alcohol in public places. Many hotels and restaurants serve alcohol, but not all though. Adults are allowed to bring one litre of alcohol into the country.
To support local economies we encourage you to visit local restaurants and wherever possible stay at locally run hotels. Do not enter homes or tents without being invited. Some areas are restricted to women only. Remove all litter when leaving a picnic site.