Visiting the Holy Land is a must for many people to do at least once in their lifetime. Even if you aren’t religious, the beauty of the architecture and the history of the nation is more than enough reason to go. A lot of people aren’t sure how to go about it, with questions like “do I need a visa to travel to Israel?” and “how much does it cost?”
Our guide will answer all the above and more!
1. Do I need a visa to travel to Israel?
Many citizens from various countries are issued a tourist visa free of charge when they enter Israel. This includes the Philippines and Singapore! However, visitors from Malaysia needs to get a B/2 Visitors Visa approved by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). It costs $17 to apply plus further administration fees. If you aren’t sure whether you need to apply for a visa, check the MFA’s official site for the full list of countries who require visa applications.
2. What should I pack?
This depends on two factors – what time of the year are you going and if you planning on visiting religious sites.
During summer (May-September), you can bring clothing fit for the beach like short-sleeved or sleeveless shirts, shorts, flip flops and so on. Bear in mind it gets chilly at night, so a sweater or hoody will come in handy. Coming in winter (November-February) means you’ll need slightly thicker material. A waterproof light coat, shoes and long pants should do the trick. It does occasionally enjoy some sunny spells so do bring a t-shirt or two for these occasions.
There’s sun all year round, so sunscreen and shades will go a long way!
If you plan to go to religious sites like Jerusalem or mosques, you need to dress modestly. This means ladies need skirts or trousers covering at least up to the knee. Tops must have sleeves covering from the elbows onwards. And of course, no midriffs or revealing items. You won’t need to cover your hair if you’re a lady, but men need to have some sort of headgear if going to a Jewish site.
3. How much does it cost to fly to Israel?
Many flights will arrive in the main airport in Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport. The tickets aren’t that expensive either, starting from $1000. People normally suggest spending between ten days and two weeks to get the most out of your visit.
4. When is the best time to visit the Holy Land?
There hasn’t been any consensus on when is the best time and it boils down to what you want from your experience. If you like big crowds and a lot of action, the summer months are normally very busy. May and November are the off-peak months meaning fewer people and cheaper tickets. Also bear in mind the temperature, as it can get very sweaty during summer.
5. Is it expensive in Israel?
The main currency is Israeli Shekel and the main language is Hebrew. People do speak English so you’ll be able to get about and ask for directions without an issue.
As of writing, $1 is roughly 3.6 Israeli Shekel. Although it might seem quite chilled, the prices often catch people out! While a pint of beer may cost $5, you could pay $7 for the equivalent in Tel Aviv. This makes sense since Tel Aviv was rated as the 14th most expensive city in the world.
A mid-range hotel will cost $95 and street food ranges from $5 to $8. There are budget accommodation options as low as $22.50 per night, but they may be further out and have much fewer amenities.
Markets like Levinski Market and Carmel Market offer much cheaper natural produce, which might help your budget go a long way.
6. How do I travel around?
It’s very safe travelling in Israel. Since the terrorist attacks escalated, the level of security also heightened to match any threats. The news might scare people, but these are infrequent incidents. In fact, Israel enjoyed a record-breaking number of 3.6 million visitors in 2017.
Travelling from place to place is normally done through Gett, the taxi-hailing app. Uber is non-existent in Israel, but Gett does more than a good enough job. Trains and buses are also available but they’re not as centrally located so it may be harder to get to the popular sites.
7. What should I see in the Holy Land?
While Tel Aviv is synonymous with play, Jerusalem is known as the place to pray. Israel gained the name of the “Holy Land” because it shares deep religious symbolic meaning in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And the landmarks are breathtaking in their beauty and history.
Touring the Old City of Jerusalem can easily take up to a day or two. People often travel thousands of miles to see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western (Wailing) Wall, and the Dome of the Rock. A more somber site is the Yad Vashem, a memorial that commemorates the 6 million victims from the Holocaust.
These are popular religious spots in the Holy Land. If you’re looking for holiday vibes, Israel has many beautiful free beaches to splash out like Tel Aviv beach. The Baha’i Gardens in Haifa are a botanical wonder, and even better is that it’s free!
Our guide gives you the low-down from do I need a visa to travel to Israel, to how to get around and what to see. Share with your friends if you’re looking for the next holiday destination!
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