Travel in/around/to Israel

First thing first, travel to Israel means you may not be able to travel somewhere else. They used to have it such that you’d have to tell the border control to not stamp your passport. They no longer do that, they just give you a little slip of paper instead. Problem solved!

Getting in and out

There’s a train to Tel Aviv from Ben Gurion Airport. It’s pretty cheap, about $5 and super easy to take. A cab will cost you areound $50. The main thing, is try to be there not too late and not on shabbat (more on that in Shabbat section). There’s no Uber so you can’t save money that way.

Rental Cars

There’s a mandatory insurance here. So whatever Kayak says, double it. Most companies also have a cap now that adds more money per km. So be careful. If you get any tickets the fines are stiff not just from Israel, but the car company as well.  Expect to pay a total of about $30 bucks a day for a small car.

Service and Tipping

Tipping about 10% is pretty good unless you’re in a super touristy place. Of course, the service you will get is pretty bad. There’s no “service” industry here, just college kids making money before they go in the real world and the whole idea of customer is king doesn’t exist here. So expect to get people’s attention, don’t expect to be babied and expect the food to be amazing, not the service.

Public Transportation

The public tranportation aside from Shabbat is great. It is cheap ($3 around city and $10 between cities) and easy, you can take buses or trains. There’s light rail in Jerusalem and soon a rail service in Tel Aviv and between TA and Jerusalem. There’s also green bikes you can rent but they are more pricey ($30 for a week).

Shabbat

Every since 1948, Israel has had a thing with Shabbat, public transport doesn’t work. This begins on Friday afternoon. So remember that! This also means try not to arrive in Israel after 3pm on a Friday. On Saturday evening everything resumes. This includes grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. In some cities even restaurants don’t open, not in Tel Aviv.

Hotels

They are expensive! And the expense doesn’t cover good quality. However, there are some great hostels like Abraham in Tel Aviv or Citadel in Jerusalem. If you are staying in a hotel, get a good one, price won’t be much different but the quality and the service will be.

West Bank

Try to stay out of there or go with a guide. It’s a lot safer since a lot of Arab Israelis go there with Israeli license plates, so you won’t necessarily get stoned. Get ready for a lot of people begging and a lot of anti-Israel propaganda.

 

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