10 Things You Need To Know When Visiting Israel

10 Things You Need To Know When Visiting Israel
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What you need to know?

It's always good to be properly informed when traveling, especially if you're traveling  on your own. Here are the 10 things you need to know when visiting Israel that will definitely help you. Since my Israel trip was a school trip, I was privileged to not  do all the research because everything was already organized. Nevertheless, I must say entering and leaving Israel can be complicated and can cause you inconviences without knowing the following :

1 .  Free visa 

If you are from these countries below, you do not need a tourist visa to come to Israel.

Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Georgia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea South, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Macedonia, Malawi, Malta, Man & Canal Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niue, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, St Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu. (This information here may change, so for updated information please visit Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs  official site. )

However, as indicated in the Israeli Ministry Of Tourism, make sure that your passport is still valid until six months from the date they are departing the country. They will be issued a free visa upon arrival and this is valid for three months.

For complete list of countries that need visa to enter Israel, please click here. 

2. No Entry to Israel

There are some countries like : Afghanistan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somail, Sudan and other Middle-East /Arabic countries  doesn't allow their citizens from entering Israel, and to some extent it can be worse like considered as a crime. Therefore it may be hard for you to enter the country. In the same way if you are from Israel or had been to Israel and you're planning to visit those Arab countries afterwards, make sure to request from the passport control window to not put a stamp in your passport, and you will be given a tourist visa like this.

This is the sample copy of  my tourist visa on a small piece of paper.

3. Long Line

 Expect a long line by the time you enter the Immigration of Israel, the waiting time might take an hour or two. This is due to some people having some stamps with their passports from other arabic countries and were not aware of the regulations, unfortunately some of them were denied to enter Israel. It is not advisable to make important appointments 2-3 hrs after your flight, unless you have some VIP pass in the immigration control.

 

 

Falafel

Falafel in Israel

 

4. Food When I think about food in Israel, it's Kosher! And when I think about Kosher, it's Falafel. If you don't know what Falafel is yet, it is fried ground chick peas served with salad in pita. Most of the restaurants are Kosher certified, they serve either dairy or meat or fish. Foods are prepared in a special way and restaurants are closed on Shabbath. But of course not all restaurants are Kosher, so don't worry if ever you get tired of eating Kosher.

5. Shabbath Or Sabbath. Experiencing the Shabbath in Israel was very especial! It starts on Friday at seven in the evening and finished on Saturday also at seven in the evening. Most of the public offices, businesses and stores are closed. I can still remember we were walking all day in the city during the Shabbath since we didn't have a bus driver.

6. Dress Codes

When you are visiting Israel during the summer months, for women, bring some nice conservative dresses when you're planning to visit Holy places. Holy places have dress codes like : dresses or skirts should be below the knee and blouses should have sleeves. Otherwise, bring a shawl so you have something to put on your bare skin and can take it off when you go out. Going to the mosque has the most strict rules for women. You can't show your bare legs and shoulders. Moreover, skinny or tight jeans  are also not allowed.

7.  Make friends 

Don't hesitate to ask and talk to locals even to the soldiers. They are notably open, accomodating and immensely proud of their way of life, culture and whatever their country could offer. Make friends with the waiters in your hotel too, they're very helpful especially on Shabbath when you're not suppose to get other normal services!

Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Israel

Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Israel

8. Ignore Rude Sellers

If you are on the go for souvenir shopping, there are several market places you can go in Israel. I got excited when I saw some of those crowded market places in Jerusalem because it made me feel a little bit home. I love to shop souvenir item whenever I travel and the chance to use my negotiating skills again. Unfortunately, there were some sellers who can get too pushy or hard selling and even got upset when you don't buy anything. Well, who would like to buy when you are pressured to the highest level? If ever you are in that situation just ignore them, it might ruin your day 😉 My classmates were all terrified when they experienced being shouted at. But of course it's still important to respect each other. When you don't have plans to buy don't ask them questions that might lead them to buying expectations to stay away from trouble.

9. Weapons Everywhere. In Israel, it's normal to see soldiers walking around while carrying rifles or any weapons. Don't be scared. It's their way of having security around. You'll get used to it somehow. Talk to them they are the most welcoming, amiable and helpful people around.

Jordan River (at the back)

10. Dead Sea Never open your eyes when swimming and be careful to not put a drop of salt water in your eyes. However if you accidentally put some ( like I did), just calm down and don't open your eyes so as not to get it worse, then call a friend to walk with you to the shower area. I tell you, it was really painful that I thought I'll damage my eyes. It is advisable to not go for a swim alone, unless you're 100% sure that you won't spill water in your eyes. 

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  • Marjorie Gavan

    I’m so happy to know that I don’t need a visa to go there. I’ve always dreamed about visiting Jerusalem. Thanks for the tips, especially the not opening your eyes in the Dead Sea part.

    • Crizzy Kiss

      I’m glad too that you don’t need one and it’s actually nice to know that many countries don’t need visa to go there, that was why I included the list here. I will be writing more about the places I’d visited and activities in Israel soon, so keep posted! Yes, I was a victim myself of spilling salt water in my eyes because I got carried away when I was floating in the water (or I was probably somewhere else when the tour guide was giving instructions;)), so I thought it’s something everyone should be aware of..;)

  • This would be a fascinating place to visit and soak up the culture. I love trying the local foods wherever we travel but knowing what to select is always a challenge without some guidance.

    • Crizzy Kiss

      It’s definitely a totally different culture you get to experience in Israel! 😉 And I’m sure you will have great food experience there too 😉

  • Prianka

    Great to know that I don’t need a visa to go there! Always looking for more places that I can pass into easily. You mentioned Falafel – what is your favourite place to eat it?

    • Crizzy Kiss

      About my favorite place to eat, it’s actually hard to tell since we went to different places everyday. We had great breakfast and dinner included in our hotel. We stayed in 2 hotels to save time in traveling, and they both had great variety of food you can choose from. But one of the places that had really nice location and served good coffee and refreshments was in Golan Heights, the name of the place is Coffee Annan.. 😉

  • Israel is highly on my list. I just watch a Israel cooking demo and it was great!

    • Crizzy Kiss

      You definitely should go! But I suggest you go with a group 😉

  • Sarah Perez

    Oh wow, the salt in the eyes thing sounds scary! Thanks for all the info, I hope to put it to good use some day soon!

    • Crizzy Kiss

      It is scary and it was surprising that I didn’t get any warning about the salt water.

  • It would be an interesting place to visit. So much history there. Pity they always seem to be in the news for the wrong reasons.

    • Crizzy Kiss

      Yes, it is very interesting and for me, I couldn’t describe in words what I experienced in Israel. Forget about what you heard in the news, Israel has so much more to offer than what we heard in the media.

  • learninglifeslessonsthefunway

    This sounds like a cool place to head to! I’ll be wary of swimming in the dead sea though, I’ve never even thought about the salt content and getting it in your eyes

    • Crizzy Kiss

      Absolutely! I didn’t think about it either. I was blessed and lucky that nothing bad happened to me 😉

  • Wow, I never thought about getting salt water in your eyes in the dead sea, that sounds horrific (I’m bad enough in swimming pools!).

    • Crizzy Kiss

      It somehow felt good to know that it wasn’t just me who never thought about the salt water in the dead sea! LoL

  • Dannielle

    Thanks for this useful guide. I keep reading about travel in Israel but think I would have my reservations. I still want to go though!

    • Crizzy Kiss

      You’re welcome! If you’re thinking about going to Israel, then you should! As long as you stay away from the areas that has political and religious conflicts such as the West Bank and Gaza, you’ll be safe 😉

  • I didn’t know I wouldn’t need a visa. Thank you for all the tips!

    • Crizzy Kiss

      That’s good to know! ..My pleasure 😉

  • Thank you for this. We are heading to Israel soon and I had no idea you coudn’t open up your eyes in the Dead Sea. Although it makes sense when you think about it!

    • Crizzy Kiss

      Great to hear that you’re heading there soon! I’m sure you’re going to have a great time. Yes, dead sea has 34.2% salinity so it’s like you are swimming in the melted salt 😉

  • Grietje Evenwel

    Oh yes, please be so careful with the Dead Sea! She can heal you, but also really hurt you!

    • Crizzy Kiss

      You’re definitely right! 😉

  • OMG! I love Israel! I would def gonna visit this one day! Hopefully next year!

    • Crizzy Kiss

      I’m sure you will! It’s absolutely well worth it 😉

  • This is great to know. I am of Jewish ancestry and have always wanted to visit!

    • Crizzy Kiss

      Oh really! It’ll be even more special for then to go 😉 We actually had met many tourists with Jewish ancestry as well, very interesting!

      • Yes, I think it is quite popular for people to visit due to family, I think in America they have a program to pay for students to visit too, but alas I am English…and not a student any more! ha!

  • Time to pack my bags for Israel. Very informative post.

    • Crizzy Kiss

      Thanks! Hope you find it useful 😉

  • Alexis

    So much great advice! I hope to get there and sample the falafel in person someday:)

    • Crizzy Kiss

      Thanks! Yes, you definitely should 😉

  • Christine Messina

    Good to know! I am hoping to go one day 🙂

    • Crizzy Kiss

      Great!

  • Girl Unspotted

    I could go for a falafel meal right about now after looking at that pic!

    • Crizzy Kiss

      LoL! I bought falafel here in Oslo last weekend, but I was disappointed. It wasn’t even near from what I had in Israel.

  • Great list! Israel has been on my list since forever and looking at your photos and advice, I’d want to visit sooner or later 🙂

    • Crizzy Kiss

      Yes, you should and much better to go together with somebody or friends so you can look after each other.

  • Wow, I think I would be scary to go swimming there after reading this post 🙂 Never been to the Dead sea so far but I have never heard about such advise so far.

    • Crizzy Kiss

      No, you don’t have to be scared! At least you’re well informed now, you just have to be extra careful 😉 In fact I’m sure you’ll find it amazing because you will actually float in the water without any effort. Remember, you will be standing/ swimming in the lowest elevation on earth! 😉

  • Rah Ul

    One of the top most countries I really really wanna visit! But are you sure that Indians don’t need a tourist visa for Israel? Because I am pretty sure we do 🙂

    • Crizzy Kiss

      Unfortunately for India, yes 🙁 So sorry I missed out on India…how could I?! Also, information on other countries too may change but for updated information I recommend to check here http://mfa.gov.il/MFA_Graphics/MFA%20Gallery/Consular%20forms/VisaRequirements.pdf ( it’s under the list of the Israel Ministry for Foreign Affairs) Thank you so much for the heads up! I hope this won’t stop you from visiting Israel! You still have to see it 😉