Israel is a spectacular destination, with a vast amount of landmarks within its borders. Although traveling without previous knowledge about the destination can be fun, it is not always smart. Especially if you are traveling to one of the areas with known deadly conflicts.
However, with some knowledge and planning, you could get the most out of your visit to Israel with no problems whatsoever. These are the things you need to know before traveling to Israel.
1. Israeli passport stamp could get you in trouble
Unfortunately, hatred can go to great lengths. Some Arab countries hate Israel and everything from it with such determination that even a tourist from Israel can become a person non grata.
If you are planning to go from Israel to these countries, you will need to take precaution:
- Saudi Arabia
There are couple of ways you can avoid getting an Israeli stamp in your passport.
- Get a second passport – Some countries can issue their citizens a second passport on request. If you can obtain one, use it when visiting Israel, while using your regular passport for other countries.
- Get the entry stamp on a separate piece of paper – Since 2013. most immigration clerks will issue you an entry stamp on a separate piece of paper, whether you want it or not. However, there were cases when they did not do this. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure to ask them to give you the entry stamp on a separate piece of paper anyway.
Even if you hide the traces of your visit to Israel from your passport, you could still be denied entry to the countries listed above if you visited neighbouring countries from Israel.
Also, don’t forget to remove all the luggage stamps and such, that you got while in Israel.
2. Understand where you are going
Political and religious conflicts have shaped the last century of Israeli history. It is important to have some background about the happenings in this small country.
By doing your homework, and learning about world history, you will avoid some awkward moments – like asking an Israeli taxi driver to drive you to Bethlehem.
3. Is Israel safe?
In most areas, Israel is a very safe country. However, conflicts are ever-constant and can escalate quickly.
There are some clashings every year, so be sure to follow the news and always check with your foreign office for relevant information on travel restrictions.
We are still talking about a country that is almost surrounded by conflict (Iraq, Syria, Palestine), so there is a heightened risk than some other countries, even though the security is very high.
Generally speaking, it is safe, but you shouldn’t go near Gaza and don’t ignore safety warnings from your country officials if there are ones.
4. The Israeli working week – Shabbat
Unlike the rest of the world, Jews center their work week on their day of rest – Shabbat. Shabbat starts on Friday (at sunset) and ends on Saturday (at sunset).
What does this mean? Many businesses and public transportation will shut down for the weekend. In some places, places can close as early as 2 p.m.
5. Climate is not the only thing that it’s warm
People of Israel are considered to be very warm and inviting. You would be receiving invitations to social gatherings, because Israelis want you to see their way of living. Dinner invitations for Shabbat are very common, and are also a great way to get to taste the delicious local foods.
Also, considering Israel has recently decriminalized marijuana, medical device regulatory affairs consulting firms have a lot of work, but you can have fun. Just make sure you know everything there is to know about this kind of fun in Israel.
6. Wailing Wall is the grandes landmark in Jerusalem and whole Israel
The Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall or Kotel, is a place of great importance for Jews and Muslims.
For Jews, its importance lies in the fact that it is the closest place to the holiest Jewish site. Jewish prayers from all over the world are directed at its location. The area in front of the wall is considered to be an open Sinagog, and since jews pray separately, the space is divided to women and men area.
Islamic people believe that it was here where Prophet Muhammad tied his steed while on his journey to Jerusalem. It is why the al-Aqsa mosque was later built here.
The wall is also a popular tourist spot, because of the belief that you ll get your wish if you write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the wall.
7. Israel has a religious capital of the world
Israel’s capital – Jerusalem is a holy city for people of three major religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), and while there are many sacred places in Jerusalem, the one of most imporatance for them all is the Temple Mount.
Get informed about Israeli history, plan your visit accordingly and you will have no trouble at all.