All participants must be in possession of a valid Canadian, U.S. or EU passport. The passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 (six) months after the return home and should have sufficient blank pages for immigration stamps. Visitors are permitted to stay in the country for three months from the date of arrival. It is advisable that you make a photocopy of pages 2 and 3 of your passport as well as carrying a passport sized photo in case your passport is lost or stolen.
The visa is the permission of the visiting nation to allow you to enter. Citizens of Canada, the USA and Europe do not require a visa to visit Israel. Other nationalities should contact Aufgang Travel to determine their status
No vaccinations or shots are required for U.S or Canadian visitors to Israel. However, it is recommended that travellers keep their immunization shots up to date.
- Israeli/Jordanian Border Crossings
There are three crossing points used frequently for travel between Israel and Jordan: The Arava crossing near Eilat, the Sheikh Hussein crossing in the north and the Allenby Bridge (King Hussein) crossing near Jerusalem. Canadian citizens can secure visas for Jordan locally when crossing at Arava (Eilat) or Sheikh Hussein (North). However to cross at the Allenby Bridge (Jerusalem), visas must be prearranged prior to your departure from home and cannot be secured locally. Without this visa you will be denied entry.
- Travel to Arab Countries
Travelling to Jordan and Egypt from Israel is usually hassle free. Since several Arabic countries block passports containing stamps or visas from Israel, should you be planning to visit an Arab country please make sure to have your passport stamped on a separate piece of paper when entering.Please note several Arabic countries will look for a Jordanian/Egyptian exit stamp from any of the land borders with Israel and upon finding one will prohibit your entry if they find one.
- Travel Insurance
Many experienced travellers do not realize that their Canadian health insurance will not cover them when traveling outside of the country. The cost of emergency medical care outside Canada can be very high and you are encouraged to purchase proper coverage from Aufgang Travel. The cost of this coverage is determined by the age of the traveller, the duration of the trip and the home province of the traveller. Out-Of-Country medical insurance may be purchased at any time before departure and must cover the entire stay including the departure and return dates. Participants over the age of 65 will be required to complete a medical questionnaire to determine their rate.Trip cancellation/Interruption insurance will cover your non-refundable portions of your air and land arrangements in case you need to cancel due to an unforeseen emergency or serious illness.Most travel insurance policies also cover lost baggage and world wide emergency assistance coverage.
- Medical Information
Please remember to keep your medication in the original bottle and that you carry them in your carry-on luggage not the checked luggageYou might also consider taking a supply of Imodium, a small medical kit including polysporin and band aids, all purpose tissues, instant hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, etc. While touring, please remember not to pack your medication in your luggage.
- What to Pack
In the unlikely event that your suitcase is delayed or lost, we strongly suggest that you package a change of clothing as well as some necessities such as medication and a spare pair of glasses.Summer Season: Very light and comfortable cotton clothing, preferably drip-dry for day wear. In the mountains (Jerusalem, Safed and Upper Galilee) a sweater is quite useful in the evening even in the middle of summer. This also holds true for the desert.In-Between Season: Light coats, sweaters, suits and light shirts. The secret of dressing for this time of year is to “layer” and “peel” as the weather changes during the day.Winter Season: Warm coat, raincoat, hat, sweaters, woolen or heavy suit, warm shoes and boots. Lighter clothing and a swimsuit are suitable if you are traveling to Eilat on the Red Sea or to the Dead Sea area.Note: Proper attire is suggested for visits to Holy sites; no shorts or sleeveless blouses for women.
Don’t Forget to Pack: (a few suggestions)
- A scarf/pashmina (for head and or shoulders)
- Very comfortable walking shoes
- Bathing Suit
- Medical and eyeglass prescriptions
- Crease-free and casual clothing
- Tote bag for day trips
- Closed rubber water shoes for the Dead Sea
- Sunglasses/sunhat /sunscreen
- Credit Cards and ATM Machines
We would suggest that you call your bank and credit card companies prior to departure to advise them when and where you will be travelling. This may help alleviate potential problems with any of your transactions being declined while on your trip. Check with your bank to ensure that you can withdraw cash on your cards abroad and that your card is valid for a minimum of 30 days beyond your trip completion date.Ask your credit card companies for emergency numbers for international access â€“ not those starting with 800 to report a loss or stolen card.Some credit card terminals now require a 4 digit PIN. If you have not already been assigned a PIN number, please check with your credit card company to obtain a PIN number prior to leaving home. Major international credit and debit cards including Visa and Mastercard are accepted in the larger hotels and at foreign currency shops and restaurants (but cash in local currency is preferred). American Express cards may not be readily accepted.
AT THE AIRPORT
- Airport Security
Security checks are routine part of international travel and are carried out for your safety and protection. You can expect to be questioned about the contents of your luggage. Who packed the luggage and whether it was stored in a supervised place before reaching the airport. Do not take any mail, packages or items from anyone before or after arriving at the airport.
Complimentary baggage allowance is determined by the fare, class of service, destination, date of travel and frequent flyer status. Please review the baggage limitations with the Aufgang Travel professional.Passengers whose travel arrangements involve connecting flights on other airlines should enquire at airport check-in whether they can check their luggage to the final destination or whether they must claim their luggage at the connecting point and recheck it when connecting to another flight.Excess baggage will be assessed on any piece of luggage exceeding the limits specified by the airlines for both checked and carry on luggage.
- Frequent Flyer Numbers
It is recommended that each individual participant secure his/her own frequent flyer number to receive mileage credit. We strongly recommend that you retain copies of your air tickets and all boarding passes to ensure that your account is properly credited for mileage accrued. If within 60 days of your return home, your points have not been applied, this information should then be sent to the account provided to obtain your mileage credit.
ARRIVAL IN ISRAEL
- Israel Customs
You may bring in almost anything you will need for personal use during your visit. The per adult items that are limited are: .4 pints cologne or perfume; 1 litre of liquor; 2 litres of wine; 250 grams in cigars or loose tobacco; 250 cigarettes and gifts up to $200.00 in value.
- Arrival Transfers
For passengers who purchased an arrival transfer from Ben Gurion Airport, a host/hostess will meet you once you have cleared passport control. In the event you have difficulties locating him/her, please proceed to the information counter and they will gladly page the host/hostess.
HOTELS & TOURING
- Checking in at your hotel
Since customary check in is usually around 3;00 PM, there is a possibility that your room may not be available when you arrive. You will have the opportunity to store your luggage with the concierge. Perhaps take a walk or enjoy a cup of coffee at one of the nearby coffee shops.
We recommend that you use the safe in your hotel room (or in the hotel) for your valuables and passports etc.
Each hotel provides its own selection of standard buffet breakfast fare. As in North America, it is not permitted to remove food from the breakfast room. While some hotels may be able to provide meals for special diets such as vegetarian or salt free, this cannot be guaranteed. Special requests such as this usually carry an additional cost.
Motorcoaches in Israel are not equipped with washrooms due to the short distances travelled and the frequent comfort breaks. For health and hygienic reasons, it is advisable not to carry perishable food while traveling on the motorcoach due to lack of refrigeration.
- Tour Guides
The Israeli tour guides are world famous. They are well trained, extraordinarily knowledgeable and ready at all times to assist you with your special requests and arrangements. Your guide will be happy to make suggestions for evenings or free days.There is so much to see in Israel and you will want to accomplish the maximum during the short time you will be here. Therefore, you are asked follow the guide’s instructions and try be punctual at all times.
- Visiting Churches or Mosques
When visiting a holy site or house of prayer please remember to dress modestly. Ladies are asked to cover arms and legs. At Jewish synagogues or holy sites, gentlemen will need to cover their heads as a form of respect. When entering a mosque, be sure to take off your shoes.
Tipping in Israel is very similar to tipping in the Canada. Use your own discretion based on your personal satisfaction with the services provided as to how much you are going to tip. The following is a suggested guideline:Restaurant & Hotel Dining Rooms: Average tip is approximately 15% (tips are not expected in the hotels at breakfast)Included dinners on Tour: Tips are not included. We suggest a tip of $2.00 per personBellboys: We suggest a tip of $1.00-$2.00 per person for service to and from your roomChambermaids: We recommend approximately $1.00 per person per day.Taxicabs: Israelis do not normally tip taxi drivers.
Tour Guides and Drivers: It is customary to show your appreciation to the guide and driver of your tour. Please note the following suggestions:
Bus Tour: The average tip ( per person, per day) should be approximately $3.00 – $4.00 to the driver and from $7.00 – $10.00 for the guide depending on your level of satisfaction for his/her services.
Private Car Tours: From $10.00 for the guide/driver per person, per day is recommended depending on your level of satisfaction for his/her services.
- Public Telephones
Since there is a service charge on international calls from hotels–even with calling cards–we suggest that whenever possible you use the public pay phones. Phone cards may be purchased at the front desk or newsstand at your hotel. Instructions on how to use the pay phone are clearly illustrated and explained in English on the telephone itself.
- Keeping in Touch
How to call Israel: To call Israel from North America, dial 011-972 and then the number in Israel including the area code (omitting the initial zero).If you are bringing your own mobile phone, roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies. Please check the roaming rates prior to departure.Calling Cards: Public phones in Israel operate with calling cards purchased from your hotel, post office, kiosks and newsstands throughout the country.Cell phones: It’s easy to rent a cell phone for Israel and the cost is very affordable. You can access the link to TalknSave at http://www.talknsave.net/ and have the phone waiting for you at your first hotel, or contact you a cell phone provider of your choice.Postal Services: You can buy stamps at your hotel, at kiosks and at post offices. The post office also sells calling cards and will help you with money transfers.Internet: Access to the internet is widely available in hotels and internet cafes. Travellers can get on the internet in their hotel’s business centre or with your own laptop from the comfort of your hotel room (there is a charge for internet access). Oftentimes rates are available for 15 minutes, 30 minutes and 1 hour. You will find internet cafes and public internet outlets all over Israel.
Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel, although Hebrew is most commonly spoken. English is commonly understood. All street and road signs have Hebrew, Arabic and English instructions
- Shabbat & Religious Holiday Schedule
Shabbat and Jewish religious holidays begin at sundown and end on sundown the following day.Public transportation stops on Fridays about an hour before the onset of the Sabbath (except in Haifa, Nazareth and East Jerusalem) and starts again after nightfall on Saturday. Most theatres, cinemas and restaurants are closed, however, most non kosher restaurants are open. In the major cities, most shops are closed, except in the non Jewish neighborhoods.Although some museums, zoos and public places stay open, they do not sell tickets on Shabbat. You must buy them in advance. Hotel restaurants and room service operate normally on Shabbat with some menu limitations.If you are will be driving on Shabbat, please be respectful and try to avoid orthodox areas. Some private bus companies and sightseeing tours do operate on the Sabbath.
The New Israeli Shekel (NIS) is the country’s legal tender. The Shekel is divided into 100 agorot. Bills are available in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Shekels. There are coins of 1, 5 and 10 Shekels, 5, 10, and 50 agorot.You may bring an unlimited amount of foreign currency into Israel- cash, traveler’s cheques, letters of credit or State of Israel bonds. Upon departure you may take out up to NIS 1,000.We recommend that travellers change some currency at Ben Gurion Airport on arrival in order to pay for incidental items such as buses, taxis, fast food, newspaper, soft drinks etc. We suggest that you change only a limited amount at one time, as it will cost you a fee when you change back to US or Canadian funds. Most places accept major credit cards and US travellers cheques. Travellers cheques in Canadian funds are not as readily accepted).ATM machines can be found throughout Israel where you can withdraw NIS from local ATM using your Canadian bankcard. We also recommend that you contact your visa card bank advising them that you will be out of the country so that they will honor any charges that you may make during your holiday.
- Foreign Currency Exchange
Tourists who have changed foreign currency into Israeli currency (NIS), may re-exchange their money into dollars by presenting the receipt of the transaction up to a maximum of $500.US. This may be done at any bank in Israel or at Ben Gurion Airport upon departure.
- V.A.T (Value Added Tax)
The V.A.T (Value Added Tax) is 16.5%. All tourists in Israel are exempt from V.A.T when paying for tours, accommodations, sightseeing services in foreign currency. It is advisable to charge all of your extras, including meals to your room and when checking out pay in USD, Travelers cheques or credit card. Anything that is not charged to your room even if paid in dollars, will be assessed the V.A.T.When purchasing items in approved shops, be sure to ask for a “V.A.T Refund form”. This will entitle you to a V.A.T Refund at Ben Gurion International Airport upon departure at the Bank Leumi counter. The refund will be given in cash after presentation of your purchase invoice.Note: Passengers who are in possession of an Israeli passport (including those with dual citizenship) are subject to V.A.T charge levied in Israel at the hotels or for car rentals. It must be paid, if requested, directly to the hotel/establishment.
- Banking Hours
Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 4:00pm to 5:30pm, Monday and Wednesday from 8:30am to 12:30pm and eve of holidays from 8:30am to Noon. Branches in leading hotels usually offer additional hours.
Israeli standard time is generally 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, 1 hour ahead of mid-European Time. Israel is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and 10 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.There are some short stretches between the changeover to/from Daylight Saving Time where the time difference is 6 hours
- Electrical Appliances
The electric current in Israel is 220 volts AC, single phase, 50 cycles. Sockets are usually three pronged and foreign made appliances often require adapters for plugs. Most hotels provide hair dryers, and virtually all hotel rooms have 110/220 electric shaver sockets. Hotels and electrical stores can easily supply you with the right adapter if necessary.
The weather in Israel is often compared to the temperate climate found in Florida and southern California. There are sun drenched summers and mild, balmy winters. However, as in most countries there can be sharp contrasts dependent upon the season. Year round swimming is possible from April to October along the Mediterranean coast and the Sea of Galilee and throughout the year at the Dead Sea and the Red Sea.The summer season (April to October) has fairly constant temperatures and is not spoiled by sudden showers. The winter season (November to March) is mild but quite cold in hilly areas (Jerusalem). Spells of rain are interspersed with brilliant sunshine.http://www.israelweather.net
Photography is not allowed in some museums and it is prohibited to take photographs of military installations and/or establishments or sites of strategic importance. Failure to abide by these regulations could result in your photographic equipment being confiscated. Always ask permission before taking photographs of people. On the Sabbath it is inconsiderate to photograph at the Western Wall and other religious areas.
- English Newspapers and Broadcasts
There are two English language dailies â€“ The Jerusalem Post and HaAretz. The Jerusalem Post is published daily and on weekends and is the major English newspaper in Israel. News broadcasts in English on the radio are aired in the evening. Most of the major hotels feature all of the major news channels.
- Food and Wine
Israeli food takes the best of Middle Eastern and Western cuisine and adds its own flavor. Hungarian goulash, Russian borscht, Viennese schnitzel, American hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza are to be found side by side with Middle Eastern falafel, humus, tahini, shishlik, kebab and Turkish coffee, as well as traditional Jewish dishes such as gefilte fish, chopped liver and chicken soup (like Mama makes!).The wines of Israel compare well with those of Europe and range from light white to dry red to sweet rose. There is also a good choice of local brandies and liqueurs. If you’re used to your “name brand” liquor, we suggest you bring it from the Duty free shop before you arrive in Israel. Imported liquor is very expensive in Israel.You will thoroughly enjoy the fruits and vegetables in Israel, as they are extraordinarily tasty, fresh and delicious.Most Israelis eat a large breakfast, a main “meat” meal at midday and a light “dairy” meal in the evening. The wide variety of restaurants throughout the country cater to this preference, but they are also prepared to suit individual tastes.You don’t need to worry about water and fresh produce. the water is safe to drink throughout Israel, and Israel’s fresh fruits and vegetables are world class. Bottled water is also readily available. In hot weather remember to drink much more liquid than usual to combat the effects of dehydrationKosher food: The Hebrew word “kosher” means food conforming to Jewish dietary laws. Certain animals and fish are prohibited, and milk, cream or cheese may not be served together with meat. Most hotels have kosher food and many restaurants conform to the dietary laws.
Israeli Breakfast: the famous Israeli buffet breakfast is included at your hotel unless otherwise specified. You have free choice at the buffet and may eat as much as you want, there may be a charge for some special items ordered from the waiter. Breakfast at some hotels may be ordered to your room, but please note that there is a small charge for room service. Please check with your hotel for clarification.
Lunches: When touring, stops are usually made at self service restaurants for lunch, offering a large selection of dishes. On tour, most stops offer clean washroom facilities. However, in some areas of the country these places may be limited and not always up to standard
Dinners: There is a vast variety of restaurants specializing in international and local cuisine to choose from.
Several hundred shops are approved for tourists by the Israel Tourism Administration. These shops display a sign stating “Listed by the Ministry” and the Ministry’s emblem (two scouts carrying a bunch of grapes on a pole between them). This is the symbol of quality merchandise and courteous service.Among the best buys in Israel are carpets, ceramics, copperware, religious articles, jewelry, silverware, diamonds, paintings and sculptures. Stores are generally open from 9:30am to 7:00pm Sunday to Thursday. The Jewish Sabbath is from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday when most stores are closed. On Friday and the eve of holidays, stores close at noon. Department stores and malls are open all day and some evenings. If you like to bargain visit the colorful local markets and bazaars (Jerusalem, Acre, and Jaffa) for beautiful handmade arts and crafts.The Nachlat Binyamin Craft Market is held every Tuesday and Friday. There is an endless choice of affordable locally made crafts suitable for gifts.
- Public Transportation: Buses, Trains and “Sheruts”
You will need Israeli currency, but not exact change. Buses and trains do not run on Saturday and Jewish holidays. However, ‘Sheruts” and taxis still operate. A “Sherut” is a taxi-like vehicle that follows major bus routes and are more comfortable.
When using taxis. Insist that the driver use the meter. Remember that the amount shown on the meter is in Israeli currency and prices do change according to time or day. Evening rates are higher. If you have not pre-arranged a transfer to your hotel, there is an airport bus service at Ben Gurion Airport, which operates hourly to all of the major hotels in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.The information desk will give you complete details as to the cost of the service. The buses also operate in reverse picking up passengers at the hotels for return to Ben Gurion Airport. All hotels have a complete time schedule.
- Driving Yourself
All international car rental companies are represented in Israel and there are a variety of Israeli companies as well. A passport, major credit card and US/Canadian drivers license is needed to rent a car in Israel. International drivers permits are also accepted. Drivers of motor vehicles must be at least 19 years of age while insurance is mandatory. The highway system is advanced and up to U.S/Canadian standards. Most signs are in English in addition to Hebrew. In Israel driving is on the right side as in North America
- Canada Customs
Effective June 01st, 2012, upon returning to Canada from a trip outside the country of more than 7 days not including the day you left Canada but including the day you returned, you may claim a personal exemption of up to CAN $800 worth of goods. You can include some tobacco products and alcohol, but only a partial exemption may apply to cigarettes, tobacco products or manufactured tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco products must accompany you. For more details, please check www.cbsa.gc.ca
- FINAL NOTES
There might be living standards and practices different to Canadian standards with respect to the provision of utilities. Services and accommodation. If you travel with an open mind and respect local customs and cultures, you will find it easy to adapt and to enjoy your trip.