5 Things to Know Before Visiting Israel

Who hasn’t imagined visiting one of the most famous countries in the world, Israel? Popularised by the media and the tourism industry, the Jewish heartland is an excellent place to visit when you are up for a little warmth and natural grandeur. Yet no matter how beautiful a place might be, if it has flaws that might impact the experiences of tourists, they must be pointed out. For this particular reason, we aimed to bring you this list of the top five things to know before visiting Israel.

1. Tipping:
And here we are again, discussing the fine nuances of tipping! So, no matter what happens in Israeli restaurants, you should definitely consider tipping the staff. The 10% that you may be used to is the bare minimum that locals tend to add as extra, so mind your manners. The “average” tip in Israel is around 12% and if you were exceptionally pleased with the service, you should consider adding some more to the bill. Thus, reaching around 15-20% is not uncommon there and know that it is usually practiced in bars as well. And here is where most etiquette problems arise: bar tipping. Even if you are ordering at a bar (without table service), you are expected to leave at least a little extra. If you fail to adhere, you might encounter long-faced bartenders (if you know what we are getting at).

2. Safety:
So this is one of those topics that gets brought up a lot when people talk about Israel. Though it is technically located right next to some problematic areas, it is not an unsafe place. The most beautiful way to describe the nature of the environment is to point out that Israel is located next to the cradle of civilisation, and not within the bounds of a nuclear crater. That is how one should think about it and not in a terrorism-fearing fashion. If you are constantly going to go out of your way to try and protect yourself from possible attacks, then why travel there in the first place? Tourists (both male and female) are safe in Israel and there should be nothing standing between you and your pleasure!

3. Pirate cabs:
Yes, we have brought this subject up quite a few times and that is because they can sometimes be a concern. In Israel, cab drivers are especially “enthusiastic” to have you as a customer and this is mostly because they can detect that you are a tourist (as if not speaking flawless Hebrew weren’t a dead giveaway). Besides the hectic driving, they will often overcharge you like there’s no tomorrow. Understand that starting their metres is required by law and that you should always proceed and urge them to do so. Charging fixed prices is illegal and you should not be caught up in such affairs. The only time when they are allowed to ask for fixed fees is when you agree upon a city-to-city fare, period. Oh, and if you find a couple of drivers fighting over who gets to take you, just ignore them and choose one on your own – this might spare you quite a lot of hassle.

4. Language barriers:
Alright, so here is the obvious advice: getting down the basics of Hebrew will go a long way in Israel. Remember that the local Jews are an exceptionally proud people and they will reward you with friendly smiles and openness if you address them in their own mother-tongue. However, know that the locals are also brilliant English speakers as well – their movies are not dubbed but subtitled and their schools are pretty good at teaching it. If you want to stay on the “sure” side of the coin though, just address the representatives of the younger generation for they are far more likely to engage in fluent conversations with you.

5. The Jerusalem Syndrome:
This is quite an interesting one if you are planning on visiting Jerusalem. You may or may not have heard about the Jerusalem Syndrome but apparently it is a mental phenomenon that involves zealous behaviour, religious manifestations and delusions. This is believed to be triggered by a visit to Jerusalem and it is often affiliated with anxiety and unease. Around 100 tourists experience this annually and around 40 of them need to be hospitalised. We recommend a full research upon the subject prior to visiting for even if you do not believe that it may happen in your case, it is a fascinating subject to read about!

Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Israel and how have they shaped your overall feel of things? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to check back for some interesting updates from time to time. Safe travels and mind the zeal (triple wink)!

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