International Heritage Tours will do everything possible to ensure that your tour will be an exciting unique and inspiring journey, filled with the joy of discovery and remembered happily as a life changing experience for many years to come.
This booklet is designed to answer many of your questions and to provide you with valuable information to make your trip more enjoyable. We hope you will find it useful.
We look forward to hosting you in the future on one of our many departure dates or on one of International Heritage Tours’ programs to: Egypt, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Guadeloupe Mexico, Medjugorje Croatia, Portugal, The British Isles, Spain and Turkey.
We wish you a wonderful journey thank you for choosing International Heritage Tours.
President & C.E.O.
Tourists are required to hold passports valid for 6 months from date of entry. Visitors are allowed to stay in the country for three months from date of arrival.
You Do Not Need A Visa – U.S. and Canadian citizens do not need a visa to visit Israel – just a valid passport (valid for at least 6 months). Visitors from most European countries, Mexico, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and many others countries also do not need visas. To check the requirements for other nationalities contact the Israeli Consulate.
You Don’t Need Vaccinations – No vaccinations or shots are required for U.S. or Canadian visitors to Israel. (If you’ve visited a country prior to coming to Israel where cholera, typhoid or yellow fever is endemic, you will need a vaccination certificate.)
Transatlantic flights allow 1 checked bags per person not to exceed 62 inches, plus 1 carry-on bag not to exceed 39 inches. However, please be aware that on flights between European countries baggage is weighed and limited to 44 pounds per person in Economy and 66 pounds per person in First Class. Additional checked luggage will be charged at rates prevalent at check in thee rates vary with different airlines.
Note: Due to space limitations in the motorcoach, cars and minibuses we ask that you kindly limit your luggage to 1 piece per person plus a carry-on.
For Groups: Please remember to affix the International Heritage ToursWorld luggage tag to your suitcases. We cannot ensure transfers unless these instructions are followed.
For Individuals: Specific instructions regarding meeting point for your arrival transfer will be provided to you in your final documents.
You may bring in almost anything you’ll need for personal use and your convenience. Limited items per adult are: .44 pints cologne or perfume; 2 liters liquor; 1 liter wine; 250 grams cigars or loose tobacco; 250 cigarettes; gifts up to $200.00 in value.
Upon return to the U.S., you may bring in up to $400.00 worth of items duty free. Please Note: Many Israeli-made items are not counted as part of your duty-free allowance as they are exempt from U.S. duty.
The Israeli Shekel (NIS) is the country’s legal tender. The Shekel is divided into 100 agorot. The bills are in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 shekels. There are coins of 1,5, and 10 shekels and 5,10, and 50 agorot. You may bring an unlimited amount of foreign currency into Israel – cash, traveler’s checks, letters of credit or State of Israel bonds. Upon departure you may take out up to NIS 1,000.
There is no need to change your currency at the banks as you can pay in dollars almost everywhere. Most places accept traveler’s checks, major credit cards and personal checks with adequate identification. There are also many ATM machines dispensing U.S. dollars. You will need small change which you can use for items such as buses and newspaper stands.
Foreign Currency Exchange
Tourists who have changed foreign currency (U.S. dollars) into Israeli currency (NIS), may re-exchange their money into dollars by presenting the receipt of the transaction up to a maximum of $500. 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 17% (Israel’s equivalent of U.S. Sales Tax). All tourists in Israel are exempt from V.A.T. when paying in foreign currency for services provided in Israel (does not apply to holders of Israeli passports who are obliged to pay VAT). It is advisable to charge all of your extras, including meals, to your room and when checking out pay in U.S. dollars, traveler’s checks or credit card. Anything that is not charged to your room even if paid in dollars, will be taxed 17%.
When purchasing items in approved stores, and only in approved stores, 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 counter (in the Departure Lounge). The refund will be given in cash after presentation of your purchase invoice.
Please Note: Passengers who are in possession of an Israeli Passport (including those with dual citizenship) may be subject to a 17% V.A.T. charge levied in Israel at the hotels or for car rentals. It must be paid, if requested, directly to the hotel. Please note that International Heritage ToursWorld assumes no responsibility whatsoever for any charges to your account made by the hotel or car rental company for V.A.T.
Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., Monday & Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and eve of holidays from 8:30 a.m. to Noon. Branches in leading hotels usually offer additional hours.
State of Israel Bonds
Tourists holding State of Israel Bonds in their name or legally assigned to them, may redeem them at any bank prior to their date of maturity for Israeli currency (NIS) up to the equivalent of $2,500 per month of stay for each member of the family.
Israeli Standard Time is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, 1 hour ahead of mid-European Time; and 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, U.S.A.
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. Israel’s voltage is 220 volts, like Europe. Most luxury hotels provide hair dryers, and virtually all hotel rooms have 110/220 electric shaver sockets. Our electricity outlets usually confirm to European adapters, but hotels and electrical stores can easily supply you with the right adapter if necessary.
In the event that an appliance or electronic gadget that you take to Israel cannot or do not operate on 220 volt you will requite an electric transforemer/converter that reduces the voltage to 150 volt. Failure to use an electric transformer / converter under these circumstances at best will fry the appliance / gadget. International Heritage Tours assumes no responsibility whatsoever for any damage that occurs as a result of non compatible voltage.
The weather in Israel is often compared to the temperate climate 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 unspoiled 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.
Buses, Trains & “Sheiruts”
You will need Israeli currency, but not exact change. The public transportation (buses and trains) does not run on Saturdays and Jewish Holidays (in the Jewish calendar the day start and ends with sunset). On these days, and other days as well, you can use either the “Sheirut” or a taxi. A “Sheirut” is a service that uses 7-seater mini-buses and operates on the exact route of public bus lines. You can get on and off the “Sheirut” anywhere along the line (not only at the bus stops).
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, please be aware that 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.
All international car rental companies are represented in Israel, and there are a variety of Israeli companies, too. A passport, major credit card and U.S. or Canadian driver’s license is needed to rent a car in Israel. The highway system is advanced and up to U.S./European standards. Most signs are in English in addition to Hebrew. In Israel, we drive on the right, just like in the U.S.A.
Keeping In Touch
Since there is a service charge on international calls from hotels, even with Calling Cards, we suggest that whenever possible you use public pay phones. You may buy phone cards at the front desk or newsstand at your hotel. Instructions on how to use the pay phone is clearly illustrated and explained in English on the telephone. The most economical alternative for USA calls is to use AT&T USADirect® Service.
How to call Israel?
To call Israel from North America, dial 011-972 and then the number in Israel (omitting the initial zero).
Calling Home From Israel?
It’s easy: AT&T, MCI and Sprint all have toll-free access numbers in Israel. Ask the hotel operator how to dial directly from your room. From a public phone check the instruction card (which will tell you to dial 012, 013 or 014 for overseas) then continue with 1 for the United States, the area code and phone number.
Public phones in Israel operate with calling cards purchased from your hotel, post office, kiosks and newsstands throughout the country.
It’s easy to rent a cell-phone anywhere in Israel. Most convenient is to rent a phone when you arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport and return it upon departure (advance reservations aren’t necessary). If your U.S. cell-phone is a Tri-Band model, it will work in Israel.
Travelers can get on the internet in their hotel’s Business Center, or, with your own laptop, from the comfort of your hotel room (there is a normally a charge for internet access). And you’ll find Internet Cafes and public Internet outlets all over Israel.
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.
Visitors wishing to bring video equipment into Israel for their personal use may be required to leave a deposit in traveler’s checks or charge the amount to a credit card, refundable upon departure from Israel with the video equipment.
We recommend that you use safe in your hotel room (or in the hotel) for your valuables and passports, etc. It is advisable to make a photocopy of your passport and carry it with you.
The Israeli Tour Guides are world-famous. They are well trained, extraordinarily knowledgeable and ready at all times to aid you with your special requests and arrangements. Your guide will be happy to make suggestions for evenings or free days and provide lists of available optional tours.
There is so much to see in Israel and we want to show you the maximum during the short time you will be here. Therefore, we ask that you follow the guide’s instructions and be punctual at all times…this makes our job easier and your trip even better.
Seat Rotation on the Motorcoach
Seats on the bus are rotated on a daily basis in order to enable everyone to have the opportunity to sit in the front.
Smoking is not allowed on any of our touring vehicles. However, rest stops are made with frequency for people who wish to smoke.
English Newspapers & Broadcasts
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 CNN and BBC on a daily basis along with other cable news channels.
Israel’s stunning landscapes and picturesque inhabitants make it truly a “photographer’s paradise.” Please be aware, however, that there are certain religious communities whose members resent having their picture taken. These include certain Orthodox Jewish sects and observant Moslems. Your discretion will save embarrassment.
Be sure to protect your camera against the sun and heat. Don’t take pictures between 12 noon and 3:30 p.m. when the light is too harsh, particularly in the summertime. In the Negev, don’t take color shots early in the morning or late in the afternoon as the result will be a reddish overtone.
Bring plenty of film!
Food and Wine
Israeli food takes the best of Oriental 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 Oriental 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 rosé. 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 available everywhere too.
Kosher 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. However, it is quite easy to find non-Kosher restaurants all over Israel.
Water: Tap water is officially drinkable throughout Israel, but bottled mineral water is widely available for those who prefer to be cautious. In hot weather remember to drink much more liquid than usual to combat the effects of dehydration.
Israeli Breakfast: The famous Israeli Buffet Breakfast is included in your tour unless otherwise specified. You have free choice at the buffet and may eat as much as you want, but 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, where you may choose from a large selection of dishes. We attempt to stop at clean places where you will be able to get fast service and have proper washroom facilities. Please bear in mind, however, that in some areas of the country these places are limited and not always up to standard. Restaurants do not permit the eating of food brought in from outside.
Dinners: Our guides will recommend different restaurants in each city (for those days that dinner may not be included in your program.) There is a wide variation of restaurants specializing in international cuisine in Israel. You may, of course, always choose to eat at your own hotel.
Half-Board (Passengers with Meal Plans): No credit is given for meals that are missed, nor can they be eaten on another day and transferred. If arrangements are made in advance with the reception desk at the hotel, lunch may be substituted for dinner the same day.
At some hotels, “Half-Board” dinners are limited to certain dining rooms and there may be a supplement for meals eaten in the Grill Rooms. Please check with the reception desk at the hotel to be sure that you are eating in the proper dining room. If you do decide to eat in the Grill Groom at the hotel, we recommend marking reservations in advance.
While touring, please remember not to pack your medication in your luggage, since your luggage is not readily available during the day. We recommend that you keep your medication and valuables in your carry-on piece. Please be aware that every hotel does have a House Doctor on call, if necessary.
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 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays (including Sunday) and are closed on Saturday. On Friday and eve of holidays, stores close at Noon. Department stores and malls are open all day and some evenings. If you like to bargain, comb the colorful local markets and bazaars (Jerusalem, Acre, Jaffa) for handmade arts and crafts.
Remember to ask for the “V.A.T. Refund Form” as discussed in the V.A.T. section of this booklet.
For passengers who are entitled to a departure transfers, our office in Israel will advise you as to the time of your pick up for departure to the airport. Please settle your hotel bill and be ready at the reception desk at the time indicated.
Advance El Al Check-In
Passengers returning to the U.S. on El Al Israel Airlines may check-in their luggage on the day before departure at the El Al Terminal in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. (check-in can be done on Saturdays after sundown).
A security check and boarding pass is done “on the spot” allowing you to arrive at Ben Gurion Airport 1 hour prior to departure time. At that time you proceed immediately to Passport Control and to the departure area, avoiding all check-in lines
We highly recommend this service to passengers traveling on their own.
Tipping in Israel is very similar to tipping in the U.S. Use your own judgement, based on your personal satisfaction with the services as to how much to tip. Following is a suggestion guideline:
Restaurant & Hotel Dining Rooms: Average tip is approximately 15%. (Tips are not expected in hotels at breakfast.)
Included Dinners on Tour: Tips are not included. We suggest a tip of $2.00 per person.
Bellboys: Tips are covered by International Heritage Tours for services on and off the buses. This does not include the service to and from your room.
Chambermaids: Tips are not covered. We recommend approximately $1.00 per person per day.
Taxicabs: Although Israelis do not normally tip taxi drivers if you are pleased with the service we recommend tipping 10%-15% of the fare.
Tour Guides & Drivers: It is customary to show your appreciation to the guide and driver of you tour. Please note the following suggestions:
Bus Tour: The average tip (per person, per day) should approximate $2.00 to the driver and $5.00 to $8.00 for the guide.
Private Car & Share-a-Car Tours: The average tip (per person, per day) should approximate $8.00 to $10.00 for the driver/guide.
A Final Request
Please take a few minutes at the end of the tour to complete the Evaluation Report that will be in your arrival kits or will be distributed by the Guide. This will help us to maintain our excellent levels of quality and service for all International Heritage ToursWorld passengers.
International Heritage Tours Office in Israel
International Heritage Tours-Israel
40 Aliyat Hanoar Street
Tel (03) 694-7777