ENTRY INTO PALESTINE

In order to get to Palestine, you have to enter Israel first. Citizens of certain countries must apply for a visa in advance at the Israeli embassy or consulate in your home country. However, most citizens of European and North American countries can obtain a visa on arrival at the airport. For more information on the regulations applying to your country of origin, contact the Israeli embassy in your home country.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum of six months.

TRANSFER FROM THE AIRPORT

Ben Gurion International Airport is located to the east of Tel Aviv. There is public transportation (shared taxis, in Hebrew 'sherut') to the major cities in Israel. To get to Bethlehem, you can take the Nesher sherut to Jerusalem and ask the driver to drop you off at the Ecumenical Institute Tantur. The ticket costs NIS 45 -60 .- (see below for information about the currency). Tantur is only a 10 min. walk from the Gilo 300 Checkpoint at the entrance to Bethlehem. You can ask the driver to drop you at the checkpoint, but not all drivers might do so. On the other side of the checkpoint, you can take a taxi to our Guesthouse which costs NIS 20-30.-

if you are travelling from Jordan then take a service taxi from the Allenby border to Jerusalem, to Damascus gate. From there take bus 21, as above.

Below is information in Arabic explaining how to get to the Guesthouse – to show if your taxi driver doesn't know where the Guesthouse is in Beit Sahour (obviously only use this in Palestine…):

CURRENCY

In Palestine, three currencies are in use, each one for different purposes. For daily shopping, the New Israeli Shekel (NIS) is used. 1 USD corresponds to around 3.80 - 4 NIS, 1 Euro to around 5 to 5.5 NIS. In hotels and souvenir shops, it is also common to pay in US Dollars. Salaries are often paid in USD. University fees and land purchases are being paid in Jordanian Dinars (JOD), the third currency which is widely used in Palestine.

US dollars are the easiest to change; you can exchange US money for New Israel Shekels (NIS) at money chargers with almost no commission. Most other hard currencies as well as traveller cheques are also widely accepted. Money changers take about 3% commission on traveller cheques. It's advisable to change money in exchange offices, not on the street.

There are many money changers in Palestine. Credit cards are not accepted at most shops, but ATMs are widely available. Several of them can be found in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour. Just make sure that your Credit Card Company allows you to use their credit card in the Palestinian Territories.

Taxi Bethlehem – Beit Sahour (around 1.5km): 15 NIS

Average meal in restaurant: 35 – 50 NIS

Shawarma (local Arabic lamb or chicken sandwich): 12 NIS

1.5L water: 3-6 NIS

Bottle of beer: 10-15 NIS

LANGUAGE

The official language in Palestine is Arabic. However, in many places, especially in large cities and tourist destinations, English is widely understood and spoken. In Israel, both Hebrew and Arabic are official languages.

CLIMATE

Palestine has a Mediterranean climate characterized by long, hot, dry summers and short, cool, rainy winters. January is the coldest month, with temperatures from 5°C to 10°C, and August is the hottest month at 18°C to 38°C. In higher elevations, such as around Jerusalem and Bethlehem, it can be cool in the evenings even in summer. Temperatures in October-November can range from 16°C to 25°C in daytime and 14°C to 20°C during the night. The first rain usually falls around the time when the olive harvest begins.

Though the Beit Sahour area is not heavily conservative, you may feel more comfortable wearing modest clothing– long trousers, skirts, longer sleeved tops and cardigans – and avoiding short skirts, shorts and skimpy tops. It is definitely worth bringing a comfortable pair of walking shoes or sandals.

TIME ZONE

The time zone of Palestine is GMT +2.

ELECTRICITY

The voltage in Palestine is 220V, the frequency is 50 Hz.

The power sockets used in Palestine are three-pole, with either round or flat poles in a triangular arrangement. However, European two-poled plugs (image left) fit into the sockets without the use of an adaptor.

TECHNOLOGY

if you expect to need regular access to internet or a computer, it is recommended that you bring your own computer. There is a wireless network in the Guesthouse.

Depending on your network provider, you may be able to use your mobile phone in Palestine. However, the best and cheapest option is to purchase a local SIM card on a pay-as-you-go contract with a local network such as Jawal or Orange or Cellcom (note that you can only put a different SIM card in your phone if your phone is unlocked, so be sure to check that before buying the SIM!). The SIM and some initial credit should cost around $20 or less. The Palestinian Network called Jawal and it has coverage in all Palestinian Cities.

HEALTH

Palestine presents no major health hazards for visitors and no vaccinations are required. However, the sun can be very intense in summer, and visitors are advised to always wear hats and apply sunscreen to protect against over-exposure. Also remember to drink a lot of water. Tap water is safe to drink throughout the country. Locally produced mineral water is available. Our Advice to have your Own Health Insurance During your Stay.

DEPARTURE

When leaving Israel, you might again be subjected to questioning and baggage checks at the border. These checks are sometimes even more thorough than when entering the country. For this reason, it can be useful to send sensitive material such as posters, publications or t-shirts by mail to your home country prior to your departure.