In this post we will share with you some tips for traveling to Israel and Jordan. As you may know, they are not well-known destinations and can scare traveling on your own. This trip was made by three female friends and we can say that it can be done perfectly. So, do not think it twice. In any case, you have to plan everything well. Therefore, we are going to give you some recommendations from the beginning to the end so that the trip goes perfectly. You can check our itinerary through Israel and Jordan in another post with lots of details and tips.
Tips for traveling to Israel and Jordan
We start with the list of tips for traveling to Israel and Jordan. in the following lines we will tell you about the particularities of each country. Let’s go!
✔ When is the best time to travel Israel and Jordan?
We traveled at the beginning of November and the time in Israel was perfect. Even a bit of heat in Tel Aviv with almost 30 degrees, ideal to take a bath in the Mediterranean Sea. Also in the south, next to the Red Sea the temperature was pleasant and the Red Sea is hot. Apparently in summer it is unbearable. However, in certain parts of Jordan, as in Petra, we had some cold (9 degrees in the morning). Also, just when we went back to Israel there were floods in Petra. However, visiting Petra with 40 degrees must be awful with all that you have to walk. Therefore, the conclusion is that in November it is a good date to travel to Israel and Jordan.
✔ Enjoy the local food
Both the Israeli and the Jordanian food have amazed us. You’ll get tired of hummus, falafel, pita bread and baba ganush. Jordan is somewhat cheaper than Israel to eat, but do not expect to eat for € 1 either. In Jordan you must try Fatah and Maqluba. Both in Israel and in Jordan you should try the shawarma and the pomegranate juice.
✔ Arrange a travel insurance
From our list of tips for traveling to Israel and Jordan, perhaps this is the most obvious, since we would give it for any international trip. We always take the travel insurance with IATI. You can do it easily and quickly online. Also, you have a 5% discount if you book through the following image. Luckily we did not have to use it. We hope you do not either. Both destinations currently require mandatory travel insurance. We recommend you the travel insurance IATI Backpacker for Jordan and the IATI Star for Israel.
✔ Payment and currency exchange
The Israeli currency is the New Shekel and the Jordanian is the Jordanian dinar. We exchange money at the Tel Aviv airport, we also paid by card and get money from ATMs in both countries. One of us had the Revolut card and they do not charge you a commission for taking money from any ATM in the world. Neither to pay at foreign shops. It is totally free, normally they only charge the shipping costs! However, here you can request your Revolut card for free with no extra charges.
✔ Tips for traveling to Israel
Once we have mentioned the tips for traveling to Israel and Jordan, we focus on the Israel specific. First, as you may know, Israel is a country that lives in conflict for various reasons. In this country there are three religions: Judaism, Islam and ultra-Orthodox Judaism. It is true that other religions are also practiced, but we speak of majorities. Therefore, the population is divided. In addition, there is also the conflict with the Palestinian territories. However, we do not want to go into detail because of the difficulty involved in explaining all this. We just want to put you in antecedent so that you understand the extreme security that there is to enter Israel, as well as once inside the country.
Below we detail the most important tips so that your trip on your own through Israel and Jordan is perfect.
1. You must arrive at the airport at least 2 and a half hours in advance
We flew from Gran Canaria to Madrid and from Madrid to Tel Aviv directly. At the check-in counter the Israeli police were already waiting to question us. Why are you traveling to Israel? Who do you travel with? How long have you known your friends? Do you know anyone in Israel? What route are you going to do? Your suitcase is yours? Has anyone manipulated it? I see in your passport that you’ve been to Mauritania, why? And a long etcetera. The interrogatory can last half an hour. To this we must add the time queued if there is more people before.
This advice to travel to Israel applies to any airline and to any country of origin, since the interrogation is done by the police and not the company or country of origin. If you are not checkin in any suitcase, the interrogatory will be done at the boarding gate. Therefore, you should also arrive in advance to the boarding gate.
When you arrive to Israel, instead of stamping your passport, they will give you an entry paper with your photo that you must keep well until the exit. In Israel, you do not get your passport stamped, to avoid being let into other countries with whom they have a conflict, such as Muslims.
2. Driving in Israel
In order to travel through the areas of the country that we wanted in our own, we decided to rent a car at the airport. In addition, the schedules of our flights were not the best. We also didn’t want to be dependent on public transport late-night or early morning. Nor pay a million for a taxi. We chose the rental company Sixt and it was all good enough. Of course, we took the full insurance. However, you can check all the companies and prices in the dates which you are planing your trip with RentalCars.
In our experience, driving in Israel is the same as driving in Europe, except that here you will find camels crossing the road.
In Israel you drive on the right and the steering wheel on the vehicles is on the left. In general, there is not much traffic, except for small traffic jams to enter Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Much of its roads are in the middle of the desert, so the driving is quite monotonous. For the rest, everything was without any problem. Of course, from time to time you will find a military tank or camel. Concerning the parking, despite having full insurance, both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem we left the car in paid parking. It is somewhat expensive, about € 16 a day, but we did not want risks.
3. Leaving Israel with an Israeli car
The insurance of our company did not cover damage in Palestinian territories, so we did not visit them. In the same way, you do not have coverage outside the country, so to go to Jordan, we left it parked in Israel and then we picked it up again. If you keep reading, we’ll tell you how we did it. What’s more, if you intend to cross into Jordan with a car with an Israeli license plate, you can. Another thing is that the car does not appear with any surprise the next morning. All this is due to the conflicts that we mentioned before.
4. Shabbat, what is it
Throughout Israel, from the night of Friday, after the sunset, until Saturday night, Shabbat is celebrated. That is, you will find many of the shops, bars and restaurants closed. Even public transport services are reduced. Especially in Jerusalem, not so much in Tel Aviv. Therefore, it is important that you take it into account in order to design your travel itinerary. We set it to go to Jordan right from midday Friday and thus avoid losing part of the leisure of Israel.
5. Dress code (important for women)
Israel in general and, above all Tel Aviv, is quite modern. Therefore, you can go dressed as you wish. However, in Jerusalem, if you are going to visit the Wailing Wall and the Esplanade of the Mosques, you must go covered with arms and legs. In the same way, if you are going to venture to visit the ultra orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem (Mea Shearim), we recommend you to cover yourself and follow its rules, especially if you are a woman. Otherwise, you will feel very uncomfortable and they will also.
The posters that we show you are all over the ultra orthodox neighborhood. They are only for women and girls who walk in inappropriate dress. According to them, you must go with a closed blouse, long sleeves, a long skirt (no pants) and no tight clothes. We went in long pants and they looked at us badly. Many even turned their faces or took off their glasses to avoid seeing us. The radicalism of these men is to much. They do not work, they are exempt of the military service (all Israeli women and men must do it). They only live to study of the Torah.
✔ Crossing border from Israel to Jordan and vice versa
As we wanted to visit the Red Sea and the desert of Wadi Rum, we decided to cross over to the border of southern Israel (Eilat) and Jordan (Aqaba). This border is called Yitzhak Rabin / Wadi Araba. According to our experience and what we read, it is safe to park next to the border in an esplanade. We left our car there for 4 nights and we went to visit Jordan. On the way back everything was fine. We read that there is usually a lot of line to cross the border. Even so we crossed at 4:00 p.m. a Friday afternoon and there were barely 10 people, so it was very fast. To leave you have to pay a tax that is about € 25.
To enter Jordan, you will not be interrogated. Before leaving the Israeli border crossing the official will ask you if you want to change to Jordanian dinar to pay for the taxi to the hotel. And so we did, since there is no ATM when leaving.
IMPORTANT: one of the most important tips to travel to Israel and Jordan, if you are going to cross the border, is to check the opening hours and days of the border you have chosen. Keep in mind that the schedules during the Shabbat (Fridays and Saturdays), are reduced. In addition, there are certain bank holidays a year that closes.
✔ Tips for traveling to Jordan
Once in Jordan, we decided to move around the country by taxi, as it was cheaper than renting a car with full insurance. In addition, we had clear the places we wanted to visit. Below we list our tips for traveling to Jordan.
1. Move around Jordan by taxi
As we said, getting around in a taxi in Jordan is quite easy and affordable. And more if you go as a group of 3-4. Of course, you should consider that the prices of transfers must be bargained before getting into the taxi. Except the routes from the border to any other point, which are fixed prices. Once you leave the border on foot, note that there is a sign with all the fixed taxi rates. When we crossed, there were enough taxis waiting. We detail below the prices we paid for our transfers in Jordan which we bargained a lot. Therefore, they can guide you in your trip.
- Wadi Araba border – Áqaba hotel = 11 dinars (fixed price)
- Áqaba – Japanese garden (Red Sea snorkel area) = round trip 12 dinars
- Áqaba – Wadi rum dessert = one way 20 dinars
- Safari through Wadi rum dessert 4 hours = 50 dinars between 3 people (same price per 1, 2, 3 or 4 people)
- Wadi rum – Petra = one way 35 dinars
- Petra – Wadi Araba border = one way 35 dinars
How to get a taxi driver in Jordan?
We asked at the hotels, either before arriving by email or once at the hotel. So we started to try the prices. For the Petra – Aqaba tour we recommend our friend Omar. You can contact him, surely he can help you for any other area as well.
Some friends also hired a car for visiting Jordan as they spent more days. You can have a look at all the car companies at RentalCars sand compare the prices here.
2. The bargain in Jordan and Muslim neighborhoods from Israel
In Jordan you have to bargain practically everything, but above all taxis. If you are going to buy a souvenir, too. Also, there are even restaurants and food stalls where you can bargain if you do not think it’s a reasonable price. This recommendation can be included within the tips for traveling to Israel and Jordan, since in any Muslim neighborhood of Israel you must also bargain.
3. Security in Jordan
Jordan seemed like a pretty safe country, with police checks on the road every two minutes. Apparently, the police are not corrupt. However, since we did not drive, we would not know how to tell you.
4. Southern Jordan border Wadi Araba fees
At the Wadi Araba border crossing, if you spend 4 nights in Jordan, you will not be charged departure tax. BUT, If you are 3 nights and you show that you have visited Petra (save your Petra ticket), they will charge you 10 dinars. If you are two nights and visit Petra, they will charge you 40 dinars. Finally, if you are less than two nights in Jordan and neither visit Petra, they will charge you 60 dinars.
We hope that our tips for traveling to Israel and Jordan has been useful. In short, if you organize everything well, this may be the trip of your life. We recommend it 100% and we would repeat, but we have a lot of world to know 🙂