Our three day Hong Kong adventure just ended on the 16th of April. On the same day, our adventure for Israel began. :):):) But before I start writing all about Israel, I’d like to share with you how our family did a semi-DIY or Do-It-Yourself tour in Israel.
Prior to our trip, I have been researching all about Filipino trips to Israel. But most of the results were packaged Pilgrimage tours. And most gave warnings on how considerably strict the Israeli Immigration was. Being the anxious person that I am, I felt no confidence in doing a semi-DIY tour. Added to the fact that there are a lot of scary news happening around Israel. Still my father was persistent with the semi-DIY trip (I am glad he did).
Now, there is certainly nothing wrong about tour packages but allow me to give you the 4 reasons why we didn’t want it.
1. Time–We didn’t want a time constrained tour. Where the clock ticks faster and you couldn’t see much of the place. You get what I mean right? No rush, just enjoy. 😌
2. The tour sites–My dad did check to see the itinerary of the tour packages. Most where covering areas on Pilgrimage which meant churches and a few sacred sites in Israel. But dad wanted to see more of the place and if you are part of a tour, you just can’t go gallivanting as you want.
3. Budget and expenses–Right after our tour trip, my dad immediately computed our overall expenses from Manila to Hong Kong to Israel and back including the souvenir shopping, Disneyland, hotels, meals, public transportation, tour packages and miscellaneous fees. Guess what? It was cheaper than the travel tours.
4. Living as the locals do–This was probably the major reason why we didn’t opt for a tour package. My dad wanted the feeling like as if you live there. You eat where the locals eat, walk in the streets like they do, ride a bus or train. This is indeed one of the joys in a DIY tour.
Let me get this straight again, we are not telling you to cross out tour packages. If you want a trip that’s hassle free and will help you past the Immigration, since it is an organized trip then go ahead. But if you feel like doing a DIY tour or a semi-DIY tour like we did, then feel free to do so.
First up, the airfare, we bought our tickets via cheapoair.com for cheaper roundtrip tickets at the Israeli airline El Al. The flights were covered only from Hong Kong to Israel and back. The Manila to Hong Kong roundtrip tickets are via Cebu Pacific. Try availing the promo tickets months ahead for a more cheaper deal.
Second, the Immigration. Like all blogs you might have read, the Israeli’s are probably the strictest. Now, for Filipino tourists we are not required to acquire a VISA. Usually they give about 3 months of free visa for us Pinoys. However, since there are a lot of overstaying cases, they have then tighten the rules.
It is a must to bring is an organized itinerary (you can make one or use your tour agency’s), airline return tickets, your hostel or hotel booking confirmation, passport, your cash, credit cards, and mobile phone. There is nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. Simply answer honestly the questions asked. (Israel Travel Itinerary)
It is also advised that you bring enough cash (some suggests a $100/person a day) and credit cards. For OFWs working or have worked in other Middle Eastern countries and first-timers expect an intensive interrogation process. The key is you have to prove to them that you mean no harm, will abide to their rules and will stay according to when you are only allowed to.
Third, the accommodation. Look for Hostels in Tripadvisor, Booking.com, Expedia, or Agoda.com for a cheaper room. Hostels in Israel are mostly 3-stars, but the place is clean, comfortable, usually with free breakfast, and free wifi. Most of the hostels offers their own tour packages (non-Pilgrimage tours) as well. And are quite near to public transportation, tour sites and other necessities.
Our hostel was Abraham’s Hostel Tel Aviv located in 21 Levontin St.,Tel Aviv-Yafo. They have ones in Jerusalem and Nazareth too. Their service is exceptional (shout out to Alisa the tour information desk guide, Asi the receptionist, and Sassi our tour guide/driver) the breakfast meals are healthy and good, facilities are colorful, clean, comfortable and mostly free to use.
Fourth, is my favorite and probably yours too. 😂 Meals, always look for hostels that include free breakfast, that will help you start your day and eat to your heart’s content. For lunch and dinner, you can never go wrong in visiting the nearest market place and try authentic Israeli meals. Though, I’d warn you prepare yourself for a week of NO RICE and all bread meals. 😫 It wasn’t bad though as the meals were healthy delicious.
Fifth, the transportation. Always ask the hostel desk for a map and where nearest bus station is. I would suggest that you go to the Central Bus Station. In Tel Aviv the station located at Levinski street, while in Jerusalem it is along the Jaffa street. Never underestimate the trains too, for you can visit the farthest places with it. The HaHagana Station in Tel Aviv is a few minutes away from the Central Bus Station. Not to mention, their buses and trains are equipped with free wifi! Never forget also to walk around, it’s good exercise and it’s cheap. 🙂
Sixth, the tour sites. Not all tourist sites in Israel are reached by the public transportation. And here is where you will need your hostel’s tour packages, which we did. More of this will be posted separately and you have to watch out for it! 😜😜😜
Overall, Israel is a beautiful yet expensive place to be. It is indeed a blessing to have visited the Holy Land and step on the grounds where Christ walked. Truly a wonderful experience, and I do hope our Semi-DIY story has and will help you when you visit Israel.
For more details about Israel visit this site: TwoMonkeysTravel
Merci beaucoup et á bientôt
P.S. If you have any further questions do not hesitate to ask me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help! 😚