New Israeli Shekel (NIS)
Budget: Less than 350NIS
- Dorm bed: 100NIS
- Meals of falafel or hummus, and supermarket picnics: 100NIS (per day)
- Travel by bus or sherut (shared taxi): 50NIS
- Swim at free public beaches
- Double room at midrange hotel (per person): 150–220NIS
- Meals at midrange restaurants: 100–150NIS
- Private taxi travel: 100–150NIS
Top end: More than 600NIS
- Luxury double room or B&B (per person): from 300NIS
- Meals at the finest restaurants: 300NIS
- Travel by midsize rental car or with guide: 400NIS
Most of your bargaining experiences will happen at souqs, flea markets or in taxis, which despite being required by law to use a meter, rarely miss the chance to fleece tourists for a few shekels. As with bargaining across the world, it pays to keep your cool and – particularly with souvenirs – remember that as the buyer you ultimately have the advantage.
When it comes to taxis, the incessant overcharging can be exhausting. Avoid picking up cabs outside nice hotels and if a driver is being unreasonable, just move on. If a driver refuses to use the meter, always negotiate a price before you get in the car. Bear in mind that prices on holidays or at night will be severely inflated.
ATMs are widely available, except at border crossings with Jordan and Egypt. Credit cards almost universally accepted.
ATMs are widespread, and Visa, MasterCard and, increasingly, American Express and Diners cards are accepted almost everywhere. Most – but not all – ATMs do Visa and MasterCard cash advances.
The shekel is divided into 100 agorot. Coins come in denominations of 10 and 50 agorot (marked ½ shekel) and one, two and five NIS; notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200NIS.
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
Banks charge a hefty commission so the best exchange deals are usually available at post office branches able to handle foreign currency and from independent exchange bureaux, neither of which charge commissions.
Tipping is not expected in most circumstances, but is increasingly common.
- Restaurants Waiters and waitresses will expect a tip, 10-15% is fair.
- Pubs Usually have tip jars on the bar; 10-15% of your bill is fair.
- Guides It's always good to tip guides. Organise a whip around among other guests; 10-20NIS each is probably fair.
- Hotels 10NIS to 20NIS a night for housekeeping is a nice touch.
- Taxis Will not expect tips, but you can round up the price of the fare.