Israel Travel Blog

How to Choose a Private Tour Guide in Israel

It is important to choose a private tour guide in Israel carefully to make sure you get the most out of your trip. Not all tour guides are created equally! There are many fly-by-nights, self-appointed “guides” that could charge exorbitant fees and ruin your holiday. Your time is valuable and on a trip to Israel, you’ll want to make the most of it. Private guides are generally more expensive than group tours but they are worth every shekel. With a private tour guide you’ll get one-on-one service; a trip tailor-made for you and luxury air-conditioned transportation. Having a private guide means you can make a personal connection with the guide and talk freely, asking any questions you may have without 30 other tourists in the group! Here are a few tips about how to find the best possible private tour guide for your trip to the Holy Land.What Makes a Good Private Tour Guide in Israel?There are some qualities in a private tour guide that you can’t know in advance. Although by choosing a private guide from a reputable tour company and by discussing the trip ahead of time you can get a feel for your guide’s character. An ideal private tour guide should be punctual; organized; have enough energy to get you through the day; have a sense of humor and patience. The best private tour guides are local and have extensive knowledge of the country. Unlike guides on group tours, Israel private tours should be flexible so that you can stay longer at a place if you want to or skip a site if you see something more interesting along the way. A good private tour guide knows when to give you room to look around by your selves (for example in a market, on a beach, while enjoying lunch, or at a religious site). You want a private tour guide that respects your space. Some tour guides never stop talking while others don’t say enough. A good tour guide knows just how much information to give you at each site and when to be quiet and let you soak up the atmosphere.Choose a Professional Private Guide from a Reputable CompanyProfessional tour guides in Israel are trained and issued a tour guide license by the Ministry of Tourism. Israeli tour guides undergo lengthy training, they have to pass an exam and if they intend to guide children or drive a tour vehicle there are additional courses. With a reputable tour company, their credentials should appear prominently on their website. Israel has several well-established tour companies that employ only certified guides and supervise the guides to make sure they keep a high standard of work.A private tour guide from a reputable company will have a whole support team to provide him with all the transportation, marketing, up-dates about attraction, customer service, an accounting department, and more. Your private tour guide will be able to concentrate on giving you the best possible tour without having to worry about accounting, marketing, and logistics which are taken care of by the tour company office. Using a reputable tour company will put your mind at rest as you will always have someone to contact if things go wrong.Choose a Private Tour Guide Who Speaks Your LanguageIsrael is a land of immigrants; when the state was established Jews came from across the globe to settle here. The multi-cultural society means that you will have no problem finding a tour guide that speaks your language. Whether your native tongue is Russian, French, Spanish, English or even Mandarin there are private tour guides in Israel to serve you. If you are English speakers, then make sure your guide speaks a good level of English and will not have to um and ah looking for the right words when explaining things. Having a private guide that speaks good English will make all the difference to your trip. Your guide should also have a good command of Hebrew in order to talk to the locals.Choose a Private Guide that Suits YouYour private guide’s job is to show you the things that interest you as well as a few gems that only a local would know about. Before arriving in Israel you should discuss your preferences with your guide and settle on a basic itinerary. Most private guides that work with larger companies already have recommended itineraries that they can offer you in order to make planning your trip easier. You can discuss the suggested itinerary and adjust it according to your travel style and interests. If you prefer to travel at an easy-going pace and stay longer at each site, then let your guide know in advance. If you are one of those travelers that like to move fast and see as much as possible the guide should be aware of that too. Tell your private guide your specific interests – do you want to see Christian landmarks; natural wonders; Jewish heritage sites; sites from modern history or perhaps a little of everything. Have a good discussion with your private guide and tailor-make your trip before the day of the tour. This will save time and make your tour day run more smoothly.Choose a Private Tour Guide that Will Give You Something ExtraSo when you’ve found a private tour guide that meets all the above criteria there should still be something extra, something special that makes your guide stand-out. Hopefully, your chosen guide will be friendly and excited about showing you his country. Some of the best tour guides will share a few private anecdotes and insights into life in Israel. The benefits of a private tour guide in Israel don’t end when the tour comes to an end as your guide can recommend the best restaurants; local experiences and other sites in Israel that you might want to visit. Hopefully, your time in Israel will be magical and you’ll leave with good memories having been introduced to the Holy Land by an excellent private tour guide.
Por Petal Mashraki

Is it Safe to Drink the Water in Israel?

As a general rule, wherever you are in the world you should be drinking at least two liters of water today but when it comes to visiting Israel in the summer, you need to be consuming water all the time, even when you don’t think you need it!We’re here to answer all your questions about the water supply in Israel - where does it come from, what’s in it, is it safe to drink, and plenty more besides. The good news is that being a modern country with an excellent healthcare system, we don’t think you’re going to have too many problems staying healthy as long as you just keep sipping!Is the water in Israel safe to drink?One of the first things we’re usually asked by people who book tours to Israel with us is “Is the tap water safe to drink?” and we’re pleased to announce the answer is a resounding “yes.”Israel's water is superb, even tap water.Wherever you go in the country, you can be assured that tap water in a restaurant, and water from public fountains found in big cities is perfectly safe. You can alsototally truston-site water coolerswhether you're taking a day trip in Jerusalem, visiting northern Israel,touring Masada and the Dead Sea, or any other tourist favorite spots.And one tip we always give our clients is to keep filling up your bottle, whenever you have the opportunity. Whether you’ve brought your own thermos flask from home or are just refilling from a plastic bottle you purchased here, it’s completely free.How much is a bottle of water in Israel?If you’re popping into a corner store or kiosk for a small bottle of water (500 ml), expect to pay around 6-8 NIS. A larger bottle may cost around 8-10 NIS, but if you go to supermarkets and buy in bulk (i.e. a pack of six, containing 1.5 liters) the cost is much more reasonable - between 10-12 NIS. This works out at less than 2 NIS a bottle.The bottle with you, fill it up laterOf course, lugging around large bottles is a bit inconvenient but it’s certainly cost-effective. Also, bear in mind that locally-produced water is cheaper than anything imported, and mineral water will set you back a little more than still water. Still, heading to one of Israel’s supermarkets is probably your best bet if you don’t want to spend a fortune.What’s the Israeli water supply like?Israel has its share of world-famous scientists and has developed an extremely advanced water filtration system in the last sixty years.In 1962, Amiad Filtration Systems was established and from then until now has created all kinds of water solutions (many that other countries across the world have adopted), ranging from filters for the home to huge projects for city authorities and industry.You can trust local water quality, for yourself and your familyThis, to some degree, accounts for Israel’s success in agricultural endeavors (think of the cherry tomato, the Galila melon, and Angello, the seedless bell pepper. In fact, Israel’s government is so committed to agriculture development, that whether you’re traveling up in the Jordan Valley or down in the Negev desert (both particularly hot regions) you’ll see farms and greenhousesWhere does Israel get its water?There are three sources in Israel from which water can be drawn - groundwater pumping (from the mountains and coastal regions). surface water (from the Sea of Galilee, and streams and springs in national parks in northern Israel) and from desalination projects in the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea.Today, about 75% of Israel’s drinking water is drawn and then desalinated from the Mediterranean Sea. There is also a project in place (which should be up and running this year) where Israel will begin channeling desalinated water into the Sea of Galilee (the country’s largest freshwater lake and home to an emergency water store). The Jordan River has great water as well!Not only will this not damage the current ecosystem, it will even aid it by keeping water levels stable!And if you want an example of how advanced Israel is in terms of transforming water for economic gain, just look at the figures - in the USA, only 4% of wastewater is reused for agricultural purposes but in Israel, it is almost 90%.How strict are the water quality regulations?More good news - the Ministry of Health has responsibility for ensuring the water in Israel is of good quality so that the public can drink it safely, all year round and they take this matter seriously!Israel’s regulations about water are extremely advanced, with regulations updated every few years - they deal with treatment facilities, quality tests at the water source, and how the supply systems are working. So fear not, for you are in good hands.What is the Drinking Age in Israel?Israel has great water, but also wonderful local Beer. The minimum drinking age in Israel is 18, although some bars and nightclubs may not allow entrance to those under the age of 21-25 (always bring ID with you, if you’re going out for a night on the town).Wine, beer, and hard liquor are available freely in Israel although there are laws about where and when you can consume it (for instance, you cannot drink alcohol in public between 11 pm and 7 am). Technically, this means that if you’re sitting on one of Israel’s best beaches with a bottle of beer or wine, after midnight, the police could ask you to pour it away - in practice, this is not common though.Moreover, Israel is very Mediterranean in its drinking culture i.e. people will drink moderately throughout the evening, and avoid getting hopelessly drunk. This moderation is also aided by the fact that alcohol is quite expensive to purchase, both over the counter and in fashionable bars in Tel Aviv!Try the local Beers when you get the chanceEstablished in the 1990s, Bein Harim has been offering organized packages, day trips, and privately-guided tours all over Israel (and, more recently, to Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan) for over 25 years and with our experienced and qualified guides and professional team, promise to make your visit here one you’ll never forget.For more information about the tours we offer, feel free to contact us by email or phone and if you’re curious about our country, take a look at our blog, where we talk about all aspects of life in Israel.
Por Sarah Mann
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