Currency and money
The Israeli Shekel (NIS) is the officially used currency in the daily life in Palestine. However, paying with, and exchanging, different currencies in Palestine is not an issue to be worried about at all. The major world currencies can be exchanged free of exchange fees with banks or local money changers.
You can also use all major credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, American Express) in banks, hotels, restaurants and ATMs.
In case of emergency, e.g. a lost credit card, you can also receive money through Money Gram or Western Union at most local money changers or banks.
Most Palestinians are bilingual or even trilingual. Arabic is the official language of Palestine, but English and Hebrew are also widely spoken. French, German, and Spanish speakers exist, but to a lesser extent. It is almost impossible not to find someone who speaks your first or second language. But, in case you don't find anybody, how about trying to speak some Arabic yourself? Here are some of the most common and needed phrases to get you started. Just try them out. You will meet lots of Palestinians eager to help you out.
|Good Morning / Good Afternoon / Goodnight||Sabah el khayr / Mas el khayr / Tusbih ala khayr|
|How are you?||Addressed to male - kefak?
Addressed to female - kefek?
|I am fine and you?||Addressed to male - Ana bekeer, shukran! U inta?
Addressed to female - Ana bekeer, shukran! U inti?
|Hello / Goodbye||Marhaba / Salam|
|What is your name?||Addressed to male - Shu ismak?
Addressed to female - Shu ismek?
|My name is…||Ana ismi…|
|Where are you from?||Min wen inta (male) / inti (female)?|
|Yes / no||Na’am / laa’|
|Thank you / You’re welcome||Shukran / Afwan|
|One / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten||Wahad / tenen / talata / arba’a / khamseh / sitteh / sab’a / tamanyeh / tis’a / ashara|
Telephone and Internet
When you travel through Palestine, you might want to reach out to friends and family back home as well as get hold of your new Palestinian friends that you get to meet while exploring Palestine. Using your phone from back home can be super expensive. The solution is to get a local Palestinian SIM card. In Palestine there are two mobile phone operators, Jawwal or Watanyia. You can find mobile phone shops at every corner in the Palestinian cities.
Note: the SIM card of these two operators only work in the West Bank. Should you also wish to travel to Israel , you need to get a separate Israeli SIM card, which can be obtained at mobile phone shops in Israeli cities.
You can buy a SIM card for as little as 10 NIS (2,50 EUR or 3 USD). You only have to show your personal ID card / passport in order to register the SIM card under your name and then you are free to use it. There is no legal or financial obligation in case you don't use it or just throw it away, just make sure no one else uses it as it's under your name.
Palestinian mobile phone operators have recently been allowed by Israeli authorities to offer 3G services to their customers. Hence, you can have fast internet at cheap prices while travelling through Palestine.
In addition, you also have Wi-Fi access almost everywhere in Palestine. Most, if not all, restaurants, cafés, hotels and some of the cities offer free Wi-Fi.
Tip: if you ever need to do an urgent phone call, do not hesitate to ask a Palestinian to use their phone. They are more than happy to help you and you don’t have to offer them any money, as this might come across as an insult to their generosity.
Best Time to Visit (Weather and Events)
Palestine’s location between the Mediterranean Sea and the desert in Jordan and the Sinai peninsula gives the country a warm but also mild climate.
Should you wish to experience the Christmas celebrations for the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem in December, it is wise to bring warmer clothes (also for indoors given the lack of heating systems in buildings). Here and in the rest of Palestine, temperatures drop to single-digits (in Celsius) from December to February with chances of snow in rare instances. The only exception to this is the area around Jericho and the Dead Sea, which is located at or below sea level. Here you get to experience a mild and somewhat warm winter with average temperatures of 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit). If you want to avoid the extreme heat (40 degrees Celsius, 104 degrees Fahrenheit) in this area during summer, winter is the perfect time to go.
In spring (March to May), the weather notably gets warmer with temperatures rising to 18-23 degrees Celsius (60-65 degrees Fahrenheit). The climate also becomes dry and sometimes dusty / sandy due to the winds coming from the Arabic desert. This time is perfect should you wish to taste the famous Palestinian oranges from the harvest at that time. Of course, this is also the time for Easter celebrations for Christians in Jerusalem. It is an amazing event one should not miss when being in Jerusalem at that time.
Summers generally tend to become relatively hot with temperatures reaching 30-35 degrees Celsius (82-92 degrees Fahrenheit) during daytime. In the evenings, the breeze from the Mediterranean Sea helps to cool down temperatures a bit. Sometimes, it might even be necessary to wear a light jacket during evenings when enjoying the buzzling life in Palestinian cities.
A special time to Muslims in the year is Ramadan. It is the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. For all Muslims, it is not just the time when not eating and drinking during daylight hours, but more importantly it is a chance to demonstrate submission to God and keep the mind focused on the spiritual side. For everybody wondering why Ramadan is so important to Muslims, come and see for yourself in Palestine. The celebrations for iftar (time when the fast breaks) are a unique experience. Many events and celebrations during night time also make up for the quiet life in Ramadan during daytime. The month of Ramadan changes every year, as it orients around the beginning of the ninth month of the Islamic moon calendar. In 2019, it will start on May 4 and last until June 4.