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Traveler’s Information

Traveler’s Information

Money


Currency
There are two official currencies in Palestine: The New Israeli Shekel and the Jordanian Denair. Denairs, however, are rarely used and will prove inconvenient to carry as prices are universally given in Shekels. Shops that cater specifically to tourists will also often accept dollars and euros.

 

ATMs/Money Changers/Money Transfer
ATMs that dispense Israeli Shekels, Jordanian Denairs, and a few that dispense American Dollars, are located around the city and most will accept cards from major foreign banks. There are several money changers in Beit Jala which can change almost any currency, as well as a Western Union if you have to make any money transfers.

 

Haggling
Foreign travelers to Beit Jala will notice that hardly any items available for sale have price tags; this is because the price of nearly everything can be haggled over. Many businesses, however, such as supermarkets, restaurants, and some tourist shops charge fixed prices even if it is not marked. Packaged or mass-produced items that a store would sell routinely, such as cigarettes or packaged food, will usually be fixed price. Indoor produce markets will often sell a fixed price based on weight. A rule of thumb is that if it is being sold on the street or if it isn’t packaged, expect to haggle, starting with at about of the requested price.

 

Taxi Fares
Taxis in Palestine do not have meters; those traveling by taxi must negotiate a price with the driver. Generally, one can get to anywhere in the Bethlehem area for 25 shekels or less, and anywhere within Beit Jala for less than 15.

 

Local Customs


Dress
Palestinians generally dress more conservatively than in most Western countries, and those who wish to avoid labeling themselves as tourists should take note. Revealing clothing such as shorts are rarely worn, particularly by women. Short skirts and low-cut tops are never worn. T shirts, however, are fairly common. Those wishing to visit a religious site, either Christian or Muslim will usually be asked to dress more conservatively. Women wishing to visit a mosque should wear a headscarf.

 

Climate
High up in the Judean Hills, with an average elevation of 780 meters and its highest point just over 900 meters above sea level, Beit Jala is the highest point in the Bethlehem region. Each year, the city receives just under 700mm of rain, almost all coming during a short winter, from late November too early March. During these months temperatures can become fairly chilly and rainy, with rare flurries of snow and freezing temperatures. Because of this, those visiting Beit Jala during the winter are advised to bring warmer sets of clothes for the evenings, and something to keep them dry. The summer, in contrast, is long, hot, and dry, receiving virtually no rain, with temperatures as high as 39 degrees Celsius during midday. Summer evenings, however, are pleasantly cool and breezy and might sometimes require a light sweater. During the months of April, May and June the region is affected by the hot, dry, and dusty Khamaseen winds which blow in from the Arabian Desert. Average temperatures range from 9-18° C in winter to 26- 30° C in summer. Night dew occurs and average of 180 nights out of the year.

 

Safety
In contrast to the impression of the West Bank that many receive from the media, it has an extremely low rate of violent crime. Beit Jala and the Bethlehem area are far safer than almost any American or European city even in the latest hours of the night. Even so, it may be useful to remember these phone numbers:

 

Police:
Beit Jala: 02-2770626
All Areas: 100


Ambulance:
All Areas: 101


Fire:
Beit Jala: 02-2741123/2
All Areas: 102