Israel & the Palestinian Territories - Money & Costs
Money & Costs in Israel & the Palestinian TerritoriesCurrency: Shekel
You can bring as much foreign and local currency as you've got into Israel, which is lucky because you're going to need it. Israel is pricey, but you will get what you pay for. If you're on a tight budget you can get a pretty good dorm bed for $7 upwards. If you want a double room with its own bathroom, you'll be looking at around $50. Food is the real budget breaker - although it's possible to live on three felafel rolls a day for about $2, realistically you'll need $10-16 if you're ever going to get a break from street food. For $25-30 you should be able to get decent accommodation, eat well and travel around, but if you want to drink, go to museums or take a tour that will quickly blow out.
Up-market spots will be just as happy to take US dollars as NIS, and if you pay this way you'll save yourself 17% VAT. However, if you're frequenting the lower end of the market, you'll need shekels. US dollars are the easiest to change, and anywhere will change them, but most other hard currencies as well as travellers' cheques are also widely accepted. Israelis are renowned for living on credit, and most places will take your plastic. ATMs are also widespread, and the majority of them take international credit cards.
The tipping culture has hit Israel with a vengeance, and you'll be expected to give at least 15% whether it's been earned or not. Hospitality workers are paid a pittance - keep it in mind when you're wondering whether to shell out those extra shekels. Although there's a value added tax on most goods, you should be able to get a refund if you can face up to the hideously bureaucratic procedure involved.