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Israel is a tricky country to visit even when it's at its absolute best. It's a very small country in a politically sensitive part of the world, and whenever political tensions subside for a while, the floodgates open and the country is awash with a backlog of travelers who have been waiting to visit. Because Israel is so small, hotel rooms become extremely hard to find (and rates skyrocket). The minute tensions rise, or an act of terrorism occurs, tourism dips or disappears, and you have the entire country to yourself (hotel rates don't appear to go down -- hoteliers try to get the most out of the few tourists who are around -- but a bit of searching can turn up real bargains). Summer is high season in most parts of the country, and often very hot for intensive touring. Spring and autumn are ideal climate-wise, but visitors have to work around the Jewish High Holidays and the weeklong festival of Succot in the fall, plus the weeklong Passover holiday in the early spring and Shavuot in the late spring, when Israelis are on vacation, flights are full, rooms are scarce, and prices are at superhigh levels. At these times, it takes advance planning to book in where you want and when you want.

Citizens of western Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand are issued visas good for up to 3 months upon arrival at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport. For security reasons, visitors whose passports indicate extensive travel to countries that are politically unstable or technically at war with Israel (such as Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, or Lebanon) may be taken aside for questioning upon arrival in Israel, and in some cases denied entrance. Travelers with Israeli visa stamps in their passports may enter Egypt and Jordan, which have peace agreements and diplomatic relations with Israel; however, an Israeli visa stamp or any evidence of travel to Israel will generally preclude entrance into any other Arabic countries, except for Morocco and Tunisia. Travelers entering Jordan by land from Israel are issued a visa at the border for a fee. Travelers entering Sinai by land from Israel will receive a Sinai Only visa at the Taba Border Crossing. If you wish to travel into Egypt beyond Sinai, you must obtain an All Egypt visa from an Egyptian embassy or consulate ahead of time.

For travelers to Israel and Jordan, no special shots or vaccinations are necessary unless you are coming from an area of epidemic or infection. Water is drinkable throughout Israel; in Jordan and Egypt you must use bottled water.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.