Medical tourists from the United States, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe travel to Israel for its state-of-the-art facilities and highly skilled physicians who are trained to handle complex treatments that may not be available in other countries and at a fraction of the cost. Israel is ranked among the top 28 healthcare systems in the world because of its cancer, fertility and IVF treatments and neurosurgery and oncology surgeries.
Israel Medical Tourism Fame
Israel’s first rate medical standards and facilities, and its impressive ratio of doctors and specialists to the population has made Israel a popular destination for medical tourists. Also, the country hosts many international medical conferences and participates in joint ventures with top western hospitals.
Patients generally flock to Israel for less common procedures. Israeli hospitals have high success rates with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and the cost is substantially cheaper compared to the U.S. Other popular procedures include bone marrow transplants, heart surgery, catheterization, oncological and neurological treatments, cosmetic surgery, orthopedic surgery, weight loss surgery, cancer treatments, eye surgery, and addiction treatments.
The Joint Commission International (JCI) has accredited three hospitals in Israel. They are located in Kfar-Saba (just north of Tel Aviv), Beer Sheva (located in the south), and Afula (located in the north); but there are other quality private medical centers and hospitals located in the capital city of Jerusalem.
The official language of Israel is Hebrew, however Arabic is used by the Arab minority and English is widely understood.
The climate of Israel is different depending on the region. Israel is described as subtropical, however the northern and coastal regions exhibit a Mediterranean climate that is hot and dry during the summer and cool and wet during the winter, while the southern and eastern regions display an arid climate. The rainy season occurs between October and May; peaking during the months of December to February.
Visa / Entrance Requirements
U.S. and Canadian citizens do not require of visa if staying in Israel for less than 90 days, however a passport (valid for 6 months from date of entry) is required. If you plan on travelling to neighboring Arab countries then it is advised that you not get an Israeli stamp on your passport.
Airlines Servicing this Destination
Israel has two international airports:
- Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv: TLV
- Ovda International Airport in Negev (southern Israel): VDA
The following airlines have flights to Jordan:
- EL AL Israel Airlines
- Air France
- Virgen Atlantic
- Air Canada
- Turkish Airlines
- US Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Northwest Airlines
The least expensive rooms in Israel are located in hostels and they range from $20-$40 USD per person per night. 3 star hotels cost $48-100 USD per night, and for those with an affinity towards luxury, Israel has an array of 5 star hotels and beach resorts ranging from $150-$500 USD.
The currency of Israel is the New Shekel (ILS).
The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to Israeli New Shekels is $1 USD to 3.94 ILS (exchange rate subject to change).
The international access code for Israel is 972.
Important area codes are:
Beer Sheva: 8
Tel Aviv: 3
West Bank: 2
In order to call Israel from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 (exit code) then 972 (country code for Israel), then the area code (1 digit), and then the phone number (7 digits).
To call a cell phone in Israel from the U.S. and Canada you must dial 011 + 972 + area code (two digits beginning with the number 5) + the seven digit phone number.
In order to call the U.S. from Israel you must dail X* + 1 + area code + phone number
*X is the International Exit Code and it is different for each Israeli carrier: 00 (Kod Gisha), 012 (Smile Tikshoret), 013 (NetVision), 014 (Bezeq), 018 (Xfone)
Cyber-cafes are widely available in major cities and towns. Larger hotels and most private hospitals throughout the country offer Broadband Internet connection.
Emergency Telephone Numbers
U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv: 03-519-7475 day; 03-519-7551 after hour emergencies
Israel is a mecca for religious and archaeological tourism. The ancient city of Jerusalem is only 5 miles from Bethlehem (the birthplace of Jesus Christ and King David) and it is home to the Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock. Safed is near the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai sits and where most of the Jerusalem Talmud was written. Nazareth is Jesus´hometown and the location of many of his miracles. Hebron is the second holiest city in Judaism and is home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are buried. Caesarea is the site of many Roman and Crusader ruins, as well as the location of the harbor where St. Paul was transported to Rome as a prisoner.
For those who are not so interested in religious tourism will be pleasantly surprised by the secular attractions that Israel has to offer. Israel is a popular destination for ecotourism as well as other outdoor activities. Golan Heights is home to the Hermon mountain which is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding. Eilat is located at the southern tip of Israel and is described as having the best weather in the country and is a popular year-round vacation destination. Other popular destinations include the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo and the Zoological Center of Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan.
This section really does not do justice to the amount of archaeological and religious sites in Israel and there is surely enough to occupy your time during your stay in Israel.
Israel offers a variety of shopping venues that will satisfy almost all tastes. The Arab Market, located in Jerusalem, is described as one of the most fabulous shops in the country. You can buy food, furniture, cashmere, wine, olive oil, Dead Sea mud products, rugs, jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs, and many vendors will offer you a cup of the notoriously strong coffee called Kaffe. Be sure to arrive at the Arab Market with your bargaining skills. For those who shy away from the hassle of bargaining, the Ayalon Mall offers a variety of stores and boutiques as well as restaurants and a cinema. On the other end of the spectrum is Jaffa´s Flea Market where you can find excellent deals (if you bargain).
Nightlife and the Arts
For the extrovert, Israel offers dance clubs blaring thematic music or if you prefer to pass the time in a quiet and cozy atmosphere, Israel offers a selection of low key pubs and bars. The Blue Hole Pub and The Underground located in Jerusalem are definitely places for the former. Both clubs are where Israeli youth go to dance the night away with drinks and music. There are many other nighttime happenings in Israel with most localized to major cities.
There are many venues for those who prefer a more refined vacation. Tel Aviv has many artistic venues including the Beit Lessin, Gesher, and Cameri theaters which features plays. For music lovers, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra are a must see. The Israel Museum, located in Jerusalem, is the largest and most important art museum in the country and is home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Islamic Arts Museum is described as having the world’s finest collection of Islamic Art. The southern city of Haifa is home to the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art and the National Maritime Museum.
Israel has many English Language papers including:
Azure: Critique of public policy, culture and philosophy
Globes: Website of technology and business
Haaretz: Liberal and highbrow
IsraelInsider: Independent, caters to American Jews
Jerusalem Newswire: Independent and Christian
The Jerusalem Post: General
The Jerusalem Report: Weekly
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