Israel Travel Guide for Filipinos 2020: visas, entry/exit requirements, and more!
This post was last updated on April 29, 2020
Welcome to Part II of No Visa? No Problem! series: a collection of articles on visa-free countries for Filipinos. This series aims to give another perspective to Filipinos about the other countries they can visit, if they are rejected with a US or Schengen visa. This Israel travel guide for Filipinos will answer all your questions about visas, arrival, entry/exit requirements, and more about Israel. I lived here for a year and can share lots of tips!
Wow, it’s been a while since I updated this series! For you to have a wider view and endless horizon on your travel options, I vowed to myself that I will try my best to update this every month.
Hmmm… Israel. Sounds pretty dangerous to you, right? Let me tell you that it’s not! I am currently based here (in Tel Aviv) and I am sure that if you are one of the avid readers of this blog, you will understand my love for Tel Aviv and Israel as a whole.
Israel is one of the countries I know that has everything all at once. Every zone in this country is a different world – start from Tel Aviv and you will see a bustling city life like Berlin and Hong Kong; drive a little to the South and you will experience the best of the deserts and a rich historical culture that dates thousands of years (old medieval towns, Arab districts, etc); head down to the South and see the best of the Red Sea. Everything is here!
Getting to Israel from Manila
Coming to Israel from any part of Asia can be really painful but I was able to pull off a few tricks that got me through it. I was in a series of press trips in Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Dubai so the flight sailed smoothly (sort of).
The last leg (UAE to Israel) was the most grueling because you know, these two countries don’t have diplomatic relationships. Meaning, there are no direct flights even if they are just close to each other. All flights going to Israel from UAE should take the long way because of the air territory constraints.
Anyway, you can read about my fun, tiring, crazy-almost-never-made-it flight here.
Meanwhile, let’s go back to flights from Manila to Tel Aviv…
The Philippines have one of the highest overseas workers in the Middle East so flights to and from Manila are very frequent. However, this is the bad news folks – you cannot fly with a Middle Eastern Airline to Israel because they don’t fly there at all. I love flying with Qatar and Emirates but when I went to Israel, I was juggled by 2-3 different airlines just because it’s not possible to fly with one.
But here’s the good news: starting 26 March 2017, Cathay Pacific will have a direct flight to Tel Aviv from Manila!
In the recent Philippine tourism surveys, the Israelis beat the Germans as the highest number of visitors in the country. Israel will be the major source of tourists for the Philippines this year hence the decision of a big airline to open a direct flight.
Okay, it’s not entirely direct – it’s via Hong Kong because (1) Cathay Pacific is an HK airline; (2) there are a lot of HK flights from Manila, Cebu and Clark. While these are still myths and hearsays, let’s be realistic and see how much the flight will cost.
Flight options from Manila to Tel Aviv
Via Dubai/Oman or Qatar: Dubai is a flying hub however, there are no direct flights to Israel from the United Arab Emirates. Their air traffic does not exist – you always have to go through Europe. However, in one of my flights, I flew via Qatar Airways from Manila to Doha then Larnaca. From Larnaca to Tel Aviv, Qatar will transfer you to their sister company as Qatari flights don’t go to Israel. Don’t worry, you don’t need to book multiple flights for this. Your reservation with Qatar will be enough – they will take care of the rest. This could cost up to ₱100,000 (est) from Manila and back.
My usual advice? Add Israel to your European Itinerary
I also gave this advice in my Morocco travel guide for Filipinos article. Like Morocco, Israel is very close to Europe. If you have a valid Schengen visa with multiple entries, flying to Europe will be cheaper. Flights from major European cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, especially Berlin is super cheap. You can get a Tel Aviv flight from these cities for ₱7,500 (two-way). Many European budget airlines fly to Tel Aviv.
This will require more work as you need to book the tickets independently. In the end, it’s always cheaper. For example, book a 2-way flight from Manila to Berlin via Cebu Pacific or Manila to Madrid/London via Philippine Airlines. From there, you can find any flight going to Tel Aviv for cheap. Remember that you can choose to fly from any European cities if you have a valid, multiple-entry Schengen visa. It’s always more fun to check all flights from European cities and see what’s the cheapest option for you.
Visa Regulations for Filipinos entering as a tourist
Philippine passport holders can stay in Israel for a total of 90 days, visa-free. However, be warned. Since there are many illegal Filipino workers in Israel, be prepared to be interrogated but it’s normal procedure. Just answer their questions and you will be fine. They will only deport you if they find your answers suspicious.
What do they ask Filipino travelers when entering Israel?
A lot of questions. Please take note they are not just doing this to Philippine passport holders. Israel has security issues and all the questions are for security purposes only – nothing personal. They will not question your race or your nationality. You could be asked about your travel history.
The immigration interview can take up to 15 minutes. If they are not satisfied with your answers, you will be asked to go to the holding room and wait for further instructions. But please don’t worry – they will not deport you. Just answer all the questions with honesty. I’m sure you’re not trying to hide anything! Additionally, Israel immigration is fond of Filipinos. Many Philippine passport holders travel here for pilgrimage. You can read about my experience with I first entered Israel here.
If you are a backpacker and you want to stay longer than 90 days in Israel, you have to apply for a visa extension at the Misrad Hapnim before your visa expires. In my experience, this wasn’t an easy procedure and I only know one Filipino who got granted a tourist visa extension in Israel.
As a Philippine passport holder, what do I need to present to Israeli Immigration upon arrival?
I entered Israel 4 times in a year and I wasn’t asked about this. They don’t actually care what you are going to do in the country but they are concerned if you are a threat to their national security. This is the reason why everyone entering Israel is heavily interrogated. Remember that this country is at war and they need to protect their territories from all foreign and domestic threats. But I do have the following documents ready:
Proof of accommodation
In all my travels, I always make sure that I have a hotel reservation when entering another country. I use Booking.com for this because they won’t charge you for reserving. You can always opt to pay at the property. When I entered Israel the first time, I booked through Airbnb since the Immigration officer can always call my host to confirm if I have a reservation. Airbnb reservations are paid right away so your local host will be willing to vouch for you even if you don’t know them. If you are new to Airbnb, you can sign up using this link to get a ₱2,000 discount on your first stay!
If you’re staying with friends or family in Israel, make sure you know their address, phone numbers, and all the necessary information. Sometimes, you will be asked some ridiculous questions about your hosts. They are just making sure you know your host so please get in touch with them before your trip!
Outbound Flight ticket
This is a hit and miss. In my experience entering Israel four times, they only asked for this twice. Good thing I always have proof that I will leave the country before the 90-day visa expires! It’s always better to have this, after all, if you’re flying through Europe, it’s cheap to book a dummy ticket.
Immigration officers are used to Filipinos traveling Israel. After all, Jerusalem is like our mecca. Many Filipinos travel to Israel for pilgrimage so before your flight, make sure you did research on places to visit in Israel. Itemize them by date or day. Include the accommodations and things to do. You can use this sample itinerary below.
What is the ideal budget to travel to Israel?
We’ve already calculated the first part but here’s a good way to show the general cost of living in Israel. The cost of living in Israel is 50% higher than in the Philippines. Israel’s currency is called the New Israeli shekel (NIS). As of April 29, 2020, 1 NIS is equivalent to ₱14.39 PHP. If you are traveling with US dollars, $1 USD is equivalent to 3.50 NIS.
Unlike other countries, Israel prices don’t have a big difference per city. The price estimate below is based on the cost of living in Tel Aviv, where Filipinos often start their journey.
Prices below are in Philippine peso and are just estimates based on the time I lived in Tel Aviv for one year. This is just to give you an idea on how your daily travel budget in Israel should look like.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I need a transit visa if I have a layover?
Philippine passport holders need a transit visa when stopping in any US airports. If you are flying with a European airline, you don’t need a visa to stop in Europe. It’s always smarter to ask the airline you are booking your flight with. They can answer your transit visas queries better.
When is the best time to visit Israel?
Israel is a four-season country though I can say that it has always been sunny here! The sun never goes away!
- January to March: not snowing but cold (up to 9° C)
- April to June: Not too cold, not too hot (24° C)
- July to September: very hot especially the beginning of July
- October to December: definitely jacket weather (up to 16° C)
For detailed information including monthly events in Israel, please see the article when is the best time to visit Israel?
What should I pack/wear for my Israel trip?
Israel may be religious per se but they are very used to Western tourists. In Tel Aviv, you can wear anything you want, there is really no restriction but when you visit religious landmarks like Jerusalem, make sure your shoulders and knees are covered. This also applies to men.
I have a resident visa in Dubai (or other Muslim countries). Will I have troubles going back after my travels to Israel?
No. Israel only gives you an entry card. They will not stamp your passport. I have lots of friends from Dubai who already tried this and they didn’t have a problem going back.
Will I be allowed to enter Muslim countries if I have an Israeli stamp?
Lebanon and Iran will not allow you to enter. It’s kind of a non-negotiable thing for these two countries. Other Muslim countries are okay with the stamp as long as you are not an Israeli citizen. Again, please take note that if you enter Israel through Ben Gurion International Airport, you will only be given an entry card – they will not stamp your passport.
If you cross the border to Egypt and Jordan, they will stamp you (like what they did to me). However, you can request not to be stamped in both gates. Take note that even if you don’t have the Israel stamp in the border and you have the Egypt and Jordan stamp, it is very easy to determine that you entered these countries through Israel because stamps have border names. If you really don’t want to have records of these in your passport, ask the Israel, Jordan, and Egypt immigration officers at the Wadi Araba border not to stamp your passport. They can put a stamp on your entry/exit cards instead.
Will I be allowed to enter Israel if I have stamps from Middle Eastern countries?
Yes. I had stamps from Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar but I was allowed to enter. I was interrogated heavily but they still let me in.
Do I need to show financial capability when entering Israel?
No, but it is better to have it in hand. If you have a mobile banking app, then that should suffice. No need to print anything. You do not need a formal bank statement signed by the bank.
Are there any reasons I will be denied entry to Israel?
Yes. If Israel finds you a threat to their national security, then you will be sent to your flight of origin at your own expense.
Can I include Jordan and Egypt in my Israel itinerary?
Yes, this is also possible. When you exit to the neighboring countries (Jordan and Egypt), your visa will reset to another 90 days or depending on the mood of the border control officer. Egypt visa for Filipinos is easier to apply than Jordan visa for Filipinos.