Things to Know Before Traveling to Palestine
Palestine is a unique destination which is very undervisited due to conflict and international depiction in the media. But now more and more people are traveling, studying and volunteering in Palestine to experience the destination and learn more about the history and people. If you are keen on the idea of visiting Palestine then here are some things you can expect...
1. It Is Safer Than You Might Think
If you are planning to travel to the Middle East or take a gap year to Israel you might be put off visiting Palestine due to the political situation and instability. But Palestine is a lot safer than you might think and the situation in the region is quite calm at the moment. As a tourist in the West Bank you are unlikely to face any major issues and the pace of life is slow and relaxed.
2. Lots of Meaningful Experiences
If you would like to do more than take a tour of Palestine you can find lots of study abroad and volunteer programs in Palestine available to join all year round. A lot of international organisations volunteer programs in Israel but some like Love Volunteers offer the chance to help Palestine people and children on community based projects. There is also the opportunity to learn Arabic in Palestine which can be a fantastic cultural experience.
3. People Are Very Friendly
Local people are very friendly and when they learn you are from outside the region they will usually make an effort to learn more about you and where you are from. You are likely to be greeted with smiles rather than any hostility, especially if you learn some basic Arabic to improve your communication. People generaly go around living their normal life, doing jobs, shopping and seeing friends and family.
Palestine is a cheap destination compared to other countries in the Middle East but some things in West Bank can still be expensive. Bottles of water are around $1, a meal can cost $5-$15 whilst a hostel dorm room can cost around $10-$20.
Palestinian food is very similar to other countries in the Middle East and you can find tasty dishes including falaffel, rice, vegtables and meat. Pickles are very popular, local people eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner - give them a try you won't be dissapointed. You might also like to try the local specialities including Makluba and Msakhan.
You might have an image of Palestine of being poor, run down with old concrete buildings which are falling down. But the West Bank is also home to the bustling modern city of Ramalla which is a great place to explore. Outside of the cities there is also pretty scenery with rolling green mountains and stunning monasteries which include Mar Saba, Monastery of the Temptation and St George Koziba. A lot of international and local companies offer tours of Israel which also visit Palestine if you would be keen to travel overland and see the main biblical sights.