Israel Shopping and nightlife
Shopping in Israel
There is a wide choice for shoppers in Israel. High quality shopping malls, designer boutiques, traditional markets, antique shops and high street shops all have their place. Contrary to a widespread belief among visitors, bargaining is not common in Israel except in the markets. One of the highlights of visiting Israel is a trip to one of these very animated markets (shuks) of tremendous cultural diversity, notably the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv or Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem.
Dead Sea products are one of the country’s most famous exports and it is therefore unsurprising that many tourists enjoy shopping for them at hugely lowered costs. All big pharmacies sell Dead Sea products, and there are specialised shops in most cities and amidst the spa hotels along the Dead Sea. Gold and silver jewellery, Judaica, Christian religious items and arts and crafts are also popular keep-sakes and are sold in specialist shops mainly in the old cities or craft markets such as the Nahalat Binyamin Market in Tel Aviv.
Tourists benefit from a zero rate of VAT on many goods and services. In addition, when buying from souvenir and specialist shops displaying a Ministry of Tourism sign, especially jewellers and luxury good stores, it is possible to obtain a VAT refund. When making your purchase simply ask for a Tax Refund Invoice and then, when leaving the country, take the invoice to the tax refund desk at the airport or port for the refund.
Sun-Fri 0800-1900, although many Jewish-run shops will close mid-afternoon on Friday in preparation for Shabbat, while Arabic stores are closed on Fridays.
Nightlife in Israel
Israelis love to let their hair down and as such bars and nightclubs can be found in most cities. Israel's club scene, particularly Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, draws DJs and club fans from the USA and Europe. Tel Aviv has a wealth of entertainment and there are rock, jazz, folk and pop music clubs in all the main cities and resorts. Israeli folklore and dance shows can be seen everywhere, especially in the kibbutzim. Nightlife in Jerusalem is a little more muted but there are a few good clubs, including the legendary Haoman 17.
Particularly prominent in Israeli life are classical music, ballet, opera and theatre, which are mainly based in Tel Aviv. The city is home to 18 of Israel's 35 performing arts centres, including the mainstream Habima Theatre (www.habima.co.il) and the contemporary Suzanne Dellal Centre (www.suzannedellal.org.il). The New Israel Opera (www.israel-opera.co.il) performs at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts centre. The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra (www.ipo.co.il) can be heard at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv, the Haifa Auditorium, and the ICC Center in Jerusalem.
Cinema is extremely popular in Israel and many cinemas screen three daily shows of international and local films (all Hebrew films are subtitled in English and French). Tickets and even the films themselves can be purchased from ticket agencies and sometimes from hotels.