This is how you get down to Sinai: the guide for an Israeli who is looking for a cheap vacation without effort

The southern Sinai Peninsula is one of the best coastal tourist areas in the world – amazing beaches, clear water like glass, the most beautiful coral reefs in the world, cheap prices, a mesmerizing view of the granite mountains and all this is a four hour drive from Tel Aviv. It is not surprising that despite the travel warnings, in recent years Israelis have returned to Sinai because there is no substitute for it, and those who come once – can no longer get rid of it.

As you have probably heard in the last year, a global epidemic has wiped out tourism and the border with Sinai has also been closed for almost a year. The border may have reopened, but a spontaneous trip of a moment’s decision, where you get in the car and after six hours already drink coffee on the beach in the devil’s bras – it is not. In the past you only needed a passport to cross the border, today you will have to go through a difficult and bureaucratic health and bureaucratic mask, but this is really no reason to give up a great vacation within touching distance. So we have prepared a guide that will take you step by step – from the decision to travel to Sinai to the long-awaited blue beach.

Preparations for the trip: Purchase a transfer fee in advance

Booking a place to cross the border

As of this writing, the Egyptians only allow one thousand Israelis to cross the border from Israel to Sinai every day, and in order to be one of the thousand happy ones it is necessary to purchase a border crossing fee in advance. The fee is NIS 100 and anyone can purchase up to 10 fees at a time. Sounds simple, but in practice there are many more than a thousand people who want to cross the border every day, so before you arm your babysitter parents check that there are free fees for the dates you want. There are currently no vacancies a month ahead, but it is worth checking every few days that people are canceling. The payment and inspection is done on the Milgam website At this link.

Corona examination 72 hours before crossing (vaccinated exempt)

If you are not vaccinated (not recovering but only vaccinated), on the Egyptian side of the border crossing you will need to show a negative corona test taken a maximum of 72 hours before the crossing. The test results must be in English, so it cannot be done for free within the HMOs, but a private test is needed. It is recommended to do the test about 48 hours before crossing to be sure that the result will arrive before you reach the border. The prices of the tests range from NIS 100 at Ben Gurion Airport to NIS 500 at some of the private clinics. It is better to bring the answers in print.

Quick corona test (Photo: Remipharm Quiddle representative in Israel)

Arrival and return to Israel: Patience is a required product

Beyond Sinai

In the past, the border crossing was open 24/7 all year round, except for Yom Kippur. Today it is open from 08:00 to 16:00. The passport must be accompanied by a passport, the fee paid for the day, and a corona examination in English or a vaccinated certificate. Are you missing one of these documents? You will not be able to pass. There is no point in reaching the border at 08:00 in the morning, unless it is really urgent for you to be first at the border. The queue starts to gather at 07:00, and if you arrive two hours later, you go half the time.

Those who are accustomed to fast land border crossings, where they sign a passport and continue, then this is not the case. Even before the corona it was not fast and now a few more stations have to be added along the way – patience is a required product. On the Israeli side, no less than four different queues await you, and on the Egyptian side at least five more, including filling out forms and paying two fees – one to the Egyptian Ministry of Health at a cost of 30 pounds (about six shekels) and the other a border crossing fee of 405 pounds (about 80 shekels). The total transit time to Sinai takes between one and three hours, depending on the load.

Back to Israel

To cross the border back into the country you will need to present a negative corona test. The test must be done about 48 hours before returning to Israel. You should make sure you have an answer in hand before you reach the border. Most accommodations allow you to book a corona test that comes all the way to you, the cost is about $ 40 and you don’t have to move anywhere for the sake of it. Upon entering the country at the border crossing itself, just before you are already in Eilat, you will have to do another check at a cost of NIS 100. Crossing the border back also takes between an hour and three hours, depending on the degree of congestion.

Travel within Sinai: Possible with your vehicle

The exit from the border crossing is one large taxi rank. Dozens of taxis, the vast majority in the form of large vans made by Toyota, are waiting outside the aisle. Those arriving alone or as a couple will be able to join other travelers on their way to the destination, but the truth is that waiting in the heat, in the dust while trying to figure out who is against whom, is a very dubious pleasure, especially with a long drive and exhausting border crossing.

It is highly recommended to book in advance with a driver who will be waiting for you on the spot – it also probably came out a little cheaper. Most accommodations can also help you with a driver’s phone number. Another option is to go to one of the Facebook groups of travelers in Sinai (links right below) and do a search in them – there is a wide range of recommendations for drivers. After you get in the taxi, there are still only a few more roadblocks between you and the Egyptian army and police, so make face masks and passports.

It is possible to transfer to Sinai by private car. The crossing includes a fee of 1,800 pounds (about 360 shekels). It is recommended to empty the vehicle of everything possible, because the round trip includes a careful inspection of all corners of the vehicle. It is important to know that it is not possible to move with a two-wheeled vehicle, a 4X4 vehicle or a diesel vehicle.

Accommodation: There is also NIS 50 per person

In general, the accommodation options in Sinai can be divided into two: on one side of the camps – these are accommodation complexes right on the beach where you sleep in basic huts (cabins), sit on areas near the beach and order food and drink from the small restaurant. Most Israelis who say “Sinai” – imagine exactly these places. On the other side, there are the hotels, some even at the level of five star hotels, especially in Sharm el-Sheikh which offer like all hotels in this style in the world, a conversation pool, dining room, all-inclusive accommodation and the like. In recent years, intermediate options have also been created – places that look like camps but also include air-conditioned rooms with toilets and showers of a reasonable standard.

Surprisingly, it is often found that hotel prices are cheaper than camp prices. The reason is probably Israelis’ fondness for the traditional Sinai experience, of feeling a meter from the shore even if it includes only a bed and at best a fan. In any case, the prices are much cheaper than the prices in the country. An air-conditioned room at the camp will cost between NIS 50 and NIS 200 per person, usually including breakfast and sometimes dinner. In other words, a couple will pay between NIS 100 and NIS 400 for an air-conditioned room at the camp. You will also pay a similar price at a five-star hotel in Sharm el-Sheikh (two hours drive from the border), and a little more at a five-star hotel in Taba near the border.

Food and drink: Bring reinforcements from home

To tell the truth, Chinese is not really a culinary powerhouse. There are no chef-restaurants or molecular cooking here, and even in the big hotels the food is pretty mediocre. For those who travel to one of the camps, it is important to remember that there are no food options outside the place itself and the variety is not very large, so if you are picky about food, you should consider accommodation in Dahab or Sharm Sheikh that allow much more variety outside the hotel restaurant, or even bring home food reinforcements .

In Dahab and Sharm you can find some not bad restaurants in the field of fish, and it seems that in general it is better to stick to the local food. Egyptian cuisine is largely based on Paul. What we do with chickpeas – the Egyptians do with beans, in addition to fish and chicken and lots of fresh and delicious pitas.

Egypt is a Muslim country and therefore alcohol is less common. Although beer is now available in almost every place, it will be significantly more expensive than other things, and more alcoholic beverages will be difficult to find. For fans of the genre, it is recommended to buy what you want at duty-free at the border crossing.

Attractions: The Kingdom of Diving and Snorkeling

For those who want a little more than just sitting on the beach, there are a variety of options that you can arrange in your accommodation easily and usually also at completely reasonable prices. Sinai is the realm of diving and snorkeling, there is everything here from a simple snorkel in the reef closest to where you live, through world-class dive sites, to a few days of diving safari on a boat. Those who prefer to stay above the water, will be able to find a variety of water sports options such as kayaking, kite surfing, and even water skiing – everything looks much better on the clear and calm waters of the small bays along the coast.

If you still want to stay on the beach and pamper yourself a bit, then massage, yoga, or Pilates are great routine breaks. Sinai is much more than beaches – its mountains rise to heights of over 2,000 meters, and there are endless possibilities for several-day hikes to the depths of the desert, but that is another time.

Almost all places also offer sunrise, and especially sunset, trips to the mountains near the coast. This usually includes Bedouin tea and a light meal.


Source: Maariv.co.il – תיירות by www.maariv.co.il.

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