If you are touring Israel, you need money to pay for a lot of things, such as your accommodation, food, souvenir purchases, and city tour fares. It must be said that the city of Tel Aviv is such a shopping paradise that it is virtually impossible not to have splurging moments. And while dollar is accepted in a number of establishments; for great convenience, it is a must that you possess with you a good sum of the Israeli Currency, which is popularly known as the shekel. The currency rate ranges from 3.45 and 3.90 shekels for every 1 US dollars. Tourists should be aware that the conversion rate from US dollars to shekels varies from day to day.
For a bit of information, coins currently being circulated in Israel are in half shekel and 1, 2, 5 and 10 shekalim (Hebrew plural form of shekels). On the other hand, banknotes that are in circulation today are available in 20, 50 as well as 100 and 200 NIS.
You can easily find a good money changer as a number can be found in strategic places in Tel Aviv. I used to have my dollars converted to the New Israeli Shekel currency in a money transfer shop just along Yerushalayim street. Albeit, many times, I did have transactions with money changing shops that are found at Tachana Merkazit. Most upscale shopping malls in Tel Aviv such as Dizengoff Center and Azrieli Mall also have changer shops to cater to currency needs of tourists.
What can I buy with my Israel Shekel? 50 Shekalim, which is roughly 11 dollars, is more than enough to buy me a complete hamburger meal at any McDonalds’ in the city. Off-topic: some branches of this popular fastfood joint add cheese in their burgers and sandwiches such as in Yerushalayim and Tachana Merkazit; you must however request for it.
10 shekalim, which is around 2.2 dollars, is the cost of a small plastic bag of couscous. With 40 (less than 9 dollars), you can buy 5 kilo bag of jasmine rice at the corner grocery.
You can buy a Castro plain or printed shirt for 30 NIS (6.6 dollars) while pants can be had for 150 shekels (33.3 dollars). Wears and similar items found in flea markets and thrift shops are available at even much lower prices.
Needless to say, Tel Aviv is a very expensive city. In fact, it is the most expensive in the whole of the Middle East. But, if you are careful and meticulous when it comes to planning your daily purchases while you are touring Israel; like buying the inexpensive but quality brands and even going to popular flea markets in many parts of the country, you can actually get a lot more out from your money.