Cancun Mexico Facts
- Banks and Currency Exchange Facilities: top
US Dollars are easily exchanged into pesos in banks, major hotels, airports and exchange houses. Mexican banks are generally open from 9 am to 2:30 pm weekdays only. Exchange houses are open longer and offer quicker service. Most credit cards are accepted in shops, hotels and travel agencies. Major purchases are best made with a credit card. You automatically receive the bank rate of exchange, which is higher than the rates given in town or at the hotels.
- Crime: top
There is little crime in Riviera Maya. In the tourist areas, you are generally safe late at night. Car break-ins are just about the only crime, especially around the shopping centers. So be sure to lock your door like you would back at home. Like any other beach resort, do not leave money or valuables unattended on the beach.
- Location: top
In the State of Quintana Roo, off the northeastern end of the Yucatan peninsula, directly south of New Orleans. Approximately 1.5 hours flying time from Miami.
- Business Hours: top
Most stores are open from 10 am to 10 pm daily in the Hotel Zone. Stores downtown may close between 2 pm and 4 pm for the traditional "siesta" and on Sundays.
- Food: top
Generally no problems, but caution is suggested when buying from street vendors; drink only bottled water, and use bottled water for oral hygiene; peel all fruits and vegetables, and avoid lettuce; concentrate on eating only cooked foods.
- Departure Tax: top
Departure tax is approximately U.S.$17, except for passengers under two years of age, who are exempt from the tax.
- Medical Care: top
Mexico has a nationalized healthcare system and almost every town and city has either a national hospital or medical clinic. Most hotel have a 24-hour doctor on call. No vaccinations are need to enter Mexico from the US or Canada. Below is a list of local hospitals and clinics. Before you leave home, check with your health insurance carrier - chances are good that your insurance plan can cover you in Mexico.
- Area Code: top
The international telephone access code is 52. The city code for Cancun is 0988.
Omit the 0 when calling from abroad. Because long-distance calls are so expensive, visitors are advised to place reversed-charge calls. To reach an international operator, dial 09.
- Tropical Storms: top
It is rare for Riviera Maya to get hurricanes, but it is a fact of life. Hurricanes tend to move slowly enough for people to avoid danger, and there is a 3-day warning system in the area that will advise you of the situation. Hotels and villas are experienced in keeping guests safe and happy during one of these storms. So, you should not worry about vacationing during this season when many times you get the best deals and the best weather.
- Emergency Numbers: top
Throughout the country, the number to call for any police emergency
is 18-39-54; to reach the fire department call 14-20-50; for any medical emergency, call the Red Cross at 15-20-55.
- What to wear: top
Strictly casual resort wear, especially during the day. Jackets and ties are almost never needed, but it is customary to dress up for the discos, and most nice restaurants and bars require men to wear shirts and slacks (some allow Bermudas). Bathing suits (particularly for women) are not to be worn away from swimming pools and beach areas. Shorts should never be worn when entering a church.
- Hotel Zone: top
- If you want to be right where the action is, stay in the northern part of the hotel zone.
- If you want some peace and quiet, still within walking distance of restaurants and shopping, stay in the middle part of the hotel zone.
- If you really want to get away from it all, stay in the southern part of the hotel zone. You may want to take taxis everywhere or rent a car though, as it's a long bus ride to the hot spots.
- Popular Excursions: top
A day tour inland to the famous Mayan ruins.
Visit the spectacular Tulum ruins about an hour's drive south of Cancun & afterwards snorkel in the sheltered waters of the national park at Xel-ha ("shell'ha").
You can take a day trip by large boat to this charming island near Cancun.
Cozumel, an island just 40 miles south of Cancun, has long been subjected to comparisons with Cancun. It has a laid-back, sedate atmosphere and superb fishing, snorkeling and diving. You can take a day trip by ferry or small plane.
- Food: top
Common sense can greatly reduce your chances of coming down with food or water related illnesses. Firstly, do not over indulge in spicy Mexican foods and pitchers of margaritas or strong Mexican beer during the first few days of your trip. Eat and drink in moderation. Go slowly if you are not used to the Mexican spices and cooking.
Like many countries, do not eat from street vendors since they tend to be less sanitary. Only eat foods that have been thoroughly cooked and are served either oven-hot or refrigerator-cold. Many people eat at street vendors' stalls without problems, but you should be cautious.
Be sure your unpeeled raw vegetables and fruit are washed in purified water and dried with a clean cloth. Peeled and thoroughly cooked vegetables are okay, as the boiling water will sanitize them.
- Climate: top
Semi-tropical with an average temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for Cancún: January-March, 68-86°F (20-30°C); April-June, 71-89°F (22-32°C); July-September, 75-91°F (24-33°C); October-December, 68-87°F (20-31°C).
Cancún has an average of more than 200 sunny days a year and has less annual rainfall than the Virgin Islands or the Bahamas. You may run into some rain, overcast weather and days with bothersome wind gusts. Usually a light breeze blows across the island, keeping things cool.
The city's temperature averages an idyllic 80°F (27°C) year-round, dipping painlessly from time to time, hitting 65°F (19°C) in January. It can swelter to 100°F (38°C) in May, though ocean breezes keep it more bearable than the rest of the Yucatán, which can get drenchingly muggy and hot. Rainfall is rare, though violent storms called nortes can roll in on any afternoon, their black clouds, high winds and torrents of rain followed within an hour by bright sun and blue sky. Hurricane season lasts from July to November.
November and early December are perhaps the best times to go, as there are fewer tourists and prices are low. The busy season is from mid-December to April, when prices are noticeably higher. Surcharges get tacked on around the Christmas, New Year's and Easter holidays.
- Money Matters: top
Currency: Mexican peso. The rate of exchange against other currencies fluctuates daily. Though banks and casas de cambio (exchange houses) change most major currencies, US dollars are always easiest to change due to their economic stability on the global market and the proximity of the United States to Mexico.
Casas de cambio usually give exchange rates close to the rate given at banks, and are easier to use. However, they occasionally do not accept traveler's checks for exchange and you may sometimes be required to go to a bank to exchange traveler's checks. The worst exchange rates are found at hotel zone casas de cambio. Downtown exchange houses generally give better rates.
Banks and ATMs are plentiful in Cancún, and there are numerous money exchanges. Cirrus and Plus are the most commonly found ATM networks. ATMs give the best service (24 hours per day) and rates.
U.S. dollars are widely accepted in Cancún, but you will not usually get the best exchange rate using dollars at local establishments. It is best to exchange your money for pesos at a bank or a money exchange.
Most credit cards are accepted in shops, hotels and travel agencies. Major purchases are best made with a credit card. You automatically receive the bank rate of exchange, which is higher than the rates given in town or at the hotels.
- Swimming: top
Black flag :: Don't swim, too dangerous.
Red flag :: Use caution, dangerous. I saw people swimming with red flags, staying very close to shore. They still got dunked occasionally by big waves.
Any other colour :: It is reasonably safe to swim, depending on your swimming ability of course.
- Language: top
Spanish is the main language of Mexico with the native Mayan being spoken only by a small minority of the population. In the more tourist trodden parts of the country such as Cancun many people will have a basic knowledge of English. Despite this, it is helpful to have at ones disposal at least a smattering of Spanish.
- Visas: top
Citizens of many countries - including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, Chile and virtually all Western European countries - do not require visas to enter Mexico as tourists.
- Ferrys: top
The "Mexico Water Jets" whisk you from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel island in about 35 min. They are air conditioned passenger ferrys with comfortable seating & music videos. Cost @ $7 US. There is still some advertising in circulation for a ferry that once ran from Cancun to Cozumel but it is no longer operating. There are now buses that will take you directly to Playa Del Carmen from the Cancun airport. The bus can be arranged just as you leave the airport terninal. The trip to Playa takes about 1 hour. Many people think that they can rent a car in Cancun & come over on the car ferry . This is a serious mistake. The car ferry is your worst nightmare. Renting a car once you arrive in Cozumel is easy & affordable.
Watch that last ferry!!
If you get there late you will be spending the night in Playa del Carmen and there may or may not be rooms available, depending on the season.
You will never tire of diving in Cozumel. The large majority of divers who come will come again many times over the years. It is habit-forming ! Use the key below to help to determine minimum dive skills needed to safely enjoy our most popular dive sites.
- Entry Requirments: top
A valid passport or a birth certificate with an official state seal (official document only). A valid photo I.D. if you don't have a drivers license. All drivers will need a drivers license.
- Holidays: top
Banks and most businesses close on New Year's Day (1 January)
Constitution Day (5 February)
Birthday of Benito Juaréz (21 March)
Good Friday through Easter Monday (four days in March or April; date varies)
Labor Day (1 May)
Anniversary of Battle of Puebla (5 May)
Independence Day (16 September)
Columbus Day (12 October)
All Saints' Day (1 November)
All Souls' Day (2 November)
Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 (20 November)
Christmas Day (25 December)
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