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General Information

The rate of exchange against the US dollar fluctuates daily. Nuevos pesos (new peso notes) come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos. Coins come in denominations of 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 pesos and 50, 20 and 10 centavos.

US dollars (not coins) are widely accepted in the Yucatan, particularly in Cancun. Many hotels, shops, and market vendors, as well as most hotel service personnel readily accept US currency.

Spanish is the official language of Mexico, although Indian languages are spoken by approximately 20% of the population, many of whom speak no Spanish at all. In the beach resorts of Cancun, English is understood by most people employed in tourism.

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).

U.S. citizens need a valid passport, or a birth certificate plus driver's license or other official photo I.D.; a visa is not necessary.

Time Zones
Central Standard year round.

Banks and Currency Exchange Facilities
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.

Business Hours
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.

Medical Facilities
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.

American Medical Centre (Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 8, Zona Hotelera, PHONE: 998/883-1001 or 998/883-0113).

Air Ambulance Network (PHONE: 01800/010-0027 toll-free in Mexico; 800/327-1966 in the US; www.airambulancenetwork.com).

Global Life Flight (PHONE: 01800/305-9400; 01800/361-1600 toll-free in Mexico; 888/554-9729 in the US; 877/817-6843 in Canada; www.globallifeflight.com).

Hospital Americano
84-61333/84-6068 (24-hours)
15 Viento Street, SM4

Red Cross
84-1616 (24-hours)
Yaxchilan Avenue, SM21

Total Assist
84-1092, 84-8116 (24-hours)
5 Claveles Street, SM22


  • Farmacia Cancún (Av. Tulum 17, Sm 22, PHONE: 998/884-1283)
  • Paris (Av. Yaxchilán 32, Sm 3, PHONE: 998/884-3005)
  • Roxsanna's (Plaza Flamingo, Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 11.5, Zona Hotelera, PHONE: 998/885-0860)

From North America to Cancún: dial 011 (int'l access code) + 52 (Mexico's country code) + 98 (Cancún's area code) + the local number.

From Cancún calling North America, dial 00+1+area code+local number. Many US long-distance phone companies have access numbers that you can dial in order to use your phone card, usually through the Mexican telephone company public phones, LADATEL. Calls may be less expensive than direct-dialed calls from your hotel room. (Check with your hotel for surcharges BEFORE calling.)

Cell Phones
There is local cellular service. Very few cellular services will allow you to roam in Mexico. Most cell phones will work, but they must be reprogrammed by the local service provider. If you bring your own, it will need to be reprogrammed. Remember to have your phone reprogrammed again before returning to the US If you really need cellular service in Cancun it might just be easier to buy a new phone in México, especially if you will be coming back.

Travel Documents
A valid passport should be used if you have one. Citizens or legal, permanent residents of the United States can usually cross the USA/Mexico border without difficulty or delay. A birth certificate may be used, but it must be the original copy with the embossed seal. A completed Mexican Tourist Card must be presented upon your arrival and departure. Sign the reverse of both the blue and the red copy, and present them to the airline representative as you check in for your flight for validation. You will be required to present both the Mexican Tourist Card and your travel documents when you arrive in Cancun.

Travelling with minors
A minor travelling alone or with an adult must have the above identification. If the minor is travelling alone, they must also have a notarized letter signed by all parents or legal guardians giving them permission to travel. If the minor is travelling with only one parent, they must have a notarized letter signed by the parent or guardian not travelling giving them permission to travel with the one parent or guardian. A custody document should be provided in the event a minor is in the custody of one parent. A death certificate should be provided if one parent is deceased.

What to wear
Dress in Cancun is very casual with the accent on comfort. Remember to pack comfortable walking shoes. The activities at the hotels and the area dictate sporting clothes. In the evenings, you may want to dress up, but not too much. At some of the best entertainment spots and clubs you will feel more comfortable dressing up. However, black tie or any tie for that matter is not required.

The standard current in the hotels in Mexico is 110 volts AC, the same as in the US

Tips and taxes
In cases where the gratuity is not included or provided for, 15% is the accepted amount. Most items sold in Mexico have a "value added tax" or sales tax of 10% that is additional to the posted price. In Spanish, it is called IVA. You will see it itemized separately on your receipt. The IVA is equal to a sales tax that we are accustomed to back home in the states.

An airport departure tax of $18 or the peso equivalent must be paid at the airport for international flights from Mexico. For domestic flights the departure tax is approximately $10. Save some cash for this expenditure – as travelers checks and credit cards are not accepted.

Hotels in Cancun charge a 12% lodging tax.

What you can take back
US citizens returning home from Mexico may bring back purchases totaling $300.00 and one (1) liter of alcohol beverage duty free.

The Mexican airport departure tax, approximately $18 US, will be collected at the airport as you leave for home if it is not already included in your ticket. Check with your Travel Representative to see if the Mexican Departure Tax was included in your ticket price.

Upon entering Mexico, you'll be given a baggage declaration form and asked to itemize what you're bringing into the country. You are allowed to bring in 3 liters of spirits or wine for personal use; 400 cigarettes, 25 cigars, or 200 grams of tobacco; a reasonable amount of perfume for personal use; one movie camera and one regular camera and 12 rolls of film for each; and gift items not to exceed a total of $300. If driving across the US border, gift items must not exceed $50. You aren't allowed to bring firearms, meat, vegetables, plants, fruit, or flowers into the country. You can bring in one of each of the following items without paying taxes: a cell phone, a beeper, a radio or tape recorder, a musical instrument, a laptop computer, a portable copier or printer, and a typewriter. Compact discs are limited to 20 and DVDs to five.

Do I need a Passport?
It is a good idea to have a passport when you travel to any other country. A valid passport should be used if you have one. However,you may enter Mexico on vacation with a birth certificate - it must have a raised,embossed seal, along with a picture ID

Food & Drink
In Mexico the major health risk, known as turista, or traveler's diarrhea, is caused by eating contaminated fruit or vegetables or drinking contaminated water. So watch what you eat. Stay away from ice, uncooked food, and unpasteurized milk and milk products, and drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled for at least 10 minutes (insist on this by saying "quiero el agua hervida por diez minutos"), even when you're brushing your teeth. Mild cases of turista may respond to Imodium (known generically as loperamide or Lomotil) or Pepto-Bismol (not as strong), both of which you can buy over the counter; keep in mind, though, that these drugs can complicate more serious illnesses. Drink plenty of purified water or tea; chamomile tea (te de manzanilla) is a good folk remedy and it's readily available in restaurants throughout Mexico. In severe cases, rehydrate yourself with Gatorade or a salt-sugar solution (½ teaspoon salt and 4 tablespoons sugar per quart of water).

When ordering cold drinks at untouristed establishments, skip the ice: sin hielo. (You can usually identify ice made commercially from purified water by its uniform shape and the hole in the center.) Hotels with water-purification systems will post signs to that effect in the rooms. Tacos al pastor -- thin pork slices grilled on a spit and garnished with the usual cilantro, onions, and chili peppers -- are delicious but dangerous. It's also a good idea to pass up ceviche, raw fish cured in lemon juice -- a favorite appetizer, especially at seaside resorts. The Mexican Department of Health warns that marinating in lemon juice does not constitute the "cooking" that would make the shellfish safe to eat.

Do I need to convert my dollars to Mexican pesos to buy things?
Only if you want to- dollars and credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere in Cancun and Mexico. Remember that once your dollars are changed to pesos, they can not be changed back to dollars. It is best to exchange only what you plan to spend.

What about credit cards?
All major credit cards are accepted in Mexico - Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted, and American Express is accepted in some stores. Discover Card is not yet accepted.

Emergency Telephone Numbers

Police: 060
Traffic Police: 884-0710
Fire Dept: 884-1202
Ambulance: 884-1616
Port Captain: 880-1360
Consumer Affairs: 887-2877
Private Ambulance: 883-1000
Hospital Americano: 884-6133 Downtown (24 hrs)
Hospital Total Assist: 884-1092 Downtown (24 hrs)
American Medical Care Center: 883-1001 883-1003
Red Cross: 884-1616
Regional Hospital: 884-1818 Downtown (24 hrs)
Farmacia Unica: (24 hrs) 840-555 (English Spoken)
Farmacia Hospital Americano: (24 hrs) 884-6133 (English Spoken)
Farmacia Cancun, Hotel Zone: 885-1655
YZA: 883-1861
Canto: 884-9330

American: Lynette Belt
Plaza Caracol, Third floor.
Telephone: 883-0272

American Express: 01 (800) 001-3600
Banamex: (MasterCard - Visa) 01 (800) 366-3100
Carnet: (MasterCard) 01 (800) 366-3100
Diners Club: 01 (800) 500-3000
B of A - Travelers Checks: 01 (800) 700-9500 Banks
Banamex: 884-1116
Banco Bital: 884-3348
Bancomer: 884-4400
Banco Confia: 887-1096
Bancrecer: 87-1953

Absentee Voting
The CTDA Management Conference will take place on November 4-7, immediately after Election Tuesday. If you're planning on arriving in Cancun early, and you don't want to miss your chance to vote, you'll want to take advantage of state absentee registration and voting.

Click here to learn more