Travel | 14 comments
By: Zdenko Kahlina
THINGS TO KNOW IN MEXICO (Cancun area)
here I will mention several useful tips for tourists (Canadians) to follow when in Mexico.
Transportation to your hotel
No matter which terminal you arrive at, the scene after you leave customs will be the same, and with so many people moving through the airport, it can be a little confusing.
Avoid people who are offering you a “free ride” or anything “free” at the airport, simply say “no, gracias” and keep walking, don’t worry about being rude. These are timeshare salesman, and they have ruined plenty of people’s vacations, so it is best to stay away from them. You could end up in a several hour long presentation and maybe even talked into buying something you didn’t want with these guys.
If your vacation includes transportation
Then watch for someone holding a sign with your companies name on it (example: Apple Vacations, Best Day, or Lomas travel). They’ll have your name on a list, and carry your bags to the bus.
If you need transportation to your hotel
Terminal 2 (Main): There are booths located near the baggage claim where you can purchase a voucher for either a shuttle (a suburban that you share with other people), or a private taxi. There is also another booth right after customs, and yet another oustside.
Terminal 2 (Main) : A company called ADO provides bus service from the airport to Playa del Carmen. Their terminal is located at the southeast corner of the terminal (turn to your right after exiting the main terminal). The length of the terminal is equal to about one city block.
Terminal 1 (Charter): The Charter terminal or terminal 1 is now closed.
Terminal 3: Is a brand new terminal that just opened in May 2007, located to the south of terminal 2, (Main)
TIP: If you are taking a bus to the Cancun hotel zone, try to sit on the passenger side. You’ll get a great view of the Caribbean.
We’ve passed up our free bus ride to the hotel, and taken a taxi before. Why? Because our hotel was not one of the first ones on the drop-off route (we were at Presidente, about halfway), and wanted to get on the beach quicker. We told the bus agent what we were doing, and jumped in a taxi. We checked in, changed clothes, and the family went to the beach. I walked past the entrance on the way, and saw our bus just pulling up. It saved us at least 20 minutes.
You can arrange Private transfer from the airport to your hotel in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Riviera Maya or the ferry to Isla Mujeres.
Companies we recommend:
Aside from the climate, turquoise water, and beautiful beaches, this may be one of Cancun’s greatest assets. You can go anywhere within the main hotel zone for about 60 cents (U.S. conversion). And you’ll rarely have to wait for a bus. It seems as if they go by every five minutes.
The bus to downtown Cancun
It departs every hour from 4:30am to 11:30pm. Price is 35 pesos per person.
The bus to Playa del Carmen
It departs every hour from 10:30am to 9:30pm. Price is 65 pesos per person, 33 pesos for kids. This information is also on our Riviera Maya map.
The busses have different names and numbers written on the windshield. If you are traveling between hotels, malls, and restaurants in the Cancun tourist area, it doesn’t matter which bus you get on. If you are going to the tourist areas in downtown, your best bet is a bus marked “Ave Tulum” on the windshield. If you need supplies at WalMart, there is a bus that has “WalMart” written on the windshield.
Which direction you go on these busses depends upon which side of the street you’re on. When boarding a bus, check your Can-Do Cancun map (you did order one didn’t you?), to see which direction your destination is, then you’ll be able to decide which side you need to wait at.
1. Save your peso coins. It’s difficult for the driver to make change for large bills.
2. Get on and grab hold! The drivers don’t wait long at each stop, and will probably take off while you are still paying.
3. Tell the driver the name of your destination. Say it simply, and in a polite tone of voice, and he’ll probably stop.
4. Try to identify some landmarks so you know when you are close to your stop.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow riders. The people of Cancun are very gracious hosts. Mention the name of your stop, and they’ll help you.
There are a few times when the busses aren’t the greatest way to get around.
When the hotel workers get off, the busses are overflowing with tired people. They are kind, and courteous, but the busses get so full, that they often can’t pick up any additonal passengers. You could be left stranded along the curb, until things get back to normal.
The other situation is late at night when the Spring Breakers are in town (locals call them the “Spring Monsters”). The drunken kids yell profanities, fall-down, throw-up, and anything else you can think of that can be done on a bus.
Probably the best kept secret about taxis is that there are two rates. If you get a taxi at the door of your hotel it is more expensive than if you flag one down along the street.
…Taxis are very expensive. A ride from hotel Sheraton to Punta Cancun (where many of the nightclubs are located) is about 3 kilometers (under 2 miles), and the cost is about $4.50US if you catch the taxi along the street, or about $6 from the door of your hotel. The bus would cost less than $1.50 for two people.
…From the Hilton Cancun to Punta Cancun is about 8 kilometers (under 5 miles), and the cost is about $7US if you catch the taxi along the street, or about $9 from the door of your hotel. The bus would cost less than $1.50 for two people.
…Agree to a price before you actually get comfortable in the cab.
Taxi fares are based on a network of zones. The more zones that you cross through, the greater the cost. There are no meters in taxis throughout the Yucatan.
…Are taxis safe? Typically yes, but we really don’t think it would be a good idea for a single woman to get into the taxi at 2 or 3am after leaving the clubs. We’ve heard stories about drivers harrassing women in this situation. When leaving the clubs, take the bus, and make sure there are other tourists on it.
…I usually pay the driver as we are heading to our destination, but it’s probably best to pay when you arrive. And you’ll definitely want to take a glance back as you exit the cab, to make sure you didn’t drop, or forget, anything. If you leave it in a cab, the chances of getting it back are very slim.
Important Web sites:
OTHER USEFUL TIPS
When you bring the kids take cold and fever pills, rash cream and tummy upset pills. These medications are very expensive at the resorts.
Make sure to write on all charge slips as you sign whether the currency is in USD or PESO as both use the “$”.
If stung by Jellyfish while walking or swimming in the water, immediately sprinkle with meat tenderizer (used for cooking); it dissolves the proteins that cause the pain and swelling.
Carry baby wipes, non-scented, for wiping hands before and after a meal or after touching handrails. It usually becomes necessary to do at least one hand wash during a trip. Pack a small “Swimmer’s Towel” or “Camping Towel” which you can purchase in a sports equipment store. These towels are small and lightweight.
To borrow, rent, or purchase an item, have a written consent or sales receipt w/description, serial #, etc. If stolen & retrieved by police-they will keep item without proof that it was yours.
Bring light ponchos for rain gear. These can be purchased from most camping stores. Many stadiums also carry a light poncho to sell to fans of local football teams. These work great as well. They are small and light and easy to carry anywhere you go as a rain cloud can come in no time and dump a monsoon on your head.
Photocopy all your travel documents including your passport and any document that has your signature on it and leave them with a relative or friend that you know you can contact in the event that you loose all your documentation. The copies can be faxed to you.
In hotels that are equipped with keycards instead of using the hotel room card to leave the lights and the electricity on, use a PHONECARD (or any plastic card of the same size). Place it in the same slot where you would slot your keycard and your a/c will stay on while you are out of the room.
When entering a hotel room for the first time, run the shower for a few minutes, without you being in the room. This will get rid of any build-up of spores that cause Legionaries disease.
Mark every piece of luggage inside and outside with your last name and first initial only. Do not use a title [Mz.] Do not put your home address or destination address on the luggage unless your destination is a hotel or resort.
When renting a car, try to obtain two sets of keys. If the rental agency won’t give you an extra set, get one made at the nearest hardware store.
Take two teaspoons of Pepto Bismol before each meal and the chances of you getting diarrhea are reduced.
Be sure to pack an effective topical antibiotic cream. The smallest scratch or insect bite can quickly become infected. Try “Bactriban” or “Polysporin”. To prevent ringworm, the most effective product is “Nizoral” – sold over the counter as an anti-dandruff shampoo.
Most people know to ask for unopened bottled water when traveling, but may not realize that it’s all too easy to get sick from ingesting water while showering. The solution: Keep mouthwash in your mouth while showering.
In a restaurant, ask for a bottle of water unopened. Have them open it at the table, and you can be sure you won’t get local water, bottled. This will also tell you that they use bottled water to cook and clean with.
Write on the charge slip right away after purchasing something, the amount, items, date, and place of purchase so you can read it when the statement comes at the end of the month.
Do not forget to hold on to your tourist card (visa) as it must be returned to immigration officials when you leave the country. You do not need to carry your personal documents within the state. We suggest you to leave them inside our safety boxes at the hotel.
Speed Limits & Speed Bumps
In towns the limit is generally 40 km/h (approx. 25 MPH). Highways range between 90 km/h (approx. 55 MPH) and 100 km/h (approx. 70 MPH). Speed bumps are a popular way of keeping drivers within the speed limits, look for them when entering/leaving small villages or towns.
The average tip for waiters is from 10% to 15% depending on the service. Hotel maids get a couple of dollars a day, bellboys and skycaps at the airport can expect from $ 0.25 to $ 0.50 (USD) per bag.
In Mexico it’s not a common practice to take the bill to your table until you ask for it. When you’re ready, just say “La cuenta, por favor” to your waiter. The tax is usually 10% and is not included.
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